At All Inclusive Resorts: "Friendly Little Club" Type
Many resorts, especially in Mexico, have the "friendly little club" type of kids' program: a cute spot with one or two rooms, toys and tv and maybe video games. Often ages 4 to 12 are grouped together, and care is provided by warm and friendly staff.
Lots of kids have a great time at these kids' clubs. But there are a few points to watch out for:
- Are all the kids, from age 4 to 12, in one group? Tweens may feel the club is boring or babyish.
- Do the kids spend a lot of time watching tv or playing videogames?
Razzle Dazzle Kids Clubs
At the other end of the spectrum are the "multiple-program" type of kids clubs, with different programs for different ages.
The kids clubs at some resorts are truly dazzling. Club Med is a standout example, with multiple kids clubs for different ages: the size of the kids clubs at some Club Meds nearly amounts to a resort-within-the-resort. A few features:
- different programs for different ages: Mini Club Med for 4-5's, 6-7's, etc.; Junior Club Med for ages 11 to 13 and 14 to 17.
- Baby Club Med, for four months to 23 months, and Petit Club Med, for 2-year-olds, 3- year-olds (extra charge)
- kids programs that are almost like activity camps, with opportunities to learn many sports. Trapeze is a specialty.
- kids perform group dance routines at the weekly MiniClub Show in a theatre with professional staging
- no screens (tv or video) in the mini-clubs
- Beaches resorts also offer multiple kids' programs for different ages, including infants. Beaches has resorts in Jamaica and a flagship property in Turks and Caicos.
- Atlantis Bahamas -- with 140 acres of "waterscape" and water park-- deserves a mention because of Atlantis Kids Adventures, its 8000 sq. foot kids club designed in partnership with the LEGO toy company. This resort is not an all inclusive, though.
- Coconut Bay St. Lucia gets a nod as a value-priced resort that's splurged not only on a lazy river and waterslide but also on a giant kids club, with waterplay zone, nap area, many activities, and minimal tv screens
*Always read visitors' comments to get an up-to-date snapshot of a resort! Comments at TripAdvisor often mention kids' clubs.
Baby Care and Toddlers Programs
More and more resorts are catering to families with babies and wee kids. Check out All Inclusive Resorts with Baby Care, Toddler Programs, including the Beaches and Club Med chains, a resort in Jamaica where each family has a "vacation nanny", and more.
Kids Clubs at Hotels
Several upscale hotel chains also offer kids clubs. The prestigious Four Seasons brand, for instance, has a complimentary Kids For All Seasons program for ages 5 to 12. (Check individual resorts for whether the kids club is offered and/or is seasonal.)
Ritz Carlton is another upscale hotel brand with a kids club: look for properties with a Ritz Kids club.
Programs for Teens
Some resorts are making efforts to extend kids clubs upward into the teen years. Teens can be a picky and tricky age to please... simply setting up a "teen center" with games and movie screen is no guarantee of success. Check out some resorts going the extra mile for teens.