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Family travel can create lasting shared memories and provide the platform not only for fun, but for bonds to grow even stronger. However, I warn against confusing the term ‘family trip’ with ‘vacation’, at least when you have young children. Very often after a family trip, you may feel like you actually really need a vacation as sleeping in and sitting by the pool with an umbrella drink in hand may or may not happen when you are traveling with little kids.
With two young girls along for the ride, we are sometimes bone tired at the end of our family trips, but if I am an expert at anything, it is at finding a way to get a few minutes of vacation while on a family adventure.
We are often able to manage a combination of family play time on the beach with kid-free time at the adult’s pool, by utilizing a mix of kid’s clubs and hired local nannies, and occasionally bringing a grandparent or two along for the ride. I’ll admit to being pretty reluctant to leave my first daughter with babysitters when she was young, but as the years have gone on and a second little one joined our crew, I have loosened up on this policy. That said, I totally understand those who aren’t comfortable with using caregivers on vacations, and I do check in on them frequently. As always, never leave your child in a situation where you aren’t 100% comfortable.
With that being said, hiring nannies, bringing a family member, and even utilizing resort kid’s clubs can add up quickly since good help often doesn’t come cheap. Thankfully, there are exceptions to that rule, and believe it or not some points friendly hotels have really nice included kid’s clubs! If you use points to stay at a property like one of these on points you not only save on your hotel stay, but you have free access to a kid’s club for your little ones who meet the age requirements.
Free Kids Club at Hub 808 Andaz Maui
When I visited the Andaz Maui a few years ago, I wrote about a “secret kid’s amenity” that is their free kid’s club called Hub 808. When we returned to the property with our oldest daughter last year, she got to attend the kid’s club and was in literal tears when I told her it was time to leave.
The Andaz Maui kid’s club is included as part of the daily resort fee’s benefits and is open for kids ages 5 to 12 years old from 9AM – 3PM for no additional charge. The Andaz Maui can be booked for 25,000 World of Hyatt points per night, though finding award availability does take a stroke of luck.
The Hyatt Ziva chain of all-inclusive resorts is, well, all-inclusive. This means that the kid’s club is also included for guests and their children regardless of whether you are staying on dollars or points. At the Hyatt Ziva Cancun, the Kidz Club is free to children ages 4-12, and their facility is actually pretty amazing.
As you can see they not only have a pretty solid indoor play area with video games, toys, and more, but also an outdoor water play area with slides and a wading pool. On our visit in 2016, we were also able to hire an off-duty Kidz Club worker to watch our then 9-month-old daughter in the club on a 1:1 basis for a fee which made it possible for us to visit the adults-only pool and relax for a few hours!
I loved everything about our stay in 2015 at the St. Regis Punta Mita, and that included their complimentary kid’s club. It is open to children ages 5-12 each day for no additional charge beyond your stay and resort fee. On our visit, the kids usually spent the morning doing activities outside such as shell necklace making and drawing, and then they spent the afternoon playing in the kid’s club room.
We had no intention of having our then five-year-old visit the kid’s club pretty much every day on our trip, but she loved it so much that it was easy to say yes to her daily requests to visit since there was no charge! For what it’s worth, we were also able to hire a nanny through the hotel’s recommendation for our then very young second daughter who wasn’t old enough for the kid’s club. We loved her so much I would seriously consider going again to this resort in part because of the high-quality kids activities and caregivers.
The Andaz Costa Rica is not only a great value on points at just 15,000 World of Hyatt points per night, but it is also an amazing deal for those looking for an included kid’s club for those aged 4 to 12 years old. We checked out this kid’s club on our adults-only trip to Costa Rica and were thoroughly impressed by the physical space and the warm staff.
The Cambi Kid’s Club at the Andaz Costa Rica Papagayo is located in some prime real estate where the presidential villa used to be, and is open for children during the day for no additional charge. They have some evening programs available for an additional fee, or you can hire a babysitter for children who are too young for the included kid’s club to watch your children on an individual basis.
Free Park Hyatt St. Kitts Island Fort for Ages Three and Up
While there was a fee for the Park Hyatt St. Kitts Island Fort kid’s club when the resort first opened, that fee has since been eliminated so children ages 3 – 12 can enjoy some time in this beautiful club for no additional fee. It is pretty rare to find free kid’s clubs that accept three-year-olds, so this is worth noting if you have an almost-three-year-old like we do.
In addition to a slew of toys, there is a TV room with a gaming system, an outdoor theater for putting on shows, a rock climbing wall, play structure, nap room, and more. Both my toddler and my eight-year-old would have had an exceptional time playing here for hours on end.
While there were no kids there during our visit, the staff were as warm, caring, and kind as they could possibly be. At this Camp Hyatt, the kids don’t just play, but they also get to learn a thing or two as well since daily activities include yoga, seashore birdwatching, making sand castles, cooking classes, arts and crafts, and learning about the folklore and history of St. Kitts.
You can book the Park Hyatt St. Kitts for 30,000 World of Hyatt points per night, but right now you can potentially do even better than that with very low paid rates and promotions.
At the Conrad Maldives, the Majaa Kids’ Club is free-of-charge for children ages 3-12 years old, with the exception of a few activities. We did not bring our children when we went to the Maldives, but if we had, then letting them enjoy complimentarily marine adventures, sports, games, arts and crafts, and culinary workshops would have been a fantastic way to blend family time and relaxation.
The Conrad Maldives will usually cost you 95,000 Hilton Honors points per night, but it can also be the perfect spot to use some of your Hilton weekend award nights you can earn with one of the Hilton Amex credit cards, such as the Hilton Honors Card from American Express.
Almost Free Kids Club at Ritz Carlton Bali
A final example shows how thinking outside the box, or at least outside the United States, can sometimes lead to childcare and kid’s clubs that are so affordable they are almost free. A perfect example can be found at the Ritz Carlton Bali where you can book your award stay for 40,000 Marriott Rewards points per night (until that price jumps to 50,000 points per night on August 1, 2018). If you then want to book something just for the kids, their Ritz Kids “immersive resort club” offers childcare and activities for just IDR 50,000 per hour… which is only $3.50 per hour! Be right back, booking four tickets to Bali…
A family trip with little kids will never be the same sort of journey as an adults-only vacation, but if you are able to utilize a kid’s club for your kiddos for a few hours, you can at least get a taste of relaxation before you dive head-first back into a round of family fun in the sun.
Have you encountered any free or very affordable kid’s clubs you really enjoyed at points friendly hotels?
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.