8 Things to Think About When Booking a Family Resort Vacation

Nov 25, 2013

My mother-in-law recently reached a milestone birthday. To celebrate as a group of ten (six adults and four kids under the age of 6), we opted to visit a resort in Mexico. Here's what we thought about on our hunt for the "ideal" resort.

1. Proximity to the airport
After a flight, young kids may not be excited about a long trip on a bus to the resort. We narrowed our search down by choosing a resort within a 20 minute drive from the Cancun airport.

2. Kid-friendly resort 
When travelling with young children, it is crucial to pick a resort that caters to children. Many resorts have a kids' club, where the resort staff have organized activities for children of various ages, which gives kids more options than just spending time at the pool or at the beach. A kids club also gives the kids a chance to meet and play with other kids from other parts of the world. Some resorts even offer a special reception for kids as they arrive: at our resort, the four children had their own check in lane and they were given the kids' club schedule, an activity book and a chocolate milkshake upon arrival.

3. Family-friendly rooms
When we travel, we prefer to book suites with two rooms so that the children can go to sleep earlier. The resort we chose had large family rooms that had a sliding door between the children's bedroom and parents' bedroom. Having a Jacuzzi and ocean view was a bonus.

4. Adult-friendly activities
It was important to choose a resort that had adult activities too. This may include aqua aerobics, tennis, dancing, yoga/pilates on the beach or beach/pool volleyball. These activities are great for meeting other people too, as well as getting to know the staff.

5. Food options
For families with young children, especially, all-inclusive food and drink is a very convenient feature. When researching the ideal resort, we chose our resort based on both buffet and à la carte options. À la carte allows for more variability. Some resorts require reservations for the à la carte restaurants. Try to book these the day you arrive to avoid disappointment, especially if you are traveling with a large group. Our resort also had 24-hour room service with an extensive menu. When the children are very tired especially after playing in the sun for over 8 hours, room service can be quite handy! Make sure the kids stay hydrated during days in the sun. Look for resorts that offer a wide variety of non-alcoholic drinks for the children located by the beach and pool.

6. Nightly entertainment
Many resorts have live performances in the evening. Some might have dancing, singing and even acrobatics. These appeal to both adults and kids. They also give kids a chance to hang out with their new-found friends.

7. Size of resort
Since we were travelling with young children, we opted for a "small" resort that was easy to navigate by foot. The small resort felt intimate, and we quickly became acquainted with staff.

8. Unbiased reviews
Before investing a large amount of money on a resort that looks great on their own website, check out the reviews and photographs taken by tourists who have actually visited the resorts on sites like TripAdvisor. We chose our resort due to glowing reviews of families travelling with young children and the excellent service. By describing our excellent experience at this resort, word of mouth can also help our friends and families choose a suitable resort that meets their needs.

Divya Chandra is a mother of two young children. Her hobbies include reading, yoga and travel. Her children also love to travel with their parents, and frequently like to share their interesting travel experiences with friends and relatives. Divya balances her family life with her part-time job as a paediatric dentist, and teaches at the University of Toronto. 

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