Travel

Jean-Michel Cousteau Designs a New Ritz Kids Program

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company said Wednesday that it had revamped its Ritz Kids program, designed for children between the ages of 4 and 12, in its 80 hotels around the world.

Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society created the new program for the Ritz and based it on four themes: water; which emphasizes the importance of sea life; land, which encourages exploration; environmental responsibility, which is focused on the health of the planet; and culture indigenous to the area, which covers music, customs, history and food.

Each property will offer between three and 12 activities lasting from 90 minutes to three hours, but the experience begins at check-in with a welcome kit that has a scavenger hunt and activity book and an in-room amenity that goes beyond the standard milk and cookies: recycled colored pencils, a gardening kit or a magnifying glass with tweezers.

Mr. Cousteau said in a phone interview that he designed the program based on his personal experience of traveling with his two children, now grown, when they were younger.

“I know that kids get bored easily and need to be occupied when they’re on the road, so I wanted to give them options that I tried to have for my kids where they actually learn something,” he said. “The point is  for them to be engaged not as spectators but by actual interaction.”

Examples include “What Good Is a Tree?” at the Lake Tahoe property, where kids learn about different kinds of trees and the animal life that depends on them and then either stay outside or return to the hotel to read “The Lorax” and/or “The Giving Tree” and play games that illustrate the importance of trees.

Other options include “Water Wows” at Sanya in China, where young guests can experiment with different properties of water, “Create a Culture” in Abu Dhabi where children  are encouraged to appreciate cultural diversity and create their own unique culture, and “Something’s Fishy” in San Juan and Orlando where kids play games to learn about various types of fish in the area.

Staff members are trained in Mr. Cousteau’s curriculum; the programs average $75 each.