Travel

family

The best family hotels in France

Finding accommodation that suits both adults and children isn't always easy. Leonie Glass suggests 50 hotels that everyone will enjoy in five of France's most family-friendly regions.

If you're keen to avoid the drudgery of self-catering family holidays, but are fed up with frosty greetings when checking into hotels with your children, you need to find somewhere to stay where you will all feel comfortable. Not a snooty place, where staff or other guests shush your children if they run down a corridor, or somewhere full of low-lying precious objects that invite disaster. And not a hotel where the accommodation is so basic that all of you have to squeeze into a tiny airless box. Here are some genuinely family-friendly places in France that parents and children can both enjoy. Unless stated otherwise, prices are for a double room, including breakfast, in high season.

Outcast and the lads discover Shenzhen, China

Outcast in Hong Kong

Outcast has landed in Hong Kong and absolutely loving the fabulous city of endless adventures.

Hong Kong Enquiries: http://www.discoverhongkong.com/eng/index.jsp

Superior Wellness Hotel - Krallerhof

The Krallerhof is a fabulous Wellness & Family Hotel in Salzburg County, Austria, located on a sunny plateau in Leogang.  The hotel offers wellness, ski, and summer holidays of the highest level for the entire family.


Things to Do in Hong Kong With Kids

The Four Season magazine lists the top activities for families traveling to Hong Kong.

Part of Hong Kong’s charm is its extreme contrasts, one of the many reasons why the city is a fantastic family destination. Itineraries that combine visits to ancient temples and world-class theme parks on the same day are the norm, while romps through nature await just minutes from an energetic urban core. Add in mouth-watering cuisine, efficient transportation and shopping that even the kids will adore, and you have an unforgettable holiday.

Hong Kong Science Museum

Find the right vacation spot for the whole family

Family travel can be tricky, especially if it includes more than just your immediate household. Finding a destination that is well-suited to parents, grandparents and children can be a difficult task. After all, travelers of different ages will likely want different things. However, there are certain places that can make everyone happy, whether you want to take an international family vacation or stay in the U.S., according to The Huffington Post.

Jackson Hole, Wyo.
The expansive Midwest is certainly not lacking when it comes to natural beauty. There are numerous national parks, reserves and stretches of land that are among the most picturesque landscapes in the U.S., and Jackson Hole stands above the rest. With the majestic peaks of the Teton Range in the background, Jackson Hole is perfect for the entire family, especially those who are more adventure minded. Yellowstone National Park extends into the famous valley, and for those who may be looking for more of a relaxing experience, Jackson Hole is home to ample art galleries and restaurants as well, according to HuffPo.

Charleston, S.C.
As the oldest city in South Carolina, Charleston is certainly not lacking when it comes to a rich sense of history. Any members of the family who would love nothing more than take a step back in time will undoubtedly be smitten with the Palmetto State's second-largest city. Among its most well-known historical highlights is Fort Sumter, which is often cited as where the opening shots of the Civil War were fired. Charleston is also home to beautiful beaches that will appeal to members of the whole family.

Washington, D.C.
Any trip to our nation's capital is sure to be a fulfilling experience. There's so much to do, it's hard to see everything in just one visit, and not only that, but there is such a wide variety of attractions that there's something for the oldest, and youngest, members of the family. For the kids, a trip to the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum, which has almost two dozen exhibits charting the history of aviation. As for the older crowd, a visit to some of the more historically significant landmarks - the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, U.S. Holocaust Museum and Jefferson Memorial, just to name a few - will leave a lasting impression.


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12 Family-Friendly Ways to Travel to Summer Festivals

You’ve visited your relatives, hit up the theme park, gone exploring in a state or national park…so what’s left to do this summer? Why not check out a music festival? Family Travel expert Kerri Zane shares the safe and smart ways for families to enjoy large events and festivals.

For many of us, as a teen or young adult, going to a big time summer music festival was an unforgettable, age-defining, rite of passage. So what happens to soothe our musically inclined souls when we become responsible parents? Must we stop attending festivals until our offspring have flown the coop? Absolutely not.

Many festival organizers know that a love for live music doesn’t end with late night feedings and dirty diapers. Instead they have opened their arms and invited us to continue to join in the fun, kids and all. Still there are “best practices” to attending a large venue event with children in tow.  I headed to the Montreal Jazz Festival to find the answers from a group of seasoned event organizers and attendees.

Here are their top 12 tips for family festival travel across the country and around the world.

  1. First and foremost check out the festivals you are interested in attending to ensure they are kid-friendly. That means not just allowing kids, but offering a host of activities for them to enjoy. For example, the Montreal Jazz Festival offers a ton of activities for children. Twice a day there is a youth jazz concert, La Petite École Du Jazz, which introduces children of all ages to the appreciation of jazz. There is a popular kids play park with slides, ball pits, an oversized piano keyboard which plays notes when jumped on, and kids can make their own instruments. In the center of the venue there are lots of bubble fountains for the kids to play in and get wet. A perennial crowd favorite are the 15 year veteran face painters who create elaborate designs. And the festival mascot is a life sized blue cat who makes special appearances at La Petite École as well as the afternoon battle of the bands.
  2. “Parents should purchase CD’s prior to attending the event so their children can familiarize themselves with the music they’ll be hearing,” suggested Victor Menard and James Gelfand, the organizers of La Petite École Du Jazz. The key is to make jazz (or any kind of music) accessible. If that means learning an instrument yourself or playing the music at home for your children all the time, do it!
  3. I met a family of four who drove in from Ottowa to attend the 11-day Festival. “There are lots of things for kids to do at the festival, but for an extended stay it’s also a good idea to find other things to keep the kids busy as well. We stay at a hotel with a pool,” said dad.
  4. Rose, who has been coming to the event since she was a little girl, recommended families is carefully map out a family Festival plan. “Chose the right concerts for your kids at the right time,” she suggested. Check the performance schedule and map of the venue online to familiarize yourself as to where and at what hour your favorite acts will be performing. That way if nap or meal schedule needs to be adapted you can plan accordingly.
  5. Camille and Rebecca who were manning a souvenir booth in the child’s play area told me that it is important for parents to be patient and take the time to do each activity. “Explain to your child why are we doing this and describe what a festival is,” they suggested. With young ones it’s all a new experiment and an opportunity for them to get a taste of good music and discover what they like.
  6. Just about every person I spoke with recommended bringing water, but that’s not all you need to be prepared. It’s important for the whole family to be well hydrated and well-fed. Pack bottled water and juice, protein bars, nuts or trail mix, dried fruit and whole fruit.  Bring a blanket to relax on the grassy areas where you can eat and enjoy the performances.
  7. Festivals are normally very spread out so you need to be highly mobile. A classic little red wagon is great for this. You can load all your stuff up in the wagon and the kids can ride in or walk beside it. If it has brakes, it can make a mobile bench, as well. With younger families backpack-style baby carriers are great because it lets the kid see what’s going on, even if they’re in a crowd of people. Rent an “off-road” stroller to handle the rough, grassy terrain that makes up lots of festival sites. For example, the Montreal Jazz Fest provides a free stroller loan service from noon to midnight with lots of stroller parking zones.
  8. Music at festivals can be very loud, even far away from the stage.  Protect your young one’s hearing with ear plugs or earmuffs. I saw one baby napping in a stroller wearing cool set of lime green headphones. Smart mama.
  9. Caroline Johnson, the Director of Programming for the Montreal Jazz Festival and mom of a 17-month-old boy and 5-year-old girl, told me she brings her children to the concerts all the time. Her best recommendation is to be all-weather ready. “In Montreal you never know what the weather is going to be and the activities for children run from noon till 11 pm.  I bring sweaters, hats, (hair ties), sunscreen, raincoats and bathing suits. We have water fountains that the kids love to play in so they get all wet!” she told me.  I’m guessing a towel and change of clothes are also in Caroline’s mommy bag.
  10. One of the many security attendants encouraged parents to always keep an eye on your child and stay with them at all times. “Seems obvious,” she said, “but with loud music and lots of people, things happen.” Get one of those rubber bracelets and write your child’s name, your name and cell phone number in case you get separated. Or you can buy ones already made at Kid Safety Bands.
  11. Always know what your kids are wearing. If you need help remembering, in the morning snap a picture of your child with your cell phone camera or digital camera. That way, if your kid ends up missing you won’t have to remember under pressure and you’ll have an accurate visual to show festival personnel.
  12. As soon as you arrive at the festival, spend a few minutes showing your kid what to do if they get lost.  Often, festival staff wears a specific color t-shirt, point one of them out to your child and let them know they are safe people to turn to in an emergency. Vendor booths can be a good and easy-to-find place for kids to go, as well, as they often have direct contact info for a festival staffer. Lastly, when in doubt, kids should just find “another mommy,” who will likely be glad to help your kid reconnect with you.

Remember not to skimp on the unusual and fun. Festival’s bring out artists of all kinds and it’s important to treat yourself to the sights and sounds you don’t normally experience. So, If you see a mango flower buy one!

For more festival travel, check out:

By Kerri Zane for PeterGreenberg.com. Kerri Zane is a family travel expert and author of It Takes All 5: A Single Mom’s Guide to Finding the REAL One, on sale now. For more advice on health, parenting or Kerri’s exclusive MomEscapes visit her at KerriZane.com.

 

Three Unforgettable Themed Hotel Experiences

Forbes Travel Guide Editor DeMarco Williams

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All luxury hotels aim to provide escapes from the daily grind for their guests. Some just have a way of whisking the concept to new heights by not only providing brilliant accommodations and spot-on service, but by sprinkling in a bit of whimsy. From pirate-themed packages in Baltimore to shark-infested vacations in Boston, our editors have uncovered three properties that take more than a bit of pride in being playful.

Swashbuckling at Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore

While most folks find pirates pretty fascinating, the reasons behind Baltimore’s affinity for the colorful characters go well beyond Johnny Depp movies. Back in the early 1800s, when the U.S. and Britain weren’t seeing eye to eye on much, some ship owners in Maryland turned their vessels into privateers. With the government’s blessing, they began commandeering British ships, helping Baltimore to earn its “Nest of Pirates” moniker. On your next vacation, pay homage to the city’s plundering past with Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore’s Pirates and Princesses Family Package (running through September 2; requires a 14-day notice). The overflowing booty includes a swashbuckler-themed gift bag for kids, complimentary Internet and parking and Four-Star accommodations in a standard guest room. Still, the biggest treasure in the chest is a voyage for four through the city’s Inner Harbor aboard The Fearless, an authentic-looking ship that appears to have sailed over straight from The Pirates of the Caribbean set.

Shark Hunting at Revere Hotel Boston Common

Even legendary marine conservationist Jacques Cousteau probably couldn’t explain the public’s obsession with Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week.” People can’t help but dive into the network’s weeklong slate of insightful documentaries and campy sci-fi flicks each year. Boston’s Revere Hotel, a smartly decorated, 356-room boutique property in the city’s Theater District, is getting in on the fun with its own shark-themed events from August 4 through 11. For starters, the 2011 Discovery Channel special Jaws Comes Home will be screened for hotel guests at the property’s plush 208-seat venue, Theatre 1, on August 4. Two of the movie’s stars, captains Billy “Cap” Chaprales and Nick “Niko” Chaprales of the shark-awareness crew Cape Cod Shark Hunters, will join marine fisheries biologist John Chisholm for a Q&A and after-party when the film concludes.

If that weren’t enough to sink your teeth into, the new Rooftop at Revere will unleash its “Eat Like a Shark Week” menu on guests at the same time. Tasty bites such as mahi mahi tacos and Nantucket Bay scallop ceviche will be available alongside cocktails such as The Hammerhead (Bombay Sapphire, St. Germain, simple syrup, cucumber, Sprite, lemon) and Sharknado (Bacardi Superior, Bacardi 8, Bacardi Pineapple Fusion, and pineapple, cranberry and orange juices). Proceeds from the shareable drinks will go to the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, a new nonprofit raising awareness of the feared animal.

Spying at Capella Washington D.C., Georgetown

With popular shows such as Scandal, Homeland and The Americans peering into Washington D.C.’s sinister underbelly, it’s hard not to get wrapped up in the city’s spell of intrigue. But if you were hoping to take things a few steps further than a mere fantasy, Capella Washington D.C. — 49 rooms of dark hardwood flooring, overstuffed lounge chairs and other simple, elegant touches — has just the experience for you. The property’s The Spy Who Loved D.C. package makes sure that you look (Burberry trench coats and Oliver Peoples eyewear from Saks Fifth Avenue) and drink (complimentary martinis and a bottle of champagne) the part of a globetrotting secret agent. But if that’s not enough to stir your inner sleuth, the offer (available through December 31) also includes a visit to the International Spy Museum (in a Ferrari or Lamborghini, no less) and the chance to complete one of two fully engrossing missions — one deals with penetrating and escaping the fortified museum, while the other sends you on a clue- and contraption-filled operation around the city — thus allowing you to see sides of the nation’s capital that you’ll never find on television.