Dec 08, 2016
These hotels go way beyond any kids’ club. Children can learn perfume-making in Paris and circus tricks in the Dominican Republic – while you’re soaking up the scene with grown-ups.
Pitch a tent in Miami
A hip new design hotel right on Miami’s South Beach wouldn’t usually be considered the most kid-friendly destination. And yet the eco-friendly 1 Hotel’s Seedlings program for kids aged four to 12 is all about getting young ones back to nature. While they can’t exactly pitch a tent on South Beach, kids get to help set up a custom-made teepee in their own room. They can order room service for a midnight feast and in the morning take part in some other eco-conscious kids’ activities such as planting seeds, making bird feeders and going on guided nature walks.
Build and launch a raft in Fiji
Older kids can be particularly hard to amuse on family resort holidays but the most cynical teen is sure to enjoy building his or her own traditional Fijian bilibili (bamboo raft) – and launching it at sea. Located on the northern island of Vanua Levu, Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort is globally renowned for getting younger guests beachcombing, visiting local schools and learning about sea animals with the staff marine biologist. To build the bilibili, kids of all ages help to lash together a dozen bamboo poles on the beach and then take turns clambering aboard and being towed along by two kayaks.
Make a kite in Bali and learn to fly it
If you've been to Bali, you will have noticed colourful kites fluttering on the skyline just about everywhere you go. It’s no surprise then that kite-making is one of the experiences offered at Alila Villas Soori on Bali's serene west coast. Kids join a local who has been making layangan, or traditional kites, since he was a boy and help him to fashion a kite from bamboo and plastic using a traditional knife. They then watch their creation take flight in the sky above the hotel’s dramatic black sand beach.
Become a perfumier in Paris
Paris has long been the capital of perfume. Catherine de Médici introduced the city to perfume when she arrived from Italy and, almost 500 years later, it is home to some of the world’s most illustrious parfum houses. Now kids can learn the ancient olfactory art in a workshop run by a professional “nose” at the legendary Peninsula Hotel just near the Arc de Triomphe. Budding perfumiers will experiment with 30 different fruit and flower extracts and essential oils and learn about floral, oriental, fresh and woody notes as they make their own bespoke scent. Envious? Don’t worry, parents can participate too! Watch out Coco Chanel.
Perform circus tricks in Dominican Republic
Has your child ever wanted to run away and join the circus? They’ll get their chance as part of the Cirque du Soleil-run Creactive program at a sprawling Club Med in the Dominican Republic. Right on the soft sands of the Punta Cana in La Costa del Coco, the all-inclusive resort claims to be the only one in the world with a circus on site. Kids as young as four can take part watched over by instructors trained by the Cirque du Soleil. If high-bungee and double-flying sound too challenging, there’s also circus-inspired face and mask painting, drums, juggling and a dance program.
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Learn to be a gladiator in Rome
Kids holidaying in Rome can discover their inner Maximus Decimus Meridius (aka Russell Crowe in Gladiator) at the Waldorf Astoria’s Rome Cavalieri’s Gladiator Training program. Children seven and over don tunics and use replica weapons, supervised by expert instructors from the Gladiator School that is part of Roman historical organisation Gruppo Storico Romano. Afterwards, they can tour the school’s collection of replica swords and shields and learn more about one of the world’s greatest civilisations.
Make dim sum in Hong Kong
Dim sum is the quintessential Hong Kong meal and the 1920s-inspired Spring Moon restaurant at the island’s luxurious Peninsula Hotel is one of the best places to try it. Better yet, kids over 11 who stay here can try rolling, filling and pleating the famous dumplings under the tutelage of a top Cantonese chef while a professional photographer will captures their efforts. Younger kids can join the hotel’s pastry chef to make and decorate a veritable Wonka’s Chocolate Factory of sweet treats.