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Archive for August, 2008|Monthly archive page

Asia’s Top 10 Family Resorts: The recommendations

In Asia Travel, Travel, Travel Tips on August 22, 2008 at 4:03 am

Travel with Babies is enjoyable

Travel with Babies is enjoyable

In the past, the concept of having an adult break was seen as mutually exclusive to going on holiday with the kids. Whilst family holidays provide a great opportunity to bond and build on parent-child relationships, they can also be extra taxing on an adult’s energy. Finding time to relax can be difficult when the children’s daily routine is altered and activities such as swimming at the beach or pool are added into the equation.

 

But options have changed and broadened in recent years. For a start, Southeast Asian destinations have opened up to families, providing international standards of service, accommodation and leisure activities at incomparable prices to the West. Not only can Mom and Dad arrange babysitting services, but many hotels now have kid’s clubs or daily activities to keep the brood happy and entertained. Parents can take the time to have that massage, earn that tan or enjoy a romantic meal at sunset.

 

So, here’s list of recommendations for the best child-friendly, family-focused resorts in the Southeast Asian region, which you’re welcome to bring your babies; 

 

1. Ramada Karon Beach Resort Phuket, Thailand
This family resort opened last year and literally is, as the website claims, a “wonderland for kids”. First of all, there are themed rooms for budding princesses (designed like a castle turret and draped in pink and purple) astronauts (pod-like furniture and spacey images of the galaxy create the semblance of being in a spaceship) and marine biologists (underwater rooms have built-in aquariums in the shape of portholes). Then there are the general hotel facilities which are even more child-friendly: the colorful children’s swimming pool which includes the biggest hotel waterslide in Thailand and the “kids paradise” zone which has a free and bottomless day-long ice cream machine, X box video game room and daily program of activities which includes everything from arts and crafts to cooking, sports and science. Meanwhile, Karon beach is a 5 minute walk away. The Ramada Resort Karon Beach is not only a child’s wonderland but the perfect parent fantasyland!

2. Sheraton Grande Laguna Resort , Phuket, Thailand
Located within the Laguna complex, this Sheraton Grande was one of the first hotels in Thailand to truly cater for children. Kids receive goody backpacks on arrival which include perks like refillable ‘tippy cups’ and there are a myriad of activities planned by the Very Important Kids Club (VIKC). Resident baby elephants Yum Yum and Lilly make daily appearances to interact with kids and parents. Besides the many water sports and outdoor activities available, there is also a cyber room for the techno, video-game inclined. Most impressive, however, is that the hotel has special VIKC ambassadors, whose role it is to exclusively cater to child requests. Other highlights include a children’s menu and express meal service, free unlimited ice cream and very reasonable babysitting rates. For older children (age 9-14) there is also Camp Laguna which has year-long programs including rock climbing, abseiling, beach volleyball and more.

3. Plantation Bay Resort, Cebu, Philippines
Designed in colonial-plantation style, this mammoth resort is also build around one of the largest privately-owned waterways in the world. It is a perfect resort for aquanauts of any age, but children will especially delight in the water slides, aqua rides and beach activities. Parents can take advantage of the children’s center where staff will keep the little ones enthralled with making sandcastles, feeding fish and face painting, among many other things.

4. Shangri-La Tanjung Aru Resort,  Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Located in Borneo and overlooking the South China Sea, the Shangri-La Tanjung Aru Resort offers a premiere setting and possibly the largest Kids Club facility in Malaysia. The club is sectioned according to age group, with padded areas and soft toys for toddlers, creative areas for arts and crafts as well as a coffee area for parents to mingle. There are many activities planned for the kids on the beach and in the playground as well as safe children pools. Trips to the sister Shangri-La Rasa Ria resort can be organized where there is an orangutan rehabilitation reserve, giving kids the chance to communicate with one of their closest ape relatives.

5. Conrad Bali Resort & Spa, Bali, Indonesia
Secluded on almost 6.8 hectares of lush, beachfront terrain in Southern Bali – near to the Nusa Dua area – the Conrad Bali Resort & Spa provides exceptional opportunities to families. Beyond the usual provisions of crib and children’s menus, the Conrad also has special babyrobes and baby bath and potty. There are a plethora of activities for kids at the Kura Kura Club including Balinese traditional dancing, island storytelling around the lagoon pool and arts and crafts. There are indoor and outdoor play areas, a video Games Zone, a babysitting service and child care centre. Tennis enthusiasts can arrange for child tennis lessons at reasonable rates and there are plenty of water sports to choose from for the family.

6. Meritus Pelangi Beach Resort & Spa, Langkawi, Malaysia
This beautifully-located resort  in Langkawi is a great option for families who love to be active. There are water sports galore including boating, water skiing, diving, snorkeling and para-sailing. Catering especially for the kids, the resort also has a mini golf course and animal farm. The Kiki Club is open from 9am-9pm with free daily activities involving cultural, arts and nature-loving activities so parents can go pamper themselves in the hours between.

7. The Ritz-Carlton Bali, Indonesia
Set on its own private cove at Kuba, the luxurious Ritz Carlton in Bali also has an impressive children’s program and facilities. There is a separate children’s pool that has two water slides and a daily activities club which covers everything from kite-making to Balinese traditional arts courses to sea shell collecting. There is a special children’s dining menu and baby sitting is available (English, Bahasa and Japanese speaking).

8. Holiday Inn Phuket, Thailand
Recently revamped, the Kids Club at the Holiday Inn Phuket has video games, DVDs, internet, toys and board games all within cozy lounge settings for juniors. But the main attractions are found outdoors with the toddler and play pools which include water spouts, slides and other features to keep the kids entertained. Babysitting is available and the resort is well-located on Patong Beach, Phuket’s foremost beach town.

9. The Nusa Dua Hotel Resort & Spa,  Bali, Indonesia
This luxury resort is primly located on Nusa Dua beach and has beautifully landscaped tropical gardens and swimming areas that are suitable for children. The affordable rates make it a good choice for family holidaymakers and they have special family rooms with King-sized bed and bunk bed as well as attractive children furnishings. The Gecko Kids Club is open daily, offering supervised games and activities in the playground, pools, beach or children’s center.

10. Coco Beach Resort, Phan Thiet, Vietnam
The quaint huts of Coco Beach Resort depict a charming tropical image of relaxation and comfort. First impressions don’t disappoint. Located on one of the more beautiful beach spots of Vietnam, this resort has plenty of activities to amuse the kids with paddle boats, boogie boards and other beach activities as well as a special children’s playground, pool with waterslide and toddler wading pool.

 

 

 

Top 10 Ecotourism Hotels in Asia: The Recommendations

In Asia Travel, Travel on August 5, 2008 at 6:36 am

The beauty of natural resources in Asia

The beauty of natural resources in Asia

Many people will always delight if they had a chance to look at the trendy statistic number which shows the impressive growth of tourist businesses in Asia in every recent year. Without realizing, tourism has brought a lot of good and bad things, the rich of natural resources and traditional cultures might already be sacrificed with the construction of 5 star hotels, luxury resorts, world class golf courses and tourist entertainment communities. The concept of “Ecotourism” is now spreading out widely in Asia, especially South East Asia, to provoke the prevention of these losses and urging to preserve the beauty of their natural and cultural heritage.

Despite its attractive and good-meaning philosophy, Ecotourism seems to be appropriated much in the same way as the word “Environmentally-friendly” travel during which tourists try their best to minimize environmental impact and ensure their spending and presence benefits the local community. This also implies that, ‘going green’ is not only related to the environment, but involves all areas of sustainability and social responsibility.

According to the International Tourism Partnership, achieving a green standard must include six key areas: environmental management, policy and framework, staff training and awareness, purchasing, people and communities and destination protection. 

As travelers the world over realize that the responsibility to protect the environment is a shared one, they are adopting greener lifestyles and scrutinizing the hotels and destinations they choose to stay in.  Here are the top recommendations for the “go green” hotels in Asia;

1. Banyan Tree Resort Phuket, Thailand

Transforming the site of an abandoned tin mine which was once described by the UN as a ‘toxic wasteland’ into the environmental showcase it is today proves just how powerful responsible tourism can be. Such is the legacy of the Banyan Tree group. Now as much of a wildlife sanctuary as it is a resort complex, the Banyan Tree Phuket is an inspiration to everyone. True champions of the principles of corporate social responsibility, guests are assured when they stay at Banyan Tree that part of their fees will be directed into conserving the environment and local community.

2. La Residence d’Angkor, Siem Reap,Cambodia

Designed to blend harmoniously with the environment, La Residence also possesses a strong commitment to sustainable tourism. Beyond their environmentally sound practices (which include treating water so that it can be released back into the river and keeping used oil for biofuel production) the hotel also donates regularly to local charities and invites guests to do the same. In particular, they support the Angkor Hospital for Children through the weekly screening of a video where guests have the opportunity to ask the hospital staff questions and can contribute either second-hand items or donate money to the cause.

3. Evason Hua Hin Resort & Six Senses Spa, Thailand

The iconic thatched huts of the Evason Hua Hin Resort are not misleading in terms of their eco-friendly nature. Drawing on biodegradable products and adopting practices that conserve energy and minimize waste, the resort also supports several local initiatives such as the Mangrove Forest Conservation, the Kervorkian Foundation (dedicated to assisting HIV+ babies and children) as well as providing employment opportunities to disabled individuals and hosting its own organic vegetable farm.

4. Nihiwatu, Sumba Island, Indonesia

There is no place on earth like Sumba Island. Here, the indigenous traditions and animist culture of the Sumbanese people remain completely in tact. And the resort has no intention of changing that. Located on 438 acres of tropical forest and rice terraces and surrounded by some of the world’s most pristine beaches, Nihiwatu is a place to go and immerse yourself in nature. The resort is strongly committed to conserving its native surrounds and improving the quality of life of the Sumbanese people.

5. Anantara Resort & Spa Golden Triangle, Thailand

Nestled in the tropical jungle of Thailand’s most Northern province, Anantara’s Golden Triangle resort also plays a significant role in elephant conservation. As part of The Royal Thai Government’s Thai Elephant Conservation Centre (TECC), this project is aimed at protecting elephants and keeping them in an environment similar to the traditional mahout camps which supported the once-thriving logging industry. With unique programs for guests that involve mahout training as well as elephant trekking and forest living skills, the conservation experience is a truly interactive one.

6. Amar Vilas Agra, India

As part of the esteemed Oberoi Resorts and Hotels, this beautifully designed luxury resort is within 600 metres of the majestic Taj Mahal. But besides its unique architectural and landscape design, the Amar Vilas also upholds a commitment to philanthropic activities (including education and support for the mentally and physically challenged) in addition to conserving the local environment and cultural heritage.

7. Popa Mountain Resort, Bagan, Myanmar

Located in the forest woodlands on the side of Popa mountain, this resort has been sensitively designed to suit its surroundings. Guests are enclosed in the vibrant, yet peaceful terrain and there is ample opportunity to hike and visit the breathtaking Mt. Popa shrine. Using biodegradable products and adopting their own recycling practices to avoid environmental damage, this small resort can bring you back to nature in its purest form.

8. Suneva Fushi Resort & Six Senses Spa, Maldives

Just as all the Six Senses properties do, this resort has a comprehensive policy on its environmental and social responsibilities. Suneva Fushi in particular supports a myriad of Maldivian community initiatives including tree planting on Eydafushi Island, hosting eye camps where locals get free treatment from ophthalmologists, sponsoring the Maldivian Cultural Centre and many more.

9. Tanjung Sanctuary Hotel, Langkawi, Malaysia

True to its name and slogan, this resort literally is a sanctuary for those who “don’t like big hotels” but have a passion for nature. The Tanjung Sanctuary Hotel does not list its specific policies on the environment, the resort’s design and practices uphold the ideals of sustainable tourism. Importantly, they provide a unique insight into the local flora and fauna with specially designed educational tours for guests.

10. Alila Ubud and Manggis Resorts, Bali, Indonesia

These two resorts are in close proximity to each other and both recently achieved Green Globe certified status. Alila Ubud was awarded best practice results in waste recycling, managing to recycle 80% of its water consumption. Alila Manggis excelled in the reduction of water and electricity consumption as well as community contribution by employing 85% of its staff from within 20km of the resort site.

Remember that it is all our responsibilities to preserve the world’s natural resources as much as we want to preserve fresh air for our pure breathing. Travel responsibly under the concept of “Ecotourism” or alike must always come together with or even before the casual joys and entertainments we leave behind on the course of our vacation trips.