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.