Claudia Caringi is the Recreation Manager at Four Seasons Hotel, George V, Paris. That’s right, a family rec manager at a city hotel. When Claudia was first introduced to me, I was intrigued, as I have never experienced an urban hotel with a resource dedicated to guest recreation. It sounded fabulous! I interviewed Claudia to get the scoop on her role.
AO: So what is a recreation director at Four Seasons Paris?
CC: In a nutshell, it’s guest relations for families. This is a pioneer position we created after conducting a market study a few years ago where we realized more families were staying with us in Paris, and that we needed dedicated family services. Our visionary management saw this as a chance to provide something new to families visiting Paris. Four Seasons resorts have kids’ clubs*; we have a concierge, of course. But we wanted something more focused just on children.
AO: And how do you work with families?
CC: There are four parts to our program:
AO: How long has the program been running?
CC: Four years.
AO: What’s new in 2012?
CC: We are partnering with Nicole Lambert, the author of the much-loved French comic strip Les Triplés. The adorable individuals featured in her book will become the face of our children’s program in 2012. On china, in toy baskets, in our boutique… Les Triplés will be everywhere in the hotel.
AO: What are some of the special events at the hotel for families?
CC: We always have incredible Christmas and Easter parties for children at the George V. Halloween is a new event for us, but it was a huge success this past year. We’re always discussing new ideas!
AO: You have two kids of your own (ages one and four). What’s your favorite, little-known activity with kids in Paris?
CC: I encourage families to really discover Paris. It’s not just about the posh and glamorous. Paris is a beautiful family city, and kids can really get into the sights in a fun way.
My No. 1 favorite insider recommendation to engage kids in French culture is Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte. It’s actually located outside the city, but the trip is easy and well worth it.
Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte is the castle that inspired Versailles. The beauty for families is that this castle is small and much easier to visit. The gardens are fantastic. And there’s an extensive underground area that is so enchanting because many speculate that the owner was the legendary “man in the iron mask.”
Within the city walls, I recommend Le Musée de la Magie, the museum of magic where children can touch, feel and experience a variety of magic tricks. It’s tiny and a perfect activity for a rainy day.
Read more about Paris in Four Seasons Magazine.
Read Amie’s review of Four Seasons Resort Provence at Terre Blanche.
*Kids For All Seasons (KFAS) is a Four Seasons complimentary recreational and educational program for children of resort guests. Most KFAS clubs are designed for youth four to 12 years old, and open daily from 9 to 5. (Younger children can often join KFAS with a nanny or parent, or resorts can arrange for babysitting.) But details vary from property to property, so check the resort’s website for more information.
Kids can go all day or just for an hour or two. Activities inside and out include games, sports, music, treasure hunts, swimming, arts and crafts, cultural education, environmental preservation work and yoga. Not your average camp, the VIP offerings are pretty extraordinary—for example, at Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora, kids can help the resort’s marine biologist graft coral in the lagoon sanctuary.
Amie O'Shaughnessy manages Ciao Bambino, an award-winning family travel resource, from the San Francisco Bay Area where she lives with her husband and 10-year-old son. The experience of planning her first international trip with a baby inspired Amie to dedicate her career to providing parents with all the essential information they need to explore the world happily with children in tow.
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