Alyx Around The World is our name for a special Have Family Will Travel series by Oliver Martin, marine biologist at Tahiti’s Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora. With his one-year-old daughter Alyx and partner Laurence Georget, he is crisscrossing the globe checking out Four Seasons hotels and resorts. The aim: to find out how staff at each hotel teaches kids about the local natural environment. (When he’s not traveling, you’ll find Oliver working to restore coral reefs or swimming with whales in French Polynesia.)
Introducing the series
Traveling is fun. Traveling with a toddler in the best conditions is restful and exciting.
Laurence and I have decided to take Alyx—who turned one year old on Oct. 4, 2012—around the world, as often as we can, to interact with other cultures and discover new ecosystems. We’ll try to do it under the best conditions possible: staying at Four Seasons is a good start….
During the next few years, we’ll go to Oceania, Asia, Europe, Africa, South and North America. Being a naturalist and marine biologist, I’ll focus on how toddlers and kids can interact with their new natural environment: all those little things that make youngsters want to learn more about the places they visit.
In each destination, we’ll find the great things to do for toddlers and kids. Activities at the Kids For All Seasons* (KFAS) club, of course, and things kids just like doing with their parents…. Since we live in Bora Bora—very, very close to Four Seasons—I’ll start with this great resort! And I’ll interview those trying to make a difference for the kids who visit.
Hitiatua, Franck and Yannick, native French Polynesians who work with kids at the Bora Bora resort, talked to me with passion about how they try to link the KFAS programming to their local ecosystem. (Meanwhile, Alice and Vairea, KFAS staff, were with Alyx painting mushroom coral.)
Q: What’s your focus?
A: (Hitiatua) From Day 1, I use the whole resort as a big playground for the kids: ocean reef, lagoon side, the lagoon sanctuary and even games in the island endemic flora.
A: (Franck) What I enjoy most is letting them discover the lagoon, but in style: via stand-up paddleboard or outrigger canoe—or Jet Ski for the older ones.
Q: Alice, I see you’ve started coral and coconut painting…
A: (Alice) Yes. Kids find their own coral, shells or coconut on our daily walks and then they get to take them back and paint them using their own imagination. It’s a fun way to learn about our local animal life and plants.
Q: Kids love to play with hermit crabs here, too, right?
A: (Vairea) Yes, and we race them. I often hear kids telling their parents the hermit crabs are harmless here… unless it’s a huge coconut crab, of course!
Q: What about fishing?
A: (Franck) You know that fishing is in our blood. I love to explain to the kids about all the different fish we catch—and release.
Q: And those walks on the reef side?
A: (Alice) One of the best parts of my job is that watching all the creatures becomes a game. I have not spotted a whale yet, but we have them cruising by here from July to October.
Q: Collecting shells is a good way for them to identify new animals…
A: (Hitiatua) And we even teach the kids the local names for them. If we find a new kind of shell, the marine biologist’s office has all the posters so we can identify them.
Q: If kids can swim, they get the whole marine sanctuary to explore, right?
A: (Yannick) Exactly. We make the best use of it. So many different types of marine life right here at the resort. If the kids are eager to learn more, we send them on a Marine Awakening tour with our marine biologist.
Q: What’s your goal for kids participating in the KFAS club?
A: (Hitiatua) You know how much we Polynesians love our island. So I’d say our aim is for those kids to interact as much as possible with our very unique landscape and ecosystem. If they go back home with plenty of pictures in their heads, and have been able to experience a slice of our life, it makes us very proud.
(Thanks, Alice, Hitiatua, Franck, Vairea and… “Faaitoito!”—“Good luck” in Tahitian.)
In December, we will explore a whole new ecosystem. Alyx will first visit Istanbul, crossing the Bosphorus to have a peek at Asia. For this special event, she is inviting her two cousins along. The second stop is Paris. I bet the kids’ programming and the Christmas festivities will capture her attention!
*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 Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, following an educational talk by a diving instructor, kids get to make their own aquarium featuring the exotic creatures of the Red Sea, such as flying fish and parrot fish.
Read more on Bora Bora in Four Seasons Magazine.
Read our Concierge Recommendations for Bora Bora in Four Seasons Magazine.
Oliver Martin is marine biologist at Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora. A French native, Oliver spent most of his youth in Africa and Asia, where he was inspired by his father’s work in aquaculture. Now Oliver is the driving force behind marine conservation and education efforts at the resort, including using the resort’s lagoon as a testing ground, exploring coral grafting techniques and studying fish behavior. Guest education and interaction are key in Oliver’s efforts to preserve the delicate environment for generations to come. He lives in Bora Bora with his partner Laurence Georget, who also works at the resort, and daughter Alyx, who is nearly two. In his free time, he enjoys swimming, writing and long walks on the reefs.
View all posts from Oliver
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