Being the kids of a family travel writer is a pretty good gig. My children have spent most of their five years traveling all over the country. These guys have seen more incredible sights in six months than I did in my first 18 years! Our jet-set lifestyle has resulted in the creation of two miniature hotel critics who really do know what they are talking about.
My son has an affinity for kids’ clubs and is happy to tell me what he likes and dislikes about each one. My daughter is keen on aesthetics, and will often point out when she enjoys the landscaping, architecture or plush down duvets; comparing them to those at another hotel she may have recently visited. Once, while visiting a resort in Southern California, she proclaimed: “Mommy, this hotel’s buildings look like Four Seasons Santa Barbara, but I like the way the Four Seasons looks more!” This girl knows her stuff.
Recently, my family had the opportunity to stay at Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North, and all four of us jaded travelers were blown away by our experience. Many luxury resorts take steps to make sure each adult feels like a VIP, but few give kids the same royal treatment they deserve.
My kids visited the complimentary Kids For All Seasons* club twice during our stay; both times they begged and pleaded to stay longer. What child wouldn’t want to spend all day in a club that features Foosball, ping pong, a video game room with individual plasma screen televisions and gaming systems, a movie theater with leather recliners and an old fashioned popcorn maker, arts and crafts galore, and even a Barbie Dream House.
To be honest, my husband and I found it impossible to leave without sneaking in a few games of ping pong ourselves. My often shy daughter chatted away with Richie, one of the staff members, giving him her life story while they bonded over coloring pictures of Disney princesses. Meanwhile, my son was happy to play games all day long with his newfound friends.
The pool is always a focal point for any traveling child, especially in a desert destination like Scottsdale. The resort features three pools: a large, main pool with its stunning views of Pinnacle Peak; a smaller, lower pool, reserved for adult guests; and a shallow wading pool, ideal for children who have yet to master the art of swimming. Since my kids are still perfecting their doggie paddles, my husband and I opted to relax in one of the cabañas while the kids splashed to their heart’s content in the wading pool.
Luckily, the fact that we left their pool toys at home was a non-issue because Four Seasons had enough water noodles and dive rings stashed in a big teak chest to keep an entire pool full of kids happy. We even spotted a shaded infant flotation device which would have been a lifesaver for a young family who’d left theirs behind (been there, done that). The poolside menu offered all sorts of healthy-yet-tasty treats, including made-to-order smoothies, which my kids especially enjoyed.
Most restaurants will throw in a box of three crayons and a paper menu with nothing but chicken fingers, hot dogs, cheese pizza and macaroni-and-cheese at kids and be done with it. (Because, evidently, that is all kids eat.) Children dining at Talavera, the resort’s upscale yet casual steakhouse, are in for a first-class experience. They are presented menus shaped like cows or pigs with the different cuts of meat highlighted in a mosaic on one side and dinner options on the other. Simply stated, it is the most adorable and creative children’s menu I have ever seen. Kids also receive paper chef’s hat and crayons to create their culinary fashion masterpiece.
While mom and dad are in heaven indulging in melt-in-your-mouth bites of Wagyu flat iron and sinful Gruyere mashed potatoes, the children can enjoy their own appropriately portioned filet of beef. After dinner, my kids put on their newly decorated hats and headed back into the kitchen to meet the chef and help put the finishing touches on their dessert. If that isn’t a VIP experience, I don’t know what is!
Families looking for a casual dining experience should head to Crescent Moon. The restaurant features Modern Mexican cuisine, with entrées such as deliciously rich lobster enchiladas and creative pasilla chile-braised short ribs with chorizo mac ‘n cheese. And while the usual “safe” foods (i.e., pizza) are on the children’s menu, the focus is on dishes that complement the adult menu—carne asada tacos with rice and beans, plus healthy options like grilled salmon with rice and veggies (of which my daughter left no trace of on her plate).
Overall, it is the little extra-special touches that all add up to an extraordinary experience. The stuffed coyotes (now named Wolfie and Batman) my children were given at check-in will serve as permanent reminders of the vacation they spent in the desert. The special stones that the concierge had in a bin near her station were like treasure for my gemologists in training.
Telescopes in every suite, complete with custom constellation charts for the Arizona night sky, enhance the resort’s complimentary stargazing program and create fun family bonding moments. Bathrooms are appointed with bath products for children; and pint-sized spa robes make kids feel special. There is even a children’s menu in the in-room dining portfolio. All of these small perks show both thoughtfulness and an effort to make kids feel included in every moment of the Four Seasons experience. And that is why my family already has plans to return.
Read more about Scottsdale in Four Seasons Magazine.
*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.
Sharlene Earnshaw is Editor in Chief of Trekaroo, a family travel review website dedicated to helping families travel better with kids. She is based in Orange County, California. Sharlene travels frequently with her five-year-old twins, who have inherited her wicked case of wanderlust. She loves national parks, luxury resorts and sharing her experiences with whoever will listen.
View all posts from Sharlene
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