Family travel is booming right now, and the exciting news is that our appetite for new destinations is growing. As a consequence, services and infrastructure just for families are showing up well beyond traditional favorite family destinations. Here’s what to expect for the New Year in global family travel…
Example of families actively seeking authentic experiences outside of the hotel walls when traveling (Lucca, Tuscany).
(Read my Top 10 Family Trips for 2013 on Ciao Bambino!)
Hawaii, Disney and the U.S. National Parks are still popular, but now families are making an effort to mix new domestic and international destinations into their annual vacation schedule. Where? Everywhere. Social media makes sharing experiences before, during and after travel effortless. And as a result, there’s a continual flow of ideas and information between families around where to go next.
Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram have become the planning tools—there’s nothing more motivating than glorious photos of kids and their parents enjoying an incredible destination. Friends are the ultimate trusted resource.
Once families arrive at their vacation spot, they continue to prioritize authentic experiences in which to engage the kids in local culture. Gone are the days when the hotel was the destination. Trips now encompass a broad spectrum of components inside and outside accommodation walls. Hotels are facilitating access to extraordinary experiences for families by partnering with best-in-class local operators offering excursions, tours and classes.
The Recreation Manager, Claudia Caringi, at Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris is in place just for this purpose. Claudia is busy brainstorming and planning exciting events and other customized programs for families visiting Paris this year.
The big challenge luxury brands are facing in 2013 is to ensure that they appeal and offer highly personalized services to a variety of generations with increasingly different needs. While landmark hotels around the world are struggling to accomplish this task, Four Seasons Hotel Washington, DC has mastered “new luxury” beautifully. The property opened Michael Mina’s BOURBON STEAK with a hip and fresh vibe, while working hard to ensure this modern element changes nothing about the exceptional service standard and elegant guest experience their ultra loyal clientele expects from this Washington, D.C. icon.
Farm-to-table dining continues to be a hot trend—and more hotels are extending organic, creative choices to kids’ menus; for example, in Miami at Four Seasons Hotel Miami’s EDGE, Steak & Bar, where healthy preparation and accompaniments are the star attraction.
What’s next? Hotels have refined programming for young children, particularly at resort properties where kids’ clubs function much like summer camp and roll out endless creative activities for children under 12 years old. Next, hotels must figure out how to successfully customize amenities and services for teens.
Stay tuned. At this year’s International Luxury Travel Market (ILTM) show in Cannes, France, age-appropriate appeal was a constant topic of discussion. I suspect we’re about to see a plethora of enticing teen programs at hotels around the world.
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.
View all posts from Amie
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