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Making Memories: What Family Travel Is All About

Milwaukee Know How

Over the past few decades, we've helped many parents and grandparents plan exceptional vacations with their children and grandchildren. In fact, now some of those children are planning their own family travels with us! And the one thing we consistently hear from these returning members is how precious their memories are of sharing special times with family members—especially beloved parents/grandparents. After all, time is fleeting, and time spent together as a family is one of the greatest investments we can make.

We love what one Hideaways member, Don Swartz of Moses Lake, Washington, said of his family's multigenerational travels. "Many years ago, my wife, Carolann, and I decided that the best gifts we could give our children and grandchildren were memories and times together—and that idea grew into the establishment of what we call the Swartz Family Vacation Trust. It's a gift that cannot be lost, taken away, or worn out. The result, with a growing number of participants over the years, has been trips to Maui, Monterrey, Kiawah Island, Sun River in Oregon, and rafting the Colorado River in Utah. Our Italy trip, however, was an all-time favorite, and centered around a glorious week at a spectacularly appropriate villa booked through Hideaways."

We have a ton of great ideas for age-appropriate family vacations, from right here in our back yard to halfway around the world. And note, "age-appropriate" is the clincher here; nothing spells disaster like little ones who have been pushed beyond their limit or older kids who are bored to tears.

And so, with the summer travel season just around the corner, we offer these timely tips for traveling with kids plus a whole bunch of insight on how to plan a successful family vacation—Hideaways-style!

Traveling with Children: Choose Wisely

When it comes time to plan your family vacation, consider the sort of activities you and your kids already enjoy together. Younger children probably are going to love anything to do with water—think pools and beaches—while older teens might enjoy more adventurous pursuits like white-water rafting, animal safaris, and Segway sightseeing. You know your kids best, so be sure you choose a destination and travel theme you all can be comfortable with.

The Kelley family "spinning their wheels"
along San Francisco's Pier 39

When her children were quite young, Hideaways Travel Services Manager Darcy Allen planned a restful family beach vacation in a three-bedroom condo on Grand Cayman, and had this advice. "I recommend a ground-floor unit if your family has small children. We found this incredibly helpful; when our young son was taking a nap, I could sit on our terrace with a book, see the ocean, and still be within earshot."

When your kids reach the age that they're bored with the beach, or you simply want to expand their horizons, you'll find you have more options available. Hideaways member Mark Kelley spent one year with his wife and 14-year-old twins doing a "city tour" that included visits to Washington, D.C., New York, Chicago, and San Francisco.

"To round out our Northern California trip, we drove a section of Pacific Coast Highway from Monterey to San Francisco—about 110 miles of scenic beauty that the kids had not yet experienced," Mark said. "Of course, when in Monterey you have to do the aquarium, and the kids loved it. We also rented bikes and rode all the way down past Asilomar State Beach and Carmel and then back again for about a three-hour ride—a fantastic route with amazing views. Finally, any time our family has a chance to get on Segways, we take it. So when we learned that City Segway Tours was only two blocks from our hotel in San Francisco, we couldn't wait! We spent several hours zipping all along the wharf and out to The Presidio, up and down some hills and back—great fun!"

Introducing your children to a favorite, more "mature" destination like Europe can be a real turning point in your family vacation dynamics. When member Pat Leyman and her husband decided the time was right for their teenage children to have their first taste of Europe, they turned to Hideaways for help. "We started planning this vacation to Spain on our own—we weren't Hideaways members at the time—and it became completely overwhelming," said Pat. "We'd been thinking of visiting Morocco also, which was complicating things . . . Darcy [at Hideaways] convinced us we were trying to cram too much into just under two weeks.

"This also proved to be a transitional sort of trip for Bobby and Carleigh," Pat continued. "Typically we take them skiing or surfing, so they're used to having active vacations. This would be more culture-oriented travel, so it was important to have plenty of on-the-go experiences that would keep them from getting bored. Turned out, one of our favorite things to do in Barcelona was wander up and down Las Ramblas looking in the shop windows and deli cases at all the interesting foods. The kids loved it!"

Keeping multiple generations happy can be even more challenging. You have to make sure the kids are kept busy while not wearing out the grandparents. Member Jamie Andriacchi sought Hideaways' help for the perfect solution to planning a multigenerational trip. "We're a very active family with two teenagers," she said, "so we thought it would be smart to mix it up with some active adventures plus relaxing times to share with the children's grandparents. Also, the entire family was looking forward to sun, water, and immersion in nature. For all our criteria, Costa Rica turned out to be the perfect three-generation destination."

Villas to the Rescue

If you're a large multigenerational family traveling with children ranging in age from quite young to older and more savvy, you can't go wrong with a villa vacation, whether beachfront in Jamaica, in the countryside of Italy, or city-center in one of Europe's historic capitals. You'll have plenty of room to spread out, you might score your own swimming pool, and the convenience of having a kitchen means little ones can stay on a schedule while older kids can make their own snacks and head off for close-to-home adventures. And who knows what entertainment you might find close at hand?

For instance, when Don Swartz and his family vacationed at their villa in Tuscany, there were 14 family members ranging in age from 2 to 68. It didn't take long to discover what the kids really wanted to do. "The extensive property was especially well suited to a family with young children," said Don, "and after a few days, having ventured into surrounding towns, our grandchildren told us they preferred being at the villa. Who could blame them? They had plenty of room to roam, and hanging out with the many animals—ducks, turtles, sheep, chickens, a rooster, and goats—was a popular daily activity."

Privacy is another plus when renting a villa, as Hideaways member Stephanie Andrews and her husband discovered when they traveled to the Greek islands of Mykonos and Santorini. "This trip included the twist of bringing along our 17-year-old daughter, Alex, and her good friend, Gaby, also 17," said Stephanie. "When the girls had their moments of 'too much time together,' each had a place to go off and be alone for a while. Interestingly, en route to our villa in Santorini . . . the girls said, 'Hey, cool! This place looks like where they filmed Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.' Lo and behold, that's exactly where it was filmed! Both girls were quite impressed."

Kids on Cruises

We know what you're thinking. "My high-energy kids (or grandkids), confined to a cruise ship for a week? Doesn't sound like a vacation to me!" But that's where you're wrong. Given the right cruising environment, your kids can take to water like a duck and be perfectly content, with age-appropriate on-board activities along with shore excursions and adventures designed to pique their curiosity and leave them pleasantly exhausted at day's end. It just takes the right fit when it comes to a cruise ship and itinerary, and that's where we come in.

Hideaways has the scoop on which lines offer family-friendly sailings, for what ages, and when. The following are a couple of our favorites for their dedicated family itineraries, kid-friendly excursions, and more.

Family river cruising in Europe is a relatively new trend that we heartily recommend for its engaging cultural opportunities disguised as great fun. Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection has done a good job of appealing to parents of school-aged children with its 2016 Family Adventures in Europe. Select itineraries have family activities centered around one or more themes, including "Arts & Crafts Lovers," "Curious Minds," "Mysterious Stuff," and "Thrill Seekers!" For instance, a ten-day cruise from Milan to Venice could find you and your kids harvesting mussels, trying your hand at gondola rowing, learning the art of mask making, and taking the spooky Venice Ghost Walk. To top it off, children between the ages of 4 and 18 cruise for half-price (cruise-only fare) on select Uniworld family itineraries and sailings.


Learning made fun—all part of
a family sailing with Un-Cruise Adventures

If your family embodies the "active" in "activities," then Un-Cruise Adventures THC could be your perfect fit. Its small-ship family cruising is like being in a floating classroom—only way more fun! Kids don't even realize they're learning as they take part in tide pool treasure hunts and don costumes for a re-enactment of Oregon Trail pioneers. Then there are paddle-board races, snorkeling with sea lions, burro rides, hikes with a naturalist, storytelling and s'mores around a beach bonfire—the list goes on and on! Best yet, you'll save $500 per child (ages 8 to 13) on select family cruises.

Hideaways President Mike Thiel sailed Mexico's Sea of Cortés with Un-Cruise on an itinerary that was designated a "Family Adventure." Among the 50 or so guests aboard the Safari Endeavor were about a dozen kids ranging from age 8 to 18, along with their parents and/or grandparents. "Essentially, the kids on my cruise were 'self-tending,'" said Mike. "But they certainly weren't left to their own devices. The guides on board did a fantastic job of tending their small flock, piquing their curiosity about nature while educating and entertaining them with knot tying, a photo scavenger hunt . . . and examining creatures caught in a trawl set out from the ship. The kids also got special instruction on snorkeling and kayaking."

Even large ships can be family friendly, with youth programs and kids clubs. But there's a big difference between an entertaining cruise and an inspiring one. Given the choice, we'll steer you in the direction of inspiring most every time.

Come "Home" on Vacation

Some hotels and resorts really shine when it comes to making your kids feel comfortable as they travel. Here are a few of our favorite family-friendly hotels from The Hideaways Collection® that make traveling with children seem easy.

Family apartments with pop-up bunk beds are just one of the reasons The Athenaeum THC in London is a brilliant kid-friendly choice. All apartments have kitchens, and the hotel's Kids' Concierge will have age-appropriate books, games, and DVDs waiting for you when you arrive. Kids also get their own pint-sized robe and slippers plus turndown service with milk and cookies. And The Athenaeum is located directly across from the Royal Parks, so the Kids' Concierge can arrange for you to fly kites, have a game of Frisbee, ride bikes, or take a boat ride on Serpentine Lake.

Petting zoos, puppet shows, pony rides, gelato tasting, and gladiator school—all these family activities are at your doorstep when you stay at the Hotel SavoyTHC in Florence. Throughout 2016, you can book their Family Suite Package and get a complimentary interconnecting or adjacent room for two children (blackout dates may apply). You'll also get daily breakfast for the whole family, complimentary meals for children under 6, a 50-percent discount on meals for 7- to 11-year-olds, and complimentary Wi-Fi and in-house movies. During your stay, be sure your kids try the Pinocchio Experience, a unique workshop where they'll learn some of Florence's traditional artisan skills as they fashion pieces of wood into puppets.

Generations of families have been spending their precious vacations at Round Hill Resort and VillasTHC in Jamaica, and for obvious reasons. Kids are valued guests, and the resort offers 110 acres for them to explore under the guidance of Round Hill's highly trained staff. The Pineapple Kids' Club offers a full day of activities, from basket weaving and talent shows to outdoor games and an organic garden tour. Families that want to play together can snorkel, kayak, or take a glass-bottom boat ride. On Jamaica Night, you'll get a dose of local culture as you and your kids sample a buffet of traditional Jamaican foods and watch a folklore performance complete with steel drums and acrobatics.

Kids and critters are a natural combination, and The Fairmont OrchidTHC on the Big Island of Hawaii delivers with "Turtle Talks" and guided tide pool explorations for the whole family. The resort's entertaining Hui Holokai Beach Club Ambassadors will lead you and your kids in palm frond weaving, hula lessons, petroglyph hikes, outrigger canoe adventures, and storytelling sessions. But the real goosebumps occur as you watch the Hui Holokai perform the evening torch lighting and blowing of the conch shell, a ritual signifying the end of another day in paradise.

Looking for even more great family travel ideas? Just give us a call at 800-843-4433, or email

Our final suggestion: If you're considering a multigenerational family vacation, don't put it off—life is too short! Take it from Hideaways member Donna Rigor da Eva, who traveled to Spain with her two teenage daughters and her 83-year-old mom, three generations of females headed off for adventure. "While the girls and I had a hard time deciding what our favorite part of the trip was—we loved it all—my mother didn't even hesitate when we asked her," said Donna. "She said it was spending time with her granddaughters, traveling with them while exploring a new place. She said she loved coming home with new memories to share, instead of always talking about 'the old days.' And that's what this trip was all about."

We couldn't have said it better, Donna!

Family Fun2

When Robert Land and his wife, Ruth, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, considered how best to mark their 60th wedding anniversary, the choice was clear—they wanted to celebrate the milestone occasion with their family! The result was a multigenerational trip to St. Croix in the USVI, where 11 family members ranging in age from 8 to 84 enjoyed a weeklong stay at The Buccaneer THC.

This expansive, landmark island resort has been owned and operated by three generations of the Armstrong family, so they know something about keeping families happy. According to the Lands' daughter, Sharon Harig, the location was convenient to get to, and the two-bedroom Family Cottage Suites, set on a hillside overlooking the sea, were perfect for the whole gang, which included five kids and six adults. "When we arrived, there was even a welcome basket of goodies in each suite, which was very nice," she said.

Boys and water--a winning combination!

Boys and water—a winning combination!

The Buccaneer has something for everyone, so the Lands and their brood were never at a loss for ways to keep busy. "The kids thoroughly enjoyed the swimming pool," said Sharon, "and the tennis courts were an added bonus. They also used the volleyball court and some of the complimentary activities at Mermaid Beach.

"We were on the island while they were having what the locals call 'Christmas winds,' so this meant it was windy every day," Sharon continued. "It made for pleasant sunning on the beach, but it also caused riptides and kept the water churned up, so the kids couldn't snorkel off the beach the way they had hoped. We did get in one snorkeling excursion to Buck Island with an outfit called Big Beard's, and the kids enjoyed it immensely."

According to Sharon, staff members at The Buccaneer went out of their way to make sure the Lands' family vacation was a success. "One day, my son got a sunburn on his face, so that night I called the front desk to see if the gift shop would have anything I could buy for it. Ten minutes later, a stalk of real aloe was delivered to our door! His face was healed the next day! Also, there was a gentleman who cleared tables every morning at breakfast, and he was never not happy! He made a life-long impression on our kids."

During their stay, the family was treated to The Buccaneer's Christmas buffet, which Sharon thought was excellent, with a variety of options for everyone. "We also had a fun anniversary dinner at the beachfront restaurant, at its Chillin' and Grillin' night," Sharon said. "This was arranged by the resort's concierge, who was very helpful in making the dinner arrangements before we arrived. I had emailed her a photo of my parents on their wedding day, which she printed out for me. She also helped me have a floral arrangement delivered. That evening, the flowers were waiting for us at the table along with the photo in a frame that the resort provided. And the dinner itself was terrific!

"I have to say, we all felt very fortunate to be able to celebrate such a milestone occasion with my parents in such a beautiful place," Sharon added. "And being on the island of St. Croix over the Christmas holiday will always be remembered as special by those of us in the family who are used to a white Christmas! By the end of the trip, everyone was asking my parents—only somewhat jokingly—where we're going for their 61st anniversary!"

March/April 2016

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* Hideaways Aficionado Club is a registered trademark of Hideaways International, Inc.
Copyright © 2021 Hideaways International, Inc.
All Rights Reserved