By Vicki Hogue-Davies
With all of the hours and planning that goes into a family vacation, the last words you want to hear from the kids are “I’m bored.” It’s an all-too-familiar phrase, though, and Loews Hotels & Resorts is here to vanquish it. From the Loews Loves Kids program to kids’ camps and clubs, the younger set is sure to be entertained at Loews locations across the country. Loews Loves Kids provides welcome gifts and lends games, toys, movies and other items to children; parents are offered conveniences such as cribs, child-proofing kits and rollaway beds. Camp sessions take kids throughout and outside of the properties with creative itineraries that include outdoor adventures, crafts, contests and much more, while children’s menus at on-site restaurants feature healthy choices and kid favorites.
Teens and tweens get the VIP treatment, too, with perks like music download cards, and access to clubrooms as well as libraries with age-appropriate video and board games. Offerings for young guests vary based on the properties’ locations, but they all ensure that each family member has a dream vacation—from long play days for kids to quiet spa dates for parents.
The Beach and Beyond
At Loews Miami Beach Hotel, about 35 percent of guests are families traveling with children or teenagers. The hotel, which Parents magazine named as one of the top 10 beach resorts for families, prides itself on welcoming parents and kids from around the globe.
“We are here to serve as a great home base for families to explore the destination and come back to Loews Miami Beach Hotel knowing that everything they need to have a memorable stay is at their fingertips,” says Managing Director Alex Tonarelli. “We cater to children at every turn, from check-in to special amenities, food and beverage offerings, daily activities and more.”
The hotel’s SoBe Kids Camp offers half- and full-day programs, as well as evening options on Friday and Saturday nights, for children ages 4 to 12. Participants get to enjoy Miami’s beaches with sand-castle building contests and shell-finding expeditions, while arts and crafts foster creativity and scavenger hunts encourage kids to explore.
Children are supervised by enthusiastic, outgoing and experienced camp counselors. “All of our counselors go through a special certification process and various training, including CPR, safety, hotel standards, policies and more,” Tonarelli explains.
In addition to being popular with young hotel guests. SoBe Kids Camp consistently receives high marks from parents. “Our guest feedback always includes SoBe Kids Camp as a popular offering,” Tonarelli adds. “Parents especially comment that the activities are exciting for their kids and that they feel confident knowing their children are being left in capable hands. The camp allows kids to have an educational and fun day, while parents take advantage of our many hotel amenities like the pool and exhale spa.”
Teens and tweens are not forgotten at Loews Miami Beach Hotel. They receive a special welcome amenity that includes a music download gift card, sunglasses and other fun gear. Interactive activities at the pool deck, such as volleyball and water games, are popular with all ages, and the sandy beach is just steps away. For those looking for a break from the sun, the hotel’s clubroom features the latest video games and movies, as well as computer stations and areas for crafts and reading. Teens also have access to a lending library with board and Xbox 360 games, iPads and DVDs.
Loews Ventana Canyon Resort in Tucson, Ariz., ranked No. 28 on the list of top family hotels in the nation in Travel + Leisure’s 2014 World’s Best Awards. Gifts at check-in ensure that kids and teenagers feel welcome as soon as they arrive: Children receive activity books, crayons and a Fisher-Price DVD—either “Precious Places Princesses” or “GeoTrax Trains”—while teens are treated to a music download card for two songs.
Kids visiting Loews Ventana Canyon Resort will find adventure at every turn of the trail. The Coyote Kids Club gives children ages 4 to 12 the opportunity to discover the surrounding Sonoran desert during supervised nature walks on the Ventana Canyon trail and the resort’s Parcourse fitness trail, in addition to expeditions to the nearby waterfall. They also receive a behind-the-scenes look at the resort on back-of-house tours, feed the fish in the koi pond, decorate pinatas and take part in other outings. The club runs each day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“Our activities vary daily and are dependent on the weather and the child’s age,” says Alice Bruce, director of front office. “We try to cater the activities to what the child would like to create and explore. Each child receives a camera to use while in the club to take scavenger hunt pictures and pictures of anything they find interesting. Coyote Club attendants also have cameras to take pictures throughout the day. Each child is sent a photo album documenting their day in the Coyote Kids Club.”
After a busy day exploring, families can reunite for poolside “dive-in” movies. Films are shown on Saturday nights beginning at sunset from mid-March through Labor Day weekend. Last year’s favorites included “Frozen” and “Monsters University.”
Additional poolside events designed with kids (and parents) in mind take place three times a day during spring and summer. “Parents get to relax while their kids participate in the pool activities,” Bruce says.
“The activities include duck races, the Loews Baggo bean bag toss, the Tower of Power cup-stacking competition and more,” she continues. “There is also a pingpong table by the pool. And treats, including chilled cucumbers, Italian ice, frozen grapes and smoothies, are served three times a day.” In addition, water games like raft relays give youngsters a chance to score some great prizes.
Theme Park Thrills
When visiting Loews Portofino Bay Hotel and Loews Royal Pacific Resort in Orlando, Fla., the can’t-miss attractions are obviously Universal Orlando Resort’s two theme parks, says Amy Villegas, director of rooms at Loews Royal Pacific Resort. The parks include award-winning rides like The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, Revenge of the Mummy and The Simpsons Ride.
“They’re right in our backyard,” Villegas says. “The theme parks are only a scenic water taxi ride away, and families can tackle all the exciting attractions in Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure with ease using their [Universal] Unlimited Express pass, a benefit of staying at our on-site hotels. We like to think that our resort hotels are just as much a part of the vacation as the attractions that surround us.”
The Loews Loves Kids program and Kids’ Camps, as well as other family-friendly services and amenities, are also offered at the Loews Universal Orlando hotels.
“As a popular destination for families, it’s important to us to offer an inviting and comfortable atmosphere for guests of all ages,” Villegas says. “Our goal for the Loews Loves Kids program is to make travel fun and easy for parents and children.”
The program provides welcome gifts to kids and teens, a “kids closet” with car seats, outlet protectors and a variety of convenient family items, and a lending library where kids and teens can select games, toys and books. Children’s menus are available at restaurants at both properties and include kid favorites like pizza, burgers, chicken fingers and spaghetti.
“Islands Dining Room at Loews Royal Pacific Resort and Trattoria del Porto at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel also feature dedicated kids’ activity areas with televisions and games, ideal for parents to keep the little ones entertained while dining,” Villegas says. “On select nights at Islands Dining Room and Trattoria del Porto, families can dine with their favorite Universal Orlando theme park characters. In addition, Jake’s American Bar at Loews Royal Pacific Resort offers character breakfasts every Sunday.”
Kids’ camps at the properties, which are operated by an outside vendor, enable parents to enjoy a little adults-only time knowing that their children are being well and safely cared for. The camps, for children ages 4 to 14, are open nightly beginning at 5 p.m. The concierge can help arrange babysitting services for guests with children younger than 4 years old.
“Our kids’ camps offer a fun, safe and monitored environment if parents want to go out for a night on the town,” Villegas says. “Camp counselors keep children entertained with a variety of activities like pingpong, Foosball, arts and crafts, movies and video games.”
Resort recreation teams also provide fun-filled schedules of daily poolside activities for kids, including water-balloon tossing, sidewalk chalk art and family-friendly dive-in movies in the evenings, according to Villegas. “Royal Pacific Resort also features a torch lighting ceremony on Fridays and Saturdays, a unique experience for the whole family, where kids can join in on the ‘oli aloha’ welcoming chant and marvel at the fire dancers.”
Villegas notes that the programs have received excellent feedback throughout the years. “Parents have commented that these programs make their children feel special and one-of-a-kind,” she says. “… The children enjoy a great connection with the camp counselors, and these programs offer kids a great opportunity to make new friends their own age while on vacation.”