Waterslides are great, sure, but today’s family resorts are going above and beyond when it comes to entertaining kids
* 1. Astronomy at Hyatt Regency Maui
* 2. Cook at The Essex Resort
* 3. Dolphin Encounter at Hawks Cay
* 4. Golf at Kiawah Island Golf Resort
* 5. Horseback Ride at Vista Verde Ranch
* 6. Nature Adventure at Enchantment Resort
* 7. Sail at Pink Shell Beach Resort & Spa
* 8. Surf at Hotel del Coronado
* 9. Tennis at Horseshoe Bay Resort
* 10. Water Sports at Madden’s on Gull Lake
Long gone are the days when a Griswold-esque family vacation was anyone’s idea of fun. Today, modern families require a particular set of leisurely pursuits – and family resorts across the country are pulling out all the stops to offer such fine recreation. On top of the typical smorgasbord of family amenities – day camps, cool pools, kids’ meals – our 10 favorite family resorts offer something different: pioneering learning programs. Yes, we’ve said it. Learning really is fun at these family resorts, where kids can hone in on their latest obsession be it tennis or sailing, learn a new craft like surfing or waterskiing, pick up a few pointers in the kitchen at a cooking school, or star gaze with skill after an intriguing 101 in astronomy. Formulated to engage and inspire, these innovative resort programs span the U.S., from Florida to Vermont, Texas to Minnesota, San Diego to Maui, and provide the winning formula (instruction, encouragement, and rewarding hands-on activities) for a satisfying summer vacation. Plus, the experience and knowhow will last long after your family heads home. Check out our Top 10 Family Resorts Slideshow for a sneak peak at these fun, kid-friendly resorts.
Horseback Ride at Vista Verde Ranch
Vista Verde’s dedicated kids and teens programs ensure guests of all ages get the most out of their dude ranch experience (www.vistaverde.com). Upon arrival at the ranch-style resort – nestled amid green pastures, tall Pines, and duck ponds in Colorado’s lush Elk River Valley – each kid, teen, and adult is paired with a horse that is theirs for the week. Once in the saddle, kids spend the first day in the corral with the “kid wranglers” learning how to ride before heading out onto the trails, while teens have separate trail rides and a weekly campout. Half-day rides for all guests leave most mornings and afternoons with groups divided by age and ability. Back at the ranch, little cowboys and ‘gals enjoy boat races, treasure hunts, and hayrides. The key word at this family resort is flexibility and kids always have the option of doing their own thing (under ranch staff supervision) or joining their parents for family rides and other activities like guided hikes, mountain biking, river rafting, outdoor yoga, rock climbing, or shopping in nearby Steamboat Springs. Everything is included and nothing is mandatory; the staff comes around each evening to find out what guests want to do the following day. Rustic-luxe accommodations comprise rooms in the main lodge and 1- to 3-bedroom private cabins, all of which are furnished with western art and handmade furniture; cabins each have a patio with hot tub.
Summer all-inclusive weekly rates start at $2,700 for adults and $2,000 for kids (ages 6–11) for June 6–27 and August 15–September 12, and $3,400 for adults and $2,700 for kids June 27–August 15. www.vistaverde.com
I went to visit the broodmares yesterday down at the mare barn. They are getting big round bellies, with the babies expected to begin arriving in early May. Chex and Teletubby were outside and were pretty hard to get a picture of as they just wanted to follow me around and see what I had in my hands. They are such sweet girls, and we’re hoping their foals get their pretty looks and kind personalities. It was a cold and snowy day yesterday, but they were still happy to be outside of their stalls getting fresh air. Today is going to be a better day for sunbathing, which is one of the broodmares favorite past times. Our spring newsletter is going out this week with some more information on who is expecting babies, so stay tuned. And you can count on cute baby pictures here on the blog and on our Facebook page as soon as they arrive! Did you also see that we were included in Sherman’s Travel as one of 10 Top Family Resorts?
I met a gentleman the other day who had spent his honeymoon at Vista Verde 51 years ago. He came for a visit with his great friend, Elvin Tufly, who family owned the ranch from the 30's to the 70's. It was great to visit with Elvin's family and friend, and hear stories from days gone.
A Colorado honeymoon 51 years ago was probably a lot different than the romantic honeymoon getaways we are providing guests these days! There weren't bubbling hot tubs, luxury cabin, gourmet meals and guides waiting to take the couple out into the mountains to play. But, the same serene vistas and peacefull quiet provided the young couple a chance to relax and enjoy the beauty of the ranch.
What a great treat to meet these folks, hear their stories, and imagine what life was like at our special Colorado dude ranch just 50 years ago.