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If you have young kids in your life, at some point, you’ve probably heard the old sourpuss advice of “Don’t bother taking them on vacation. They won’t even remember it!” To that, we say … So what? By that same logic, we also shouldn’t play with our kids, take them to parks or museums, or throw them birthday parties. Even if the memories don’t last, isn’t making them the enjoyable part? And then there’s the fact that, often, the things we love most in life, we develop a fondness for early on.

Let travel become one of those things your kids love.

Although there’s no denying traveling with small children does have its challenges, it has many more rewards. Choosing a hotel that’s accustomed to tiny customers is the surest way to ease into the experience of traveling with new members of the family—and to discover wide-eyed wonder on their faces. All-inclusive beach vacations, where you don’t have to pack as much or worry over unexpected expenses (or where to find food the kids will eat), make for a great first family trip, especially at this roundup of resorts.



Bahia Principe Fantasia Punta Cana

If your little royals are fond of fairy tales, this resort is a dream come true. Opt for a room with a view of the on-site castle—yes, seriously—which overlooks the pool, a scenic upgrade from the typical moat. Painted the buttery tan of the beach with white trim and blue turrets to match the sky, it’s the sandcastle we would’ve created as kids if we could. At night, the sight becomes even more magical as a multimedia show serves as the perfect bedtime story.

While the main pool is certainly a crowd-pleaser for its front-row castle seating, the kids water park earns even more points among tiny travelers. Slides, splash areas, and a continuation of the castle theme, but with the additions of candy-colored accents in bright pink, cheery aqua, and sunshine yellow, can keep toddlers and young children entertained for hours.

A brother and sister running toward their parents by the main pool at Bahia Principe Fantasia Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic

Offering even more opportunities to burn off energy—and give parents and guardians a break—is the complimentary kids club on site, open from 9 to 5 (after hours, babysitting services are available beginning at $15 per hour). Children ages 4 – 12 can meet new friends during supervised play. Costume workshops, arts and crafts, cooking lessons, a mini-disco, games, and excursions on the grounds led by CPR-certified staff are just a few items on the roster; mini-golf, table tennis, and boogie boarding make for alternatives the entire family can participate in. 

Older children ages 13 – 17 will appreciate having a club of their own—and so will the adults. Rental bikes, soccer games, dance and cooking lessons, snorkeling, and even a silent disco provide enough additional entertainment that teens will never have an excuse to claim they’re bored.

Adult-Approved Feature: This “ecocentric” hotel is Travelife certified, assuring your stay is a responsible one.


A family of four playing around in the bathroom of a Family Selection suite at Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres Resort & Spa outside of Cancun, Mexico

Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres Resort & Spa

Just a short distance away lies another top pick for families taking their first all-inclusive vacation together. Sure to deliver a “Grand” time for guests of all ages, here, everyone can find their niche. 

Kids will want to spend most of their time at the Mini Club, open during the day to the 4 – 12 set. Mixing education with play, all-day entertainment ranges from STEM-based projects to sing-a-longs and live shows. 

A children’s pool, one of four on the grounds, offers fun the whole family can get in on, while a robust kids menu keeps fussy mealtime fits at bay. Staples like pizza, grilled cheese, chicken tenders, nachos, hot dogs, hamburgers, tacos, and basic pasta dishes fill up tiny tummies at lunch and dinner; waffles, pancakes, and french toast make the most important meal of the day a happy one all around.

The Teens Club at Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres Resort & Spa in Mexico
The Mini Club at Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres Resort & Spa in Mexico
The private Family Selection lounge at Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres Resort & Spa in Mexico

Helping teenagers stay smiling, the Teens Club, a full game and activities program run by the resort’s POP Entertainment team, and, of course, the pools and beach let them fluctuate between family time and time on their own.

What makes the Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres really stand out, however, is a unique offering: the Baby Club. While most hotels don’t organize activities for kids younger than 3 or 4, the Baby Club welcomes 1-, 2-, and 3-year-olds between 9 AM and 5 PM. 

Parents and guardians who want their children to experience the joys of travel from a young age will be pleased to know their toddlers are in capable hands, freeing them up to relax by the pool, sunbathe by the sea, or go on a day-date on the grounds—all without ever being far from their little adventurers. Plus, the resort can also arrange to have baby-musts like a complimentary pack-and-play, crib, stroller, and bottle warmer waiting in your room at check-in. For an additional cost, you can request diapers, wipes, or even formula, massively reducing the amount you need to pack.

Adult-Approved Feature: The Family Section. Offering Family Suites with kid-friendly amenities like beach toys and goggles as well as kid-sized robes, slippers, and a stool for reaching the bathroom sink, these accommodations have everything families need. Extra perks include access to a private pool and the services of a Family Host.

Kids playing at the children's splash park at Dreams Natura Resort & Spa in Riviera Cancun, Mexico

Dreams® Natura Resort & Spa

Family and luxury go hand-in-hand at Dreams® Resorts & Spas, a brand belonging to the Inclusive Collection, part of Hyatt Hotels & Resorts. This particular property, found on the Riviera Cancun coastline, adds nature-inspired touches to the mix: rooms colored in an ocean palette, an infinity pool crafted to look like one of the Yucatan’s cenotes.

Yet as stunning as that pool is, it’s not the aquatic feature families will spend the most time enjoying. It’s either the children’s splash park or family water park that will likely claim that honor. At the former, young guests can run through water spray jets, shrieking with glee as they go; race down four slides; and get soaked by a giant water bucket. At the latter—open to all ages and at no additional cost—water slides, raft slides, and a 607-foot lazy river are the attractions sure to please.

Nor are they the only ones. Parents and guardians can make the most of family time while staying dry, too. Ping pong, live shows, horseshoes, Bocce, bingo, and music trivia all create opportunities to play together.

The Explorer's Club for kids at Dreams Natura Resort & Spa in Riviera Cancun, Mexico
The water park at Dreams Natura Resort & Spa in Riviera Cancun, Mexico

For those times when the adults need a little bit of a break, the kids club is an excellent pick—especially when that kids club is the Explorer’s Club. Kiddos ages 3 – 12 can make new friends as the American Red Cross-certified staff lead them through new discoveries:

•    Arts and crafts
•    Playground time
•    Storytelling and music sessions
•    Treasure hunts
•    Sandcastle competitions
•    Board and video games
•    Stage shows
•    Snack time

For a charge, kids can try on another hat, a torque, as part of Le Petite Chef. Teaching aspiring young cooks simple recipes, it’s a popular program on site; adult chefs can sign up for cooking classes suited to their level of experience, letting the whole family get in on the challenge.

Adult-Approved Feature: The reservation-free dining. Parents and guardians don’t need to stress about planning in advance—or trying to find a kid-friendly menu. Early risers and late-night won’t-go-to-sleepers will appreciate the 24/7 hours of Coco Café, included as part of the Unlimited-Luxury® experience.

Two young girls running ahead of their parents on the beach at a Dreams Resort & Spa in Mexico

Dreams® Aventuras Riviera Maya

Proving bigger isn’t always better, this smaller Dreams® resort is easily managed by families—but that doesn’t mean it skimps on things to do. You could stroll around the village, popping into shops or stopping for a bite to eat … and maybe even get the little one to take a nap. Or, you could get everyone in on the latest sports craze with a game of family-friendly pickleball. Bike rides around the grounds are sure to be a hit with school-age kids, and respective clubs for guests 3 – 12 and 13 – 17 offer more age-appropriate fun.

Nighttime events like movies on the beach and live shows will have the kids begging you to push back bedtime—though the adults may be tempted to take advantage of the resort’s childcare services (fee applies) for a date night on site. Come daytime, the saltwater pool on the beach makes for another popular choice. Kids can play I Spy as they search for colorful fish among the coral just beyond the shoreline (a game easily continued in a Marina View room).

If you can tear the kids away, they can find more aquatic fun at the children’s pool, splashing down—or crawling up, as kids always do—the mini slides. After, let them build their own fun, literally, as you make a sandcastle down on the beach … or simply enjoy some quiet time to the sounds of the Caribbean.

Adult-Approved Feature: The connecting rooms. Parents and guardians with kids falling into a wide range of ages will want the extra space with the peace of mind of knowing everyone’s still all together. Tweens and teens will love the added privacy—and spot to Facetime their friends from.

An Aladdin-themed stage show performance at Catalonia Grand Costa Mujeres in Mexico

Catalonia Grand Costa Mujeres

Long car rides and young children are rarely a good mix. Thankfully, this resort is just over half an hour away from the Cancun airport, giving the kids enough time to have fun looking out the windows, but not so much that they start to feel restless. Once there, they’ll be able to enjoy a full mix of activities at the kids club, open to vacationers ages 4 – 10.

Art classes, some incorporating Mexican crafts and others focused on designing t-shirts, headbands, masks, or bracelets, let children flex their creative muscles while yoga sessions give them the chance to physically stretch. The schedule varies by day, but kids can generally expect a lineup that also includes:

•    Dance or pinata parties
•    Face painting
•    Movie time
•    Recycled craft-making
•    Outdoor play

An indoor play area at the kids club at Catalonia Grand Costa Mujeres
The kids club playground at Catalonia Grand Costa Mujeres
The game area of the teens club at Catalonia Grand Costa Mujeres in Mexico

Although open for most of the day (9:45 AM to 5 PM), the club does close between 1 and 2 PM. Parents/guardians can reconnect with the kiddos over a meal at one of the six restaurants open for lunch, each of which features a menu for young guests. The buffet, Gran Caribe, is a particular favorite for its children’s display and seating.

In the afternoon, older siblings can hang out at the teens club. From 3 to 7 PM, they can show off their competitive side with trivia, Mexican Bingo, and other games; from 8 until 11, their social side can take over as they meet up with friends for (supervised) teen-only events.

On nights when the whole family wants to be together, nightly shows and DJ-spun tunes at 5th Avenue keep things lively. Live music at the piano bar provides a throwback all ages can get behind. During the day, a Disney quiz led by the resort’s entertainment team lets adults tap into their childhood for smiles all around. 

Originally Sourced from the TavelBlogue by Kelly Gould

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