Winter has its charms, but long winter nights and multi-layer dressing have us in need of a big dose of sunshine. Here’s a great list of sun-drenched getaways for every type of family vacationer.
For the Bohemian
Natura Cabana Boutique Hotel & Spa, Dominican Republic
Natura Cabana hits the perfect note of eco bliss—special enough to feel like a treat, but laid-back enough to make you feel like you’re not overdoing it. Originally the home of a Chilean couple who moved to Dominican Republic with their four young daughters (he, an architect; she, a naturopath enthusiast), the residence has expanded to a small cluster of private bungalows, pool and two restaurants. Luckily, the expansion hasn’t been at the expense of Natura Cabana’s unique touches and respect for nature. Surrounded by foliage on three sides and beach on the other, a visit to Natura Cabana really does feel worlds away, even though it’s a short plane ride from the East Coast and just outside the town of Cabarete.
Don’t miss: On-site 90 minute yoga classes at $20; Learn to Surf in Three Days packages (open to all ages)
For the Resort Lover
The Grand Wailea Resort, Maui
$$$ – $$$$ Moderate to Luxury
The Grand Wailea is a regular top-award winner on pretty much every family resort list, and it’s easy to see why. It’s located just beyond the sand of one of the world’s most beautiful beaches, but with five championship golf courts, a sumptuous spa, eleven tennis courts, multiple swimming pools and a 2,000 feet long man-made river on the resort grounds, many Grand Wailea visitors probably never see it.
The kids club is also world class. Based in their 20,000 sq ft facility, it offers everything from karaoke and XBox for teens (or dads) to crafts and Legos for the younger ones. Camp and kids activities go on even when the sun goes down so parents can enjoy a quiet dinner while the kids enjoy their own evening fun with a round of walkie-talkie tag or at a glow in the dark party.
Don’t miss: The Fishpipe the world’s first water rotating barrel ride.
For the A La Carte-er
Tranquility Bay, Marathon Key, Florida
An understated group of townhomes on the Marathon Key, Tranquility Bay is exactly what the name promises. Families can spend their days relaxing poolside or at the small (we mean tiny!) protected beach, or visit the inspiring Turtle Hospital right next door. For the more adventurous, Bahia Honda State Park is twelve miles south and offers enough exploring and fun to keep the family entertained for days. Townhomes are individually owned, but they’re all spacious and the grounds and homes well-maintained.
For the Rugged Adventurer
Cloud Forest Lodge, Monteverde, Costa Rica
For parents who love adrenaline-raising adventure, having kids can often mean trading in the rock climbing for afternoons at the Lil’ Gym. A stay at the Cloud Forest Lodge means reclaiming that adventurous spirit, while still keeping it safe for the kids. This family-friendly establishment doesn’t boast a lot of frills—the plumbing is sensitive (no flushing the TP, you have to toss it), and the energy-saving lighting means nighttime lighting is on the dim side—but visitors are here for the amazing wildlife just outside the door. There’s frog pools to explore (with over twenty species of frogs), butterfly gardens to gambol in, and then of course, there’s the Sky Walk Tour. This series of suspended bridges lets you explore the forest canopy in safety, and from an amazing perspective.
For the Luxury Hound
Capella Pedregal Hotel, Baja, Mexico
Located at the tip of the Baja Peninsula, the trek to Capella Pedregal is worth the effort. The epitome of chic, rustic, luxury you won’t find anything wanting except maybe a few more days of vacation. Capella prides itself on service, and on check in every guest is given their own Personal Assistant. Families blend smoothly into the Capella environment with kids pools, kids club and other family-friendly amenities and activities mingling with honeymooners sans problem. Many of the rooms offer full kitchens, always a plus for families who don’t always want to have to coax the kids out their pajamas for every meal. The 24-hour kitchen will also deliver meals directly to your room so you can really kick back and relax. For families looking for a full package of fun and service, check out the Capella’s Family Connection package. It includes your very own butler, meals prepared in your room, family activities and a beach photo shoot (perfect for next year’s holiday card!).
Don’t miss: One day cooking class. You’ll return home a mole expert.