November 17, 2010

Top Ten List for Family Travelers

This weekend I attended Brownell Travel’s annual sales meeting in Atlanta. I spent an intensive two days meeting with travel suppliers from all over the world to find out the latest news for families. Here is my top ten list from the weekend:

1. Ireland is an amazing value right now due to their struggling economy. Families can have an affordable European vacation while at the same time helping a country in need. There are activities to please all ages, from fishing & falconry to castle and farm visits, and family-friendly accommodations, including connecting rooms, are the norm.

2. The Mansion on Peachtree, a Rosewood hotel in Atlanta, is offering "Elf on the Shelf" packages over the holiday, and guests of all ages can join the search for the elusive little elf. A whimsical tea service will feature a book reading and signing by the authors.

3. The lodges run by explora in Patagonia and Atacama not only welcome kids, they offer family rooms. With all meals, excursions, drinks and transfers included, it’s an easy way to visit some of the most dramatic and remote areas on the planet.

4. Brendan Vacations has added four new family trips, including “Monkeys, Jungles, and Volcanoes” in Costa Rica and “Trails of Liberty” in the eastern US. Designed for all ages, the family trips include rooms that sleep four, and kid-friendly activities such as making a chocolate bar at the Hershey factory.

5. A ski butler at the Ritz Carlton Bachelor Gulch makes getting on & off the slopes with kids easier. When you’re ready to hit the slopes, your equipment will be ready and warm. And at the end of the day, there is no need to go back to room before heading out for a meal or another activity. They also have a hot chocolate sommelier!

6. Crystal Cruises’ Family Memories program provides special amenities with a minimum of only 3 cabins booked together, including prepaid gratuities, shipboard credits, and a family photo. And children under 17 are free when sharing a cabin with two adults.

7. Sardinia is easy to visit being only an hour flight from Rome or Milan. With gorgeous beaches and a Mediterranean feel, it is a relaxing way to wrap up a tour of Italy, especially when traveling with kids.

8. Alnwick Castle, which portrayed Hogwarts in the Harry Potter movies, is 3 hours by train from London, a reasonable day trip for fans. The current home of the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland, it offers fun activities for kids including knight training and Dragon’s Quest.

9. The iconic Hotel Cipriani in Venice has introduced “The Smile Club,” a complimentary program for children ages 4-12 to play and experience Italian culture, leaving parents free to go sightseeing or just relax. Activities include traditional Venetian arts & crafts, pizza-making, treasures hunts, and fruit-picking, and even mini-manicures.

10. Viviani Wine Country Specialists can craft a family itinerary for all ages in Napa & Sonoma, from a private safari (yes, a safari in California!), to kayaking and cycling, to sailing on San Francisco Bay where kids can try their hand as captain.

This just scratches the surface of the information I received this weekend. Over the next few weeks I’ll write in more in-depth about specific suppliers & destinations. In the meantime, if you'd like help with planning the family vacation of your dreams, contact me at

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