A firm believer that travel is the best education, I’m all about seeing the world with my kids. Still, when I get to steal away with my family on vacation, nothing rings like music to my ears quite like these three words: free kids club. I used to think that an all-inclusive resort someplace like the Caribbean was the only way to enjoy the benefit of a few free (or included) hours of supervised child care. But here’s a newsflash: There are actually hotels right here in the US that throw in this terrific perk and one of them is bookable with traditional hotel points.
Free kids clubs are a win-win situation for everyone — the kids get the stimulation of new people, a new play situation and fun with others their age, and I get the reward of time for a spa treatment or perhaps just a few uninterrupted hours with my husband to lounge poolside. Read on for some fine properties in the US where free child care — whether just for a few precious hours, or a full day — is included in your stay.
Club Med Sandpiper Bay — Port St. Lucie, Florida
The only Club Med property in North America (for now, anyway — Club Med Quebec Charlevoix will open in 2020 in Canada), Club Med Sandpiper Bay (from $112 per person, per night) offers a true all-inclusive experience along the St. Lucie River, just inland from Jensen Beach along Florida’s east coast.
That you’re not on the ocean here is really the resort’s only drawback. The all-inclusive rates include all meals (with lots of fresh and healthy choices), tons of activities and a super-fun kids club called Mini Club Med for children between the ages of 4 and 17, open every day except Wednesday, from 9am to 5:30pm. For an additional fee, the hotel offers Baby Club Med (for ages 4 months to 23 months) and Petit Club Med (ages 2 and 3) for younger kids. While the minis are trying things like trapeze and archery lessons, adults can book in at the on-site L’Occitane spa for an extra fee or try included activities like water skiing and sailing lessons on the river.
This is not a traditional points hotel, but you could charge your stay to a card like the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard that allows you to “erase” travel purchases with the points you’ve earned.
Whiteface Lodge — Lake Placid, New York
A favorite year-round Adirondack Mountains resort in Lake Placid, Whiteface Lodge (from $318 per night, double occupancy) offers a good balance of relaxation and excitement for families. To maximize the free kids club, you’ll want to plan your visit for the summer (read: last weekend in June through Labor Day weekend), when the complimentary Kamp Kanu, for kids between the ages of 3 and 14, is included in the rates and offered every day between the hours of 9:30am and 3:30pm.
Kids can stay through lunch, from noon to 1pm, for an additional fee. During the rest of the year, the program is offered on Saturdays (full session) and Sundays (morning session only). Kids can look forward to activities that include scavenger hunts, orienteering and, during the summer months, hiking and kayaking. Adults should fit in time for a spa break or a soak in the resort’s beautiful outdoor hot tubs while the little ones are otherwise occupied. If you have the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, use it to charge your stay through the Hotels.com/Venture partnership and you’ll earn 10x miles.
Lakeway Resort & Spa — Lakeway, Texas
Close to all the urban offerings of Austin, Lakeway Resort & Spa (from $199 per night) on the banks of Lake Travis makes for a fun family vacation in the Texas Hill Country. Spend your days kayaking, fishing and water skiing together. And when it’s time for some adults-only fun, kids over age 5 can be left under the supervised watch of caretakers in the resort’s Kids Zone for up to 4.5 hours a day (for no more than two hours in a row, however, and no more than 12 hours a week).
Do be prepared that your kids may not want to leave this veritable on-site amusement park complete with bounce houses, putt-putt golf, a basketball arcade and arts and crafts stations. The good news is there’s no time limit to how long you can stay when you’re there with them to supervise. Charge the stay to your Chase Sapphire Reserve and earn 3x points per dollar on travel.
Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort — Maui, Hawaii
Bamboo pole fishing, flying kites and sand sculpting lessons are all part of the fun at Hub 808, the Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort’s complimentary kids club. Open to kids between the ages of 5 and 12 from 9am to 3pm daily, it’s a great perk for parents keen for a little adult time to enjoy the hotel’s gorgeous grounds and oceanfront locale.
The only downside is that cash prices for this resort are pricy (often more than $400 per night) so it’s a great place to use your World of Hyatt points or transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt at a 1:1 ratio from cards such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. A room with two queen beds is available from 25,000 World of Hyatt points (though going up to 30k in mid-March). The World of Hyatt Credit Card is currently offering 25,000 bonus points when you sign up for the card and spend $3,000 in the first three months of card ownership and a second 25,000 points when you hit $6,000 in spending within the first six months.
Nantucket Hotel & Resort — Nantucket, Massachusetts
The complimentary kids club program at this favorite Cape Cod hotel (from $225 per night) is offered year-round for children between the ages of 3 and 12, and is on tap a full six days a week during the summer months (it falls back to weekends-only for most of the rest of the year). The supervised sessions are only offered in the mornings, from 9am to noon, but it’s just enough time for adults to enjoy a leisurely brunch together at the hotel or in town, squeeze in a workout or kick back at the spa. Do note that the hotel closes for the month of February every year.
Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel — Berkeley, California
A quick 12-mile jaunt from San Francisco, this Fairmont property in the Oakland Hills dates to the early 20th century and is a real find. In addition to the gorgeous views of San Francisco Bay from many of the rooms, as well as from the excellent spa, the hotel offers a complimentary on-site kids club where you can send little ones between the ages of 3 and 10 for up to three hours of supervised child care daily.
There’s even free child care here for kids between the ages of 6 months and 2 years, although stays are limited to two complimentary hours daily. Parents are required to stay on-property when the kids are in the kids club, but it makes for a welcome and cost-free break, nonetheless. The kids will be perfectly entertained, too, with arts and crafts, music, gardening projects and hikes around the 22-acre property all part of the fun. This is another hotel on the expensive side with rooms often hovering around $400 a night so if you do book, use one of the best travel rewards credit cards for your stay.
Four Seasons Hotel at The Surf Club — Surfside, Florida
The only thing more soothing than enjoying views of the crashing Atlantic from your balcony at this fabulous Four Seasons property in South Florida (about 35 minutes north of Miami Beach) is the resort’s included kids club. Kids between the ages of 4 and 12 have all day (9am to 5pm), supervised and complimentary access to the Kids for All Seasons program, with its fun lineup of outdoor activities, arts and crafts, gaming and the like. That leaves plenty of time for parents to snag some serenity in the hotel’s adults-only pool or pedal out for a beachy cruise on one of the complimentary bicycles. This spot is a splurge at prices that go to around $1,000 per night.
However, some nights are a bit less expensive (though still pricy). You could book through Chase Ultimate Rewards travel center and use points from your Chase Sapphire Reserve at a rate of 1.5 cents each to book a stay. On this particular night in May, it would cost you about 43,000 Ultimate Rewards points for a room.
Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa — Oahu, Hawaii
Disney does a great job with sense of place at Aunty’s Beach House, the complimentary kids club offered for kids between the ages of 3 and 12 at this Oahu resort. Hawaiian arts and crafts, music and culture are tied into many of the activities, with Aunty herself (OK, a cast member in costume) showing up to spearhead some of the fun.
The club is offered every day from 8am to 9pm, with daily themed activities ranging from Disney Mania to more culturally leaning topics. It’s Disney doing what it does best, which is to say, entertaining the kids. And it leaves plenty of time for whatever sort of adult entertainment you want to get up to at the resort — spa, cocktails, watersports — in the interim. Rates are often in the $500 per night range. Consider paying the tab with discounted Disney gift cards. Or better yet, book your stay via rented Disney Vacation Club points and save close to 50% on some nights. And, here are 10 more things kids will love about Disney Aulani Resort and the best way to fly to Hawaii with kids.
If you look hard enough, you can find plenty of properties that offer complimentary kids clubs to their youngest guests. If you’re looking for more points hotels offering this perk, you’ll find them at points-friendly hotels in the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America and even in the Maldives and Bali.
Which kids clubs have your children enjoyed most? Comment below.
Featured image by Vidar Nordli Mathisen / Unsplash