America's Best Family Hotels 2010
Courtesy of Sandpearl Resort
You’ve heard the story before: overworked parents spend hours of free time planning their family vacation, only to arrive at a hotel that’s “under construction,” a pool that’s “being retiled,” and a backseat full of kids who’d rather be anywhere else.
Time off with your children is a precious thing—so why stay in a property that’s less than stellar? To help plan your getaway, T + L Family presents the top 50 family-friendly hotels in America, ranked in order by our well-traveled readers in the Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards poll.
Want to camp out in a safari-style hotel abutting a 33-acre grassland preserve, where zebras and giraffes roam free? No need to fly to South Africa—just take the clan to Orlando, FL. Not surprisingly, you’ll find several Orlando-area Disney hotels on our list—many of which have cracked the top 10. And at the No. 3 hotel, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, you can climb Arusha Rock, an elevated platform beyond the lobby, to look for roan antelope, waterbucks, and white-bearded wildebeests. Or join a Wanyama Safari to get nearly too close to them for comfort.
If lounging under a sun umbrella is more your speed, check into Oahu’s Kahala Hotel & Resort, where the iconic blue-tile pool has been the center of the action since 1964 (everyone from John Wayne to Julie Andrews has stretched out on the poolside lounges). Kids love swimming with their resident bottlenose dolphins in the 26,000-square-foot lagoon (note: the hotel offers “trainer for a week” programs to the Flipper-obsessed).
In fact, lots of these top 50 hotels have dreamed up fun diversions to make your visit more memorable. In San Antonio, TX, for example, the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort & Spa hosts Iron Chef–inspired family cook-offs.
And if you’re looking for a great family ski hotel for the upcoming season, we have you covered. The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch, set right on the mountain at Beaver Creek Resort, has ski nannies who will shepherd your brood to the slopes while you decompress with a private yoga lesson. And kids will love meeting Bachelor, the ski lodge’s friendly Labrador retriever.
But no matter where you end up this year, if you’re looking for a great family hotel, this is the list to consult. —Alison Miller and James Jung