The votes are in! Presenting your favorites—the most family-friendly resorts in the Americas

April 23, 2009

Until recently, all a resort needed to attract families was a great location, attentive service, and maybe a kids' camp. But of late, the ante has been upped considerably. Baby amenities, designated teen clubs, spa services for all ages, and time-share options are becoming the norm at the top lodgings. And while you're living it up, your children might actually be eating well, thanks to new health- minded kids' menus. Not surprisingly, in this year's World's Best Awards survey, readers singled out family resorts fully loaded with such niceties—giving you some fail-safe options for your next getaway. Take us with you!

Reported by Robert Maniaci, Rachel DeSchepper, and Emily Shetler

ICON KEY

UNDER $200

CHILDPROOF

SKIING/WINTER SPORTS

TENNIS

GOLF

TEEN PROGRAMS

HEALTHFUL KIDS' MENU

KIDS CAN USE THE SPA

ALL-INCLUSIVE PROGRAM AVAILABLE

TIME-SHARE/VACATION CLUB

Continental U.S. and Canada

BIGGEST PROPERTY OVERALL
1 Disney's Wilderness Lodge Resort 89.12

A towering lobby filled with totem poles, a replica geyser, and a waterfall-fed rock pool—this Orlando fantasy channels America's national parks to uncanny effect.
Lake Buena Vista, Fla.; 407/934-7639; www.disneyworld.com;
doubles from $199.

2 Four Seasons Resort Whistler 88.46

Top-notch skiing, mountain biking, and zip-lining—as well as hotel services—make this your favorite Canadian retreat.
Whistler, B.C.; 800/332-3442; www.fourseasons.com;
doubles from $255.

3 Disney's Grand Californian Hotel 88.33

A sophisticated Arts and Crafts–style resort, where kids eat as well as their parents—care for a flight of grape juice?
Anaheim, Calif.; 714/635-2300; www.disneyland.com;
doubles from $300.

4 Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa 88.26

Lake Buena Vista, Fla.; 407/934-7639; www.disneyworld.com;
doubles from $349.

5 Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge 88.15

Lake Buena Vista, Fla.; 407/934-7639; www.disneyworld.com;
doubles from $199.

6 Keltic Lodge Resort & Spa 88.04

Middle Head Peninsula, N.S.; 800/ 565-0444; www.signatureresorts.com;
doubles from $351, including breakfast and dinner; open May to October.

SMALLEST IN THE U.S. AND CANADA
7 Jenny Lake Lodge 87.50

Grand Teton National Park, Wyo.; 800/628-9988; www.gtlc.com;
doubles from $459, including breakfast, dinner, and some activities; open June to October.

8 Tides Inn 87.07

This Chesapeake Bay spread has a family-reunion coordinator to help plan meals, activities, and photo ops.
Irvington, Va.; 800/843-3746; www.tidesinn.com;
doubles from $199.

9 Wickaninnish Inn 87.02
Tofino, B.C.; 800/333-4604; www.wickinn.com;
doubles from $220.

10 Disney's Vero Beach Resort 86.36

Vero Beach, Fla.; 407/934-7639; www.dvcresorts.com;
doubles from $165.

11 Four Seasons Resort Jackson Hole 86.29

The resort's Ski Spree package (available January to April) covers lift tickets and equipment rentals for you and your teens.
Jackson Hole, Wyo.; 800/332-3442; www.fourseasons.com;
doubles from $180.

12 Disney's Polynesian Resort 86.17

Lake Buena Vista, Fla.; 407/934-7639; www.disneyworld.com;
doubles from $304.

13 Ponte Vedra Inn & Club 86.00

Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.; 800/234-7842; www.pvresorts.com;
doubles from $200.

LEAST EXPENSIVE IN THE U.S.
14 Kiawah Island Golf Resort 85.78

Kiawah Island, S.C.; 800/654-2924; www.kiawahresort.com;
villas from $119.

15 Disney's Beach Club Resort 85.53

Lake Buena Vista, Fla.; 407/934-7639; www.disneyworld.com;
doubles from $294.

16 Disney's Boardwalk Inn & Villas 85.35

Lake Buena Vista, Fla.; 407/934-7639; www.disneyworld.com;
doubles from $294.

17 Fairmont Chateau Whistler 85.28

Whistler, B.C.; 800/441-1414; www.fairmont.com;
doubles from $169.

18 Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise 85.25

The kids' camp has an indoor climbing wall and guided hikes in the Canadian Rockies.
Lake Louise, Alta.; 800/441-1414; www.fairmont.com;
doubles from $199.

LEAST EXPENSIVE IN CANADA
19 Pan Pacific Whistler Mountainside 85.16

Whistler, B.C.; 888/905-9995; www.whistler.panpacific.com;
doubles from $119.

20 Sonnenalp Resort of Vail 85.00

Vail, Colo.; 866/284-4411; www.sonnenalp.com;
doubles from $240, including breakfast.

20 Trapp Family Lodge 85.00

The youngest son of The Sound of Music's von Trapps runs the 55-year-old hotel.
Stowe, Vt.; 800/826-7000; www.trappfamily.com;
doubles from $198.

HAWAII

1 Four Seasons Resort Hualalai 89.47

Our Hawaiian winner owes its success to four beachfront pools and an all-encompassing kids' program.
Kaupulehu-Kona, Hawaii; 800/332-3442; www.fourseasons.com;
doubles from $560.

2 Mauna Kea Beach Hotel 89.22

Kohala Coast, Hawaii; 866/774-6236; www.princeresortshawaii.com;
doubles from $370.

3 Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa 88.43

Koloa; 800/554-9288; www.grandhyattkauai.com;
doubles from $455.

4 Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa 88.11

Maui; 800/888-6100; www.grandwailea.com;
doubles from $485.

5 Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa 87.30

Lahaina; 800/554-9288; www.maui.hyatt.com;
doubles from $280.

6 Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows 86.39

Kohala Coast, Hawaii; 866/877-6982; www.maunalani.com;
doubles from $395.

LEAST EXPENSIVE IN HAWAII
7 Hilton Waikoloa Village 85.76

Family movies poolside on summer nights and glow-in-the-dark mini-golf year-round.
Hawaii; 800/445-8667; www.hiltonwaikoloavillage.com;
doubles from $199.

8 Fairmont Kea Lani Maui 85.26

Wailea; 800/441-1414; www.fairmont.com;
doubles from $385.

9 Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea 85.00

800/332-3442; www.fourseasons.com;
doubles from $365.

10 Marriott's Maui Ocean Club 84.57

Lahaina; 888/236-2427; www.marriott.com;
doubles from $439.

MEXICO, CENTRAL, AND SOUTH AMERICA

1 Llao Llao Hotel & Resort, Golf-Spa 89.77

A mountain lodge in Argentina's lake district, Llao Llao (pronounced Jow Jow) offers guided treks and rappelling— plus an infinity pool overlooking the forest.
Bariloche, Patagonia, Argentina; 800/745- 8883; www.llaollao.com;
doubles from $190.

2 Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita 85.25

New this year: snorkeling with sea lions.
Mexico; 800/332-3442; www.fourseasons.com;
doubles from $420.

3 Le Meridien Cancún Resort & Spa 83.04

Mexico; 800/543-4300; www.lemeridien.com;
doubles from $155.

SMALLEST OVERALL; MOST EXPENSIVE OVERALL
4 Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge 81.82

Set in a Spanish colonial structure, this is the only property within the Incan citadel.
Machu Picchu, Peru; 800/237-1236; www.monasterio.orient-express.com;
doubles from $567.

5 Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo 81.63

Service and plush rooms set this place apart. See the rain forest from every angle on canopy tours, river rafts, and hikes.
Guanacaste; 800/819-5053; www.fourseasons.com;
doubles from $335.

5 Ritz-Carlton, Cancún 81.63

Mexico; 800/241-3333; www.ritzcarlton.com;
doubles from $289.

7 JW Marriott Resort & Spa, Cancún 81.34

Mexico; 800/223-6388; www.marriott.com;
doubles from $199.

LEAST EXPENSIVE IN THE REGION
8 Los Sueños Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort 80.36

Puntarenas, Costa Rica; 800/627-7468; www.marriott.com;
doubles from $140.

9 Hotel Monasterio 79.62

Cuzco, Peru; 800/237-1236; www.monasterio.orient-express.com;
doubles from $360.

10 Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel 79.55

Cuzco, Peru; 800/442-5042; www.inkaterra.com;
doubles from $374, including meals and some activities.

THE CARIBBEAN, BERMUDA, AND THE BAHAMAS

1 Four Seasons Resort Nevis 85.25

Countless water sports and an environmental-awareness program for kids. Pinney's Beach; 800/332-3442; www.fourseasons.com;
doubles from $375.

LEAST EXPENSIVE OVERALL
2 Maho Bay Camps 85.00

Cruz Bay, St. John; 800/392-9004; www.maho.org;
doubles from $75.

3 Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort & Casino 81.52

Palm Beach; 888/591-1234; www.hyatt.com;
doubles from $265.

4 Playa Linda Beach Resort 81.25

Oranjestad, Aruba; 800/992-2015; www.playalinda.com;
doubles from $185.

5 Half Moon 81.13

Montego Bay, Jamaica; 800/626-0592; www.halfmoon.com;
doubles from $240.

6 Las Casitas Village at Wyndham El Conquistador Resort & Golden Door Spa 81.03

Hillside villas (with beach views and full butler service) on Puerto Rico's east coast. Fajardo, Puerto Rico; 800/996-3426; www.wyndham.com;
doubles from $549.

7 CuisinArt Resort & Spa 81.00

Rendezvous Bay, Anguilla; 800/943-3210; www.cuisinartresort.com;
doubles from $350.

8 The Reefs 80.21

Southampton, Bermuda; 800/742-2008; www.thereefs.com;
doubles from $474.

9 Westin Resort & Villas, St. John 80.11

Cruz Bay; 888/627-7206; www.starwoodhotels.com;
doubles from $199.

10 Casa de Campo 79.79

La Romana, Dominican Republic; 800/877-3643; www.casadecampo.com.do;
doubles from $224.

These promising resorts opened too recently to make this year's list. Check in before the crowds arrive.

Inn at Palmetto Bluff
A collection of cottages in South Carolina's low country, on the May River. Perfect for a lazy inner-tube ride.
Bluffton, S.C.; 866/706-6565; www.palmettobluffresort.com;
cottages for four from $600.

Nickelodeon Family Suites by Holiday Inn
The kiddie network's first foray into the hotel business has character-festooned accommodations and four-story waterslides.
Orlando, Fla.; 866/462-6425; www.nickhotel.com;
doubles from $162.

Palms at Turks and Caicos
An all-suite beach resort (full kitchens!) with a vast spa and yoga for toddlers on the menu.
Providenciales; 866/877-7256; www.thepalmstc.com;
doubles from $300.

Resort at Paws Up
The tents and cabins at this 37,000-acre ranch look like sets from an old Ralph Lauren ad. In winter, there's dog-sledding; in summer, fly-fishing and cattle drives.
Greenough, Mont.; 800/473-0601; www.pawsup.com;
doubles from $219.

Rankings are based on reader evaluations collected in Travel + Leisure's 2005 World's Best Awards survey. Readers were given the option to rate resorts on how well they cater to families using a scale of 1 to 5, where "5" means excellent and "1" means poor. Scores are indexed averages of evaluations. They are rounded to the nearest hundredth of a point; in the event of an exact tie, resorts share the same ranking. For the full survey methodology, see www.travelandleisure.com/worldsbest.

Nickelodeon Suites Resort

If only all family-geared Orlando hotels were so fully conceived. Seemingly endless diversions for the preteen-and-under set include two knockout water playgrounds with giant spiraling waterslides, a daily group “sliming” courtesy of a 400-gallon dump tank, tame water features for younger kids, a live participatory game show, and character breakfasts—at half the price of those at Disney—starring Dora the Explorer, SpongeBob SquarePants, and other Nickelodeon stars. Many of the 777 units are two-bedroom suites with kitchenettes, bunks and video games for kids, and private bedrooms for grown-ups. Though ultimately typical family-style suites, they’re brightly painted—many with huge murals of SpongeBob, Jimmy Neutron, and other big names in kid-dom. All this mayhem is a mile-long drive from Disney property. 



Casa de Campo Resort & Villas

This luxury resort on the Dominican Republic's southeastern coast offers spacious hotel rooms, suites, and villas. There's a diverse range of amenities, including a 370-slip Marina & Yacht Club, Polo & Equestrian Club, tennis center and shooting club, an expansive spa—and the famed Teeth of the Dog golf course. The Vegas-style grandeur culimnates in a 5,000-seat Grecian-style amphitheater inaugurated by Frank Sinatra.

Playa Linda Beach Resort

Time-share property on a stretch of white sand with apartment-like accommodations for weeklong stays.

Hilton Waikoloa Village

Navigate this splashy playland on Waiulua Bay via mahogany canal boat or air-conditioned tram.

Trapp Family Lodge

Austrian-style chalet on 2,400 acres in the mountains above Stowe village; one of Vermont's top ski centers.

Room to Book: Second-floor Premier rooms in the newer Millennium wing can be interconnected, making them ideal for families.

Disney's Boardwalk Inn and Villas

The time: 1940. The place: Walt Disney World's version of the Jersey Shore, complete with a boardwalk, surrey bikes, and saltwater taffy. The rooms: think old-fashioned floral.

Disney's Grand Californian Hotel

Disneyland's choicest digs, done in traditional Craftsman style. In addition to kid- and adult-friendly fare, California Adventure Park is just a turnstile away. Everybody wins.

Disney's Wilderness Lodge

A towering lobby filled with totem poles, a replica geyser, and a waterfall-fed rock pool—this Orlando fantasy channels America's national parks to uncanny effect. Take a ride on a pony or in a horse-drawn carriage. At the adjoining Wilderness Resort & Campground, catch a campfire sing-along attended by Chip 'n Dale.

Regent Palms Turks and Caicos

The elegant 72-suite Regent Palms sits on Grace Bay Beach and adjoins approximately a dozen acres of manicured gardens. The studio rooms; one, two, three bedroom suites; and penthouses feature classic Caribbean decor as well as modern perks like full kitchens with Viking appliances, washers and dryers, and king beds with hand-tufted linens. The family-friendly resort offers the Conch Critters activity club for children ages 4-12, while adults may choose from an extensive array of pampering spa services within 17-treatment rooms. On-site dining includes upscale Parallel23, which specializes in Caribbean fusion fare and features a display kitchen and a palm-lined terrace, as well as more casual Plunge, where guests can dine al fresco.

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