America's Best Family Hotels 2010
Travel + Leisure Family’s list of the best hotels for families in the U.S. and Canada.
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
#50 Sea Pines ResortHilton Head, South Carolina
Bustling island vacation community with a peppermint-striped lighthouse as its centerpiece. Doubles from $259.
#49 Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal OrlandoFlorida
Guests at this South Pacific–inspired property get front-of-the-line access to Universal attractions. Doubles from $274.
#48 Hilton Waikoloa VillageBig Island, Hawaii
Navigate this splashy playland on Waiulua Bay via mahogany canal boat or air-conditioned tram. Doubles from $299.
#46 The BroadmoorColorado Springs
Rocky Mountain mainstay since 1918, with rock climbing, rafting, and much more for families. Doubles from $300.
#46 Park Hyatt Aviara (formerly Four Seasons Resort Aviara)San Diego
Spanish-colonial getaway with open-air living rooms that make the ideal crash pads after a busy day at nearby Legoland. Doubles from $395.
#44 Villas of Grand CypressOrlando, Florida
Just down the street from Disney World, a golf resort with a summer academy that accommodates kids as young as five. Doubles from $475.
#44 Montage Laguna BeachCalifornia
On a plateau overlooking the Pacific; a new summer program for teens includes beach volleyball, movies, and plein-air painting. Doubles from $695.
#43 Kahala Hotel & ResortOahu, Hawaii
Surfing and paddleboarding lessons are complimentary for all ages, but the iconic blue-tile pool remains the center of the action. Doubles from $515.
#42 Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort & SpaSan Antonio, Texas
A stone’s throw from SeaWorld, with activities that include Iron Chef–inspired family cook-offs. Doubles from $350.
#41 Ritz-CarltonNaples, Florida
High-service Gulf Coast getaway—one of Ritz-Carlton’s flagships—with a pioneering marine-biology program for kids. Doubles from $549.
#40 Samoset ResortRockport, Maine
Seasonal hotel on Maine’s mid-coast favored by New England’s old guard for more than a century. Doubles from $299.
#39 Fairmont Kea LaniMaui, Hawaii
Spacious suites and villas, and the Hawaiian Canoe Experience—learn to paddle like a pro and sing native chants. Doubles from $399.
#38 Loews Lake Las Vegas ResortHenderson, Nevada
Great Value Laid-back lakeside spread that’s only 30 minutes (via free shuttle) from the action on the Strip. Doubles from $189.
#37 Grand WaileaMaui, Hawaii
Mega-resort where everything is outsize—a 20,000-square-foot kids’ club; nine pools on six levels, with the world’s first water elevator. Doubles from $429.
#36 Tides InnIrvington, Virginia
Crabbing, croquet, and kayaking at a 1946 resort on its own river-flanked peninsula. Doubles from $320.
#35 Disney’s Vero Beach ResortFlorida
Calm compound on the Atlantic that’s the perfect pre- or post- Orlando furlough. Doubles from $310.
#34 Four Seasons Resort WhistlerBritish Columbia
At the base of Blackcomb Mountain, with the biggest rooms in town and ski concierges to wax your boards and warm your boots. Doubles from $385.
#33 Mauna Kea Beach HotelBig Island, Hawaii
On one of Hawaii’s best stretches of sand, where Keiki Club members can build sandcastles and go on beach scavenger hunts. Doubles from $450.
#32 La Costa Resort & SpaCarlsbad, California
Immensely appealing for both kids (playroom, water park, and Guitar Hero–equipped teen center) and parents (43,000-square-foot spa and holistic center founded by Deepak Chopra). Doubles from $429.
#30 Westin La Cantera ResortSan Antonio, Texas
Oasis with a clay-tiled roof on a mesquite- and live oak–covered plateau 30 minutes from the historic downtown. Doubles from $279.
#30 Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & SpaHawaii
Free-form pools and a shallow, sand-bordered lagoon by day; sky-gazing with an on-site astronomer by night. Doubles from $394.
#29 Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & BungalowsBig Island, Hawaii
Kohala Coast resort with the only children’s golf course in Hawaii. Doubles from $455.
#27 Rosewood Mansion on Turtle CreekDallas
Gracious peach-colored hotel in a leafy residential neighborhood, plus a driver at the ready to whisk you to area destinations. Doubles from $595.
#27 Pelican HillNewport Beach, California
On 504 acres, sprawling Pacific-facing bungalows and villas, as well as an indoor-outdoor kids’ club. Doubles from $495.
#26 Hawk’s Cay ResortDuck Key, Florida
Breezy West Indian–style villas and family rooms, an on-site dolphin program, and a full menu of aquatics for teens, including sailing lessons and reef dives. Doubles from $399.
#25 The BreakersPalm Beach, Florida
A 1926 Italian Renaissance–inspired icon with newly redesigned suites and family-pleasing pool bungalows. Doubles from $499.
#24 Sandpearl ResortClearwater, Florida
The most sophisticated digs in this part of the Gulf Coast, with citrus-hued rooms and apartment-like suites. Doubles from $379.
#23 Cloister at Sea IslandSea Island, Georgia
Beloved by generations of well-heeled Southerners, a 1928 Mediterranean-style spread with three pools, an ice cream parlor, a tennis club, and a movie theater. Doubles from $395.
#22 The GreenbrierWhite Sulphur Springs, West Virginia
Great Value Dress for dinner at this Georgian beauty in the Allegheny Mountains, home to an off-road driving school and a former top-secret Cold War bunker. Doubles from $249.
#21 Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal OrlandoFlorida
Fanciful Italian-themed resort (a waterslide modeled on a Roman aqueduct; arias performed on balconies) that is a quick water-taxi ride from Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. Doubles from $304.
#20 Vail Cascade Resort & SpaColorado
Right outside downtown Vail, with the area’s biggest fitness facility and a chairlift servicing Vail Mountain. Doubles from $349.
#19 Kiawah Island Golf ResortSouth Carolina
Great Value Five hundred vacation villas that share the same barrier island and amenities as the Sanctuary (#6). Villas from $205.
#18 Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & SpaLost Pines, Texas
Horseback riding, skeet shooting, and hayrides add Texas twang to this compound outside Austin. Doubles from $339.
#17 Four Seasons ResortJackson Hole, Wyoming
Ski-in, ski-out lodge at the base of Jackson Hole Mountain, with year-round active adventures (from rafting to geocaching). Doubles from $275.
#16 Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & SpaLake Buena Vista, Florida
Lagoon-side grande dame with windows overlooking Cinderella’s Castle, on the Magic Kingdom monorail loop. Doubles from $575.
#15 Whiteface LodgeLake Placid, New York
Nouveau Adirondacks great camp with its own ice-skating rink and bowling alley. Doubles from $477.
#14 Disney’s Polynesian ResortLake Buena Vista, Florida
Tiki-themed expanse: a four-story “volcano” feeds the pool and luaus take place nightly. Doubles from $510.
#13 Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & SpaHawaii
Thrills for all ages, from a 150-foot winding waterslide to a Robert Trent Jones Jr.–designed golf course on an oceanside cliff. Doubles from $540.
#12 The HomesteadHot Springs, Virginia
Great Value A 1902 white-columned classic in the Allegheny Mountains with an equestrian center, fly-fishing, and a spring-fed indoor pool. Doubles from $185.
#11 Four Seasons Resort Hualalai at Historic KaupulehuBig Island, Hawaii
Ocean-view bungalows, plus a tricked-out teen lounge and baby-proofed rooms for guests with infants. Doubles from $655.
#10 Ritz-Carlton Bachelor GulchAvon, Colorado
Majestically scaled lodge on Beaver Mountain with ski nannies who will shepherd your brood to the slopes while you decompress with a private yoga lesson. Doubles from $779.
#9 Disney’s Yacht Club ResortLake Buena Vista, Florida
Porthole mirrors and crisp striped curtains evoke a nautical mood at this lakeside resort in Disney World. Doubles from $465.
#8 Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & SpaAnaheim, California
Disneyland’s crown jewel has its own entrance to California Adventure, getting you into the park a full hour before the crowds. Doubles from $395.
#7 Disney’s Boardwalk Inn & VillasLake Buena Vista, Florida
Nostalgic take on a seaside village, complete with carnival games, jugglers, and a boardwalk-edged lake. Doubles from $475.
#6 Sanctuary at Kiawah IslandSouth Carolina
Golf-centric resort (five courses, four with family tees) where activities range from beachcombing to butterfly walks. Doubles from $435.
#5 Disney’s Wilderness LodgeLake Buena Vista, Florida
Woodsy Arts and Crafts–style compound inside Disney’s Magic Kingdom with a geyser that gushes on Old Faithful’s schedule. Doubles from $375.
#4 Disney’s Beach Club ResortLake Buena Vista, Florida
Blue-shingled spread with the feel of a historic hotel, offering direct access to shipwreck-themed Stormalong Bay water park and free transportation to Disney World. Doubles from $465.
#3 Disney’s Animal Kingdom LodgeLake Buena Vista, Florida
Safari lodge near the theme park on a 33-acre African grasslands–style preserve where zebras, giraffes, and gazelles roam free. Doubles from $375.
#2 WaterColor Inn & ResortSanta Rosa Beach, Florida
New Urbanist vacation rentals and a David Rockwell–designed inn on the Florida Panhandle, tucked between a dune lake and a stretch of glittering sand. Doubles from $325.
#1 Inn at Palmetto BluffBluffton, South Carolina
Plantation-style cottages and a Jack Nicklaus golf course at a low-country retreat that’s a popular spot for family reunions. Two-bedroom villas from $1,300.