The 20 Best Getaways for Parents (Only)
Equally as difficult to swallow is how the concept of vacation changes once you factor in children. Just because you’ve eschewed the city for the beach, the suburbs for the slopes, or this country for another, doesn’t mean the daily demands have altered. You will still be awakened at 5:30 a.m., still have to organize your day around naps, plan for snacks and meals, still have to sacrifice your loftier gastronomic hankerings for kid-friendly fare.
Don't get us wrong: we love our kids, but sometimes parents need a break. If you and your significant other have been day-dreaming about leaving the kids at home and heading out for some much-needed R&R, we're here to tell you it's okay. To save you time in planning, we’ve even done the research and carefully selected a roster of getaways exclusively for fatigued parents.
Our guidelines? Properties are luxurious, low key and, for the most part, intimate in scale. These trip ideas are all about reconnecting: Rooms are spacious and airy; the ambiance is decidedly anti-millennial. No dark lobbies, bathrooms, or rooms, and no music blaring from elevators or pool speakers. No incomprehensible design features hijacking the creature comforts of the room. Also, these destinations are easy to reach, with a wealth of direct flights from major American hubs.
Above all, each property boasts a sense of place, with notable décor, amenities like transformative spas or creative guest experiences, and of course, standout dining options. So, banish the guilt and get away—and return to your kids relaxed and recharged. You deserve it.
Amy Tara Koch regularly covers the family beat for Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
Soho Beach House, Miami
Tucked behind the flashy Fontainebleau is one of Miami’s best-kept secrets: the Soho Beach House, a small, open-to-the-public hotel within the city’s coolest private social club. The look is groovy, Brit-meets-beach; the vibe is South Florida soigné. Don’t be surprised to find hipsters commingling with film producers commingling with artists here. Lazy afternoons will be spent at the pool and beach, or reading in the hammocks, aperitifs in hand. As a hotel guest, you have free rein to take advantage of the club’s bar, screening room, and Cowshed Spa. Our tip? Book an ocean front bedroom. A bay view will only make you wish you’d grabbed one of these 1,500-square-foot apartments with massive terraces instead.
The Resort at Pedregal, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
After a long flight and customs, parents may be cranky when they arrive at Pedregal. But, following a welcome margarita as they take in the view—where the Sea of Cortes meets the Pacific Ocean—they’re thrilled to be back in the Baja Peninsula. Rooms are massive, each with a private plunge pool, and linens and towels so plush that getting dressed seems a chore. The amenity program alone is worth the property’s high marks (think fresh guacamole and Corona delivered on a whim at 4 p.m.). Spa lovers will be bowled over by Luna y Mar, where the heady scent of rosemary follows guests to their treatment pod. Services, including ancient healing massage and indigenous herbal detox, were devised by Mexican folk healers. For dining, flights of champagne and just-caught mariscos are served up at El Farallon, a restaurant suspended over the Sea of Cortes. The elegant Don Manuel’s puts a fresh spin on classic dishes, while the crudo bar at the pool serves fish tacos with tequila cocktails.
Goldeneye, Oracabessa, Jamaica
All things James Bond are sexy, so it stands to reason that Goldeneye, the North Jamaica property where Ian Fleming penned all 14 Bond novels clocks in as one of the Caribbean’s most idyllic destinations. Celebs and mere mortals adore the ridiculously lush 52-acre hideaway, where 22 bungalows are speckled around an expansive turquoise lagoon (good news, travelers: another 26 beach huts are expected to open in 2016). Water sports, a swim-up spa, and a glorious tree house gazebo (where Fleming took his breakfast) that houses a restaurant are among the getaway’s highlights.
Twin Farms, Barnard, Vermont
For East Coasters, a much-needed getaway can be as simple as a jaunt to bucolic Vermont. Twin Farms is a luxury five star property with the charm of an intimate B&B—known for its elevated take on sustainable dining. Its 20 rustically elegant cottages rest upon 300 acres of rolling hills and meadows, and the main building is housed in a romantic 18th century farmhouse graciously designed by the late Jed Johnson with hand-painted murals and American folk art. Spend the day skiing (downhill or cross country), snowshoeing, skating, or sledding, then relax by the stunning winter wonderland before a memorable, multi-course dinner. The spa features products by local skincare guru Tata Harper.
Rancho La Puerta, Tecate, Mexico
For parents, tending to nonstop needs and ignoring your own invariably leads to a spiritual crash and burn. Rancho La Puerta (another T+L World’s Best winner) is the perfect intervention. Located in Tecate, Mexico, this is the granddaddy of spa vacations, a property that, for 75 years has artfully integrated wellness into every element of a guest’s stay. Plan on eating well, going to art classes, hiking, doing yoga, and getting many a healing spa treatment (craniosacral therapy, Feldenkrais, acupuncture, Ayurveda, and Watsu, to name a few) that incorporate medicinal herbs and aromatics grown on site. Check for specialty weeks featuring guest speakers and performers. Bonus: Mexican wine is having a big moment. After a killer morning hike, take the resort’s new wine tour to the Guadalupe Valley.
Dorado Beach, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve, Puerto Rico
North of the tourist scrum and strip malls, Dorado Beach epitomizes the spit-shined image of Puerto Rico, set as it is on the oceanfront former estate of Laurance Rockefeller, surrounded by a tropical forest and coral reefs. Its Ritz-Carlton Reserve status translates into high-concept Caribbean design and the type of service that elevates the term “barefoot elegance.” There’s no need to exit the property, with the gourmet tapas served at Jose Andres’ Mi Casa restaurant. Afterwards, you can walk the Rockefeller trail, an open-air sanctuary, or enlist your personal embajadora to set up some water sports and ensure your lattes are just so. Spa treatment rooms are administered in tree house pavilions.
Le Pavillon de la Reine, Paris
Just behind the stunning 17th-century Place des Vosges, a stroll away from the trendy Marais arrondissement, and just past an ivy-covered facade is one of those tough-to-find, small hotels that feels like your personal pied a terre. The 54 rooms—some with original wooden beams—seamlessly marry historic charm with Parisian sophistication, sporting either antique furniture like canopy beds and vintage trunks, or modern touches like brightly colored bedding. Only adding to the property’s in-the-know feel is the newly unveiled 2,420-square-foot-spa by Carita, the iconic Parisian skincare brand.
Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills, California
Like Paris, a visit to Los Angeles is always a good idea. For a glam getaway, head to this Four Seasons situated at the junction between West Hollywood and Beverly Hills. Couples can flit effortlessly to Runyon Canyon, Beverly Hills, or the dozens of the award-worthy eateries peppering the celeb-studded neighborhood. Or, lounge by the succulent-studded pool—the ultimate urban oasis. Treatments like BioMeditation and Tibetan Ku Nye abound at the spa (and can be performed at the poolside cabanas). The bar is perfection for cocktails and people-watching. If that’s not enough, on-site Italian restaurant Culina is one of the hottest tables in town.
Washington School House, Park City, Utah
While “home away from home” can sound cliche, once inside the unassuming limestone building, you’ll grasp how well this term applies to this property—comfortably inside one of our favorite family-friendly travel destinations. There is no formal lobby. The heart of the hotel is a cozy living room punctuated with a crazy, cool antler-and-crystal chandelier. This is where guests eat their breakfast, and chat with fellow travelers over wine and snacks in the late afternoon. Check in and concierge-type duties are performed from a small alcove next to the living room. There is no standard room: the 17 rooms and suites vary in size and decor, each a study in upscale rustic with a side of flea market fabulous. There’s reclaimed barn wood floors, high pitched ceilings, muted color schemes, vintage furnishings, and white marble bathrooms fashioned from locally quarried Utah Quartzite. Then, there is the ski lounge, a snazzed-up rec room equipped with board games and a fireplace. Though the vibe is relaxed, the service is not. Staff will arrange anything and everything, from après ski in bed to a private yoga session in a yurt reachable by snowshoe.
L’Auberge de Sedona, Arizona
For downtime sprinkled with upscale New Ageism, shack up at L’Auberge de Sedona (a T+L World’s Best Winner) in a cozy, creek side cottage. The property harnesses the spirit of Sedona with meditative enrichment experiences like stargazing and “forest bathing” (a yoga-meets-outdoor-meditation class). Kick off the day hiking Sedona’s majestic Red Rocks. Then, explore the wineries peppering the Verde Valley; lunch at Page Spring Cellars’ rustic tasting room is a must. Back at the hotel, have a spa treatment (many include guided visualization) followed by a romantic, al fresco aperitif on the rocks of Oak Creek. The signature restaurant, Cress, puts a contemporary spin on local flavors, and Chef Rochelle Daniel will craft a multi-course tasting menu upon request.
Parrot Cay by Como, Turks and Caicos
Don’t be surprised if you run into Babs Streisand, Penelope Cruz, or Julia Roberts at Parrot Cay. With fewer than 70 rooms on a 1,000-acre privately owned island, it’s lush and secluded. Whitewashed walls, teak furniture, and Balinese decor are a study in understated glamour, a hallmark of the Como brand. There are miles of unspoiled beach and surrounding wetlands perfect for swimming, water sports, and boating. The spa’s Thai, Indonesian, and Ayurvedic range of treatments are a big draw. In 2016, expect eco-kayaking outings (you’ll spot sea turtles, nurse sharks, and osprey) on the property’s new Bonny Creek waterway.
Windsor Court, New Orleans
When the routine of parenting gets a bit staid, head to the quirky Big Easy for some undiluted fun—and admire its post-Katrina comeback. Explore the French Market, take the streetcar to award-winning NOLA restaurants (Peche, Upperline, Commander’s Palace, Brennan’s), check out the local musical acts on Frenchmen Street. After the party, head back to the charming 316-room Windsor Court Hotel for a dose of Southern gentility. Its newly refurbished spa is excellent, as is the afternoon tea.
San Ysidro Ranch, Santa Barbara, California
Perfection is a private cottage luxuriously sandwiched between the Santa Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. Toss in some grand history (Winston Churchill, JFK, and Jackie were loyal patrons), in-room spa treatments, majestic hikes, and you’ve got a grand romantic hideaway at this T+L World’s Best Resorts Winner. Tranquility abounds: Meander along the citrus- and lavender-studded paths. Play croquet and bocce. Swim in the hillside pool. Indulge in fine dining paired with incredible wines culled from nearby Santa Ynez Valley. Contemplate never leaving.
Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort, Costa Rica
This upscale yet understated hotel ensconced in Costa Rica’s bio-diverse Peninsula Papagayo will be nirvana for adventure-loving naturalists. The Andaz feels like an organic reflection of its surroundings, sporting earthy wooden touches, wide open spaces, and tranquil nooks and crannies to take in the views of the Bay of Culebra. The Guanacaste is, above all, a wildlife refuge. You can zip-line between tree canopies and monkeys, surf, white water raft, hike to the volcanic peaks of Rincón de la Vieja National Park and, without much effort, spot humpback whales, sloths, macaws, toucans and sea turtles during your stay. After a day or two, the country’s “Pura Vida” catchphrase (which means “chill out”) becomes second nature.
The Goring, London
There is chic, and then there is top-drawer swank. With its quintessentially British ambiance (think footmen, croquet lawn, and chintz-covered walls), The Goring (a T+L World’s Best Winner) goes beyond it all, with its lineage setting it apart from London’s luxury fray. This is the only five star hotel in the city that is owned and run by the family that built it. As a favorite of countless Lords, Ladies, Dukes, and Duchesses (William and Kate famously holed up here the night before their wedding), it holds the Royal Warrant, a mark of distinction awarded to the Crown’s preferred products and services. After a recent renovation (its first major one in 105 years), it emerged the belle of the Belgravia ball, with sumptuous rooms, and a grand dining room awarded a Michelin star. To top it all off, it’s an easy walk to the Royal Parks and the fashionable shops of Knightsbridge, Mayfair, and Sloane Street.
Vendue, Charleston, South Carolina
Things seem less chaotic in Charleston, where a calm, cool, and collected vibe—and a few mint juleps—magically diminish the strains of daily living. This is especially true at The Vendue, an 84-room boutique hotel fashioned from historic warehouses in the city’s French Quarter, a five-minute walk from Waterfront Park, the East Bay Street dining scene, and Rainbow Row. Rooms and public spaces are an eclectic mash-up of old and new, with original exposed brick, hardwood floors, vintage décor, and an impressive 300-piece collection of contemporary art. Book the King Junior Suite. It feels like a scene from The Notebook, complete with fireplace, sitting room, and a crystal sherry-filled decanter at the ready.
The Thompson, Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
For the parents who love the artful combination of sun-drenched downtime with nightlife, the game-changing Thompson Playa del Carmen is a no-brainer. In an 80-mile coastal strip known for towering all-inclusive resorts, the just-opened Thompson stands out in the best possible way. It’s got 92 rooms (with more opening in 2016), an outpost of NYC hotspot Catch, a 30,000 square-foot roof deck complete with in-water lounges, a swim-up bar, private cabanas, and 360-degree sea and city views, all of which brings a sense of urban sophistication to this Mexican beach town.
The Langham, Chicago
For Midwesterners in need of a break, there is no better pick-me-up than Chicago. Here, the hotel to book is The Langham, a modernist marvel on the Chicago River with massive rooms and a cutting-edge spa. Take in a Blackhawks or Bulls game, eat at a classic like Spiaggia or a trendy spot like Blackbird, Girl and The Goat, Maple & Ash, or Dusek’s), hit the Art Institute of Chicago, and visit hipster neighborhoods like Logan Square and Wicker Park while you’re there. There’s little in Chicago to disappoint.
The Surrey, New York City
The trick to vacationing like a local in NYC is finding a perch that feels more Beaux Arts townhouse than hotel. You will certainly feel like a glamorous Upper East Sider at The Surrey, a boutique hotel close to Central Park, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and posh shops on Madison Avenue. The property reads sleek and sophisticated, showcasing a refined palette, tufted club chairs, and eclectic modern artworks by the likes of Chuck Close, Richard Serra, and William Kentridge. Within the hotel is Daniel Boulud’s restaurant Cafe Boulud) and the Cornelia Day Spa. Don’t skip sipping cocktails at the sultry, Coco Chanel-inspired Bar Pleiades.
Madeline Hotel, Telluride, Colorado
For the uninitiated, Telluride is a skier’s paradise: 300 days of sunshine, no lift lines, no crowds, a variety of terrain, and a vibrant town that ranks high on charm and low on pretension. The Madeline Hotel is a perfect (powder) lovers’ perch, especially after its $10 million renovation. Rooms got a chick alpine makeover (think leather club chairs for front-of-fireplace chilling, Pratesi linens, and soaking tubs) and amenities expanded. Now, a bath barista can customize your bathing experience, a new ski valet program eliminates hauling equipment. The food is fabulous, but the 4,000 square-foot sky terrace is the crowning glory. With sweeping views of the Rocky Mountains, a heated pool, hot tubs, and fire pits, it’s an après ski game-changer.