We fondly remember a time pre-kids when we exclusively booked boutique hotels in the hippest parts of town on vacation. While we still manage to slip in the odd girl’s weekend and even an infrequent romantic getaway, now the focus is very much on short escapes in Asia with the kids. And when selecting the perfect hotel for our holiday, kids’ clubs are high on the agenda. But with so many resorts around the region boasting to be the perfect blend of sun, surf, sand and sea for families, it can be hard to sort through the pretenders and find the true gems. We’ve done that for you – from personal experience and recommendations from friends. Here’s our hit list of family-friendly resorts in Asia with kids’ clubs your crew will be begging to return to day after day. And we all know what that means – precious time for you to indulge in a massages, poolside naps and cocktails. Now, that’s our kind of holiday.
Danang and Hoi An in Vietnam is right at the top of our list for a family vacation. And the Hyatt Regency Danang Resort and Spa is the pick of the hotels. We’re talking casual family dining next to a sandy pool for kids, beach access and huge grounds for your kids to roam about. The family style accommodation is also excellent. But for the sub-12s, Camp Hyatt is where it’s at. With a raft of indoor and outdoor activities available like wall climbing, adventure playground, mini-cinema and pool table, there’s something for all ages. Our kids loved joining the resort walk and family yoga sessions and making keepsakes like lanterns, sand paintings and ceramics. And so long as you book a babysitter, kids under three are welcome – music to the ears of parents with two kids under two.
Hyatt Regency Danang Resort and Spa; 5 Truong Sa Street, Hoa Hai Ward, Ngu Hanh Son District, Danang, Vietnam; www.danang.regency.hyatt.com
We took our gang off to review The Slate (formerly Indigo Pearl) and LOVED IT! Quirkily Inspired by the tin mining industry, The Slate has three swimming pools (two are adult only – bonus!), five restaurants and cafes, a gym, and the ultra-unique Coqoon spa. The Tin Box kids’ club is freshly decked out with nice wooden toys unlike some plastic fantastic zones we’ve seen. There are activities every hour to keep little people busy like bracelet making, seashell collecting, art from nature, a blow-up water slide activity, pom-pom making, Thai kick boxing and rock painting. Accommodation-wise the spacious D-Buk Suite (76sqm) is far more comfortable than squeezing a family of four into a standard hotel room, and at $352 a night including buffet breakfast, fits the budget.
The Slate, Nai Yang Beach and National Park, Phuket 83110, Thailand; www.theslatephuket.com
Also worth an honorable mention is the Outrigger Laguna Phuket Beach Resort. We stayed in a beach front room with a huge day bed for the kids. Four things set this resort apart from the rest – the next level food (Metzo’s Mediterranean restaurant in particular), the super-fun slide into the pool, the adjacent cheap shops, massage places and restaurants, and the excellent Koh Kids’ Club. The kids’ night out was a hit as new friendships were forged over dinner, games and a movie (while we nipped away on date night). By day Koh Kids’ Club offers an array of activities like Batik t-shirt painting, Thai dancing, arts and crafts and pool games. There’s also plenty of outdoor green space to exhaust little legs including a playground with swings. Laguna Phuket 323 Moo 2, Srisoonthorn Road, Cherngtalay, Thalang, Bangtao Bay, Phuket 83110; www.outrigger.com
KOH SAMUI, THAILAND
Le Méridien is renowned the world over for it’s rockin’ kids’ clubs, and the sitch at Le Méridien Koh Samui Resort and Spa is no exception. When you tire of gazing out onto aquamarine seas from the beachfront infinity pool, drop the kids off at the kids’ club and retreat for some me time. They’ll be too busy with shell art, bracelet-making, paper flower-making and Thai boxing to notice your absence. And you can rest assured knowing that they’ll be nourished with healthy food. Don’t miss the guided morning sessions at the ocean pier where the kids (and you) can feed tropical coral reef fish with organic fish food. If you’re lucky you might just spot a sea turtle or two.
146/24 Moo 4, Lamai Beach, Maret, Surat Thani, Koh Samui, 84310, Thailand; www.starwoodhotels.com/lemeridien
We’ve also got to give mention to the Chaweng Beach Resort: a destination we’ve boomeranged back to many times (with and without the kids). It’s beachfront location, excellent kids’ menu, friendly staff, babysitting service and top notch all-important kids’ club (for kids age four to 11 years) seal the deal on a heavenly fam vacay.
155/4 Moo 2 Chaweng Beach, Ko Samui District, Surat Thani 84320, Thailand; www.chawengregent.com
Just a stepping-stone from Singapore, Langkawi is a top destination for a family holiday. Our pick of the family-friendly resorts is The Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa. It’s in stunning condition and the Westin Family Kids’ Club rivals the best in Asia. As the resort is surrounded a perfect white stretch of beach and a rainforest so the kids’ club runs a range of outstanding outdoor activities for kids including bird watching, nature walks and beach discovery. For those wanting to escape the sun, the daily calendar of indoor offerings in the Westin Discovery Room is just as good. They’ll even feed your munchkins with wholesome grub.
Jalan Pantai Dato Syed Omar, Kedah, Langkawi, 07000, Malaysia; www.westinlangkawi.com
The Four Seasons Resort Langkawi is another good choice for a family break. The Family Kid’s Club, complete with a sand adventure playground, is located next to the family pool in the main area of the resort, and is just steps away from one of the best (private) beaches on the island. The kid’s club team has designed holistic programs that go beyond the usual painting and sandcastle building, including kid’s yoga programs, Junior Masterchef cooking classes and parent-free mangroves & monkeys safari cruises. Super-fun!
Jalan Tanjung Rhu, 07000 Langkawi, Kedah Darul Aman, Malaysia; www.fourseasons.com/langkawi
SIBU ISLAND, MALAYSIA
If you’re after a rustic, cheap weekend escape from Singapore, then Sea Gypsy Village Resort & Dive Base is your spot. It’s back to basics in terms of accommodation – think camping style mosquito nets, wooden huts and cool refreshing showers. We had a wonderful long weekend at Sea Gypsy with a group of families namely because the kids’ club is unbelievable! Not only do the fun staff feed your kids dinner, they then treat them to an outdoor activity before retiring to the club for secret kids’ business until 10pm. You are left to enjoy an adult dinner in peace. If your kiddos are on the younger side, and they don’t fall asleep on the beanbags in front of a movie, they’ll be returned to your table for a cuddle. There are also great optional morning and afternoon child-centric activities including T-shirt painting, jungle hunts and a pirate costume workshops.
Sea Gypsy Village Resort & Dive Base, Pulau Sibu, Johor, Malaysia; www.siburesort.com
KOTA KINABALU, MALAYSIAN BORNEO
Out of the two Shangri-La resorts in Sabah, Shangri-La Rasa Ria is by far our favourite as it sits between a 64 acre nature reserve and a stretch of white sand beach exclusive to the resort. It was until recently the site of a successful Orangutan rehabilitation sanctuary. Kiddie facilities include a huge children’s playground, shallow family pool with a fantastic slide, and the fully-staffed Kid’s Club offering daily activities such as coconut leaf weaving, kite making and flying, pony rides and scavenger hunts. For kids who really love animals, the Rangers Program is an hour and a half activity that gives them the opportunity to assist the rangers with their daily tasks.
Shangri-La Rasa Ria, Pantai Dalit Beach, Tuaran, Sabah, 89208, Malaysia; www.shangri-la.com/kotakinabalu
We had one of the best family summer holidays ever at the InterContinental Bali Resort at Jimbaran Bay. Everything about this experience was five star – from the gorgeous Balinese styling to the delish dining options (in and outside the hotel) and the kids’ playground. We spent the mornings alternating between the multiple pools and beach with the kids, and then come noon booked them into the Planet Trekkers kids’ club for a quality lunch and five hours of fun. With daily activities like hair braiding, swimming, Bahasa lessons, recycled art classes and fishing, our kids are still raving about the place. The childcare staff was so lovely we wrote tear stained farewell letters.
InterContinental Bali Resort, Jalan Uluwatu 45, Jimbaran: Bali ,80361, Indonesia; www.ihg.com
KOH KOOD, THAILAND
One of Thailand’s hidden gems, Soneva Kiri is a luxury property a flight away from Bangkok on the island of Koh Kood. While that may sound like honeymoon paradise, trust us that this has one of the best kid’s centres in Thailand. Drop your children off at The Den, designed as a little retreat where they can escape and let their imagination run wild. From the minute they scamper over the arrival drawbridge, over to a multi-levelled bamboo structure tucked away in the jungle, you know you’re set for a few hours of peace and quiet. Professional child-minders are on hand to watch your children and ensure their time spent is both educational as well as fun; which is not hard given the amount of facilities such as the music room complete with local Thai instruments, a library, an art room, and of course a game room. There’s also a dedicated zone for kids aged one to five which is a rare find! The highlight of every little guest’s visit to Soneva Kiri is a visit to Ever Soneva So Chocoholic, an amazing Willy Wonka-like chocolate ‘factory’.
110 Moo 4, Koh Kood Sub-District, Koh Kood District, Trat 23000, Thailand; www.soneva.com
We road tested the Shangri-La Boracay Resort & Spa with a toddler and deffo give it the green light! Our little traveller loved the Activity Zone in the kids’ club – as it’s full of toys and a massive slide and there are daily kids activities from fish feeding to crafts. For teens, there’s a well equipped Entertainment Zone with basketball, air hockey and foosball, arcade games, billiards, table tennis, karaoke rooms, and even board games for those who want to take their eyes off the screen at some point! Because the resort has such extensive grounds and three pools, including one dedicated kid’s pool, it hardly feels overcrowded, even when at full capacity. The whole island recently shut down for a ‘refurb’, so now’s definitely a great time to visit.
Barangay Yapak, Boracay Island, Malay, Aklan, 5608, Philippines; www.shangri-la.com/boracay
We literally just got back from a very happy week in the Philippines and the whole fam gave Crimson Resort & Spa Mactan a giant hurrah when it came to the kids’ club and family activities. With a whole pool (with life guards and life jackets for kids on standby) for kids, plus an indoor soft play area and playground dedicated to smaller guests, the CrimZone is the place to head for art, craft, gaming, kids’ menus and water play fun. And theres plenty of other family zones happening the resort over: our kids loved the giant chess, the foam party and nature tours too. Add in the friendliest staff on the planet, a beautiful little beach and an excellent buffet brekkie, and you’ve got yourself one awesome, easy getaway.
If you want to head a little further afield, we can’t sing the praises of Per Aquum Niyama, one very special pocket of the world, enough. This is one of those rare resorts that captures a boutique feel but has all the luxe treats you could want up its sleeve: award-winning restaurants, a divine spa, snorkelling and diving trips – and we’ll say it: one of the best kids’ club we’ve seen on our travels.
Olhuveli, Kudahuvadhoo Dhaalu Atoll, 13080, Maldives; www.minorhotels.com/en/peraquum/niyama
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