Spring has arrived and planning a family summer vacation is not far away. Parents looking to take their children to Europe can take comfort in the fact that complicated pandemic restrictions have eased on the continent and in the UK
With this in mind, some travel agencies and properties are appealing to families with a range of activities designed for younger guests.
“There’s something very special about family summer vacations,” said Backroads Founder and President Tom Hale. “Last year families mostly stayed in the US due to Covid uncertainty, but this year we’re seeing families overwhelmingly returning to international travel.”
Instead of a one-size-fits-all model, Backroads runs trips designed for three distinct age groups: teens and kids, typically ages 9-16; Older teens and 20s, for 17+; and 20s & Beyond for adult children.
European family tours, including a new bike tour from Puglia to Italy’s Basilicata, offer explorations of Croatia, Iceland, France and Spain and range from cycling, walking and hiking and multi-adventure tours as well as active ocean and river cruises.
Speaking of cruising, Hurtigruten Expeditions offers a free Young Explorers program on select Hurtigruten ships for kids ages 6-12. Activities include onboard science centers and organized excursions.
Young Explorers is offered year-round on three ships: Roald Amundsen, Fridtjof Nansen and Otto Sverdrup, formerly MS Finnmarken.
European destinations include Norway, Greenland and the British Isles.
Hotels are getting in on the action, including some high-end properties that just a decade ago would have been less suited to the family market.
The 46-room Fife Arms in Braemar, Scotland, for example, has a sense of place – imagine Victorian furnishings, tartan bedding and even a watercolor painting of Queen Victoria, and you get the idea – which is probably different of everything the children have already seen.
But while the vibe is chic and even a bit formal, the activities are distinctly family-friendly and the list goes on.
Children can learn to play golf – this is Scotland, after all – go horse riding and even embark on private excursions with a Highland guide, where they can learn about sailing and reading maps in the Cairngorms National Park.
Seasonal creative programs can also include hands-on workshops at nearby St. Margaret’s Arts Center or walks through the historic village of Braemar, and families can visit nearby Balmoral Castle, the Royal Family’s holiday home British.
Depending on their age, families can also take part in fly-fishing expeditions and an off-road 4×4 safari, while the youngest can spend rainy days in the family room, which is equipped with games board, books, table football and an Xbox. Games.
The five-star Sofitel Rome Villa Borghese has unveiled a multi-generational family package designed for extended groups. The package requires a minimum of 12 people in six double-occupancy rooms or an entire floor takeover for 15-room reservations — in other words, bring the grandparents and all the cousins.
The property itself, owned and operated by AccorInvest, is a former 19th-century palace within walking distance of the Trevi Fountain, Villa Medici, Spanish Steps, and other landmarks.
The hotel’s rooftop lounge and restaurant, Settimo, overlooks the Villa Borghese gardens and St. Peter’s Basilica.
For families, the spotlight is on activities, which include horseback riding on the ancient Appian Way, a tour of the city’s best gelato spots and a yoga lesson for adults in the adjacent Borghese Gardens while kids children test their courage at gladiatorial school.
Families can also enjoy an evening picnic and stargazing experience to learn about constellations and celestial bodies, many of which were named after Roman astronomers.
Sofitel Rome’s head concierge, who is also president of Rome Les Clefs d’Or, can also coordinate optional family-oriented outings like the Bioparco di Roma zoo and even Italian lessons.
Baglioni Resort Sardinia marks its second season this summer with amenities that include a Kids Club, two children’s pools and open spaces leading to the sea.
A member of Leading Hotels of the World, the 78-room property is located on a private estate within the Tavolara Marine Protected Area on the island’s northeast coast.
Baglioni Hotels & Resorts opened two other properties this year, in Puglia and Milan.
In Spain, Hotel Arts Barcelona uses its seaside/urban resort location to appeal to deep-pocketed parents looking for a luxurious family getaway in its penthouses.
The 28 penthouses offer privacy, one- to three-bedroom accommodations, and services such as airport transfers and exclusive shopping experiences.