What some hotels will do for their youngest guests

JANE E. FRASER
Last updated 05:00 19/07/2013
Snoopy_Landscape

SNUGGLE SERVICE: Knotts Berry Farm Hotel provides a Snoopy tuck-in service.

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INDOOR FUN: The Ritz Carlton at Lake Tahoe's kids indoor camp out amenities.

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I remember being so excited by miniature soaps and little containers of UHT milk when I was a kid.

We're talking about the amenities in your average 1980s motel, but kids didn't travel so much in those days and it felt pretty special to me.

Fast forward only a few decades and children have become regulars in upmarket hotels, resorts and lodges, where they are increasingly getting their own catering, entertainment and in-room services.

Miniature soaps don't really stand up against pizza parties, in-room fairy floss makers and turn-down services with warm milk and cookies.

At the Knotts Berry Farm Hotel in California, kids can get "Snoopy" to come and tuck them in with a chocolate dog-bone treat (um, chocolate at bedtime?) if you stay in one of their Snoopy-themed guest rooms.

Or at the Four Seasons Resort Whistler in Canada, little guests not only get a choice of stuffed animal on check-in but the use of child-sized bathrobes and slippers during their stay.

They'll also get a welcome present such as a giant M&M cookie with their name spelled out in chocolate, which is a bit of a step up from UHT milks.

For techno-kids, the Rydges Esplanade Resort in Cairns has family rooms featuring bunk beds with a personal 15-inch LCD television in each bed.

These are linked to an X-Box allowing split-screen gaming or DVD viewing, with additional content able to be streamed via iPads or iPods.

If your kids have always wanted to go camping, they can have an "indoor campout experience" at various Ritz Carlton hotels in the US, complete with tent, camping light and teddy bear.

Or you could just take them camping, of course.

Children can also have all their daytime activities taken care of, courtesy of family butlers and children's concierge services.

At Serene Villas in Seminyak, Bali, families meet daily with their family butler to plan their activities, meals and excursions and can even take the butler with them when they go out, in case they need anything.

The Athenaeum hotel in London offers a similar service with a 'Kids Concierge' who is there to organise outings and make sure the munchkins have their favourite books and snacks in their rooms.

In Australia, Marriott Hotels & Resorts is preparing to launch a dedicated teens' concierge program, catering for "often neglected" older children.

The company is recruiting Aussie teens to become virtual concierges for its hotels in Melbourne, Sydney, the Gold Coast and Brisbane, to help teens enjoy their holiday rather than making their parents' lives a nightmare.

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The virtual concierges will create original travel content and pull together the best of social media in real-time city guides for visiting teens.

Even babies can have their own concierge if you're prepared to pay enough.

Grosvenor House, a JW Marriot Hotel on Park Lane in London, has several royal-themed packages for those who want to play Kate and Wills.

These include the use of a "baby concierge service", with childcare and organic baby food for bubs and pampering, shopping trips and restaurant meals for parents.

The hotel has transformed one of its suites into a luxury nursery suite designed by none other than Dragons of Walton Street, who styled Prince William and Prince Harry's nurseries.

The QT Sydney has a similar package including designer baby gear and parents' pampering, targeting "design loving couples with babies and toddlers".

Some kids' services are at least educational, so they learn something other than how to be pampered.

Children staying at Sydney's Four Seasons are given a 'Passport to Sydney' with their photo in the front and pages of puzzles, word searches and other activities about the city to fill in as they visit.

My kids were given something similar in London a couple of years ago and it was fascinating to see how much information they absorbed as they filled it in.

Taking it to another level, some hotel services are unusual enough to qualify as part of the holiday rather than just the accommodation.

The new Disney's Art of Animation Resort in Florida has a whopping 1120 suites designed in the themes of Finding Nemo, Cars and The Lion King and 864 rooms designed after The Little Mermaid.

Or from October, families holidaying at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando will be able to stay in Despicable Me suites complete with missile beds and 'minion' characters who rappel from the ceiling.

That, I have to admit, sounds like fun.

- Sydney Morning Herald

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