You probably know by now that i-escape’s Kids Collection has a wonderful breadth of properties which warmly welcome families. But have you discovered that you can search according to the age of your offspring? Each of the nearly 900 recommended hotels, guesthouses and rentals has been vetted as to whether it’s best suited to babies, toddlers, children and/or teenagers.
We’re kicking of a summer series showcasing some perfect places for each age group. First up is arguably the hardest family member to cater for: the teenager.
This pioneer eco lodge has the ideal setting. Its cute wooden cabins are spread out on a hillside surrounded by primary rainforest, with the deep blue Pacific beyond. Near-deserted beaches are within a 15-minute stroll, the organic food is delicious, and the superb guides will take you hiking and birding through the jungle. No kids under 6 are allowed, so a more grown-up vibe permeates the place, and even the most plugged-in teenager will forget the lack of internet and relish the activities on offer.
Whether you choose the lush flowering summers or the adrenaline-pumped winters, few can resist the call of the Alps. And we’ve yet to meet anybody (teenager or otherwise) who hasn’t enjoyed a stay in Switzerland’s sunniest resort, with its breathtaking views, 400km of slopes and open-air swimming pool overlooking the Rhone Valley. Base yourselves at this ski-in/ski-out lodge for its charming hosts, delicious bistro meals, fun fondue nights and hot tubs.
Grootbos, near Hermanus, Garden Route, South Africa
South Africa’s fynbos landscape is unique to the Western Cape: shrubby heathland with a Mediterranean climate, renowned for its exceptional biodiversity. Outdoorsy families who like to get well off the beaten track will be in their element at this safe wilderness retreat, set in a private nature reserve. The suites are spread across 2 lodges, one of which doesn’t accept children under 12 so is ideal for those with teens; each has a pool and restaurant. Meals and many activities are included in the price, and the empty sandy beaches nearby are stupendous.
Talk about a showstopper! Located just outside an oasis town in the Atacama desert, this design hotel is beautiful: adobe bricks, volcanic rock, llama-wool rugs, sleek interiors and a shimmering swimming pool. The astonishing landscapes nearby range from salt lakes to spouting geysers to moonscape valleys. Rooms have views of volcanoes, sunsets and salt mountains. And the night skies from your private outdoor seating area are breathtaking. Teenagers are accepted on all excursions and the rates, although expensive, are all-inclusive. Plus, kids stay free in July and August.
Fashion-conscious teens will love Barcelona, whose shopping streets are a mecca for funky clothes and footwear. And hanging out at this super-cool hotel in the heart of the action will work for parents and offspring alike. Rooms are vast, with lots of pleasingly hi-tech gadgetry (including projectors for TVs). There’s also a Michelin-starred restaurant, a buzzy lobby-bar with light boxes and dangling mirrors, and a rooftop pool with views over the city.
Once children cross the threshold to young adult, it’s extraordinary how luxurious surroundings can suddenly become of paramount importance. Your teen can swan about to his or her heart’s content at these gracious oceanfront suites and hillside villas (some with pools) that cascade down to a private beach. All manner of watersports are available, and there’s a 7 Up kids’ club offering cool activities such as reggae lessons, talent shows and movies. What’s more, the games room is wired for music and games (Xbox, Wii, Rock Band, Karaoke).
Iceland is a surreal adventure playground for all ages, and this Alpine-style lodge (complete with a stuffed polar bear in the lobby!) provides excellent access to awesome activities. Even the most jaded teenager will get a thrill from dog-sledding or snowmobiling across glaciers. The food is equally adventurous (smoked puffin, anyone?), and the vast breakfast buffet will suit growing adolescents.
Travel 2.5 hours from São Paulo and you’re in another world: mountains, lakes, lush rainforest and sprawling coffee plantations. This organic farm has 450 hectares to roam around, along with a gracious colonial-style farmhouse, newer villas and delicious home-grown food. The activities on site and nearby compensate for the lack of internet; this is the stuff true family bonding is made of.
You’ll feel at the end of the world when traversing the extraordinary Kimberley region of Western Australia, still mostly accessed via red-dust roads. Expect vast distances between settlements, outlandish rock formations (the Bungle Bungles really do look like beehives), and ancient pre-fossil gorges. For a unique insight into the landscape, base yourselves at this working cattle station (April-October only). Stay in eco tents or homestead rooms, munch kangaroo and barramundi at dinner, and get acquainted with the resident barking owls.