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Travel Schooling: Learn Through Travel at These Top Hotels.

Although summer has ended, kids are back in school, vacation and education don’t have to be mutually exclusive. More and more hotels are offering hands-on, educational programs, allowing children to learn through travel.

For instance, Great Wolf Lodge Grand Mound in Washington state offers a mining attraction where kids can sift through sand, find gemstones and then learn about the minerals. When kids go back to school, it frees up time for parents too! At Condado Vanderbilt in San Juan, Puerto Rico, guests can learn tricks of the trade from the best chefs in the Puerto Rican culinary world through the hotel’s program, Culinary U.

Educational Programs for Kids

Great Wolf Lodge Grand Mound | Grand Mound, Washington

Guests of Great Wolf Lodge Grand Mound can go to Oliver's Mining Co. to explore the mysterious mine shaft and discover hidden gemstones with a little help from Oliver the Raccoon. After mastering the mine, head to the sluice to discover what is hidden in the paydirt. Kids can take home the gemstones and minerals they unearth in a keepsake collection bag, complete with a gemstone identification card and personalized labels. Cost of mining experience is $11.99; guests who book the mining package for $25.99 will receive a special mining helmet.

Through a range of organized indoor and outdoor activities, kids ages 5 to 12 can get to know the beautiful island of Lanai. The complimentary Kids For All Seasons program encourages children to appreciate Lanai’s unique environment. They learn about petroglyphs, the spirit of aloha and how the Hawaiian Islands formed. They can even build their own erupting volcanoes, go hunting for lizards or watch a keiki (child) hula show. Children are welcome in the day program at any time – no reservations are required. Evening events are offered seasonally and reservations are highly recommended. Customized themed evening events are available for groups of eight or more upon request.


  • Explore the tidal pools along Hulopoe Bay while learning about the exotic sea creatures that call them home.

  • Join creative art classes – learn to sponge-paint or draw colourful vegetation and wildlife, or experiment with watercolours and clay.

  • Enjoy more than 50 arts and crafts activities.

  • Play a new board game (or an old favorite).

  • Trek through the lush Resort Gardens searching for koi fishponds and waterfalls.

  • Catch the aloha spirit – play traditional Hawaiian games.

  • Collect fragrant flowers to make a lei.

  • Catch a chameleon.

  • Learn how the Hawaiian Islands were formed as you build your own volcano and island habitat at Hulopoe Beach.

  • Play tennis with our international pro or with your new friends.

Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa | Oahu, HI

Aulani offers opportunities for every member of your ‘ohana to learn new talents during a vacation. Kids can Ho‘okani Pila – learn the ‘Ukulele – and discover how to play a song and also learn how the instrument became popular in Hawaii; This introductory lesson is simple and perfect for beginners. For kids wanting to learn how to hula dance, Aulani features a weekly lesson about hula – Hawaii's unique dance. Children’s ‘ohana will learn fun hula moves like the ‘ami hip roll and more. Some of the classes include premium experiences that teach guests even more about the Hawaiian culture.

The Ritz-Carlton Bal Harbour, Miami | Miami, FL

The Ritz-Carlton Bal Harbour exposes young travelers to the culture and environment of Miami, including exploration of the local marine life such as manatees, who use the surrounding waters of Bal Harbour as a sanctuary. Equipped to learn more about these gentle giants, kids in the program learn a multitude of fun facts, receive binoculars for manatee-watching from their balconies and get their very own Jetty the Manatee stuffed animal to take back home following their Bal Harbour adventures.

The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, Miami | Miami, FL

The Ritz Kids club at The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, Miami is an engaging experience that provides adventures and experiences a child will always remember. Leveraging on the Ritz Kids club’s partnership with Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society and his unique environmental expertise, there are unique activities crafted to tap into the natural curiosity of children. With a diverse collection of activities based on the four pillars of the program – water, land, environmental responsibility and culture – kids are swept away by everything from coral reefs and forests, to recycling and sustainability, storytelling, art and even food. For the kids who love a little R&R, they can experience a Princess Fizzing Mani or Pedi, with aromatherapy fizzing miniature balls to moisturize with some added fun, finished with a nail shaping, buffing and polish of choice.

Vail Marriott Mountain Resort - Vail, CO

Check-in to the endless beauty of Vail Marriott Mountain Resort for a memorable family vacation in the Rocky Mountains. With renovations underway, the resort is launching its NEW Mountain Mindfulness program this summer season from August 18-29, 2018. Tapping into the wellness trend, kids and adults can learn to peacefully connect their mind to the destination through a selection of different wellness activities, such as outdoor spin classes (facing beautiful Vail mountain), meditation classes (breathing in the fresh mountain air), mountain top yoga, guided hikes, etc. Additionally, families who participate in Mountain Mindfulness will receive a Vail Marriott yoga mat, Fitbit and water bottle (take away gift), daily homemade kombucha bar and pre-loaded tablet with in-room workouts, foam rollers or exercise bands by request. Within the resort, the four-bedroom penthouse suite is an ideal place to stay, boasting top-tier finishings, appliances, decor and cozy media rooms. In addition, the open-air private rooftop deck has a putting tee, indoor/outdoor hot tub and grilling space. Ideally located at the base of Vail Mountain, just steps from the Eagle Bahn Gondola, families can enjoy countless activities together from biking to taking a Scenic Gondola Ride up to Colorado’s highest mountain point, or exploring the cobblestone streets of Lionshead and Vail Village, offering hundreds of shops, boutiques and art galleries.

Mulia Kidz at The Mulia & Mulia Villas | Bali, Indonesia

Located on the majestic coastline of Nusa Dua, The Mulia & Mulia Villas is home to two ultra-luxurious properties that epitomize extravagance and opulence combined with genuine hospitality and incredible service. A truly unexpected family destination, The Mulia & Mulia Villas goes above and beyond for families of all ages by offering a kid-friendly pool, professionally trained nanny butlers, special kids treats and Mulia Kidz, a fun and exciting play area for children from 3 to 8 years of age with complimentary daily activities focusing on creative learning, arts and crafts and action packed games and include everything from necklace making, musical games, Balinese dance lessons and dress up, origami making, hair braiding and styling, story telling, flower arranging, face painting, movies, mask making and more - allowing young ones to make the most out of their vacation with hands on, interactive and memorable experiences.

Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta | Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico

Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta, one of Mexico’s premier beachfront destinations offers a collection of luxury family-friendly resorts located one of Mexico’s most coveted beaches. Guests can find kid-friendly educational programming from iguana tours and turtle releases, to kids painting classes and Spanish lessons. Additionally across all properties, Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta boasts multiple pools including a Mayan Pyramid Water Slide, a Lazy River that winds through the resort and an Aqua Park, complete with slides and wave pools. After a day of activity unwind with kids spa offerings, or more fun with family golf experiences, napkin-folding classes, and more. Additional details, below.

  • Iguana Tours - Children can learn about flora and fauna with a special emphasis on iguanas. This activity is designed to teach our youngest guests how to care for the planet.

  • Turtle Tour - Children visit Vidanta's turtle camp with biologists where turtle eggs are replanted and cared for. They also get to participate in sunset releases and learn about the sea turtles that nest on our beaches.

The Resort at Pedregal | Cabo San Lucas

The Tortuguitas Kids Club is perfect for guests who are not quite old enough to enjoy the teen adventures and encourages children to interact with the unique cultural qualities of Los Cabos through activities that are both fun and educational in nature such as piñata making, outdoor games and story-telling, movie nights complete with snacks, tons of arts and crafts projects and interactive Scavenger Hunts. A half day program is priced at $25 and a full day program is priced at $50.

The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch | Bachelor Gulch, CO

Families can stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch where kids can learn the art of Fly Fishing on one the beautiful mountain fed rivers and streams, such as Gore Creek, and the Eagle and Colorado rivers. The hotel offers a variety of fishing experiences on rivers such as Eagle, Roaring Fork, Frying Pan, Blue, Yampa, and the Colorado - and creeks like Gore, Brush, Cross, or Homestake. Catch Brown, Cutthroat, Rainbow, and Brook trout. Outfitters offer both wade and float trips for all abilities and ages. Enjoy half day or full day guided trips year-round that conveniently offer door to door transportation. 

JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa | Phoenix, AZ

The JW Marriott Desert Ridge Family Escape experience is exclusively dedicated to resort guests and their children. The program offers daily camp, giving children independence in a safe and fun environment. Once a week, kids can participate in the Herb Garden Horticulture Tour where they will be guided by a member of the horticulture team around the beautiful garden to sample and learn about the plants.

Orlando is always a great idea for East Coast families looking to take a quick trip down to Florida. The Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld is ideal located in the theme park and boasts plenty of family-friendly activities such as a pool and waterpark, a spa and multiple culinary offerings. The hotel offers a special Family Time package including accommodations and free dining for kids under the age of 12 at Tradewinds Restaurant or Boardwalk Restaurant. As an official hotel of SeaWorld, children will have hands on experiences and education of the wildlife.

The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort | Honolulu, HI

Known as the “Pink Palace,” The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort is a historic, luxury Honolulu hotel, located right on the famed Waikiki beach. Families can enjoy the resort's family programming, where they will be educated on traditional Hawaiian cultural activities.The resort also offers hands-on activities for kids like surf lessons (with a professional photographer capturing the moments), snorkeling and luaus.

Poised on a bluff of dunes overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island finds its home in a destination of unspoiled coastal beauty and Southern charm. The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island is the perfect getaway for a classic beach family vacation before the kids go back to school, with a number of new programs perfect for the entire family.

  • Ritz Kids Experience. At the Ritz Kids Center, children will learn about beach life and life beneath the sea based on proprietary programs from Jean-Michael Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society. Popular activities include feeding fish in two 200 gallon tanks and spotting gopher tortoises grazing in the dunes. Full and half day programs are available. Every Friday and Saturday evening the Resort offers Kids Night Out. Children will enjoy an evening of fun activities while parents slip away for a romantic dinner.

  • Sand Castle Concierge With The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island as the classic beach vacation families always try to make sand castles together. Let the resort’s Sand Castle Concierge help you make a memory to remember as they assist guests in turning sand and water into beautiful creations. Capture it all with the help of the resort’s Photography Concierge.

  • Natural Adventures. For beach lovers, The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island is paradise found where the sand meets the warm waters of the Atlantic. Summer brings average ocean temperatures in the mid-eighties, ideal for boogie boarding, surf and paddle boarding. Enjoy leisurely days while collecting shells and fossilized shark teeth with the resort’s resident Naturalist. The surrounding salt marshes and nature preserves create the perfect environment for a guided walk to learn about the details of the eco-systems. There is even horseback riding on the beach and a private boat tour of Cumberland Island where wild horses roam.

  • Amelia’s Playdate. Your little one’s favorite plush playmate get’s the ultimate classic beach vacation experience at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island. Drop your plush friend at the concierge desk for a day of fun activities around the resort. At the end of the day pick up your friend along with photos of their activities a personalized certificate and a letter signed by the resort mascot, Amelia the Blue and Gold Macaw

  • Indoor Pirate Campout. Bring the fun inside your room as the resort creates a unique experience for your children to enjoy. Nature the spirit of adventure as an indoor pirate campout appears in your room as by magic. The pirate-themed campout includes: a pirate tent with a porthole tent, double feather bed, How I Became a Pirate by Melina Long and David Shannon, Treasure Chest, Pirate Map, etc.

Set on 18 acres of lakefront property where Lake Huron meets Lake Michigan, Mission Point invites families to get lost in a forgotten time. With a ban on motor vehicles, Mackinac Island limits modes of transportation to horse-and-buggy, walking and biking on its traffic-free roads offering a unique end of summer vacation. The resort boasts a complimentary Kids Club where under the guidance of trained staff, children aged five to 12 gather to learn classic games that their parents and grandparents played while growing up. They will play games on the great lawn, fly kites with the property’s own kite master or check out Admiral Dave's Arcade with a selection of classic arcade and video games. The island’s full service resort, Mission Point offers bicycle rentals and will set up horseback riding experiences with Mackinac Horsemen's Association to explore the island’s 70+ miles of hiking and biking trails, many of which are located within Mackinac Island State Park. Mission Point will also arrange water activities in the Great Lakes, such as fishing, kayaking, parasailing and sailing. For a mindful experience, guests are invited to start each day at Mission Point with a complimentary Sun-Up Hiking Sessions to watch the sunrise over Lake Huron. Additional activities include tennis, mini golf, and endless lawn games on Mission Point’s famous great lawn. Kids under 12 eat free.

Educational Programs for Adults

Condado Vanderbilt | San Juan, Puerto Rico

With the kids back in school, parents can finally have some “me time” and take the opportunity to learn for themselves - and what better way to learn the tricks of the trade in the kitchen than from the best native Puerto Rican chefs during a weekend program in the island’s capital, San Juan. Culinary U will be taking place at the Condado Vanderbilt, with endless opportunities to gain expertise on different cuisines. To kick off the weekend, attendees can enjoy an exclusive four course dinner at the hotel’s 1919 restaurant, helmed by Executive Chef Juan Jose Cuevas who is from Puerto Rico, earned a Michelin Stay while he was a chef at Blue Hill in NYC and takes great pride in his work with local farmers inclusive. The weekend is full of class options from Caribbean Flavors by Chef Juan Camacho (Sabrina Restaurant) and Ceviche Class by Chef Efrain Cruz (Vivo Beach Club) to Fish Cookery by 1919’s Executive Chef Juan Jose Cuevas. After a full day of hands-on culinary classes, guests can celebrate at the event's after party, complete with an open bar, live band and DJ all night. To top off the educational weekend, a decadent brunch will be served at Condado Vanderbilt’s Ola Oceanfront restaurant on Sunday.

The Charles Hotel | Cambridge, MA

Long known as the smart place to stay, The Charles Hotel brings its standing as a "home away from home” for global vanguards to life with the launch of two new programs this Fall. The 295-room bastion of intelligentsia, situated in Cambridge, MA between the Harvard University campus and the Kennedy School of Government, ushers in an ongoing speaker series from the Arts, Culture & Political communities, called "The Charles Presents". <final names are being confirmed currently, and we should be able to share a few next week> . Additionally, the modern day game night craze, Powerpoint Party, launches in Noir 4 Wednesdays in October - October 3, 10, 17, 24. Notable Bostonians, Noir regulars and hotel guests compete in a community driven 3 minute lecture making the case for their passion points, with crowd voting to determine the winner and prizes awarded. Topic examples include why Dunkin Donuts is NOT a MA favorite, if Beyonce is truly the Queen of Pop, and if Pamplemousse will surpass Coconut as the penultimate La Croix flavor. Hotel regulars include past US Presidents, foreign Prime Ministers, and the Dalai Lama, along with celebrities like Adele, Rihanna, and Neil Patrick Harris.

Twin Farms | Barnard, Vermont

Situated in the heart of Vermont, this adults-only Relais & Châteaux property, offers guests a chance to perfect their culinary and entertaining skills, while the kids are at school. Join acclaimed Executive Chef Nathan Rich and his expert team for an intimate culinary journey that will teach you not only how to cook and wine pair, but how to entertain like one of Relais & Châteaux’s most notable culinary destinations. Right in the middle of the Twin Farms’ kitchen, the Chef’s Table experience offers up to four adults the opportunity to learn how to cook like a seasoned professional, with a full-circle culinary journey. Pick ingredients from the on-site gardens, learn how to pair exceptional wines, and bring it together with the “art of plating” – a perfect skill for entertaining.

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