Over the past few years, I’ve had the opportunity to experience a variety of kids clubs facilities around the world during our family travels. Some are free, some require a fee, some are dismal dungeons and some are completely non-existent. While my son has enjoyed going to a few, there have definitely been others where there was no bribe in the world that was going to get him to stay or go back. Before our visit to Dreams Las Mareas this summer, he was a bit on the fence about kids clubs and I had yet to find one that had all the amenities that I was looking for, but I’m pretty sure the search is over. Not only did he love going and want to go back every day, he placed it at the top of his list of “Fun things to do on our last day in Costa Rica”.
The key to a great family vacation is finding activities that everyone enjoys, and sometimes that means getting the chance to do things on your own as well. This is where the “Kids Clubs” at resorts come into play because they can be the perfect opportunity to let kids explore, learn and have fun in ways that interest them, while giving parents much needed time for themselves to get their fun on too, even if that means taking a nap by the pool.
While you may find that kids clubs are becoming more and more common at your higher end resorts, you will also find that not all are created equal! So what kind of features and amenities make a kids club more than just a room with a chaperone? We polled our readers to find out the most wanted amenities they look for and added a few of our own too.
Safety Features and Well Trained Staff
More than a few readers were concerned about safety and security, and rightly so. Leaving a younger child with strangers can be stressful for both the children and parents and you want to feel confident that you are leaving your child in good hands.
“Pagers to notify you if there is a problem. (Mobile phone may not work in some countries).” – Michael P.
“Staff qualifications. They need to be like, ninja-trained for me to let them deal with my kids.” – Chelsea at Someday I’ll Learn
The Explorers Club at Dreams Las Mareas is designed with children 3-12 in mind and not only offers fully trained staff with Red Cross certification in both CPR and First Aid, but it’s easy to tell they love their job and working with children. Friendly, kind and genuinely interested in interacting with everyone, I especially loved that there were several core staff members that were present daily, offering a consistent person for children to bond to. Upon check in, parents receive a beeper so they can be contacted should they be needed for any reason.
A Variety of Activities
Overall, parents wanted to see a wide variety of activities so that their kids actually wanted to keep coming back with getting outdoors and educational programs ranking high on the wish lists.
“We look for group play, song or show. Arts, crafts and science.” – Michael P.
“I was just thinking the other day how I like when kids clubs have indoor and outdoor areas–huge plus when possible!” – Sarah N.
“I was blown away when I found out the kids club attendants take small groups of the kids to the pool.” – Heather at Our Kids Mom.
We both loved that each day at the Explorer’s Club was filled with a variety of adventures including daily activities based around nature, science and exploration on property plus arts and crafts, an indoor and outdoor play area, treasure hunts, visits to the kids pool and waterslide, board games and even a special weekly camping evening with dinner, tents and a movie on the beach that goes until 11pm! It was actually on this particular evening that I was missing my little buddy so I thought I would surprise him with an early pick up and offer to eat dinner with me. Unfortunately (?) instead of coming back with my child, the staff member returned with the message that my son thought it was a better idea if I ate dinner alone and came back later to get him.
The last thing you want to find out when picking up your child after an afternoon at the club is that they haven’t eaten. The staff at the Explorer’s Club take the children to eat lunch and dinner at the restaurant daily at scheduled times. This is a huge bonus because this tends to be a rarely offered amenity.
As we said, one of the keys to a great family vacation is finding something for everyone and that includes alone time for Mom and Dad. While most kids clubs are mainly open during daylight hours, if you’re lucky, some will offer a special evening activity once a week or even provide after hours in room child care. Oh, the possibilities!
“An option to keep kids in the evening hours to allow for parents to perhaps dine alone.” – Michael P.
Included in the cost of your stay, the Dreams Las Mareas clubs are open until 10pm daily. In room babysitting services are available for an additional fee from 8-11pm by request.
A Place for Older Kids
Most kids clubs tend to focus on the smaller children, but what about those finicky tweens that got dragged along to paradise too? Oh the horror of having to actually spend all day with your parents! Seems there is a need for older
ingrates children to have a cool place to chill as well.
“I want something for teens…so many “kids clubs” only cater to children 11 and younger! Teens want their own activities too, they’re not quite old enough to explore all on their own but don’t want to be stuck with mom and dad 24/7.” – Jennifer at The Rebel Chick
My little man is growing up way too fast! Before I know it, he’ll want to ditch me for the Core Zone Teens Club. Well actually, he already tried! Offering tweens and teens age 13-17 daily activities, gaming systems, sports and a snack bar, the Teens Club also has fun nightly entertainment including a disco mixer and bonfires. The bright side is that he won’t be glued to his phone or trying to pretend he doesn’t know us.
Kuddos to Dreams Las Mareas in Costa Rica for successfully building a truly all inclusive kids program into their already luxurious all inclusive resort stay. They’ve certainly set the bar high for any future family friendly resorts we visit!
My stay was hosted by Dreams Las Mareas. Opinions are my own.