Recently, I commented on boutique hotels. These are usually larger than a bed and breakfast, but smaller than the typical chain hotel. What sets them apart, however, is not their size, but a twofold emphasis. First, is an emphasis on customer service; second is offering a unique experience, such as an eco-hotel.
Similar to that second characteristic of the boutiques are the hotels that aim at the family market and offer child-friendly facilities. What are some of the features that would make a hotel child friendly?
1. Location, location, location. Hotels for business travelers want a facility near the corporate parks; those that seek the travelers’ patronage locate near the exit ramps of the interstate. A child-friendly hotel is constructed close to the things kids love to visits, amusement and water parks, children’s museums, parks and zoos. They might even offer a “family concierge” that can inform guests of nearby family attractions.
2. What’s for dinner? Children friendly hotels advertise “kids eat free.” They also offer a special children’s menu with traditional kids’ fare. Some hotels go even further. New York's The Peninsula offers a "Fifth Avenue Fairy Princess" package, in which little girls accompanying their mothers for lunch at the exclusive Manhattan restaurant, La Grenouille, receive a Tiffany & Co. silver spoon engraved with their initials as a souvenir.
3. Who sleeps where? Family travelers, meaning adults accompanied by children or grandchildren, account for 30 percent of leisure travelers in the United States. At home, they sleep in separate rooms. So too, the children-friendly hotel will offer suites with a bedroom for mom and dad and a separate living area with a pullout couch for the kids.
4. Hotel activities. If you have trouble keeping your child entertained every minute of your vacation, why not let the hotel take a turn? Some hotels are now offering in-house camps where kids can participate in activities like arts and crafts and book readings. For example, at the Inn of the Anasazi in Santa Fe, N.M., parents and their children can learn how to cook gourmet macaroni and cheese with the hotel's head chef. Bamboo-pole fishing, crabbing and lei-making are the standard activities of the "Keiki Club," a kids' camp at the Kahala Hotel and Resort in Hawaii. The hotel also offers story readings given by costumed employees or actual children's book authors.
Like the boutiques, the child friendly hotels offer an alternative for the vacationer. But keep in mind too, that it offers an alternative to those seeking employment in the hospitality industry. Now, in addition to the front desk, housekeeping and restaurant staff, the child friendly facility will need game leaders, story readers and activity directors. There might just be a place for you in a child friendly hotel.
By Joe Fairchild - Joe who writes for Nexxt, has a strong background in employee training and customer service. Semi-retired, he continues working in the hospitality industry for the customer interaction and travel discounts. A veteran financial advisor and public speaker, he delights in helping others find their path and achieve their goals. Read more of his blogs at HospitalityJobsiteBlog.com