Top News Luxury hotels get creative for families as multi-generational travel returns By Karen Yue / Posted on 8 September, 2022 15:34 With family groups making up a sizeable portion of guests leading the travel recovery, top-end hotels are directing their creative juices towards programmes that all ages can enjoy together. Ramesh Daryanani, vice president, global sales, Asia Pacific, Marriott International, told TTG Asia at ILTM Asia Pacific on Wednesday that families reuniting on a post-lockdown holiday are “looking for programmes to keep everyone entertained and engaged”. Guests of JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa can visit the onsite Turtle Shelter and be part of the centre’s efforts to care for disabled and injured turtles on Mai Khao Beach “Crafting programmes for families is a priority now for our hotels and Marriott as a company. Everyone is looking for the next new experience on their trip, and wanting to share their stories when they go back. It is our job to give them the experience that they can talk about,” remarked Daryanani. He pointed to various programmes offered in the Good Travel with Marriott Bonvoy collection that welcome all ages, such as activities at JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa’s Turtle Shelter; nature trail and sapling plantation initiatives at Le Méridien Mahabaleshwar Resort & Spa; Blue Swimming Crab rehabilitation at Sheraton Samui Resort; and volunteerism with the St. John’s Gold Coast Crisis Centre, coordinated by JW Marriott Gold Coast Resort & Spa. JW Gardens installed in JW Marriott properties around the world offer families a chance to see how herbs and vegetables are grown and used by the hotel. The Ritz-Carlton collection of properties across Asia-Pacific will roll out Ritz Kids 3.0 later this year, a new programme built around Leo the Lion who will take young guests on a journey to spark their curiosity, instill a sense of responsibility and bring them closer to nature and the local culture in whatever destination they visit. These programmes are not only fun, but they also expose children to sustainable and regenerative tourism concepts, opined Daryanani. Minor Hotels, which has also witnessed an energetic pickup in family travel demand, has properties all ready to engage the young and the old. Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas offers a kids club that comes with a trampoline park, a splash park and slides as well as a full line-up of activities from 10.00 to 18.00 daily, giving children little reason to stay indoors. Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas lines up a range of activities for children and families Paul Counihan, director of sales and marketing for the property, said there are a number of “very creative” activities that are a big hit with the little ones. One of which is a marine biology class conducted within the SEA underwater restaurant, while another whisks little pirates off on a sailboat to ‘conquer’ a sandbar. Guests looking to bond can sign up for a story-telling date with grandpa and enjoy free cookies and milk. Families can also stargaze at the resort’s over-water observatory and interact with a Maldivian astrologist. Andy Nightingale, cluster director of sales and marketing for Anantara Dhigu, Veli & Naladhu Private Island, Maldives, said properties offer a mix of programmes unique to children and for everyone in the family because “while families are eager to go on a holiday together post-lockdown, parents are also going crazy after 24 hours with their kids”. “They need a break, and we are happy to help,” he said. Properties under his care offer complimentary kids programmes, like movie nights, so that the grown-ups can enjoy a tranquil drink or meal for a couple of hours. Illustrating the hearty appetite of travelling families, Marion Walsh-Hédouin, vice president public relations & communications, Minor Hotels, said the 15 residences within Anantara Layan Phuket Resort in Thailand are sold out even during the low season. These units offer five to eight bedrooms each. Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas’ five residences with between two and four villas are also popular with family groups. “We are creating more facilities that cater to multi-generational groups,” shared Walsh-Hédouin, adding that “there is a greater focus on tailoring experiences that are good for both kids only and for the whole family”. “Pre-Covid, couples often travelled without the kids. But when the pandemic kept families apart, they missed each other and learnt to appreciate time together,” she said. Walsh-Hédouin also found that families are now travelling for a longer duration – up to seven nights per destination – and staying in fewer places at one go. Instead of packing Bangkok, Siem Reap, Luang Prabang and Phuket into a single trip to Asia, for instance, they are choosing to do just two. “They are also preferring to stay with the same hotel company in the various destinations they visit for seamless travel. For example, families would stay at Anantara Hoi An for a couple of days, then get on The Vietage (train) to Anantara Quy Nhon for another few days. The train is a seamless travel option, and guests can enjoy the views along the way,” she said.