Top 10 Family Resorts 2012
It’s that time of year again and Holidays with Kids is thrilled to announce the winners in our ‘2012 Readers Choice Survey’.
Covering both Australia and overseas, the Top 10 Resort Awards are the culmination of a year’s work and over four thousand reader surveys, the results of which we believe, make the most comprehensive family travel award system in the country.
Click here to vote for the 2013 Awards
Top 10 Family Resorts - Australia - Over 4 stars
|1. Sea World Resort, Gold Coast, Qld (4.5 stars)
For the third year in a row, Sea World has been voted the number one fam ily resort in Australia by the readers of HWK's. Situated next door to the SeaWorld theme park and close to everything that the Gold Coast has to offer , Sea World's great package deals and outstanding family value have ensured it remained your favourite. With facilities including water playground, kids club an d monorail access into the Sea World theme park, there's plenty of reasons to mak e this your next family holiday destination as well.
2. Turtle Beach Resort, Gold Coast (4.5 stars)
Turtle Beach has moved up one place on last year to claim second spot for 2012. Situated on the Gold Coast at Mermaid Beach, the resort offers four swimming pools, an 18 hole putt putt golf course, two floodlit tennis courts and two playgrounds to keep the kids engaged. There is also two arcade rooms and an onsite 28 seat cinema which has 3 screenings daily. The big attraction though is their popular kids' activity club called 'Club Turtle'. Aimed at age's four to twelve, it is a great way for your children to meet new friends while doing a host of activities including craft sessions, big screen Wii games, themed party nights and more.
|3. Daydream Island Resort & Spa, Whitsundays (4.5 stars)
Rounding out our top three is Daydream Island, the watersports and activities mecca of the Whitsundays. Whether you want to go parasailing, snorkelling, catamaranning, jetskiing, glass bottom boat fishing or one of a million other alternatives, this place has you covered. It's also a fantastic place to base yourselves while exploring the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef, with boat and helicopter tours leaving straight from the island.
4. Peppers Salt Resort & Spa, Kingscliff (5 stars)
Only 20 minutes south of the Gold Coast Airport, this resort is perfect for the active family with a lagoon-styled pool complete with sandy beach, a tropical swimming pool for the kids, an on-site tennis court, and bicycle hire is available to use at the nearby Salt Village, which has seven kilometres of cycle tracks and walkways. The resort also offers a babysitting service so that mum and dad can take advantage of the largest resort spa run by Australia’s leading health and spa operator; Golden Door, and it’s all just a short walk from the patrolled Kingscliff Beach.
5. Mantra Crown Towers Resort, Surfers Paradise (4.5 stars)
Situated just a stone’s throw away from Cavill Avenue with access to all the best shops, bars and restaurants in Surfers Paradise, the resort is also a great choice if you’re thinking of heading to the Gold Coast theme parks but don’t want to stay on site. With a lagoon-styled pool and pirate ship water slide as well as a heated indoor pool for cooler weather, the kids will be kept entertained for their whole stay. Parents who don’t want to stray too far from the resort at night, guests can choose from the two restaurants which feature either modern Australian cuisine or award winning Thai food.
6. Outrigger Twin Towns Resort, Tweed Heads (4.5 stars)
Overlooking the stunning beaches of the southern Gold Coast and the Tweed River, the Twin Towns Outrigger is only a short walk away from the heart of Coolangatta’s dining and shopping areas. It is also adjacent to the Twin Towns Club which offers a range of family friendly dining options and various entertainment options including live music and movie screenings. Babysitting services are available on request and parents can relax knowing the kids will be kept entertained with the outdoor heated swimming pool, tennis courts, games room and mini golf course facilities.
7. Abbey Beach Resort, Busselton, WA (4.5 stars)
Boasting a beachfront location and close proximity to the Margaret Valley wine region, the Abbey Beach Resort is a magnificent place to unwind. Whether it’s building sandcastles on the beach, swimming in the gentle bay, wandering the extensive resort gardens or soaking in the outdoor spa, guests are bound to feel relaxed after their stay. For kids there is an outdoor playground and indoor heated wading pool as well as the two outdoor resort swimming pools to splash around in. Older family member will enjoy having a hit of tennis or squash, or free use of the wave skis and mountain bikes.
8. Silverwater Resort (4.5 stars)
Set between rolling hills and unspoiled coastal wilderness, Silverwater Resort features 170 luxury apartments and resort rooms on seven hectares of landscaped gardens. Parents will be interested in the School Holiday Activity Program, which includes a fun pack and unlimited activities during their stay including crafts, sports and games. There is a playground and a playroom for the younger kids while for the teens there is basketball, volleyball courts, billiards, table tennis and an outdoor and indoor pool.
9. Hilton Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast (5 stars)
Centrally located, Surfers Paradise beaches, shops, restaurants and entertainment are right at your fingertips when staying at the Hilton. Parents will enjoy lazing around the pool while poolside valets bring dining menus, sun cream, hats and games for the kids. The Hilton offers a family package which includes two games of Strike Bowling, two hours use of the resorts movie theater, a full buffet breakfast, a family pass to Skypoint Observation Deck and more.
10. Mantra Sun City (4.5 stars)
Situated only one block back from the beach, the Mantra Sun City is surrounded by lush tropical gardens. One look at the resort’s detailed Aztec-style pool complete with snake-like waterslides will have kids jumping up and down in excitement, and parents will love taking advantage of the onsite Calmer Therapies Day Spa while the kids are kept entertained in the play area and games room. The resort also features tennis courts, a plunge pool and a gymnasium, and dining options include delicious fajitas and burritos at Mantra’s Mexican-styled Saya Restaurant.
Top 10 Family Resorts - Australia - 4 stars and under
1. Paradise Resort, Gold Coast, Qld (4 stars)
For the second year in a row and four years out of five, HWK's readers have voted Zagame's Paradise Resort on the Gold Coast as their favourite in the 4 star and under category. With fantastic facilities including the giant Z4K Waterpark, Zone 4 Kids Club and the lagoon pool and spa, children will never run out of things to do, and being central to Gold Coast beaches and theme parks means you will spend less time in the car and more time having fun. The Paradise Resort slogan says it all - 'Heaven for Kids...Paradise for Parents'
2. BreakFree Aanuka Beach Resort, Coffs Harbour (4 stars)
Located behind Diggers Beach at Coffs Harbour, BreakFree Aanuka Beach Resort has improved two spots from last year's results. Offering a tropical style holiday on NSW's north coast, it has an outdoor rock pool with slide, separate children's pool and play area, cave spas, tennis courts, mini putt putt golf, beach volleyball and more, making it is the perfect choice for the active family.
3. Novotel Twin Waters Resort, Sunshine Coast, Qld (4 stars)
Down one spot but still very popular, the Novotel Twin Waters on the Sunshine Coast pulled in plenty of votes with its great facilities including the Kids Cove Club, two wheel All Terrain Segway experience and heated outdoor pool. Plus, unique to the Novotel, the 'Cirque Espace', a circus school teaching kids' skills such as juggling, static trapeze, flying trapeze, bungee trampoline and more. If you've got daredevil kids then this is the resort experience for you.
|4. Capricorn Resort Yeppoon (3.5 stars)
Set on 20km of secluded coral reef coastline, guests will enjoy gazing out over the clear waters of the Great Barrier Reef to the tropical islands of the neighbouring Keppel Island Group. The resort will appeal to all ages, offering two international golf courses, horse riding, water sports, rainforest adventure tours and more. The Kids Club for children aged two to ten is run by qualified staff who aim to make your child’s stay just as memorable as your own by catering for the age and interests of your child.
5. The Islander Noosa Resort, Noosaville, QLD (3.5 stars)
Set in tranquil surroundings, families will benefit from staying in the self-contained villas that are set-up with WiFi, Austar and a DVD player. The resort features two tennis courts, two saunas, three spas and three swimming pools and is located just across from the Noosa River. It’s only a five to ten minute stroll down to the shops and cafes and a ten minute drive to Noosa Beach and Hastings Street. For those with younger kids bursting with energy, there is a Kids Club during the school holidays as well as a games room to keep them busy.
6. Kingfisher Bay Resort, Fraser Island (4 stars)
Specifically designed to integrate with the surrounding natural environment, the resort reflects the beauty and untamed wilderness charm of Word Heritage listed Fraser Island. Just a 45 minute ferry ride from the coast, guests are spoiled with creature comforts including a choice of four swimming pools and as well as a spa. There’s something here for the whole family, with tennis and lots of watersports options. Child minding services are available so parents can slip away to the resort spa to be pampered.
7. Broadwater Beach Resort, Busselton WA (4 stars)
Only two hours south of Perth, the Broadwater Beach Resort lies in beautifully landscaped grounds on the edge of the stunning Geographe Bay. The perfect base for exploring WA’s renowned beaches, galleries and wineries, guests at the resort can laze on the beach, take a dip in one of the pools, enjoy a craft workshop, have a hit on the tennis court or cycle along the breathtaking coastline. The resort caters for families of all sizes, with nine variations of self-contained rooms that can accommodate from one to six people.
8. The Towers of Chevron Renaissance, Gold Coast (4 stars)
A contemporary beach holiday stay, the resort consists of three majestic towers that rise 50 levels up into the skyline, offering one, two or three bedroom accommodation. The ‘Beaches in the Sky’ is a large pool and leisure area on level five of the resort which connects the three separate towers. A magical experience for kids and adults, the bell-shaped pool features natural rocky outcrops, spas and a bridge whilst being surrounded by white sandy beaches and subtropical gardens.
9. Reef View Hotel, Hamilton Island QLD (4 stars )
A long time family favourite, Hamilton Island has everything you need for a great holiday, whether you are looking to stay active or completely relax. At the Reef View Hotel guests can swim in the 35-metre pool, dine at the Pool Terrace Restaurant which serves a buffet breakfast, light lunches and à la carte dinner menu or relax in your spacious, well-appointed room. Kids will love cuddling a koala at the Wildlife Park, playing mini golf and taking a tour in a glass bottom boat.
10. Tangalooma Island Resort, Moreton Island (3.5 stars)
Enjoy the unspoiled beauty of Moreton Island and all it has to offer, choosing from five beach front accommodation styles. Guests can take advantage of over 80 different tours and activities on offer, more than half of which are free and range from feeding the dolphins to tobogganing down giant sand dunes to snorkeling or scuba diving. A great activity for the family to do together is to take a cruise on a high speed catamaran searching for humpback whales. The onsite Marine Education and Conservation Centre is a great choice for kids, with fun interactive features as well as a chance to feed the dolphins.
Top 10 Family Resorts - Fiji
This year's voting has brought an interesting result with three properties scoring the same number of votes, so essentially we've given you Fiji's top 13. We wouldn't want to limit your choices!
1. Shangri-la Fijian Resort & Spa, Yanuca Island (4.5 stars)
For the fifth year in a row HWK readers have voted the Shangri-la Fiji Resort and Spa as their favourite Fijian destination. It’s not hard to see why either; set on the island of Yanuca, the resort is surrounded by crystal clear waterways, perfect for swimming and snorkelling; and the accommodation is modern with Fijian inspired décor and looks out to fantastic views over the Pacific Ocean. The ‘Little Chiefs Club’ will keep children four and over entertained, and best of all, the ‘Kids stay and eat free’ deal ensures an affordable holiday experience is had by all.
2. Plantation Island Resort, Plantation Island (3.5 stars)
Nestled on 23 acres of tropical landscaped gardens on the island of Malolo LaiLai, Plantation Island Resort has 7km of white sandy beaches and is just 10 minutes by air from Nadi International Airport. Guests cite a swim in the beautiful blue water lagoon as a must do activity and families can choose from a range of accommodation styles including luxury hotel rooms and lavishly appointed traditional Fijian huts known as ‘bures’.
TIED 3. The Naviti Resort, Coral Coast (4 stars)
Set on 38 acres on the main island of Viti Levu, The Naviti Resort has a palm fringed beach front location and the added family value bonus of ‘Kids stay and eat free’. Activities include swimming in one of the resorts oversized pools, kayaking on the lagoons, or for kids five to 12, daily organised activities in the kids club.
TIED 3. Outrigger on the Lagoon (4.5 Stars)
With a calm beachfront location fronting the Coral Sea, The Outrigger on the Lagoon Resort has been designed to reflect a traditional Fijian village. Kids will enjoy staying in the luxury thatched bures with vaulted ceilings leading out to the tropical swimming pool, while parents will love the supervised children’s activities and the fantastic Meimei nanny service. Rounding off is the family value, as kids get to stay and eat free.
5. Sheraton Denarau Villas (5 stars)
Just a 20 minute drive from Nadi International Airport, the resort is an ideal base for exploring the islands. Sheraton Denarau Villa guests have access to all the facilities of the adjacent Sheraton Fiji Resort and The Westin Denarau Resort and Spa, offering more swimming pools, dining options, spa’s and a 24 hour gym. And too make life easier (and cheaper) for parents, the SPG Kids’ Pass provides an all-inclusive kids dining program for a flat daily rate.
TIED 6. Mana Island Resort & Spa, Mana Island (4 stars)
Mana Island Resort is set against a canvas of lush tropical gardens and natural white beaches with crystal blue water. To get to and from Mana Island guests can either venture on a first-rate catamaran ride from Port Denarau which departs four times daily, or a 15 minute intimate flight via seaplane or helicopter. The ‘Tu Vonu’ Kids’ Club run three sessions a day and encourages kids to have fun while learning traditional Fijian culture. For little ones under three, the Mei Mei centre provides five hours a day of free babysitting as long as guests are booked in for five nights or more.
TIED 6. Radisson BLU Resort Fiji, Denarau Island (5 stars)
A stylish beachfront resort only minutes from the marina, making it easy for guests to spend time cruising around the Mamanuca or Yasawa Islands. For the thrill seekers, the team at Adrenalin Water Sports offers a range of water activities including banana boat rides, jet skiing, scuba diving, parasailing and more. Kids will keep busy with the resort’s lagoon-pool and Fiji’s only white-water tunnel waterslide while adults can escape to the adults only pool or Harmony Retreat Day Spa.
8. The Warwick Fiji Resort Spa, Coral Coast(5 star)
This award winning resort is situated amidst beaches and tropical foliage on Fiji’s Coral Coast. It offers prime beach access, swimming pools, spas and a wide variety of activities. The Warwick Fiji Resort and Spa has a special all-inclusive package aimed at families that covers kids’ club access, activities such as snorkeling, paddle boats and fish feeding as well as pool grill and buffet breakfast daily.
TIED 9. Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Islands Resort, Savusavu (5 stars)
Situated on 17 acres of coconut plantation, with suites overlooking the waters of Savusavu Bay, the Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Islands Resort was voted as the ‘World’s Top Eco Resort’, by Trip Advisor. Combining luxurious comfort with a range of eco-friendly activities, guests can take a relaxing rainforest hike to waterfalls or snorkel off the resorts jetty and explore the local clam project. The kids’ club is separated in two age groups so that activities can be more fun and parents will love the educational aspect with a marine biologist on hand to explain all the interesting facts about the local underwater life.
TIED 9. Castaway Island, Fiji (4 stars)
Castaway Island has everything you come to Fiji to find. A private island with white sand beaches, crystal clear waters to snorkel and swim, stylish accommodation and a great range of facilities for active kids and busy mums and dads who want some quality time de-stressing. The new Nuku Marau Pool, Bar & Grill offers a fantastic haven for the whole family with its freshwater children's pool complete with water features and adjoining bar & grill for endless supplies of espresso coffee, cool cocktails, delicious ice creams and a range of wraps, sushi, burgers and more for hungry tummies. Castaway's kids club is legendary and offers complimentary activities for children from 3 years of age from 9.00am to 4.30pm and 6.30pm to 10.00pm daily.
TIED 10. Malolo Island Resort, Malolo Island (4 stars)
An intimate destination owned and operated by a local family, visitors can expect true Fijian hospitality at Malolo Island Resort. With a free kids clubs for guests between four and 12 years, mum and dad can indulge in the beautiful rainforest spa knowing the kids’ are having the time of their lives including participating in a dynamic new program called Yanu Yanu, where they have the opportunity to live like a Fijian islander for the day. Those over the age of 13 can chill in the air-conditioned Talei Lounge, with a range of books, board games, movies and WiFi access.
TIED 10. Treasure Island Resort, Treasure Island (4 stars)
Picture a coral and sand fringed atoll with a stunning marine sanctuary in the Mamanuca Islands and you’ve got Treasure Island. The island’s environment plays a key role in Treasure Island Kids’ Club, giving kids an exciting hands-on education of the flora and fauna as well as the chance to learn more about Fijian culture. Kids’ can also have fun splashing around in the kids’ pool or at the spa, with mini massages, hair braiding and more. Family trips out to the reef on a glass bottom boat are the ideal way to explore the surrounding coral and marine life.
Top 10 Family Resorts - Bali
1. Bali Dynasty Resort, South Kuta (4 stars)
HWK’s readers’ favourite Balinese destination for 2012 is the Bali Dynasty Resort. Situated on the beachfront at South Kuta, it offers a host of family friendly facilities including a dedicated kid’s pool complete with a Water Fun Zone and 56m Caterpillar Splash waterslide. There is a special teens room known as ‘The Den’, with pool table, video games and an activity board to sign up for surfing, scuba diving and other activities, while the littlies will love the Kupu-Kupu Kiddie’ Club, complete with an Enchanted Garden themed club house. All this should keep the kids busy while mum and dad relax at one of the seven restaurants, five bars or in the adults only ‘lazy pool’.
2. InterContinental Bali Resort, Jimbaran Bay (5 stars)
With a professional nanny service for children under the age of four, and the popular ‘Planet Trekkers’ program, which allows kids to have fun while experiencing the Balinese culture with traditional crafts such as kite making and Balinese dancing, the Intercontinental Bali has moved up to 2nd place in this year’s survey results. Situated on 14 hectares of beautifully landscaped gardens with direct beach access, it is one of the top resorts in the Asia Pacific region.
|3. Club Med Bali, Nusa Dua (4 tridents)
With four levels of kids club facilities based around age groups, Club Med Nusa Dua will manage to keep everyone in the family actively engaged and having fun. Of special interest is the ‘Flying trapeze academy and circus activities’ program for the more adventurous older kids, while the littler ones are looked after with a dedicated baby zone in the restaurant area for meal preparation and ‘Petit Club Med’ for 2 to 4 year olds where they are closely supervised while mum and dad enjoy some time out together.
4. AYANA Resort and Spa (5 stars)
Sporting majestic views and a secluded location, the Ayana Resort & Spa is set in cliff-top tropical gardens, perched 35m above the turquoise waters of Jimbaran Bay. With 290 hotel rooms and 78 freestanding villas spread along the coastline, guests can indulge in one of the two oceanfront spas or bask in either the saltwater Ocean Beach pool at the base of the cliff or one of the four freshwater pools up top. There is a separate pool for children with two fun waterslides and the recently renovated Kids’ Club offers an ever changing activity program for children aged 4 to ten and includes a trampoline, playground equipment and much more.
5. The Westin Resort, Nusa Dua (5 stars)
Surrounded by white sandy beaches and tropical gardens, the newly refurbished Westin Resort Nusa Dua has a lot to get guests excited. Set on Bali’s south coast, the resort offers a range of activities including a scenic cycling tour, Balinese dancing lessons, temple visits, kayaking and much more. After a fun day of activities, parents can relax on the dream beds with shade covers that stretch along the sandy beach while supervising the kids’ as they splash around in the beautiful clear water. A newly installed waterslide as well as a range of complimentary gifts for kids’ when they check in completes the family friendly package.
6. Conrad Bali, Nusa Dua (5 stars)
Fronting a scenic 350m stretch of beach, the contemporary designed Conrad Bali Resort encourages guests to experience the best of Balinese culture with organized activities for the whole family. This includes exploring the nearby village of Nusa Dua on a bicycle tour and mixing with the locals or for the younger ones, taking part in Balinese craft and cooking lessons with the Kura Kura Kids Club. Older family members can be pampered at the resorts Jiwa Spa without worrying about the kids, as the spa offers a range of children’s treatments including kids’ massage and bath, temporary tattoos and hair braiding.
7. Novotel Nusa Dua (5 stars)
The Novotel Nusa Dua encourages a memorable yet relaxing family experience, with a range of leisure activities for all in a peaceful environment. Children are treated as valued customers and offered a program of fun and educative activities at the Kids’ Club from 8:30 to 6pm daily. If lazing around the lagoon-pool or on the white sandy beach isn’t your thing, there are a variety of activities available including sunset bike tours, pool games, yoga and more. The resort’s chef provides a surprise element every meal time with a themed dinner which can range from the popular ‘Balinese Cultural Night’ to a seafood buffet.
8. Discovery Kartika Plaza Hotel, Kuta (5 stars)
Situated on the beachfront at South Kuta, the Discovery Kartika Plaza Hotel offers 318 rooms with ocean front and tropical garden views. Shopping and restaurants are easily accessible at the adjacent Discovery Shopping Mall and their ‘Kido Ria’ childcare program is professionally supervised and open for kids aged five to 12, it even has a specially designed children’s menu for when they get hungry. Other facilities include a separate children’s pool, a giant chess board, table tennis and beach volleyball. Those looking to keep active, make sure you check out the ‘@break Activity Centre’ where you can book a whole host of recreational tours and water sport experiences.
9. Nikko Bali Resort and Spa, Nusa Dua (5 stars)
Sensational ocean views from a cliff top location await guests at the magnificent Nikko Bali Resort & Spa. Enjoy swimming in the four interconnected pools, spend time in the steam baths, jacuzzi or sauna facilities or really indulge the senses at a secluded beach retreat complete with private cabanas and sun lounges. Younger guests may prefer to spend time at the children’s lagoon-pool and waterslide and for those aged six to 12 there is the popular ‘Children’s Jungle Camp’.
10. Hard Rock Hotel, Kuta (4 stars)
Asia’s first Hard Rock Hotel is set on the shores of Kuta beach in the heart of Bali’s shopping and entertainment district. Typical to Hard Rock, the rooms and suites are decorated with rock history and memorabilia, and there is even a kid’s suite’s available. Active guests can play on the hotel’s five metre rock climbing wall or go springboard diving into the resorts freeform pool. Those who choose to join the ‘Lil Rock Kids Club’ will reap in the benefits with not only access to the supervised kids activities but also free soft drink at dining outlets for the entire stay, free lunch at the Lil Rock Kids Club and one child (under 12) eating dinner free with every paying adult.
Top 10 Family Resorts - Thailand
|1. Movenpick Karon Beach (5 stars)
Located on the beautiful Karon Beach in Phuket, the Movenpick has enticed many Aussie families this year with its luxurious 2-bedroom beachfront apartments, four fine dining restaurants and fantastic kids ‘Play Zone’ featuring an internet room, arts & crafts activities and outdoor playground, all inside the resort walls. Moving outside, the resort can organise elephant rides, jungle treks and island hopping adventures, meaning there will never be any bored visitors at this destination.
2. Laguna Beach Resort, Phuket (5 stars)
Making the Top 10 for the 4th year in a row, the Laguna Beach Resort in Phuket offers everything a family could want in a holiday. Situated on a green stretch of paradise between a tropical lagoon and the crystal clear Andaman Sea, the resort features a water park, tennis courts, daily kids club (4 to 12) and four restaurants, offering International and Thai cuisine. Older kids can choose from over 30 sports and activities on site or hit the water with expert tuition in scuba diving, sailing, windsurfing and kayaking. Currently undergoing extensive renovations, Laguna Beach Resort will re-open in 2013, bigger and better than ever.
3. JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa, Phuket (5 stars)
Near the top of our list again in 2012, the luxury five star JW Marriott Phuket Resort and Spa is set on the incredibly beautiful Mai Khao Beach. Located only 15 minutes north of the airport, guests can easily spend their whole time relaxing within the resort and attending family cooking classes and spa treatments, or they can choose the more energetic options of Circus Training, Flying Trapeze, Thai dancing, elephant treks and nature safaris. Whatever you choose, the result is a great family holiday.
4. Centara Grand Beach Resort, Phuket (5 stars)
Located on secluded Karon Beach with a backdrop of luscious green rolling hills, the Centara Grand Beach Resort is set in a landscaped water park that has its own river winding through the property and four swimming pools surrounded by classical Sino-Portuguese inspired architecture. The kids will be totally water-logged, with the pools, waterslides, jacuzzi’s, waterfalls and other aquatic activities all free to access for guests. The kids club is extensive, with a daily activity program that includes an indoor Camp Safari for those aged 4 to nine, while teen’s have a separate place to chill at E-Zone, with a range of the latest games and consoles to play.
5. Le Meridien Phuket Beach Resort, Phuket (5 stars)
Nestled in a secluded cove in Phuket, Le Meridien Beach Resort offers top-rate facilities for land and water adventures that will make everyday a family fun day. Guests who aren’t on the mini golf course or in one of the two oceanfront pools can experience Thai culinary classes using traditional hands-on methods and authentic ingredients, while teens will enjoy a variety of organised sports, classes and outdoor activities ranging from Thai Boxing to Sand Castle Art. Younger travellers can play for hours and meet new friends at the resort’s Penguin Club and for this year until 15 December, one child will eat free from the buffet or kids menu with every paying adult.
6. Dusit Thani Laguna, Phuket (5 stars)
The Dusit Thani Laguna Phuket is located in the heart of the Laguna resort development complex at Bangtao bay, an idyllic retreat tucked away on the stunning island of Phuket. A low-rise building in modern Thai style, Dusit Thani Laguna Phuket provides accommodation in 254 superbly appointed guest rooms, suites and private pool villas. Overlooking the crystal clear Andaman Sea, all rooms have private balconies, surrounded by palm trees and situated merely a few steps away from the beach. The resort offers an excellent variety of recreational facilities, including a swimming pool, tennis court, Fitness centre, Recreation centre, Kids’ Club, games room, jogging track, three-hole pitch and putt, water sports and spa. Adjacent to the hotel are an 18-hole golf course as well as Camp Laguna for the children.
7. Banyan Tree, Phuket (5 stars)
Bayan Tree promises turquoise waters and white sandy beaches combined with award winning architecture, all in a peaceful natural setting. The two bedroom villas provide a great accommodation option for families with private pools, in-villa barbeques and spacious dining and living-room areas. Golfers will love the adjoining driving range and 18-hole Laguna Golf Club while the ‘Turtle Club’ program provides outdoor entertainment for kids. For children aged 5 and up, there is the opportunity to earn Bayan Tree Ranger Status, through discovering and exploring the unique flora and fauna of Thailand.
8. Merlin Beach Resort, Phuket (4 stars)
Situated amidst tropical gardens just 3km from Patong Beach, Merlin Beach Resort has everything needed for a fun family holiday. The ‘Bam Bam’ Club offers activities and games for kids aged eight to 12, with younger children welcome when under parental supervision. The little ones can also stay busy in the resort’s playground and baby pool or with a range of crafts and activities including Batik painting, fruit carving, Thai cooking classes and much more.
9. Katathani Beach Resort, Phuket (5 stars)
With a choice of either beachfront suites or tropical garden rooms, the Katathani Beach Resort offers families carefree days of tropical bliss. With an amazing six swimming pools to choose from including four kids’ pools, as well as three jacuzzi’s, two bubbly water springs and even a mini water slide, the fun will never end. The resort also offers onsite babysitting services and kids’ menu’s as well as the fabulous ‘Chang Noi’ Kids' Club where there is a host of fun activities on offer. Thrill seekers can take a diving course at Sea Fun Diving school while those mum’s looking to kick back and be pampered can spend some time at the resort’s beauty and spa facilities.
10. Talay Karon Beach Resort, Phuket (4 stars)
Only a ten minute drive from Patong’s entertainment and shopping district, the Talay Karon Beach is a unique Mexican Hacienda style inspired resort featuring bold coloured rooms with warm lighting and functional design. Parents may want to consider one of the magical theme rooms to make their stay even more memorable for the kids, with choices including underwater, outer space and castle rooms. Children also have the opportunity to meet the Siam Adventure Club’s team of Rangers, who can introduce them to in-house activities and excursions, with lots of fun surprises up their sleeves.
(Note: Currently closed for renovations, the New Talay Karon Beach Resort will re-open in September 2012)
Top 5 Family Resorts - Malaysia
1. Shangri-La's Rasa Ria Resort, Kotah Kinabalu, Sabah (5 stars)
Claiming top spot again in 2012, the Shangri-La's Rasa Ria Resort is set amidst 400 acres of lush tropical rainforest with beach and ocean views from many rooms. Kids will love the adjacent Orang-utan Education Centre and can even volunteer to help the rangers in their daily tasks of looking after these orphaned baby animals. With activities ranging from horse riding to all-terrain vehicle safaris and deep-sea fishing there is plenty to see and do here.
2. Nexus Resort & Spa Karambunai, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah (5 stars)
Only 28km from the city of Kota Kinabalu, the Nexus Resort & Spa Karambunai’s luxury villas are the perfect escape for families looking to explore the mysteries of Sabah. While the award-winning 18-hole championship golf course will attract the dads and the exclusive Borneo Spa will have the mums ultra relaxed in no time, it’s the huge array of leisure and recreational activities to keep the kids occupied that will win you over.
3. Sunway Resort Hotel & Spa, Kuala Lumpur (5 stars)
The Sunway Resort Hotel & Spa offers a huge variety of accommodation all under one roof with suites, guestrooms, villas and serviced residences, all only 25 minutes from the heart of Kuala Lumpur. This 800 acre ‘resort within a city’ features Sunway Lagoon Theme Park which has the largest man-made surf beach as well as thrilling water rides and an interactive wildlife zoo. Families can frolic in the newly upgraded swimming pool or under the manmade waterfall, while shop-a-holics can visit the themed Sunway Pyramid Shopping Mall which showcases over 700 shops and other attractions such as bowling alleys and cinemas.
4. Club Med Cherating Beach Resort (4 tridents)
Set between the jungle and the South China Sea, the 80 hectare Club Med Cherating Beach Resort features comfortable family bungalows that are continually visited by native monkeys and birds. Welcoming children of all ages, childcare facilities are run by trained professionals and older kids can take part in a range of memorable activities inspired by the natural surroundings. There is also an onsite playground available and the Pyjama Club is a group evening babysitting session, allowing parents to have a free night out.
5. Shangri-La's Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa, Kota Kinabalu (5 stars)
An idyllic tropical retreat set amidst palm trees, Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa is a memorable experience for the whole family. It is an ideal place to base yourself and explore Borneo’s wildlife including Sabah’s icon, the Orang-utan. Kids of all ages can take part in a range of activities held on the resort grounds ranging from bird watching to cooking demonstrations or they can have fun on the theme park quality water slides in the pool area.
Top 10 Family Resorts - Rest of South Pacific
1. Warwick Le Lagon Resort and Spa, Vanuatu (4 star)
Set amidst exotic gardens on the edge of Erakor Lagoon, Warwick Le Lagon Resort & Spa in Vanuatu has been voted the #1 south pacific destination by HWK readers again in 2012. With comfortable air-conditioned rooms, a wide range of children’s activities, plus their ‘kids stay, play and eat free’ deal, it’s no wonder that these white sandy beaches keep Australian families coming back year after year.
2. Rarotongan Beach Resort and Spa, Cook Islands (4 stars)
With direct frontage to the pure white sands of Aroa Beach, the Rarotongan Beach Resort and Spa is one of HWK reader’s favourite destinations in the Cook Islands. With magnificent swimming and snorkelling on the natural coral reef, this is truly one of those places where you could lie peacefully in a hammock and let the world slip on by. That is until the kids come and grab you to go with them to have fun learning some traditional cultural activities such as island drumming and dancing lessons, palm frond weaving or even how to successfully climb a coconut tree.
3. Edgewater Resort, Cook Islands (3.5 stars)
Affordable and spacious accommodation on the sheltered west coast of Rarotonga, the Edgewater Resort has a backdrop of rolling green hills and fronts onto white sandy beaches. Thanks to its central location just eight minutes from Avarua, families can easily explore the local markets and restaurants, and children will stay entertained with the fully supervised Coconut Kids’ Club, which runs three sessions daily (except Sunday’s). At night, relax with a buffet dinner and experience the live cultural dance performances at Edgewater’s twice weekly Island Night. www.edgewater.co.ck
4. Aggie Greys Lagoon, Beach Resort & Spa, Samoa (4 stars)
Aggie’s Grey Lagoon welcomes guests as family and takes pride in displaying all the beauty and charm that Samoa is famous for. The resort’s large lagoon pool, with a swim up bar and plenty of shaded lounges will keep guests cool while the adjacent children’s pool makes it easy to keep an eye on the little ones. The Dolphin Kids Club is free and open daily all year round and encourages kids to learn Polynesian culture as well as participate in hermit crab races, mini beach volleyball and much more.
5. Iririki Island Resort, Vanuatu ( 4 stars)
Experience paradise amidst tropical gardens and a private beach at Iririki Island Resort in the heart of Port Vila. When guests aren’t snorkelling in the crystal blue waters or taking part in the various water activities offered, they can explore the shops and cafes at the closest township only three minutes away. The Kids Club runs daily from 10am to 6pm and is open for kids aged three to 12. At night families can regroup to spend time together and enjoy the themed dinners and the live cultural performances and music.