Kid-approved activities in Asia…
Family holidays are a time to relax and have fun together. There’s no need for us to lose sleep over planning a packed itinerary for the little ones – with no breathing space left for the grown ups. Travel expert, Claire from Mr & Mrs Smith has curated a list of Asia’s most luxurious family-friendly hotels, each with a kids club that’ll give you some well-earned downtime and your youngsters precious memories for years to come…
The Slate offers good, clean fun (and a dash of naughtiness) for all ages. The subtle industrial-style chic extends to the hotel’s kids’ club, Tin Box, offering activities such as model painting, cartoon time, play-doh art, origami and sandcastle design. Nai Yang Beach is a stone’s throw away, if you can peel yourself away from the D-Buk family suite’s sofa-laden terrace. When the kids are having fun, kick back in the playful whisky bar hung with punkah fans or beachside Shore Thing restaurant, or have knots worked loose at Coqoon Spa, set in huge wicker eggs that seem to hang from the trees.
As a special bonus, all Sassy Mama readers booking through Mr & Mrs Smith get free return airport transfers!
How to get there: From Hong Kong, take a flight to Phuket International Airport. Normal airport transfers cost THB350 a person, but book with Smith and you’ll receive them for free!
Family attractions in the area: Visit the island’s only tin-mining museum for an insight into the history of Phuket’s industrious past. Families can take historical art tours, trek between temples or dive into Phuket’s colourful markets.
Kids will love: the child-friendly pool, which resembles a desert oasis complete with a shrub-lined mini-island.
Parents will love: the seven tantalising restaurants to choose from and the bar where DJs spin ambient classics.
Just like its name (meaning ‘sugarcane’), stays at beachside MIA Resort are nothing short of sweet. With rooms set on sand or cliffs, you can expect spacious condos with interconnecting rooms, a children’s pool and a private beach where the whole fam can spend the day on the sand. The hotel’s excellent restaurant has a young-at-heart menu (to ease worries over fussy eaters), and little ones can get creative at ‘Bake and Make’ cupcake sessions – run by on-site chefs – or take part in ace painting workshops.
A bottle of sparkling wine on arrival; a 15-minute massage on arrival; return transfers from the city centre and a snorkelling lesson in the resort’s swimming pool from Tuesday to Friday.
How to get there: Vietnam Airlines and Jetstar Pacific offer regular scheduled flights to and from Nha Trang (Cam Ranh) International Airport, 15 km from the hotel. Transfers cost VND138,000 a person, each way.
Family attractions in the area: Families can bond over aquatic adventures, such as snorkelling at either end of the beach where coral grows near rocks populated by gem-coloured shoals of fish. The hotel also has a free shuttle service to nearby Nha Trang, a bustling beach resort featuring parks, sculpture gardens and lively eateries.
Kids will love: the restaurant, where the child-friendly menu includes fish and chips, ice cream, juices and milkshakes.
Parents will love: the eight varieties of mojitos served at the bar – at least, that was the last time we counted (if our figures are wrong, blame it on the rum)…
Vietnam’s vivid natural tapestry of sea, jungle, rainforest and mountains is spectacularly on display at this sprawling Bill Bensley-designed resort. Our favourite rooms are the Club Peninsula Suites, perfect for younger ones to run free on spacious terraces. The free-form main pool has an area for children, where they can splash around with friends made at the hotel’s renowned kids’ club: Planet Trekkers. Here they can get involved in kayaking, beach volleyball and trekking trips for all ages – or staff can arrange similar excursions for just the family.
Afternoon tea for two at Citron (plus free babysitting throughout your stay if needed)
How to get there: The hotel is a half-hour drive away from Danang International Airport, which serves destinations in China, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan and all major Vietnamese airports.
Family attractions in the area: The Handicraft Workshop, set in a centuries-old Chinese merchant’s house near the hotel, offers demonstrations of traditional skills such as lantern making, embroidery and soap-stone sculpture.
Kids will love: the restaurants Citron and Barefoot Café – with menus offering plenty to tempt junior palates.
Parents will love: Happy Sunset Hour, where the wine flows freely (well, at half price) on the Long Bar’s columned veranda between 5pm and 7pm.
Indulgence levels are off the scale at beachfront boutique hotel Fusion Maia Resort in central Vietnam, where all-inclusive spa treatments mean pampering here is a must. As for young ones: each beach-facing villa features more than enough room for two children, who’ll love splashing around in the shallow end of the hotel’s infinity pool. And then there’s the Mini Maia programme, designed especially for young ones to enjoy the full Fusion Maia experience. Yup, this means child-friendly treatments alongside parents at the spa.
Stay three nights or more and get a fresh-spring-roll tasting platter for two at Fusion Café in Hoi An.
How to get there: The hotel is a few minutes away from Da Nang Airport by taxi, which serves Vietnam Airlines, Jetstar, AirAsia and Silk Air. Otherwise, hop on a connecting flight from Ho Chi Minh or Hanoi.
Family attractions in the area: The Portuguese-influenced heritage town of Hoi An buzzes with energetic food stalls and restaurants; it’s streets are lined with shops selling almost everything. For older families there are diving opportunities in the South China Sea – we recommend Cham Island Diving.
Kids will love: the games room, where a Playstation, billiards table and other distractions await.
Parents will love: the spa services (manicures; massages) and free daily fitness activities including workouts, yoga, meditation, wellness consultations and a 5,000-step beach walk.
Six Senses Qing Cheng Mountain puts you right beside its eponymous attraction: the cloud-crested peak that provides the hotel with a backdrop right out of a Chinese brush painting. The hotel is equally authentic, thanks to the traditional tea lounge, organic gardens, and bamboo-and-wood-graced rooms. The jaw-dropping restaurants, courtyards, indoor pool and world-renown spa are extra bonuses. As for the kids’ club, children are in for a treat: there are indoor and outdoor play areas, a lifeguard-manned pool, cookie-making classes and plenty more.
As a special perk, guests get a 30-minute body scrub each. Time to relax!
How to get there: Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport is a 90-minute drive away, with hotel transfers easily arranged. Alternatively, hop on a bullet train from Chengdu Station to get to Qingchengshan Railway Station, which is a 5-minute drive away from the hotel.
Family attractions in the area: Take a trip to the Panda Valley, just a 10-minute drive from the hotel, for panda-watching adventures. Parents seeking educational programmes for young ones can bring them to the Dujiangyan Research Centre of Giant Panda Breeding. Or you can bond as a family at local skills lessons such as tai chi and calligraphy.
Kids will love: the two family-friendly pools, outdoor play area, garden, indoor play area and the stash of free-to-borrow bikes.
Parents will love: to experience Taoism’s healing powers at the Six Senses Spa, whose treatments champion Amala products. Opt for the signature Daoyin Tao massage, try cupping, acupuncture or a shen, jing or qi spa ritual.
Hidden among the paddy fields in Cambodia’s quiet countryside, Phum Baitang contains none of the bustle of nearby town, Siem Reap. Rustic charms of this all-villa resort include the traditional Khmer wooden houses and their high stilts surrounded by luxuriant tropical gardens, in synergy with more modern features such as freestanding oval bath tubs and private plunge pools. The kids’ club activities really shine here, too: staff will help kids make the most of the picturesque surroundings with temple tours and paddy walks.
One bottle of sparkling wine; for GoldSmith members, a dinner for two and a bottle of Zannier Wine
How to get there: The hotel is a 15-minute drive away from Siem Reap Airport, easily connected to Asian hubs, with free airport transfers upon request.
Family attractions in the area: Phum Baitang is perfectly placed for Cambodia’s most famous tourist attraction – be sure to catch the sunrise over Angkor Wat, or go adventuring around the Grand Circle. For a family outing to remember, be in town for the visiting Phare Circus, where the audience can learn basic circus acts before the show.
Kids will love: staying in a pool villa where they can splash to their heart’s content in the private plunge pool.
Parents will love: the cocktails, mixed from home-grown botanicals and syrups. Try a refreshing aloe vera and mint margarita or a smoky peppercorn-infused Apsara
International jetsetting families love Thai boutique hotel Trisara, not least because its private bay – along Phuket’s less developed north-west coast – offers a level of serenity that’s hard to come by. Each suite or villa has jaw-dropping ocean views and its own pool, but our favourite is the Ocean Front Pool Villa 407, which sits privately right on the seafront. The Trisara kids’ club offers a range of imaginative activities, from arts and craft, baking and dance classes to aquatic excursions such as kayaking and snorkelling.
A bottle of champagne and 10 per cent off food and soft drinks; GoldSmiths also get 30 per cent off spa treatments
How to get there: Fly into Phuket International Airport, which serves domestic flights from Bangkok and international flights to Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Korea, Japan, China, Taiwan, the UK and Germany.
Family attractions in the area: Trisara has yachts that can be chartered for cruises around Phuket and the local islands. Private helicopter rides to the famous Phang Nga Bay (aka James Bond Island) can also be arranged.
Kids will love: honeycomb milkshakes from the kids’ menu at the bar.
Parents will love: Trisara’s spa which is drop-dead gorgeous, offering private treatment suites with sea views that open out to breezy pavilions and gardens. Indulge in a signature, six-handed ‘Royal Trisara’ massage, which involves pampering by three therapists
Family-sized adventures await at Soneva Kiri, a series of vast pool villas peeping through ocean-fringed jungle on a secluded Thai isle. It’s an ultra-luxe stay where each enormous, bamboo-designed villa has access to the private white-sand beach. Children need look no further than the Den, the hotel’s much-loved kids’ club designed in the shape of a manta ray, where indoor and outdoor activities encourage independence and creativity. Families might choose an Ocean Pool Villa Suite, where there’s plenty of room for extra beds and/or cots.
One complimentary dinner (excluding drinks), either at the View or Benz’s.
How to get there: Fly to Bangkok’s international Suvarnabhumi Airport, where representatives of Soneva Kiri will lead you to the resort’s custom-fitted eight-seater Cessnas for a 70-minute flight to Koh Mai Si, the resort’s private airport island, followed by a five-minute speedboat journey to Soneva’s shores. Otherwise, fly with Bangkok Airways to Trat Airport, which is a one-hour taxi ride to Lam Suk Pier, connected to Soneva Kiri by a 45-minute speedboat ride.
Family attractions in the area: There’s rainforest walks and snorkeling, plus chef-led cooking classes which include a visit to Ao Salat fishing village.
Kids will love: treetop dining, an outdoor cinema, an awesome kids’ club and free sweet treats.
Parents will love: the acclaimed Six Senses Spa hidden away in the jungle and offering plenty of locally inspired treatments.
Moroccan-style hanging lamps cast exotic patterns onto rich ochre walls, expert masseurs wait for you in dreamy massage huts, and sizzling seafood barbecues are served direct to your private balcony. Anantara Bophut Resort & Spa is a mesmerising retreat on Koh Samui’s most covetable coast. The soft, golden sand and warm waters of the beach are steps away. The free-form infinity pool and fun-filled activities are on offer at the popular, mama-approved kids’ club.
A welcome drink and fruit basket, 15-minute head and shoulder massage, and 10% off at the spa, restaurants and bars.
How to get there: Bangkok Airways sets down flights from Bangkok, Phuket, Singapore and Hong Kong, among others, at Koh Samui Airport, and Thai Airways flies from Bangkok. Those who love train rides can take the comfortable sleeper service, with two-person first-class cabins, from Bangkok to Suratthani, where a bus and boat will connect you to Samui, before a cab takes you to the hotel.
Family attractions in the area: There are water sports for the whole family, including diving, snorkeling and kayaking.
Kids will love: both the restaurants, which cater for younger guests at any time of day, and where menu highlights include mini hot dogs with chips, boneless fish fingers with tartare sauce and plenty of pasta favourites.
Parents will love: indulging in a treat-yourself spa treatment. Our favourites are the 200-minute Journey of Siam or 165-minute Dawn Renewal ritual.
Some describe Luna2 as a boutique hotel, others, an international space station. This retro-futuristic den by the beach is an ode to the cosmos – with appropriately-named areas such as Orbit restaurant and Space rooftop bar. Take your family to new heights of luxury with a stay in the Sunset Studio, which has two balconies for stargazing and postcard-perfect views of sunset over the ocean. It has its own bar and on-loan bartender, too, and can be connected to one of the Grand Studios for fun family retreats. For the kids? Luna2’s kids’ coordinator can organise surfing classes, cooking lessons and other activities upon request.
An ‘in-flight’ dining experience for two, including a glass of wine each, delivered by a Luna2 hostess.
How to get there: Fly into Bali Airport (Ngurah Rai) in the island’s capital, Denpasar, which is a 30-minute drive from the hotel. For a realistic experience of Denpasar’s chaotic traffic and common traffic jams, Luna2 has VIP chauffeur service that’ll whisk you through customs in a sleek ‘Lunamobile’ to set the mood for the out-of-world experience to come.
Family attractions in the area: Take a short stroll to Seminyak beach, where watersport adventures and cultural excursions await. There’s also Waterbom Bali, a knuckle-whitening waterpark.
Kids will love: the private cinema, colourful pool and interiors inspired by outer space.
Parents will love: the health and fitness programmes available at the pool podium, known as the ‘Fuel Station’, where you can pick activities such as boxfit on the beach and yoga in space.
With Mr & Mrs Smith you’ll enjoy best-price guarantee, as well as a little something extra on arrival at every hotel. To book, call toll free at 800 905 326 or visit mrandmrssmith.com.
All images courtesy of Mr & Mrs Smith.