Part 2: School-age and teenagers
School-age kids need a safe environment for wandering on their own and top-notch programs with good teachers. But if you plan properly, you’ll find this stage is the golden age of family travel. It’s a perfect time for both you and your kids to learn new skills, such as skiing and snowshoeing.
A great place for a family to enjoy these winter activities is Mont-Sainte-Anne near Quebec City with its annual four metres of snowfall. Here you’ll find reasonable prices for lift tickets, 63 downhill runs, the country’s largest network of cross-country trails, specific trails just for snowshoeing, an award-winning Children’s Centre, kid-friendly ski camps, and oodles of townhouse accommodation. You and your kids can ride on a horsedrawn sleigh, play with a Thermos-toting Saint Bernard, and feast on treats of boiled maple syrup thrown onto the snow. If that doesn’t satisfy your sweet tooth, pop over to Quebec City, where the kids can participate in a French lesson between their crêpes and sugar pie.
Skican packages from $760 ($420 for kids) include flights from Toronto, four nights in a chalet, car rental and lift tickets. For other city gateways, call 1-888-4SKICAN or visit SkiCan.com. A Ski & Stay package (from Jan. 7 to 31) gets you three nights of lodging and lifts from $179. For details call 1-888-827-4579 or visit Mont-Sainte-Anne.com.
TIP: Prepare a list of possible vacation activities and let your kids check off what they would like to do. Their choices might surprise you. By giving them a voice in the planning, you’ll make them happy both before and during the trip.
Teenagers need active vacations with time away from mom and dad. At the Paradisus Playa Conchal Resort ( Playa-Conchal-Resort-Info.com) on the northwest Pacific coast of Costa Rica, you’ll find enough diversions to make even moody adolescents forget their hormonal angst. They can swim in one of the largest pools in Central America or hike along a hilly beach reminiscent of the Italian Riviera, while you golf on a course designed by Robert Trent Jones, ride horses along the beach or try a massage in the spa. Everyone can sign up for myriad eco adventures, from zipping through trees in the rain forest to watching turtles lay eggs under the moonlight at the nearby national park.
The service is outstanding. On our last visit, staff delivered lanterns to each room within minutes of a tropical storm to cast a romantic glow between high winds.
Rates at this five-star all-inclusive resort start at $1,999. Another $1,000 buys you a week of unlimited golf. Babies and toddlers stay free. Rates for 2-year-olds start at $699; rates for 3- to 11-year-olds begin at $1,329. For this Sunquest package, call your travel agent or visit Sunquest.ca.
TIP: Teens crave friends, so ask if there are opportunities for meeting other young people at any resort you’re considering. If you don’t think your kids will find a comrade on their own, consider traveling with another family with teens.
From the December/January 2005 issue.