TripAdvisor Names Best Hotels For Families

family travelWant to know where to travel with the kids? TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel review site, has named their top family-friendly hotels in 25 markets around the world, based on those ranked highest by travelers who identified themselves as traveling with family in their reviews.

The good news? The hotels on the list aren’t too pricey – the average rate is $274 per night with larger properties averaging $292 in the US (100 rooms or more) and small properties in the US averaging just $131 per night.

Here’s the full list:

Top 10 World Large Hotels and Resorts

  • Treasure Island Resort & Holiday Park, Biggera Waters, Australia
  • KeyLime Cove Resort and Water Park, Gurnee, Illinois
  • Rocking Horse Ranch Resort, Highland, New York
  • Hope Lake Lodge & Conference Center, Cortland, New York
  • Protur Bonaire Aparthotel, Cala Bona, Spain
  • Holiday Village Rhodes, Kolimbia, Greece
  • Beaches Turks & Caicos, Providenciales, Turks and Caicos
  • Aparthotel Playa Mar, Port de Pollenca, Spain
  • Alfagar II Aparthotel, Albufeira, Portugal
  • Aquafantasy Aquapark Hotel & Spa, Selcuk, Turkey

Top 10 U.S. Large Hotels and Resorts:

  • KeyLime Cove Resort and Water Park, Gurnee, Illinois
  • Rocking Horse Ranch Resort, Highland, New York
  • Hope Lake Lodge & Conference Center, Cortland, New York
  • Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Orlando, Florida
  • WorldQuest Orlando Resort, Orlando, Florida
  • Woodloch Pines Resort, Hawley, Pennsylvania
  • Lake Buena Vista Resort Village & Spa, Orlando, Florida
  • Marriott’s Harbour Lake, Orlando, Florida
  • Floridays Resort Orlando, Orlando, Florida
  • Homewood Suites by Hilton Anaheim-Main Gate Area, Garden Grove, California

Top 10 U.S. Small Hotels and Motels:

  • Pollace’s Family Vacation Resort, Catskill, New York
  • Starlight Motel & Luxury Suites, Ortley Beach, New Jersey
  • Lampliter Oceanside Resorts, Wildwood Crest, New Jersey
  • VIP Motel, Wildwood Crest, New Jersey
  • Echo Motel & Oceanfront Cottages, Old Orchard Beach, Maine
  • Sierra Sands Family Lodge, Mears, Michigan
  • Park Vue Inn, Anaheim, California
  • Country Inn & Suites Hershey at the Park, Hummelstown, Pennsylvania
  • The Suites at Hershey, Hershey, Pennsylvania
  • Sun Viking Lodge, Daytona Beach, Florida

[Flickr via GomiGirl]

Adventurous Options In Turks And Caicos

nautique sports While many people think of Turks and Caicos as being a relaxing beach getaway, the islands have a lot more to offer than just that. In fact, adventure enthusiasts will feel right at home with an array of daring options in a beautiful setting.

Barefoot Waterskiing

Forget skis and boards; barefoot waterskiing lets you feel completely free during your adventure. Because the coral reef system runs the length of the north shore beach, the water remains calm and creates the perfect conditions for the sport. Also known as “barefooting,” you’ll get the chance to zoom over the water at 40 mph.Eco-Kayaking

In the Turks and Caicos Islands, kayaking is an excellent way to explore the unique flora and fauna of the area. As you paddle through lush mangroves, keep your eyes peeled for Lemon Sharks, Pufferfish, Snappers and Bonefish in the sea, and Herons, Oystercatchers and Brown Pelicans overhead. Feeling adventurous? Pre-dawn bird watching and secluded island camping can be added to a multi-day kayaking itinerary.

Kiteboarding

Kiteboarding, a combination of windsurfing and snowboarding, is a unique adventure that is rapidly growing in popularity. The Turks and Caicos Islands are a great destination for kiteboarding, as the area features warm waters and cool winds that help to propel boarders at quick speeds.

Because kiteboarding poses inherent risks, it is wise to get acquainted with the sport through a professional tourism company. Big Blue Unlimited‘s Kite Safari is a three- to four-hour action packed adventure for anyone who wants to get their adrenaline pumping.

Scuba Diving

The Turks and Caicos Islands boast the world’s third largest barrier reef with some amazing sheer drop walls. Divers will be able to spot rays, turtles, sharks, exotic shoals of fish, beautiful coral and sometimes Humpback whales and dolphins. While the islands host a multitude of diving companies, it is best to choose one that offers small diving groups so you can get the most out of the experience as well as minimize your effect on the local eco-system.

Snorkeling

For those interested in exploring marine life who are not interested in scuba diving, snorkeling is a great option. You’ll be able to spot tropical fish without the burden of gear or needing to take a diving course.

Stand Up Paddleboarding

While the Hawaiian’s have used paddleboards for years, it wasn’t until recently that Big Blue Unlimited brought them to the Turks and Caicos Islands. Stand up paddleboarding (SUP) allows you to view what’s over as well as what’s under the water while also getting a great workout.

Horseback Riding

While many destinations offer the chance to go horseback riding, not many allow you to do it quite like this. With Provo Ponies, you’ll get the chance to trot through clear ocean water while enjoying four miles of private, white sand beach.

Sailing

Because the Turks and Caicos Islands are surrounded by water, sailing is a popular adventure option in the area. Instead of simply boarding a boat as a passenger, why not learn how to sail the boat yourself? Or choose a tour that combines sailing with other adventures such as diving, snorkeling or hiking.

Biking

While many of Turks and Caicos adventure options put thrill-seekers in the water, biking makes for an exciting land excursion. Because the islands offer both rugged terrain and flat land, the adventure is great for people of all abilities.

Queen Conch Salad

Along with daring activities, there’s adventurous food as well. Head over to the Grace Bay Beach Club and order the Conch Salad, which features fresh ingredients from the local waters. Want to go diving for your own lunch? You can, as the Turks and Caicos Islands are home to the world’s only Conch Farm.

Drink Like a Pirate

According to the legend, Pirate Calico Jack Rackham used the Turks and Caicos Islands to hide from authorities, and he may have left some of his rum behind. If you head to the Regent Palms‘ Green Flamingo Bar they will prepare you a rum punch cocktail with a kick. Bambarra Rum, which is locally produced, is named after a shipwreck that freed captive African slaves on Bambarra Beach.

To get a better idea of these adventurous options, check out the gallery below.

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Luxury Travel: Your $100,000 a night New Years Eve package at Gansevoort Turks & Caicos

gansevoort turks and caicosWant to really live it up to ring in 2012? Consider Gansevoort Turks & Caicos’ “Fully Loaded” New Year’s Eve Package for the oh-so-affordable rate of $100,000 per couple per night. For this sum, you’ll enjoy:

  • Luxury accommodations in the Oceanfront Penthouse Suite
  • Private Gansevoort jet service to and from Providenciales with private luxury transfers
  • Complimentary Bloody Mary “conchtails” upon arrival
  • Gourmet bar & kitchen pre-stocked with requested favorites
  • Exhale Spa therapist and instructor on-call for daily class/treatment (massage, yoga, core fusion, etc)
  • VIP pool and beach service and seating
  • Luxury Catamaran Excursion with Seaplane drop off on secluded cove including:
  • Personal chef to prepare private dinner on island
  • Personal conch diving instructor to escort you on your conch adventure
  • Personal underwater videographer to capture and prepare home videos upon departure
  • Unlimited use of water toys (jet skis, water skiing, etc)
  • Overnight “glamping” in luxury tent complete with high thread count sheets, cashmere blankets and a real bed!

We’re pretty sure this sounds awesome, although if you excluded the private jet service, $100,000 a night sounds like a rather steep price. What do you think – would you ever book this lavish package?

Travel writer Q&A: Julia Dimon

Travel journalist and television host Julia Dimon lives the sort of fast-paced traveling lifestyle that most people, even quite experienced travelers, fantasize about. She’s visited over 80 countries and she’s been featured as a travel expert for countless print, online, radio, and television sources. Dimon’s excitement as a traveler is palpable. I asked her about her background, her move from writing to television, some of her favorite destinations, and her top tips for travelers and prospective travel writers both.

Q: Describe your profession.

A: I’m a travel journalist, host of several travel TV shows and hard core adventuress with a blog called Travel Junkie Julia.

Q: Tell me about your family background as a traveler.

A: My mom is a travel writer. I guess that adventure is in the blood! I had the privilege of traveling with her on assignment when I was growing up. As a family we went to Costa Rica, China, Europe, Cuba. I got the travel bug at a young age.

Q: For years you wrote about travel for the Toronto Star and then for Metro. How did you make your move from writing to television? Do you expect to remain in television or return exclusively to the writing at some point?

A: I started out as a travel writer and columnist, freelancing for many publications. Then, while in Turkey on a round-the-world trip, I met a fellow Canadian travel writer named Robin Esrock, who is now my co-host. Robin thought it would be a cool idea if we had our own TV show. I agreed. He pitched a concept to a production company, who took it to a Canadian-based broadcaster. From there we collaborated and developed a show about the real lives of two young travel writers, under pressure and on deadline. The show is called Word Travels and we’ve shot 40 episodes over three years.

TV, like travel writing, is also in my blood. My Dad is an Emmy-award winning producer, so I suppose it was fitting to blend travel and TV. Getting on a full-time travel show was a combination of luck, timing, my strong reputation as a travel writer and a helluva lot of work. Since filming Word Travels, I have shot a travel series for MSNBC and am hosting a new show with Ethan Zohn (winner of Survivor Africa) for the new adventure network Outside Television. I really enjoy the medium of TV and am moving more into that direction but writing is a part of who I am. I’ve been a writer since I was 12. I wrote movie reviews for a kids page in the Toronto Star for over a decade before moving into the travel section. Writing will always be a part of who I am and what I do.
Q: As travel writers we are often asked about our favorite places. I don’t know about you, but I always find such questions impossible to answer. But I’d like to tweak this question and pose a few variations on the theme: your favorite destinations for beaches, street food, budget travel, splurging, and mass tourism?

A: Beach: Zanzibar, off the coast of Tanzania, is one of my all time favorite spots. Sugar white beaches, amazing fresh seafood and a fascinating blend of Arabic and African cultures against a very cool capital city.

Street food: Thailand has some of the best street food. Steaming dishes of pad thai, green curry, red curry, chili mango and the occasional deep-fried grasshopper make for an interesting and extremely affordable foodie destination. As for street meat, you can’t beat a Toronto hot dog from a street vendor. Grilled sausage topped with a buffet of condiments, fried onions, pickles and bacon bits. Not good for you, but delicious.

Budget-friendly: Laos is one of the most beautiful and most affordable destinations out there. For those travelers who are concerned about making their money last, I suggest forgetting Europe and considering India, Cambodia, Bolivia or Peru.

Splurgeworthy: Jordan is a fascinating country but it’s not terribly cheap. Between spending a night in the desert at Wadi Rum, snorkeling the Red Sea, seeing the skillfully chiseled pink rock in Petra, floating in the Dead Sea, and soaking up the Roman ruins in Jerash, the country has a lot to offer the adventure traveler. You absolutely can do Jordan on a budget, but with so many five-star hotels and fancy Dead Sea spa treatments, it’s more tempting to splurge.

Mass tourism: Does Chernobyl count? Kidding… I was there last summer and I’m still waiting to glow radioactive. I’m a big NYC fan. After all the traveling I’ve done, I think New York is the most vibrant, dynamic city in the world. It’s my Number One city, closely followed by Paris. Number Three is still up for grabs…

Q: Top tips you’d offer to someone wanting to work as a travel writer?

A: I have written some tips for people wanting to break into the travel writing business.

Q: Top tips for regular travelers?

A: Go with the flow. Not everything is going to go according to plan so be flexible and take things as they come. Often the best travel experiences arise from the unexpected. Connect with local people and never turn down an invitation, within reason of course. Safety is obviously your number one priority. The people who know the country will be better than any guidebook and can give you insight into the local culture. Go local – where do local people eat, shop, play? Arm yourself with knowledge, be social and ask everyone you meet for recommendations on cool things to do. Learn some basic local language, try everything once, and always carry toilet paper.

Q: What are your essential carry-on items?

A: Laptop, iPod, all chargers, camera, a bunch of magazines to catch up on world events, an empty water bottle, snacks (almonds, dried fruit), sometimes a blanket.

Q: Where is your next trip?

A: I just got back from a palm tree-piña-colada filled weekend at the Gansevoort Turks and Caicos. Next I’m going on an Antarctic expedition, an 11-day voyage on a luxury vessel from Patagonia to the Antarctic Peninsula. Fjords, icebergs, glaciers and tons of cool wildlife are in my future. After this trip, I will have visited all seven continents. Whoo hoo!

Hyatt continues global expansion of Andaz hotels

Hyatt’s boutique brand, Andaz, is climbing its way up the hotel chain and making an impact on travelers. The response to Andaz has been bountiful, so much so that Hyatt announced today the company will add three new Andaz properties in Sanya Sunny Bay, China; Delhi, India; and Providenciales, Turks and Caicos.

Andaz, which has only been operating for three years, is Hyatt’s new hotel concept that caters to the urban professional seeking a more trendy experience without luxury prices. The new international properties will join Andaz Liverpool Street, London, Andaz West Hollywood, Andaz Wall Street and Andaz San Diego, the soon-to-be-opened Andaz 5th Avenue New York; Andaz Austin, Texas; Andaz Amsterdam; and Andaz Papagayo, Costa Rica.

The 183-room Andaz Sanya Sunny Bay will be the first Andaz property to feature a resort community. It’s located on the southern oceanside of China’s Hainan Island, and will stand next to the 196-room Park Hyatt Sanya Sunny Bay and branded villas. Andaz Sanya Sunny Bay will offer five restaurants, as well as a 2,500-square-foot ballroom and three meeting rooms. The hotel will share a variety of amenities with Park Hyatt Sanya Sunny Bay, including a Spa Village featuring an outdoor swimming pool, beach club, fitness center, extensive spa facilities and treatment rooms, as well as a restaurant, tea house, and bakery.Andaz Delhi is scheduled to open its 323-rooms and 118 Andaz-branded apartments in 2013. The hotel will feature a variety of amenities including a lounge, theme bar, two restaurants, spa, and fitness center. Additionally, the property will offer a 7,000-square-foot ballroom and seven meeting rooms. This will be Andaz’s first project in India.

The last of the three new properties, the 170-room Andaz Turks and Caicos, will open in 2014 and will include approximately 76 Andaz-branded condominium residences and three villas which owners can choose to place into an Andaz-managed rental program. The hotel will feature a variety of amenities including several restaurants, an outdoor pool, spa and fitness center. Additionally, the property will offer several options for events and meetings, including five Andaz Studios, two trellised courtyards, an event gallery, and a studio display kitchen. The hotel, which will be developed by the Cloisters Group, will be located approximately 15 minutes by car from Providenciales International Airport.