What Makes a Hotel Genuinely Child and Family-friendly

Aerial view of a family-themed resort.
Image credit: StockSnap
The holidays are a wonderful time for families to travel and explore places...it is at this time when families can truly bond and create new and lasting memories. Hotels play a large part in enhancing the experience of their guests. When a family's hotel stay is not comfortable, the impression of the whole vacation or experience, for that matter, becomes uncomfortable as well.

Hotels are our home away from home and considering that many people travel as a unit meaning as a family, it is a given that parents look for hotels that are considered family-friendly. Although most luxury hotels cater to the vast majority of businessmen/women with the main purpose of business alone, some highly recommended hotels are now becoming open to the fact that certain businessmen or businesswomen travel with their children making certain changes to cater to a family as these clients mix business with leisure. But what makes a hotel child-friendly/family-friendly? Does it only pertain to high chairs/cots, pool usage perks, kid activities, selection of food or amount of food, or even providing a space where kids can play? For parents like me, I have to say that making a hotel child-friendly doesn't only focus on those certain things.
In the hospitality industry, the concept of family-friendliness is not new within the tourism sector but is now increasing and evolving. Luxury family traveling is now becoming a trend and most 5-star hotels are now trying to accommodate children for their clientele. Unfortunately, much still has to be done as numerous parents such as myself have a long list of grievances when staying or visiting a hotel ( to see family or friends staying at the hotel). If you had seen the movie Bedtime Stories with Adam Sandler, he created a whole new world for his niece and nephew and gave them an experience that they would never forget.

I had a terrible experience with the Marco Polo Hotel Davao City specifically at the Continental Club Lounge, which is unfortunate considering that this hotel is considered as one of the best hotels here in Davao City. And this was after I had said that Davao City in itself is child-friendly and that customer service in all establishments here in Davao City extends to the children as well. I did not have a problem with Seda Hotel Abreeza nor with The Park Inn SM Lanang. Truth be told, the staff at both of these hotels helped me with my son and took pleasure in playing with him. I have visited many establishments and various hotels with my son, and only now have I had a backlash with my child's playful and energetic demeanor. Or was I wrong to allow him to play so he wouldn't scream on the top of his lungs which was clearly the other alternative if I had told him to sit with me at the table while everyone was having dinner? My aunt made an assessment that he only wanted to play when he started running around and if it took that to quiet him down so that everyone could have a peaceful dinner and converse without having to compete with his screaming and crying, then, by all means, allow him to play. Unfortunately, the staff of the said hotel told me in a very tactless manner that it is prohibited (yes, they used the Filipino word for prohibited) for a child to run around. Of course, my child didn't like the idea so, I had to resort to the use of a digital pacifier to keep him calm. Thank God for YouTube and great cellular data service because the WiFi at the hotel was awful. Couldn't get the videos to move from buffering. Marco Polo Davao City, you may want to reassess how you treat younger guests.
As I had mentioned earlier, hotels are now trying to accommodate families who travel and children may come in a variety of ages. Toddlers I believe are the hardest to deal with, with their incessant tantrums and outbursts and their stubborn streak adding to the fact, that they believe that the world revolves around them. Given the nature of their behavior and pair that with high doses of energy, it is difficult to make them sit still or calm them when they are completely frustrated. I have been at hotels when my son was much younger and although he would cry and make a fuss, it wasn't as loud as it is now. Most especially, when he was a baby his routine was predictable so, I knew how to pacify him when he would become fussy. Now, he might not like a particular person or the lighting in the room, or maybe the feel of the floor- yes, my son complained about the floor of the Marco Polo Hotel to my disdain. In retrospect, kids are a hard audience to break and when they don't like something, anything for that matter, I know it's going to be a losing battle for the parents and this is why I believe hotels should be as child-friendly as possible even if, they are not the usual clientele that they accommodate. Staff for that matter should again extend every courtesy to children as well. As adults, we have the capability to understand and widen that understanding...for children, they are still learning. I am not saying to let a child run amok but, if it takes a little play time to stop him from crying- wouldn't you be happy seeing a child walk around smiling or a child sitting in one area but, screaming? I prefer the former.

So what makes a hotel genuinely child and family-friendly? Here are 10 criteria that most parents list down for a hotel to be considered child and family-friendly...
Rooms should be spacious enough for the whole family.
Image credit: Pixabay

1.) Family-friendly booking with rooms that are spacious enough to accommodate a family of 6 and who also offer a family rate.
First of all, when looking for a hotel, parents need to be reassured that they are making the right choice. Usually, parents search for hotels that include a family section on their website to determine if a hotel welcomes younger guests. If so, parents will then search for rooms that can accommodate 2 adults and their number of children and they also check if the rooms offered are spacious enough. Unfortunately, most hotel sites do not include the maximum number of guests they can accommodate in one particular room which may be a problem for a family of 6. Also, some parents find it particularly difficult to find a hotel that has adjoining rooms if, one room is not sufficient to cater to the whole size of the family in which case the family has to be split into 2. One parent complained that the hotel gave them 2 rooms on 2 different floors. As much as possible, splitting a family shouldn't be an option. It will be stressful for the whole family.
If a family does have to split up into 2 rooms, adjoining or not, hotels should offer a discounted rate. Although hotels work on an economic incentive to maximize revenue, hoteliers should also understand that if a family is offered better rates, then that means it is possible for the whole family to make return visits because of the financial perk. When those kids have kids of their own, where do you think they will go with their own kids? Of course, to the hotels that they remember most frequented by their family when they were growing up.

2. The hotel should offer something for the tots at check-in.
Basically, hotels should create a distraction for the children when checking in. Why? Upon arrival, parents are often exhausted from the journey while the children are restless and agitated. Some hotels deploy kiddie guest relations officers who offer snacks, toys or activity materials to keep them occupied and entertained while the parents check-in hassle-free. A welcoming present also makes the kids feel special creating a connection with the hotel.

3. The hotel should have a ready-made itinerary for kid-friendly activities or destinations.
Parents should automatically be given a pamphlet or a sheet containing all family-friendly destinations for sightseeing, a map, and/or kid activities that are highly recommended.
Kid's club with a pool of balls.
Image credit: Pixabay

4. The hotel should have a kid's club that is open all day long, with no extra costs and is flexible for use. Plus, babysitting services if needed.
Many hotels charge extra for the use of the kid's club and usually make the children commit to the use of the facilities for the whole day meaning children can't come and go whenever they please. Parents suggest flexibility in the use of the kid's club facilities and that children of any age should be allowed to come and go as they please.
If ever needed, the hotel should be able to provide a nanny or a qualified babysitter to watch the children for a few hours if parents need to leave their children at the hotel. The hotel should make sure that the children are not left unattended.

5. A kiddie pool and if possible, a kiddie hot tub.
Pool perks aside, kids love to play in the water. If a kiddie pool isn't possible, a shallow section in the main pool for kids is a good alternative.
As for the hot tub, it would be nice if kids had their own. If not, parents suggest allowing kids use of the hot tub but at a lower temperature.

6. The hotel should offer the young guests things in their size.
Bathrobes, slippers, and even bath towels should come in kid's sizes. Some parents also suggest bathroom sink height should also be appropriate for children.

7. The hotel should also provide family-friendly deals or rates with partner establishments in their vicinity.
It's nice when a family can receive a number of perks from nearby entertainment venues, restaurants, museums, and certain tourist destinations when staying at a hotel. For example, a 20% discount off the food bill when dining at a partner establishment. This means families can make the most out of the experience without breaking the bank.

8. Flexible or easy food and beverage options for the children.
Children are picky when it comes to food and hotels that can create a special dining experience for the kids is a must. When dining, a family should be offered a kiddie menu with a variety of well-known food that kids usually want to eat. Also, I would like to add that chocolate milk and juices should be part of the beverage list. Enough of the soda.
The pool of Malta Intercontinental Hotel
Image credit: Pixabay

9. The hotel should provide families with an inexpensive laundry option.
It costs an arm and a leg to have the hotel do your laundry and when you have small children who love to play and get dirty, laundry can become a problem. I read that a hotel in Bali offers the laundry of 6 items of clothing per person for free. Talk about great service. I wish all hotels were like that.

10. Last, but the most important, child-friendly staff and an overall child-friendly vibe.
I'm impressed at hotels that may be formal but, treat kids like valued guests. They extend every courtesy towards the children as well. It is great when the staff of the hotel interacts with the children, who go out of their way to make a relaxed environment for the children, making the kids feel comfortable and accommodated for, not treating them as potential nuisances or irrelevant or worse, nonexistent beings. I also appreciate staff that is always there to assist if problems arise or just simply understanding that children are children and that they mean no harm.

Family-friendly is not just providing high chairs or cots but, making sure families are facilitated and accommodated to the highest of standards for all levels. 5-star service for the business traveler is obviously not the same for parents traveling with their children. I believe most hotels are still in the learning process with regards to accommodating whole families. But, it is nice to know that hoteliers are putting in the effort to keep younger guests happy.

Happy New Year from The Tired Mama-ph!
Image credit: Pixabay

*Credit to Sources:
Stoen, Eric "What Really Makes a Hotel Kid Friendly", www.wendyperin.com
Anderson, Mark "How to Make a Five Star Hotel Family-friendly", www.bighospitality.co.uk

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Traveling via Airplane with a Toddler

Davao City Destinations for the Family


  1. Ay...how sad! Marco Polo is one of the best hotels here in Davao. Not child friendly pala sila. Parents beware of Marco Polo Davao. Baka bastusin kayo.

    1. Yes, it is really sad that the staff of Marco Polo Continental Club is like that but, at least now I know. Will recommend other hotels in the city for family and friends traveling with small children.

  2. BANDAR TERBAIK Klik Dan Dapatkan BONUS sekarang Juga!!!

  3. Nice blog and I appreciate the way you have explained the facts. Thanks and keep it up.

    Luxury Holidays with Kids


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