Travel Special: Five vacations tailor-made for your kids
They may be small but the little ones call the shots. The suddenly soiled clothing, whining, siblings going at each other, etc., is every parent's nightmare, especially on a vacation.
But it doesn't mean that you need to be stuck at home, this summer. It simply means you choose places where the kids are too busy having a blast to throw a tantrum, or pick fights! And while we know that you live for your children, those very same spots have fun stuff for you too.
We've put together a list of holiday-spots, each of which offers your family a different adventure — from turtle-watching to castle quests and more...
Summer and snow
Beat the Mumbai heat by heading to the Swiss Alps. While you're at it, head to the highest city in Europe. Davos is a cut above the rest because it's popular with the rich and famous, including Prince Charles. Walk through Promenade Street peeking into designer boutiques, souvenir shops selling Swiss knives made of chocolate, restaurants, etc. Alternatively, hire bikes or strap on ice-skates and head to the rinks. For Alpine scenes, drive to the village of Klosters, where in a mountain hut cafe, girls dressed in colourful dirndls serve up Nespresso. Or choose between walking and hiking trails in Klosters. It also offers home-stays.
Log on to: www.myswitzerland.com/en-in/davos.html OR www.myswitzerland.com/en-in/klosters.html
Children are taught to run a hotel. pic courtesy/Sheraton Macao
Where parents and kids can play
Macao is closer home and lowers the likelihood of cranky kids in the flight. The destination is dubbed a 'gambling haven', but there is loads for kids. A day at the Sheraton Macao, Cotai Central starts with 'Shrekfast', where Shrek, Kung Fu Panda, and others from the DreamWork's gang have your child elated during the early hours itself. The characters pose and play with kids as they wolf down 'Dragon' eggs or 'Donkey' pop cakes, etc. Noon brings the Junior Hotelier Program. Children are taught to run their own hotel. This program is fun and educational for kids, and they're taught everything from baking cookies, to icing cakes, right down to playing host. While the kids go out to learn and play, you can head to the casinos which open at noon. Or explore the in-house restaurants, and the bar where you can dance. Baby-sitting services are offered by the hotel.
Log on to: www.sheratonmacao.com
Bump into Cinderella at Cinderella's castle. pic/kiran mehta
Because fairy tales come true
The Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando, Florida, is what children's dreams are made of. The complex holds four theme parks with Magic Kingdom being the most popular. Get smitten by Cinderella's castle towering in the distance; cartoon characters posing with your little stars; and many rides. From twirling tea-cups to colourful carousels, haunted houses and water rides, Magic Kingdom helps adults connect with their inner-child. Head to Universal Studios, a stone's throw away where you get to be Spider-man's side-kick, or play Quidditch with Potter. Disney comes with the Wilderness Lodge. Spread over acres of forest lands, it's a great place for families to explore. Built in Native American theme, an educational tour expounds on the natives' beliefs.
Log on to: disneyworld.disney.go.com
Live life prince(ss)-size
Gabby locals with enchanting tales greet you everywhere in Ireland. Did you know that if you catch a leprechaun, he must grant you three wishes? You could ask him to hand-over his stash of gold. Did you know that some fairies bring bad luck? To ward off ill fortune, all you need is a shamrock. Add more Celtic charm to your trip; stay at one of the many castle-hotels dotting the country. To really pamper yourselves, head to Ashford Castle in County Mayo, a three-and-half-hour drive from Dublin. This medieval castle offers rooms large enough to lose yourself in, opulent architecture of the medieval ages, expansive green grounds to run or cycle through, horse-riding classes, a bit of falconry, kayaking, etc. The good life awaits you at Ashford Castle.
Log on to: www.ashfordcastle.com
Ras al Jinz Turtle Reserve
For kids who love nature
Oman, with its family values, fawns over kids. In true Arab hospitality, expect little treats — usually dates — to be handed out to your kids as you explore bazaars in Muscat. This dot in the Arab world also offers you the chance to appreciate nature. We're not talking arid sands, but coasts with turtles. Ras al Jinz, three hours by road from Muscat, is one of the largest turtle nesting sites in the Indian Ocean. Between July and August, Green Turtles descend here in droves. Stay at the eco-tents within Ras al Jinz Turtle Reserve for an unforgettable experience. Residents can avail complimentary tours: in the wee hours of the morning, you head to the protected zone. Here you'll spot mama turtles laying eggs and covering 'em up with sand; heading into the sea never to see their off-spring; babies breaking through the shells, and waddling to the water.
The guides reveal that only four eggs, in a hundred, make it to adulthood. Unfortunately, humans are the biggest predators of the endangered species.
Log on to: www.rasaljinz-turtlereserve.com