Feather+Flip, a family travel resource, has acquired itinerary planning company Bon Voyaging to create “Passported”. The new resource combines the itinerary planning technology of Bon Voyage with the family content of Feather+Flip. According to CEO Henley Vazquez, “Passported celebrates kid-friendly travel for grown-ups. We highlight the places your junior entourage will love in destinations you’re excited to visit. Family travel can be sophisticated, cool, and fun for the whole family.”
“Passported” allows families to view parent-reccomended restaurants, hotels, activities and sites, for vacation spots around the world, while creating a seamless vacation itinerary. Mapping capabilities are also available in unison with the technology. In addition to streamlined booking services, travellers booking with the new technology have access to special perks such as free breakfast, spa credits and late check out.
The philosophy of the company is that family travel can be sophisticated, cool, and fun for the whole family.
For many families, Las Vegas is an inexpensive and easy destination for travel, but are there enough kids activities in Las Vegas? I believe that kids can learn and have fun in any destination as long as parents are attentive to their needs and do a bit of homework. While smoky casinos and shooting ranges may be off the activity lists, there are loads of kids activities in Las Vegas that are thrilling for the whole family.
Here are a few Sin City activities that I’ve experienced that make me itch for a family trip!
1. Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay features tropical fish, sharks and turtles.
2. The fountains with lights and music at Bellagio (you may want to watch Oceans 11 first!) Image: Flickr via Tim Parkinson
3. A gondola ride at the Venetian is way less expensive than a trip to Italy.
4. M&M’s World encompasses four floors – just make sure you set candy limits!
5. Duelling Pianos at the bar at Times Square at New York, New York if a favourite of mine and any little budding musician is sure to love it.
6. The Mob Museum is a gorgeous building filled with gangster lore.
7. The Big Apple Coaster at New York New York, and hop over to the arcade while you are there. Photo credit: Roig61 on Flickr
8. Big Shot at the Stratosphere
I have a bit of a thing about castles. Princess complex? Perhaps… but there is nothing quite like skiing down Blackcomb mountain as the Fairmont Chateau Whistler comes into sight. All week before we departed for Whistler Blackcomb the kids announced to every person they saw that we were staying at a castle. And it was. And I felt like a princess in a resplendent building while the whole family – kids especially – were treated with boundless respect.
Picture it. A gentle snowfall and sparkly white lights on the trees. We pull up the majestic circular driveway and the valets are waiting. They were so friendly that we couldn’t get the kids out of the car – there were very serious discussions happening around Star Wars Lego. The kids are ecstatic. They have a thing about riding on the luggage carts and giggling as I remind them that they are not suitcases. Maybe when they grow up.
Checking in we were given reusable bags that say ‘I’m a Fairmont Kid!’ . The treats inside not only occupied the boys, but the colouring book was all about bears and provided a fabulous learning opportunity as well. (Thankfully I didn’t run into a bear as I hiked Spanky’s Ladder.)
There is something old-world and artistic about Fairmont properties. I have stayed at at least 8, and in my view, they are cutting-edge in terms of being kid-friendly. Normally the term means tacky plastic stuff and flashing lights. Looking around, there is art everywhere – stone valise sculptures, intricate and modern floral arrangements, architectural flourishes and iron crows on the banisters. The kids were chirping at them. Yes, every time we walked by.
If this were a book, I’d do a whole chapter on the concierges. If their smiles and jaunty ski sweaters weren’t enough I have decided that they are the demi-Gods of helpfulness. Ian especially. My hero. He charges my Blackberry (often) and when my colleague lost his corporate visa card (it wasn’t me honest), Ian called every place this man had been the night before. He then phoned Visa to cancel it. Demi Gods. I told you.
One of my favourite things about the rooms were the preppy cableknit blankets on the beds. The fridge in the room is kept empty – a great help to parents who bring along snacks. Kid-friendly extends to rooms as well. I had no idea that if parents want a connecting room for the kids, the second room is half price. The tiny bathrobes were certainly a highlight for the boys. They breezed through the lobby en route to the hottub and were excited to find a little warming hut to hang them in order to ensure they remain dry. Oh – and while you’re in the spa, ask for Wilma. She offers private swimming lessons for adults and little ones. So they’ll soon be able to ski AND swim circles around you. Great. (If you opt for free-floating the Fairmont supplies lifejackets too).
Whistler has cache. But there is only one bar in the entire place that exudes the alpine mystique. The Mallard Lounge. A semi-circle bar, sledding for kids on the hill in back (they provide sleds), live music, domed ceilings, classic cocktails… And kids are allowed (even at the bar) until 9pm. Bartender extraordinaire Adam loves to serve kids Egyptian Lemonade – muddled with mint and raspberries. A sparkling apple drink is served in a martini glass. See? Kids are sophisticated too. And the Chateau knows it.
They’re pretty cool with pets as well. Dogs are part of the family, after all. Jennifer Tice, the Public Relations Manager, showed me a picture of 2 puppies that she snapped with her iPhone. She explained that these ‘hotel guests’ make so many people smile as they trot throughout the lobby, and the dogs assist in bringing people together and creating a social atmosphere throughout the hotel. They have that down. Sitting areas, tables, and sofas. The lobby was always buzzing with activity and a great vibe.
I had the honour to visit the Wildflower Restaurant on 2 occasions. Chef Vincent Stufano not only creates incredible dishes featuring locally sourced ingredients, but also features a ‘lifestyle cuisine plus’ menu with options in the following categories: heart healthy, diabetes, vegan, raw, macrobiotic, and gluten free. Double wow. The restaurant also has a ‘sea to sky menu to go’. For the road. Just don’t get pulled over like we did on the way up. (Hopefully your lox and bagel doesn’t give energy to your accelerator foot..)
Dinner was amazing. It was just adults (thank you Nannies on Call). Before we dined I ordered room service for the kids their meals come with drink and dessert. Not only is there a kids’ menu, but when I asked for milk, They questioned: “plain, chocolate or strawberry?” Seriously? Then I learned that in December Fairmont created a new healthy eating menu just for the kids!
“Fairmont Chefs ensure these pint-sized offerings reflect the same basic principals as Lifestyle Cuisine and address the nutritional guidelines established for children by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. Proactive steps include swapping out refined flour for whole wheat, incorporating fruits and vegetables into recipes to help meet the recommended daily fiber allowance, and employing alternative cooking methods to help ensure healthier choices are made available to young diners. “
On our final morning I took the boys to the Wildflower for breakfast. Kids eat free. Wow. And when they entered? They were each given an etch-a-sketch. Our waiter told them it was an old-fashioned iPad. I laughed hard. (The boys looked at me with puzzlement as they touched the screen). As we left each child was given a cookie as big as my head. ‘for the road’.
In all? I have a new go-to place when I ski. After my weekend, the family is closer, the kids feel special, we made a ton of memories, and Ian the concierge is my new best friend.
We have a new love. A new way to ‘work’. Seriously. Check out our pin boards on Kids Birthday Parties, Kid’s Rooms, Featured Finds, Craft ideas for Kids, Family Recipe Ideas and Travel. We couldn’t leave that out. Enjoy! Our Pin Boards.
If you are one of the very lucky to be headed anywhere on a family vacation, we have a few tips for you. Planning ahead is definitely the cornerstone of traveling with kids. That old Girl Guide/Boy Scout adage of ‘Being Prepared‘ can eliminate lots of stress… and there’s nothing quite like a good excuse to purchase mini makeup and a wrinkle-free dress for yourself..