10 Questions for the Hotel Concierge (When You’re Traveling With Children)
01. I see that your hotel has a branded kids’ program. Isn’t that just a marketing scheme?
Not necessarily. Marc Rodriguez, GM of Esperanza near Cabo San Lucas, a Relais & Châteaux property, says that kids’ and family programs—such as Kids for All Seasons (Four Seasons) and Ritz Kids (Ritz-Carlton)— can signal a quality chain. “You want to ensure that children have enjoyable, enriching experiences.”
02. What credentials do your child-care staffers have?
Bill Fischer, CEO of Fischer Travel, says that parents should “make certain that all babysitters and nannies are certified and bonded.” Reneta McCarthy, a lecturer at Cornell’s School of Hotel Management, adds that “you’ll be hearing about the credentials of a person who runs the program, so be sure to ask about the young adults who will be spending time with your children.”
03. How do you childproof your hotel?
Expect every precaution that you take at home. Ritz-Carlton convened focus groups to develop its Protect Our Little Ones program. POLO kits contain outlet plugs, bathtub spout covers, nightlights and first-aid supplies.
04. How do you make children feel welcome?
Relais & Châteaux wins children over with culinary adventures. “We give them their own toques, and they learn to make chocolate,” says chairman Jaume Tàpies. Four Seasons’ Raid the Fridge experience invites kids to rifle through the hotel pantry in their pajamas.
05. Are the children separated by age during activities?
“Older kids are tough customers,” says Scott Taber, VP of Rooms, Americas, at Four Seasons. “They want their own space, so we have ‘no parents allowed’ zones and teen nightclubs.”
06. Do the activities teach respect for the community?
Children’s activities can impart values that make kids better travelers. Taber cites an initiative at the Four Seasons in Costa Rica in which guests can support local families and help build schools. Rodriguez touts Esperanza’s Spanish language classes.
07. Does the hotel teach kids to be environmentally conscious?
“If our clients are traveling to a green property, they want their children to be exposed to the philosophy behind the concept,” Fischer says. That can mean cleaning beach trails in Hawaii or building coral reefs in the Maldives.
08. How do your dining venues cater to kids?
How kid-friendly/appropriate are the dining rooms? How prepared are the staff? Can the menu be customized for allergy sufferers?
09. What if my child is hurt on the property?
“Ask if there’s a quality hospital nearby, if there are doctors on call, and what their language skill levels are,” Rodriguez says. Are staffers Red Cross- or CPR-certified?
10. Have you ever encountered anything child-related that you couldn’t handle?
The “yes” or “no” matters less than the thoughtfulness of the response.