What does ‘luxury travel’ mean when kids are involved?

 

I have had the chance to discuss this with many different parents looking to organise a memorable break in Paris with their children, and I find myself constantly surprised by how different their views are:

Maintain the standards they were used to before having kids

Wonderful hotels, Michelin-starred restaurants, museum trips, long walks in the city… all of this was magical when they were just à deux, but need a bit of a twist to be suitable when there are little ones about. Hotels can be wonderful so long as they offer suites or connecting rooms; top restaurants can be enjoyed if a babysitter takes care of the kids for the evening; museum trips are feasible if the kids are kept entertained and interested with a treasure hunt; and long walks around the city can be substituted for a horse-drawn carriage or private boat tour so that those little feet don’t get too tired.

Experience the city instead of visiting it

At home it is easy to find the perfect place for a slice of cake that the kids will love, and parents probably know about intriguing new activities like cooking workshops, but abroad it is not so easy. Having inside knowledge about nearby child-friendly restaurants with lovely views, the best bakery around the hotel for a snack, or a lovely shop with smart clothes for the little ones will turn parents from tourist into bona fide local residents.

Savour the moments with the children and discover a new side to the city

Spending time in Paris and unearthing some of its hidden gems together will build life-long family memories. This could mean going to the top of the Eiffel Tower, but what we prefer is for the kids to actually take part in the trip and not just be passengers on it. To stay interested, kids need to be engaged with interactive experiences. What’s more, this can be a wonderful way for parents to discover new aspects of the local culture as well. Why not learn how to bake a baguette in Paris? Or get to grips with fencing in the Loire Valley? The real luxury for parents is to know that they have introduced their children to something completely new, and sown the desire to come back again.

Make the most of the time you have together

A really successful trip usually requires a lot of time-consuming organisation before leaving and nowadays time is precious. Going on a fully-organised family trip to Paris is the best way to enjoy every second of it. When parents decide to spend a few days in a city like Paris, it is very difficult to scout out all the best options. Nothing can be more frustrating than the sense of wasting time doing something that the kids find dull while there are so many better options elsewhere. Luxury is about knowing that you will experience the very best holiday, completely tailored to your tastes and interests. Smooth pre-planned itineraries and transfers, plus fast-queue tickets, are all perfect time-savers that can make time away so much more enjoyable.

Enjoy some peace of mind in the knowledge that English-speaking help is at hand

Leaving with the conviction that everything will run smoothly is the main luxury for many parents visiting a large city abroad. The knowledge that taxis will be equipped with baby-seats, or that an English-speaking doctor is at the end of the line, can be the pinnacle of luxury when travelling with kids, as parents can feel confident in the most important thing of all: the safety of their children.

All in all, it seems like children can alter people’s perception of luxury travel, throwing up various issues for parents looking to go enjoy a superb holiday. But whatever it means for you and your family, the greatest luxury lies in being able to tailor your trip so that it meets your expectations and fulfils your dreams, whatever they may be.

Magali Déchelette is CEO at Family Twist.

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Comments (9)

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  1. Francesca says:

    Even before having kids, we weren’t luxury travelers, mostly opting to go the budget route. Now I definitely agree with your last sentence here, that luxury is going on a trip that meets expectations and fulfills dreams. Love it!

  2. Kathy says:

    Another solution when travelling with kids is to rent a villa. Tuscany is brimming with luxury properties that can tick all the boxes. The adults don’t have to give up the idea of a luxurious accommodation and the kids have all the room they need to run around and play. Spacious grounds and beautiful swimming pools can be enjoyed by the whole family – whether you prefer splash contests or taking in the amazing views with a glass of fine wine. Today’s rental villas are the perfect blend of luxury and practicality – and often they are cost efficient solutions. There are many locations (even very close to the major cities), different styles and various levels of services and amenities that can satisfy just about any requirement.

  3. Jeanette says:

    I agree completely with Kathy. Having traveled the globe with my four kids since they were infants, I love the villa or executive apartment options. I find that having a kitchen and access to a washers/dryer relieves a lot of stress and makes everyone feel more relaxed and comfortable. You don’t have to give up any of the luxury, pampering or services (including babysitting) you’re accustomed to.

    My husband and I spent six months with our two eldest in the New Delhi Oberoi when they were both under three. It was a gorgeous hotel and the staff there were exceptional. Nonetheless, we would have probably had a better time in an executive apartment.

  4. Dear Kathy, Dear Jeanette,

    Many thanks for your comments.

    We definitely agree with you, this is why we also offer some apartments in Paris.

    We even found a perfect compromise: apartments in hotels or residence, meaning that you have the independence of an apartment with a fully equipped kitchen and washing machines but also the services of an hotel: 24h reception, breakfast and everyday cleaning service if you wish to.

    The perfect conditions to spend a wonderful family stay in Paris.

  5. Clare says:

    I don’t necessarily want a kitchen, but luxury for me when travelling with children is separate bedrooms. So many great hotels only offer family suites where you are all in together. After a busy day sight seeing – i want to relax with a glass of local red, while the kids head off to bed. Your apartment in a hotel is the perfect option!

  6. Paul Johnson says:

    That’s a very good point, Clare… allows for some ‘downtime’ for Mum and Dad, even if you do sometimes feel like going to bed at the same time!

  7. Jane says:

    Just like to add how important it is to talk to the kids about the trip and its destination also before the trip. The adults normally book the tickets weeks (even months) before, but often forget to include the kids in the planning. The trip will therefor often come as a big surprise, and most kids do not like to change their routines without knowing what will replace it.

    Tell about the trip, show pictures from the city and discuss what they like to do when they are there.

  8. Dear Jane,

    Many thanks for your comment, we couldn’t be more aligned with it.

    When you book a complete package with Family Twist, you receive a parcel at home with small presents for everybody in the family. For instance, if you come to Paris, you will have a DVD for the kids, set in Paris and aligned with the activities/visits you picked, a nice photo book for the parents and even a small map with most of Parisian highlights in 3D.

    It is key to start the experience with the kids way before travelling.

    Other ideas may be to read some nice novels together (classics such as Notre Dame de Paris, by Hugo, the ladies’ delight by Zola or less classic but easier for kids: Madeline) or even to cook a traditional French meal, crepes can be a yummy idea.

  9. Nicola says:

    Great article and very inspiring! I would definitely recommend researching into the ‘right’ kind of hotel for you. Whilst in my pre-kid days I would always choose the exotic, boutique hotel now I always check how accessible rooms are, hotel provisions for kids etc. I do think some luxury hotels are wising up to the rise in people looking for the kind of luxury holiday they had pre kids. But I wish more of them would take note!

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