With summer on the horizon, hotels and resorts are rolling out the red carpet to lure families for a weekend, week or longer. Here are five options:
Kids stay free at Occidental Hotels & Resorts. Explore exotic island locations of the hotels, such as Aruba, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic. The family can enjoy water sports, splashing in the sea and relaxing by the pool. Check out the Riviera Maya in Mexico, where snorkeling is superb and nearby Mayan ruins add a learning opportunity. Rates are all-inclusive and kids younger than 12 stay free. The offer is good for stays through Dec. 17. For more information, call 800-858-2258 or visit www.occidentalhotels.com/occidental/specials_main.asp
Explore New Orleans. Take in a terrific trio of options when you visit the Big Easy. From now through Aug. 31, stay at the centrally located New Orleans Marriott and opt for the Audubon Trio Getaway, which includes breakfast for two adults and two children and a choice of four tickets to the Audubon Zoo, Aquarium of the Americas or Audubon Insectarium. If time allows, take in the New Orleans Children's Museum. When booking, use rate code EB5. Contact: 888-364-1200; www.neworleansmarriott.com or www.auduboninstitute.org
VIP experience. From stretch limousine transportation to a private hot-air balloon tour, the three-night Red Carpet Package at Villas of Grand Cypress Golf Resort in Orlando, Fla., promises to make everyone in the family feel like rock stars. Relax in a luxurious two-bedroom villa before heading to Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando or SeaWorld for the day. During the stay, parents can play golf and enjoy a massage while the kids get top-notch treatment at the property's Kids Camp. 877-330-7376; www.grandcypress.com
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Classic gatherings. Your entire clan will enjoy this Virginia resort's sailing school, kid-friendly par-3 golf course, pool and classic games such as croquet, volleyball and shuffleboard. A favorite for multigenerational gatherings, the 106-room Tides Inn is on a waterfront peninsula on Virginia's Northern Neck. Families can now plan their get-togethers around themes such as nautical, ancestral, active or wellness, thus providing a cohesive program for a reunion or family weekend. 800-843-3746; www.tidesinn.com
A royal experience. If you have yet to see the King Tut exhibit, consider making it the centerpiece of a family trip to the Big Apple, its final stop before returning to Egypt. The Westin New York at Times Square is offering VIP access to the pharaoh's treasures; you'll get front-of- the-line access without the limitation of timed entrances or blackout dates. Located at the Discovery Times Square Exposition, just minutes from the hotel, you and your family will see more than 120 artifacts. 212-201-2700; www.westinny.com. or www.discoverytsx.com