Image: Paradise Resort Gold Coast
Image: Paradise Resort Gold Coast

What makes a resort “family friendly”?

A friend of ours recently returned from a holiday in Fiji and wasn’t impressed by the ‘family friendly’ resort that his young family stayed at during the trip. Despite the extraordinarily high price tag, poorly maintained facilities, stodgy food and less than average service were his main gripes.

The thing is though; this isn’t the first time I’ve heard complaints like these – several friends have had similar experiences all across the world.

So what’s the problem? Are the resorts not as they advertised, do they not understand the needs of families, are people’s expectations too high, or do we all just have a different idea of what makes a resort family friendly?

I put out a call on social media and it seems everyone has their own take on what makes a place family friendly. It also turns out a resort which ticks all the boxes is about as elusive as Bigfoot – often searched for, rarely sighted.

A few followers have been lucky, but others have been left less than impressed. The biggest issues for many were the playground and crèche facilities, or lack thereof. An X-box in a small room, a kid’s club does not make. It’s simply not enough to place a slide or swing set in the full sun and market yourself as family friendly. You need a more wholistic approach.

Paradise Resort on the Gold Coast and East Hotel in Canberra were singled out as properties that seem to ‘get’ children and the needs of parents.

For our parental friends, the essential features of a family friendly resort are:

  • Kids club with a mix of digital and non-digital toys
  • Kids meals available throughout the day
  • Babysitting service with trained staff
  • Pool facilities specifically for kids
  • Safe balconies
  • No breakable items within reach
  • Access to cots and high chairs

The ‘nice to have’ features are:

  • All-you-can-eat buffet for the kids
  • Scheduled activities such as arts and craft, cooking classes

If this is what people want, surely it can’t be hard for resorts to deliver. Perhaps it’s time for a shakeup in the industry or maybe more stringent tests on what is needed to create a truly family friendly experience.

What are your family friendly essentials?

Written by
Chris Ashton

We're Chris Ashton and Simon Ceglinski, two Aussie travellers with a love of exploration and adventure, and the odd bit of luxury thrown in. We seek out street art, street food, and scuba diving wherever we go, and prefer the road less travelled over well-worn tourist paths.

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Written by Chris Ashton