These new hotels have family amenities like kid snacks, special pools, a zoo location and personal horses.

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U.S. hotels have long appealed to families with children’s play areas and special menus — but then suggested accommodations in grand suites or adjoining rooms to handle the clan.

Now the hospitality industry is catching up to family demand, as well as to European resorts where triple or quad rooms, often booked by families, are common.

Whether your family expects to travel domestically this summer or further afield, the following new and improved hotels and resorts offer more than just shelter. You might find a lion next door, your own horse or s’mores at evening bonfires.


Summercamp, Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.

Named in homage to the Methodist camp meetings held in the cottage-filled Oak Bluffs area since the early 1800s, the new 95-room Summercamp Hotel has revitalized the 19th-century Wesley Hotel. Its bright, playful décor features nostalgic accents such as wall-mounted vintage tennis rackets and archery bows.

Porches wrap the hotel, but for those who want more action, there’s Ping-Pong, Twister, movie screenings in the recreation hall and cornhole games on the lawn. The hotel lacks a restaurant but stocks its Camp Canteen with retro snacks including Cracker Jacks, penny candy and Dreamsicles. Rooms from $149.

Opal Sands Resort, Clearwater, Fla.

Beach-loving families will find Gulf of Mexico views from all of the 230 rooms at the shorefront Opal Sands Resort, each done in tones of driftwood and sea blue.

Chairs and cabanas are available for rent at the beach, where the shallow and often calm water attracts swimmers. There’s also a zero-entry pool, which gradually slopes deeper, like a natural beach, and poolside food service. Other restaurants include the Italian Sea-Guini, which has a pasta-making station, and the beachside Sandbar, with live music on weekends. Rooms from $269.

Harborside Hotel, Spa & Marina, Bar Harbor, Maine

A deck at the Harborside Hotel, Spa & Marina in Bar Harbor, Maine. It has five Kids’ Suites, which include a separate room with a bunk bed, TV, DVD player and video game console. (Harborside Hotel)
A deck at the Harborside Hotel, Spa & Marina in Bar Harbor, Maine. It has five Kids’ Suites, which include a separate room with a bunk bed, TV, DVD player and video game console. (Harborside Hotel)

A convenient base for exploring nearby Acadia National Park or taking a whale-watching or lobstering tour in family friendly Bar Harbor, Harborside Hotel, Spa & Marina offers country-club-style amenities with a casual spirit.

Guests have access to the Bar Harbor Club, with an oceanfront swimming pool, tennis courts and a club for children 5 to 12. Located in town, the resort is within walking distance of shops and restaurants and frequently hosts evening bonfires with s’mores. Rooms from $239.

Home Ranch, Clark, Colo.

Offering an all-inclusive vacation with a western accent, dude ranches not only have horseback riding but plenty of wide open space for children to roam. The Home Ranch near Steamboat Springs in northwestern Colorado assigns each member of the family (ages 6 and up) a horse for the week.

Rugged activities such as hiking and fly fishing are balanced by resort-like amenities including a heated outdoor pool. Accommodations include lodge rooms and log cabins. Rates from $6,920 for two people for seven nights, the minimum stay in the summer.


Château St. Pierre de Serjac, Languedoc Region, France

Thoughts of a family vacation don’t usually bring a French wine estate to mind. But the Château St. Pierre de Serjac in the Languedoc region, fresh from a two-year, $31 million renovation, caters to families with a heated pool, loaner bikes and, in July and August, a kids’ club and supervised children’s dinners.

The 19th-century chateau, on 200 acres with vineyards and orchards, houses eight guest rooms. Several outbuildings, including the stables and barns, have been repurposed to host 36 apartments with two to four bedrooms or stand-alone homes with private pools. The larger accommodations include full kitchens, but the property also offers a restaurant and bar. Rooms from 295 euros (about $325).

Gir Lion Lodge, London

Gir Lion Lodge in London lets families stay overnight in the ZSL London Zoo. (ZSL London Zoo)
Gir Lion Lodge in London lets families stay overnight in the ZSL London Zoo. (ZSL London Zoo)

Many zoos offer occasional camp-outs to sleep near the animals. But this summer the ZSL London Zoo is introducing Gir Lion Lodge, nine cottages available for overnight stays near the habitat of the Asiatic lions of the Gir Forest of India.

Residency comes with two meals — dinner and breakfast — and guided walks in the zoo, including tours at sunset, at night by flashlight and in the morning before the zoo opens.

Overnights are available six nights each week from May 25 through December and will run from February through December in 2017. Children must be 5 or older. Rates start at 378 pounds for two (about $550), with each additional child 50 pounds.

Hilton at Resorts World Bimini, Bimini Island, Bahamas

On the slim, 7-mile-long island of North Bimini, about 50 miles south of Miami, the main modes of transportation are golf cart and bike. Explore it from the new 305-room Hilton at Resorts World Bimini, opening June 2016, with three pools, including a lazy river and a rooftop pool, and six restaurants.

Beachcombing, snorkeling and diving are the real attractions, and the resort also offers kayaking, paddleboarding and a kids’ club. Families can tour the Bimini Sharklab, a biological research station, to view juvenile lemon and nurse sharks. Rooms from $229.