We've always stressed the importance for parents to get away on their own while on a family vacation, even if it's just for an hour. Which is why we often book resorts with kids clubs on-site and why we created our very own Babysitter Directory to consult when staying at different hotels across the U.S.
But during our stay last June at the picture-perfect Four Seasons Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo, we encountered a situation we've never been in before—our kids didn't want to hang out with us. They wanted to hang out at the Kids For All Seasons kids club instead. We weren't quite sure what to do. This was our family vacation, after all. But if it meant more time for us to selfishly sip on spicy margaritas at the adults-only pool, how could we complain? Besides, the club does close at 5:30 p.m. so the kids would have to hang out with us after that.
Here's what made the Kids For All Seasons so captivating for our little travelers:
The Children's Centre: The kids club has its own separate area below the Sol y Sambra restaurant with a small outdoor playground, a covered outdoor games area and a spacious indoor facility filled with toys, books, arts and crafts, a movie area, and plenty of more space to hang out and relax. The club also has its own shallow-water pool which is perfect for toddlers and new swimmers. If their children aren't signed up for the kids club, parents are allowed to take their kids down to this pool, and the club, at anytime so long as they stay to supervise them.
Eco Camp Papagayo: The eco-camp, offered seasonally, has a weekly schedule of events involving activities around the property and at the kids club, such as hikes along the beach, treasure hunts, birdwatching, and crafts with local materials. The kids also get some downtime in the club, especially when it rains (which happens frequently in the spring/summer months), by watching a movie or free time to play with the toys. At the end of the week, or your last day, the kids get a special KFAS camp t-shirt and a certificate of completion.
The Staffers: Our girls were so attached to the staffers, even after just one day. They would give them big hugs when they arrived and when they left. Not only did this help the girls ease into the kids club, but it was a great peace of mind for us parents knowing that the kids were genuinely happy at the camp. We parents also liked how accommodating and flexible the camp and staffers were. We could drop in at anytime and pick up at anytime too.
Best of all, the kids club is complimentary with your stay at the resort. Even more daily activities are offered at the resort, for adults and for kids, although most require sign-up early in the morning and a few cost extra.
Other fun kid-friendly touches at the resort include animal jewelry that kids get at the Sol y Sambra poolside restaurant, stickers that spell out their names on the shower walls, kid-sized robes, and kids menu at every restaurant. (Also, kids under five dine free.)
And for families with babies, most restrooms at the resort have a special "diaper cabinet" that comes with a few different sizes of diapers and a box of wipes. So you don't necessarily need to carry your diaper bag around. (Although, we know you will.)
Another nice touch at The Four Seasons Costa Rica? They have a vareity of volunteer programs that you can participate in, including the Backpack Buddy where guests donate a backpack filled with your favorite school supplies.
Rates at the Four Seasons range from about $875 a night in January to $575 a night in June.
How We Got There: We flew Southwest Airlines from Los Angeles to Libreria, which is a five-hour flight. The resort offers a round-trip airport transfer, which takes about an hour each way.
OTHER STORIES YOU MIGHT LIKE: