Question: Mom in NYC We are looking for the following vacation criteria – thank you in advance for your help!
- Less than 3-hour direct flight at reasonable times from New York (preference Newark Airport)
- Likely great weather in December (Christmas-New Years time)
- Super-luxury hotel
- A range of food options onsite
- Excellent service
- Short ride from airport
- GREAT for YOUNG kids (1 and 3 years old)
- Has many fun activities for kids
- OK to bring kids to meals
- Everything in walking distance, or nearby enough that strollers work for the youngest child (1-year-old)
Answer: Will Begeny, Oyster’s Senior EditorThank you, NYC luxury mom, for your specificity—this is just the kind of question a hotel expert lives for. To match the efficiency of your request, I’ll forego the wordiness and get right to business:
Option 1: One and Only Ocean Club; Paradise Island, The Bahamas
Outclassing the already upscale Atlantis mega resort (its sister hotel, right next door), the considerably more intimate One and Only Ocean Club easily fits into that “super-luxury” category—personal butlers, a tranquil spa, a world-class golf course, an exceptional restaurant helmed by the esteemed Chef Jean Georges Vongerichten, and amazing gardens that culminate in a reconstructed 13th-century Augustinian Cloisters (shipped over, piece by piece) are just a few of its highlights. But even with all its peace and exclusivity, it’s also an excellent place to bring a young family, given its superb beachfront, ideal pool, and themepark’s worth of attractions next door.
- 3-hour direct flights from Newark or JFK to Nassau; 25-minute drive from there
- Average high for December: 78⁰
- Enormous suites as well as multi-room residencies and cottages available
- Shallow, zero-entry pool for kids
- Free car service to incredible pools, an aquarium, and 14 excellent restaurants (many with kids’ menus) at the Atlantis Resort—no dragging a stroller needed; just call for your driver.
- Safe, shallow beach for young swimmers (only very slight waves)
- Baby-sitting services by CPR-certified childcare providers
- Smaller-scale resort, just 105 rooms, so it’s easy to get from the rooms to the pool and the impeccable beachfront.
Fisher Island: a lush, exclusive private island with residences for the very rich (highest per capita income in the U.S.) and a 45-room hotel; that’s all. It has history, charm, and amenities by the boatload—multiple pools, a huge fitness center and spa, two marinas, a nine-hole golf course, and a gorgeous tennis center. It’s just 15-20 minutes from South Beach (10 minutes by ferry, plus five minutes by car) but it feels like taking a trip back in time. Peacocks freely roam the lush grounds. The original Vanderbuilt Mansion is still intact and houses two of the island’s restaurants, where genteel waiters in tuxedos see to guests’ every wish. But amidst all this hushed luxury, the atmosphere is still very laid-back, casual, and a fine place to bring a one- and three-year-old.
- 3-hour (or less) direct flight from Newark to Miami; 15-minute ride to the ferry terminal, five minutes to the hotel from there
- Average high for December: 83⁰
- Huge residencies and villas available—most just a short walk from all major activities
- Among the seven on-site restaurants, the Beach Club restaurant has a children’s menu. The simple fare at the City View Cafe and the moderately priced pizza at La Trattoria are also kid-friendly.
- Isolated beachfront that’s excellent for young swimmers
- Exceptionally safe community
- Special requests are accommodated without fuss—whether it’s a babysitter or a blue cheese olive for a martini
- Relatively easy access (just a ferry ride, plus a short drive) to Miami’s major family attractions, like the Children’s Museum or the Jungle Island theme park (both ideal for a preschooler)
- Quiet and relaxing (but not snooty) atmosphere that better suits grown-ups and very young children — unlike the more bustling kid-oriented mega-resorts in Miami that target families with elementary-age kids, like the Loews Miami Beach or the Fontainebleau.
Drawing everyone from Queen Elizabeth to 50 Cent to a good share of Oyster’s staff on personal vacations—including our president, his wife, and his two-year-old daughter—Half Moon strives for timeless, understated luxury (even at the swim-up bar). In its entirety, the 400-room resort stretches over 400 acres (including two miles of beach). But because the hotel provides golf carts for guests to use around the massive property, its size is really an advantage — If your baby cries at the beach, you don’t have to worry about scowling honeymooners.
- It’s about a 4-hour flight from Newark to Montego Bay (it’s outside your 3-hour time restriction, I know, but I just had to recommend this hotel). At Montego Bay airport, the hotel has its own lounge and a direct, 15-minute long shuttle to the hotel (so you don’t have to sweat finding a taxi).
- Average high for December: 82⁰
- While you can’t go wrong with the two-story Hibiscus Suite, the celebrities (like L.L. Cool J and his kids) opt for the private cottages that have their own private pool and a private chef who can make just about anything to satisfy a picky eater.
- Kids under 16 eat and sleep for free!
- Full time nannies on staff
- Exceptionally calm waters—no scary currents to sweep your three-year-old away—and plenty of shells for collecting along the beach. The hotel even provides sand toys, so you don’t have to bring your own.
- Exceptional kids activities on-site — brand new playground; shallow kiddie pool; mini-golf course; horseback riding; a private dolphin cove
- Excellent food from a wide variety of restaurants, and most restaurants also have a separate kid’s menu.
- Upscale shopping center on-site; you’ll never have to leave the resort
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