When planning a family vacation, it can be all too easy to default to Disney, or some other kid-pleasing no-brainer. But consider an Asian adventure instead. Each of these 17 hotels — in Bali, Thailand, China, Vietnam, the United Arab Emirates, and the Maldives — offers outstanding amenities for kids (think: snorkeling, camel rides, and water parks). Check out our list of the best kid-friendly hotels throughout Asia, and break out of the road-trip rut.
Reopened in 2009 as a five-pearl property, Lily Beach Resort & Spa is a romantic and family-friendly spot with a true all-inclusive plan that covers meals, drinks, and activities. The stylish and spacious rooms have outdoor bathrooms with whirlpool tubs, outdoor decks with direct ocean or beach access, and amenities from suntan lotion and aloe vera to stocked minibars to large flat-screen TVs. Family-friendly features include a kids' buffet, family pool with adjacent kiddy pool, and a supervised indoor/outdoor activity center where kids can shoot hoops, climb through the playground, and socialize with other kids. Daily activities -- such as hermit crab hunting, movie screenings with snacks, snorkeling trips, and crafts -- can be adapted to fit the interests and ages of kids attending.
The five-pearl Pullman Phuket Arcadia Resort is alone in its class in this part of Phuket. Accessed via a single, windy road that also leads to Naithon Beach and a national park, the hotel is far from any other properties. Both families and couples adore this hotel for its gorgeous design details, extra-comfortable rooms, and infinity-edge pool overlooking the Andaman Sea. The free kids' club includes an indoor classroom with toys, arts-and-crafts materials, and a ball pit. Staff organizes a daily calendar of activities like tie-dye, kids' yoga, fish feeding, and pool games. Babysitting is available for a fee. The natural beach is stunning, but the water can get a little rough at certain times of the year, and steep steps to the beach may be difficult for little ones to traverse. Staff is available to drive guests around the resort in small buggies. Rates are generally low for all this luxury, and include Wi-Fi and airport transfers.
JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa is one of the most luxurious resorts in Phuket (with a price tag to match). The tropical grounds and friendly service are almost impeccable. There are 12 distinct restaurants and bars and a fun kids' club with a trampoline, pool table, and video games. The ocean-facing Main Pool has small waterslides cascading from a pagoda-style hut, statues of turtles and elephants, and bubbling fountains in the shallow end. Contemporary rooms include balconies and mini-fridges, while the Villa has a private pool. A downside is that the beach isn't suitable for swimming.
The 208-suite luxury JA Palm Tree Court offers enormous rooms in a villa-style setting within beautifully landscaped grounds along a private beach. The sophisticated yet laid-back resort is well outside central Dubai, but it has plenty of entertainment and dining choices on-site, along with golf and water sports, three swimming pools with swim-up bars, a spa, and fitness center. Families will find loads of kid-friendly features, including in-room PlayStations and separate kiddy pools. The hotel has a CoolZone and a ChillZone, for kids and teens respectively, as well as horse and pony rides and day care.
Just a 20-minute boat ride from the airport, Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa is a five-pearl luxury property with a village-like vibe. The small island is home to 176 rooms, an oceanside spa, contemporary fitness center with tennis court, dive center, free non-motorized water sports, a lagoon-style pool and kids' pool, and several bars and restaurants. A dedicated activity space -- free for kids four to 12 years old -- has a playroom with activities and crafts and an outdoor area with a playground, small adventure course, sandcastle-making station, and igloo with built-in seating.
Built in 2012, this Thai-style resort is one of the best all-around luxury picks in the Maldives. Highlights include 108 attractive waterfront rooms, great food, a large infinity pool, and an excellent house reef. Dusit Thani is pricey (for good reason), but it also includes nice freebies such as snorkeling gear, kayaks, Wi-Fi, daily yoga classes, a kids' club with playground, and in-room Nespresso machines. Babysitting services are available for a fee. The resort’s biggest drawback is its out-of-the-way location, at least 35 minutes from Male Airport by plane.
This 377-room luxury property is considered by many to be the most exclusive hotel in Abu Dhabi. Located a short drive from downtown, the property feels removed from the hustle and bustle, but is still near tourist attractions on Saadiyat Island. Guests receive personal butler service and have access to a private white sand beach. Facilities are beautiful and extensive, and include a spa with mosaic tile hot tubs, four restaurants, and four outdoor pools. Rooms are large and all have balconies with great views. Family-friendly perks include a kids' club, children's pool with a cave and waterslide, and children’s menus in the on-site restaurants (which some guests complain are expensive, but that's to be expected in a hotel of this caliber).
One of the best resorts in Nusa Dua, The St. Regis Bali Resort is a luxury property with a lot to love. The classically elegant atmosphere is set by a style that blends Old World and contemporary accents, while luxe amenities include excellent dining options, private butler service, and a private beach with water sports. The children's education center and kids' pool make this property a great choice for families. The 123 spacious suites and villas include marble bathrooms, plush beds, large flat-screen TVs, and balconies -- some even have private pools and ocean views.
The 369-room luxury Fairmont Bab Al Bahr is a high-end, exclusive hotel with fantastic views of Abu Dhabi’s Grand Mosque. The location might suit business travelers best, but the hotel offers a free shuttle to popular attractions. The hotel's architecture is ultra-modern, and the lagoon-style pool feels like an oasis for princes and sheiks. Rooms are stylish and luxe, with gorgeous Gulf views. The Fairmont Bab Al Bahr offers activities for teens and kids, including swimming lessons, team sports, paddleboard, kayak, and sandcastle-building on the hotel’s private beach, which includes a designated kids’ area.
The Santiburi Golf, Resort & Spa, with its 45 acres of palm gardens, is one of the poshest, most pampering resorts on the island of Samui, and possibly in all of Thailand. This five-pearl property, with its pristine and lovely beachfront, is located on Mae Nam Beach in the northern part of the island. The villas and one- and two-bedroom duplexes are Thai-inspired and contemporary, and come packed with amenities. There's a huge swimming pool, a kids' pool with activities and a small petting zoo, a sports complex with a tennis court, Thai boxing, billiards, mountain bikes, and yoga, plus three fancy restaurants and several bars.
Al Raha Beach Hotel is a luxury property built in 2005, with 254 rooms across two buildings, as well as 24 villas. It’s on a private beach, although fans of natural beauty will be disappointed as there’s no sweeping sea view here -- merely a creek and a man-made wall. The location is a little isolated as it’s out of downtown Abu Dhabi, but the hotel provides free shuttles to the malls, and free car parking too. There are good facilities on-site, including a great spa, large pools, and five restaurants. Guest rooms here are large, with minibars and generously sized bathtubs, but nothing special in terms of decor. The hotel is a good option for families, as it provides kids' menus in the restaurants, a free kids' club, and a separate children's pool.
The 294-room Al Qasr is a seriously upscale, Arabian palace-style hotel with stunning interiors set in the exclusive Madinat Jumeirah resort in central Dubai. Comprising of lovely canal-like waterways and manicured tropical gardens that lead to a mile-long beach, the grounds are particularly impressive, as is the almost innumerable selection of facilities (a rock-climbing wall, spa, and fitness center, among them). The kids' club provides entertainment and activities, as well as extensive play areas and pools. Families also have free access to the Wild Wadi Water Park, which can be access directly by one of the resorts many water taxis. While rooms suitably reflect the hotel's deluxe pedigree, the vastness of the resort can mean sluggish service and dining get very expensive. However, for guests who can afford this lavish hotel's room rates, that may not pose an issue.
The 704-room Shangri-La Hotel Guangzhou is an enormous high-rise hotel on 12 acres of manicured grounds. The five-pearl hotel overlooks the Zhujiang River and is within walking distance to Canton Fair, but it’s far from the central business district. Classically designed rooms and suites feature marble bathrooms with soaking tubs, flat-screen TVs, and floor-to-ceiling windows with Pearl River views in some. There are multiple restaurants (breakfast is free for Horizon Club guests), two bars, a state-of-the-art gym, and rooftop tennis courts. In addition to the adjacent kiddy pool, children can play in the colorful kids' club, which has an indoor area and an outdoor playground, set in the hotel's gardens.
Perched on a clifftop above a lovely sandy beach, family-friendly Karma Kandara is one of southern Bali’s most luxurious resorts. It offers 54 stunning multi-room villas set in private gardens with infinity pools, all featuring full kitchens, outdoor dining areas, and upscale amenities such as free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, and outdoor showers. The gorgeous, serene grounds include two pools (one of them overlooking the ocean), a spa with cliffside massage huts, a Mediterranean restaurant, and a rooftop bar with views. The kids’ club is open to kids between two and 11 years old, and offers a wide array of activities, including arts and crafts, swimming, and family-friendly excursions. The highlight here is the hip beach club, complete with cabanas and a restaurant, and accessed via a funicular.
Located in the Liwa Desert about two hours outside of Abu Dhabi, the five-pearl Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara is a peaceful escape located in the middle of sprawling red sand dunes. The classic Arabian architecture and upscale vibe gives it a royal feel, as do the spacious 206 rooms which feature flat-screen TVs and DVD players along with deep-soaking tubs and separate showers. There are three restaurants and a large outdoor pool surrounded by abundant lounge chairs and palm trees framed by desert views beyond. A colorful kids' club includes a reading/activity room with supervision, as well as a fabulous indoor playground with a trampoline and jungle gym, while a teens' club with a pool table, foosball, and a big flat-screen TV makes a nice private hangout. The hotel can organize desert excursions, including camel treks. Note rooms are cheaper in the summer months, when the desert can get unbearably hot.
The five-pearl Evason Ana Mandara Nha Trang offers 74 luxurious rooms at the only true beachfront resort in Nha Trang. The resort fuses traditional Vietnamese accents and contemporary design, and is set amid lovely tropical gardens. All rooms feature private terraces with garden or beach views, and some have outdoor showers and tubs. There are ample chances to relax or stay active, with a wide sandy (and well-maintained) beach, a spa, two outdoor pools, and plenty of on-site activities, like water sports, tennis, and biking. The kids' club keeps the little ones entertained with a variety of supervised activities, and two on-site restaurants have lovely sea views.
Built in 2012, the 224-room Phuket Panwa Beachfront Resort is a sleek, five-pearl property with stylish and contemporary decor. The location is on the remote side, with little to do in the area (and taxis can be expensive) but there are two quality restaurants on-site. Minimal rooms are modern and appealing with furnished balconies; some lovely suites have pool access. The beach may be a let-down, as it’s on the slim side and not especially impressive, but there are water sports available, including snorkeling, windsurfing, and kayaking (it's possible to paddle to the nearby islands of Tapao Yai and Tapao Noi). Plus, the resort's two pools, surrounded by tropical gardens, are stunning. Children aged four to 10 can attend the free kids' club, which offers art and craft activities and games. For an extra fee, babysitting can be booked for younger children.