Bring a sense of humour for the celebration of Holi, "the festival of colors" and one of India's oldest.
Ventours: Camel Fairs, Horse Safaris and Colorful Festivals
Holi – that Indian festival of love, sharing, laughter and color, color, color – is perfect for families of all ages. Kids and parents alike will have a marvelous time playing with colors while dressed all in white – the more colorful they get, the better! The team at Ventours can easily arrange for vacations that include festivals such as this, giving the getaway a celebratory feel.
During the Pushkar Camel Fair in November in Rajasthan, tribes and camel breeders congregate to sell and trade camels, quite a sight to see, with culture, music, animals and local villagers. It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience all will remember.
In Jaipur, Ventours suggests a day at Der Amer, the estate of Udaijit Singh, set in the forested Kukas Valley behind the historic Amber Fort. The highlight is a ride on an elephant through the Rajasthani countryside, passing small hamlets and old temples. This is an opportunity to commune with these gentle giants, feeding them, bathing them and even painting them with natural colors.
Horseback riding is a must for children (and adults) who love animals and with Ventours’ connections, it’s easy to create a horse safari along the Aravalli Hills, geologically one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world. Guests ride Indian Marwari horses, the former mounts of the Maharajas and princes of India, over the fertile plains and wild savannahs of Western Malwa and down into the vast expanse of the Rajasthani Bagar, the semi-desert surrounding the Thar Desert.
MEXICO AND THE YUCATÁN
Catherwood Travels knows all the best routes for biking through colonial towns and villages.
Catherwood Travels: Whale Sharks, Cenotes & Expert Cooks
Share stories and make new memories during a family gathering on the Yucatán Peninsula, with all the details left to our friends at Catherwood Travels. Instead of worrying about the wheres and whens, family members of all generations may focus on the region’s archaeology, history, arts, design, nature, wildlife, wellness or culture.
Catherwood knows the best routes for biking through colonial towns and villages and the countryside, leading to crystalline cenotes or ancient Maya pyramids. Between May and September, guests can swim with gentle whale sharks. Fiestas are a way of life throughout the year, as nearly every town in the Yucatán celebrates patron saints and municipal anniversaries with everything from solemn processions to fireworks and food, food, food!
Where to spend the nights as a family? Private Haciendas has amassed a collection of residences where modern appointments combine with historic charm. Gather in the kitchen to learn the art of handmade corn tortillas from your private cook and pick up a few words in Maya and Spanish along the way.
For large family reunions, consider Hacienda Itzincab Cámara with its spacious grounds, private space for individual families (anywhere from five to 14 bedrooms may be booked), large public rooms, full staff and menus tailored to guests’ preferences. They’ll even arrange a football match with local children, artisan workshops, birdwatching excursions and more. Families leave invigorated and more connected than ever.
With special family villas, beaches and safaris, Wild Coast Tented Lodge Yala opens in August.
Resplendent Ceylon: Leopards, Whale Watching & Night Safaris
Resplendent Ceylon is proud to announce the August 2017 opening of Wild Coast Tented Lodge Yala, near the greatest concentration of leopards anywhere in the world. Special family-friendly villas are among the 28 luxurious tented suites offering modern amenities in the midst of a safari-style wilderness experience – all next to a fabulous beach.
At Cape Weligama, all ages can set out on a deluxe whale safari to see whales and dolphins in the Indian Ocean while enjoying an opportunity to stand up paddleboard and dip into the clear blue ocean. Other memorable days could include surf lessons, kayaking through secluded coves, or day trips to Uda Walawe national park to glimpse elephants and sloth bears.
Cape Weligama welcomes families to its stunning two-story villas with expansive ocean views, massive bedrooms, sitting rooms, large and luxurious bathrooms, private swimming pools, outdoor terraces, complimentary minibar and butler service.
Tea Trails has some not-to-be-missed wildlife programs, including a night safari led by the resort’s lead naturalist to look for the fishing cat, various amphibians, sleeping lizards and maybe wild boar! Visitors can become intimately involved with the conservation activities, including monitoring remote camera and observing data collected – a unique experience for kiddos.
AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALAND
Bindi and Robert Irwin, children of "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin, at the family's 100-acre Australia Zoo in Queensland, where kids can hand-feed kangaroos and lemurs to their hearts' content. Photo: Australia Zoo
Southern Crossings: Coral Reefs, Crocodiles and Sheep Farms
When it’s time to go truly big, your family clients will be in the best possible hands with Southern Crossings. Start in the beautiful harbour city of Sydney, where Southern Crossings can arrange private day touring experiences which incorporate interactive indigenous art classes, family-friendly sightseeing treasure-hunts, or boating on Sydney Harbour with the opportunity to swim, fish, snorkel and kayak, then enjoy a delicious gourmet lunch.
Melbourne has major attractions like a giant observation wheel and zoo, but it's also the gateway to enchanting day trips to see little penguins waddle up the sands at Philip Island; a steam-train through beautiful bushlands combined with unique wildlife encounters at the Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary; and wine tasting (and a delicious ice creamery) in the Yarra Valley.
In Tropical Far North Queensland, sailing trips to the Great Barrier Reef include options to snorkel, swim or view the corals from a glass bottom boat. Meanwhile, four-wheel-drive tours head into ancient rainforests to see giant flightless casowaries and enormous crocodiles. Just an hour south of Port Douglas, Cairns offers every thrill imaginable: whitewater rafting, bungee jumping, ziplining, skydiving and scenic helicopter flights over the reef.
In New Zealand, local families adore the national park system for hiking, kayaking and mountain biking. Hear what all the fuss is about when your clients return home raving about Abel Tasman’s rugged coastline and the irresistible seal colony at Tonga Island. High-country farmers welcome visitors to follow the journey of merino wool in a fun, interactive, hands-on environment, with a visit to the sheep yards to see the farm guide and sheep dogs in action.
Not to be missed is Rotorua, the heartland of New Zealand’s Maori culture and home to incredible earth forces – steaming lakes, bubbling hot pools, bursting geysers – as well as endangered and native flora and fauna. Helicopter tours over simmering White Island (an almost constantly active volcano) are a hit, as is mountain biking through the renowned Whakarewarewa (redwood) forest.
And to be sure, Tolkien fans won’t want to leave without a stop in Hobbiton for a two-hour guided tour through the set, completely rebuilt and seen as it appeared in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film trilogies.
“My First Ball" at Château de Versailles takes place the evening after a Grand Masked Ball for adults.
Découvertes: A Candy Palace, Magicians and "My First Ball"
As diverse as the families you love, France is a patchwork quilt of experiences for young and old. Where else can one find a veritable palace of candy? Allow Découvertes to indulge all ages of sweet tooth at Le Bonbon au Palais, a small Parisian shop in a former 1950s classroom – and today a treasure box of delicious confections from every region of France. Delight in old-style candies, candied fruit, chocolates, calissons and more.
Begin a day of sightseeing with a family brunch at Ô Restaurant, the largest overwater restaurant in Europe. Here, in a boat-style ambience, a magician will entertain the tykes with sparks and laughs while the copious buffet will fill them up for a day of wandering the city.
For those with a curious mind – that’s most children we know – there’s a private tour and treasure hunt at the quirky Museum of Hunting & Nature, where kids will discover the world of each animal through observation, riddles and drawings.
While our friends at Découvertes have much more family fun up their sleeves, one of our favorites is the chance to thrill your princesses- and princes-to-be with a “My First Ball” experience at the Orangerie of Château de Versailles. Children will come dressed in their favorite gowns, wander the lovely gardens with their adult companion (dressed in white), then dance the evening away. It takes place the evening after an adults' Grand Masked Ball, masterminded by the brilliant Kamel Ouali.