Children are a tough crowd to please, especially when it comes to keeping 'tweens and teens entertained on vacation. Tour operators, hotels and cruises have responded by creating customized programs and activities specifically catering to these age groups.
"We've noticed teens are playing a much larger role in the whole vacation-planning process," said Beth O'Donnell, general manager of Thomson Family Adventures, a tour company based in Massachusetts. "Their academic studies tend to influence where they want to travel."
Thomson offers a range of family trips that highlight 'tween and teen multi-sport adventures to Iceland, Peru, southern Italy and Costa Rica. As part of the travel experience, children can participate in the Friends Across Borders program, where they are paired with pen pals in their vacation destinations. Once in-country, the outfitter arranges meetings, with activities from salsa dancing to cooking lessons, at no extra cost.
The adventure outfitter Intrepid Travel offers a 10% discount for guests 17 and younger, as well as a dedicated line of teenage-specific itineraries.
Over the past year, the company has seen a 58% increase in bookings for families with teenagers; Vietnam, Botswana and the Pyrenees rank as top sellers for this demographic.
Before a trip, the family-focused travel company Global Community sends its younger guests age-appropriate packages containing culturally specific music playlists, books and movies to familiarize them with destinations such as India, Jordan and Kenya, and tailors on-the-ground activities based on their interests.
Hotels and resorts
Hotels are also introducing experiences expressly designed for 'tweens and teens. Peninsula Papagayo, a 1,400-acre private resort community on Costa Rica's northwest coast, recently launched "Camp Jaguar" for the guests 12 to 16 staying at Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica, Andaz Costa Rica Resort at Peninsula Papagayo, and private homes on the peninsula.
The camp encompasses three full-day programs focusing on survival skills, water safety skills and mountain biking adventures centered on conservation.
Travelers from 6 to 14 staying at three of Resplendent Ceylon's Sri Lankan hotels can take advantage of newly launched "Junior Explorers" program. Activities range from baking classes and tea-blending sessions to mask-painting workshops. The program also includes botany classes, nature walks and other ranger activities, including learning how to track and identify local animal species.
On the water, clubs dedicated to teens and 'tweens are nothing new for a number of cruise lines. Carnival Cruises hosts dance parties and outdoor movies at its Circle "C" 'tween club and organizes karaoke jam sessions for teenagers at its Club O2. Select Disney cruise ships offer Edge and Vibe, its 'tween- and teen-focused clubs, while Princess Cruises recently began new age-specific activities at its various kids' clubs in partnership with the Discovery channel.
Travel on 05/26/2019