Lynn O'Rourke Hayes

Lynn O'Rourke Hayes

  Look to 

FamilyTravel.com

for ideas and inspiration.

 

These are challenging times for those of us who love to travel. We hope we'll feel comfortable hitting the road (or flying the friendly skies) soon. Until then, we wish you and your families well.

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After more than two decades of providing family travel resources, we are proud of editorial focus and travel-friendly design. Whether you’re an armchair traveler, a city seeker, a National Park explorer or a global adventurer, we want to be your wellspring of Family Travel information and inspiration!

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Our table in the cocktail lounge is conveniently situated with a clear view of the promenade. Offering more promise than the yellow brick road, the wide, tiled pathway leads from the nearby hotel towers to the main lobby, then beyond to restaurants, shops and casinos. People watching has rarely been so compelling.

Thigh high leather, flowing caftans, plunging necklines, sparkling jewels and hair piled high; the women, from teens to aging beauties, have clearly taken their time to prepare for the evening ahead. Smiling, and exuberant, they chat enthusiastically, clicking by in Sarah Jessica Parker inspired footwear.

And the men.

They too have taken time to style. Strolling tall in designer duds, tan and bright eyed, they are eager to enjoy all this glittering resort has to offer.

Atlantis.

It brings out the peacock in all of us. Whether you choose to strut your stuff in the celebrity infused restaurants and casinos or on the beach with the kids, you’ll find plenty of bright spots to color your stay.

Created by hotel luminary Sol Kerzner and designed after the mythical lost Continent of Atlantis, this is where tropical chill meets Vegas vim and vigor. You’re on Paradise Island, a glistening gem in the Bahamas, that sun-drenched archipelago known for both palm-strewn island getaways and cruise ship landing zones.

Making a plan.

Given the Atlantis resort’s grand scale, you will want to do some pre-trip research. Gather notes from friends who’ve been there and peruse the web site to determine the home away from home that will best suit you and your fellow travelers. Choices range from the relaxed ambience of the Beach and Coral Towers, to the iconic Royal Towers and the condo-style accommodations offered at The Reef.

You’ll want to consider the chic luxury and contemporary vibe enjoyed by those who check into the suites at The Cove. The 600 room, adult’s only digs are located on the north end of the property, directly on Paradise Beach. Guests get comfortable at the Blackjack tables on the pool deck and enjoy music crafted by a live DJ. For an extra special treat, reserve a cabana that offers flat screen TVs, couches and a bar plus breezy access to the pool and the ocean.

ftkidsin thekitchents 1-25-2010 3-37-43 pm

With the kids.

From the perspective of many, Atlantis is one giant theme park. Yet few resorts have a more imaginative and expansive kids and teen activity program. Daily themed adventures include discovering the mysteries of Atlantis, visiting a fish hospital and enjoying outdoor games and activities of all kinds. The newest addition to the program is AKA or Atlantis Kids Adventures, a high-style, 8,000-square-foot mecca for kids where culinary lessons, Lego –inspired crafts, a mini castle, outdoor adventures and theater play make heading back to school seem ….well, they’ll think about that later.

Teens enjoy time at Club Rush where they can surf the net, dance the night away, watch movies or play their favorites on Game Cube or X-Box. Teens also enjoy the pottery studio and climbing wall.

Parents can plan a night out while their kids, ages 3 to 12 have fun during their own” evening escape”. The program offers themed activities each night of the week including Willy Wonka Wednesday, Pajama Party Friday and Pizza and Coketails Saturdays.

Get wet.

With more than 141 acres of water rides and pools, you may have to schedule time to simply relax on the three miles of Atlantic Ocean beaches. From the Mayan Temple to the ominous Power Tower to fun-filled Splashers Island, water play lovers up the tempo with 18 adrenaline-pulsing slides for kids of all ages. Pop on board your own luxury inner tube or grab a partner and ride the waves and rapids in the Current.

Lounge around your choice of 11 different pools. Twist and turn through tunnels and emerge in an acrylic tube deep within a shark-filled lagoon. And don’t miss the seven-acre saltwater swimming and water-sports area known as Paradise Lagoon where you’ll find snorkeling gear, kayaks, and pedal boats available for rent.

Dolphin Cay.

Whether you were a Flipper fan or have more recently come to admire these playful creatures you will want to take part in what is happening within Dolphin Cay. Home to a pod of bottlenose dolphins rescued following Hurricane Katrina, this 14-acre habitat is the scene of Trainer for the Day programs, shallow and deep water encounters and the chance to experience the speed and agility of the animals up close and personal.

Because Atlantis is home to more than 50,000 marine animals representing 250 species, your opportunities continue. Get to know friendly sea lions. Later snorkel amid the sunken ruins and artifacts of the lost city of Atlantis in the Ruins Lagoon where brilliantly colored tropical fish and spotted rays will keep you company. 

Get active.

Sports enthusiasts will enjoy the six lighted clay and hard-surface tennis courts, a four-lane lap pool and an expansive fitness facility that includes all the bells and whistles. Check out the menu of classes that includes spinning, yoga and kickboxing. For those who enjoy time on the links, plan to tee it up on the private Tom Weiskopf-designed 18 hole championship Ocean Club Golf Course, located a complimentary shuttle ride away.

World class dining.

With 21 restaurants and 19 bars and lounges from which to choose, your options for culinary exploration are many. Grab a bite while lounging at the pool or enjoy a family-style meal with the kids.

Allow the Atlantis celebrity chefs to bestow their special brand of epicurean delight. Choose from Chef Bobby Flay’s award-winning Mesa Grill where you will thrill to the taste of his award-winning Southwestern cuisine. Unique dishes like Bahamian Spiced Chicken Skewers with Yogurt Cilantro Sauce, Crispy Squid and Cracked Conch Salad with Orange-Chipotle Vinaigrette, and Bahamian Lobster Tail with Red Chile-Coconut Sauce and Green Chile Rice will keep your mouth watering long after the last bite.

Classic gourmet French cuisine is on your menu thanks to the extraordinary experience offered by legendary Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Café Martinique, originally made famous by its appearance in the 1965 James Bond classic, Thunderball, now recreated for Atlantis guests. Expect outstanding fare amidst old world ambience.

Just off the casino floor and steps away from Aura, you’ll enjoy the fine work of famed Chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s in his acclaimed restaurant, Nobu. Enjoy an unusual and delectable twist on traditional Japanese fare.

Casino gaming.

Spending the day at the beach won’t hinder your plan for finding plenty of casino time. The expansive 50,000 square foot state of the art environment includes more than 850 slot machines, 90 game tables plus baccarat, roulette, Caribbean stud poker and black jack. Wagering on major sporting events and the racetrack action plus regular special events and tournaments will keep gaming enthusiasts thrilled by the action. Guests also enjoy lively music, often provided by local calypso or salsa bands. Oddly enough, you won’t be gambling elbow to elbow with the locals. For Bahamian residents, it is illegal.

After sun down.

Look forward to an evening mesmerized by the luxury and ambience of Aura, a 9,000-square-foot Jeffrey Beers-designed nightclub, and the sister to popular Las Vegas night club PURE. As the DJs spin the latest, guests enjoy dancing the night away or watching the scene unfold from banquette seating that surrounds the illuminated glass dance floor. You’ll also find two bars, two VIP sections and a private VIP Parlor. The casino below can be accessed by a grand staircase.

Also popular is the Atlantis Theatre featuring current Hollywood feature films and the Joker’s Wild Comedy Club spotlighting stand up acts from around the world. You may want to plan your stay around the performance of popular artists including the likes of Lady Antebellum, Rihanna, Carrie Underwood, the Jonas Brothers and Taylor Swift.

Details:

  • Jet Blue, Bahamas Air and Continental fly into Lynden Pindling International in Nassau, Bahamas. Plan for a 45-minute shuttle bus ride to Atlantis.
  • www.Atlantis.com or 800-ATLANTIS (800-285-2684)

Planning a family getaway is always fun. But sometimes just the thought of leaving our furry friends behind is more than we can handle.

Today, there are loads of pet -friendly lodging establishments, restaurants and a slew of gear and other pet products that make it easier than ever to bring Fido and Frosty along for the ride. Here are five tips to keep in mind:

With opportunities from Montana to Malawi, there is a volunteer vacation to suit every family. Here are five organizations to consider when planning your next family voluntourism trip. 

Volunteer vacations for families

 

Help build a house in Mexico, save the turtles in Costa Rica or teach young children to read in Malawi.  More than 61 million Americans dedicated 8.1 billion hours to volunteerism, according to a recent report from the Corporation for National & Community Service. And now Americans are increasingly taking their charity on the road.

Voluntourism, the concept of doing good while having a good time, is one of the fastest growing segments of the travel industry.During a recent trip to the Peruvian Amazon region, my school-aged sons and I, along with two family friends, traveled 90 miles by speedboat deep within the jungle. There we delivered much-needed school supplies to several communities along the river. In return, we enjoyed the students’ songs, dances and original poetry. Their creativity and energy were among the most memorable aspects of our adventure.

Here are five ways you and your family can enjoy a holiday and provide some help along the way.

I-to-I offers volunteer vacation experiences in Honduras, India and Costa Rica working with sustainable, locally run community, educational and environmental projects. Its travel advisors will provide specific information about each country and project so that you can make the best decision for your family. Tel. 800-985-4852, www.i-to-i.com.

Global Volunteers

Founded in 1984, Global Volunteers offers short- and long-term opportunities in more than 20 countries. Popular family projects include working with the Blackfeet Indians in Montana, teaching conversational English, assisting in orphanages and working on building projects in Costa Rica. www.globalvolunteers.org

www.perujungle.com

GiveSpot.com

Craft your own family volunteer vacation from hundreds of opportunities provided on this Web site. You’ll find connections to projects and causes around the world. www.GiveSpot.com

Students gather for a group picture with their host families from the Tanzanian village of Itete.

American Hiking Society

On an American Hiking Society volunteer vacation, family members visit stunning backcountry locations to construct or rebuild footpaths, cabins and shelters. You’ll meet other volunteers while exploring and restoring some of the most beautiful outdoor places in America. American Hiking Society members qualify for discounts. www.americanhiking.org

Amazonia Expeditions

Amazonia Expeditions subscribes to the philosophy that tourism companies have an obligation to invest in the well-being of the environment as well as native people. Dolores Arevalo Shapiama de Beaver, a native of the Amazon and the owner of a wilderness lodge, has worked to identify individuals with special needs who could benefit from medical or educational intervention. Visitors can provide and help distribute school and medical supplies, as well as clothing, while learning about the native people, conservation and the rainforest habitat.

ftcooperstown kids

A favorite trip among sports enthusiasts is a tour of baseball’s hotspots. Pick the ball parks of your choice and then enjoy the competition, camaraderie and of course, the hot dogs! 

( Can't fit in a road trip? Plan for next year and meanwhile stream Brad Pitt's film Moneyball, which pays homage to the sport and is a favorite of serious baseball fans. )

Planning a family car trip? Put safety first and makes sure your vehicle is travel ready.

Here’s a list recommend items to check or have performed before hitting the road with the family on board:

1.  Check car tires (check tread and pressure to help improve gas mileage)

2.  Replace windshield wiper blades (summer heat and winter cold can make the blades brittle and ineffective in rainy weather)

3.  Fill washer fluid (it doesn’t hurt to keep an extra gallon of washer fluid in the trunk)

4.  Check engine coolant level (make sure the engine is cold before checking this one)

5.  Check oil level and change if needed.

These items can be easily checked in your garage or driveway in less than 15 minutes before starting your trip. You can also take your vehicle into your local auto dealer or repair shop for a more thorough car inspection by a certified technician. These quick tips can save time, money and the hassle of having your trip ruined by a simple auto repair that could have been prevented.

Check-ups and vehicle repairs are especially important when a long trip to unfamiliar territory is planned. Keeping your vehicle operating at its peak condition will also improve your fuel economy.

And if you do happen to hit the roads with a poorly maintained vehicle, the sunset may not be the only thing turning crimson out there.

 

Welcome to the new FamilyTravel.com.

After more than fifteen years of providing family travel resources, we are excited about our updated editorial focus and travel-friendly design. Whether you’re an armchair traveler, a city seeker, a National Park explorer or a global adventurer, we want to be your wellspring of Family Travel information and inspiration.

Note that our definition of “family” has expanded.  The game has changed. Combine the geographic spread with the multi-layered demands of the modern family and what do you get?  Folks who are time-starved and hungry for connection. 

Often the only time we see our extended tribe is when we gather at a beach house, a ski resort or a high mountain camp ground to celebrate a special family event.  So we plan to provide plenty of creative suggestions for gathering the clan in ways that will be as much fun for Aunt Gloria as Baby Ben (and for his parents). 

In between those multigenerational meet-ups, we hope you plan time away with your children, your siblings, and those friends who are often more like family than…well, you know, those truly treasured friends!  

Expect thoughtful travel writing and inspired photography from our intrepid crew of professionals. Browse our pages for tips and ideas for great weekend getaways, thrilling adventure trips, traditional summer vacations and off-the-beaten path exploration. 

You’ll also find gear and book reviews, luxury and budget booking options, great travel deals and opportunities for trading travel secrets.

We hope you enjoy the new FamilyTravel.com and will spread the news to your friends and family. We invite you to return time and again to share your stories and to enjoy our window onto an amazing world.  

 

Go far. Grow close.

 

Lynn O'Rourke Hayes

Editor

 

PS: Don’t forget to look for us on Facebook and Twitter!


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