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A fairy-tale vacation: opening arms to kids
Author:Ye Jun  Source:China Daily   

As family travel becomes increasingly popular, hotels are adding special amenities for younger guests

Chinese hotels are presenting special programs for children as family travel becomes a major trend in the Chinese tourism market.

As the summer heat sweeps across China, Marriott International announced on Tuesday that kids will be able to listen to well-chosen fairy tales with a few easy clicks on their mobile devices, so long as their family is staying at one of the more than 250 hotels of the brand name on the Chinese mainland.

At a news conference held in Sanya, Hainan province, Lawrence Ng, Marriott International's vice-president of sales & marketing Greater China, said the company will cooperate with Citic Press Group to create the "Time to Share, Memories to Remember" Kids Reading Journey, a children's travel reading plan. He said it would be "the first" in the industry.

A fairy-tale vacation: opening arms to kids

Marriott International will cooperate with Citic Press Group to launch the "Time to Share, Memories to Remember" program designed for children across its hotels on the Chinese mainland on Aug 1. Photos Provided to China Daily

It is considered an upgrade to the hotel group's loyalty program for members and hotel guests, including Marriott Rewards MAX! Kids program, Ritz Kids, SPG Mini and Le Meridien Family, at its sub-brand name hotels.

"More and more consumers choose to travel with their family in today's Chinese tourism market," Ng said. "They hope their kids can discover the world through traveling, and take travel as another class to exercise the body, cultivate their psychological quality and broaden their cultural prospect."

A residents tourism expectation survey by the China Tourism Academy, a professional research institution under the National Tourism Administration, shows that family tours make up 60 percent on the tour planning list.

And with growing awareness of education, many families have made reading activities a priority for their kids.

In another investigation about children's reading in China last year, nearly half of kids prefer reading on electronic devices, the news conference revealed.

Ng said the cooperation combines Marriott International's rich experience in the needs of traveling family guests, and Citic Press Group children's book section's concept in offering books that are not only interesting, but also offer good knowledge and taste.

Starting from Aug 1, hotel guests and members of Marriott's loyalty program can log on an audio book website by scanning on a QR code and start "reading" with their children. Members can also bookmark the website on their mobile phones and take the stories home.

Citic Press Group will provide six audio stories in a quarter, a total of 24 in the following year.

These include award-winning tales from the Bologna Children's Bookfair, and those from popular Chinese storytellers including Wang Kai, dubbed uncle Kai, a former anchor with China Central Television.

Electronic reading is just one among many activities hotel brands under Marriott International offer to their guests.

Summer camps

At Sanya Marriott Yalong Bay Resort & Spa's international summer camp, children are happy to learn surfing, assisted by professional trainers with international backgrounds.

Parents could be surprised if their children unexpectedly stand up on the surfing board, encouraged by a considerate team of trainers.

The hotel has cooperated with Canadian outdoor activity company Insight Adventures to launch a mini day camp for children aged 6 to 14, from last Monday through Aug 26.

Kids will learn outdoor survival skills and develop problem solving abilities through activities such as raft building and pitching a tent.

There are also plenty of activities for the whole family. Summer camp families can go together to a picnic on a lawn, where food and various games for the kids are ready. The lawn is also good for a barbeque in the evening. After that, they can visit the Quan Spa for an interesting fish treatment session where small fish come nibbling on your feet in a tub.

Then, the kids will always like to play on the hotel's beach, known for its fine sand, which is comfortable to tread on, while the adults can use electric beach carts.

The sea waves might be a bit too big to swim in the sea in summer, but it is always fun to accompany children as they play with sand, collect shells, and discover traces of small crabs in the evening.

In Sanya alone, Marriott International has nine brand names and 13 hotels.

The SPG Mini program, which covers all Starwood hotels on the Chinese mainland, offers free lunch buffet or dinner for children younger than 12.

Children who check in at Westin, Meridien and St. Regis brand name hotels will be greeted with specially offered foods, lovely souvenirs, and a bathrobe and slippers specially designed for kids.

Small details for the benefit of children abound at the Westin Sanya Haitang Bay Resort. A swim ring for kids, a plastic bucket with small tools to play with sand, and a cartoon figure toothbrush, and cushions on the edges of furniture to protect children - these are the sorts of well-thought-out amenities that win the hearts of both kids and their parents.


Child-friendly holiday to-do list

A fairy-tale vacation: opening arms to kids

For other family trip choices, one could check out Hong Kong Disney Explorer's Lodge. According to the hotel, close to 60 percent of its area is dedicated to greenery, with more than 170,000 plants growing on hotel grounds.

More than 1,000 artifacts are on display, collected throughout the world, and infusing unique Disney elements.

Hilton Beijing Capital Airport provides dining tables and chairs specially designed for the safety and convenience of children. A kids' entertainment garden is equipped with various toys, along with cartoon films and a reading room.

As part of the hotel's regular activities, children can play the role of a hotel manager to interact with hotel chefs and guests. They can also attend an aviation class to learn about flying and have a flight virtual reality experience.

Four Seasons Hotel Beijing has a Family First Program to experience Chinese culture in the capital.

Families can discover ceramic treasures by taking a trip to the home of "Uncle Yu", who is known as the king of Chinese ceramics and whose home is a veritable ceramics museum, similar in scope and size to the collection at the Forbidden City. They can also visit the Beijing Old Objects Museum in a hutong, with over 10,000 cultural relics.

The capital's 798 Art Distinct and Kids Spa are also on the to-do list.


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