Metro Mama & Metro Baby

By Kim Taylor

February marks winter break for families with schoolchildren, and there’s nothing like sun and surf when the thrill of snow and ice has worn thin. Why not vacation where the entire family can luxuriate in style under a palm tree on an oceanfront resort? Florida’s sparkling Miami – Fort Lauderdale coast offers warm water, sunny weather, international cuisine, and a myriad of things to enjoy for every age and generation.

Here are three crown jewel family resorts located directly on the beach along the Atlantic Ocean’s azure strip between Miami and Ft. Lauderdale, starting with the Miami area and moving north. They’re each so perfect that all you need to do is add your family to the setting.

Water, Water, Everywhere: The Trump brand is so synonymous with excellence that anything less would be disappointing, and the Trump International Beach Resort in North Miami far exceeds expectations for families. Featuring a complimentary Planet Kids club for children ages 5 -12 years, with daily supervised beach activities to ensure that children are satisfied and occupied. The Trump International also has babysitting services, a Little Kids Club for children ages 3 or 4 years, and discounts on second rooms for children. This Leading Hotels of the World member boasts the award-winning Aquanox Spa (voted Conde Nast Traveler’s Top Spa), which includes special treatments such as Pickles & Ice Cream for new and expecting moms. This lavish resort also has two grotto-style pools, tennis courts, superb cuisine at Neomi’s Grill and two additional restuarants, beachside food service to lounge chairs, poolside cabanas, and rooms with stunning ocean views from the terrace.

The friendly international staff at Trump is quick to smile, and the complimentary green apples at the front desk are a unique touch; plus, Miami’s vibrant South Beach area is nearby within easy driving distance for evening strolls and coconut juice in the art deco area. Located directly on a pristine beach with comfortable lounge chairs, the Trump International is also a picture perfect setting for a spectacular family wedding. Visit http://www.trumpmiami.com for more information, photographs and reservations.

Swaying palms and plush amenities: Staying at Lago Mar in Fort Lauderdale’s Gold Coast area is akin to visiting a wealthy relative’s massive, 10-acre estate on a palm-studded beach. This 4-Diamond rated resort imparts a warm, family feel in an elegant tropical setting, and features two pools (one circular and meandering, the other traditional with ocean views), a fitness room and spa, an upscale restaurant and an informal ice cream shop, a beach playground for children, enormous suites with kitchens and roomy terraces, a tennis court, beach hammocks, magnificent architectural details in the hallways and grand areas, and more palm trees than you can count.

At Lago Mar, you’ll feel as though you’re at home, and so will your children. The relaxed and friendly staff adds to the feeling, as do the volleyball court, ping-pong tables, two-foot chess pieces for playing on the beach, and putt-putt golf course. This is a place where you can settle in for a while and truly relax, surrounded by people who love the sounds of children laughing, screaming, and playing. It’s ideal for family reunions or for simply escaping the chilly winter of the northeast, and easy to understand why families consistently book Lago Mar year after year for the holidays. View the photos and make your reservation at http://www.lagomar.com.

The Pelican Grand Beach Resort looks like a castle and affords an unforgettable experience in a unique setting. This oceanfront resort has a magical quality due to its perfect mix of pampering amenities, sunlight, comfort, and architecture. The Pelican Grand’s expansive veranda is lined with rocking chairs that face the ocean, hammocks, and stands of palm trees — and diners can choose to enjoy meals inside the resort or on the veranda, facing the beach. Two pools keep children busy: one is a circular lazy river with tubes, the other a traditional pool with stairs that lead to the beach. Families can also dine poolside, and order directly from a poolside grill. A game area inside the resort offers board games and puzzles for lobby or room diversions, and children will also love the ice cream & soda shop.

Parents will appreciate the Pelican’s fitness center and rooftop Observatory, as well as the resort’s multi-generational appeal. This is the type of place where you can run into another family from your neighborhood, even though you’re a three-hour plane ride away from home (which happened to us), because it’s so family-friendly, and clearly an ideal place to stay in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area. The sweeping ocean views from the balconies at the Pelican Grand are breathtaking, the rooms are comfortable, and your children will never forget their stay at this distinctive resort. Visit http://www.pelicanbeach.com for more details, photographs and reservations.

If you want to avoid long airline rides and the hassle of passports for your children, or simply stay within the U.S., you can’t go wrong with this part of the country. This area offers international cuisine, tropical weather, boat rides and alligator sightings through the Everglades, clean beaches, live entertainment, and Miami’s endless array things to do and see. Fort Lauderdale’s airport is small and unpopulated, so even if you’re headed for Miami, this is the best place to fly into if you have children with little patience for lines and walking. Enjoy the aptly dubbed Sunshine State, and relish being in a state of relaxation.

Originally published February 2009
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