Bruce Wallin on Family Spring Vacations

Bruce Wallin, Robb Report’s Editorial Director and seasoned traveler, lists his top picks for warm-weather family spring vacations.

Q: Do you have any suggestions for a resort for a family spring-break trip? We want someplace with warm-water activities.
Daniel A. Berman, Los Angeles

A: Considering that most spring breaks are only one week long, I’ll limit my recommendations to resorts that are either in the United States or are easy to get to from the States:

HAWAII
Four Seasons Resort Hualalai: This Big Island property has been one of the most popular luxury resorts on Earth since it opened 14 years ago, and for good reason. A recent renovation has made it even better, with updated guest rooms and a new spa to go along with a Jack Nicklaus–designed golf course and other facilities. The beach here isn’t the best on the Big Island (see the Mauna Kea), but overall this is a great family destination. www.fourseasons.com

Mauna Kea Beach Hotel: An old-school, low-key luxury resort set on one of the best beaches in the world. The hotel used to be quite dated, but it completed a major renovation last year that spruced up all the rooms as well as the resort’s oceanfront Robert Trent Jones Sr.–designed golf course. I haven’t been here since the renovation, but even in its rundown state the Mauna Kea was one of my favorite spots for a family trip. www.maunakearesort.com

The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua: A great bet for families, especially given the wealth of recreational activities on Maui. Kapalua itself offers a range of beach and water sports, golf on some of Hawaii’s best courses, mountain zip-line tours, and more. Like the Mauna Kea, the 463-room Ritz-Carlton recently completed a major (and much-needed) renovation, and is now better than ever. www.ritzcarlton.com

The St. Regis Princeville Resort: Princeville reclaimed its spot as Kauai’s top resort when it reopened under the St. Regis banner in November. Great hiking, surfing, and other outdoor sports make Kauai the best Hawaiian island for adventurous types, but Princeville balances the area’s rugged reputation with more leisurely offerings such as a new spa and two golf courses. www.stregis.com

FLORIDA
The Breakers Palm Beach: Of all the luxury beach resorts in Florida, the Breakers might be the best for an all-around family vacation. Dating to 1896, this industrialist-era landmark recently completed a renovation that took more than 15 years and included the additions of a 20,000-square-foot spa, a family entertainment center with a theater and arcade, and 20 private beach bungalows. The 540-room property also offers a host of dining options, including the newly relaunched French restaurant L’Escalier. www.thebreakers.com

CALIFORNIA
Montage Laguna Beach: Calling Southern California a “warm-water” destination is definitely a stretch in the spring, but this Orange County coastal resort is great for families any time of year. A beautiful cove with tide pools sits right below the cliff-top property, which features a large ocean-view pool, a nice spa, and two fine restaurants. Montage offers special family programs in which parents and children together can learn to golf, surf, kayak, and more. www.montagelagunabeach.com

SOUTH CAROLINA
Kiawah Island Golf Resort: Spring water temperatures aren’t much warmer in South Carolina than they are in Southern California, but this 255-room resort is worth a look for the many land- and water-based activities Kiawah Island offers, including biking, kayaking, wildlife tours, and some of the world’s best golf. A great destination for the entire family. www.kiawahresort.com

MEXICO & CENTRAL AMERICA
One&Only Palmilla: The Los Cabos region at the tip of Baja California is home to four great resorts: Las Ventanas al Paraíso, Esperanza, Capella Pedregal, and the One&Only Palmilla. The 173-room Palmilla is the best of the four for an active family vacation. If you’re in the mood to splurge, stay in the resort’s new $7,000-per-night Villa Cortez, a four-bedroom beachfront suite that is arguably the top hotel accommodation in North America. www.oneandonlyresorts.com

Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita: Another extremely popular family destination from Four Seasons, this resort is located in the exclusive Punta Mita community north of Puerto Vallarta. In addition to the Four Seasons, Punta Mita features two Jack Nicklaus–designed golf courses and a new St. Regis resort. Both resorts are good for families, but the Four Seasons gets the slight nod for its many child-friendly facilities and services. www.fourseasons.com

Mandarin Oriental Riviera Maya: I went here with my then-7-year-old daughter a couple years ago, and we both loved it. Beautiful rooms, exceptional service, a great beach, and proximity to Mayan ruins and other cultural sites. The only downside is that most of the 128 rooms are located along inland canals and require a golf-cart ride to access the beach. That said, the canals are quite scenic, and should you choose to upgrade to a beachfront room, there are few better spots in Mexico. www.mandarinoriental.com

Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica: Set in one of the most beautiful locations of any resort—on a narrow isthmus at the tip of the Papagayo Peninsula, with sandy beaches on both sides—the Four Seasons offers a great introduction to Costa Rica. The property is a bit too isolated for some people, but it has plenty of on-site activities for adults and children and runs a range of day trips to national parks, jungles, rivers, and beaches. www.fourseasons.com

CARIBBEAN
Jumby Bay, a Rosewood Resort: A Caribbean classic set on a 300-acre private island off Antigua, Jumby Bay just reopened after an extensive renovation. The 40-room property has three great beaches and offers a number of water sports and other activities for children. www.rosewoodhotels.com

Rosewood Little Dix Bay: Another great Rosewood property, Little Dix Bay is a 100-room resort on a half-mile crescent beach on Virgin Gorda. Activities for children include everything from nature walks to Monday-night pirate parties. The resort is a good spot for a group of families traveling together or an extended-family vacation. www.rosewoodhotels.com

Necker Island: If you’re really in the mood to splurge, rent out Richard Branson’s private island in the British Virgin Islands and bring some friends. You won’t be disappointed. www.neckerisland.virgin.com

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