The number of family vacations jumped 25% from 2000 to 2001, and the kid-friendly service now found at hotel chains nationwide is certainly supporting that trend. In fact, given the wealth of amenities and activities that hotels are offering in order to cater to children, there has probably never been a better time to travel as a family.
But vacation days are precious and trips are pricey, so Child surveyed hotel chains across the country as part of a comprehensive six-month investigation, the first of its kind. Our goal: to determine which are the most family-friendly and most likely to offer you a relaxing time away from home. We started with a list of hotel chains from Smith Travel Research and the American Hotel Lodging Association, narrowing the field to those that offer at least 10 locations in the U.S. and have, at all properties, an on-site restaurant that welcomes children.
Each of the 45 chains that met this initial criteria received a detailed 66-question survey developed in conjunction with our expert advisory board consisting of travel professionals -- all of whom are parents too. The criteria examined included the extent and uniqueness of the children's program, staff training, safety concerns such as window locks and childproofing kits, kids' menus, child-size furniture, family discounts, amenities like welcome gifts and free diapers, and more.
Although we didn't factor room rates into the rankings because they vary widely even within chains, kids stay free at each of the top 10 hotels.