My 6-year-old daughter, Charlotte, leans back in her chair and closes her eyes. "I love you, Mommy," she says. "I love you, too, pumpkin," I reply, exhaling as I relax into my own massaging chair. She reaches for my hand as we both fall silent and take in the moment: our monthly ritual of getting a mommy-and-daughter manicure and pedicure together.
Where I live—in suburban New Jersey—taking your daughter for her first mani/pedi is like a rite of passage. And the nail salons welcome little ones, offering booster seats and raised foot baths, kiddie-cool polish colors, fun nail decals, and a lollipop at the end of the service.
However, on our last vacation, the hotel spa had a sign that said "No One Under 18 Permitted." We just wanted a manicure, but they wouldn't let Charlotte in—and it was a bit of a bummer. While I totally understand (and yes, sometimes want) a kid-free spa experience, I wondered if there were resorts and hotels with on-site spas that welcome the younger set. Kid-themed resorts have long offered children's spa services: Disney World has its Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, while Great Wolf Lodge offers Scooops® Kid Spa.
Still, I'd love to enjoy a relaxing treatment in a traditional spa setting while bonding with my best girl. (And once my two-and-a-half year old son, George, gets a wee bit older, we'll get him in on the pampering, too!). The following grown-up hotels and resort spas to help introduce even the littlest ladies and gents to the wonderful world of pampered wellness:
Grand Palladium Hotels & Resorts in Riviera Maya and Riviera Nayarit, Mexico; and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
At these family-friendly Caribbean all-inclusives (we're talking awesome kid clubs with cooking schools, a zip line and trampolines), the on-site Spa Kids Zentropia menu offers princess manicures and pedicures, bubble gum flavored spa treatments, and massages. Little ones as young as three get to luxuriate in mini robe, indulge in candy and desserts while experiencing their treatment, and get to take home a free princess bracelet souvenir. Children's treatments, such as the Princess Manicure, start at $29.
Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, O'ahu, Hawaii
The whole gang can enjoy a family massage designed for 3 to 6 family members (ages 5 and up). New parents can enjoy a massage with their infant with the Makana massage: one parent enjoys a treatment while the other learns the art of baby massage from a certified practitioner. And kids three and up can get transformed into modern hula dancers with Minnie Me manicure and pedicure, their hair styled and sprinkled with pixie dust, shimmering makeup and Keiki aloha wear. Children's treatments, such as the application of temporary tattoos or a Minnie Me haircut, start at $25.
The Spa at Sea Island, Sea Island, Georgia
This five-star spa on the coast of Georgia is not only a sanctuary for adults, but it's also great for kids to get some pampering of their own. The Spa at Sea Island offers kids facials, an intro massage for the legs, arms, hands and feet, sparkle mani/pedis with the option of turning the experience into a Duet, a private spa suite with parent. Children's treatments, such as the Make a Face Facial, start at $35.
Hotel Barriere Le Fouquet's Paris, France
At this hotel in the City of Light your child can indulge in packages such as the Little Princess Experience (a manicure and pedicure and choice of makeup or 30 min massage) the Little Prince Experience (a 30 min massage and swim coach experience, as well as a Baby Massage Workshop which teaches parents gentle massage especially created for children 3 months to 4 years old. Children's treatments, such as a 30 minute Junior Massage, start at â‚¬70.
Four Seasons Resort & Residences Whistler, Whistler, British Columbia, Canada
Glacier Kids is a spa program especially created for kids under 16 at this mountain resort in Western Canada. Our pick:a Superhero Massage and Scrub in either hot fudge sundae or strawberry shortcake scent. Children's treatments, such as kid's manicure, starts at $50 CAN.
The Omni Homestead Resort, Hot Springs, Virginia
The 250 year old spa resort spa offers a variety of treatments are available for children five and up including a Sparkles Manicure, Pink Bubbles Pedicure, 20-minute Stars Facial, and 20-minute Kids' Spa Massage. Children's treatments, such as a manicure or makeup application, start at $35.
Stowe Mountain Resort, Stowe, Vermont
This East Coast ski resort offers really unique kid-friendly mini-spa treatments in their regular spa. One is called a Chillax session; aimed at kids six and older, it's designed for your child to relax, unwind and be "still." Aromatherapy washcloths, cool cucumbers, hand and foot treatments and deep breathing exercises will leave them relaxed and ready for a good night's sleep. Children's treatments, such as a manicure, start at $20.