Hotels for children are gaining ground to the traditional family hotels. More specialised in the little ones, with services conceived for their fun, entertainment and even learning, this type of hotels are attracting those parents in search of an accommodation where children can really make the most of their holiday. The advantage of these hotels for children is that they also provide spaces for adults, in a more independent way than family hotels where everything is mixed and more impersonal.
This model has been created in order to open a business sector and reactivate the competitive economy of the hotel trade, which has been at a standstill with beach and urban hotels until some years ago. Now, small and huge accommodations have understood that focusing on a specific public profile is more profitable than being a Jack of all trades.
Being competitive in a trade as developed as this, where innovating is difficult because almost everything has been invented, has led hotel chains’ managers to create spaces more and more adapted to a specific traveller model. In the case of hotels for couples travelling with children, the clear tendency is to offer attractive services for the little ones, since it is the key of the choice parents make when opting for an accommodation. If hotel has pools with water games, if it offers specialised instructors with different mini clubs according to ages; if it is an all-inclusive hotel for children with spaces for adults, then that’s the one.
The big losers are those hotels who have opted for remaining in the past: they have opened a spa, they have improved the gastronomy… but concept is the same: a beach hotel where guests, with children, alone, with friends, with couple, share a space, services and life during a few weeks.
Such a mixture of profiles leads often to a dissatisfaction from all the guests: couples look for a quiet space that families with children cannot guarantee. A perfect example of a successful All-inclusive resort that hasn’t lose its essence is the chain Olé Hotels, which has renovated its portfolio and is offering an interesting option of accommodations specialised in children: Galeón Ibiza, Tropical Tenerife y Olivina Lanzarote are a few examples of this.
Melià has been one of the pioneers, dedicating its line Sol Hotels to some very specific travellers segments: hotels for friends, hotels for children and hotels for couples and adults. Although they also have hotels for seniors and other minority profiles, the most successful project has been the Flintstones Hotels, famous all around the world because of their concept, which seems more a theme park than a fashionable family accommodation.
They are not expensive accommodations, nor luxury hotels, but they allow hotel managers to charge higher rates according to this type of hotels: Do you want to find what you are looking for? Well, you have to pay for it. Competitive economy raised to the highest power. The concept of being in the club where all people like you is, where you get what you really want, just that. No more, no less.
In hotels for children this concept has worked as well as in Adults Only hotels, their natural antagonists and eternal competitors. It was criticized because people said that couples escaped from noisy children… but it is not just about that, it is about the possibility of being in a place where you enjoy all the services and facilities you need. You pay for it. It’s that simple and that complex, because not all the hotel managers can lose a part of their public in order to get a more specialised one: it requires a considerable investment in services, refurbishing and, of course, marketing.
It is not easy for urban hotels in Madrid and Barcelona which have to find room for a specialization that usually don’t fit in their essence of accommodation for business people or for all types of tourists that want to spend some days in the city. Limited spaces, incapacity of giving up the rest of public to turn into hotels for children and how unnecessary it is: urban travellers, with or without children, don’t want a hotel to spend many hours, but a space to rest after entire days discovering the destination. Undoubtedly, this is a very different perspective from coastal hotels.
Nevertheless, there are chains trying to achieve this successfully. Chains specialising in boutique hotels, such as Petit Palace, that has created accommodation spaces for children in some of its hotels in the centre of Madrid: rooms with bunks in Gran Vía, ideal to share with parents, adjoining rooms, laptops, games, internet connection, iPad, video games, welcome gifts, children’s breakfasts…
Combine everything is complicated. Being successful and competitive, is even more difficult. But it seems that this sector is still trying and this is just the beginning. We have to be attentive to see its development and glimpse the ending.