Golf and a spa have become de rigeur elements of the resort experience. But what about golf for kids, or a spa for teens, in a setting where their parents can also kick back and feel pampered?
Travel Leisure Family magazine asked readers to name their favorite family-friendly hotels, and the top 50 places appear in the fall/winter issue. "Hotels and resorts are catering to families in ways never before seen in this segment of travel," said Margot Guralnick, the magazine's editor in chief. She added that resort activities for kids are increasingly sophisticated, ranging from cooking and scuba diving to etiquette classes.
The magazine's readers chose the Cloister, on Sea Island, Ga., and Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello, in Quebec, as the top two family resorts in the continental United States and Canada. Disney properties took the next five spots on the list: Wilderness Lodge, Animal Kingdom Lodge and Yacht Club Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., followed by the Grand Californian Hotel in Anaheim, Calif., and the Boardwalk Resort in Lake Buena Vista. Finishing up the 10 best were Sundance in Provo, Utah; Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando in Florida, and Canada's Westin Resort & Spa in Whistler, British Columbia.
New national park
Called a "living hourglass" by Secretary of the Interior Gale A. Norton, Colorado's tall and fragile Great Sand Dunes have been designated the nation's newest national park.
Located in the San Luis Valley near the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is home to more than 30 square miles of sand dunes, many more than 750 feet tall. The park also features alpine lakes, ancient evergreen forests and six peaks more than 13,000 feet tall.
Deer, elk, foxes, coyotes, mountain lions and bighorn sheep populate the area; Baca National Wildlife Refuge is adjacent to the dunes.
Other federally protected forests, mountains, canyons, fossils and archaeological sites around Colorado include the Rio Grande National Forest, Dinosaur National Monument, Rocky Mountain National Park, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and Mesa Verde National Park.
For more information about national parks and preserves in Colorado, visit www.nps.gov. For help in planning a trip, go to www.colorado.com or call (800) COLORADO for a free state vacation guide.
Cirque in Vegas
Cirque du Soleil is opening a new show on Nov. 26 at the MGM Grand hotel-casino featuring pyrotechnics, puppets, martial arts sequences and the use of multimedia, including video.
The show will also include the Montreal-based troupe's trademark heart-stopping acrobatics. In one scene, two performers duel with something called the "Wheel of Death," performing a variety of stunts as the wheel propels them high through the air.
The show, called KA, lacks a traditional stage, and instead relies upon a massive, retractable platform that almost seems to float in the void normally reserved for a stage.
This is the fourth Cirque du Soleil show to open in Las Vegas. Following the lucrative "Mystere," Cirque du Soleil launched "O," a water-based show, and the risque "Zumanity."
The $30 million show with its $135 million theater is the latest development in the transformation of the MGM Grand from a less-than-hip hotel-casino to a must-see property. KA will also rank as one of the most expensive shows in Las Vegas. Tickets are $99, $125 and $150. For details, visit www.cirquedusoleil.com/cirquedusoleil/ka/ or www.mgmgrand.com/, or call (877) 880-0880.
An exhibit of Princess Diana's belongings and family photographs that was in Toronto earlier this year opened Oct. 10 at Fort Lauderdale's Museum of Art.
"Diana, a Celebration," which includes her wedding gown, diamond tiara and 25-foot train, runs through Dec. 31. Photographs and home movies show Diana as a youngster, wearing ballet shoes or diving into a swimming pool.
The museum, at 1 E. Las Olas Blvd., can be reached at (954) 525-5500.