Keeping kids busy on vacation so parents can have a little fun is sometimes a challenge. That’s why a good kids’ club is an important part of many resorts. What's even better? A kids’ program that teaches them how to cook.
Families are looking for more than just a hotel when they book a holiday. They’re searching for an exciting, active, multi-faceted vacation that keeps everyone happy, especially the kids. More than ever, children are interested in cooking and food. So resorts are responding by creating culinary experiences with an emphasis on the pint-sized chef.
Most of these experiences dive into the culture and foodways of the locations where the resorts are found, and some help kids explore the connections between those ingredients and cultures and the natural environment surrounding them. All of them feature hands-on cooking or baking activities to prepare a range of foods from kiwicha and quinoa to pizza.
Kids love the opportunity to get into the kitchen. And parents love the treats their little explorers come back from these programs with — like homemade banana bread. After all, happy kids make for even happier parents. Calling all mini master chefs — these resorts are ready for you.
Celebrity and environmental activist Jean-Michel Cousteau partnered with the Ritz Carlton and their RitzKids program to bring Ambassadors of the Environment to life. The eco-focused program provides engaging and immersive experiences that include education about sustainable fishing and low-waste cooking. The goal here is to provide kids the opportunity to learn more about the diverse ecosystems and cultural traditions that exist around the hotels and resorts. The experiences are based on four key pillars: water, land, environmental responsibility and culture. The program exposes young minds not just to local flora and fauna but to a variety of art forms, including music, local customs and cuisine, which means hands-on training in responsible eco-practices and sustainable cooking.
Kids first make their own chef’s hat then don an apron for an adventure in cooking that starts with a visit to the resort’s very own organic garden. Kids will do some planting of their own, and then blend and cook their way to some delicious local delicacies. They also visit one of the resort’s restaurants’ actual kitchens to see how it works on a larger scale.
Rosewood Explorers is a program designed to provide the hotel’s youngest guests with special services, amenities and convenience items designed just for them. Through the program, tiny travelers can learn to cook through hands-on lessons about tasty foods, ranging from how to make authentic Mexican salsas to crowd-pleasing favorites like organic burgers and tropical fruit salad. Pizza and cookies are on the menu, too, as are eco-tours — including a tour on a boat accompanied by a biologist who will explain everything about the flora and fauna.
Rosewood Mayakoba is just minutes from the private cooking school located in the heart of Mayakoba Resort, a replica Mexican village called El Pueblito. Here, kids are welcome every Saturday to participate in cooking classes designed exclusively for them that deal with everything from Mayan gastronomy to the flavors of the diverse chiles of Mexico.
Sumaq Machu Picchu Hotel is a family-owned hotel where the importance of tradition is not lost their young guests. Activities at Sumaq were designed to immerse families in learning about and experiencing the best of Peruvian food and culture amid the majestic and historic ambiance of Machu Picchu. Part of that experience includes the “Mini Chef Lessons.” Children ages 7 to 12 can learn to cook with the healthy, powerhouse indigenous grains and cereals Peru is known for, such as kiwicha, maca, purple corn and quinoa. They’ll learn scratch cooking techniques and the history behind some of Peru’s most traditional dishes. They can take it one step further in the Pachamanca Cooking Class, where kids (and parents, too) can learn the ancient culinary traditions of the Incas by preparing dishes cooked covered with leaves in an outdoor stone oven.
Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort & Spa sits on a Tuscan 2-mile estate that overlooks the mountainous Serchio Valley, one of the most unexplored areas of Italy. The 180-room resort offers, by request, a ‘Chef for a Day’ experience for food-loving children looking to understand the local culture of Italy. They also get insight into the food of the seasons while having some fun, too. Junior chefs will learn how to hand-make Tuscan staples such as fresh pasta in a variety of different shapes, ravioli, and the sauces that complement them. Once the hard work is done, the little kitchen masters have the opportunity to show off their meals to their family members and host them to a meal in a private veranda overlooking the stunning Tuscan hills.
At The Colony Palm Beach, executive chef Tom Whitaker and pastry chef Emma Isakoff lead a fun-filled, interactive class focused on the best part of the menu: dessert! During the Kids Cook program, kids are guided in techniques to decorate cakes, making homemade chocolate truffles and bark, and creating their own, signature Colony Kids Sushi. Once class is complete, the resort’s newly appointed little chefs will receive a personalized logo chef's coat, French chef hat, personalized recipe memento and gift bag to make sure the cooking continues when they get back home. The classes here are offered seasonally and upon request, so be sure to ask before booking.
Families flock to this premium all-inclusive situated on the south coast of Barbados for a fun yet educational island getaway. Mini explorers are invited to soak up local culture with a variety of “Elegantly Bajan” experiences, including a traditional pastry-making class hosted by the resort’s award-winning dessert chef. Working together, kids and chef whip up delectable local favorites like coconut turnovers, jam puffs, sugar cakes and tamarind balls. The class uses only seasonal, locally grown ingredients including mango, golden apples, grapefruit and guava, and educates children on the benefits of eating local for both culinary and community reasons.
Children will fall in love with the culinary arts at the Little Eko Chefs program at this hotel. Kids here are fully immersed in various foodie adventures and learn basic cooking skills, as well as more complicated ones if they want. Resort master chefs lead the charge here, guiding kids through classes including Tamale Making (in which kids learn how to prepare both savory and sweet tamales wrapped in corn husks and banana leaves) and Mexican Tortilla Making (in which resort chefs teach kids how to grind corn by hand, turn it into tortilla dough, form the tortillas in the press and even create yummy treats like tortilla chips, empanadas and sopes). Farm-to-table-focused classes like Greenhouse Harvest allow kids to have the opportunity to see how food is grown and experience a newfound understanding for the cultivation of our Earth’s fruits and vegetables. First the kids head to the nearby Karisma Greenhouse to pick a variety of fresh produce, including tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers and herbs. Then they bring them back to the kitchen to learn how to prepare a delicious garden soup with a side salad.
The Copal Tree Lodge is set in the heart of the Punta Gorda rainforest in Southern Belize. The eco-lodge boasts a 3,000-acre sustainable farm where guests can participate in hands-on learning in the production of coffee, chocolate, and more at the onsite farm center. Children can learn how one of their favorite delights — chocolate! — is made from start to finish. The one-and-a-half-hour Bean to Bar Class for Kids provides youngsters with a first-hand account of how cacao is grown, harvested, and turned into a delectable treat. Available for kids ages 5-12, the class includes a short demonstration on the drying and fermentation process, a history of chocolate, and and a tutorial in molding chocolates from scratch. Children will leave the class with their own creations and a better understanding for how the candy is made.
Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino invites kiddos to put on their cooking apron — literally — to learn how to cook one of the island’s most signature dishes, keshi yena. At La Vista, kids will work with the resort's chef to create their own keshi yena dish, made from a Gouda rind and stuffed to the brim with a variety of meats, veggies, spices, sauces and more. At the end of the class, the little ones are able to keep their aprons as a take-home gift, as well as a recipe card to recreate the island's famed dish back home.
Opal Sands Resort welcomes kids to enjoy "Make Your Own Pizza" sessions — the newest offering at Sea-Guini, the on-site restaurant named for its fusion of seafood and Italian food. The class takes place every Saturday in Sea-Guini's lounge, showing participants how to make pizza dough, as well as how to mold and shape their own personal homemade pies in their firewood oven. Hats, aprons, pizza dough ingredient cards, and a variety of pizza toppings are provided, so the sky’s the limit with their pizza creation.
Les Petits Chefs is a program led by Patrick Mesiano, Joël Robuchon’s head pastry chef at The Hotel Metropole. Under his guidance, kids learn classic French technique as they bake cupcakes, work with pastry dough, create customized chocolate eggs and more. The apprentice bakers will leave the workshop with their own Little Chef apron, along with their culinary creations to proudly bring back to their family.
The kids at the Wequassett Resort in Cape Cod get a first-hand, behind-the-scenes culinary tour as part of their Chef for a Day Experience. After they’ve experienced the inner workings of a kitchen, they’ll get a 101 on how nutrition, science and culinary delights work together. The session culminates with the children creating their own treats to enjoy. Tots even get to experience the business side of things by running their own lemonade stand, open to all resort guests looking for a refreshing, hydrating beverage.
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