The New York Times has a piece about a hot trend in travel, which is not merely renting a lavish villa with accommodations for your entire family, but adding on activities to enrich your tot. They’re not talking about camp daycare, but a fully luxurious itinerary, designed with the same reverence and high-brow aesthetic as an adult vacation.
“People used to be very happy to get a babysitter. Now we’re hearing, ‘If we did this or that cultural experience, could we do a junior version so the kids can participate as well?’ Philip Leighton, the villa program manager at Abercrombie & Kent Villas, told the Times.
And what experiences they are:
One luxury villa company that caters to families is The Thinking Traveller, which manages Casa Carcicera (from $3,696 a week) and about 220 other privately owned villas around Europe. In Sicily alone, youngsters can watch a private puppet show ($1,679) at Don Venerando (which starts at $6,768 a week), learn to make marzipan fruit ($56 per person) at I Lentischi (from $3,979 a week), take watercolor-painting lessons ($145) at Il Palmento dei Castagni (from $4,532 a week), and go olive-picking (gratis) at Domus Olivae (from $13,407 a week).
“Our daughter still remembers the first time she took her bucket of handpicked olives to the press, saw the squeezing process and walked away with olive oil,” one parent testified. Another family rented out the Circus Maximus “and hired actors to lead educational gladiator games for the six children, ages 10 to 15. That vacation also included a gelato-making lesson in a fifth-generation gelateria and a citywide horse-and-chariot scavenger hunt.”
Well, as the daughter of a woman who so disliked summertime complaints of boredom that she would reply, “Then go out in the yard and pick up sticks,” I have some of my own ideas for educational ways to entertain the children of luxury travelers. Just drop them off in my yard and I’ll give them some real, authentic cultural experiences, all right. Imagine all of these chaperoned by me in character as Auntie Mame if she were a small-time scammer from Valdosta, Georgia, with a voice that sounds like a Buick pulling out of a gravel driveway, wearing a visor and gesturing with a styrofoam cup permanently imprinted with hot pink lipstick.
- Hyper-local ecology, i.e., weeding my garden for two hours while I read a magazine: $127.78
- Advanced hyper-local ecology, i.e., planting me a garden in four hours while I work my way through multiple cans of rosé: $222.89
- A tour of a real-life Costco, complete with samples of processed food, guided by me, a genuine local: $27, a STEAL!
- Eating boiled peanuts on the porch for hours while complaining about the heat: $57.99, boiled peanuts sold separately
- Glamping, aka pitching a tend in my yard: $1,500.00
- Walking tour of the mall, because that’s where the good air conditioning is: $35.67
- Waterskiing with an increasingly baroque array of substitutes for waterskis, such as bare feet, boat paddles, boards, and cooler lids, teens only: $672.30
- Shopping for cheap flip-flops at a suburban Old Navy in an absolute shambles, clothing on the floors and everything: Free with purchase of flip-flops
Act now: Spots are limited and subject to availability!