Marriott Is Upping Its Kids Club Game in a Seriously Fun Way

The massive hotel company just announced an exciting new partnership that aims to bring on the family fun.

The Camp brand is known for developing interactive and engaging experiences for kids.

The Camp brand has become known for developing interactive and engaging experiences for kids.

Photo by Jarvis Roque

Ask nearly any parent who travels with their kids and they’ll probably say that the hotels they choose when they’re taking family trips are quite different from where they stay when they are traveling only with adults. On a family trip, parents seek features like larger rooms with mini fridges, family-friendly swimming pools (preferably with slides), on-property restaurants with kids’ menus, child safety features, and the holy grail—a good kids club.

Now, the largest hotel chain in the world has announced it’s doing more to make kids and families feel welcome. Earlier this week, Marriott Bonvoy, Marriott International’s portfolio of more than 30 hotel brands, unveiled new interactive kids programming at its hotels and resorts through a new collaboration with Camp, a family experience company.

Camp offers a unique combination of retail, media, and entertainment across the United States. Launched in 2018, Camp currently operates eight interactive experiential and retail locations. The brand is known for its character collaborations and interactive offerings like kid karaoke, slime making, and craft sessions, as well as recreating worlds from favorite TV shows and movies like Bluey (currently open in Los Angeles), Encanto (in Washington, D.C.), and Trolls (in New York City) that kids can romp through.

Following a successful pilot program in 2022, Marriott Bonvoy and Camp will begin to offer Camp Club experiences for toddlers to tweens, with a wide range of activities. The new Marriott Cancun, an All-Inclusive Resort, set to open in the spring of 2024 with bookings now available, will be the first to offer an immersive Camp Club. This new kids club, which was piloted last year at the Westin Reserva Conchal in Costa Rica, will offer physical, cultural, and creative activities; a futuristic design that inspires more interactive experiences; and Camp counselors to educate and entertain kids, with programming that will take inspiration from each destination.

Marriott Bonvoy is not new to kids club experiences: Westin Hotels & Resorts offers kids clubs at select properties, and some Marriott Hotels currently offer a variety of kids programming and clubs. But the Camp-branded clubs will enhance the kids club experience using Camp’s immersive approach to adventures. For example, Marriott Cancun will offer a make your own guitar activity, where children will use craft materials to create their own instrument. Then, children can join a high-energy movement class with playtime, dancing, and singing.

Each Camp Club at a Marriott resort will be themed to fit the location, with a focus on sensory, visual, and experiential play. The pillars of each club will be a “creative corner” with guided arts and crafts workshops, slime-making lessons at Camp’s signature Schmutz Bar, and other hands-on experiences. There will be interactive play with diverse games, activities, and storytelling elements, and various “themed environments,” intended to inspire creativity using colorful visual graphics, funky pennants, and “disco cabins” with floor-to-ceiling sequins. Marriott plans to expand the Camp Club offerings to additional All-Inclusive by Marriott Bonvoy locations in 2024. Camp Club is also set to expand to more brands within the Marriott Bonvoy portfolio in the coming years; specific brands have not yet been named.

The Marriott Cancun is also the first entrance by the brand into the growing all-inclusive space. Right now, Marriott’s existing all-inclusive properties are by other brands that fall under the Marriott umbrella, such as Royalton, Planet Hollywood, Elegant Hotels, and Westin. The Cancun property will be the first under the Marriott name.

Aside from the Camp Club, the 450-room Cancun resort will include nine specialty restaurants, such water features as a lazy river and water slides, and special entertainment. The hotel will aid the local endangered turtle population by protecting nests, helping with turtle releases, and not allowing people on the beach after 9 p.m. during turtle nesting season. The hotel will also perform beach cleanups five times a year.

Marriott is doubling down on its commitment to kids in other ways, too. In addition to its growing portfolio of family-friendly vacation rental properties through the Homes and Villas by Marriott Bonvoy brand, this week the company opened bookings for its first Apartments by Marriott Bonvoy property, Casa Costera, Isla Verde, Apartments by Marriott Bonvoy in Puerto Rico. These accommodations feature studio, one-, and two-bedroom spaces with a full kitchen, ideal for families with kids looking for some of the comforts of home.

The hotel company also recently relaunched a program together with UNICEF, where guests can easily donate to the nonprofit that works to protect children around the world. The new Checkout for Children program invites guests to donate an additional $1 (or more) per night of their stay at checkout to UNICEF, an initiative that feels particularly apt around the holidays when families can help to instill a spirit of giving in the next generation of travelers.

Devorah Lev-Tov is a Brooklyn-based food and travel journalist who has been published in the New York Times, National Geographic, Vogue, Bon Appetit, and more.
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