Sandcastle_There are two distinct kinds of family holidays; the all inclusive, where you can put your kids in a supervised program, or join in other organized activities, and the do-it-yourself approach, where you are responsible for your own fun. Both have their time and place, and while an all-inclusive can be easier to plan, it isn’t always conducive to family togetherness.

Presuming you actually like your family, and want to spend time with them, I recommend the Marenas Resort in Sunny Isles, Florida, where I recently spent a few days. This hotel, about 15 minutes from the Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood airport, has family friendly suites where you can have the comfort of home, on the beach.

We stayed in a one bedroom suite which had a full size washer and dryer, a fully stocked kitchen with a dishwasher, microwave, full size fridge and stove (all GE Profile) and a pull out couch. The spacious bathroom was bigger than one of our bedrooms at home and had a seat at the end of the tub, perfect for bathing a small child. The king size bed had luxurious high thread count linens and a down duvet.


Heading to the beach is the first order of business for my kids, no matter the weather, and the Marenas does take care of one thing. Each day, beach attendants build a huge sand castle, and scatter beach toys around. This becomes a gathering spot for all the young guests and you don’t have to embarrass yourself struggling to construct a sub-par sand castle.

The hotel will also take care of stocking the fridge for you, and you can arrange to have high chairs, kids’ bikes or anything else delivered by Baby Rentals. A new “Love Your Family” two night package offers a room for $199 a night, pizza and a new family movie DVD the day you arrive, daily reserved beach chairs and umbrella, a beach bag stocked each day with water, fruit and snacks, parking, and $25 in cash back for the way home.

And while you can make breakfast in your room, you don’t have to – the hotel has an indoor/outdoor restaurant serving three meals daily. The coffee is fantastic.

Spend the day at John U. Lloyd Beach State Park where you can walk the nature trails, rent a canoe or kayak, or have a picnic. We were feeling ambitious and biked the couple of miles to the park, but along heavily trafficked A1A. I wouldn’t recommend this ride with young or inexperienced riders – my children bike in NYC all the time.

Should you encounter bad weather, head to the nearby upscale Aventura Mall, which has a 24 screen movie theater, all the stores teens and tweens want to hit, and an indoor playground.