Insight Europe Insight Making families its Forte By Felicity Long / June 27, 2017 Share 1 The Verduland kids club at Rocco Forte's Verdura Resort includes activities such as hands-on kitchen lessons for children ages 4 to 12. -- Summer is here, and for many that means family vacation time. Until relatively recently, the conventional wisdom was that it is pointless to take children to Europe until they're old enough to appreciate monuments and museums. My counterargument is that that's only true if all you plan to do is visit monuments and museums.One strategy to planning a successful European trip with small fry is to trim the itinerary by at least half, to allow for those unexpected moments stopping for gelato, petting a friendly dog that make travel with kids so rewarding. Another is finding a family-friendly property whose idea of entertaining young guests is more than a box of crayons.One company looking to meet that need is Rocco Forte Hotels, which launched a Families R Forte program in 2016, designed to cross-pollinate luxury and family travel.Since the program's debut, the brand has seen an uptick in family travel, according to Irene Forte, group project director for Rocco Forte.The program is complimentary to all guests with children 16 and younger, including toddlers, and offers such on-property amenities as welcome treats; interactive, in-room entertainment; small robes and slippers; and specific stuffed animals and fairytale storybooks linked to each property.What sets the program apart, however, is the menu of bespoke itineraries and excursions created by the concierge designed to immerse children in the local culture.One of the company's most popular locations for families is Hotel de Russie in Rome, for example, where children's excursions include the Gladiator School, run by the Historical Group of Rome."It takes place on the Appian Way in an old stadium, and kids get to dress up in gladiator outfits and armor and learn to how to be a gladiator from specialist teachers," Forte said.Young guests at the property also receive GianLorenzo, a stuffed frog whose real-life counterpart supposedly dwells in the hotel's secret garden.Also popular is the Fun-Makers-in-Residence package at Rocco Forte's Brown's Hotel in London, which offers individually designed toys and excursions to the toy shop Hamleys.Many of the company's properties also offer spa packages for children, available for an added fee.The For the Little Ones children's spa menu at Brown's Hotel, for example, recommended for children age 4 to16, includes a Funky Fingers hand-and-nail treatment as well as specially designed facials and massages.Inspired by the positive response to the program, Rocco Forte recently opened Verduland, a kids club at the Verdura Resort near Sciacca, on Sicily's southwest coast. The 4,500-plus-square-foot facility caters to RBabies, from infants to age 3; RKids, for ages 4 to 12; and R Teens for 13- to 16-year-olds.Activities include learning experiences in a science lab, hands-on kitchen lessons, sports and arts and crafts as well as a pool for kids.While the children's programs have been good for business, Forte stressed that Rocco Forte is a family-run brand and that focusing on families is in the company's DNA."We believe that it is important to expose children to different cultures, and that is why we not only encourage families to travel to our hotels but also we created our program to educate and get children to experience the culture of the destination they are in firsthand."