Colony is 'All About Families'

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LONGBOAT KEY, Fla. -- One might say, at first glance, that the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort here is a wrinkle in time.

It is an intimate, family-owned property where motorized boats are not allowed. It's a place where Sundae Socials, nature walks and fishing from the pier are favorite activities for children.

"I have families of two and three generations who love it and can't wait to go back every year," said Nancy Powers, an agent with Aldine Travel in St. Louis.

"[The suites] are spacious, well-designed and comfortable, just inviting families to stay and relax," she said.

The Colony's family package, All About Families, includes a gourmet welcome gift, a beach gift for each child age 11 and younger and a $50 daily credit redeemable anywhere on the property.

Fall rates start at $285 per night (Sundays through Thursdays) for one-bedroom suites sleeping up to four; Friday and Saturday rates are $315 per night. The two-bedroom suites are $360 per night (Sundays through Thursdays), and $390 (Fridays and Saturdays). The Colony's commission is 10%.

The Colony offers tennis lessons for kids age 3 and up.Children age 17 and younger stay free with parents. Rates are seasonal and require a two-night minimum stay. Participation in the Kinder Kamp (for ages 3 to 6) and Kidding Around (7 to 12) programs are included, as are introductory tennis lessons for 3- to 6-year-olds.

Professional tennis instruction is available for children age 7 and up for $25 per hour. The kids programs are built around creative activities that include crafts, games, story-telling and beach and pool time.

The environment plays a part in the activities, from learning about the wonders of the Gulf of Mexico to eco-oriented arts projects led by educators and naturalists.

The Star Gazing event, a recent addition, brings families together to study the constellations, using glow-in-the-dark charts and the encouragement of a naturalist. Regina Piety, director of recreation, called it "a huge, huge success for parents and kids alike."

Other complimentary amenities include tennis court time and use of the fitness center and health spa.

Meals are not included, but a meal plan (adults only) costs $50 per person, per night, and covers dinner and buffet breakfast. The $50 daily credit can be used in the restaurants. Children order from a Kids' Menu.

Baby-sitting is available (three-hour minimum) for age 2 and younger and for other children during nonprogram hours.

A teen program keeps the older children engaged with kayak clinics, field trips, water events and "Xtreme tennis," a more in-your-face version of the traditional game.

Travel agents account for about 30% of the Colony's leisure business, according to a spokeswoman for the property.

"We have a three-person travel industry sales team, and its primary purpose is developing and maintaining relationships with travel agents," she said.

Jeff Merckle, travel industry sales manager, developed the Viva La Colony deal for travel agents and their families, which includes 50% room discounts and $50 property credit for stays of four nights or more.

The agent promotion, which expires Sept. 26, "proved to be very successful" mostly for the drive-in market, Merckle said. "We had a lot of agents come with their families and really get a chance to experience the property."

For additional information, contact the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort at (800) 282-1138, e-mail [email protected] or visit the Web at www.colonybeachresort.com.

Kaleel Sakakeeny covers family travel for Travel Weekly. He can be reached at [email protected].

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