-- At first glance, this Canadian city looks like any other big
city, another bustling metropolis.
But a closer look
reveals a family-friendly city, one with an office created solely
for the promotion of family travel: Child and Youth Friendly
We want to be
sure families are as welcome in Calgary as any other kind of guest,
said Wendy Kennelly, communications director for the nonprofit
The CYFC Web
site, at www.childfriendly.ab.ca, is a comprehensive resource
for families seeking restaurants, accommodations and attractions
with the CYFC stamp of approval.
The image of a
happy sun, brightly shining on a mountaintop in our family guides,
indicates attractions that have met strict family/child-friendly
standards, Kennelly said.
Organizers of the
accreditation program, started in 1992, say its the first of its
kind in North America.
And the CYFC does
more than pay lip service to its process of rating and evaluating.
They send teams of eight Calgary kids to inspect and evaluate
suppliers. Kennelly said the kids range in age from 4 to 15 and are
accompanied by a staff member.
Their job, she
said, is to come up with a report card that grades a hotel or
attractions in terms of its services and amenities.
A restaurant, for
example, cant just have the same old kids menu. The team has to
find the food exciting and healthful, too.
There are a few
tales of successful businesspeople sweating it out as the team
judges whether the toilet bowl is too low (or high) in an otherwise
deluxe hotel room or if the coffeemaker is too close to the bed and
can be accidentally jarred, causing burns.
director of public relations at the Calgary Science Center, recalls
his accreditation visits when teens and younger kids came to check
out the exhibits. They later went on the radio, he said, and
discussed their findings.
It was tough, and
you never know what theyre going to say.
Calgary is a
young city, so the family emphasis makes a lot of sense. The
average age of Calgary residents is between 30 and 35, which may
explain why so many young families were out and about, walking the
citys broad streets and taking advantage of its
Even the airport
manages to take the stress (and boredom) out of traveling with its
Spaceport, a high-tech entertainment and educational facility that
combines aviation and space exploration with telecommunications
departures-level play area, has a mini jumbo jet, TV/playroom
combination, a child-height washroom and a nursing room for
designated the downtown area as a free fare zone, meaning the
modern street cars (C-Train) are free, which makes it easy and
inexpensive for families to explore the city.
take the train one way, then enjoy the five-block walk back along
fashionable Stephen Avenue Mall. This pedestrian-only thoroughfare
is festooned with hanging flowers and lined with specialty shops,
pubs and restaurants where tables spill onto the
sculptures that emit music from hidden speakers, and in bad
weather, the shops, restaurants and offices are accessible through
a glassed-in walkway called Plus 15.
Denver, bills itself as the gateway to the Rockies. And the
mountains form an impressive backdrop to the miles of plains that
surround the city.
But theres plenty
to do in the city itself, especially in the summer when it stays
light until 10 p.m.
event is the Calgary Stampede, a 10-day celebration of everything
Western. Every July, the Stampede takes over the city and fills the
streets with cowboys and wannabe cowboys, parades, square dancing
and a touch of Western madness.
Look for the
chuckwagon races ($600,000 to the winner), bareback riding,
calf-roping, steer wrestling and bull riding. There are lots of
trade booths, stunt teams, parades, bands and floats.
The Web site (www.calgarystampede.com) lists general information and
commissionable travel packages with names like Grin With Your Kin;
Cattle, Rattle, Paddle and Saddle Package. Phone: (800)
runs the travel/accommodations package for the Stampede and will
customize packages for travel agents. Agent commission is 10% on
all travel/ticket packages. For information, call (866) 333-7717 or
e-mail [email protected]. Travel agents and
tour operators can block out individual tickets at net rates (10%
off retail price) for Stampede tickets.
family event is the International Childrens Festival. Phone: (403)
294-7414; Web: www.calgarychildfest.org. The annual springtime
festival (May 24 to 28, 2005) features performers from all over the
world. Music from Africa, China and Ecuador mix with stories from
many countries designed to link children to cultures beyond their
Sakakeeny covers the family travel market for Travel Weekly and can
be reached at [email protected].