Suppliers woo families of all stripes with deals, steals

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Although the so-called Great Recession may have put a damper on overall leisure travel, the family travel market is still going strong, according to a new national survey by Ypartnership in cooperation with Meredith Travel Marketing, part of Meredith Corp.



In fact, 44% of U.S. leisure travelers took at least one vacation with their kids last year and spent an average of almost $4,000.

Not surprisingly, beach and cruise vacations were popular, comprising nearly a third of the family trips taken by respondents, and top domestic destinations included Florida, California, Hawaii, New York and Washington, D.C.

And while 42% of family travelers fall into the age group you would expect -- 31 to 44 -- nearly as many are 45 to 63. Twenty percent are grandparents, of whom two-thirds took at least one vacation with their grandchildren last year.

The good news for travel agents looking to market to families is that resorts and hotels are on board, offering deals for the upcoming holiday season and beyond.

Birdwatching With Big Bird• Beaches Resorts teamed up with partner Sesame Street to create two new on-site activities: Birdwatching With Big Bird, a combination film, nature walk and character encounter, and Night, Night, Sleep Tight, which combines stretching exercises, a bedtime story and lullaby with Sesame Street characters. The activities are part of Beaches Resorts' Caribbean Adventure With Sesame Street program, which also includes such activities as Baking Cookies With Cookie Monster, Making Music With Bert & Ernie and Making Number Magic With the Count. Birdwatching With Big Bird is available weekly for free at Beaches Negril Resort & Spa and Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort Villages & Spa. Rates for the Night, Night, Sleep Tight package vary. Visit www.beaches.com.  

• Universal Orlando Resort is gearing up for the season with holiday events on tap from Dec. 4 through Jan.1. Activities will include a re-creation of the Macy's Holiday Parade, complete with Santa and huge balloons; "Grinchmas," a live show featuring the Grinch, the Whos and an original musical score; a new, decorated Holiday Village; and Christmas music performed by Mannheim Steamroller on Dec. 4, 11 and 18. The three on-site hotels will get into the spirit with decorations, live music, a visit from Santa and a kids-only New Year's Eve party.

The entertainment, including the Mann-heim Steamroller concerts, is included as part of two-park or multiday admission to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. A Holidays Getaway Package includes a four-night stay at a Universal partner hotel, a three-day ticket for both parks and early park admission and breakfast at Islands of Adventure. The package is priced from $299 per adult; from $659 at an on-site hotel. Visit www.universaltravelagents.com.  

• Parents looking ahead to spring break can take advantage of a menu of March Spring Break packages at Telluride Ski Resort in Colorado. Accommodations are in vacation rentals that range from one to five bedrooms. Amenities include full kitchens, washing machines and dryers. Good in the month of March, packages are priced from $101 per person per night. For more, visit www.tellurideskiresort.com.  

• Cap Maison in St. Lucia unveiled a winter family package that includes a free second or third bedroom with every one- or two-bedroom suite booked as well as four hours of free baby-sitting. Children under 12 always eat free when dining with their parents. The resort features a private beach and nearby activities include ziplining, mountain biking, tennis and sailing. The special is good through April, with blackout periods at Christmas, New Year's and Easter. Rates begin at $865 per room, per night in a one-bedroom Villa Suite. Visit www.capmaison.com.  

• New York's Benjamin hotel debuted a Winks' Kidzzz Club that focuses on helping young guests get a good night's sleep. Named for the hotel's mascot, Winks the Owl, the program includes kid-size robes, an iPod pillow programmed with lullabies and audio bedtime stories, and a lending library of bedtime books. A Good Night, Sleep Tight Package, priced from $459 per room, per night through Dec. 31 and from $359 in early 2011, includes two nights' suite accommodations, a Winks the Owl stuffed animal, children's turndown with milk and cookies and four tickets to the Central Park Zoo. Visit www.thebenjamin.com.  

• The Millennium Resort Scottsdale (Ariz.) created a Holiday Pajama Package that includes accommodations on Camelback Lake for a family of four, transportation to McCormick Stillman Park for a ride on the Winter Wonderland Polar Express, a kid-themed dinner buffet with desserts, a Pajama Party movie night with a screening of "The Polar Express" and dinner for two adults at Pinon Grill. The package, which is priced from $209 per night, is valid from Dec. 1 through 24. Visit www.millenniumhotels.com/millenniumscottsdale.  

• The 139-room Maxwell Hotel in Seattle conjured up a promotion to correspond with the Pacific Science Center's upcoming "Harry Potter: The Exhibition." The exhibition will include more than 200 costumes and props from the Harry Potter films as well as re-creations of Hogwarts' Great Hall, Hagrid's hut and other settings. Family-friendly hotel features include free pineapple cupcakes at check-in; iPod docks; 42-inch, flat-screen TVs; and free WiFi as well as loaner board games, DVDs and bicycles. The promotion, available through Jan. 30, trims 15% from the Maxwell's best available rates, which start at $136 per room. Visit www.themaxwellhotel.com.  

• With a nod to the 100-plus colleges nearby, Boston's Fairmont Copley Plaza created a College Visit Package that includes accommodations, a map of the area highlighting colleges and assistance from the hotel concierge to help plan the college visits. This package, which is available year-round, is priced from $269 per night, double. An upgrade to Fairmont Gold, complete with honor bar, breakfast and other features, is available for an additional $100 per night. Visit www.fairmont.com/copleyplaza.

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