Gay Nagle Myers
Gay Nagle Myers

That happy kids are a critical component of a successful family vacation is a no-brainer, and one reason that accounts for the proliferation of activities and facilities that resorts offer to keep them busy, engaged and begging to return.

No longer is a colorful playhouse, face-painting and a sandcastle-building contest enough for today’s tech-savvy, plugged-in kids. Resorts know it and many are redesigning their kids’ programs to meet the demands of this market.

The Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun has raised the bar with its $2 million, 40,000-square-foot Coral KidZ Club that debuts July 13 and features more than 40 indoor and outdoor activities.

“We wanted to create the best possible kids’ club, one that breaks the mold in terms of innovation and technology,” said Alberto Gurrola, managing director.

The resort worked with Launch by Design, a Canadian architectural design firm that specializes in creating one-of-a-kind environments for kids, teen, retail, hospitality and health care sectors.

Kids are greeted by bright colors and patterns splashed on the walls when they enter. After checking in, they set off to find their age-appropriate zone.

The 3-to-5 age group can choose their own paths through a city, park or jungle. The cityscape features Mexican-style homes and a fire station with a firehose that can be used to put out a virtual fire; the park zone has a construction area, a market and a play kitchen; the jungle zone is a quiet area deep in the “forest.”

The computer zone and interactive video gaming area inthe Coral KidZ Cub.
The computer zone and interactive video gaming area inthe Coral KidZ Cub.

Tweens and teens pass through an illuminated arched portal that leads to the computer zone, and beyond that are interactive video games in a futuristic-designed gaming area.

To bring Mayan culture into the 21st century, there’s an interactive, 30-square-foot LED wall with an electronic game that teaches kids about the ancient culture through interactive play and fun facts.

Kids can earn rewards from the games and claim their prizes throughout the resort.

An Open Play theater has a stage with a digital backdrop, theatrical curtains, a light-up dance floor and a backstage dressing room with costumes and makeup.

Outdoor play is enhanced with NEOS, the world’s first electronic play system for the playground that combines the speed of video games with aerobic exercise.

There’s also a basketball hoop and a custom racecar track for racing remote-control cars.

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