I have the perfect family getaway destination that’s one of the best resorts for kids. This place is very special to me, as I’ve been going there with my family for almost 20 years. It’s ‘exactly like nothing else,’ which, coincidentally, happens to be the hotel’s tagline.
This vacation spot is the iconic Algonquin Resort in located in St. Andrews, New Brunswick (only a one-hour drive from St. John or 30 minutes from the Maine-U.S. border). Originally opened in 1889, this historic, seaside hotel has always reminded me of the summer resort from Dirty Dancing.
Well “Baby” has grown up since then and so have I. I have my own kids now (ages 2.5 years and 9 months). And this summer I had the chance to take them to the Algonquin Resort for the first time and create their own summer vacation memories, just like I did when I was younger.
You may think going to one hotel for 20 years is impressive, but that’s nothing compared to my stepdad. He’s been going to the Algonquin Resort for 60 years. He started travelling to St. Andrews from Montréal at age 10 with his aunt who, at the time, worked for a very wealthy Montréalais family that would summer in St. Andrews.
My stepdad, Alex, and his aunt behind the Algonquin Resort, 1960, where the tennis courts are now found.
This summer marked my stepdad’s 70th birthday and his 60th year visiting the Algonquin Resort. It’s been a tough few years for my family. My stepdad was diagnosed with Stage-4 prostate cancer, so family get-togethers have become even more important. My mom wanted us to all meet up in New Brunswick to surprise my stepdad at the Algonquin for his birthday. We have a very international family – we’re spread out across Canada, some often travelling to the U.S., and one of us living in Australia.
Well, after many months of planning and with the help of the gracious staff at the Algonquin Resort, my siblings, my husband, my kids and I were able to sneak in to my parent’s room at the Algonquin and hide out until they got there. Here’s a video of our surprise:
So why is the Algonquin Resort one of the best resorts for kids? One word: babysitters. Just kidding, there’s more to it than that. But seriously, they do have awesome babysitters.
I’ll guide you through the best activities to try with your kids in St. Andrews and share why you need to plan your next family vacation at the Algonquin Resort because it’s literally one of the best resorts for kids in the world.
The Algonquin Resort: One of the Best Resorts for Kids
Let’s start with the most important feature of the hotel: the babysitting. You might think I’m being overly dramatic about this, but ask any parent who’s taken their kids on vacation to a resort WITHOUT babysitting services. You might as well have saved your money and stayed home because you’re basically trapped in a room with your kids all night, unable to leave and enjoy your destination.
Things to note about babysitting services at the Algonquin Hotel:
- It is not a hotel service. Rather, you make an independent agreement with off-duty hotel employees for babysitting services.
- I paid $20 an hour for a babysitter for my two kids. This rate is pretty standard and what I would typically pay back home.
- If you are looking for a babysitter on the first night of your arrival, call head to book one in advance. I didn’t realize this when I checked in and, by then, all the sitters were booked.
I stayed at the Algonquin Resort in July with my two very young children – ages 2.5 and 9 months. The hotel kindly provided two pack-and-play cribs with bedding for my kids, which saved me from lugging this equipment from home. I recommend requesting your crib when making your reservation and following up with the hotel shortly before your stay.
The Algonquin Resort offers a range of standard rooms and one-bedroom suites. If you want to get some sleep while staying with your kids, you’ll want to book a One-Bedroom Suite or Executive One-Bedroom Suite.
These suites have a separate bedroom and living room, which is ideal for separating you and your sleeping kids while sharing the same room.
We unfortunately couldn’t get a suite, which made our sleeping arrangement more difficult. We did however, have a Studio Room, which is larger than a standard room and includes a dining area and kitchenette.
Studio Room | Photo credit: The Alongquin Resort
If you’re staying at the Algonquin Resort with young kids, at the minimum, you want to book a Studio Room. Anything smaller would make for a tight squeeze to fit one or two cribs. If you have older kids who can share a bed, then a room with two double beds might suit you fine. The large fridge in the Studio Room was also great to store snacks and baby food for my little guys.
Since we traveled to the Algonquin with our whole family, my parents were able to get an adjoining Studio Room. This was a huge help, as it allowed my parents to access our kids in the morning and let my husband and I sleep in a bit. In fact, one morning, my toddler woke up and literally knocked on the adjoining door for my mom to come get him from his crib instead of asking us to take him out.
The Algonquin Resort resort features two restaurants, Braxton’s Restaurant and Bar and the Clubhouse, with a diverse and delicious array of menu items. Guests also have access to in-room dining.
Braxton’s Restaurant and Bar offers a superb Sunday brunch and breakfast buffet. The buffets were a great option for feeding my toddler and baby. Because my kids were both under two, we were able to feed them from our plates and go back for seconds when they liked something. I always find ordering à la carte for young ones a bit stressful, so I was glad the hotel offered a daily buffet.
We also had the pleasure of eating at Braxton’s for dinner one night. I had a fantastic meal complete with salmon amuse-bouche and butter-poached New Brunswick lobster. Though it can be a bit on the pricey side, I highly recommend having a least one meal at Braxton’s Restaurant and Bar. It offers exceptionally tasty cuisine with a focus on locally sourced seafood.
New Brunswick butter-poached lobster at Braxton’s Restaurant and Bar in the Algonquin Resort.
The whole family enjoying dinner at Braxton’s Restaurant in the Algonquin Resort.
The grounds of the Algonquin Resort are immaculate. One of my favourite things to do during our summer vacations at the hotel is to sit around the fire pit or on the veranda and relax with my family.
The lawn is a great area to let your kids run free and play safe. It’s also great place to hang out if you have a young baby, like I do, as you can put baby on the grass with some toys to crawl around.
We brought some mini-putt toys and spent our mornings outside on the lawn. My toddler loved it!
Our first morning in St. Andrews, we took our two boys to the Hunstman Aquarium. This is a fantastic place for families with young kids and older ones. Pictured below is the touch pool, where kids can (gently) pick up and examine a number of sea creatures like starfish and sea cucumbers.
The touch pool was a pretty exciting experience for my toddler who had yet to see this type of aquatic life up close. There are loads of fun educational activities at the aquarium, including watching feeding time for the resident father-son seals and learning about aquaculture in the Bay of Fundy.
This is a really adorable picture of a nice little girl showing my 2 year old how to pet a starfish. About three seconds later, my toddler chucks the poor thing into the pool. Sorry, Huntsman.
Only an eight-minute walk from the hotel is the best school playground I’ve ever seen. In 2014, The Vincent Massey Elementary School playground underwent a $120,000 renovation creating a massive and well-conceived outdoor space to encourage children’s physical fitness and learning. To get to the playground, walk along Prince of Wales Street and enjoy the scenic view of the Kingsbrae Garden.
Hitting up the tennis courts with my brothers and sister was a fun activity for the adults while my kids were napping. Older kids can come out for family tennis tournaments too. The Algonquin Resort has four tennis courts adjacent to the hotel. The hotel also offers complimentary equipment, so just bring your shoes and you’re all game-set-match!
If you are a golf enthusiast, you will want to book a babysitter for the kids and play the award-winning Algonquin Resort golf course. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more picturesque setting to play 9 or 18 holes. Adjacent to the Bay of Fundy, this course is currently recognized as the best in New Brunswick and one of the top 100 courses in Canada.
As spectacular as this golf course already is, it is scheduled to undergo a multi-million dollar redesign in 2017 by top Canadian golf-course architect, Rod Whitman. Whitman plans to redevelop many aspects of the course, including the improvement of sight lines to the Bay of Fundy, while maintaining the course’s competitive level of play. Completion of this project is slated for July 2017.
Pools and Waterslide
Another amazing feature of the Algonquin Resort is its indoor and outdoor pools, hot tub, and three-story waterslide.
Pictured above is the heated outdoor pool located across the hotel grounds. With plenty of seating and lounge chairs surrounding the pool, this area is licensed for food and alcoholic beverages, making it a great afternoon spot to cool off and have a snack.
The indoor pool, hot tub and waterslide are all located inside the hotel. A word to the wise: the waterslide is not suitable for young children and even some adults. I’m a particularly brave and daring individual and even I found myself terrified during my ride down the slide. I tried it a second time and found it equally terrifying and left it at that. This waterslide is impressive, but best left for real thrill-seeking children.
Other activities at the Algonquin Resort
I’ve listed some of the major activities available at the Algonquin Resort, but the hotel has many more amenities, including loaner guitars, a selection of boardgames, free bike and helmet rentals, a fitness studio, and spa with many sea-themed treatments.
St. Andrews by-the-Sea
The town of St. Andrews is also worth exploring. It offers several interesting restaurants and shops, plus more family activities, including whale watching, wildlife tours, kayak and bike tours, scuba diving, sport fishing, tall ship tours, art and pottery classes, Kingsbrae Garden,
For more information on the town of St. Andrews visit the St. Andrews by-the-Sea tourism board.
The Algonquin Resort truly is a family hotel. What makes it one of the best resorts for kids is that there are so many opportunities to build memories with your family. Summer vacation at the Algonquin Resort is a time to slow down, unplug and really appreciate spending time with your kids. Whether you are learning about seahorses at Huntsman Aquarium, chasing your kids across the hotel lawn, or cuddling up with your little ones in front of the fire pit, the Algonquin Resort is a memorable family vacation that is exactly like nothing else you’ve experienced.
Disclaimer: This post contains sponsored content; however, the views expressed are my own.
What is your favourite family vacation spot or which do you think is the best resort for kids? Leave me a comment below!
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