Family Deals: Chicago, Ireland and Iceland

Check out these great deals for family travel in the Windy City, Emerald Isles and the Land of Fire and Ice—plus a new family-friendly program from Starwood Hotels & Resorts.

Family Fun in the Windy City

Family travelers to Chicago should consider staying at the Ritz-Carlton Chicago (a Four Seasons hotel) which combines luxury, kid-friendly amenities and great deals with its “Family Fun Slumber Party Package.” Accommodations include two complimentary fleece blankets, teddy bears and a gift from the Ritz-Carlton toy wagon at check-in, one free in-room movie and free in-room dining for children 12 and under.

Other freebies include family admission (up to six people) to Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, one all-access kid’s pass to the Shedd Aquarium and free kids tickets for each paid adult ticket to the Hancock Observatory atop the John Hancock Center. The Ritz-Carlton kids program also includes a “welcome box” full of homemade cookies and other treats, an assorted children’s menu and an opportunity to make cookies with Ritz-Carlton pastry chefs. Rates start at $285. Offer good until Dec. 31, 2008.

Family Tours in Ireland

Lynott Tours’ “Irish Melody Family Vacation” is an 11-day escorted tour of some of most beautiful sights in Ireland, and great kid activities such as boat trips to the Aran Islands, horseback riding, bicycling and a night’s stay at Cabra Castle, outside of Dublin. Package includes roundtrip airfare from New York, Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles (with some additional cost), airport transfers, personal driver/guide, nine Irish breakfasts and one castle dinner, first-class accommodations for nine nights, all sightseeing entrances fees and all taxes. Packages start at $3,254 during summer flying out of New York and Boston; land fare only starts at $2,536. Airfare varies, so call for more details: 800-221-2474.

Nordic Visitor, Iceland 

Nordic Visitor offers two all-inclusive family packages: a nine-night self-guided driving tour of the whole of Iceland, or a six-night cottage rental on Iceland’s southern coast. Daily activities include horseback riding, bathing in Blue Lagoon hot springs, whale watching, sailing and tours of puffin colonies. Includes rental car with unlimited mileage, meet and greet from airport to hotel in Reykjavik, paid tour admission, children’s map, covered tax fees and 24-hour emergency services. Package starts at approximately $1,376 per person for self-drive tour, $1,066 per person for cottage stay. Call 800-490-1019 for more details.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Love Your Family

Starwood Hotels & Resorts will begin a new family-friendly program this summer, called “Love Your Family.” Available at Starwood’s Sheraton, Westin, St. Regis and Luxury Collection brands, the program is focused around experiences that families can do together: fireside storytelling (complete with S’mores), stargazing, and “dive-in movies” (watching a film on the hotel pool’s big screen). Other services include connecting rooms and at least one family television station. Kids aged 5 and under eat for free, and those aged 6-12 get 50 percent off regular menu items.

“Love Your Family” also includes a chaperoned evening where the kids are treated to dinner and activities together while parents can take advantage of some alone time. According to Matt Ouimet, president of Starwood Hotel Group, the purpose of the new program is “not only to help families maximize their time together, but to create memories that will last well beyond the flight home.” Initially available in the United States and Caribbean, the program will eventually include properties in Canada, Latin America and Europe. Rates vary, depending on location. Call 888-625-5144 for reservations and additional information.

Destinations: Chicago, Montréal, Ireland, Iceland

Themes: Family Travel

Activities: Sleep