Planning a Summer Getaway? Here’s How Some Family Resorts Are Keeping Guests Safe During the Pandemic
As more and more people get vaccinated against COVID-19, we are slowly beginning to return to life as we know it. While things may never truly be the same, small milestones such as the lift of the travel ban and some states no longer requiring mask mandates give hope that we have turned a corner when it comes to self-imposed lockdown.
With summer knocking on our door, many people are suffering from pandemic fatigue and itching to get out of the house and get away for a few days of rest and relaxation. The travel industry is certainly on an uptick, as proven by the rising TSA checkpoint travel numbers. And while the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control recommends that it is okay for fully vaccinated people to travel domestically, children under 12 are not yet able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. So if parents are vaccinated but children are not, is it safe to take a family vacation this summer?
During the ongoing pandemic, there is no way to travel that is 100 percent safe. But if taking a vacation is something that feels right for your family this summer, many popular resorts have implemented safety and wellness initiatives to make your getaway enjoyable while still adhering to quarantine restrictions. To help you start your safe vacation planning, we’ve investigated what some family-friendly resorts are doing to keep their guests safe during the coronavirus pandemic. So do your research, read up on state rules for traveling, and think about hitting up one of these popular family resorts this summer for a COVID-19 getaway.
Family Vacation Ideas for Summer 2021
The African safari-themed indoor waterpark has been following the guidelines set forth by both the CDC and each state where they have a resort: Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas. Since the guidance is fluid, the resort locations are constantly changing protocol as well—including whether face masks are necessary—so your best bet is to check the website for whichever location your family will be visiting for the latest information.
However, Kalahari has implemented several wellness initiatives resort-wide to protect guests. Non-essential items have been removed from guest rooms (including coffeemakers and ice buckets, so be prepared!), meeting spaces and dining areas, and housekeeping won’t be coming in to clean your room and make your beds during your stay to limit interaction. High-grade disinfectant stations are available through the resort, and your typical key card packet information (like activities and maps) will be sent via text rather than handed to guests upon check-in.
While masks are not required inside the waterpark, physical distancing is still encouraged. Some chairs and loungers have been removed to maintain distance between groups, and those that are available are sanitized between guests. Distancing is encouraged while in queue for rides and attractions, the arcade games are frequently sanitized, and the spa treatment rooms will be cleaned after each guest.
A full list of Kalahari’s wellness initiatives, as well as which locations are offering day passes, can be found here.
Rocking Horse Ranch Resort, Highland, New York
Guests at the all-inclusive family-friendly dude ranch are required to wear masks and have their temperature checked upon arrival. The resort is still limiting guest capacity to maintain social distancing, and public areas have been equipped with an air purification system to eliminate viruses and germs.
Housekeeping service is available for guests that want it, otherwise, your room will not be cleaned during your stay. High-contact surfaces and other areas are constantly being disinfected either with electrostatic spray technology or portable UV-C wands, and hand sanitizing stations are located throughout the resort.
Rocking Horse Ranch is encouraging guests to practice social distancing in lines, on elevators, and around the property. Dining room tables, deck chairs, and other public areas have been reconfigured to space guests apart, and the dining areas are operating on a strict protocol of cleaning and sanitizing.
The outdoor activities at the ranch are operating under enhanced safety guidelines, but the resort’s spa, Fun Barn and Kids Club are still temporarily closed. The fitness center remains open but is limited to one guest or family at a time, and a time slot must be reserved in advance.
For the full list of Rocking Horse Ranch’s safety guidelines, click here.
Great Wolf Lodge
Not all of Great Wolf Lodge’s 19 locations are currently open, but the resorts that are operational have implemented additional safety measures such as providing sanitizing stations, scheduled disinfecting of all public areas, and setting public seating areas six feet apart to maintain social distancing. At the resorts’ waterparks, families are asked to stay six stairs away from the group in front of them, and hot tubs are currently closed.
The Great Wolf app provides a virtual concierge and access to the resort’s activities schedule, as well as allows guests to place contactless food orders. Great Wolf Lodge is not currently accepting cash for transactions, but your wristband can be linked to a credit card for easy payment. Housekeeping services in guest rooms can be done by request, and multi-use items such as menus, pens, extra blankets, and pillows have been removed from all guest rooms.
The age requirement for face masks varies by location, so be sure to check the specific resort you will be visiting for the latest guidance. The same holds for which locations are currently offering day passes. For a full list of Great Wolf Lodge’s health and safety protocols, click here.
Hersheypark, Hershey, Pennsylvania
I recently visited Hersheypark with my family and was quite impressed with the level of safety protocols in place to limit crowd control. If visiting before May 31, visitors must reserve a date for their visit to the amusement park by filling out an online form, unless you are a Season Pass Holder or staying at one of the park’s official resorts. Next door at Hershey’s Chocolate World, guests must book a timed pass in advance for attractions like making your own candy bar, a trolley ride around historic downtown Hershey, Hershey’s Unwrapped interactive show, or watching the 4D chocolate movie. Personally, I found the timed pass a great way to partake in the popular candy bar attraction, which normally has an hours-long wait and I never gave a second thought to on our previous visits.
Fully vaccinated guests are no longer required to wear face masks at the amusement park but can choose to do so. Guests over the age of 2 who are not fully vaccinated must still mask up unless eating or drinking, as per the Pennsylvania Department of Health, and temperature screenings will no longer be conducted. Enhanced sanitizing measures have been implemented throughout the park, including sanitization stations.
Read more about Hersheypark’s COVID-19 safety guidelines here.
Smugglers’ Notch Resort, Jeffersonville, Vermont
With a waterpark, several pools, a bike track, skate park, and multiple playgrounds, Smuggler’s Notch Resort offers a variety of family adventures in the heart of Vermont. Guests are asked to respectfully wear masks at all indoor facilities and public spaces unless eating or drinking. The resort has increased the frequency of cleaning and sanitizing public spaces, and sanitation stations are available throughout the property. Guests are asked to stay six feet away from those they are not traveling with, and daily housekeeping has been suspended for occupied condominiums at the resort.
Several activities at Smugglers’ are still closed as a result of the pandemic, like the massage and yoga programs. The pools are open to guests, but occupancy will be limited and available on a first-come basis.
For the full list of health and travel information, including who needs a negative PCR test before arriving, click here.
Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island, Michigan
The popular Midwestern vacation resort no longer requires guests to wear face masks if they are fully vaccinated. The frequency of cleaning has been increased around the property, and sanitization stations are available for guests to use throughout the hotel. Public seating areas have been reconfigured to maintain social distancing, and certain guest room amenities like the coffee maker and minibar have been removed.
Additionally, the hotel has canceled certain activities that do not allow for safe social distancing this season, such as children’s programs, chess on the front porch, babysitting services, in-room movies, the sauna, and the iconic Grand Hotel carriages.
For the full list of the Grand Hotel’s health and safety measures, click here.
(Denis Adriana Macias)
Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Attendance at the Walt Disney World theme parks is being managed by a reservation system, so guests aged 3 and older need both a valid admission ticket and a park reservation for the same park on the same date to enter. Face coverings are required for any guest aged 2 and older unless eating or drinking, and social-distancing measures are in place in dining locations, merchandise stores, and in attraction queues. On May 15, 2021, Disney World did change their outdoor face mask requirements, announcing that “face coverings are optional in outdoor common areas at Walt Disney World Resort, but are still required upon entering and throughout all attractions, theaters and transportation.”
This helpful info from Disney helps break it down:
Cleaning procedures have been enhanced throughout Walt Disney World Resort, with special attention being given to high-contact areas. Cashless transactions are encouraged and housekeeping services at the official Disney resort hotels have been modified to reduce contact between guests and employees. (Most of the Disney World Resort hotels have reopened, with the last four scheduled to reopen in the next few weeks.)
Click here for further details regarding Walt Disney World’s safety protocols.
Disneyland, Anaheim, California
Like big sister Walt Disney World, Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure are requiring guests aged 3 and older to have both a valid ticket and a theme park reservation for the same day to enter the park. At this time, only California residents may visit the Disneyland parks and in groups no larger than three households as per state guidelines.
Disneyland Resort hotels will begin phased reopenings starting in June, and the Downtown Disney District has a selection of retail stores and restaurants open for business. There are certain attractions, experiences, restaurants, and other offerings at Disneyland that are still closed or modified due to COVID-19 restrictions, and the Annual Pass program has temporarily been halted.
For complete details about returning to Disneyland, click here.
Terranea, Rancho Palos Verdes, California
The luxury resort on California’s Palos Verdes Peninsula has incorporated enhanced safety precautions to keep guests safe during the pandemic like sanitization stations and more frequent cleaning of public areas. Guests are required to wear masks, and seating in public areas has been rearranged to allow for physical distancing. Housekeeping services have been placed on hold at Terranea, and the resort encourages cashless transactions to avoid unnecessary contact.
Terranea’s pools, slide, and hot tubs are open with physical distancing, and the golf course is open for an advanced tee time as long as all players and spectators are from the same family. The resort’s spa is operating with limited availability with reservations required, and spa amenities are open with social distancing. The Tide Pool Kids Club is temporarily closed, but resort activities like archery, horseback riding, and kayaking are available.
For complete details on Terranea Resort’s safety measures, click here.
Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
The CDC is currently recommending against travel to the Dominican Republic. But the kid-friendly Nickelodeon Resort in Punta Cana has still made COVID-19 safety precautions. Ultra-violet sanitization, temperature monitoring thermal camera technology, and formula steaming are among the newly implemented cleaning protocols at the resort, and sanitization stations, masks, and alcohol is available for guests throughout the property. Social-distancing measures are in place at restaurants, pools, elevators, and other public spaces.
Karisma Hotels, the parent company of the Nickelodeon Resort, is offering flexible rebooking if your travel plans change at the last minute, and guest room inventory is still being limited to reduce the number of guests on the property. Plus, complimentary on-site COVID-19 antigen tests are offered to all guests before returning to the United States, per CDC requirements.
Nickelodeon’s second all-inclusive family resort—located in the Riviera Maya region of Mexico—is slated to open in June and currently accepting reservations. For further details, click here.
Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas
Before heading to Paradise Island, be sure to check out the travel requirements in place for international guests. At the Atlantis resort, guests aged 2 and older are required to wear a face mask in all public areas unless drinking, eating, or swimming. Sanitization stations have been placed throughout the resort, and the use of electrostatic sprayers and UV-C light technology has been added to the enhanced cleaning measures.
Contact between guests and employees is limited thanks to the use of QR codes and other technology to relay resort information, and the resort’s capacity has been reduced to enable physical distancing. Guests are advised to remain six feet away from those not in their group, and the physical layouts of the pool deck, lobbies, casino floor, and restaurants will be arranged where feasible to provide appropriate distancing.
Since the United States requires a negative test result before citizens can reenter the country, Atlantis will provide two complimentary Rapid Antigen tests per room for guests of certain hotels at the compound. For further details on Atlantis safety precautions and travel updates, click here.
Next, read about pandemic traveling dos and don’ts.