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The Latest Offering of Exclusive Vacation Resorts? Virtual Schooling Initiatives for Kids

Kells McPhillips

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Photo: Getty Images/Marko Gereber

In pre-COVID-19 times, diverse wellness offerings and breathtaking vistas were big draws to exclusive, far-flung resorts for many seeking some R&R. As we turn the corner on fall 2020, many of these luxury accommodations are starting to offer a new service that’s more in line with the times: virtual learning options for school-aged children. Resorts with remote schooling are now cropping up to simulate a socially distant classroom environment that allows parents to schedule a (semi-) normal workday—or work-from-holiday day—during these pandemic times.

For Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants—which was already ideating ways to make remote working feasible for its guests—remote learning offerings seemed like a natural mid-2020 fit to streamline arrangements for guests with children.

“We’ve successfully launched ‘Work From Hotel’ packages at a number of our hotels earlier this year, providing a quiet and equipped space for professionals to plug in and focus away from the distractions of home,” says Kathleen Reidenbach, chief commercial officer. “This back-to-school season gave us the opportunity to evolve that offering and introduce our first-ever chief virtual learning officer (CVLO) at select Kimptons across the US and Canada.”

“Our goal is to provide some relief for parents traveling with kids and get the setup portion of online learning off their plate.” —Kathleen Reidenbach, Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants

At Kimpton Hotels, the CVLO acts as an on-property complimentary learning concierge who can help solve inevitable Zoom problems; is equipped with items like pens, highlighters, binders, and snacks; and is on-call to troubleshoot any technical issues that might otherwise keep parents from making their own scheduled 9 a.m. meetings. “In hearing from parents, one of the biggest pain points with virtual learning is getting their kids signed in and online, especially for those who have young children, while managing their own workload and meetings,” says Reidenbach. “Our goal is to provide some relief for parents traveling with kids and get the setup portion of online learning off their plate.”

Kimpton’s not the only hospitality company aiming to help working-parent guests in similar ways. In Orange County, California, Monarch Beach Resort offers an “Edu-cations” package complete with dedicated study rooms, high-speed internet, online homework help, and extracurricular activities like SUP paddleboarding and family fitness classes through its Ocean Education Enrichment Center. Auberge Resorts just announced Remote with Auberge: programming for children and adult-learning opportunities that even features “culturally enriching classes” specific to the resort location the family chooses. And Four Seasons just launched its “Knowledge for All Seasons” initiative at its Punta Mita, Mexico resort and “schoolcations” at its Orlando property.

There’s no denying that those who can afford these accommodations are privileged in being able to do their own work while being able to worry a bit less about the additional work of managing virtual schooling for their children. The option is certainly not accessible to all, however. Auberge’s “best-offer” deals feature hotels that are at least $500 per night and Monarch Beach’s “accessible guest rooms and suites” start at about $400 per night. Kimpton’s rooms, meanwhile, are a little more income-inclusive, starting at about $160 per night.

Certainly, the exclusiveness and dollar-value of these resorts bar them from being an option to many folks. As the pandemic wears on, though, we might just see hotels at all different price points make similar efforts to provide parents a vacation of sorts from the added weight of managing virtual learning on top of other priorities that come with living during the pandemic. Maybe this is just the start of putting the education in vacation.

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