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During a recent trip, my sons gingerly made their way through the rice paddies at Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai as a guide pointed out the long grasses in the waters around their boots, the sounds of the resident buffalo in the distance carrying across the still air. As we walked, our guide explained how […]

World Class

The experiential education that comes only through travel is a smart way to keep the learning going during summer break or beyond – and it's not just for children.

During a recent trip, my sons gingerly made their way through the rice paddies at Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai as a guide pointed out the long grasses in the waters around their boots, the sounds of the resident buffalo in the distance carrying across the still air. As we walked, our guide explained how the animals and the farmers work together, and how much land is required to create a bag of rice we’d purchase without a thought at a supermarket back home. Later, we sampled the product: In a cooking class, the executive chef showed the boys how to make mango sticky rice and other tasty Thai dishes. We headed home with recipes, a new appreciation for a dinner staple, and knowledge of another culture and way of life.

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Our visit to Thailand was just one stop on our family’s trip around the world. Without class curricula, we let the journey school our sons. We learned new languages at playgrounds and restaurants, explored conservation efforts in wild spaces, tested our math skills while figuring out currencies, and practised reading with signs at museum exhibits.

Over the past year, terms like “remote schooling” have become a part of many families’ vocabularies. But for us and other avid family travellers, learning has always been a part of the adventure. Every trip we’ve taken has taught us, kids and adults, something new. As we look forward to future journeys together, here are some of the exciting opportunities offered by Four Seasons to help us learn about – and from – local destinations and people.

WILD OCEAN ENCOUNTERS

Who needs a biology classroom – or a playground – when your family can explore the incredible marine life that surrounds Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita, México? As part of its “Schoolcations” program, marine learning activities for kids include an expert-guided whale-watching tour, a sea foraging excursion and the chance to assist with the release of olive ridley sea turtle hatchlings.

At Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea, families (including kids as young as 9) can keep an eye out for sea turtles and other marine life – including migrating humpback whales, in season – during a private outrigger canoe paddle. Championship-level guides teach you the basics and show how this ancient tradition continues to play a role in Hawaiian culture.

In a new partnership with WiseOceans, and with a new Resort marine biologist and educator, Louise Sabadel, Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora is now more certain than ever to appeal to conservationists of all ages. Snorkelling the calm lagoon and reef is an easy way for multiple generations to discover local underwater life together.

STAYING FIT AND FOCUSED

Healthy bodies and healthy minds go hand in hand, so learning a new skill that strengthens physical and mental muscles is good for the whole family. At Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui, kids as young as 4 can learn the traditional art of Thai kick-boxing (muay thai) from a professional boxer. Every member of the family will enjoy gazing out over the gulf from a hilltop ring, practising this sport that promotes flexibility, strength and coordination.

On the flip side, sometimes it’s important to concentrate on quiet minds and calm spirits. At Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa, kids age 6 and older can develop both. Board a dhoni boat together and sail over to the Island Spa, where children can relax with treatments all their own, including oil blending, nourishing seaweeds, or yoga on land or sea. “Kids are never too young to learn the importance of self-care or the role of nature in our well-being,” says Spa Assistant Manager Angelica De Leon. “Our children’s treatments all include an educational aspect.”

And it’s easy to turn a sport your child already loves into a teachable moment. At Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World® Resort, sign your student up for a one-hour golf lesson with PGA professional Rod Cook, the Resort’s Director of Instruction, to learn different golf skill sets like chipping, putting and driving. Afterwards, explore the science behind the sport: Director of Golf Maintenance Stephen Tucker will explain the winning formula of water, fertilizer and care that goes into keeping the course in prime condition.

ARTS, CRAFTS AND CULTURE

From a fairly young age, many kids have had some exposure to ancient Greek mythology and culture. In Athens, a visit to local museums will show them how important pottery remains are to the archaeological record and our modern understanding of the era. Bring the stories to life and engage kids’ hands-on creativity with pottery lessons at Four Seasons Astir Palace Hotel Athens.

Prefer your art in 2D? Learn about Italian artists and the techniques used in their work when you try your hand at reproducing pieces by legends like Raphael and Caravaggio. The exclusive collaboration between Four Seasons Hotel Milano and the Pinacoteca di Brera museum includes a sketchbook, colouring kit and private tour options. “The children who participate are captured by the colours, by the thousands of stories that the paintings tell,” says Pinacoteca di Brera Deputy Manager Alessandra Quarto. “They are totally fascinated; they sit on the floor and listen, observe, draw.”

Or make art that takes to the sky: At Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay and Four Seasons Resort Nevis, on-site kite experts will help kids build their own creations to soar high and challenge others. Kites play a cultural role in both destinations; spring brings kite competitions in Nevis, and summer in Bali is the time to watch locals battling it out in the skies with kites up to 5 metres wide.

Inspire any budding chefs in your family with a hands-on French culinary experience ­– starting with a drive to Versailles to see the Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris, kitchen garden—with the Hotel’s Michelin-starred Chef Simone Zanoni. Or book a family lesson in Vietnamese cuisine at Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai, Hoi An. The skills kids learn here from an expert chef, such as rolling rice paper, can add spice to mealtimes back home.

HISTORY COMES ALIVE

For kids, history books can be boring. Interactive activities bring the facts more vividly to life in experiences the adults can share. Pay a lantern-lit evening visit to George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate, exclusively arranged by Four Seasons Hotel Washington, DC, where you’ll learn about the first U.S. president and explore spaces that aren’t open to the general public. “Mount Vernon looks like it was frozen in time during Washington’s life—it is truly living history,” says Concierge Supervisor Michael Chase. “No tour is duplicated from one family to the next; the guide tailors to the ages and curiosities of the children.”

At Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay, a local expert will guide you on a walking tour along the Pearling Trail in the old city of Muharraq, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, for a glimpse into its history and its pearling traditions. Pair it with a family snorkelling or diving trip to search for fresh wild pearls.

If the legend of El Dorado has caught your children’s interest, a visit to Bogotá’s Museo del Oro is in order, and a helicopter tour over Lake Guatavita, arranged by Four Seasons Hotel Casa Medina Bogotá, can add a sense of place to the fabled city of gold. The lake was a sacred site for the indigenous Muisca civilization, where chiefs threw offerings including gold to the gods; the story grew into the myth of El Dorado.

For the ultimate adventure, the Four Seasons Private Jet may be just the ticket: The first family-friendly journey, African Wonders (December 28, 2021, to January 9, 2022), includes stops in seven countries and a visit to one of the world’s most compelling historical sites, Egypt’s Pyramids of Giza, with expert guides and special access. It’s just the type of experience to inspire your children’s love of learning, and your favourite family memories, for years to come.