Eric Christian Olsen and son

Actor and producer Eric Christian Olsen shares a few of his favourite family journeys, as well as the teachable moments that can only come from travel.

Eric Christian Olsen on the Magic of Mini Family Vacations

The actor and producer recounts the transformative – and teachable – moments he's found during family travels.

There are two reasons my wife, Sarah Wright, will never forget Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita. One: She was obsessed with the fresh guacamole, magically refilled by the staff. And two: After a beautiful dinner, three desserts and bottle of Bordeaux on the beach, I got down on one knee and proposed in the moonlight. That was seven years ago. It was our first Four Seasons experience, and we haven’t stayed elsewhere since.

Sarah and I both believe firmly in the fundamental philosophy that happiness is the journey, not the destination. The things that I remember most about my childhood are experiences like loading up the family station wagon for vacations in the Cascades, fishing in the Teton Mountains or bodysurfing with my dad for hours along the Oregon coast.

Sarah and I both believe firmly in the fundamental philosophy that happiness is the journey, not the destination.

We knew we wanted to recreate that with our kids. So, when I renegotiated my work contract, instead of asking for more money, I asked for four weeks off during production. This has allowed our family to take mini vacations throughout the year. We even created a vacation folder of all the places we want to explore next together.

We started planning family trips from the moment our son, Wyatt, was born. He travelled like a pro – toting a carry-on Gruffalo suitcase filled with books and Legos, wearing sandals to expedite security checks, and earning platinum airline status before he was 2 years old.

And we soon discovered that while a lot of hotels shun kids, Four Seasons truly welcomes every member of the family. I honestly think the staff is specially trained to handle toddlers with jet lag. One night, we arrived really late at Four Seasons Resort O‘ahu at Ko Olina. It was way past Wyatt’s bedtime when we sat down to a starlit dinner at the restaurant. The waitress could tell he was exhausted, so she asked him his favourite singer and he said, “John Denver!” (Totally my fault.) Suddenly, the restaurant musician started playing “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” The look on Wyatt’s face was pure joy.

When travelling with toddlers, you have to plan on things going sideways. But when we’ve stayed with Four Seasons, they go out of their way to pick up the slack. In London, my shuttle to MCM Comic Con never showed up. The Concierge at
Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square didn’t just drive me 16 kilometres through traffic in the house Maybach – he offered to do it every day.

At Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara, it started pouring rain just as my family finished breakfast. You could tell Wyatt was nervous about navigating this deluge until one of the Resort staff members appeared with a kid-sized umbrella. Wyatt took it and sprinted out into the rain, jumping through puddles the whole way back to our bungalow. That simple act of thoughtfulness became a teachable moment for him: We navigate those unexpected obstacles while embracing and finding happiness in the present.

On a trip to Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, A Four Seasons Hotel, a Concierge team member scooped up Wyatt as soon as we stepped in and gave him a stuffed sea turtle. Wyatt’s favourite activity is swimming, and he learned to swim there in the Club Dauphin seawater pool overlooking the Mediterranean while that stuffed sea turtle watched supportively from the pool deck.

When we ask Wyatt where he wants to go next, he consistently says Oahu. He will tell you about a hidden beach, down the road from the Resort, where he can swim with turtles and eat avocados (secretly provided by Chef John). He’s 5 years old now and already has developed such an emotional connection to the Oahu staff. The chefs there know that he is obsessed with the movie Ratatouille. After lunch during one recent visit, they gave him a chef’s jacket and hat – which he carried around for the next eight months – and invited him into the kitchen to make chocolate sea turtles. That was a life highlight for him.

Experiences like this make me fall in love with Four Seasons time and again. It’s why I know we’ll continue to share milestones and once-in-a-lifetime moments on our travels. This journey of life is magical and fleeting, and we want to make sure we are taking stock of every experience we can.

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