The best part of a family vacation is when everyone gets to play together—when parents and children are in the same place at the same time, relaxing and experiencing something new. Inevitably, however, there comes a moment on every family trip when the adults need some alone time.
That’s where Montage Hotels & Resorts’ enriching Paintbox, Paintbox Petite and M-Teens programs come in.
These offerings—designed for young people ages 2-17—revolve around activities-based clubs that feature thematically planned schedules in half-day and full-day sessions. The activities tie together arts and crafts as well as games and creative play, both indoors and out. Paintbox, Paintbox, Paintbox Petite and M-Teens add a special touch to any Montage visit.
Spring is a busy time for these programs, with fun activities for children of all ages. Here’s a closer look at how the programs work, and how they encourage creativity, exercise and more.
Montage offers programs tailored for three different groups: Paintbox Petite is aimed at young ones between ages 2 to 5; Paintbox is geared toward children ages 5 to 12; and M-Teens is for young adults between 12 and 17. All Montage properties offer Paintbox, while some provide Paintbox Petite and M-Teens as well.
These programs aren’t day care; instead they revolve around experiential learning. This means there’s no formal curriculum—just a loose plan to gain knowledge through doing a range of activities.
One of the popular Paintbox programs at Montage Kapalua Bay is “Epic Explorer Tuesday,” during which staff members take participating children on a trip to some of the nearby tide pools. On this adventure, children are introduced to hermit crabs, sea cucumbers, sea urchins and the occasional moray eel and shrimp. While the children marvel at these critters, staff members teach them about the animals. When it’s all over, the Paintbox participants have had an amazing day and learned something, too.
“Our programs help each individual form [his or her] own unique bond and connection to Kapalua, Maui and the Hawaiian Islands,” says Ashleigh Gay, recreation manager at Montage Kapalua Bay. She adds that the property’s M-Teens program applies the same philosophy, only with more sophisticated activities, such as snorkeling.
Other activities at different Montage properties focus on an array of subject areas. Alli Kroth, Paintbox supervisor at Montage Laguna Beach, says “Swashbuckling Saturdays” in her program are pirate-themed days during which she and her colleagues tell the story of Hippolyte Bouchard, a real-life pirate who landed on Treasure Island Beach just down the road. These are just some of the thoughtful programs provided at each Montage property.
While Paintbox, Paintbox Petite and M-Teens programs seek to teach through doing, the programs also strive to provide participants with unique experiences that correlate to each specific property and its surroundings. At the aforementioned Montage Kapalua Bay, activities revolve around the beach; at Montage Deer Valley, especially during early spring, activities often focus on the ski resort, and include igloo-building, tubing at their own hill, Powder Park, and more.
Another ode to local culture at Deer Valley: “Festival Fridays.” As Paintbox manager Lauren Santistevan explains, this session is a nod to the Sundance Film Festival, which is held every year in Park City, Utah. Though children don’t shoot actual movies, they dress up, perform plays and engage in a paparazzi-themed photo scavenger hunt around the resort. “All of the things we do [those days] are inspired by the [film] festival,” she says.
Montage Palmetto Bluff takes the “sense of place” even further; building a portion of activities around the Gullah culture. The Gullah are descendants of enslaved Africans who lived in the Lowcountry sections of the South, and basket-weaving was a huge part of their lives. With this in mind, the Paintbox program at this property includes an entire session practicing this skill—during this time, participants get to weave their own baskets.
According to Christine Wrobel, a spokesperson for the resort, children who attend this session sometimes also learn Gullah songs and dances. “This is why people choose to go on vacation, to experience the culture of the area they’re in,” she says. “By allowing your children to participate in Paintbox, you’re enabling them to engage in the culture of our area in a way that’s fun and relatable.”
Of course, another benefit of this personalized oversight is that participants often make fast friends—both with each other and with Paintbox, Paintbox Petite and M-Teens. Wrobel notes that many families come back to Montage Hotels & Resorts year after year at the same time and, as a result of overlapping in children’s programs, some young people make connections that last for years.
Even parents make new friends through these programs; many Paintbox programs offer “Children’s Night Out” events on weekends, and parents have been known to meet other parents at drop-off, then head for drinks together.
For visitors to these diverse destinations, Paintbox, Paintbox Petite and M-Teens programs are a critical part of the overall family experience at Montage resorts—for everyone involved.
Catch a fish, surf a wave, hike a trail, spot some local wildlife: Children who master these activities (among many others) during their visit to select Montage properties will earn exciting merit badges for each. Not only will participants be able to return home with evidence of their adventures in the form of a creative pin, those who complete all 12 achievements will also receive a special prize. This unique program gives children an opportunity to be the masters of their own experiences and, with the help of their take-home merit badges, relish those memories long after leaving the Montage resort.
By Matt Villano