It takes a careful plan to make beach-loving toddlers skip the water. Kevan Kentish knew exactly what to do. The coordinator of the new Mini-Explorers Summer Program for Malliouhana Auberge Resorts Collection Anguilla, asked 4-year-old James* and 2.5-year-old Charlotte* if they wanted to make a rainbow.
Skeptical but wide-eyed, James and Charlotte followed Kentish into the camp room. He asked the kids to squeeze colored food dye into cups of water then place one half of a folded napkin into each cup. While waiting for capillary magic to soak the napkins into rainbowed splendor, Kevin read a story about a sea-faring family who built a boat and assisted the kids in constructing a vessel from blocks. Then, Kentish and the young craftspeople happily launched the boat in the resort’s pool to test the vessel’s buoyancy.
What may be even more remarkable than Kentish’s Pied Piper ability to engage kids, especially on a hot June day, is the fact that Malliouhana, part of the Auberge Resorts Collection (ARC), operates a children’s program.
The Auberge brand is best known for romantic couples’ escapes. “As the brand grew, the Auberge Collection realized the impact and the importance of the family travel market, including the multi-generational market, which is huge,” said an ARC spokesperson.
At Malliouhana and other Auberge properties, work-weary urbanites can still book seaside dinners and moonlight sails. But now, twosomes can sign up their youngsters for supervised camp activities, at least for the summer. Since the resorts aim to showcase their local environment and culture, each camp’s name and activities differ.
Thrilled that their boat floated, James and Charlotte left the pool to hurry back with Kentish to the camp room to make Johnny cakes. The budding bakers excitedly donned chef’s aprons and hats. That was a nice touch as few toddlers can forego dressing up.
As Kentish explained how locals originally called the cornmeal flatbread “journey cakes” because sailors packed the bread for their trips, Sherry Hendrickson, from the resort’s food and beverage department, guided James and Charlotte through measuring cornmeal, butter, milk, and baking powder. She let them mix the ingredients by hand—literally. They stuck their fingers in the concoction and also used spoons and whisks.
Combining both STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) principles with local culture, Malliouhana’s program engages kids while teaching them. Although Mini-Explorers programs target ages 4 to 12, Kentish was flexible, allowing Charlotte to participate with a parent. A former Washington, D.C., public school teacher and an Anguillan private school instructor, Kentish paced the 90-minute session to engage both kids, changing activities to keep James and Charlotte engrossed.
Before lunch at Leon’s, Malliouhana’s beachside eatery, we swam in the calm waters of Meads Bay, and the kids dug in the silky soft sand. Along with tasty blackened mahi-mahi and crispy chicken fingers for the kids, we sampled Johnny cakes. Because of kitchen health rules, the cakes were not those baked by the kids, although the little ones didn’t know.
Malliouhana’s Mini-Explorers Summer Program is well-thought-out and expertly delivered. We hope the program expands to family holidays, and so do James and Charlotte.
Malliouhana, an Auberge Resort, is an iconic luxury hotel with 63 oversized guestrooms and suites and a summer children’s program. Morning sessions run for 60-90 minutes and afternoon sessions last about two hours.