real life

6 questions to ask before you book a holiday with teenagers.

Kathy Wilson with her family at Sea World.

By KATHY WILSON

Teenagers get lots of bad press these days but I have to admit, I’m finding that some things do get easier as my kids get older.

Yes, we get moodiness in our household. And attitude… But most days I actually love having a teenager around.

I love having an in-house gadget technician who knows where to find a critical work file that has been accidentally sent to the “Cloud” (whatever that is).

I love tucking him in at night and wondering how he got so big that his feet poke out the bottom of the doona. And wondering what happened to the tiny baby I brought home from the hospital.

But one thing does get harder as my kids get older. And that’s family holidays.

Gone are the days when a double scoop of Hokey Pokey ice-cream was the ultimate in holiday indulgence (although happily that still rocks my 7 year-old’s world).

Instead, recent holidays have become a battle of wills.

Me – limiting device time and getting hurt by my son’s inability to resist the siren call of his friends on social media.

He – unable to believe I could spend 3 hours playing Cluedo without once checking my phone.

There are no winners in those battles.

But recently we had the chance to spend a long weekend at Sea World Resort on the Gold Coast and like magic the conflict disappeared. Suddenly, it felt like the, “old days” with everyone excitedly clamouring over what to do next.

Just as an FYI, you should know that this post is sponsored by Village Roadshow Theme Parks. But all opinions expressed by the author are 100% authentic and written in their own words.

Sure there were ice creams, but there were also experiences that went way deeper. And, I suspect, will last way longer.

At some point, it dawned on me that maybe as our kids get older, the thinking behind our holidays need to change.

So, based on one of our best family holidays ever, here’s a list of questions I plan to ask myself each time I think about booking a trip away:

Adventure? Check.

1. Are there adventures to be had?

Older kids need action and the Sea World Resort has action that suits both teenagers and younger siblings in spades.

The Resort backs right onto Sea World, so you can either stroll straight into Sea World or take a short trip to Warner Bros. Movie World or Wet’n’Wild Gold Coast. Entrance to all of them is included as part of the Resort’s VIP Theme Park Package.

In our short stay, we managed to pack in a Dolphin Family Adventure, a Seal Safari and a Dolphin Discovery Presentation.

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I defy anyone to interact with these mythical animals and remain cool. Whether you are a Facebook obsessed teen or a 90 year old grandmother, there is something timeless about dolphins and seals and our entire family felt it.

Because we stayed at the Resort (in a newly refurbished room) for more than two nights, we were also eligible for the free Dolphin Discovery Presentation on Sunday morning. Feeling very VIP, we were allowed into the park before the gates were open to regular visitors to watch a behind-the-scenes dolphin training session.

A well-priced add on to the Resort packages is a VIP Magic Pass which gives unlimited access to Sea World and the other nearby theme parks; Movie World and Wet’n’Wild. This means you can extend the holiday way past when you check out of the Resort.

We must have had at least 50 rollercoaster rides including several goes at “The Storm” which has a sign proclaiming, “you will get wet, you may get soaked….” Yeah, we got soaked…..

The teenager didn’t have time to check his phone…

2. What else is close by?

It turns out a great holiday is also about location.

Sea World Resort is right in the heart of the Gold Coast.

It is a 5-minute walk from glorious beaches and a stone’s throw from Surfers Paradise. Even if you’re too consumed by the many activities on offer at Sea World and the Resort to make it to the beach, it’s hard to top a glorious view from your balcony and falling asleep to the sound of waves breaking on the sand.

The head chef at Hatsuhana

3. How’s the food?

Spending your days adventuring produces a pretty good appetite and we were delighted to discover that the food in the Resort restaurants was fabulous.

On the night we arrived, we enjoyed a seafood buffet at The Shoreline restaurant with fresh oysters, prawns and crabs (although the kids’ highlight was clearly the soft serve tap).

Even better was Hatsuhana, the award winning Japanese restaurant we visited on the next night. Here our talented chef entertained the kids by juggling razor sharp knives and raw eggs, before presenting beautifully crafted meals.

And the kids are still talking about The Shoreline’s buffet breakfast…

4. Is there a relaxed vibe?

I’m guessing it is hard to take yourself too seriously when Sponge Bob SquarePants is wandering around in the foyer and from the second we arrived at the Resort, it was clear that all of the staff just wanted us to have a good time.

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Everyone we met was relaxed and fun and nothing was too much trouble.

Krista, the qualified marine biologist who took us on our Dolphin Family Adventure, was clearly in love with her job and thoughtfully answered the endless questions from the kids.

Even the lady who turned down our beds each evening went a step further than she had to. When we returned to our rooms at the end of a long day of adventures, she had transformed a towel into a lamb complete with a pair of my sunglasses.

5. Is there something for parents?

I love my kids, I really do. But you know what? I really love my husband as well.

And even though it was a family holiday, I wondered if it was possible to fit in something a bit special for ourselves.

That dilemma was solved by booking a Deluxe Broadwater suite, with the kids in the adjoining room.

Perfection.

Between adventures, the kids happily watched endless re-runs of Modern Family and revelled in the free Resort Wi-Fi all from the comfort of their beds.

My husband and I were even happier, sharing a bottle of wine on our balcony that overlooked the Gold Coast Broadwater and listening to the lapping of the waves.

It’s the memories that count.

6. What will everyone remember?

It’s funny how, as soon as you get home and a holiday becomes a memory, your perspective on it changes.

When you are in the thick of it, it’s all about action and fun and adventure.

But on the first night back, when I was tucking the doona over my teenager’s feet, I glanced over onto his desk.

Right in the middle, was a photo of him and Bala the dolphin.

In the photo, he doesn’t really look like a teenager. His smile wasn’t his usual, “I’m cool” smile. It was a grin as open and happy as the dolphin he was touching.

Apparently he’s also thinking about changing his subject preferences to biology just in case he decides to become a marine biologist.

Coincidence?

Maybe.

But sometimes the vibrations of a wonderful holiday can ripple on further than you’d expect…

Click through to see their fun family holiday…

What’s the best family holiday you’ve been on that’s great for the whole family?

Take your family on a journey of discovery and adventure at the award-winning Sea World Resort.  There’s so much to explore including an aquatic adventure playground, cuddles with your favourite Nickelodeon characters, a fun filled Kid’s Club and amazing restaurants.

Plus, when you stay two nights or more, you can go on a behind the scenes sneak peek of a dolphin training session with Sea World Resort’s exclusive Dolphin Discovery for free. It’s a wonderful experience the kids will never forget.
Sea World Resort offers direct monorail access to Sea World and family friendly service all with Gold Coast beaches and famous theme parks on your doorstep, not to mention free WiFI around the entire hotel. Visit SeaWorldResort.com.au.