As more and more school districts opt to go fully remote this fall, parents across the United States are facing an unprecedented school year. While the average family is now struggling to juggle work time, school time and everything in between, the ultrawealthy are opting to take remote learning quite literally.
For those parents who can work remotely from anywhere and who can afford the high cost of living in a luxury hotel for weeks or even months at a time, certain top-dollar resorts are rolling out packages that include educational experiences for the most privileged of pupils.
Learning — not by the book
If you’re sheltering in place already, why not do it some place where you can learn algebra poolside or practice French in between paddleboard lessons? Or so the thinking seems to go.
Since many properties lending themselves up as remote learning environments offer residential-style accommodations, it can make the transition to hotel living even easier.
“At a minimum, they want larger suites, but ideally a cottage, residence or an apartment that’s part of a hotel,” says luxury travel adviser Josh Alexander of Protravel International regarding the wealthy families looking to spend the school semester away from home.
Of course, being away from home for so long has its disadvantages as well, homesickness being chief among them.
But for families who are contemplating an entire remote semester, the benefits can certainly outweigh the negatives.
“The change of scenery can be educational and enhancing,” says Jennie Germann Molz a professor of sociology at College of the Holy Cross and author of the upcoming book, “The World is Our Classroom: Extreme Parenting and the Rise of World Schooling.”
“You are exposed to different languages, different cuisines, different cultures and different challenges that expand kids’ comfort zones and make them feel more competent in the world.”
Sheltering in South America
If your child can’t be in a physical school and you have the money to shelter in place anywhere, what’s stopping you from spending the fall in Uruguay?
Such is the thinking behind Estancia Vik’s latest package, which aims to attract US families who are looking for a remote yet high-end resort to ride out home schooling.
The Spanish-style hotel in the upscale surf town of Jose Ignacio is now available for monthly buyouts. The property can accommodate up to 24 people and boasts kid-friendly amenities such as two grass tennis courts, a swimming pool, game room and even a private polo field; all of which is exclusively reserved for the guests.
Of course, this all comes at quite the price: a cool $6,000 dollars per night, which clocks in at $180,000 for a 30-night stay.
But it’s not just the hotel’s amenities that are on offer for these students (as much any child would love to spend an entire school day in the pool).
Estancia Vik is also working in conjunction with local international schools to supply tutors, including language instructors who can teach the students the country’s native tongue of Spanish.
And, instead of art class, guests can take guided trips to the nearby Pablo Atchugarry Museum or Galeria Sur, as well as visits to the studios of artists such as Eduardo Cardozo, Kike Badaro and Alejandro Turell.
As for gym class, forget dodgeball. Included in the daily rate are adrenaline-pumping activities such as kayaking, horseback riding, paddle boarding and golf at the driving range.
The hotel is also hoping its location will be a draw for American families. With a time zone that is just one hour ahead of the Eastern Time zone in the United States, American children’s daily school schedules (virtual or otherwise) would not have to be shifted dramatically.
Plus, as the hotel is in the Southern Hemisphere, these lucky students will be treated to a bit of an endless summer as the country will be shifting into its warmer seasons while the United States moves into fall and winter.
Sun, sand and school
A little closer, Mexico, the Caribbean and Hawaii may prove appealing for families looking to post up long-term at a hotel where they can educate their children.
In Punta Mita on Mexico’s western coast, the new Conrad Punta de Mita will open on September 1, just in time for the start of the school year.
When it begins welcoming guests, there will also be an educational program in place for the youngest visitors: LFP, or, Learn from Paradise. Classes will be offered in everything from learning how to cook classic Mexican dishes to the traditions of the indigenous Huichol people.
And, on the eastern coast, the Marriott Cancun Resort is launching N.E.D. Talks, an initiative designed to focus on nature, education and discovery.
Through the program, students learn about the area’s turtle release program through a talk with an expert, learn math measurements through a kid-friendly mocktail lesson and can take hourlong introductory Spanish lessons.
At the tony Eden Roc Cap Cana in the Dominican Republic, lessons are also on the agenda for the hotel’s Family Staycation package. Geared for guests planning to stay 20 to 30 days, the program includes unlimited Spanish and piano lessons, starting at $35,000 for 20 nights and $52,000 for 30.
“If you’re going to be on the island for extended periods of time, we thought it would be interesting to include an educational component for the children, so they have the opportunity to continue remotely learning outside of their school parameters,” says managing director Stefano Baratelli.
Families looking for a true home-away-from-home experience can also book a three or four-bedroom villa here, which includes butler service, a private chef and plenty of outdoor space for kids to run around.
Although Hawaii has extended its quarantine requirements through at least October 1, properties, including Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea are preparing to welcome guests back in a few weeks time.
One of the new amenities is something the property is calling the Virtual Classroom. Free to guests, it’s a complimentary amenity for families staying at the resort.
No reservations for the classroom are needed, though one-on-one tutors can be arranged in advance, for a fee. The classroom comes with basic school supplies and snacks. Creative breaks, similar to extracurricular activities, will feature instruction from a lei maker, hula dancer and pastry chef, adding to the tropical classroom vibe.
Rooms start at around $700 night.
Luxury hotels stateside are also rolling out the red carpet for wealthy families who would prefer a change of scenery.
The Ritz-Carlton in Amelia Island, Florida, is taking advantage of its lush natural environment and offering an Ecology Field Trip package. The four-night program focuses on earth science studies. Students can engage in interactive lessons such as dune exploration, boat excursions to sample and study water systems, and microscopic analysis of coastal biospheres.
And in California, the Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point is coupling outdoor exploration with enviable classroom digs. The resort’s “extra credit” package offers families the option to rent one hotel room and receive another free of charge to use as a classroom.
The package also includes one hour of homework help booked with a local tutor, as well as an optional boxed lunch students can eat at the resort’s swanky beach club.
The hotel also offers what they call Dana Point Discoveries, which include activities such as surf lessons, family fitness classes and stand-up paddleboard tours.
Long-term remote learning
For families where money is no object, the sky is not only the limit when it comes to pricing, but for length of stay as well.
“Some of my client requests have been for September 1 all the way through Christmas break,” says travel adviser Alexander.
And if school continues to be remote well in to 2021? “I have many clients looking for hotels with access to skiing,” he says.
CNN’s Stacey Lastoe contributed to this story.