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Enjoying The Shores In Daytona

By Julie Hatfield

If you’re planning on driving the kids to Disney World from somewhere in the North, you should make a stop in Daytona Beach Shores before you get to your final destination. Not necessarily for the fun of driving your car right out onto the beach, which is nothing to sneeze at, and not even necessarily to treat them to the Daytona 500, which, granted, draws 250,000 people to town in February and is also fun. On the contrary, you should stop so the kids can stay at a place that, even though it looks like an upscale adults-only hotel, is one of the most welcoming to children that we’ve encountered on our travels. In fact, you could easily stay here enjoying the beautiful beach and never get to Orlando at all.

When you enter The Shores Resort & Spa, (www.shoresresort.com) which sits among mostly condominiums converted from hotels along the nicest part of this barrier island off the Florida mainland, you know there’s something different about the place when they hand you a little metal box as you arrive. It’s your “S’mores” kit, complete with marshmallows, graham crackers and Hershey bars. When you get to your room, there’s a metal skewer there for cooking the marshmallows. Out by the pool there’s a fire pit which, you might assume, is for barbecuing dinners or adult cocktail party hors d’oeuvres. One can certainly do that, but Gus Dunn, the “guest ambassador” at The Shores, says that, in reality, more people like to use the pit for their after-dinner s’mores treats and children are very much a part of a s’mores experience anywhere.

It may feel a little like summer camp here for a minute, with kids riding bicycles on the beach and toasting marshmallows. That all changes when you look out at the Atlantic Ocean, or behind you into the candlelit restaurants, one outside by the pool and one indoors, or when you retreat to your room with the four-poster bed, the plasma flat-screen TV, and the DVD players. For everyone who brings a child with them, a teddy bear can be found sitting on the bed pillow when you arrive and it's yours to take home with you when you leave.

Most fitness centers have a rule that essentially keeps the little ones from enjoying the benefits of exercise and fitness. At the SpaTerre fitness center, however, those under 16 can also work out as long as an adult is with them. Fitness center privileges are often an important factor for teens and young athletes, and younger children want to use them as well. In addition, what parent would not want to set an example of fitness while watching the younger ones learn to use the machines and start to build muscles?

Likewise, at first glance, the elegant and exotic SpaTerre, which puts its emphasis on Indonesian and Thai beauty treatments, looks like a place that would stop a child at the door with warnings to Keep Out. In fact, it seemed even more like an adults-only place when they suggested we have the “Margarita Pedicure,” which is the ultimate treatment for the feet and toes, all while you sip on whichever margarita from the Tiki Bar you fancy (even if it’s 10 in the morning, which it was). But SpaTerre not only welcomes children, it encourages them to enjoy some of the treatments right along with Mom and Dad. Listed among the Dilo Rescue Wrap, which nourishes dry or sunburned skin with nurtures irritated skin with Dilo nut, virgin coconut oils, aloe vera and passion flower extracts, and the Javanese Royal Treatment including a Balinese massage and yogurt splash, and the romantic couples’ massage which we enjoyed, in addition to the childrens’ massages and hair treatments, is the Ultimate Teen Facial, which includes in-depth cleansing to remove impurities and correct imperfections.

Did we mention that the kids don’t have to leave Fido at home? The Shores, the only AAA Four Diamond resort and spa in Daytona Beach, is also completely pet-friendly. Pets under 20 pounds are welcomed.

With all the catering that The Shores does for kids, we expected to be surrounded by a loud day-care-type atmosphere, but that wasn’t the case when we were there. On a late afternoon in February, which is high season down here, I was the only one swimming save for four quiet little children who were being supervised by their parents, and I was able to do laps while the little ones played in one corner of the enormous pool. Heaven, but I kicked myself for not having my grandson along, and vowed that he will come back here with me soon with Sherman, his furry black dog.

Julie Hatfield is an award-winning travel writer who was fashion editor of The Boston Globe for 22 years and continues to write travel stories and a philanthropy column for The Globe. She lives in Duxbury, Mass., with her husband, is the mother of three, stepmother of two, and grandmother of one.

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