advertisement

Want to shave your family's vacation costs? Be on the lookout for a free meal -- or even better, make that three squares a day. Mindful of the high cost of traveling with children, an increasing number of hotels and resorts are wooing parents with "kids eat free" promotions. This kind of "soft" deal is often promoted in a low-key way. Be sure to check out the hotel's special offers web page, and ask about family deals when you reserve your room. Here's a round-up of some of the best "kids eat free" deals available right now:

Family-friendly pricing is nothing new at Holiday Inn (www.holidayinn.com), which pioneered the "Kids Eat Free" concept in 1993. Fifteen years later, kids 12 and under still eat free at nearly 900 Holiday Inn properties throughout the Americas.

Want to take the kids to the Caribbean this summer? You'd be hard-pressed to find a more family-friendly deal than American Airlines Vacations' Cayman Summer Splash promo. Book a four-night stay at any of five participating hotels (including Ritz-Carlton, Westin, and Marriott properties) and get the fifth night free, plus a whole raftful of free kid-friendly excursions and outings, plus the "kids eat free" deal.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts has launched its brand new "Love Your Family program" at 29 properties, including some Sheraton, Le Meridien, and Westin properties in Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Canada, and the Caribbean. Kids 5 and under eat free off the children's menu, while kids 6 to 12 eat for half price from the regular menu. Other perks include a daily $100 resort credit, and a souvenir cup that's refillable with unlimited soft drinks, juices, and milk.

At select Marriott hotels, including Courtyard, Residence Inn, Renaissance, and Marriott Resort properties such as the Orlando World Center Marriott, the Escape! Family package lets kids 12 and under eat free at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The deal includes a free pizza party, including in-room movie rental, pizza, and beverages.

Who says golf resorts don't understand families? At the venerable Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina (www.pinehurst.com), the Summer Tee & Summer Spree packages include two nights of accommodations plus one night free, and golf or spa treatments. Plus, kids 17 and under not only stay and eat free, they golf free.

Two Hyatt Regency Resort properties in Hawaii are offering money-saving summer promotions, available for travel between June 1 and September 7. The Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa's Kids Eat Free deal lets kids 12 and under eat free off the restaurant's Johnny Venture menu. Better yet, the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Resort & Spa has a Kids Stay, Play and Eat Free offer where kids 12 and under eat free and get one free shave ice treat at Hyatt on the Beach. Plus, kids 5 to 12 get a free session at Camp Hyatt.

WeJustGotBack.com is an authoritative online guide to family trip-planning. The site features reviews of kid-friendly hotels and resorts, expert planning advice, readers' travel tips, destination insider guides, regional getaway ideas, vacation deals, and more.

Talk with fellow Frommer's travelers on our Family Travel Message Boards today.