It’s back-to-school time across the nation, but with the coronavirus pandemic still raging in many parts of the United States, education is going to look a whole lot different this year, with many schools opting for remote leaning versus in-person classes and canceling extracurricular activities like sports and chess meets. In an attempt to help bridge the gap, the travel industry has been creating innovative programming that is helping put a spin on the concept of a global education by redefining remote learning and introducing kids to new passions from around the world.
The offerings range from online classes hosted by hotel and travel companies to ultra-exclusive in-person opportunities for the ultra-elite. For example, on the high end, there’s Estancia Vik. This luxurious 12-room beach resort in Uruguay can be bought out for $6,000 a night. School here means guided trips to local museums instead of art class, horseback riding in place of gym and Spanish language instruction by local experts.
One innovative home-schooling concept is Embark World Academy, which has been created by Embark Beyond—a lifestyle and travel planning business—in collaboration with Alan Cohen, co-chairman of the Principal’s Center Advisory Board at Harvard. Here, students get access to unique extracurricular experiences curated by hotels around the world. These immersive, semester-long virtual activities include topics such as pastry making from Paris, sustainability from Africa and jewelry design from Colombia. Cohen will meet one-on-one with each family to tailor the perfect setup for every student.
READ MORE: “35 Best And Worst Countries To Raise A Family (You Won’t Believe America’s Ranking)”
“While we initially launched this program as a destination classroom concept sending a family away with a teacher for a semester abroad, we altered it to bring the world to their home once travel started closing up again,” says Embark Beyond’s founder and managing partner Jack Ezon. “Our goal is to create immersive content to complement their core curriculum and learn something they ordinarily would not do.”
Meanwhile, Indagare—a travel-planning company founded by former magazine editor Melissa Biggs Bradley—runs Indagare Global Classroom, which brings the world to its members with private and group virtual tours, family-friendly experiences, interactive lessons and lectures. “Our community of passionate travelers has not lost their wanderlust,” says Bradley. Camp Indagare, a part of the program just for kids, is designed to build curiosity about the world in the next generation of travelers (children ages 8 to 12) with classes on topics like Harry Potter, penguins and astronomy.
Want some ideas of how you can broaden your kids’ horizons? Check out these remote and in-person learning experiences.
Remote Learning Experiences
Embark World Academy: This array of live, virtual after-school activities from around the world helps kids explore their passions with a global perspective. Think of it as a series of live, private master classes for kids.
Indagare: The virtual Indagare Global Classroom taps into the company’s deep connections with partners and top guides around the world, allowing travelers young and old to learn about topics ranging from the history of safaris to Renaissance art to the temples of Luxor. Private camp-like sessions can be arranged upon request.
Context Travel: To harness the demand for remote learning, Context Travel—which offers walking tours in 60 cities—has pivoted its business model, creating Context Conversations. Now its network of scholars and experts, who specialize in art history, archaeology, architecture and more, are offering digital learning sessions that cater to families with topics like the lost world of Jurassic and a journey through the Egyptian, Mesopotamian and Greek collections at the British Museum.
In-Person Learning Experiences: United States
Beach Plum Farm, New Jersey: This working farm with cottages for rent outside Cape May is offering a new all-inclusive educational program for families—kids can learn where their food comes from, take nature trail walks, go on scavenger hunts, do watercoloring and more.
Foster Supply Hospitality: This group of boutique hotels and inns in the Catskills has partnered with the Chi Hive, a wellness and fitness studio, to create a fall outdoor kids camp series. Trained practitioners will lead workshops in the arts, theatre, dance and more for children ages 6-10.
Gaylord Hotels: The boutique hotel company with locations in Colorado, Florida, Tennessee and Texas is curating “learn from here” programming for school-aged kids that will supplement their remote learning programs. Education experiences range from wildlife rescue to horticulture tours.
Great Wolf Lodge: Families with little learners will be in the swim with Great Wolf Lodge, which has locations across the country. The company has created a special Howl ‘N Learn package to help kids squeeze in e-learning between waterslide time at Wiley’s Schoolhouse, a special area of the resort created as part of its CleanPlus partnership with Procter & Gamble.
Ritz-Carlton Naples: The new Junior Artisan Academy at The Ritz-Carlton, Naples in Florida was launched for school-aged guests, who get access to a range of hands-on, educational and enrichment-focused classes including topics like horticultural and cooking for young chefs-in-training.
Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee, Georgia: At The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee, parents can get their own work done with the peace of mind that their kids are mixing education and play. In the hotel’s new Ritz Kids Study Buddy program, tutors ensure that students are following their virtual class schedules.
Monarch Beach Resort, California: In the surf town of Dana Point, Monarch Beach Resort is enticing families to take “edu-cations” with K-12 on-demand online homework help from tutors at The Princeton Review, as well as ocean-inspired cultural enrichment programs.
Montage: In September, this luxury resort group is launching Montage Academy, a back-to-school program to enhance distanced learning. It will include full days of monitored study hall and educational programming for guests ages 6-17, as well as afternoon electives like yoga, cooking and woodshop. Montage Academy will be available in Deer Valley, Utah; Laguna Beach, California; Los Cabos, Mexico; and Palmetto Bluff, South Carolina.
In-Person Learning Experiences: International
Eden Roc Cap Cana, Dominican Republic: Families can work—and learn—from paradise at Eden Roc Cap Cana with an extended-stay experience (20-30 days) that includes unlimited Spanish and piano lessons, providing an opportunity to continue remote learning while outside school walls and while on vacation, and as parents “WFH” (work from hotel).
Four Seasons Punta Mita, Mexico: Mexico’s oceanfront Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita has launched the Knowledge for All Seasons program to make distance learning more fun. The program supports learning remotely with a new world-schooling program that features a tech hotline; study buddy program; and art, culture, history and after-school sports classes to encourage educational learning through travel.
Marriott Cancun, Mexico: With its new N.E.D. Talks (which stands for nature, education and discovery), young guests at the Marriott Cancun can learn about nature through a turtle release program, practice math with hands-on recipe lessons and take Spanish lessons.
Shore Club Turks & Caicos: At The Shore Club Turks & Caicos, the Conch Kritters Classroom will soon be in-session, offering a combination of nature, discovery and exploration—all set in a treehouse.
• “Escape From America: 5 Cheapest Places To Move If You Want To Leave The U.S.”
• “Want To Escape From America? 12 Countries Where You Can Buy Citizenship (And A Second Passport)”
• “Want To Live And Work In Paradise? 7 Countries Inviting Americans To Move Abroad”
• “Foreigners Reveal: 17 Weird Things Americans Do (That We Think Are Normal)”