How to tame your teenagers

Tasting at Margaret River Chocolate Company.
Tasting at Margaret River Chocolate Company. 

'Mothers of teenagers know why animals eat their young," someone once said. It's hard enough to tame them at home. How on earth do you manage on holidays?

Most destinations/attractions/resorts cater for either adults or young children. Those pimply, hormonal, moody creatures are stuck somewhere in between.

Well, put down that large glass of wine. Here's some advice that will have you saying, "Now I remember why I love him/her" again.

Let's start with destinations. My top two would be the United States and New Zealand. Both countries have a diverse range of adventure activities, with rigorous safety guidelines. "Anything extreme suits my teenagers," says mother-of-four, Karen O'Sullivan, from Victoria.

"California was great, with snowboarding at Big Bear Lake, bike riding over the Golden Gate Bridge, and Space Mountain at Disneyland."

In New Zealand, Annette Greer recommends zorbing: sitting in a large transparent ball and rolling down a hill.

Now, where to stay? At the top end, the Marriott chain has virtual Teen Concierges, who create cool city guides to share on social media.

"My role is to provide valuable insights for teens who may be visiting the Gold Coast, but don't want to be dragged around to the places mum and dad want to visit," says Chloe Gash, 16, one of two teen guides based on the Goldie.

She recommends stand-up paddle boarding at Currumbin, checking out the polar bear cub at Sea World, and eating at BSKT Cafe in Broadbeach.

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In fact, Peppers Broadbeach - which has just won TripAdvisor's award for the best family hotel in Australia - has private cinemas, in-room Wii and X-Box and free Wi-Fi. There are also teen dens, though only in the most expensive rooms at the top of the tower.

The apartment hotel is also within walking distance of good teen hangouts like the nearby Kewarra surf club and the boardwalk, which is a skateboarding and bike riding hot spot.

Around the globe, Club Med has Passworld, where teenagers can create videos, do sound mixing, learn trapeze, water ski, or wake board.

In Australia, travel writer Bronwyn Marquardt loves Big 4 Holiday Parks, because her 13-year-old son, Chase, is too old for kids' clubs. "Teens like to be independent and they can have a little freedom to go to the games room with a new mate, without me tagging along."

And don't forget about the 100 YHA properties across the country. Travel blogger for littlenomads.com, Deborah Dickson-Smith, recently stayed at one in the Blue Mountains, with a huge lounge containing a pool table, foosball, retro arcade games and free DVDs.

"They also have an in-house adventure tour company that took the older kids (14-plus) abseiling and rock climbing," she says.

Some parents say it's an adventure in itself dragging the teens away from their electronic toys.

"They'll look dazed and confused the first time they wobble out into the daylight, but they'll find stuff to do themselves," mother-of-two adult children, Leonie Sealey, laughs.

Once they adjust to the natural environment, without their weapons, they're easier to tame. Or, so I'm told. I have a few more years to prepare.

KIDS' DEALS

In the zone

KERRY HOTELS/SHANGRI-LA, SHANGHAI, BEIJING

Kids run the show at the new Cool Zones and Adventure Zones in 11 Asia-Pacific Shangri-La properties including Kerry Hotel, Beijing, which has just completed a $6.5 million renovation. Its Adventure Zone has three slides including the Demon Drop, net towers, ball pits, a wading pool and village complete with dress-ups for toddlers, free for kids four to 12 years. (Psst, parents! The hotel's new wine bar opens June 2014.) Deluxe rooms cost from $274 plus taxes; see shangri-la.com.

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