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20 ‘SchoolCation’ Deals in California

Relocate your remote classroom or office to one of these resorts, equipped with both Wi-Fi and fun

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Posted a month agoby Katrina Hunt

With a new school year underway in which many kids are still learning remotely, plenty of families are starting to ask one obvious question: Why not do this from a vacation spot?

Add a new term (and finally, a fun term) to your 2020 vocabulary: “SchoolCation,” in which the family gets a much-needed change of scenery while also accommodating everyone’s school and work requirements. With its wealth of history, culture, and fabulous places to stay, California offers irresistible schoolcation options, where after-school fun can mean a trip to the beach, nature preserve, or even the hotel pool.

As the state gradually reopens, plenty of attractions are welcoming families with in-person enrichment, too. Orange County’s Crystal Cove State Park, for instance, has four tide pool viewing areas teeming with crabs, sea stars, fish, and aquatic plants, while the nearby Newport Beach Civic Center offers 20 unique outdoor sculptures. Love public art? Check out murals and sculpture gardens all over the state.

Hotels and resorts, meanwhile, have implemented a range of COVID-19 protocols, and are happy to help families log on for school or work—with high-speed internet to facilitate everyone’s Zooming, as well as IT support, chef-prepared afternoon snacks, and sometimes prizes for kids who get good grades.

In Orange County, Montage Laguna Beach has introduced Montage Academy, a socially distanced, day camp–style classroom for kids, with homework help and even SAT prep for older kids. “We’re delighted to be adding enriching programs and offerings to help families with remote learning and working during this very unusual time,” says Alan J. Fuerstman, founder, chairman, and CEO of Montage International. “Montage Academy is designed to move students forward in their education, while giving parents—who by now are likely well aware of the challenges of remote learning—a much-needed break to enjoy the many pleasures that our properties provide.”

So pack up your laptops and choose from these deals at hotels and resorts, listed north to south.

Distance Learning Family Package at Little River Inn, Little River

Stay for the whole school week at this Mendocino Coast inn that features golf, tennis, and a full slate of after-school activities. This 5-day, 4-night package offers tickets and materials for lessons in botany, geology, astronomy, and history—like tide pooling at Van Damme State Park, seeing the world’s tallest redwood tree at Montgomery Woods State Natural Preserve, and feeding giraffes at B. Bryan Preserve in Point Arena. Packages start at $325 plus the cost of the room.

Thank U Deal at Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel, South Lake Tahoe

The all-suites hotel in South Lake Tahoe has turned many of its conference rooms into workspaces equipped with high-speed Wi-Fi. Book the "ThankU" promotion (starting at $119/night) and you get free upgraded premium Wi-Fi in your two-room suite—enough for 10 devices at 9 Mbps—as well as free breakfast and a nightly happy hour. Good through Oct. 31.

School & Pool at Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn, Sonoma

Online learning at this plush Sonoma Valley resort means farm-to-fork snacks, after-school play in the geothermal pool, and concerts on the lawn. The package includes 10 percent off food and drinks (including adult beverages), onsite tech support, after-school-friendly check out (4 p.m.), and free use of bicycles. It’s also close to field trip–worthy attractions such as Jack London State Park, Sonoma’s Bear Flag Monument, and wildlife preserve Safari West. The Charles M. Schulz Museum, meanwhile, is offering a variety of online after-school programs, such as anime drawing or Peanuts origami.

Work-cation at Napa Winery Inn

Stay at this Napa hotel between Monday and Thursday and you get up to 25 percent off, with freebies on Wi-Fi and parking. Rooms have fridges, coffeemakers, and sometimes microwaves, or you can set up your workspace outside. The hotel is dog-friendly, too.

Hotel Homeroom at InterContinental Hotel San Francisco

This Yerba Buena hotel is offering both overnight and day-use guests a socially distanced space with classmates and supervising instructors—supplemented with nutritious to-go meals and outdoor recess. Parents can make the most of free office space and business center amenities, including Wi-Fi and parking. Choose from daily, weekly, or monthly rates.

For more Bay Area enrichment, the Oakland Museum of California’s Learn at Home platform invites kids to explore California art, history, and natural sciences through at-home activities, videos, and craft ideas.

Distance Learning in Half Moon Bay

The seaside town of Half Moon Bay, 45 minutes south of San Francisco, offers a lot of fresh-air fun, such as 25 miles of sandy beaches, horseback riding on the beach, golfing, and kayaking. Six area hotels have boosted their distance learning appeal, with high-speed Wi-Fi, free snacks, in-room desks, and more: Beach House Hotel, Half Moon Bay Inn, Oceano Hotel & Spa, The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay, Nantucket Whale Inn and Ocean View Inn.

Explorers Program at Monterey Plaza Hotel

Base your remote learning at this Monterey hotel and your students can utilize private “study rooms” for school hours—then, get outside for a bevy of after-school diversions. Kids are issued beach kits stocked with a tide-pooling bingo card, magnifying glass, and exploration gear; families can take kayaks out for a marine safari, or just explore the city’s cultural sites such as Cannery Row, Robert Louis Stevenson House, and Dennis the Menace Playground. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is also offering free online classes for all grades, along with marine life–focused crafts and activities.

Learn, Play, Explore at Hotel San Luis Obispo

Set up operations at this San Luis Obispo boutique hotel, a block from the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, and your package includes a daily dining credit of up to $100, a two-hour guided tour of the town’s most historic spots, twice-daily yoga classes, and ice cream cones for four at local favorite Doc Burnstein’s Ice Cream Lab. “Extra credit” options include whale-watching tours, electric bike tours, or private surf lessons.

Other hotels in San Luis Obispo County are offering their own discounts for families: Use the promo code Back2School to get discounts on your weeknight stays at a variety of hotels around San Luis Obispo County. There are quite a few right in Morro Bay: Masterpiece Hotel (50 percent off your second night), La Serena Inn (three nights for the price of two), and the Best Western San Marcos Inn (20 percent off three or more weeknights). All deals are good through October 31.

While you’re in the area, enhance your student’s learning by checking out the elephant seals at the Vista Point in San Simeon, seeing how sponges are grown at The Luffa Farm in Nipomo, or exploring landmarks along the Highway 1 Discovery Route History & Heritage Trail, such as two lighthouses and a swinging bridge.

School by the Pool at The Portofino Hotel, Redondo Beach

This hotel in Los Angeles County’s South Bay offers kids to-go breakfasts, as well as an “Ocean Recess” of two water activities at nearby Dockside Adventure Center. You also get free bike rentals, kids’ snack packs, and a list of local educational spots. When students aged 12 and under show the front desk that they received a perfect score on three or more tests, they get a dessert for each night of their stay. Grownups can also book a Work from Hotel package that includes a midday break on kayaks or stand-up paddleboards. Good through December 30.

‘Back to Home School Blues’ Virtual Classroom at Hotel Maya, Long Beach

Bring your laptop to hang out for the day at this resort across from Long Beach’s Queensway Bay, whose waterfront grounds are dotted with 500 palm trees. Each one-room “hotel schoolroom” includes free Wi-Fi, an ergonomic chair, a mini-refrigerator, and a single-pod coffee maker, along with boxed lunches for two. Recess break means cookies and milk for the student, and chips, guacamole, and a margarita for the parent. Day rates (9 a.m. to 6 p.m.) start at $110 for a Garden View room or $120 for a Deluxe Water View room and include free parking. You might be tempted to just stay overnight, of course: the hotel’s Easy Escape deal starts at just $160.

Remote Learning at Kimpton The Rowan Palm Springs

Attend school in a desert oasis at this Palm Springs boutique hotel. During the school day, your student gets full reign in a dedicated meeting room with free Wi-Fi, two box lunches, a nifty branded notepad, and a large monitor. By afternoon, relax at the rooftop pool or wander downtown Palm Springs. Rates start at $239/night for weeknight stays, and the resort allows just one remote-learning booking per week, to limit exposures. Good through November 30.

Montage Academy at Montage Laguna Beach

Internet is only the beginning at this Laguna Beach resort. The all-day monitored study hall is tailored to your child’s remote schedule time zone, and includes a nicely appointed workspace, headphones, all-day access to the hotel’s IT support team, and 24/7 access to virtual tutoring on nearly 200 subjects through Tutor.com. It’s not all work, either: Kids get daily healthy snacks and a box lunch, along with spa-oriented movement breaks, a tote bag, and an afternoon “elective” on the resort grounds (such as gardening, painting, or geocaching). Book the Academy for one day ($175) or a full week ($725)—you just need to reserve at least five days ahead. Resort guests these days also get 30-day memberships to the One Medical app for virtual medical and triage support, whether that means renewing prescriptions, IDing a rash, or handling COVID-19 related concerns.

Edu-Cations at Monarch Beach Resort, Dana Point

Stay at this ocean-view resort in Orange County’s Dana Point, and the family gets a $100 daily resort credit and one hour of homework help from Princeton Review tutors. You also get local field-trip options, such as an insider tour of the Ocean Institute. At the resort, kids can decompress with surf lessons, SUP tours, or an electric bicycle tour. Nearby, Dana Wharf offers great in-person whale watching, along with fun educational whale videos by Nona the Naturalist.

Work, Learn & Play at The Sheraton Carlsbad Resort

Spread out at this Carlsbad resort that’s next door to LEGOLAND California and a short drive to the beaches of north San Diego County. The package includes a two-bedroom family suite, comprised of a king room and a separate connecting room with two twin beds, a shared bathroom, three TVs, and a balcony or patio. You also get free parking and upgraded Wi-Fi, USB charging ports, and extension cords. At “recess,” take part in a 2.5K walk or run scavenger hunt, with prizes for finishers. Use CODE MAJ when booking.

Learn at the Lodge: Arts & Crafts Kids at the Lodge Torrey Pines, La Jolla

Stay at this La Jolla resort and you can access childcare services for 4–8 hours during the day to guide your student throiugh classes and schoolwork—plus lunch, snacks, and craft projects. Parents, meanwhile, can work or enjoy the perks of this coastal Arts & Crafts-style resort, which just happens to sit next to the famed Torrey Pines Golf Course. After school, the family can have quality time hiking the adjacent Torrey Pines State Natural Preserve or exploring the Birch Aquarium, right down the street.

Stay, Play, Work at Rancho Bernardo Inn, San Diego

Whether you’re Zooming for school or the office, this North San Diego County resort will support you with a $50 dining credit, free Wi-Fi, free Executive Assistant services (printing, copying, Zoom set-ups), and unlimited use of the driving range. These days, the resort has a 24-hour cancellation policy and is waiving parking and resort fees.

Recess at the Pool at San Diego Mission Bay Resort

Get free Wi-Fi for your classwork and then kick back at this recently renovated San Diego resort situated on 18 acres. The package includes a $25 daily credit for dining, two free bike rentals for a ride along Mission Bay’s pretty waterfront, and a complimentary s’mores kit for the outdoor firepits. The resort has its own bayside beach as well as a big pool, a wading pool, and fun outdoor games like giant checkers and giant chess. Rates start at $215 a night.

School at the Pool and WFH (Work From Hotel) at Kona Kai Resort & Spa, San Diego

School and work both get resort vibes at this Shelter Island spot. The School at the Pool package includes a cabana rental, box lunches, two ice cream cones for “recess,” and a s’mores kit for the evening (plus treats if you ace three tests). The “Work from Hotel” package, meanwhile, includes all-day coffee, priority access to poolside loungers, and a $75 dining credit.

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