Family Travel Q&A; Swinging with the colonels

The Independent Parent: Your Questions Answered
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Q.Our boys, aged 11 and nine, are both mad on sport - particularly tennis, having been on court pretty well every day so far this summer. They are also keen to have a go at golf, though they are both virtually beginners. Can you suggest a hotel or sports resort somewhere in Britain, where we can treat them to an action-packed sporting weekend and have a relaxing couple of days ourselves?

Jim and Mandy Bevan,

Northampton

A.Yes, there are several places specialising in exactly this sort of break. One of the best is Foxhills (01932 872050), a swish hotel and country club near Ottershaw in Surrey set among championship golf courses, with an excellent tennis school. It goes out of its way to welcome and provide for families, which is something of a rarity in the Home Counties where harrumphing colonels seem to hold sway.

Foxhills' head golf pro, Alastair Good, is a young dad himself and excellent with youngsters. There is a driving range where they can practise as much as they like and a par three nine-hole course which is perfect for beginners.

The boys can join daily group tennis lessons, or have private coaching if you want to fork out extra. They will also probably meet like-minded kids with whom they can smash till they crash, even playing after dark on floodlit courts. The only limiting factor is that there are no indoor tennis courts, so if it rains you'll have to head for the driving range (covered), the gym, indoor swimming pool or squash courts. There is also an adventure playground whose star feature is a downhill cable ride, constructed from a ski drag lift.

"Junior coordinators" are on-hand to supervise children while their parents play sport or relax, and there is a creche for infants. Family rooms are in converted outbuildings, discrete from the main, Jacobean-style hotel building.

Weekend stays at Foxhills cost pounds 75 per adult per night, pounds 20 for children under 13 sharing parents' room. Under-fives stay free. There are various other packages and deals for longer stays. Prices include breakfast, group tennis lessons and all sports. Private tennis coaching is pounds 16-18 per hour and golf pounds 10-18, depending on the instructors' experience.

If you feel indoor tennis courts are essential, I can suggest a couple of other options. Five Lakes Hotel Resort (01621 868888) in Maldon, Essex, has four indoor tennis courts, golf and squash and offers sporting packages for families. Two-night breaks are pounds 74.50 per person for dinner, B&B. Children under 16 stay free when sharing with parents, or pay 50 per cent in their own rooms. There is a creche, a games room and a restaurant that has childrens' menus.

Windmill Hill (01323 832552) at Eastbourne, East Sussex, also has indoor courts, and is more of a sports academy than a resort or hotel and stages weekends of intensive tennis and golf. There is no special provision for children, but they are welcome to participate in group lessons, which are held at every level from beginners upwards. Weekend stays are from pounds 155 per person based on two sharing. There is a pounds 25 discount if you book six weeks in advance.

Q.We have been assured that Denmark is one of the most family-friendly countries in Europe. On the strength of this, we are planning to take our people carrier and four children on the ferry across to Jutland, stay in farm houses and tour the peninsula.

Can you suggest some activities that we might do with kids that range in age from 13 to two, while we are there?

N Harvey (Mrs.),

Epping Forest, Essex

A.Denmark can provide interesting rural holidays, so long as fine weather is not a priority - especially now that we are coming into autumn. Children are exceptionally well catered for all over the country, with activities to suit all ages. Most museums and tourist attractions have a play area or a special exhibition for youngsters; similarly, almost all restaurants have high chairs and special menus. The one thing you should be prepared for, however, is that Scandinavians do not tend to make a fuss over children, they simply provide extremely well for their needs.

Farm houses are a good idea. They are economical, in a country where accommodation can be devilishly expensive, and you usually get a hearty evening meal thrown in too. As for things to do in Jutland, don't miss the original Legoland (00 45 75 33 13 33) at Billund, even if you have been to its UK sister at Windsor: it is the ultimate theme park for small children. Legoland also has an excellent indoor section with swimming- pool sized pits of Lego and Duplo to play with.

The other theme park not to miss in Jutland is Tivoli World (00 45 98 12 33 15). Set in beautiful gardens, it has a full range of rides from the hair-raising to the gently peaceful. The park's most imaginative features are China Town, themed in detail with rickshaws and dragons. Your older kids will probably go for the 38-metre-high, 80 km/h Boomerang roller coaster.

Ironically, the best attraction to escape to in wet weather is Randers Rainforest (00 45 86 40 69 33). Here, a tropical rainforest environment has been created within two huge glass domes. From the moment you enter, your senses are assaulted with heat, intense humidity and smells of strange plants. Paths lead through dense undergrowth of lianas, ferns and orchids. Butterflies flutter about, while the buzz of hummingbirds fills the air. There are also more than 100 species of other tropical animals, including snakes and crocodiles.

For other ideas and lists of places to stay: contact the helpful Danish Tourist Board at 55 Sloane Street, London SW1X 9SY (0171-259 5959). To get there, DFDS Seaways (0990 333111) sails daily to Esbjerg in West Jutland from Harwich. The 20-hour crossing costs pounds 423 for four people with a car until October, when it falls to pounds 293. And, for organised holidays, tour operator Specialised Tours (01342 712785) offers packages that include return ferry crossings with cabins and six nights in a Danish farm house for a total of pounds 1,740 for a family of four

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