A new generation of holiday-home resort

A Tuscan farmhouse may be your idea of heaven, but could you keep the kids happy there? Ginetta Vedrickas checks out a resort where family comes first
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Many of us return from family holidays almost with relief as properties, or locations, fail to live up to expectations. Owning a holiday home abroad usually alleviates the unknown, but not always, as Clare Richardson, owner of a Normandy farmhouse, recently found: "We've just got back from a three-week holiday but have now decided to sell. The house suited us while the children were small and loved messing about in the garden but, now they're teenagers, they're bored and we spend hours driving around looking for things to do."

Buying into a golf development in a country known for its retirement market may not seem an obvious alternative, but increasingly these developments are becoming popular with buyers wanting family friendly second homes. Loucas Kitrou, real estate manager at the Aphrodite Hills resort, says: "Cyprus was once a retirement destination, but that is changing. We now find that around half of buyers are people with children and less than 10 per cent are retirees, which is why we're so keen to develop our activities for children."

The £150m development features an 18-hole golf course, tennis academy and award-winning spa, and owners have access to the on-site five-star Intercontinental Hotel, which has pools, restaurants and a children's club. This summer saw the opening of a new amenity, a teenagers' club based in the resort's lively Village Square.

Anne Howard Smith, from Epsom, Surrey, owns two apartments at Aphrodite Hills, where she spent five weeks this summer. Her children, Victoria, nine, and James, seven, were among the first to enjoy the new facilities. "The children had a ball, there wasn't a moment when they were bored, and five weeks wasn't long enough," says Anne, who admits that when they bought their first three-bedroom apartment at first-phase Helios Heights in 2004, kids' activities were not high on their wish list: "We were attracted by the fact that only 8 per cent of the development can be built on and because my husband plays golf."

The Howard Smiths now enjoy a full range of activities at the development, including golf and tennis lessons, horse riding, and water activities at a nearby beach. This summer they were joined at the resort by friends with teenagers: "So many times you hear about friends staying together in a villa where it doesn't work out. We've bought two apartments so that you can be together with friends yet have space. We also share some communal facilities, such as swimming pools, so the children make friends. The rest of the time we let it and make a good return."

Aphrodite Hills is well placed for exploring the nearby town of Paphos, but the Howard Smiths like the fact that their children have freedom: "They can go off on their own to the ice cream parlour as the development is not too big to have to worry about them." In 2004, the Howard Smiths paid £140,000 for their three-bedroom apartment. Two-bedroom apartments at latest phase Theseus Village now start from £237,000, but the Howard Smiths have found that accessibility has been more important than making a good investment: "Gatwick or Heathrow are easy journeys for us and we have the choice of flying into Larnaca or Paphos."

Cyprus is just four and a half hours away from the UK, which is an important consideration for anyone travelling with children. Another golfing development, Humber Valley Resort in Newfoundland, Canada, is a five-and-a-half-hour flight, but the development is also trying to attract buyers with families: Kids Club for children aged five to 12 and Teen Crew, for 13 to 18-year-olds also opened this summer. Kids Club costs around £23 per day, and includes activities such as jet boating and beach volleyball. Teen Crew costs vary depending on the activities chosen, which include power kiting and caving.

One-bedroom apartments at Humber Valley start from around £170,000 and two-bedroom apartments from £243,000. They come with a 6 per cent rental guarantee scheme for the first two years. Chalets start from around £310,000. Mike and Kate Champain, from West Sussex, have bought a chalet and an apartment at Humber Valley where they regularly holiday with their children; Caitlin, eight, Callum, six, and Evelyn, three.

In 2004, they paid £265,000 for their four-bedroom chalet which has risen in value to £430,000: "One of the biggest draws for us was that we could afford to give the children a good outdoor lifestyle. We were skiing there last year and went for four weeks in the summer, the kids love it."

Aphrodite Hills: Knight Frank: 020-7861 1073 www.aphroditehills.com. Humber Valley Resort: Newfound Property International: 020-8605 9530 www.newfoundproperty.com