Family holidays: Testosterone overload

Greece is famed for being child-friendly. But Kristina Ferris's family failed to warm to the teenagers they encountered there.

How would you feel about sharing a hotel with hordes of excitable teenage boys? If you were a teenage girl on an 18-30-type holiday, you would probably be disappointed with anything less. If, on the other hand, you are a family with young children looking for a quiet, relaxing time, it is the last thing you want.

How would you feel about sharing a hotel with hordes of excitable teenage boys? If you were a teenage girl on an 18-30-type holiday, you would probably be disappointed with anything less. If, on the other hand, you are a family with young children looking for a quiet, relaxing time, it is the last thing you want.

When we chose to visit the Kalamata area of the Greek Peloponnese last year, we were looking for somewhere warm, away from the crowds. We fancied Greece because previous holidays in Portugal and Spain had left us feeling we hadn't visited a foreign country. We wanted somewhere big enough to have a Kids Club, but not so big as to be impersonal. In a country where a lot of the accommodation is very small scale, the Sunrise Village was one of the few hotels that met these requirements.

Despite the limited choice, it turned out to be a lovely deluxe hotel in an idyllic setting, half an hour's walk from the nearest village of Petallidi. Perched on the top of a small cliff overlooking the Gulf of Messenia with the Mani peninsula sometimes visible through the haze, Sunrise Village has a huge pool and two secluded beaches a few minutes walk down a cliff path. The "bungalow"-style rooms add to the feeling of being somewhere small and private.

Everything appeared initially to be exactly what we were looking for. The Kalamata area remains largely undeveloped, because until recently the nearest airport was Athens, 160 miles away. Petallidi is a charming fishing village built around a large square, with locals far outnumbering tourists, even in July. We found an odd little restaurant called Socrates on the seafront, where the tablecloths were bin-bags and you had to go through the family home to reach the bathroom. It was incredibly spartan, with a limited menu and no desserts, but we returned to Socrates again and again for the warmest of welcomes and great food.

What of the teenage boys? The youth football tournament was taking place during the same week as our stay, and I found out afterwards that many hotels in the area were putting these boys up. There were upwards of 100 of them staying at the Sunrise. In a hotel with 250 rooms they dominated, except for the brief periods when they went off to play football. Initially, they were a minor curiosity, but rapidly their presence became overwhelming. They monopolised the pool, deliberately obstructing other guests. I even had to ask them to get out of the baby pool most mornings so the children could play safely. This was met with rudeness. I was jostled in the café while feeding my four-month-old daughter.

Evenings were just as bad. When we finally got the children to sleep and were looking forward to a relaxing drink, they were woken by these young men running around and shouting. We heard stories about fights in the bar, and some guests received nuisance calls.

Such behaviour is probably the norm in certain resorts, but I deliberately checked in advance that the hotel wasn't near lots of noisy bars and restaurants. Unfortunately, I didn't have the foresight to ask if the hotel would be accommodating teams playing in a youth football tournament.

When I complained to the hotel management, they referred me to the holiday company. The holiday company would not accept responsibility, claiming it had no control over the behaviour of other guests and no knowledge of the block booking. It did, however, say it will make sure all future guests wishing to stay in its accommodation in the region are aware of the event if it takes place again. So if you are looking for a quiet holiday in an unspoilt part of Greece that offers a host of historical sites, Petallidi comes highly recommended. Just remember to ask about group bookings.

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