Family travel: 'Where's best for baby-friendly winter sun?'
Saturday 23 August 2008
Q My husband and I are looking for a winter sun destination for us and our two-month-old baby in early December. We are desperate for a beachside activity-based holiday, with watersports, tennis and golf (if possible). However, I am struggling to find a crèche that will take a baby that young. Surely there are other young mums like myself out there who are keen to line up a postnatal activity break? Can you suggest some hot, baby-friendly beach and activity destinations? L Cameron, via email
A Finding a hotel or resort that offers a nursery for infants is challenging, since the minimum intake age is generally six months. However, the more family-oriented travel companies are starting to offer care for babies from the age of four months.
One specialist is Mark Warner (0871 703 3887; www.markwarner.co.uk), which takes infants from four months at its Baby Clubs. Its Egypt resorts should meet your needs, as temperatures rarely dip below 25C and there are watersports and excursions on the doorstep.
Mark Warner offers childcare at both the Hilton Dahab and InterContinental Abu Soma. The Hilton Dahab is around an hour's drive north up the coast of the Sinai Peninula from Sharm El Sheikh airport, while Abu Soma is around a 40-minute transfer from Hurghada airport on the Red Sea coast. Both are served by charters and scheduled flights from the UK, taking around five hours.
The InterContinental Abu Soma is a large, upscale resort with tennis courts, swimming pools, a gym, spa, windsurfing, canoeing and sailing. More importantly, its location on the Red Sea means that if you're divers, there are endless opportunities for underwater exploration or snorkelling on the reefs. There's also a golf course 10 minutes away and rounds can be booked from the hotel.
The cost of a week's holiday at the resort in early February is £1,686 for the three of you, which includes return flights from Gatwick to Hurghada, transfers and half board accommodation. Half a day's childcare for your baby costs £150, but places are limited since one nanny is allocated to two infants.
Dahab is one of the Red Sea's top diving destinations with excellent conditions for windsurfing. The former Bedouin fishing village is also well-placed for excursions to Mount Sinai and desert safaris. Once popular with budget travellers, Dahab has managed not to become completely consumed by package tourism, although big hotel chains are springing up. The Hilton Dahab has one tennis court and swimming pool, windsurfing, sailing and canoeing facilities and a dive centre. A week at the hotel in early February would come to £1,650 for the three of you, half board, with the same option for childcare.
Club Med (0871 424 4044; www.clubmed.co.uk) offers a crèche for infants from four months old and has a wider choice of winter sun destinations worldwide. Its shorter-haul destinations include Morocco and Tunisia, in which most Club Med resorts offer the Baby Club service. However February temperatures can be variable and comparable to that of (a good) British springtime. Therefore you might need to look further afield.
The Punta Cana resort in the Dominican Republic offers reliable winter sun with endless beach opportunities from its turquoise lagoon location. Sailing, windsurfing, tennis and a spa are all included the in the cost of the holiday, with golf an optional extra at an external 18-hole course. The resort also offers a Baby Club Welcome, with equipment (cot, changing mats, bottle warmers) and baby food on arrival. The Baby Club takes infants from four months six days a week from 9am-9pm. A week's holiday in early February would come to £3,477 for the three of you all-inclusive, with flights from London via Paris, transfers and six days' childcare.
If you're set on travelling this side of Christmas, then you might consider Beaches Resorts (0800 742 742; www.beachesresorts.co.uk). The all-inclusive resorts are more geared towards the North American market, but welcome newborns at their nurseries, which are open daily from 9am-6pm. Its Boscobel resort is situated on the north coast of Jamaica near Ocho Rios, with opportunities for watersports, a spa, waterpark and a championship golf course. A week's holiday in early December comes to £3,624, with Virgin Atlantic flights from Gatwick to Montego Bay, transfers and a week's baby care.
Send your family travel queries to The Independent Parent, Travel Desk, The Independent, Independent House 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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