Family Holidays 2009: How to keep them all happy, big and small
Where are you going for your summer holiday? Katy Holland has a few family-friendly ideas
Sunday 04 January 2009
Three little words: tender loving care. That's what this year's family holidays are all about. Child-friendly operators, well aware that parents are feeling the pinch, are going all out to give us a big dollop of TLC. From children's activities to pampering facilities, these new offerings provide value for money as well as lots of thoughtful extras.
Many of us may be planning to cut costs by staying in the UK this summer, but that doesn't have to mean compromising on quality. This month, French and Italian family specialist Tots to Travel (0870 4585528; www.totsto travel.co.uk) is launching Tots to the UK, with a jolly decent selection of holiday home-from-homes.
Each property is stacked with everything a parent lusts after, from sterilisers to potties, and every room has been carefully child-proofed in line with Child Accident Prevention Trust guidelines, so even the most neurotic among us can relax. Accommodation options vary, but highlights include luxurious eco-farm cottages at the foot of Snowdonia, which come complete with a spa log cabin and a mini motor track where the kids can ride around on pint-sized tractors.
Anyone with half an eye on Cornwall should check out Green Acres Cottages (01840 213537; www.greenacrescottages.co.uk), a cluster of new villas three miles from Cornwall's Eden Project, which have just been awarded four stars by Visit Britain. There's an indoor pool and outdoor hot tubs, children's play areas and a garden farm to keep the little ones happy; the emphasis here is on tranquillity.
Across the Channel in Brittany, meanwhile, Canvas Holidays (0870 1921159; www.canvasholidays.co.uk) is doing its bit to keep campers content. Forget tents and mobile homes: Fairytale Cottages are where canny campers will be hanging out this summer. These new cute wooden abodes look like something straight out of Hansel and Gretel. But don't be fooled: they come complete with all mod cons, including flatscreen TVs, DVD players and separate bath and shower rooms.
But what about serious sun worshippers? Last year's washout summer will make some of us seek a hotspot further afield, and Neilson (0870 3333356; www.neilson.co.uk) has just the thing. Its luxurious new Beachplus Club in Teos on Turkey's Çesme peninsula, exclusive to Neilson, sits in a sheltered bay where your mini-mariners can partake in free sailing lessons and watersports in safe surroundings. Tennis courts, mountain bikes, treatment rooms, kids' clubs and nature walks are just some of the things you can look forward to there.
While we're on the subject of kids' clubs, Scott Dunn (0208-682 5000; www.scottdunn.com) is making fresh waves in Anahita, Mauritius, where it is opening its very first OurSpace children's club. There's a huge range of activities laid on for youngsters, from dancing lessons to golf tournaments. A team of professional carers are on hand to watch over tots from the age of eight months, making Scott Dunn one of the few companies offering extensive childcare for babies (one nanny for every two children under two).
Family adventure company Explore (0845 013 1537; www.explore.co.uk) is going for the younger market with the launch of its Toddler Tours. These allow families with children as young as two to participate in a selection of their excursions for the first time: check out the family trip to Jordan and the Red Sea, for example, which incorporates a tour of Petra and Roman army re-enactments, with toddler-friendly hotels and trips to theme parks. Explore is also featuring lots of new single-parent departures, too.
For more long-haul adventures, KE Adventure Travel's (017687 73966; www.keadventure.com) family collection has just announced a rather exhilarating child-oriented trip to the Canadian Rocky Mountain wilderness. This is perfect for families who like to live on the edge (quite literally): you'll be camping on ridges and river banks, trying your hand at canoeing, and horse riding through the peaks.
Sunvil (0208-568 4499; www.sunvil.co.uk) has an exciting new family adventure. Its two-week trip to Costa Rica, with private guides, is perfect for teenagers: there's lots of fun to be had white-water rafting and volcano climbing as well as plenty of time to surf on the beaches at Playa Quisales. Privately guided tours and your own driver will help make it an experience to remember.
For a truly personalised service, you'll need to check in with The Family Travel Collection (020-7584 2742; www.familytravelcollection.com), a newly launched service sitting right at the top end of the market. This small outfit is dedicated to providing advice and choice for families in need of serious luxury: it'll help you book some of the most exclusive child-friendly resorts in the world, from the Maldives to Tuscany. Lots of extra services have been designed to save you time and trouble, whether it's delivering nappies, making restaurant bookings or simply being on the end of the phone to give one-to-one advice.
For those who feel the urge to give something back to the world, Conservation Africa (0845 5200888; www.conservationafrica.net) has a new family conservation experience for 2009. This two-week trip of a lifetime will have you and your kids participating in all sorts of projects, protecting and monitoring the environment, taking part in bush walks and night drives in the Kruger area of South Africa, helping paint shelters for orphans and getting involved in local communities.
Not a bad way to get the family to give back a bit of TLC.
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