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

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 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;, 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; 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; 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; 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; 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; 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; 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;, 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; 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.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    SFL Group: Video Project Manager

    £24,000 pa, plus benefits: SFL Group: Looking for a hard-working and self-moti...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Reservations Assistant - French Speaking

    £16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding travel c...

    Recruitment Genius: Duty Manager - World-Famous London Museum

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have a strong record of ...

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Assistant

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will have demonstrable unde...

    Day In a Page

    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor