Family travel: A single parent's conundrum
Saturday 21 March 2009
Q. I'm a single parent with two children who are 10 and 12. For our summer holiday this year, I'd like a nine- to 11-day break at the end of August and my budget is around £3,000. The accommodation should be comfortable with a range of activities. Any suggestions for us? L Jerrard, via email
A. Thanks to some specialist tour operators, single-room supplements and spending your days alone while your children make friends need not be an issue.
Mango (01902 373 410; mangoholidays.co.uk) organises small, informal group holidays exclusively for single-parent families to a variety of locations, from Jersey to Lanzarote.
One of its summer destinations is the pretty port town of Puerto de Sóller in Mallorca, with a nine-night holiday departing on 18 August. The holiday is usually co-ordinated by an accompanying single parent and their children, with the group comprising children aged around 6-12. A loose itinerary is based on "homespun fun", with beach games, walks and picnics, as well as optional extras such as boat tours and water-park visits.
A total of £2,252 for the three of you (£799 for you, £699 for your first child and £629 for the second) includes half-board at the family-run Hotel Marina, return flights from Gatwick, transfers and a local payment of €125.
Hotel rooms come with three beds, but for an extra £15 you could upgrade to a studio with a mini kitchenette. If you are content to let your children enjoy the activities at the hotel, there are mountain walks, such as the Camí des Rost, which takes you from the town of Sóller up into the hills to the artists' enclave of Deià. The island's capital, Palma, is accessible on an antique narrow-gauge train from Sóller (00 902 364 711; trendesoller.com; daily 8am-7pm; €17), and has plenty of diversions, including Modernist architecture, a medieval cathedral, smart shops and a Miró museum (00 34 971 908 200; esbaluard.org; open 10am-10pm daily except Monday; €6).
Another specialist operator, Small Families (0845 9000 895; smallfamilies. co.uk), offers a 10-night stay in Agadir, Morocco for a total of £2,766 for the three of you. The price includes Thomas Cook flights from Gatwick or Manchester on 19 August, all-inclusive accommodation in a room with three beds, transfers and the services of a Small Families host. Again, this is a group trip, with the group ranging between 20-30 people and the age of children between four and 12. The resort is the Caribbean Village Tamlelt, which offers a comprehensive range of activities, from tennis and spa treatments to archery. There's also a kids' club for four- to 11-year-olds, and six restaurants. The focus is on the beach, but the Souss-Massa National Park – with impressive birdlife and sand dunes – and the walled city of Taroudant are both easy day trips.
If you didn't want to travel in a group, consider a well-organised campsite such as one run by Eurocamp (0844 406 0402; eurocamp.co.uk). The ambience at its sites is usually convivial enough to allow families to mingle.
New for this year is a collection of smart safari-style tents in France and Italy such as Le Moulin de Paulhiac, in the Dordogne just outside the village of Daglan. The campsite is surrounded by rolling hills and forested countryside. There is a swimming pool with slides; activities include canoe trips.
A nine-night stay in a safari tent (with two bedrooms) comes to £1,063, but this doesn't include flights, transfers, activities or meals. The most convenient airport is Bergerac, which is served by Ryanair and FlyBe; alternatively, you could take the train to Sarlat (08705 186 186; eurostar.com).
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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