How to improve holidays with children

Hey mum, let's get a tan at half-term
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The Independent Travel

The summer holidays may be over and done with, but it's not time to hibernate just yet. As my kids keep pointing out, half term is around the corner (surely some mistake?), so there's still a chance to jet off for one final blast of sun before giving in and digging out those thermal vests.

Last year, the October half term was a washout - we were flooded out of our place in Ireland and spent the entire time in wellies. Stanley even slept in his. Of course, it was a great adventure for the kids. They loved all that mud and rain and want to do it all over again. Sorry boys, but I'm heading for dry land, where (hopefully) our only chances of getting wet will be when we're floating around our own luxury infinity pool.

Only trouble is, I can't decide where to run away to. I've found so many places I really, really want to go that my list is looking more like Stan's Christmas letter to Santa (he started it on 26 December last year, so it's quite long).

For a start, I really, really want to go to the Masseria Torre Maizza, (00 39 080 4827838; masseriatorremaizza.com), a recently opened family hotel in Puglia, on the heel of Italy. It was an ancient watchtower during the 16th century, but it's been modernised a bit since then: bask on the private beach, take the kids for a spot of golf, mountain biking or horse riding, or let them pick up a few skills at the cookery school. The hotel is offering some very decent family reductions until the end of October - children under 12 stay free.

I also really, really want to go to the Pine Cliffs resort on the Algarve (00 351 2895 00102; pinecliffs.com), mainly because of all its facilities: a tennis academy, health club, games room, four swimming pools and an expansive, sandy beach with water sports, to name but a few. Best of all, children get a whole self-contained "village" to themselves: Porto Pirata is for under-12s. Pirate ships and fantasy hideaways provide the focus for all sorts of (fully supervised) fun.

Meanwhile, for something a little more sedate, I want to go to Gascony, where, I'm told, the weather in October is still typically warm and sunny. Check out some of the lovely family friendly places featured by The Gascony Secret (01284 827253; gascony-secret.com). I've got my eye on Le Paradis, a 12th-century village house with a heated swimming pool and space for the children to run wild in.

But, of course, no end-of-season holiday hunt is complete without considering the Canary Islands, where October temperatures average a comfortable 24C. Thomson (0870-165 0079; thomson.co.uk) has some good half-term family deals here and Iberostar (iberostar.com) is also a very good bet for hotels. Check out its flagship, the Grand Hotel Anthelia. While your little treasures are having fun in the kids' club, you can take advantage of Spain's first and only Thai Zen Space spa.

This is only the beginning of my half-term wish list, but it'll keep me going for a while. I'm already getting excited, but I'm dreading telling Stanley that he won't need to pack his wellies ...

Katy's top tip

If you really want to escape this half term, how about Thailand? The four-star Allamanda Laguna in Phuket (0870-443 2302; premier-holidays.com) is offering discounts on many of its family packages.

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