How to play the generation game (and please all of your family, some of the time)

Kate Simon was itching to explore a beautiful corner of Corfu - but her villa party was just too comfortable to bother

The holiday didn't get off to a good start. First, there was the 45-minute traffic jam on the way to Gatwick. Then, the flight was delayed by three hours. At Corfu, the baggage took ages to make it across 100 metres of tarmac, and the taxi driver drove at break-neck speed to the villa. As for the final ascent to the house, acutely aware that at least two of my fellow travellers suffered from vertigo, well, I thought it would never end, my heart sinking at each hairpin turn up the hillside.

The holiday didn't get off to a good start. First, there was the 45-minute traffic jam on the way to Gatwick. Then, the flight was delayed by three hours. At Corfu, the baggage took ages to make it across 100 metres of tarmac, and the taxi driver drove at break-neck speed to the villa. As for the final ascent to the house, acutely aware that at least two of my fellow travellers suffered from vertigo, well, I thought it would never end, my heart sinking at each hairpin turn up the hillside.

Such a disastrous start to our holiday wasn't in the script. But expecting a trip for a party of seven, aged from three to 75, to pass without a hitch would be a asking a bit much. At least I'd tried. I'd chosen afternoon flights for comfort and a villa that was an easy drive from the airport. And in one short day, my masterplan had failed.

Our requirements weren't exactly unrealistic. "I don't mind where we go, dear," said my mum (75), who is happy anywhere so long as she is in the company of her family. "Can I take my trains?" asked my son, Quincy (three), who will follow me wherever I go so long as Thomas and Gordon can come, too. "I want to stay somewhere hot, near the beach," declared my brother, Peter (46). "As long as I can just relax by a pool, I'll be happy," said my friend, Karen (er hum). And as for the 14-year-old girls, Karen's daughter Phoebe and her schoolfriend Bella, it seemed all they required was a private pool and the odd jaunt to the shops to keep them smiling. Me (39, honestly), I just wanted them all to be happy - all right then, preferably in a top-notch villa.

And at first sight, albeit in the dark due to our late arrival, the villa seemed to fit the bill. It was huge, suggesting that there would be plenty of space for spending time together - and apart. There was a splendid pool, which the girls hopped over the fence to try before we had even opened the front door. And the twinkling lights of Corfu Town, across the bay, promised glorious views - which were delivered in the light of day.

But the first real test of our holiday was whether the welcome food pack could satisfy seven hungry and weary travellers. Something went right at last. Supplies were more than adequate and we soon rustled up a midnight feast from a bountiful selection of bread, cheese, meat and eggs, fresh fruit and salad, milk, juice, wine, coffee and tea - although my mum had brought a mere 150 teabags with her "just in case".

Now you know why I wanted a posh gaff. Such luxuries should come as standard when you book with a quality tour operator and we were travelling with one of that élite band, Meon Villas. Our home for the week, the Villa Helena in Nissaki, was graded five star, its assets including elegant furnishings, all mod cons, well-dressed beds, maid service three times a week, air-con, a private pool with pretensions to infinity status - and that welcome food pack.

On the first morning, Ann, our rep, called by. After reassuring us that we really would have the courage to drive down the hill in our hire car, she told us how to get to Corfu Town avoiding the rush-hour traffic, explained why we should venture up the mountain to the monastery and invited us to take a day trip to the classical and Byzantine ruins at Butrint on the Albanian coast.

But, to be honest, we didn't go very far afield. Peter talked of going for a run, but, like a good uncle, he hung around the pool to entertain young and old alike. The girls drifted in and out of our lives, like a mobile fashion show, sometimes joining us in the pool, sometimes retreating to the vantage point of their bedroom balcony for a bit of discreet sunbathing. Karen set up camp at the poolside with a good book. Mum played the role of perfect Grandma, following hot on the heels of Quincy, who found the grouting in the floor tiles made a perfect train track.

And me? Well, I just hassled everyone about going out. You see, Nissaki is the gateway to the most attractive part of Corfu. Cypress trees like dark-green candles soar out of the tangle of olive groves that hug Mount Pantokrator, while pebble-fringed coves lace the shoreline, giving the impression that some ravenous predator has munched its way along the coast. The road north to Kassiopi carves a route around the foothills, at every twist and turn offering gasp-eliciting views back across Corfu and east to the Albanian coast. Along the way, signs point down to secluded coves and former fishing villages that now read like a roll-call from Britain's smartest villa companies' brochures: Agni, Kalami, Kouloura, Kerasia and Agios Stefanos. It comes as no surprise that this area has long been dubbed Kensington-on-Sea.

We managed the odd excursion, but we never quite shook off the holiday's rather lazy air. And the atmosphere remained remarkably amiable. The variety of ages worked together well and by balancing family members with compatible friends any tensions were quickly dispelled. It seems sometimes you can please all of the people, well, nearly all of the time.

Kate Simon was a guest of Meon Villas (0870-850 0585; www.meonvillas.co.uk), which offers deals starting at £409 per person for one week. A week at the Villa Helena in Nissaki costs £594 per person in July, based on eight sharing, including return flights from Gatwick, airport taxes, welcome food pack, maid service three times a week and car hire with unlimited mileage.

Top Ten Family breaks

1 Camping in France

Good value and easy to get to - a perennial favourite. Try Eurocamp (0870 366 7552; www.eurocamp.co.uk).

2 A weekend in the country

The Celtic Haven Cottage Colony near Tenby has a spa, indoor pool, go-karts, laser clay-pigeon shooting and tennis courts. Call Coastal Cottages of Pembrokeshire (01437 765765; www.coastalcottages.co.uk).

3 Walking around the world

Walks Worldwide (01524 242000; www.walksworldwide.com) offers walking tours specially devised for families.

4 Family skiing

Esprit Ski (01252 618 300; www.esprit-holidays.co.uk) organises family skiing in France, Italy and Austria.

5 African safaris

Watch the wildlife with Aardvark Safaris (01980 849160; www.aardvarksafaris.com).

6 Alpine Summer

Thomson Lakes and Mountains (0870 606 1470; www.thomsonlakesandmountains.co.uk) offers action-packed fun for all in the Austrian mountains.

7 Natural adventures

Reef and Rainforest Tours (01803; www.reefandrainforest.co.uk) can tailor-make far-flung adventures.

8 Historic breaks

Explore Egypt with Explore Worldwide's (01252 760177; www.expore.co.uk) escorted tour, Land of the Pharaohs.

9 Disney fun

Have fun at Disneyland Paris. Call Cresta (0870 33 33 303; www.crestaholidays.co.uk).

10 Lap of luxury

Try child-friendly The Residence on Mauritius. Contact Scott Dunn (020-8682 5020; www.scottdunn.com).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Sport
football
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
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Guru Careers: Dining Room Head Chef

    £32K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Dining Room Head Chef to work for one of ...

    Guru Careers: Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Chef

    £27K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Che...

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Supervisor

    £24800 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As one of London's leading Muse...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
    Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

    Flesh in Venice

    Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
    Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

    Juventus vs Real Madrid

    Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
    Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

    Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

    Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power