Independent Families: 'Is Menorca a good choice for a safe, family holiday?'

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Q. Our daughter and son-in-law are thinking of going on holiday to Menorca.

Q. Our daughter and son-in-law are thinking of going on holiday to Menorca. They have two young children, aged three and four, and are looking for good-quality self-catering accommodation close to a sandy beach and calm seas. They would like a quiet resort and are hoping to go after the summer season has died down. Can you help?
Mr & Mrs D Spinks, Guildford

A. Menorca in the Balearic Islands is an excellent choice for a holiday with small children, since it is easy to reach (about two hours' flying time from London), it's quiet and family focused, and has a beautiful coastline. Late September is a good time to visit as it shouldn't be too hot - temperatures average around 25C - and the summer crowds will have dispersed.

A good place for families to stay is Binibeca, on the south-eastern corner of the island, about 20 minutes' drive from the airport. Within this resort is Binibeca Vell, a charming little fishing village with lots of bars, shops and a couple of restaurants. It also has a beautiful white sandy cove at Binibeca Nou - one of the best beaches on the island. The focal point of this is the beach bar/ restaurant that serves food all day and has all the facilities a family could need such as lavatories, sunbeds, umbrellas and pedaloes for hire.

James Villa Holidays (0870 085 0722; www.jamesvillas.co.uk) offers a modern villa in Binibeca Vell, 15 minutes' walk from the beach. The accommodation is located on one level with two twin bedrooms, which share a bathroom, and a double bedroom with an en suite bathroom. Outside, the private pool is surrounded by a terrace and lawn, with sun-loungers and a barbecue. Rental for one week from 30 September costs £509.

James Villa Holidays can organise charter flights for £129 per adult and £119 per child from Gatwick to the capital Mahon, but there are cheaper options on the internet, such as Flight File (0800 036 1111; www.flightfile.com), which currently offers flights for £394 for all four of them. James Villa Holidays can also organise car hire from £149 per week for an air-conditioned Opel Corsa five-door, with children's car seats (pre-bookable and payable on arrival) from £20 per seat per week.

Alternatively, Villa Select (01789 764909; www.villaselect.com) features properties in Binisafua, a quiet residential area, just five minutes' drive from the beach at Binibeca. Casa Nieves is a traditional single-storey Spanish home set in large private gardens, just a few hundred metres from the sea. This part of the coastline is quite rocky, so they would probably need to drive to the beach at Binibeca or further along the coast (about 10 minutes from the villa) to the big sandy beach at Punta Prima, on the most southerly tip of the island.

The villa has a large swimming pool, fenced off from the rest of the garden, making it safe for small children. Inside there is a living room with satellite TV, a well-equipped kitchen, laundry room with washing machine, master bedroom with en suite bathroom and two further bedrooms with a shared bathroom.

There is also a patio with a barbecue and a large outside dining table. Mahon is only 20 minutes' drive away and worth a visit. Most of the shopping is along pedestrianised streets with wonderful cake shops, smart boutiques, and leather, pottery, fresh fish and food in the markets. Stop off at the Tourist Office (Sa Rovellada de Dalt 24; 00 34 971 383 790) in the main square to pick up a copy of Menorca News, which details activities on the island that week.

Casa Nieves costs £520 for the week beginning 30 September, including maid service three times a week and a welcome hamper. Villa Select can organise flights with Monarch from Gatwick to Mahon from £124 per adult and £104 per child, and car hire from £180 per week.

Finally, Simply Travel (0870 166 4979; www.simplytravel.co.uk) features Son Domingos, a modern villa close to the laid-back beach resort of Cala en Porter, also on the south-eastern side of the island. This is one of Menorca's first beach resorts and has a beautiful, wide sandy beach leading down to the crystal-clear sea, which is ideal for snorkelling. The beach is sheltered by the large surrounding cliffs, resulting in calm, clear water. The villa is 2km from the beach and has three bedrooms. It also has a small private pool and shaded terrace area.

Seven nights at Son Domingos, departing on 24 September with Simply Travel, would cost £1,670 for a family of four, including return flights from Gatwick to Mahon with Thomson and car hire. Child car seats cost an additional €5 (£3.60) a day and need to be pre-booked and paid for when you get there.

For details about Menorca, see www.visitbalears.com or contact the Spanish Tourist Office (020-7486 8077; www.tourspain.co.uk).

Send your family travel questions to The Independent Parent, Travel Desk, The Independent, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS or e-mail crusoe@independent.co.uk

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