Q We want to take our four-year-old son on a holiday in the Med for a week at the end of the summer, somewhere with a kids' club so he can meet other children his own age. We are not keen on the all-inclusive concept and would prefer an upmarket hotel that welcomes children and offers activities. My husband and I would like to be able to play tennis or golf and some spa treatments. We are happy to pay for something fairly top-end in order to get a really special break.
Susanna Morne, Chester
A It is worth getting a copy of The Mediterranean Experience's Kids in the Med brochure (0870 499 0611; www. themed. net), which includes 22 luxury hotels in Europe and North Africa that welcome families.
One that I think would suit your needs is Pine Cliffs Resort on the Algarve, between Vilamoura (10km) and Albufeira (8km). Within the resort is the luxurious Sheraton Algarve (right), but with a child in tow I'd recommend staying in one of its town houses. These offer the best of both worlds - the hotel's facilities and restaurants, plus the space and informality of a private house. Its Porto Pirata Club is one of the best children's clubs (six months-12 years) in the Med, housed in two wooden pirate ships with indoor and outdoor play areas. A qualified team runs a programme of activities, including mini golf, a bouncy castle, basketball, treasure hunts and cycling. The club has a shallow pool and an area for toy boats. A day in the club costs €30 (£21); €15 (£11) for half a day.
The resort also suits your sporting needs. There is a nine-hole golf course (€42/£30 for nine holes) that winds its way through a forest with breathtaking cliff-top carries. You can brush up with private lessons at the Golf Academy - from €48 (£34) each for 25 minutes.
There are also five floodlit tennis courts that cost €14 (£10) per hour for a hard court or €18 (£13) for a clay court. A 50-minute private lesson costs from €46 (£33). The resort is set on a cliff-top above the long, sandy Faleisa beach. To make life easy for families there is a glass lift that takes you down to a civilised beach with a restaurant and bar, sun loungers and umbrellas. The beach has also been awarded an EU Blue Flag for cleanliness and the water is safe for a four-year-old to paddle in.
There is no spa but there is a smart health club with a heated indoor pool, gymnasium and a range of Clarins beauty treatments, massage and other therapies including Indian Head Massage (€30/£21) and reflexology (€47/£34). A week's room-only accommodation in a two-bedroom town house departing on 7 September, costs £2,590 for the three of you including flights from Gatwick to Faro with GB Airways and private transfers (30 minutes).
Another company at the luxury end of the family market is Powder Byrne (020-8246 5300; www.powderbyrne.com). One of its hotels is the Arabella in Son Vida, Mallorca, 15 minutes' drive from Palma airport. This five-star boutique hotel is small enough to not feel overrun, but has staff who are charming with small children.
As well as being quiet and relaxing, it is an excellent hotel for golfers with the Son Vida 18-hole golf course on its doorstep and the Son Muntaner 18-hole course just a five-minute shuttle ride away. The hotel also has three hard tennis courts and a small Thalasso Spa where you can relax with a Reiki treatment (€75/£54) or an aromatherapy massage (€73/£52).
One of the benefits of booking with Powder Byrne is that all the hotels have children's clubs with British nannies - ideal if your child is a bit shy and not used to mixing. The Scallywags club is free for ages 4-9 and offers sports such as swimming, tennis, golf and field games, plus quieter indoor activities, such as creative arts, drama and games. The nannies organise an early children's supper each night from 6-7pm so you can relax later over dinner in the hotel's Michelin-starred restaurant. They also offer activities two evenings a week from 7-9.30pm, which would give you the opportunity to have a couple of evenings to yourselves.
Another highlight of Scallywags is the weekly excursions to attractions such as Aqua City, Marineland or an antique wooden train ride from Palmer to Soller. One week's B&B in a deluxe demi suite, departing on 21 August, costs £4,626 for two adults and one child, including return flights from Gatwick to Palma on British Airways and private transfers. I would also recommend hiring a car for the week to explore the island - Powder Byrne can arrange this from €58 (£41) for an Opel Euro or €74 (£53) for a Ford Focus.
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.ukReuse content