Independent Families: 'Where can we go with our four-month-old baby for a relaxing holiday with good food and sun?'
Saturday 24 September 2005
Q. With years of independent backpacking under our belt we recently became parents for the first time and now are stuck for a holiday. As nervous new parents we have found many holidays for people with toddlers but none that appeal for those with babies. We'd like the holiday to be as relaxed as possible, sunny but not too hot, near a pool or the sea with some walking, and preferably great - and even organic - food close by. We were thinking that perhaps we should stay in Cornwall during September or early October, but are worried about the weather.
Leonora Lowe via e-mail
A. Travelling with young children can be a concern, especially for first-time parents. But many tour operators have begun to acknowledge these anxieties. Holidays at such an early age can also be hugely rewarding - time spent together away from home, with somebody else doing the hard work, would give you both some well-earned rest. Taking your child into a different environment - such as the seaside - also offers immeasurable rewards.
Cornwall is a good option for young families not yet ready to venture abroad but who still want a seaside holiday. It is, of course, difficult to predict the weather, but September temperatures average at a comfortable 15C. Best of all, it has a stunning landscape to explore and delicious local produce - particularly the fresh seafood.
Fowey Hall (01726 833866; www.luxuryfamilyhotels.com) is particularly geared towards families. A beautiful mansion set in a five-acre walled garden overlooking Fowey, it is within easy reach of many attractions including the Eden Project and the sandy cove at Readymoney. The hotel's Four Bears Den cares for babies as young as four months and up to the age of eight between 10am and 4.45pm, leaving parents free to enjoy the hotel's facilities, or explore the surrounding countryside. It provides activities such as face painting and cookery for older children and games for babies as well as cots and soft cushions. For adults there is a heated indoor pool, table tennis and in-room massages.
September and October prices start at £185 per double room, half board, including the Four Bears Den facilities. The restaurant's menu features local produce and fresh seafood, and the Palm Court is open for lunch and offers a more informal dinner menu. There are more options in Fowey town itself, such as Q, a chic but relaxed restaurant in the Old Quay House hotel (01726 833302; www.theoldquayhouse.com) with a menu that features local produce, from Fowey River mussels and oysters to local poultry. Contact the Fowey tourist information centre (01726 833616; www.fowey.co.uk) for further advice.
Another option on the South Coast is the Combe House Hotel and Restaurant in Gittisham, Devon (01404 540400; www.thishotel.com). The Grade I-listed Elizabethan building is set within 3,500 acres of parkland, where pheasants and Arabian horses roam. It is also an excellent spot for countryside and coastline exploration - Sidmouth and the pretty fishing villages of Branscombe and Beer are a short drive away.
Combe House is child-friendly and will supply cots, warm milk and has local babysitters on hand. The restaurant has two AA Rosettes and Four RAC dining accolades, and makes considerable use of local produce, much of it organic. Doubles start at £148 including breakfast. For stays of two nights the dinner, bed and breakfast rate is from £420; babies in cots stay free of charge. If you wish to dine elsewhere, The Drewe Arms (01404 841267) specialises in seafood and is a short drive away in Broadhembury. It uses mostly organic produce and serves locally brewed Otter Beers. Contact the Honiton tourist information centre (01404 43716; www.discoverdevon.com).
If you do decide to venture further afield, flying with an infant of four months is perfectly safe. However, you should be aware that the younger the child, the more susceptible they will be to dehydration and cabin pressure, so keep plenty of fluids to hand.
Club Med (0700 2582 932; www.clubmed.co.uk) has a new Baby Club Med service at a number of its villages, catering for infants between four and 23 months. Childcare equipment is available and there are special areas in the restaurant for young babies. For six days a week a fully qualified team runs the Baby Club Med programme, which provides care for your child between 9am and 5.30pm.
Club Med is an all-inclusive organisation, but the Village of Opio on the Côte d'Azur has much to offer more independent-minded travellers in search of relaxation. With a pleasant average temperature of 20C in September and early October, you can enjoy the outdoors by exploring the surrounding countryside.
Nearby excursions could include Antibes, with its Picasso museum, the medieval town of St Paul or the perfume capital of Grasse, all of which are within easy reach of the hotel. And you don't have to limit your dining options to the resort - organic restaurants can be found in nearby Cannes at Montagard (00 33 4 93 39 98 38; www.montagard.fr), or the hip Organic Canteen in Nice (00 33 4 97 07 26 26; www.hi-hotel.net).
One week at the Opio Village from 1 October costs £1,436 for the three of you. This includes full-board accommodation, return flights to Nice from Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester or Birmingham on British Airways, transfers and use of the Baby Club Med facilities. Be aware that children under two years are not allocated seats and will be expected to sit on a parent's lap. Transfer to the Village takes 40 minutes.
Advice and information on travelling with infants at home and abroad can be found at www.travellingwithchildren.co.uk.
Send your family travel queries to The Independent Parent, Travel Desk, The Independent, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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