Juliet Kinsman: From Butlin's to boutique, hotels get in on the family act

Something to declare

What? You've been learning how to make pizza? I was a little envious when I heard what my five-year-old daughter had been up to on the first day of our Sicilian holiday. Still, I wasn't complaining: while she was having the time of her life with new friends in the kids' club at Verdura Golf & Spa Resort, I was getting steamy in the biggest hammam I'd ever set foot in, and I had read a few chapters of an actual book. In peace.

When I was a child, gallivanting was a big part of my family's modus operandi, but not like this. Happily, there were no Dr Evil-style summers in Rangoon, or National Lampoon's European Vacation antics, but ask me what the hotels we went to were like, and I'm at a loss for happy memories.

There was the all-inclusive package to Tunisia. (I still wake up in a cold sweat recalling the girth of those cockroaches.) Then there were the corporate chains that Dad stayed in for business. (French onion soup for dinner? Wah! I want fish fingers!)

And I recall a B&B in Portmeirion actually serving room-temperature orange juice on a doily as a starter for dinner. (The reason we went home early, though, was because the itchy wool blankets gave us hives.)

How I remember dreaming of a sun-drenched Club Med or even a fun-filled fling at Butlins, but there was as much chance of my parents signing up for that as there was of my grandparents buying us all tickets to an Ibiza foam party.

But it's a different story for today's boutique-travel-loving tribes. Luxury resorts now have the kind of amenities that make Disneyland look neglectful. Take, for example, Coworth Park in Berkshire, which lays on T-shirt decorating or riding lessons while Mum and Dad have a dip in the pool; or face-painting and arts and crafts at Polurrian Bay, Cornwall.

Even grown-up hideaways, traditionally the preserve of honeymooners, fling their arms open to little ones now. Paradise Island Villas in Crete, which has a children's playground; La Signoria, Corsica, has stylish family suites and villa; Finca Cortesin in Andalucia and Borgo Egnazia in Puglia, where juniors are nudged into their own pools to reserve a corner of these couples' resorts for grown-ups.

It's not just sun-drenched escapes that cater to all now. Country houses and rural inns in Britain frequently punch above their weight when it comes to service and supplies. Freshly steamed vegetables blended into baby food? Not a problem at Babington House in Somerset and Calcot Manor in Gloucestershire, which even has a purée menu.

Meanwhile, some parents might wonder what all this fuss is about: who cares about where you go, as long as you all enjoy family time, right? The truth is, a nine-year-old me would have begged to be taken to Hi-de-Hi's Maplins.

Juliet Kinsman is editor-in-chief of Mr & Mrs Smith and Smith & Family (smithandfamily.co.uk)

Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Sport
Seth Rollins cashes in his Money in the Bank contract to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
WWERollins win the WWE World Heavyweight title in one of the greatest WrestleMania's ever seen
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
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

    SFL Group: Video Project Manager

    £24,000 pa, plus benefits: SFL Group: Looking for a hard-working and self-moti...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Reservations Assistant - French Speaking

    £16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding travel c...

    Recruitment Genius: Duty Manager - World-Famous London Museum

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have a strong record of ...

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Assistant

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will have demonstrable unde...

    Day In a Page

    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor