Katy Holland: It's not so bad to want a break away from all children, is it?
Are we there yet? On holiday sans les enfants
Sunday 05 June 2011
Psst! Want to know the latest trend in family holidays?
I don't mean kids' clubs with bells on, or free child places. I'm not even talking fancy toddler spa treatments or overpriced Barbie-themed rooms. They're so yesterday.
The latest thing is far, far cleverer than all that: it's called going on holiday sans les enfants. To put it less delicately, this "new" concept involves ditching your kids altogether. Pack your bags and off you go, not a travel cot or a Pampers multi-pack in sight. Genius, eh?
OK, so it means it's not strictly a family holiday – but let's not nitpick. It's far more enjoyable by all accounts, and that's what matters.
So much more enjoyable, in fact, that family tour operator Thomson has launched a whole parent-cation programme targeted at adults who want to go on holiday without being disturbed by kids – their own or other people's. Hotels are all exclusively child-free, you're promised luxurious rooms, fish-fingerless dining and, best of all, peace and quiet.
Thomson says it conceived its "Couples" offering after its own research found that more than 40 per cent of parents said they didn't actually like holidaying with their kids. By aiming at these frazzled mums and dads, it believes it is offering an important service.
But the launch has already ruffled feathers. One newspaper reported that it had provoked "fury" among parenting groups and even quoted child psychologists' claims that it would leave children "traumatised". Netmums' Siobhan Freegard, meanwhile, called the initiative a "sad indictment on us all".
Yet, is there really anything wrong with taking a break from your kids? Parents need time out, too, and if there's a chance to do it in a five-star hotel in Greece, then great. No one is trying to replace the idea of a family holiday – Thomson's business is still dependent on parents and kids going away together – rather it is packaging up a little added extra.
However, there is one teeny tiny problem with this concept. Can someone tell me exactly what you're supposed to do with your little treasures while you're off sipping quiet cocktails by the peaceful pool? Last time I checked, it was illegal to leave children home alone.
I've combed the Thomson Couples brochure in the hope of finding a mention of a free in-home nanny service to watch over little 'uns while you're gone, but no joy. Perhaps there's a gap in the market for next year's family holiday trend?
Just watch this space...
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