Katy Holland: OK, you lot. Get off that beach and move your ass!
Are we there yet? Take two bored kids, stick 'em on a donkey and send them up a mountain for the afternoon.
Sunday 02 August 2009
Here's an idea for anyone in search of new things to do this summer: Take two bored kids, stick 'em on a donkey and send them up a mountain for the afternoon. I've just tried it ... it was a galloping success.
If you're short of mountains or donkeys in your area, I can recommend the perfect spot: Kelokedara, a teeny village in the foothills of the Troodos range in Cyprus. My kids discovered their new hobby on a day trip there during a recent holiday in Paphos. We were swept away on an old bus to the Kelokedara donkey sanctuary, set among mountain olive groves. It was a welcome escape from the busy beaches and bustling resorts. Peace and tranquillity are all you'll find here – it's the perfect retreat for exhausted families and donkeys alike.
The kids got really involved in looking after their new chums before taking the mountain trek, which meandered along a riverbed to a tiny 16th-century monastery – a thoroughly child-friendly way to see the most breathtaking parts of northern Cyprus. And it was a good laugh, too: it's hard to look cool astride a mule, although my teenage son did his best.
I'm glad we took that trip, because it was really the only time we ventured out of our lovely seafront hotel, the Azia Resort and Spa, near Paphos (00357 26845100; azia resort.com). The problem with staying here was that the kids liked it so much they wouldn't be lured away. The laid-back atmosphere that makes this five-star retreat so easy on the nerves is largely thanks to the staff, who are selected, carefully, by the owners for their warm and welcoming personalities.
The kids completely relaxed here, playing in the pool and ordering ice creams at the swim-up bar, challenging each other to table tennis or ball games on the lawns, or watching films and gorging themselves on Cypriot delicacies in the VIP lounge. The children's clubs can be relied upon to lay on lots of fun and games and my treasures made some firm friends, leaving me with very little to do but lounge by the pool drinking cocktails with the other, equally freed-up, parents. Time to discuss the treatments at the hotel spa (these include some wonderful mother-and-child pampering mornings, but my boys had better things to do with their time).
If you fancy a dose of the same, the whole experience comes at a discount at the moment. Book in at the Azia during August, September or October and you'll get up to 40 per cent off, bringing prices to around £100 per night for two adults and a child, including breakfast.
The village trekking trip can be organised through the hotel or the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (020-7569 8800; visitcyprus.com), and you'll be collected and dropped off from the hotel.
If you're after a relaxing family holiday in the sun with some unusual activities thrown in, this is the place. We haven't had such a good time in, well, donkey's years.
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