Kids' holidays: In search of... children's clubs

Sometimes you need someone else to look after your little darlings while you enjoy the serious business of relaxing. Sarah Barrell investigates

Responsible, caring parents you may be, but it is unlikely that you will want to spend every minute of your summer holiday in the clamouring company of your children. Depending on their age, this probably goes for them, too. Choosing a tour operator, resort or hotel that offers a children's club is the obvious answer, but, with so many variations on a very loosely defined theme, where do you begin?

Responsible, caring parents you may be, but it is unlikely that you will want to spend every minute of your summer holiday in the clamouring company of your children. Depending on their age, this probably goes for them, too. Choosing a tour operator, resort or hotel that offers a children's club is the obvious answer, but, with so many variations on a very loosely defined theme, where do you begin?

How much is it going to cost?

Prices vary hugely. Most of the beach holiday packages run by the big companies subsume the cost of older children's clubs into the price. Looking after babies and toddlers needs more staff and costs more.

Can I trust these people with my children?

How well each club performs is something of an unknown quality, dependent as it is on the individual abilities and characters of group leaders. However, the key questions to ask are: what is the ratio of supervisors to children? (The higher the better.) And how limited is the age range within each group? (You don't want your child to be stranded in a group of much older or younger children.)

Will the children enjoy it?

Most clubs offer child-pleasing welcome packs (T-shirt, sun hat and games); likewise, activities for younger children cover a standard drill: face-painting, model-making, sandcastles, stories, dressing up etc. From around eight years up, the emphasis starts to vary depending on the holiday. Activity holidays and holiday villages tend to focus on team sports and tuition whereas the big sun-and-fun package companies are more likely to offer day trips (water parks, theme parks etc) where additional costs (pocket money for pizza, extra-curricular activities) may crop up.

I need a break. Where do I find one?

Of the mainstream tour operators Thomson (08705 502555, www.thomsonholidays.com) has the largest number of children's clubs in Europe with 117 located throughout the Mediterranean and Canary Islands. The clubs are divided into three age groups that vary depending on the destination. The staff-to-child ratio is, on average, 1:20 and all costs are included in the price of the holiday. Under-threes are not catered for but babysitting/creche services are available at selected resorts from £2.50 per hour.

JMC (0870 758 0203, www.jmc.com) has the best range of age groups at its nine FamilyWORLD and 67 KidsWORLD clubs, located at 27 European destinations. The FamilyWORLD clubs are located at selected family-friendly properties (in Majorca, Menorca, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, Cyprus, Greece and Turkey) and are exclusive to JMC's UK customers. Clubs are split into five age groups beginning with Beach Babes (at FamilyWORLD properties only) for babies six months to two years. Trained nanny-to-child ratio: 1:3. From three years upwards the clubs (featured at all properties) are free and have a staff-to-child ratio of 1:5.

I want something that's going to tire them out

Increasingly popular with families who want a little more than sun, sea and sand are specialist activity holiday companies offering imaginative, resort-based childcare covering a wide range of age groups (often at very reasonable rates – free for those over two years). The downside of this is that early booking is essential as the staff-to-child ratios are very strict. Mark Warner (08708 480480, www.markwarner.co.uk) is an established family holiday favourite with 14 Clubhotels in the Mediterranean. Baby Club (four to 12 months) costs £200 per child per week and one nanny looks after two babies. There is still availability for bookings this September and October.

Sunsail (023-9222 2222, www.sunsail.com), the activity holiday specialist, has 11 resorts in Turkey, Greece and Antigua and splits its clubs into six age groups. Recommended alternatives are Powder Byrne (020-8246 5300, www.powderbyrne.com) and Neilson (0870 333 3356, www.neilson.com).

My children's table manners are non-existent. Do we have to stay in a hotel?

For those who prefer self-catering but perhaps feel it leaves all concerned needing another holiday, Simply Travel (020-8541 2200, www.simply-travel.com) offers excellent options for creche/children's club with villa or apartment rentals. Pioneers in this field, Simply Travel have childcare provisions in Corsica, the Ionian islands, Turkey and (new this year) Crete, catering for children from six months to 10 years.

For those brave enough to venture under canvas avec enfants, Canvas Holidays (08709 022022, www.canvas.co.uk) has Hoopi clubs at 60 of its 75 campsites in France and throughout Europe. The clubs cater for four to 11-year-olds only and are included in the cost of the holiday. There are wildlife couriers on selected sites. Recommended alternatives: Eurocamp (01606 787878, www.eurocamp.co.uk) and EuroSites (0870 751 0000, www.eurosites.co.uk).

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Travel
travel
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
News
Jamie and Emily Pharro discovering their friend's prank
video
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift crawls through the legs of twerking dancers in her 'Shake It Off' music video
musicEarl Sweatshirt thinks so
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Our resilience to stress is to a large extent determined by our genes
science
Travel
travel
Sport
sportBesiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Champions League qualifying first-leg match ends in stalemate in Istanbul
News
Pornography is more accessible - and harder to avoid - than ever
news... but they still admit watching it
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
musicKate Bush asks fans not to take photos at London gigs
News
i100
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Sport
Manchester United are believed to have made a £15m bid for Marcos Rojo
sportWinger Nani returns to Lisbon for a season-long loan as part of deal
News
news
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
O'Toole as Cornelius Gallus in ‘Katherine of Alexandria’
filmSadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Life and Style
fashion
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
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

    Oracle 11g SQL 2008 DBA (Unix, Oracle RAC, Mirroring, Replicati

    £6000 - £50000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: Oracle 11...

    Recruitment Consultant (Graduate Trainee), Finchley Central

    £17K OTE £30K: Charter Selection: Highly successful and innovative specialist...

    SQL DBA/ C# Developer - T-SQL, C#.Net

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Working with an exciting ...

    Sales and Office Administrator – Sports Media

    £23,000: Sauce Recruitment: A global leader in sports and entertainment is now...

    Day In a Page

    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
    Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

    But could his predictions of war do the same?
    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

    Young at hort

    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

    Beyond a joke

    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

    A wild night out

    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
    Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

    Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

    It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
    Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

    Besiktas vs Arsenal

    Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
    Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

    Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

    As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
    Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

    Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

    The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
    Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

    Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

    But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
    Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

    Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

    Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment