Q&A: The Independent Parent responds to your questions

From poolside to hillside - no worries


Q. We have three children aged eight (with learning difficulties), six and 15 months. We are looking for holidays with children's clubs and nursery and have only heard of Club Med and Mark Warner who tend to get booked up very quickly. Are there any others to try?

Q. We have three children aged eight (with learning difficulties), six and 15 months. We are looking for holidays with children's clubs and nursery and have only heard of Club Med and Mark Warner who tend to get booked up very quickly. Are there any others to try?

Claire Dangan via e-mail

A. You are probably aware that a central feature of Club Med and Mark Warner is being "all-inclusive". You pay your money and pretty much everything is covered, including the clubs, activities and crÿches they provide for children, for which both companies have built up strong reputations. As you have discovered, they are indeed very popular, despite the high prices.

If you are thinking of the Mediterranean, this glamorous pair pretty much have a monopoly on classy inclusives. However, one alternative is the Forte Village resort in Sardinia. A seriously swish place full of international glitterati, if you are a celebrity, nobody bothers you here. If you are not, you still get treated like somebody special, especially if you are a child. I was lucky enough to go there with my own children and they thought the kids' club was one of the best they have been to, with fun-loving minders organising everything from banana rides on the sea, to disco dancing on the piazza. Needless to say, it doesn't come cheap; prices start at £2,655 for two adults and two children sharing a two-bedroom bungalow, including flights and half-board, with Citalia (020-86860677, www.citalia.co.uk).

You could also try Powder Byrne (020-8246 5300, www.powderbyrne.com), which runs its own crÿches, "Scallywags", for four- to 10-year-olds and "The Zone" activity clubs for pre-teens. Choose a five-star hotel in Crete, Cyprus, Sardinia, Elba, Mallorca, Provence and the Algarve and expect to pay around £1,100 per adult and £800 per child sharing a family suite.

At the other end of the price scale, most of the leading companies offering "luxury" camping in ready-erected tents of mobile homes on sites in France and elsewhere, offer excellent children's clubs. Eurocamp (01606 787000, www.eurocamp.co.uk), for example, offers two-week holidays in the region of £600-700 for all of you, including channel crossings.

If you can look beyond the shores of Europe, however, your options for quality resorts with good childcare facilities are much broader. One resort I can strongly recommend is Almond Beach Village on the west coast of Barbados. Although an all-inclusive, this place scores in the flexible way it applies the concept. The children's clubs include outings and picnics to other parts of the island. Windjammer Landing in St Lucia is very keen on teaching a bit of local culture in its children's clubs; for those who are interested, there are lessons in the local patois, and opportunities for playing with local children. The Jalousie Hilton, in the remote and spectacular south of St Lucia, runs a highly original club which teaches youngsters about the wonders of vulcanology, marine biology and rainforests through a combination of presentations by island experts, videos and field trips around the island.

At all these resorts, which are bookable through most of the major long-haul operators, prices vary according to season. This has less to do with the climate than with convenience. Avoid peak periods such as Christmas and New Year or the February half-term, and prices tumble. For example, a week at the Jalousie Hilton with Tropical Places (0870 7277077, www.tropical.co.uk) costs £1,049 per adult, £449 per child, in November and early December, including flights and accommodation.

Q. We have one son, aged 11 and are interested in finding a short Christmas break of up to a week. In the past we have skied in France, and have enjoyed a YHA break in the Peak District. We like walking and activities such as cycling and would want to be part of a group with other families. One possibility is Spain, since Nathan is starting to learn Spanish this year. Do you have any suggestions?

Phil, Jean & Nathan Morgan Fordingbridge, Hants

A. Finding a holiday that combines the sort of outdoor activities you have mentioned, with the conviviality of other families over Christmas, is trickier (and pricier) than it should be. Many families with this predicament do as you have done in the past, and head for the ski slopes where the atmosphere is as festive as the scenery is Christmassy. However, what about heading for the Canary Islands? The climate can be lovely in December and the warm, sunny days are never too hot for mountain walking.

Nowhere is better for this than Tenerife, the largest island. The scenery is dominated by soaring Mount Teide, which is snow-capped in winter and, at over 12,000ft, higher than anywhere in Spain. Roads lead up from the banana plantations and palms of the sub-tropical lowlands, twisting through dense pine forests to emerge, often above the clouds, in the raw, volcanic beauty of the Teide National Park. Hike to the summit, along any of myriad trails in the park, or elsewhere on the island. There are plenty of opportunities for mountain biking, as well.

Quite a lot of families spend Christmas in the Canaries. So, apart from the opportunities for outdoor activities, if you choose a specifically family-orientated hotel, there should be plenty of like-minded company for Nathan.

Sovereign Winter Sunshine (08705 768373, www.sovereign.com) offers a week's stay at the Grand Hotel Anthelia Park on Tenerife's Costa Adeje, for £1,401 per adult (£693.50 per child), including flights and half-board accommodation, departing on 22 December. There is also a variety of activities for the many children and teenagers who stay over this period.

The Canaries, of course, are Spanish-speaking so Nathan will have the chance to wish navidad feliz to all he comes into contact with. Take my next suggestion, however, a break in Madeira, and he might want a learn a few words of Portuguese.

Like the Canaries, Madeira has a warm winter climate, although it can be wet. It also has superb walking along the network of irrigation channels or levadas which contour the mountains. High above the levadas, there is more wild hiking between the island's highest peaks, Pico do Ariero and Pico Ruivo.

Even more than the Canaries, there is a lively Christmas scene in Madeira's hotels. Yes, there are elderly folk sipping glasses of madeira, but five-star hotels such as Cliff Bay, for example, provide a lively entertainment programme for children who stay over Christmas and New Year.

Classic Collection Holidays (01903 823088) offers a week's stay over Christmas at the Cliff Bay for £1,038 per adult, £686 per child sharing, including flights, B&B and a Christmas Eve dinner.

One final thought. If you decide not to go abroad, think about spending Christmas in a UK resort such as Oasis Lakeland Forest Village (08705 086 000, www.oasishols.co.uk). A 400-acre haven of sports and activities, set among pine forests near Penrith in the Lake District, a five-night stay in a self-catering apartment over Christmas here would cost a total of £357 for the three of you.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth GamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Sport
Karen Dunbar performs
Entertainers showcase local wit, talent and irrepressible spirit
Sport
Members of the Scotland deleagtion walk past during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
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

    C++ Software Engineer - Hounslow, West London - C++ - to £60K +

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare : Deerfoot IT Resources Limite...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Visitor Experience volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary role: Old Royal Naval College: To assist the Visitor Experien...

    Telesales Manager. Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Day In a Page

    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
    Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

    Take a good look while you can

    How climate change could wipe out this seal
    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

    Farewell, my lovely

    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
    Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

    Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

    Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

    John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
    Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

    Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

    The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
    The 10 best pedicure products

    Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

    Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

    Commonwealth Games 2014

    Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
    Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

    Jack Pitt-Brooke

    Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
    How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

    How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

    Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game