The Independent Parent: Where can we take our young family for a cheap beach break?

Q. My husband and I want to take a holiday this September that will provide entertainment for our son (who will have just turned two) and some much-needed relaxation for us.

Q. My husband and I want to take a holiday this September that will provide entertainment for our son (who will have just turned two) and some much-needed relaxation for us. At the moment he is probably too young for children's clubs, but we would like to find a destination where there will be other children around. He loves the water and sand so a safe beach would be great. We also need holiday accommodation, preferably self-catering, which does not have high balconies or steps. A holiday cottage/villa with direct access to a beach would be perfect. We would ideally prefer a destination that is less than a three-hour flight away. We don't have a huge budget - around £1,200 for all of us.
P Mahoney, via e-mail

A. For a beach holiday with a small child in tow, Mallorca is ideal. It is about a two-hour flight away, and it should still be pleasantly warm (about 20C) in September. One of the best places for families is Puerto de Pollensa on the island's north-eastern coast, about a one-and-a-half-hour drive (55km) from Palma airport. This is an attractive resort set on a sheltered horseshoe-shaped bay with plenty of cafés and restaurants along a pedestrianised promenade. The long sandy beach shelves gently to the clean sea - ideal for a bucket-and-spade holiday with a toddler. The town centre is an easy walk too, as is the attractive yachting marina and port.

Villa Select (01789-764909; www.villaselect.com) features Pescador, a Grade I-listed fisherman's cottage. This tiny house is located right on the beach (where your toddler is bound to make friends), at the start of the famous traffic-free Pine Walk. Prettily decorated with lots of chintz, the cottage has a large front terrace overlooking the beach, a living room and a well-equipped kitchen, plus two bedrooms - one on the ground floor with en suite bathroom, and a larger one with air conditioning and shower on the first floor. This second bedroom is large enough to take a cot or camp bed (£20 charge for cot with bedding) for your son if you would feel happier to have him sleeping closer to you. This will cost £1,272 for seven nights' accommodation, departing on 11 or 18 September. The price includes charter flights from Gatwick to Palma (or from other UK airports at a small supplement) and transfers by taxi. At the resort there is no need for a car - it is very pleasurable to stroll down Pine Walk and the promenade with a pushchair. You could take a taxi to visit the picturesque Old Town of Pollensa, a 15-minute drive away, which will cost about €9 (£6). As Mallorca is such a beautiful island, you may opt to hire a car and drive around the spectacularly rocky Formentor cape, continuing west to visit the beautiful old towns of Soller, Deia and Valldemossa. Villa Select can arrange this for £145 per week, but if you book online through a broker such as Holiday Autos ( www.holidayautos.co.uk) you can get a reasonable car for around £105.

Holiday prices are likely to be significantly lower with the big tour operators. Unijet (08705 336336; www.unijet.com) offers the Aparthotel Flora, a three-star property 150m from the beach in the north-east corner of the Bay of Pollensa. This is a large complex with eight apartment blocks, a swimming pool, a children's pool and a playground, so it is bound to be social for your son. There is also a good selection of shops a short walk away. The downside is that most apartments have balconies or terraces, so you will need to request a ground-floor room when you book. A week's holiday for all three of you in a one-bedroom apartment, departing on 16 September, will cost £807.

For further details about Mallorca, go to www.visitbalears.com or contact the Spanish National Tourist Office (020-7486 8077; www.tourspain.es).

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