The Independent Parent: Your Questions Answered

Where can we combine our winter honeymoon with a family holiday?
Click to follow
The Independent Travel

Q We're two fortysomethings, getting married in the second week of December. My wife-to-be has a five-year-old daughter, who we intend to take out of school for a week for the honeymoon. Where can we get sun, sea and plenty to keep her occupied and also find interesting places for us to visit?

Q We're two fortysomethings, getting married in the second week of December. My wife-to-be has a five-year-old daughter, who we intend to take out of school for a week for the honeymoon. Where can we get sun, sea and plenty to keep her occupied and also find interesting places for us to visit?

R Sullivan, Surrey

A Congratulations. Presumably after such a momentous event, you'll be hoping for a rest, while at the same time having an enjoyable family holiday. With this in mind, I suggest you consider either the Canary Islands or the island of Madeira. Both are good options at this time of year, with temperatures hovering in the mid-20s throughout December. It also means you don't have to endure a long-haul flight in search of some sun, as flight-times to the Canaries and Madeira are under four hours from almost all UK airports.

The following selection of holidays varies in price, so you should be able to find something to suit your needs. However, choose carefully if you are considering resorts and hotels with childcare facilities. In the course of my research, I found that most lay these on only at peak holiday periods. With this in mind, all the resorts and hotels I have mentioned offer good facilities for your daughter year-round plus the option of childminders and children's clubs, if you need them.

Given the celebratory nature of your holiday, you may feel like splashing out on an exclusive resort on the quiet island of Madeira. Cadogan Holidays (023 8082 8313, www.cadoganholidays.com) offers a week at the Crowne Plaza Resort, near the island's capital, Funchal. The hotel is upmarket, but youngsters are well catered for. It offers a complementary children's club for four- to 12-year-olds, for three hours a day. Activities range from a sandbox and swings to a children's pool. The price for departures between 1 and 12 December is £1,157 per adult and £613 for your daughter, including flights from Gatwick with British Airways, transfers, accommodation in an executive suite and breakfast.

Be warned that there are no beaches on the island. But Porto Moniz on the northern coast is famous for its natural pools in lava formations.

There are plenty of other activities, such as a cable-car ride from Funchal to the village of Monte. Return tickets cost €13 (£8.70) per adult and €6.50 (£4.30) per child (aged four to 14), but you might prefer to travel downhill on a sledge, the local public transport.

On the small Canary island of Fuerteventura, Cosmos (0870 908 4299, www.cosmos-holidays.co.uk) offers a selection of self-catering holidays. You could stay in a one-bedroom apartment in Corralejo, a picturesque fishing-village on the north of the island. There are a number of swimming-pools on site, and four miles of sandy beach nearby. A highlight for your five-year-old would definitely be its children's programme, "Starbugs", dedicated to three- to five-year-olds. This includes face-painting, treasure hunts and games for two hours per day and three evenings per week. Departing from Gatwick on 11 December, a seven-night holiday for the three of you will cost a total of £497. This price is remarkable value and includes return flights, accommodation, taxes and transfers. You also have a choice to upgrade to an all-inclusive option, for £896.

Fuerteventura's main attractions are largely nature-based. The three of you could take a cruise to the neighbouring island of Lanzarote on a glass-bottomed boat organised through the tour operator. On the journey you will able to marvel at the sea-life below, and then spend an afternoon shopping in Porto Del Carmen. The trip, which departs at the port in Corralejo daily, costs €47 (£30) per adult and €26 (£18) per child. Camel safaris are also a popular day out, and are suitable for five-year-olds. Tamaragua Tours (00 34 928 53 53 40, www.tamaragua.es) runs treks costing €47 (£30) per adult and €26 (£18) per child for a trek and lunch.

Finally, an all-inclusive holiday booked through Bonaventure Holidays (020-8780 1311, www.bonaventure-holidays.com) to Tenerife in December will cost £563 per adult and £395 for your daughter. Accommodation is at the Hotel Playa La Arena, near the fishing village of Puerto Santiago, right beside a long stretch of sandy beach. The hotel offers a children's club for a total of six hours each day.

From here you will also be able to take day-trips to the picturesque area of Santiago del Tiede and visit the cliffs of Acantilados Los Gigantes where you may be lucky enough to see some dolphins. Alternatively, Loro Parque (00 34 922 37 3841, www.loroparque.com) is a popular wildlife park featuring both land mammals and an aquarium. The park opens daily from 8am to 5pm; admission is €21 (£14) for adults and €10.50 (£7) for children.

QA few months ago I promised my teenage daughter, currently on a gap year, that I would take her on a shopping trip to New York before Christmas. Now that it's looming, I'm panicking and fear she will never forgive me if I don't take her. Can you help?

N Montague, Wimbledon, London



AYou still have time to save face with your daughter and you will also be glad to hear that there are some good deals to be had, despite the fact that there are only 38 shopping days left until Christmas Day.

Fares are low between now and mid-December. Traditionally, Christmas shopping officially starts in New York in the first weekend of December. The already crowded streets get even more stuffed by throngs of festive shoppers. Also bear in mind that Thanksgiving falls on 28 November this year, meaning flight availability will be limited.

The next question is whether to book a package or flights and accommodation separately. If you choose the latter, bear in mind that accommodation can be extremely expensive in Manhattan, and you'll find that there are all kinds of taxes and service charges added on.

Funway Holidays (020-8466 0222, www.funwayholidays.co.uk) is offering three-night breaks for £415 per person for departures between now and 15 December, although from 1 to 9 December, flight availability is extremely limited. If you really want a last-minute trip, the price falls to £365 per person on 15 December. This includes return flights from Heathrow on United Airlines and accommodation in the Art Deco New Yorker Hotel near Madison Square Gardens. The price also includes a map and a Macy's discount shopping card, which may come in useful.

If you decide to do it yourself, expect to pay around £220 return from London to New York on one of the leading airlines – American Airlines, British Airways, United or Virgin – bought through a discount agent. You can undercut this by travelling on one of Air India's daily services from London Heathrow to JFK. Quest Travel (0870 442 3513) is offering return flights for £209.

You can book accommodation through the UK-based company USA Tailormade Holidays (01732 367 711, www.usaholidays.com), which offers a choice of more than 100 hotels in New York. It offers accommodation from around £75 per room per night and recommends the Bedford Hotel on East 40th Street – a good location for hitting the stores. Double rooms cost around £117 per night excluding breakfast but including tax.

For further information call the New York City tourist bureau on 020-7437 8300 or visit www.nycvisit.com.

Comments