Great news for Greek island lovers – the sleek and shiny Daios Cove resort on Crete now has an outstanding Explorers children’s club, putting it among the most desirable luxury family boltholes in the Med. We’re weak at the knees just contemplating that infinity pool, while kids won’t waste time getting stuck into the organised activities.
For kids the world is one great big classroom, but the best way to learn something new is on a small group trip with an expert guide. Gaze at the stars with an astrologer, learn about the animal kingdom in the wild or uncover the secrets of ancient civilisations. They’ll come home brimming with new skills as well as great memories.
Fancy some family pampering and adventures on an exotic Indian Ocean island? Look no further than Mauritius where the quality of the hospitality is matched by the island’s natural beauty and the warmth of the welcome. It’s safe, the child care in the luxury resorts is outstanding and you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to things to see and do.
A beautiful island with a rugged, herb-scented interior and a coastline riddled with coves and sandy beaches, Sardinia is a family holiday favourite – whether you like to hike, bike or flop on a beach. Forte Village resort is one of the best known beach beauties, but the experts at Sardatur have uncovered plenty more family-friendly gems.
From Paris to Prague, this stylish collection of family-friendly apartments makes a city break in Europe with the kids more fun, more flexible and more affordable. Not only have i-escape visited and reviewed each characterful property, but they’ve put together a great online search facility for planning a city break just how you like it.
Once the last of the snow has melted and summer comes around, the Alps spring back to life, with hillsides carpeted with flowers and sunshine glistening off lakes. Stay in a cosy Alpine village and choose from a menu of thrilling activities, from mountain biking and rock climbing to glacier skiing and white-water rafting.
I know what it’s like leaving the pooch behind when we go on holiday. Those mournful eyes and looks of recrimination – and that’s just the kids. Rural Retreats puts the woof and bounce back into UK holidays with its tail-wagging round-up of dog-friendly cottages. They could well become our second best friends…
Powder Byrne’s focus on all members of the family, no matter how young, makes everyone feel special on one of their holidays. Polo holidays are a fantastic addition to their already excellent summer portfolio. Shared activity holidays are my favourite of all family breaks, particularly when you are learning something fresh and exciting too.
Rich, varied, plenty to get stuck into and always immensely satisfying, we think Andalucia is the paella of Spanish family holiday destinations – whether you want to get active on the beach or delve into the Alhambra. And with this enticing range of luxury hotels, resorts and haciendas from Kirker Holidays you can feel confident you’re experiencing the best of sunny southern Spain.
Most people think mountains are just for winter – they could not be more wrong. Europe’s lakes and mountains are perfect for family summer holidays: larking about in sparkling Alpine lakes in surprisingly warm temperatures, messing about on bikes and splashing down wild rivers on rafts.
A family safari is the ultimate I-Spy and there’s no better place to get spotting than Kenya’s wildlife reserves. Pride of place on your itinerary, the Masai Mara not only offers your cubs the chance to tick off the entire cast of The Lion King, but also to take part in other exciting activities like night drives and walking safaris. Wash the dust off afterwards with a few days at the coast.
People often ask me ‘When can I take the kids on safari?’ Many reserves have restrictions on very young children while long, pre-dawn game drives can take their toll. For kids of six and older, South Africa offers some great, malaria-free options. I love Shamwari in the eastern Cape, with its family lodges and Born Free big cat rescue centres.
Imagine this: you and your family sailing a yacht in the sparkling Ionian sea, flitting between islands and weighing anchor in idyllic coves for a beach barbecue or dip in the sea. Flotilla sailing is the way to go. A lead boat provides all the support and back up you need. And if you’re new to sailing, start off with a week of instruction.
Set on Portugal’s dramatic south-eastern tip, Martinhal is that rare combination of super family-friendly and genuinely chic. Genius touches include a trampoline in front of the beachside restaurant allowing mums and dads to relax with an aperitif whilst kids bounce. There are kids activities galore and a top-notch spa that even offers parent and child treatments.
Yet to be convinced about glamping? Book into Trevella Park, near to the glorious beach at Crantock, and the comfy beds, fluffy duvets and fridges that come with the geo domes and safari tents should help to convince you. The site itself is pleasingly free of ‘entertainment’ and instead offers ranger adventures, fishing lakes and a heated outdoor pool.
An exotic choice of destination for the long summer holidays but so worth it. Don’t miss the giant caves of Mulu – one of them could swallow five St Paul’s cathedrals. You also have to spend a night in a communal Iban longhouse and see orang-utans in their natural habitat. Older kids will love the challenge of climbing Kinabalu
California is a holiday destination with everything – from ski peaks to sunny beaches, national parks to theme parks and cool cities linked by some of America’s best road trips. Our family has loved hiking in Yosemite, exploring Lake Tahoe and Alcatraz and seeking the thrills of LA – and some of the best food and wine Stateside.
You can rely on Greek Islands Club to find some of the most intimate villa retreats in the star-studded Aegean and Ionian, and on Kefalonia, I think they have hit the family jackpot. There’s a wide choice of supremely family-friendly properties on this fascinating island, many within an easy walk of a beach, tavernas and shops.
What an inspired collection of family friendly cottages! The moment you snuggle up with Sheepskin’s small-but-perfectly-formed portfolio of properties you’ll just want to pack up and go. There are cottages in Snowdonia and Pembrokeshire, pet-friendly boltholes in the Brecon Beacons, luxury retreats in Shropshire and seaside escapes in Cornwall to name a few.
Imagine sailing around coral-fringed islands aboard a 34m yacht, snorkelling on pristine reefs and venturing into the realm of the Komodo dragon. It’s just one of the exciting family holidays to Indonesia offered by Exsus. Another option combines luxury and adventure in Bali and Sumatra, while the Invigorating Indonesia itinerary fills an unforgettable fortnight with everything from elephant-back riding to white-water rafting.
It’s not all jungle. Brazil has iconic cities like Rio and Salvador; there’s the watery wilderness of the Pantanal, the ground-shaking Iguacu Falls, a spectacular coastline, carnival, samba, football… one trip isn’t enough to sample all the delights of this amazing country. But this family itinerary combining the Costa Verde with the Pantanal does nicely for starters.
If you thought travelling to a city with the kids was a no no, check out these hugely imaginative short breaks in Paris, Rome and London as well as the Loire Valley. Tailor-made for individual families, everything is organised for you, from transport and accommodation to family activities ranging from treasure hunts and cookery lessons to gladiator school.
If your kids are like mine and love the Percy Jackson novels, they will love visiting the Greek mainland and seeing all of that mythology made real. This is a fascinating corner of Greece, rich in legends, and there is much to appeal to the kids, from long stretches of golden beach to family climbing on the island of Proti.