Best holiday destinations for grandchildren
By Mark Frary, Editor of 101 Family Holidays
If your children don’t get to see much of their grandparents – or if you would like to see more of your grandchildren – a multi-generational family holiday can be a great opportunity to give you all some quality time together. However, it does need careful planning.
Considering the needs of a wide range of ages can be a challenge. Being flexible, tolerant and making compromises are all key to a stress-free holiday with grandparents. For starters, you’ll need to relax daily routines, allowing longer for everyone to get ready for a day out. Don’t be tempted to pack too much in. Are granny and grandpa all-action grandparents, keen to be involved in daily activities? Or are they content to sit back, watch and do very little? Whichever, they’ll tire more quickly than you, so be sure to plan time out for them during busy days.
Most grandparents will be more than happy to babysit or take the children out for the day if you want some time alone – just as they might want to escape for a day on their own sometimes. Don’t assume anything though. Some grandparents won’t appreciate being brought along on holiday in the assumed role of babysitter.
The same goes for cooking if you’re in self-catering accommodation. Don’t leave one person to do all the chores. Taking it in turns to cook – and that includes the kids – is not only more fun, but it also diffuses tension if two generations of mums are battling to claim control of the kitchen.
You’ll also be happier if everyone – right from the start – is clear about certain rules. What time should the children be in bed, and when is grandpa happy to be woken in the morning by the sound of shrieking toddlers? Where do you draw the line at treats? Or privacy? And who’s paying for meals, drinks and activities? Perhaps you’ll take it in turns, opt for a kitty or simply divide the grocery bill.
That just leaves the decision of where to go and what kind of accommodation to opt for. Again, flexibility is key. You might need more space than you’re used to on a ‘traditional’ family holiday. That might mean going for a self-catering farmhouse rather than a cottage, or a resort with interconnecting rooms or family villas. You may be looking for plenty of communal space – a good-size kitchen/family room perhaps – or a range of onsite activities that will appeal to everyone from your hyperactive five-year-old son to your more lethargic 75-year-old mother-in-law.
Here’s my selection of accommodation ideas that I feel have all the ingredients for a successful, stress-free multi-generational family holiday:
Self-catering in the UK
This is your easiest – and cheapest – option for a holiday with grandchildren. In fact, sharing the costs of a large cottage or farmhouse often means you’ll get more bang for your buck – not just a bigger property with more bedrooms, but a better location, larger garden and so on.
Renting somewhere in the UK is also a doddle. You don’t have to bother with the logistics or expense of coordinating flights for a large family party, or worry if the food/climate/journey/walk to the pool is going to agree with granny. Simply pile everything and everyone into a couple of cars and off you go.
If there’s potentially a downside to self-catering in the UK with a large family group it’s the threat of poor weather – go prepared with playing cards and board games to combat those inevitable rainy days.
Sykes Cottages have properties accommodating up to 18 people, including some beautiful converted barns and country houses. Their Lake District selection rings all the right bells for a multi-generational holiday – there’s plenty to interest kids of all ages (from Beatrix Potter to mountain biking), while grandparents will love the gentle pace of boat trips on Windermere and steam train rides through the fells.
For something a bit different, the incredible tents at Feather Down Farms just about have room for mum, dad, granny, grandpa and a couple of (smallish) kids. The simple lifestyle that comes with these back-to-nature glamping experiences, though, is perfect for nurturing quality time with young kids – you can help them collect eggs in the morning, grandpa can teach them how to light the log burner, while granny can read a bedtime story by candlelight. Bliss.
But why stop at the grandparents? Invite uncles, aunts, nephews and nieces and you’ll have room for them all in one of the spacious properties offered by The Big Domain. Some cater for up to 56 guests and include country manors and even a Scottish castle or two. Don’t worry if you quail at the prospect of cooking for that many people – several properties have a full- or part-time catering service available.
And if you’d rather not leave your dog at home, pick one of these dog-friendly cottages across the UK and Ireland.
See more holiday ideas in the UK.
A villa in Europe
If you want guaranteed sunshine and hot weather, you’ll need to head south towards the Med and rent a large family villa. There’s a huge choice of properties available, but make sure your shortlist takes into account the following factors.
With young grandchildren – and perhaps elderly grandparents – you will want a villa with minimal steps, especially leading to and from the pool. Make sure the pool has plenty of comfortable seating space around it so that granny can enjoy the splashy antics of her grandchildren without having to use binoculars from the villa terrace. And on the subject of terraces, choose a villa that’s capable of seating everyone outside for mealtimes. Inside, you’ll ideally want ensuite bathrooms for yourselves, the grandparents and the kids – everyone will have different routines.
Where to go? Well, a good starting point is to jot down the main interests and must-haves for each member of the party. Perhaps grandpa loves fine wine, granny is a passionate cook, you’re a bit of a history buff and the kids just want to swim. A villa with a pool in Tuscany ticks all those boxes – Oliver’s Travels has a superb collection.
If swimming in the sea tops your hit list (a lot of elderly people are very keen saltwater swimmers), then splash out on a villa by the sea. Vintage Travel offers a great choice of properties in Mallorca, including the stylish Marquesa at Port de Pollenca, boasting a 12m pool and located within walking distance of one of Mallorca’s longest sandy beaches.
Here’s a great idea for a multi-generational holiday: rent a villa in France or Spain and get gentle cycling and walking organised for you. Check out these active villa holidays from the specialist operator, Headwater.
Also try CV Travel for an equally enticing range of villas in Corfu. If Granny and Grandpa want to treat you all to something special, check out Abercrombie & Kent’s superb collection of luxury villas in the Algarve, and Sir Richard Branson’s new Son Bunyola estate in Mallorca where three gorgeous villas are set in 680 acres of protected countryside.
See more self-catering holiday ideas.
Splashing out on a resort
Villa rental agencies can organise flights and car hire and may even be able to prebook activities or arrange a grocery pack on arrival. However, if you want total peace of mind over logistics, consider a package at a family-friendly resort, where everything from transfers and meals to babysitting and kids’ activities is taken care of onsite.
Choose a resort that has interconnecting rooms or offers family villas with two or three bedrooms. Also look for properties that have the right range of activities to suit all ages in your group. Time to get everyone to jot down their holiday wishlists again…
To be honest, though, if you opt for one of the following operators, all boast such a wide range of activities – from adrenaline-charged watersports to sumptuous spas – that you should be able to keep everyone happy.
Beaches Resorts in Jamaica and the Turks & Caicos, for example, are renowned for their fantastic Kids Camps, waterparks and unlimited watersports. You can book a three- or four-bedroom family suite and take your pick from 19 gourmet restaurants.
Another great all-inclusive option, Mark Warner’s Sea Garden Beach Resort in Turkey has interconnecting rooms and a fantastic watersports programme. Kids’ clubs and childcare options mean that you can keep children happy and occupied for those times when parents and grandparents need some quiet time. Also consider Club Med and Scott Dunn.
Tightening the purse strings, Pierre & Vacances offer several holiday villages in Europe. Lacanau Holiday Village in southwest France, for example, has four-bedroom houses sleeping up to eight people; the resort is near a beach and golf courses, while onsite there’s a swimming pool, thalassotherapy centre and a wide choice of activities.
Also try Siblu Villages, while closer to home, Gwel an Mor on the north coast of Cornwall makes a perfect destination for a holiday with grandparents, with its high-quality lodges (sleeping up to six), indoor pool, spa, restaurant and wildlife centre.
Another idea: theme parks can be good fun for multi-generational families, providing the rides aren’t too terrifying. Efteling in Holland gets the balance just right: it’s based on the theme of fairy tales and has lots to charm young kids, as well as some thrilling rides for older children. It’s also set in beautiful countryside, which keeps the adults happy. stay at the Efteling Hotel or Bosrijk Village.
Last updated: 10 January 2017