By Nadine Mellor, Editor of the Kids Collection, i-escape
The ultimate family holiday for many of us means being by the sea. Our Kids Collection has a great selection of wonderfully stylish places which warmly welcome children. These six hidden gems are sited close to the waves and cater for all ages.
Polurrian Bay Hotel, Cornwall, UK
We really rate this Cornish coastal hotel. Not just for the cool contemporary makeover of an Edwardian building, or its wonderful sunset-facing setting on the Lizard peninsula, or indeed for the marvellous fare served in the sea view restaurant, but mostly for its superb facilities for families. We reckon Polurrian Bay suits babies, toddlers and younger kids to a T, and heap special praise on the excellent Ofsted-registered creche (you get two hours per day included in the rates, a godsend for parents who need some downtime in the spa) with its sandpit, crafts, games and music sessions. Our reviewer’s son made a fantastic cardboard space rocket, which he still cherishes to this day. Before arrival you’ll be asked which equipment they can supply – from baby baths to changing mats, potties and swim nappies – so you can travel light. There’s also a playground, a cinema showing family films, and an indoor pool with shallow section for novice swimmers. Oh and did we mention that there’s a sandy cove just below? Superb!
Masseria Prosperi, Puglia, Italy
Puglia (the peninsula found in the heel of the country) has been dubbed Italy’s Cornwall, and we had a great family holiday there recently. The pace is gentle, the beaches uncrowded, and even fussy eaters enjoy Italian food. We loved staying at Masseria Prosperi, a purpose-built and very chic 6-bedroom country villa (which you can take by the room or in entirety), as it has both outdoor (unheated) and indoor (heated) pools, gardens to roam in, dogs and farm animals to admire and ponies and horses to ride – the kids loved sitting on Coppa, the cutest and fattest pony ever! It’s a mere 5 minutes’ drive to the nearest large beach. Best of all was the outstanding food such as sea bass baked in salt and an abundance of wonderful vegetable dishes – the breakfasts alone were fit for royal banquets – all of it tailored to our (and our kids’) requirements. Rooms are spacious and most have outside space either in terraces or balconies. We left having made firm friends with Mercedes, Antonio and their daughters.
Palmizana, Sveti Klement island, near Hvar, Croatia
Palmizana is a hidden gem, far from the madding crowds on this car-free island. A laid-back family-run eco-retreat, it’s surrounded by botanical beauty (planted by the great-grandfather over a century ago), and splendidly free of modern trappings such as TVs and telephones. You stay in stone bungalows or villas, all delightfully colourful and arty (think driftwood sculptures and contemporary Croatian paintings); there’s a good range to choose from and kids under 10 stay free. There’s a shallow beach on the doorstep with crystal clear waters, the two restaurants serve kid-friendly food, and there are playgrounds and watersports nearby. We’ve returned many times and can vouch for the great sense of freedom for school-age children, who relish tearing about without restriction and in safety.
Port Rive Gauche, Languedoc, France
Many families prefer to self-cater when on holiday: it’s cheaper, easier if your child has particular requirements, and can be more relaxing for the parents than trying to maintain decorum in a restaurant or hotel dining room. And if you’re self-catering, a decent kitchen makes all the difference – hence our fondness for Port Rive Gauche, a collection of stylish two-bedroom apartments, which also have comfort in spades and cool light-filled interiors (plus black out blinds for a decent night’s sleep). Each has either a roof terrace or covered balcony from which to soak up the majestic views across the lagoon, cut off from the Mediterranean by a long sandy beach. We found, and our clients agree, that the location is superb, and although there’s no pool, there are boat trips to be taken, and there’s a funfair close by too. You can also hire babysitters and arrange for breakfast and seafood lunch platters to be delivered to your apartment.
Onar, Andros, Cyclades, Greece
Andros is one of our favourite Greek islands – not least for Michael, our editor-in-chief, who spent the most blissful childhood holidays there. It’s little-known, unspoiled and wild, yet an easy ferry ride from Athens or Mykonos. Set by a secluded cove, Onar‘s gorgeous boutique stone cottages, which sleep up to seven, all have private gardens or patios and sea or river views. Meals are communal under a giant plane tree, interiors are unfussy and calm, life is simple and sweet. Adventurous teens will enjoy snorkelling, fishing, jeep excursions, hiking, scuba diving, boat trips or even swimming in a natural pool fed by a waterfall. We think it’s the perfect place to reconnect with your family.
Azur Hotel, nr Antalya, Turkey
Azur Hotel is one of our very favourite choices for families. These great-value cabins and bungalows are set in idyllic lush gardens, with one of Europe’s most stunning beaches (Cirali) on your doorstep. It’s backed by dramatic mountain scenery (the pine forested Mt. Tahtali), impressive ancient monuments (the ruins of Lycian Olymbos are at the end of the beach) and even some natural flaming sulphur vents to astound sceptical teenagers. Staff are unfailingly welcoming and helpful, and the food is delicious and plentiful. We thought the 20-metre pool (with separate shallow section) a godsend for toddlers and learner swimmers, while older kids can take wooden boat trips to secret coves.