By Jo Gardner | March 2019 | 8 minute read
It’s hard to craft a holiday which pleases across the generations, but travel agents are just what tired parents need – to deliver some inspiration and ideas for holidays that will deliver on entertainment and relaxation while keeping costs down too.
“Money can be a major decision factor in family holidays, with new research by Kayak suggesting 40% of parents take their children out of school during term time purely to reduce costs”
Best of both worlds
It’s a rare thing when you can leave your six-year-old in a swimming pool while you relax on a lounger in the sunshine, concenrating on nothing more than the book in hand.
For unlike many other hotel pools, this one has no deep end. It’s strange to think that such a simple thing can make or break a family holiday, but it really can! As a single parent of one, an hour on a lounger isn’t just golden, it makes me a better mother!
We are in Bruges and slipping into an easy routine: up for a continental breakfast (my daughter loves making her own waffles), sightseeing before it gets too hot (the Indian summer sees temperatures hit 37 degrees), chips doused in mayonnaise from a cart for lunch, and back to the hotel for an afternoon of sunshine, swimming and reading.
And when the sun starts to go down, we walk the two minutes or so back into beautiful Bruges.
One evening we board a boat and drift around the canals (which are now prettily lit up); on another we take a bike tour and are cycled around the sights. Meals are enjoyed outside in the balmy night air; all restaurants have kids’ menus and the waiters speak English.
I have to admit that, when booking, I was torn between a pool holiday and a city break but in Bruges we managed to find the best of both worlds.
Striking a balance
Finding ‘the best of both worlds’ is the Holy Grail of family holidays, as parents try to strike a balance between keeping the kids suitably entertained whilst also enjoying some adult time.
GIC The Villa Collection, a subsidiary of Sunvil, says villas with annexes are selling well for them this year, as grandparents holiday with children and grandchildren.
Adventure travel in Latin America and Scandinavia is also proving popular for Sunvil, as well as holidaymakers wishing to re-connect with nature.
“We have introduced a number of new properties in Smaland in southern Sweden this year to cater for families wishing to immerse themselves in nature,” said Chris Wright, Managing Director of Sunvil and GIC The Villa Collection. “Kosta Lodge has two-bedroom log cabins on small complexes with kayaking, cycling, walking and horse riding available.”
Brexit is on everyone’s minds, too, he admitted. “But there remains a demand for European holidays. We are keeping abreast of discussions and monitoring the latest travel advice from the FCO, ABTA and our destination countries,” he added. “Our staff have been versed to answer any questions that may arise.”
Money can be a major decision factor in family holidays, with new research by Kayak suggesting 40% of parents take their children out of school during term time purely to reduce costs. Others cite convenience as a reason for taking holidays during term time.
“Greece remains a very competitively priced destination for families, both in terms of the cost of the holiday and the cost of living locally,” said Wright. “We have also seen an increase in enquiries for families with teenagers to go island hopping in the Greek Cyclades.”
“Rail travel is proving more popular than ever with families looking for flexibility,” added Lucy Stobart, Product Manager at Great Rail Journeys. “ “Some families need more free time, others like a full itinerary. With our tailor-made itineraries, families can ensure the tour suits their needs.”
Wildlife wonders: African game drives are a magical way for children to see the Big Five – and there’s the added benefit of a trip to Southern Africa leaving all the family jet-lag free. If avoiding anti-malaria pills is a must, book one of South Africa’s many malaria-free safari parks.
Themed fun: From Disneyland Paris to Disneyland Resort Florida, most children will ask to visit a theme park at some point. To get the balance right, suggest families combine a trip to Disneyland with a city break in Paris, or time at Disneyland Resort with a visit to the Florida Everglades. Remember: the more time families spend in the area, the more commission you’ll earn.
The great outdoors: Spending time outdoors doesn’t just wear children out, it’s great for their health, too. From Center Parcs to Forest Holidays, more families are waking up to the wonders of the great outdoors. Here, children can stay in wooden lodges, cycle around on car-free paths, spot local wildlife and breathe in the fresh, clean air. For somewhere long haul offering the same, try Canada.
Snow angels: You don’t have to wait until the kids are older to get them into skiing or snowboarding: children, even toddlers, are usually fearless on the slopes and often grasp the basics much quicker than adults. From the Alps to the Rockies, skiing is a great family holiday that appeals to all ages, and ski school can double as a baby-sitting service as well as an education.
Splash happy: You can’t beat a water park in the height of summer, with rides for children of all ages. Some of the biggest in Europe include Caneva World, Italy; Siam Park, Spain and Fasouri Watermania, Cyrprus – each available to book as add-ons to a summer break. Further afield, try Water Bom, Bali; Wild Wadi Waterpark, Dubai; and Wetside Waterpark, Australia.
Theme Parks: Butlins will make a splash in April when it opens the world’s first helterskelter water ride at its Bognor Regis resort. The 7.4 metre-high slide is part of a new £40-million seaside-themed swimming pool, thought to be one of the largest coastal investments in the UK this year.
SeaWorld Orlando has changed its pricing policy ‘to offer better value for money’. Guests can now choose one of four passes: Bronze Pass offers savings on parking and dining; with Silver you get unlimited admission and one free guest; Gold Pass offers two free guests plus free animal encounter experiences; and Platinum gives unlimited admission to 11 SeaWorld parks nationwide.
Flights: British Airways will launch a thrice-weekly service from Gatwick to the family-friendly holiday island of Kos, Greece, on May 15. The flights will depart every Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday until October 26.
Hotels: Efteling – the fairytale theme park in southern Holland – has opened a themed suite at the Efteling Hotel, a five-minute walk from the park. The Raveleijn Suite is designed to reflect Efteling’s park show, Raveleijn, and will feature Count Olaf Grafhart’s bedroom, a secret passage and a second bedroom for kids replicating ‘The Tower Room of the Order of the Raven’.
Club Med’s has reopened its revamped property in the French Alps ski resort of Alpe d’Huez, which has four new kids’ clubs, a new spa with indoor and outdoor pools, a new restaurant and ‘gourmet lounge’ offering all-day dining.
Other new features include a family fun area and an adults-only wellness room with an area for yoga and meditation.
Where to book it
Sunvil offers a seven-night stay at the two-bedroom self-catering Lido Apartments in Tolon, Greece, over the May half-term, is from £3,335 for a family of four including flights from Gatwick, transfers, a welcome pack, and free use of bikes and kayaks.
Seven nights at the four-star SuneoClub Reef Marsa in Marsa Alam, Egypt, start from £2,407 for a family of four in April. The First Choice deal includes flights, transfers and accommodation on an all-inclusive basis.