How do you find a holiday for clients with kids under five? Juliet Dennis looks at some of the options
Cots? Check. Pushchair? Check. Bottles? Check. It’s the familiar family holiday checklist.
For agents trying to find a holiday that ticks all the boxes for families with children under five, it can be a tough ask.
IN THE UK
For many parents the thought of their child having a tantrum on a flight on is enough to rule out flying abroad.
Self-catering cottage holidays are a popular option. Cottages4you has started a baby and toddler-friendly programme this year so parents won’t have to pack the kitchen sink.
The cottages have all the basics but offer parents more peace of mind with stair gates, blackout blinds, socket protectors, fireguards and night-lights.
Vice-president of sales and marketing Nick Rudge says: “We’ve done the research to find out what is important. You want to know that if there is a cot, it’s a good cot and the mattress is replaced every year.”
Selected ‘toddler’ cottages have 20.12% off up to August 22. Seven nights at a former farm building in The Byre in Brigham, East Yorkshire, leads in at £475 in October with the chance to feed animals on the farm, and use pedal tractors, trailers and diggers.
For clients who want a more structured family break, Butlins’ Shoreline Hotel in Bognor Regis has been designed with the under-fives in mind.
All rooms sleep up to four and include a separate kids’ area with a TV and junior bunk beds. Bed guards or separate cots are available on request. There are also 24-hour milk-warming facilities, extra wide corridors for pushchairs, a low level children’s buffet counter and ‘character’ breakfasts.
Just next to the hotel is a Bob the Builder sand and water play area, while the resort itself includes daily activities for toddlers.
Prices lead in at £69 per person room-only based on two adults and two children sharing a Hooks Cabin room for four nights.
THE BIG TWO
“If you look across the market, there is not a great deal for pre-school families,” says Tommy Lynch, Thomson product development and delivery manager. “We had a bit of a mixed bag before 2011 and never really focused on the pre-school market, with kids’ clubs generally starting from the age of three.”
After conducting research to improve its pre-school resort facilities, Thomson Family Resorts now include crèches for babies and toddlers up to three years in all 18 destinations for 2012.
Thomson partners with brands such as Mothercare and Early Learning Centre. Every resort offers soft play areas and indoor parent and toddler areas near pools, offering a place to feed and change young children, as well as a TV and games.
Thomson offers seven nights’ self-catering at the four-star Aparthotel Bonaire in Majorca from £830 based on two adults, one child and an infant sharing, including flights.
Thomas Cook’s FamilyWorld resorts provide all the basics as well as feeding areas, baby baths, mats, steps, potties, bed guards and a toy loan service.
Resorts do not offer crèches for babies but have Toddler Time sessions for children up to three and clubs for three to four-year-olds.
Thomas Cook offers seven nights for a family of four all-inclusive at the four-star Blanc Palace Resort I & II in Sa Caleta, Minorca, including flights.
For a more active family break, both Neilson and Mark Warner cater well for little ones, with free kids’ clubs for over-twos.For a supplement, Neilson has its Starfish club for babies from four months up to 23 months and evening ‘sleep clubs’ until 10.30pm.
Neilson offers seven nights at The Retreat Beachclub, Greece, for £889 per adult and £669 per child, including flights and transfers, free kids’ clubs, meals and activities.
Mark Warner’s nannies are British-qualified and English-speaking. It offers seven nights’ half-board at its Ocean Club resort, Portugal, for £561 per adult and £346 per child based on two adults and two children, including return flights, transfers, childcare and activities.
The Hotel La Manga Club Principe Felipe in Murcia, Spain, has kids-eat-free menus, playgrounds, separate babies’ pools, clubs for children from three months and organised babysitting.
Carrier offers seven nights with breakfast from £2,560 for a family of four sharing two double rooms, including flights and transfers and a complimentary half-day at the kids’ club.
TURKEY AND GREECE
Cosmos offers the five-diamond Titanic Beach Resort in Lara Beach, Antalya, with a large range of family rooms. Kids’ clubs are offered for four-year-olds and above, while there is a playground, babysitting on request, free cots and a children’s pool.
Seven nights’ all-inclusive with flights and transfers starts at £836 per adult and £290 per child from Gatwick on October 7.
For clients who are looking for a luxury stay and want to soak up the rays without worrying where the kids are, the Porto Sani Village & Spa in Halkidiki, Greece, has a ‘babe watch’ babysitting service for up to 30 minutes a day for clients staying in its village and Sani Asterias suites. Staff look after youngsters with beach games and take them for a paddle.
Highchairs, sterilisers, bottle warmers, baby monitors, baby baths, and potties are free, while pushchairs and child car seats can be hired.
Western & Oriental offers seven nights’ half-board for £5,560 based on two adults and two children sharing a ground floor garden suite, including flights and transfers.
For families wanting to avoid the usual package holiday hotspots, why not suggest Italy?
Not traditionally associated with young family-friendly resorts, despite its family-oriented culture, it is becoming increasingly popular according to Citalia product manager Jo Pristernik. She says: “Traditionally people think of the hotels and cities in Italy, but resort hotels are great for kids.”
Chia Laguna Resort in south Sardinia (pictured below) features three or four-bed split-level mezzanine and interconnecting cottages in the Chia Village. Children sleep free in the mezzanine cottages.
The resort also has a children’s restaurant, highchairs, and food preparation area, a nursery for babies to two-year-olds, kids’ club for three to six-year-olds and a babysitting service.
If your customers don’t relish the thought of carting a pushchair to the airport, Chia Laguna offers a free baby welcome pack, which must be requested at booking. Aimed at kids aged four months to just under three, this includes a pushchair, cot, changing table, baby bath, bath toys, bottle heater and electric socket covers.
Citalia offers seven nights’ half-board at Chia Laguna Resort for £3,939, saving £550, for a family of three, including return flights and transfers.
The Caribbean and Dubai are strong contenders when it comes to offering a long-haul break that meets all the needs for little ones.
Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort Villages & Spa has 144 family suites, each with separate children’s bedrooms with bunk beds.
Crèche facilities are provided for infants while its Pirates Island Water Park, which is about the size of six tennis courts, has rides, pools and play areas. Caribtours offers seven nights from £6,220 per person all-inclusive based on two adults and two children under 12 sharing a turquoise deluxe room, including return flights and transfers.
Sesame Street character Oscar the Grouch makes his debut at Beaches Boscobel Resort & Golf Club in Jamaica this September, performing shows and helping children. Seven nights’ all-inclusive at Beaches Boscobel Resort & Golf Club in a deluxe room costs from £1,535 through Sandals.
For many parents, a babysitting service on holiday is critical. Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort & Spa, Dubai, has an in-room babysitting service for a fee.
The hotel has interconnecting rooms for families or larger rooms to fit an additional children’s bed. Youngsters are given puzzles and colouring books on arrival, while there’s also a soft-play gym, playground and built-in wall aquarium of tropical fish that will keep any restless toddler occupied.
Gold Medal offers three nights’ bed and breakfast at Le Royal Meridien in a deluxe suite for £3,479 based on two adults and two children, including flights.
Atlantis The Palm in Dubai offers an in-room babysitting service. It also has some more unusual fun for youngsters from an underwater theatre to play and creation zones.
Travel 2 offers five nights’ half-board in a deluxe room from £1,379 per adult and £635 per child, including flights.
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