A good kids' club is a must for many parents. Joanna Booth takes a look at what's on offer
All kids’ clubs are not created equal – and parents know it. If you provide extra detail to put their minds at rest – whether it be about opening hours, ages catered for or cost – you’ll be a step closer to closing that sale.
Here’s a run-down of what’s on offer at kids’ clubs from some major family operators.
New, multi-activity kids’ clubs will be rolled out across 55 of Thomas Cook and Airtours’ most popular family hotels this year.
Running between May and October, the clubs offer themed programmes of more than 30 sports and activities. They are age-appropriate and include anything from sing-a-longs and games to water polo and orienteering.
The club is split by age: The Tiddlers, for three to four years; The Shoal, for five to seven years; and The Reef, for eight to 11 years. All offer three two-hour sessions a day (morning, afternoon and evening), six days a week.
The clubs are free, but no meals are provided and kids need to take their own drinks.
Staff must have a minimum of five GCSEs plus GNVQ Level 3 in childcare or Level 2 in sports/activity. Pre-booking isn’t necessary, guests can sign up once in resort.
First Choice offers free kids’ clubs at 19 hotels, seven in selected SplashWorld Resorts, and 12 at Holiday Village properties across Europe and North Africa. At the SplashWorld properties, the clubs cater for children between three and 11 years old and run five days a week.
First Choice Holiday Villages have free clubs seven days a week. Children are split by age, with Little Stars welcoming three to five-year-olds for story times and arts and crafts; Superstars offers supervised activities for those between six and eight; sports, quizzes and team challenges at Megastars (for nine to 11-year-olds), and Escape, where 12-15s can try everything from climbing and archery to raft building, DJ lessons and Water Walkerz – human-sized hamster balls that roll around on water.
Pre-bookable academies run during the summer months. The Masterclass Football Academy offers training for kids between five and 16, and the Razzamataz Stage academy is open to those of the same age bracket, with dance, drama and singing, costing from £35 for three two-hour sessions. Over-threes can attend the Swim Academy, with five lessons from £30, and introductory ‘Swim-a-song’ sessions for infants from £5.
The Twinklestars Creche, for babies and toddlers up to 35 months, has day and evening sessions from £9, and can be pre-booked from the UK.
DreamWorks characters including the Madagascar cast, Shrek and Donkey, and Kung Fu Panda, are regularly spotted around the properties, and guests aged six and over can tackle the Aerial Adventure rope course, which each Holiday Village features.
Mark Warner’s kids’ club services are available at both sun and ski resorts and run six days a week. Attendance needs to be arranged when clients book the holiday.
Nannies have NVQs or equivalent qualifications, or at least two years’ relevant childcare experience.
Baby Club, for those between four and 11 months, has a nanny for every two babies, and a keyworker system ensures each baby has the same nanny throughout the week, where possible. At beach resorts, Baby Club and Toddler Club, for children of one to two years, run two three-hour sessions per day, and cost from £180 per child for six half-days. At ski resorts, the clubs run from 9am to 5.30pm and cost from £285 per week, with supervised lunch and high tea included for toddlers.
At beach resorts, six half-days at Mini Club, for three to five-year-olds, is free, with activities including wave jumping in the sea and a dance show performed for parents at the end of the week. At ski resorts, six full days costs from £180, and can be combined with half-day ski-school attendance.
Older children can attend full days – between 9am and 5.30pm – for free at beach resorts, with Junior Club (six to nine years), Kidz Club (10 to 13 years) and Indy Club (14 to 17 years) catering for different ages. As well as indoor activities, plenty of time is spent outside with coaches to take kids sailing or windsurfing, or to organise tennis, volleyball or rounders.
At ski resorts there is just one Kidz Club, for those between six and 12, which costs from £155 for six full days.
An evening crèche, for children over four months old, is free at all resorts, and at beach resorts the Indy Club runs a supervised dinner and entertainment each night.
Kids’ Camps at the three Beaches hotels are included in the holiday cost and are staffed by certified nannies with a minimum of 2,000 hours of childcare service. All speak English and have been trained in safety, nutrition and child development. Pre-booking isn’t necessary.
Babies up to 24 months attend the Infants club, which is open from 9am to 9pm and staffed at a ratio of three children per nanny. Parents need to bring their own formula and baby food.
Toddlers is for three to five-year-olds, with activities including face-painting, treasure hunts, dressing up, magic shows and sandcastle- building. Kids at this club must be potty-trained.
Pre-teen club is for those between six and 10 years, and children can have a go at sailing, snorkelling, beach volleyball, football, scavenger hunts, glass-bottomed boat rides, pizza-making and reggae jam sessions.
Tweens and teens will enjoy facilities including Xbox 360 Play Lounges, water parks and surf simulators, land and watersports facilities, and a Scratch DJ Academy. They can hang out in tailored areas including a beach shack and ‘Trench Town’, which is filled with arcade games and TVs.
All food and drink is included at the resort, so it’s up to the kids whether they’d rather eat with fellow campers or rejoin their families at one of up to 16 dining options on resort. There are designated popcorn and ice-cream stations, and swim-up bars with mocktails.
Sesame Street characters host activities throughout the day including ‘Bake with Cookie Monster’ and ‘Explore with Grover’, plus breakfasts and birthday parties.
Kids’ clubs at Club Med’s key resorts are tailored to different ages and open six days a week.
Attendance at Mini Club Med, for children between four and 10 years old, is included in the package price, and runs from 9am to 5.30pm. Baby Club Med (for four to 23 months, and further split into walkers and non-walkers) and Petit Club Med (for two and three-year-olds) costs £250 and £225 per child per week respectively, and enrolment and payment happens at the time of booking. Days are tailored to a child’s body clock, including naps, full balanced meals and puréed food for babies.
Juniors’ Club Med is split into two groups – 11 to 13-year-olds and 14 to 17-year-olds – and activities include singing, dancing, film-making, picnics, hiking, tennis, golf, football and a range of watersports. Staff are childcare-qualified and clubs are themed by local nature and heritage – for example, at Club Med Belek kids learn about the loggerhead turtles that visit the local beach. In ski destinations group lessons are offered for children over four.
Baby-sitting costs extra but is available day or night and doesn’t have to be pre-booked. Some hotels offer the Pyjamas Club, an evening extension of the kids’ club, though this costs extra.
Many resorts offer the Club Med Baby Welcome free of charge if guests sign up for it when they book, with added extras including cot, changing mat, bath, bottle warmer, and folding pushchair.
Keycamp has activities for toddlers up to teens, and most are free of charge. Kids from six months to five years are welcome at Mini Fun Station, a club available at 20 parks across Europe, but must be accompanied by a parent or guardian throughout the session.
Running six days a week, with a morning and afternoon session, activities include face-painting, treasure hunts, and Tumble Tots activities, plus Learn to Swim and Learn to Ride (bike) lessons. Equipment – such as ball pools, sandpits, board games, toys and books – can be used outside session times from 10am until 7pm every day.
In smaller parks, Fun Station for All has activities for children aged from four to 12 years, or at larger sites, there are clubs for different ages – Leo’s Fun Station (four to six years), Mac’s Fun Station (six to nine years) and The Station (nine to 12 years). Base is an activity zone where those over 13 can mingle and make friends.
Selected parks have Soccer Station, for five to 16-year-olds and from £3 for a taster session, and Action Station Towers, which offers zip wires, trapeze, abseiling and climbing for seven years and above, from £4 for a taster session. No pre-booking is necessary, but spaces are limited.
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