Forget chocolate eggs and hot cross buns; what most parents want at Easter is a fun family holiday, reports Katie McGonagle
Spring is in the air, and between blooming daffodils and lighter evenings, thoughts turn to a little break away. For customers with kids, that means the Easter holidays, when the two-week break offers a better range of options than the shorter school half-terms, but without the peak summer prices.
Whether they want a fun-filled weekend getaway, a splash of short-haul sunshine or a fortnight on far-flung shores, there are options to suit. Get some inspiration from our round-up of Easter ideas – including guide prices all based on travel in the school holidays – to make sure you’re making the most of this lucrative market.
Fresh green fields and pleasant spring-time temperatures mean there are more than enough Easter options on our doorstep, especially for shorter breaks. Little ones can see the first lambs of spring at Butlins Bognor Regis and Skegness, plus an Easter egg hunt, themed arts and crafts, and Easter bonnet parade; three nights’ self-catering starts at £89 each. Guests at Lincolnshire Haven Holiday
Park Golden Sands will be the first to try its bigger and better indoor pool, with three-night prices from £129 per two-bedroom caravan.
To work off all those chocolate eggs, why not suggest an active break? Hoseasons Holidaysmanaging director Pali Badwal says: “There is no doubt British holidaymakers were inspired by the Olympics to get out and be more active, and that is why we have expanded our Go Active programme for 2013, with 16 parks offering a huge range of activities for the whole family.”
Hoseasons has extended its Go Juniors activities for under-sevens, with Junior Musketeers fencing and a British Gymnastics-designed programme. For teens, quad biking, off-road mud buggies, laser clay shooting, jetskiing and waterskiing will fit the bill, Three nights at Crowhurst Park Lodges in East Sussex, starts at £349, with activities from £10 per hour.
Keen to see King Arthur’s castle, fly a trapeze or hit the slopes in style? France offers unabashed family fun just across the channel. Club Med’s luxurious Opio en Provence near Cannes offers numerous activities such as flying trapeze and tennis lessons. Seven nights’ all-inclusive starts at £889 per adult, £469 per child with flights and transfers.
For budget-conscious campers, Keycamp’s northern France and Cote d’Azur parks are proving popular this spring. La Croix du Vieux Point at Berny-Rivière near Paris has water slides, canoeing, tennis, football, a zip wire, trapeze and abseiling, plus Disneyland Paris and the Chateau de Pierrefonds, where BBC One series Merlin was filmed, within a short drive. Seven nights’ accommodation-only starts at £343 per family for a two-bedroom mobile home.
Inntravel has chosen the Mayenne River Valley in northwest France for a new six-night family cycling break following a post-Olympic surge in interest. The operator provides notes, cycle hire, luggage transfers and return ferry to Calais, from £795 for adults and from £435 for children.
It’s not too late to enjoy the last of the ski season; Mark Warner’s La Plagne in the French Alps has nursery slopes for beginners or black runs for pro, plus pre-bookable lessons. A week’s half-board with British Airways flights, transfers and evening childcare starts from £3,236 for four, with regional departures from Manchester and Birmingham.
SPLASH PARKS AND SUNSHINE
Olympic Holidays commercial director Photis Lambrianides says: “Travelling at Easter is like taking an early summer holiday: the weather is good, and after several months of rain and cold, people like a chance to soak up some sun.” His top pick for under-12s is Le Méridien Limassol Spa & Resort in Cyprus for its Penguin Village children’s club, activities and family facilities. A week’s B&B starts at £2,380 for four, including flights and transfers.
Olympic also operates a charter programme over Easter, flying from Gatwick to Sharm el-Sheikh, Hurghada, Luxor and the Gambia; and from Manchester to Sharm and Luxor.
Most First Choice Holiday Village resorts operate from May to October, but if clients can’t wait that long, Paphos and Sharm el-Sheikh open just in time for Easter. They offer the usual water slides, stage and swimming schools, high ropes courses and ‘lads and dads’ football sessions; a week all-inclusive starts at £639, with flights and transfers.
Top of the Easter treats for Cosmos are the Canary Islands given the choice of regional flights, and Florida, for which the operator has added Easter flights from Manchester to Orlando Sanford. A 14-night all-inclusive stay at Clarion Resort & Water Park in Kissimmee costs from £1,109 with flights and car hire.
Dubai’s effort to attract families is certainly paying off as luxurious resorts such as Atlantis the Palm offer unbeatable on-site facilities including the Aquaventure theme park, Dolphin Bay and Lost Chambers Aquarium (pictured below), plus a kids’ club and teen-focused parent-free zone. Five nights at Atlantis the Palm, including breakfast starts from £3,689 for four, plus transfers at a supplement.
BROADEN THE MIND
Combine kids’ activities with culture and they’ll come home with more than just a tan. Sandy beaches and intriguing archaeological sites go hand-in-hand in the Roman town of Nora, Sardinia. Sardinian Places offers a week-long B&B package at four-star Nora Club Hotel from £749 for adults and £399 for children, with flights to Cagliari and car hire.
Slightly farther afield, but with the same superb mix of coast and culture, the Gambia is growing its family hotel product, plus there are excursions offering insight into the West African way of life, and a chance to spot monkeys, baboons and birds. The Gambia Experience has a week at Kombo Beach Hotel from £3,330 for four sharing a studio with breakfast and flights.
No family holiday round-up would be complete without Jordan, the rising star of the Middle East and a family favourite for its Indiana Jones-style adventures, Roman ruins, dramatic desert landscapes and awe-inspiring Dead Sea. Mosaic Holidays has a twin-centre bed-and-breakfast stay at Jordan Valley Marriott Resort & Spa in the Dead Sea and Mövenpick Resort Tala Bay from £1,479 and £799 respectively for a week, including flights to Amman and transfers.
Escorted tours are also doing big business here, especially where youngsters can be sure of mixing with others their own age: Explore has a nine-day Lawrence of Arabia Adventure departing April 6, open to those aged 11-plus, while The Adventure Company’s 10-day Canyons & Bedouins Adventure is available for those aged 12 or over.
Oman has history and culture by the bucket-load, with superb beaches and diving to boot, and is best visited before sky-high summer temperatures set in. Kuoni has a five-night stay at Al Waha in Shangri-la’s Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa from £5,038 for four sharing a family room, including BA flights from Heathrow.
ON THE MOVE
Family specialist The Adventure Company has a host of active itineraries, from a 10-day Feluccas & Pharaohs tour of Egypt, to its 16-day Natural Magic of Costa Rica, visiting Tortuguero National Park, hiking on the slopes of the Arenal Volcano, and taking a canopy bridge walk in Monteverde’s cloud forests. Prices start from £2,389 per adult and £2,189 per child aged eight-plus, including flights.
Stay on the move with two 15-day Explore itineraries, both departing March 30: Magic of the Mekong navigates this historic waterway, visiting busy Bangkok, tribal villages in Laos and the ancient jungles of Cambodia. Prices start from £1,990 for adults and £1,961 for children including flights, accommodation, breakfast and a tour leader.
Its Active Nicaragua tour involves zip wiring through treetops, climbing volcanoes, spotting crocodiles in mangrove-lined forests or monkeys in Chocoyero-El Brujo National Park, and kayaking on Lake Nicaragua. It starts from £2,332 for adults and £1,936 for kids with flights, accommodation, breakfast, 12 other meals, transport and a tour leader.
If clients are of the ‘it’s not a holiday unless the flight lasts at least eight hours’ school, why not try one of these long-haul highlights? Sun City, Sun International’s flagship property near Johannesburg, has plenty to please younger visitors.
The Valley of Waves water park boasts five exhilarating flumes, a wave machine and enormous pool, plus there’s a new half-acre maze, bumper boats, elephant riding and game-spotting safaris in malaria-free Pilanesburg National Park. Virgin Holidays offers six nights at The Cascades with breakfast, flights and transfers from £1,152.
The Caribbean is a firm favourite over Easter – pre-hurricane season, post-spring break. St James’s Club, Antigua, has a fenced-in play area, Easter-themed activities and babysitting service. A family of four staying a week all-inclusive with Travel 2, including flights, starts at £4,439.
The Maldives might not be the most obvious family destination, but Travel 2 is also featuring a ‘Kids stay, play and eat for free’ offer at Hilton Iru Fushi. A week in a beach villa for four will still set you back £6,229, including breakfast, seaplane transfers and flights, but is perfect for a romantic retreat with kids in tow.
For even more exotic climes, Latin America specialist Rainbow Tours has added a 10-night Easter Family Argentine Adventure, visiting Buenos Aires, Bariloche and Patagonia, with horse-riding, mountain biking and white-water rafting from £2,650 per adult and £2,350 per child including international and internal flights, breakfast and transfers.
This is a community-moderated forum.
All post are the individual views of the respective commenter and are not the expressed views of Travel Weekly.
By posting your comments you agree to accept our Terms & Conditions.