Spain: A family affair

Spain: A family affair

Spain is a family favourite for good reason, finds Katie McGonagle

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Action-packed beaches, varied hotel product, great value for money, and just a short-haul flight away – mainland Spain has all the ingredients for a fun family holiday.

The term ‘family’ covers a multitude, though: from single parents to extended clans, and tiny toddlers to troublesome teenagers, families come in all shapes and sizes. Luckily, so too does family-friendly accommodation. Whether they want busy resorts with plenty to keep the kids occupied, or a secluded villa to get away from it all, Spain has something to suit.

Here, we highlight a handful of options to showcase the range of product available on Spain’s sunny shores, with tips on what to watch out for when dealing with different markets.

UNDER-5s: ROOM TO MANOEUVRE


For the youngest of youngsters, priorities are simple: a safe resort, well-equipped rooms and toddler-focused facilities so they can enjoy themselves without getting edged out by older children.

Look for age-specific kids’ clubs like those at First Choice’s Holiday Village Costa del Sol, which has Little Stars for three to five-year-olds, with story time, treasure hunts and arts and crafts among the activities. Older siblings can try scavenger hunts and Wet ’n Wild in Super Stars, aimed at six to eight-year-olds; plus there’s Mega Stars for nine-to-11s or the aptly-named Escape for teenagers. There are also two children’s pools with a pirate ship and waterfall, plus a mini-disco and swimming academy for kids aged three-plus.

Accommodation is in apartments, each with kitchen facilities and, on request, cot space or DVD players. A week all-inclusive starts at £649 based on four sharing, and includes flights from Gatwick on August 30 and transfers (firstchoice.co.uk, 0871 200 7799).

Babysitting and childcare services are another must for parents who want time to themselves: Iberostar’s Andalucia Playa, Royal Andalus, Isla Canela and Malaga Playa all come with childcare at a supplement, plus a dedicated children’s pool and kids’ clubs for four to seven-year-olds and eight-to-12s.

PRE-TEENS: FUN AND FROLICS


Old enough to make their own fun, but young enough that they still like holidaying with mum and dad, under-12s are arguably the easiest age group to please.

Encourage parents to make use of free child places while they can, before kids reach the cut-off point. Children aged six or under stay free in Kids and Co rooms at Melia Marbella Banus (pictured below). Prestige Holidays’ marketing manager Nicky Shafe says: “This property is ideal for families with younger children. Kids and Co rooms are all on the ground floor with direct access to the gardens.

“They accommodate two adults and two children comfortably, and include little extras for kids such as a mini check-in, a welcome gift, and nightly turn-down service with milk and cookies. There are also free activities for children aged five to 11.”A family of three can stay seven nights on bed-and-breakfast, with easyJet flights from Luton and private transfers, from £846 per adult and £207 per child under six in April (prestigeholidays.co.uk, 01425 480400).

On the Costa Dorada, Hotel El Paso is perfectly placed for under-12s: not only does it have a fun pirate ship and water pumps in the pool, but stays include entry to on-site PortAventura theme park. A week’s all-inclusive with Jet2holidays starts at £620 based on two adults and two children flying from Manchester on June 4, with transfers and baggage.

Spain

TEENAGERS: STAY BUSY


Teens are notoriously hard to please, but the best bet is keeping them so active they haven’t got the energy to kick up a fuss.

Sticking with PortAventura properties, Jet2holidays also highlights Hotel Gold River as a teen-friendly alternative. Chief executive Steve Heapy says: “Unlimited access to PortAventura Park and discounted entrance to Costa Caribe Aquatic Park provide fun and entertainment for all the family without breaking the budget. With four swimming pools, three restaurants, shops and a games room, the extensive hotel facilities mean there’s something to occupy even the most active teens.”

A week’s half-board costs from £700 based on two adults and two children aged 12-17, departing Manchester on June 4.The junior sports academies, year-round golf and tennis, and school holiday football, rugby, cricket and dance sessions at La Manga Club’s Hotel Principe Felipe on the Costa Calida also fit the bill.

The property is part of Sovereign’s Family Collection, and starts at £2,699 for two adults and a child staying a week with breakfast. The price includes Gatwick flights departing May 26, private transfers, plus a free child place, spa entry, 25% early booking discount and €100 resort credit per room (sovereign.com, 0844 415 1936).

Any Olympics-inspired teens can jump on the biking bandwagon with Inntravel’s family cycling break through Catalonia, new this year. Bikes, Back Roads and Beaches is a self-guided route around the lower Empordà Plain – between Girona and the coast – passing through paddy fields, medieval villages and secluded beaches.

Prices start at £620 per adult and £465 per child for six nights’ half-board accommodation in agroturismos and a seaside hotel, luggage transfers, route maps and bicycle hire, but excluding flights (inntravel.co.uk, 01653 617000).

SINGLE PARENTS: KEEP IT SIMPLE


Sticking to a budget is vital for one-income families, so look out for single-parent discounts or free child offers that apply even when there’s only one paying adult.

Cosmos Holidays offers a free child place per adult at the five-diamond-rated Gran Hotel Elba Estepona & Thalasso Spa, from £465 for one adult and two children staying bed-and-breakfast, with flights from Gatwick in May, and transfers. The beachfront hotel also has an extensive spa so parents can treat themselves to some peace and quiet (book via viewdata).

Holiday parks are also a great way to keep kids entertained without breaking the bank. Keycamp’s parks across the Costa Dorada, Costa Brava and northern Cantabrian coast have single parent discounts and supervised kids’ clubs, so parents can leave little ones without worrying.

Castell Montgri on the Costa Brava, for example, boasts four swimming pools, waterslides, football, mini-golf and tennis, plus a free bus to the nearby beach at Estartit. New inclusive packages also mean budget-conscious parents can set their spending in advance, paying upfront for breakfast, evening meals and even drinks and ice creams.

Seven nights in a three-bedroom Villagrand mobile home starts from £398 in total, accommodation-only, during May half-term, including £50 single parent discount.

EXTENDED OPTIONS: ROOM TO ROAM


What should you do if grandparents are tagging along too? Bigger is generally better when it comes to extended families, so

people aren’t falling over each other due to lack of space, and it’s worth looking for activities to please each generation. SplashWorld Costa Dorada, for example, is less than 10 minutes from Aquopolis waterpark for little ones, but also features the Aquum Spa & Club for those who like life at a slightly slower pace; a week all-inclusive starts at £496 with flights and transfers from First Choice.

Spain’s extensive villa collection is a worthy alternative for larger families looking for extra space. Cosmos features a range of ‘Something Special’ villas with pools, each chosen for that extra X-factor in facilities, location or furnishings, and coming with a welcome pack. In Nerja, this includes three-bedroom Villa Ana, with its own swimming pool and terrace. Prices start at £209 based on six sharing for a week from October 12, and including flights from Gatwick

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