Transform holiday favourites to fit the whole family, says Katie McGonagle
There’s no question about it – life changes when you start a family. Romantic meals for two give way to the Pizza Hut all-you-can-eat buffet, weekend lie-ins and lazy brunches are replaced by early wake-up calls and children’s birthday parties, and evenings are spent playing taxi driver to ferry the kids around.
There’s one thing that doesn’t have to change, though – clients who love their safaris, sports holidays or self-drive adventures need not sacrifice their favourite breaks just because they’ve got tots in tow. Despite their reputation as being strictly for grown-ups, most holiday styles can be easily adapted to fit a family.
SAFARI: LITTLE ANIMALS
Between early game drives searching out the latest lion kill, and evenings sipping sundowners by the campfire, safaris might seem like a no-go zone for youngsters, but the core appeal – the wildlife – will suit all ages.
Many camps have dedicated kids’ activities. Sabi Sabi Game Reserve in South Africa’s Kruger National Park offers children’s game drives, guided walks, tracking, map-reading and treasure hunts.
At Kwandwe Private Game Reserve, tots under six stay free and under-16s go half price, with milk and cookies at bedtime, complimentary child-minding and wildlife drives for under-fives to spot giraffe, zebra, wildebeest and warthogs at a safe distance.
Teens can even get involved with the community voluntourism programme launched last year, passing on computer skills to local Xhosa people, or helping with gardening and reading lessons. Parents of under-12s usually prefer a malaria-free area. Parts of southern Namibia and Botswana fit the bill, but South Africa is most popular.
Book it: Carrier has a four-night safari at Ecca Lodge in malaria-free Kwandwe Private Game Reserve, South Africa, from £1,965 per adult and £1,050 for under-11s, staying full-board with game viewing, children’s activities, child-minding, international and domestic flights.
Or try: Sri Lanka boasts awe-inspiring animals too, from Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage to the wild elephants, buffalo, leopard, deer and crocodiles at Yala National Park. Western & Oriental’s private ‘Taste of Sri Lanka Tour with Yala Wildlife Safari’ costs £1,595 for adults or £745 for children, lasting 10 days and including Sri Lankan Airways flights, transfers and a guide.
020 7666 1234
HONEYMOON: ROMANTIC RETREATS
Once the ultimate couples-only break, it’s now so commonplace to bring children on a post-wedding holiday, it has spawned a new word: family-moon.
It’s vital to give the couple space for themselves – complimentary kids’ clubs or babysitting will guarantee time for a romantic dinner or lazy lie-in and provided the kids are old enough, opt for interconnecting rooms rather than a family room.
There’s no need to steer clear of classic honeymoon hotspots. Dusit Thani Maldives, for example, has built a two-bedroom family villa with sundeck, garden, pavilion and outdoor dining area, and has a spa programme for six to 14-year-olds. Likewise, the Caribbean has family options aplenty. Top of the list for Caribtours is Carlisle Bay in Antigua, which combines a stylish spa and white-sand beach with crèche and daily kids’ club, free for children over two.
Book it: A week in Carlisle Bay’s two-bedroom beach balcony suite starts at £7,849 for two adults and two children under 12 during May half-term, including flights, private transfers, breakfast, and use of a lounge at Gatwick.
Or try: The Maldives is Kuoni’s best-selling honeymoon destination, so opt for a family property such as Kuramathi Island Resort, which has a kids’ club for three to 12-year-olds offering nature walks and beach activities, plus an array of restaurants. A week full-board in a deluxe beach villa with British Airways flights and speedboat transfers starts from £5,979 for four in August 2014.
SPORTS: PLAY TOGETHER, STAY TOGETHER
There’s no need to hang up tennis whites, football boots or leave golf clubs behind. Sport-focused resorts such as La Manga Club in Murcia, Spain, give parents a chance to play their favourite pursuits while kids get age-specific tuition in golf, tennis, football, rugby, dance, cricket and more. Brands such as Club Med, Mark Warner and Neilson Beach Clubs take sport seriously too.
Walking or cycling breaks can also be tailored to suit little legs. Inntravel’s James Keane says: “Cycling has been particularly popular this year following the Olympics. Routes are flexible – between nine and 14 miles – and self-guided so families can cycle at their own pace, plus there is plenty of free time to explore the area.”
Book it: Inntravel’s family-orientated routes include Quiet Lanes of Mallorca, with stays in agroturismos with private pools. Prices start at £2,690 for four, with six nights’ half-board, luggage transfers, return taxi from Palma airport, cycle hire and maps, excluding flights.
Or try: Diving enthusiasts might think their hobby is out of reach until at least the teenage years, but Buddy Dive Resort in Bonaire has its own house reef, Padi dive centre and kids’ club with snorkelling from five years old and diving from eight years old. Dive Worldwide offers a week’s B&B from £1,595 each, with flights via Amsterdam, pick-up truck rental, and six days’ unlimited shore diving. One child under 12 stays free with two adults.
ADVENTURE: INSPIRING JOURNEYS
They are once-in-a-lifetime adventures people talk about but never get around to – so what if you finally decide to take the plunge with kids to consider?
Choose the route wisely, make sure clients are fully aware of any physical demands, and consider a guided trip. Many escorted tour operators offer family or teen departures so youngsters can mix with others their own age, and enjoy child-friendly activities.
Book it: Family specialist The Adventure Company has a 14-day group tour to Peru, Teens on the Trail, which includes a four-day trek along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Prices for April 5 start at £2,499 including flights.
0808 115 5011
Or try: It’s not all about Everest – Nepal is home to some serious trekking adventures around Annapurna, where Cox & Kings bases its 12-day private holiday, Nepal Adventure. It costs £2,145 per adult or £1,895 per child with flights to Kathmandu, transfers, excursions, accommodation with breakfast and some meals. The trip includes a four-day trek around Pokhara and elephant safari through Chitwan National Park.
0845 564 8273
FLY-DRIVE: HIT THE ROAD
‘Are we there yet?’ They’re the words every parent dreads, but pick a region with plenty to do and they can still enjoy the freedom of a self-drive break. Short driving distances and frequent stops are a must – even better if they are at child-friendly attractions – and factor in a few longer stays to minimise the number of hotel changes. The US and Canada are obvious fly-drive favourites, but Ireland and Continental Europe have plenty for families who don’t want to fly.
Book it: North America Travel Service recommends a 14-night Texas Sights, Sands and Saddles fly-drive, visiting the beaches of Galveston, Houston’s Nasa Space Center, historic battle site The Alamo, and a ranch stay. Travel in October costs £1,979 per adult and £989 per child including flights and car hire.
0113 246 1466
Or try: Travel 2’s Garden Route self-drive starts with Cape Town capers such as taking the cable car up Table Mountain or visiting penguins at Boulders Beach, followed by beautiful beaches, coastal scenery and game-viewing en-route to Port Elizabeth. The nine-night itinerary costs from £7,939 during the Christmas holidays for a family of four with flights, six days’ car hire and mixed-board accommodation.
0800 022 4182
ESCORTED TOUR: TEAM EFFORT
Going away with a group of strangers might not sound like an obvious family choice, but explain that it takes away the stress of planning an itinerary, organising transport, and finding child-friendly accommodation each day, and it might seem more appealing.
The Adventure Company, Explore, Grand American Adventures, Tauck Bridges and Travel Indochina are just a handful of the operators with dedicated family ranges, while others such as Wendy Wu Tours and G Adventures have adapted popular tours to fit a family audience.
Book it: Jordan is the rising star of the Middle East, with its combination of adventure, historical sites and desert landscapes. The Lost City of Petra is a nine-day family tour from Explore, visiting Jerash and Petra, camping in Wadi Rum and floating in the Dead Sea. Prices start at £1,144 per adult and £899 per child for flights, breakfast, transport and a tour leader.
0844 499 0901
Or try: Language barriers and cultural differences mean China can seem daunting, but Wendy Wu Tours has a Christmas family departure for its Discover China tour, extended from eight days to 10, involving kite-flying in Beijing, sculpting mini terracotta warriors in Xi’an, and visiting giant pandas on New Year’s Eve, from £2,910 for adults and £1,690 for under-12s, departing December 23, with flights and transport.
0844 288 5396
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