Finding the right room type is key to a squabble-free family holiday, writes Katie McGonagle
Anyone who remembers scrawling “keep out or else” on to a scrap of paper and sticking it to their bedroom door as a child will understand that we all need some space to call our own.
That’s as true on holiday as at home, so if clients skimp on space by piling kids, parents, suitcases and more into a tiny room, they will risk frayed tempers – not to mention that mum and dad will have nowhere to enjoy a glass of wine after the kids have gone to bed.
Thankfully, interconnecting rooms and family suites can help your clients enjoy a more harmonious holiday (and improve your bottom line), provided you know how to find them.
While many hotels offer interconnecting rooms, these are often subject to availability and can’t be booked in advance. This is not the case at Butlins in Bognor Regis, where interconnecting rooms sleeping up to eight – four adults and four children – can be pre-booked, with a king or twin beds plus bunk-beds for the kids.
Even when they can be pre-booked, it is crucial to request specific rooms as early as possible, as these are in high demand over the peak season. Popular family destinations are likely to have greater inventory.
Club Med, for example, says its resort in Palmiye, near Antalya, has the best selection of family and interconnecting rooms, while Iberostar has most in its Majorca and Lanzarote properties.
Mark Warner’s summer resorts all have family and interconnecting options, with Lakitira in Kos and Sea Garden in Bodrum boasting the greatest availability, sleeping up to four in standard rooms or junior suites (including an infant) and up to eight in interconnecting rooms.
Similarly Neilson’s Andriake Beachclub in Demre, Turkey, can make all rooms available on an interconnecting basis and, from this summer, these can be booked at no extra charge. Rather than having a door between rooms, they branch off from a shared entrance lobby with each offering a double or twin beds, plus a sofa bed suitable for one child.
With such variation in the configuration of rooms, it is vital to know exactly what parents can expect when they arrive, especially if they fall outside the standard family formula of two adults plus two children.
Some of Thomas Cook’s most popular family resorts in Turkey, such as the Majesty Club Tuana & Park in Fethiye and SunConnect Eftalia Marin in Alanya, have options sleeping up to seven (including an infant in a cot).
Destination specialists will also be able to advise on alternatives if certain room types aren’t available. Belleair Holidays says many of its hotels offer family rooms or suites rather than interconnecting rooms.
These include the InterContinental Malta, which has 40 large family rooms that can be pre-booked, unlike its interconnecting deluxe rooms. The Kempinski hotel in Gozo offers two family suites and 29 junior suites that can sleep up to four – in separate bedrooms in the family suites and divided by a curtain in the junior suites.
If clients are travelling further and staying longer, it is even more important that they upgrade to a room type that won’t have them falling over each other.
In Orlando, Universal’s 1950s-themed Cabana Bay Beach Resort has been designed specifically for families, with suites sleeping up to six. They come with early park admission, if customers need added value to sweeten the deal.
Kerry Staples, operations manager at trade-only bed bank Theme Park Beds, suggests a family suite in a Disney Value Resort could be better than interconnecting rooms, as these can’t be guaranteed in advance.
Family suites sleep up to six with a separate bedroom, pull-out sofas, two bathrooms and a kitchenette. For larger families, a Disney Villa Resort has more space: the cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort offer more than 500sq ft of living space and feature a private patio and barbecue.
The same could be said for family-orientated resorts in the Caribbean. Beaches has extended its interconnecting room categories at its Negril and Ocho Rios resorts over the past couple of years, but can’t guarantee these in advance.
So customers who need more space should consider upgrading to a suite or, at Beaches Turks & Caicos, one of the eight three or four-bedroom villas.
As AMResorts faces the same challenges in pre-booking interconnecting rooms, a popular option is the Dreams Puerto Aventuras Resort & Spa, which has 24 oversized family suites, each with two double beds and a sofa sleeping up to two adults and four children.
The Now Jade Riviera Cancun and Dreams Punta Cana Resort & Spa have 48 family suites with a king-sized bed and two double beds in separate rooms.
For Caribtours, the range of villas and suites on offer across the Caribbean are the best family option. Product manager Katherine Hobbs says: “It is always better to speak to the reservations team rather than book on a GDS, as we can recommend particular hotels or particular room categories within them.
“Agents need to check if families want a separate sleeping area for the kids or are happy with a more open-plan arrangement. Separate sleeping areas do generally put the price up but room configuration is important.”
Funway offers a week’s room-only at Universal Cabana Bay Beach Resort for £929 per person, based on a family of five sharing a Tower family suite. The price includes Virgin Atlantic flights from Heathrow on July 30 and early park admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
A week at Mark Warner’s Lakitira Beach Resort in Kos is priced at £3,556 for two adults and two children sharing a junior suite. The price includes half-board accommodation, flights, transfers, activities and childcare.
Thomas Cook offers seven nights’ all-inclusive at the Majesty Club Tuana & Park in Fethiye from £2,999. The price is for a family of four staying in a two-room park family room, flying from Gatwick on August 23.
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