Family holidays go 3G

Family holidays go 3G

Image credit: Beaches

Three-generation family holidays with the grandparents in tow are all the rage, discovers Joanna Booth

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It used to be all about the 2.4 family – now it’s time to rethink things. The new buzzword is 3G, with three generations of a family holidaying together – grandparents, parents and kids.

This trend is growing in popularity, with Mark Warner reporting a 12% rise in the last five years and Thomson research showing 38% of Brits have travelled abroad with their parents and their kids.

Luxury operator Carrier has picked up on the drift and launched a range of ‘Grandkid Getaways’ – part of its Pension Freedom collection, which has been created to inspire clients who are now able to draw down a lump sum from their pensions following changes in the regulations.

The reasons for the trend are numerous, from the emotional – increasingly grandparents live far from their families and a holiday is a great way to spend quality time together – to the economic, with cash-strapped parents allowing their own mums and dads to help out with funding for the family holiday on the understanding they get to come too.

Multiple Needs

Whatever the reason, it’s important to consider the whole family’s needs. Many of the factors that apply to any family holiday are still relevant – flight duration, time difference at the destination, transfer distance from the airport to accommodation – as most parents’ opinions on all these don’t vary despite the presence of grandparents.

With hotels often unable to guarantee connecting or adjoining rooms, villas prove popular for multi-generational families, with the added benefits of the communal areas and self-catering facilities.

Funway Holidays finds its private home style accommodation in Orlando is particularly popular, with three to six-bedroom villas on offer across Standard, Executive and Platinum collections to suit a range of budgets.

Villas don’t suit all multi-generational families, however. When Caribtours’ head of commercial Edward Light holidays with both his kids and parents, he worries that a villa can leave everyone feeling a little on top of one another and that the self-catering element means he and his partner swap cooking and cleaning at home for more of the same on holiday. His solution? A hotel that combines family and couple-focused facilities.

“Coconut Bay in Saint Lucia is only three minutes from the airport on a lovely beach, has a family and an adult-only section, a brilliant kids’ club with splash park, and four restaurants,” he says.

Family or connecting rooms will be key for many families, although, according to Prestige Holidays’ general manager David Skillicorn, you may find some are keen to take advantage of the free or reduced-price child offers when one child shares a standard room with two adults.

“Parents have one child in with them and the other with the grandparents,” he says.

Making sure the kids have enough to do is obviously key and hotels with a range of on-site activities make this a no-brainer. Club Med flags up the Plantation d’Albion in Mauritius, where the kids’ club organises painting, dressing up, tennis, circus skills, arts and crafts, sailing, kayaking and evening entertainment.

Adults can get active with the Sailing, Tennis or Flying Trapeze Academies, or choose something more low-key, such as golf or spa treatments.

It’s easy to home in on the facilities for kids, but don’t forget that parents and grandparents will want ‘grown-up’ time too. Baby-sitting services in the hotel, or a resource along the lines of Mark Warner’s children’s tea and evening crèche facilities, will allow adults to catch up properly over dinner or at the bar.

Large or even adjacent properties can give everyone the extra freedom they need. For example, Thomas Cook suggests extended families can either all stay in the large Liberty Lykia in Dalaman, Turkey – where they’ll find a choice of rooms from family-style up to three-bedroom suites, kids’ and teens’ clubs, seven pools, waterslides, beach cabanas and myriad restaurants – or that the grandparents could opt to stay next door at adult-only sister property Sentido Lykia. This has a large spa, a cinema and a three-hole golf course, but also offers full access to Liberty’s facilities.

Apartments provide a middle ground between hotels and villas. Travel 2 reports they sell as well as villas in Orlando for large family groups. “Apartments come with communal facilities and children can interact with other families in the resort community,” says Jonathan Couch, USA product and purchasing manager.

Both Travel 2 and Carrier recommend the Reunion Resort & Club (pictured below), where there are apartments with three separate bedrooms, plus kitchen, dining and living areas. The facilities include a water park, kids’ club, 10 swimming pools, three golf courses, a spa, six restaurants, and tennis courts.

Reunion Resort & Club, Orlando

Car hire needs can vary from the traditional family holiday, too. “When big families travel together, their first thought is to find a vehicle large enough to fit them all,” says Sheryl Wilkinson, Gold Medal car hire product manager.

“But for multi-generation family travel, we always recommend hiring two smaller vehicles, so the family aren’t tied together for the whole holiday. Grandparents can go off and explore on day trips or in the evenings and, if the children get tired, part of the group can leave early while the other stays out later. This often makes for a happier holiday with less stress!”

It doesn’t all have to be about fly-and-flop. Premier Holidays has noticed a trend for experiential three-generational holidays, from safari at the likes of South Africa’s Shamwari Game Reserve to elephant trekking in Thailand and Borneo’s orangutan sanctuaries.

When it comes to a more adventurous holiday, family specific touring programmes such as Trafalgar’s Family Experiences can do the legwork, with transport and organisation taken care of.

Be careful, though, that there isn’t too much action. Tim Winkworth, brand and product manager for The Family Adventure Company, says: “Extended families tend to look for holidays with quality accommodation, not too much travelling and an itinerary that has something to suit everyone. They prefer trips that are centre based rather than moving around, so grandparents can dip in and out of activities.”

He reports growth in this market for trips to Italy and Costa Rica where, last year, a grandmother took her entire family on holiday for her 70th birthday.

Players in the market as diverse as Caribbean all-inclusive operator Beaches and European villa specialists Interhome both highlight that there is more than one type of multi-generational holiday.

In addition to three generations simply choosing to holiday together, there’s an increase in multi-generational family reunions, often with the grandparents as the focal point for an anniversary or birthday.

For these, groups tend to be even larger and can involve booking a trip the family considers to be once-in-a-lifetime, rather than a repeat of their usual choice.

Beaches has ‘sixth room free’ offers, plus a ‘family reunion’ group package with added benefits including private check-in, a family picnic on the beach, dedicated family activities, a private family dinner, a family photo shoot with a complimentary photo for each room, and a farewell cake.

Interhome suggests one of its very large villas, with at least six bedrooms and four bathrooms, large kitchen and dining areas, and enclosed garden.

Holiday Ideas

With either very young children or much older parents, flights may be more trouble than they’re worth, so why put the family through it when the UK has so much to offer?

Hoseasons suggests sending them to Swandown Lodges in Dorset, where the chic, two-storey lodges sleep up to eight people and there’s an outdoor hot tub, patio and barbecue for family time. A three-night weekend break for a family of six starts at £365.

Or suggest grandparents relive their holiday heydays with a visit to the new chalet village at Butlins Minehead. They’ll be impressed by how the iconic chalets have been re-imagined for the 21st century in consultation with experts from Mumsnet, with arts and crafts materials for rainy days and sports equipment for fairer weather. For nostalgic retirees, there’s the new 1950s-style diner (pictured below) with live rock and roll performances.

The Diner Butlins 

When it comes to a classic Spanish villa holiday, Interhome recommends its holiday house just over half a mile from the beach in St Antoni de Calonge on the Costa Brava. Sleeping eight, it has a large kitchen, living room and swimming pool. Prices start from £16 per person per night.

Thomson offers the Villa Casa do Rui in Albufeira, Portugal, 15 minutes from the beach. The whitewashed villa is traditional in style, with three bedrooms, a large kitchen, separate dining room, and a private pool with sun terrace. A seven-night holiday with flights departing from Stansted on October 18 starts at £3,546 for four adults and two children.

For short-haul value, Cosmos Holidays earmarks the Vogue Hotel, a five-star in Torba, Bodrum. Kids are catered for with an on-site aqua park, children’s pools both indoors and outdoors with a pirate ship, kids’ and teens’ clubs, fairground rides, indoor and outdoor play areas, and a kids’ cinema.

Parents can take advantage of baby-sitting services and have a go at all sorts of activities from tennis and yoga to air-rifle shooting, sea bikes and karaoke. Grandparents may enjoy the spa, tai chi classes, bowling and the theatre.

Deluxe Family Villas accommodate four adults and one child and the operator offers a package for five staying in this room class from £2,099 for seven nights on an ultra-all-inclusive basis with flights from Birmingham departing October 12.

Paphos in Cyprus hits the spot for Olympic Holidays, with sandy beaches, family-friendly hotels and historic sights such as the Tombs of the Kings and the Paphos Mosaics.

The operator recommends a good-quality four-star over a villa so no-one has to prepare meals and the kids are entertained. Olympic offers seven nights’ half-board at the Aquamare Beach Hotel for four adults and two kids with flights from Gatwick departing August 1 from £4,420.

Looking long-haul, Beaches Turks & Caicos is the most popular of the Caribbean operator’s resorts for multi-generational travel and the new Key West Luxury Village has three and four-bedroom villas with private pools set along the beach.

For greater privacy, grandparents can stay in a suite in the more laidback Key West Village and the rest can pick a family room in the Caribbean Village near Camp Sesame kids’ club or the French Village next to the water park.

Powder-loving parents can be indulged too. Club Med suggests its ski resort in Valmorel (pictured below) with slopes for all competencies. Lessons are available for kids three years and above and those from four months can be left with Baby Club Med.

Club Med Valmorel - Family Skating

Older kids can join clubs for three other age brackets, with appropriate activities. Non-skiing grandparents could try Nordic Walking, popular in Scandinavia for older people who want to keep fit, or simply relax in the spa. Adults stay from £745, kids from £379 and under-fours for free.

A river cruise might be a breeze for mature clients, but for families? Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater! Consider one of Uniworld’s Family Friendly departures on selected dates in the school holidays, which feature kids’ menus, on and off board activities, and experiences geared towards younger guests.

Older guests can do as much or as little as they like and prices are all-inclusive.

Itineraries with family departures include Castles Along the Rhine, Paris and Normandy, and Classic Christmas Markets.


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