Our weekly columnist trials a long weekend in Puglia and finds she has a talent for making (as well as eating) pasta - mamma mia!
The summer holidays will soon be over, but, don’t despair. You can still enjoy some warm sunshine during the October break and you won’t have to travel too far.
Located in the heel of Italy’s “boot” is the region of Puglia, famed for its sunny weather, whitewashed hill towns, centuries-old farmland and mile upon mile of Mediterranean coastline. Even in October temperatures reach into the mid-twenties and the sea can feel as warm as a baby’s bath.
We headed south down Italy’s heel to the Robinson Club Apulia, just 250 metres from the beach in Marina di Ugento and about 30 minutes drive from the seaside town of Gallipoli. This may be Italy, but the Robinson Club’s headquarters are located in Germany, and for those unfamiliar with the Robinson brand, let me tell you, it signifies a resort that offers more than just sun and sand.
In fact, for the past 45 years Robinson has offered families, couples and solo travellers a diverse range of holidays that focus on activities, entertainment and socialising. Robinson Club Apulia is no exception, with water sports, spa programs, fitness activities and a range of excursions to satisfy your adventurous side.
The resort is definitely one for families with children of all ages welcome. The ROBY club offers specialised activity programmes for children aged 2 to 17, and babysitting is available for your littlest ones with ROBY BABY.
Two-year-old Super Minis have their own play room and area, while 3 to 7 years olds and 8 to 12 year olds can be entertained all day at their respective ROBY clubs. The teens can take part in sports, excursions, discos and other activities with guests their own age.
Kirsty gets cooking
WHAT TO DO
While the kids are busy at ROBY club, you can head to the on-site spa for a beauty treatment, massage or sauna. Need to burn off some gelato? There’s a well-equipped gym or plenty of fitness classes including yoga, pilates, step and hot iron (similar to body pump). Given that most of the guests speak Italian or German, it was an interesting experience to take part in the hot iron exercise class where the instructor issued commands in German (and the odd English phrase for me). It certainly made me work out harder!
There are five outdoor swimming pools (one just for adults), a fun aqua park with water slides and nine silica sand tennis courts. You can play basketball or football (soccer) if you prefer. A short walk through the pine forest takes you to the beach for a game of beach volleyball. You can even unleash your inner Katniss Everdeen and try a spot of archery.
Down on the beach you can top up your tan on a beach lounger or hit the waves and try sailing, surfing, stand-up paddleboarding or diving. I must confess I opted for the lazy option, and it was a very nice touch on an extremely hot day to have members of staff come round with slices of fresh pineapple.
Italy is the home of pasta, so I did manage to drag myself off the sun bed to take part in a cookery class. We learnt to make pasta from scratch in the beautiful setting of the pine forest. Even better than making the dough and forming all the different pasta shapes was getting to eat it, complete with delicious sauces.
In the evenings the focus turns to entertainment with family friendly dancing and singing shows on offer in the theatre or parties on the beach. There’s live music at the piano bar, karaoke nights and you can book a babysitter to party into the wee small hours at the Nite Club. Though it seems most parents kept their little ones with them during the evenings, snoozing away in buggies.
TIME TO EAT
The resort is home to four restaurants and five bars, with our favourite being the beach diner and its spectacular sunsets. There’s a speciality Trattoria with a focus on local foods, and a reservation only Pizzeria, while the main eating area offers an extensive buffet and a children’s restaurant. Here everything from the table decorations to the buffet height has been designed with them in mind.
Worried about your waistline? There is a unique WellFood menu, featuring lower-calorie dishes. There are also vegetarian, lactose and gluten free options available, so everyone is catered for.
Those after more exercise can get on their bike and tour the local area. This is one of Italy’s least mountainous areas with plenty of flat coastal roads. We opted for a boat trip to the grottos along the coastline, even stopping for a swim in the Ionian sea. Trips further afield can be organised to the fishing towns of Gallipoli and Santa Maria di Leuca, and the stunning baroque town of Lecce.
There are 381 en-suite rooms on site with double, family and interconnecting room options, all with a large balcony or terrace. As well as air-conditioning, the rooms have satellite TV, telephone, refrigerator, safe and hairdryer. WiFi is available in public areas but this doesn’t quite reach all of the rooms.
HOW TO GET THERE
We flew easyjet from London Gatwick to Puglia’s capital Bari and the airport transfer took about 2.5 hours. Depending on your preferred departure airport and flight times you can opt to fly into nearer Brindisi.
COST: ROBINSON Club Apulia: Family room for 7 nights in October. All Inclusive.
- 2 adults 2 kids (2-5 years) - 2614,75 USD (2343,60 EUR)
- 2 adults 2 kids (6-14 years) - 2808,44 USD (2517,20 EUR)
- 2 adults 2 kids (15-17 years) - 3098,97 USD (2777,60 EUR)
Airport transfer rate per taxi (4 people)
From Brindisi = 115 €
From Bari = 190 €
Kirsty McCabe writes her weekly column here on www.juniormagazine.co.uk. Follow us on Twitter: @juniormagazine to keep up with the latest news
"And, if you are in need of a little friendly, advice, have a read of some of my other columns..." Kirsty McCabe