We believe i-escape Kids Collection should be one of your first destinations when searching for a stylish child-friendly hideaway worldwide. As each resort, hotel, guesthouse, villa or apartment is presented within the i-escape Kids Collection with lots of useful details including activities, notes on the best rooms for families, recommended ages, food provisions, if there’s any baby and toddler gear available, and useful information like distances to and from the airport and shops.
We caught up with i-escape Family travel expert Nadine Mellor as she gives us her top 10 tips for choosing your perfect family bolthole:
- Decide who you’re going with
There are enormous benefits in bringing the grandparents along on a 3-G holiday – as can mean built in child-care or at least an extra pair of hands – or, holidaying with another family with children – as means built in entertainment for all ages! You may dream of halcyon tranquil days with your beloveds, the kids may just want to dive-bomb the pool with other kids… this is where the generation and shared holidays can be an advantage.
Yes those locked in to school holidays won’t feel they get much choice here, but use any inset days and Bank Holidays as a chance for long and extended weekend getaways. Spring and autumn holidays such as half-terms and Easter are great as prices are cheaper, there’s more availability for flights or accommodation, and the weather is more benign (in southern Europe). And if you’ve kids not yet at school do book those lovely May, June and September months.
- Work out where you’re going
Kids love a bit of holiday planning, so get out the atlas (or laptop) and involve them in the decision-making (or allow them to think they’ve had input) so everybody is on board with the final choice of destination. It helps to get everyone excited and inspired about any forthcoming escapes.
Definitely do this if you can. Especially if you’re heading away for Christmas and New Year, or if you’re aiming for a popular property in the summer months – it’s best to book and plan as far ahead as possible to save any last minutes stresses. Many places have special offers and discounts if you book summer before Christmas or Christmas in January for example.
- Set your budget in advance
Our top tip would be: go for accommodation that costs less than you can afford so you have more for meals out, local activities and excursions. Hotels often have half-board or long stay packages, B&Bs are generally cheaper as long as there are good value eateries nearby, and rentals are generally useful for setting and sticking to a budget. This avoids unnecessary marital strife and whingeing children. You’ll have a much more relaxed holiday if you’re not constantly counting cash.
- Family-friendly hotels – what to look for
Additional services and facilities in a hotel or resort can make for attractive options for families especially for example parents wanting a holiday from cooking.
Other things to consider:
* Make sure they really do welcome children, and don’t just stick an extra bed or two in the room.
* If venue has kids menus (and you don’t feel on tenterhooks if your child is a messy eater plus you have assurances that any allergies/intolerances are properly catered for).
* That kids are welcomed in the pool (or, better still they have a dedicated kids pool)
* Is there are kid-friendly activities on site and nearby, then you know you’re on the right track. Does the hotel offer something for adults too? Extras such as a spa, sports or tours so that everybody is getting a holiday?
- Family-friendly B&Bs – what to look for
Do check on nearby dining options as you don’t want to be stuck having to trek to find somewhere to eat of an evening with tired kids in tow. Some properties offer an evening meal – if so you’ll probably need to book in advance – don’t make the mistake of assuming you can order dinner on arrival. This saves having to drive out exhausted, getting lost and family upsets to look for food. Also, make sure the rooms are big enough (realistically) for you all – what if the weather is inclement and you’re cooped up indoors, are there enough on-site activities?
- Family-friendly rentals – what to look for
Many prefer villas and apartments as you get more privacy and you don’t have to worry too much if your kids aim to shatter glass when screeching en masse. Are groceries easy to buy nearby? Does the owner/agent provide a welcome basket for you on arrival? Is there a pool with a shallow end if your kids aren’t confident swimmers? Make sure you get to look at all rooms online prior to booking and allocate rooms in advance so folk are happy. Valuable holiday time is wasted by Mexican stand-offs as to who gets which room.
Be mindful about what is best for the children age-wise. How long is the journey including how from the airport or railway station? Are they ready for a more grown-up experience and more adventurous excursions, which may need pre-booking? Do they need an afternoon nap every day? Is there plenty of shade if you’ve little ones in summer? Is there space to tear about and not annoy other guests? If you’ve babies and toddlers see what the hotel/rental can provide for you to avoid bringing unnecessary gear. All little points to consider beforehand that make a big difference when you arrive.
Few have the wherewithal (whether time or money or both) to be able to tick every box when it comes to family holidays. So list your must-haves as a family, and aim for those. The i-escape Kids Collection of over 900 stylish family hideaways worldwide and has great advanced search functions to choose a property on the basis of type, price, setting, availability, recommended kids ages, and must-have amenity or activity e.g. pool, WiFi, baby gear, restaurant, horse-riding, surfing and tennis. And, the Holy Grail for family holidays? Places to stay that are on or near the beach and under an hour from the airport!
Nadine Mellor is the i-escape Kids Collection Editor. For more information visit i-escape Kids