Set in a gorgeous bay on the southwest coast of mainland Greece, the fabulous Mark Warner Paleros Resort opened in June 2019 promising fun for adults and kids of all ages. Of course, high-end hotels are in plentiful supply in Greece, so Junior set off to discover just what makes a stay at the family-friendly hotel company’s latest offering so special. After 5 days of delicious food and awesome activities, set against a backdrop of the mountains, olive groves, and top-notch childcare, we were firmly convinced.
October half term break, anyone?
Fantastic water sports and activities included in your holiday
It’s impossible to return from a Mark Warner resort and not evangelise about the activities on offer. Having made its name in the world of ski breaks back in the 70s, the tour operator now has a string of gorgeous properties in Greece, Turkey, Corsica and Sardinia, and all offer a fantastic array of land and water sports.
The Paleros Beach Resort’s bayside location lends itself perfectly to water sports, from sailing and kayaking to windsurfing and SUP boarding. Back on land, the choice of fitness activities ranges from early morning yoga with a view to cycling along coastal paths, overlooked by mountains lush with olive groves.An experienced team of staff is on hand to guide the whole family, and having improved our forehand in our first tennis lesson since school, we can confirm all abilities are catered for!
GOOD TO KNOW: Best of all, most activities are included in your holiday, so you can indulge in your favourite hobby or try out a new one without worrying about the added cost.
Fun and safe childcare to keep little ones busy
Mark Warner holidays are nothing if not family-friendly, meaning you can enjoy the perfect mix of spending time with your littlies, and off-duty relaxing by the pool. Childcare is included from 2-17 years (you can also pay an additional charge for infants aged 4-23 months). We were really impressed with the childcare facilities at the Paleros resort, which comprise light, airy rooms filled with wooden toys, puppets, crafts and more. There’s plenty to keep little ones busy and out of the sun.
With security passwords for pick-up, and an experienced key worker assigned to your little one for the week, you can stroll out into the sunshine feeling confident they’re in safe hands. Just remember to book well in advance to secure a spot. If you’ve been longing for an uninterrupted romantic meal for 2, there’s even a supervised evening childcare service for younger children, and an entertainment programme for older kids up until 10.30pm.
Bonding time with family activities
Of course, absence makes the heart grow fonder, and if you’re torn between water sports and family time, have no fear. Some of the activities on offer can be booked as parent-child sessions with a private instructor for kids aged 5-plus. There’s an extra fee (a 45-minute private tennis lessons is £35, for example) but for the chance to have some quality family time where you’re learning together, we think it’s worth splashing out. Top of our list is parent and child sailing lessons, perfect for those who lack a bit of confidence taking their children into the water.
Set in a peaceful bay on mainland Greece, the Paleros Resort couldn’t be more picturesque and you’ll find yourself stopping at least five times a day to take in the views. The incredibly clear Ionian Sea is perfectly enhanced by the surrounding misty mountains curving around the coastline, making every photo worthy of a spot on your mantlepiece and Insta grid. Silvery olive groves and tiny towns running along the coast add the charm.
If you really want to spoil yourself, book a speedboat ride out to sea. Enjoying the wind in your hair and unspoiled views mean the journey itself is a treat, but a stop at Porto Spilia for true paradise. The pebbled beach means the stunning water looks clear enough to quench your thirst (top tip – it’s not!) but you can pick up something refreshing at the beachside bar and relax in one of the water hammocks. A short walk from the beach will afford you some incredible views of the port.
Every well-travelled parent of young children knows, long transfers can really make a difference to even the best holiday. Thankfully, with flights chartered and greeted by Mark Warner, the journey from the UK (London Heathrow, Stansted, Bristol or Manchester) to Aktion Airport in Preveza is pretty seamless. We were through border control within minutes during our visit. You’ll then be met by reps, who’ll direct you onto a transfer coach right outside the airport. With the resort just 25 minutes along the coast, you’ll just have time to open your welcome pack (complete with map and room key) and admire the views before arriving at the hotel.
Delicious meals from breakfast to dinner
Whether your dream dish is simple and fresh, rich and indulgent or showcasing local cuisine, the Paleros Beach Resort’s restaurant buffet is going to be a highlight of your holiday. Breakfast is included on every day, so you can work your way through the fresh fruit, breads and pastries or simply head straight for the omelette station and enjoy a full cooked breakfast. With fresh juice and tea or coffee served at your table, it’s a delicious start to the day.
You’ll also have 5 nights half board included, although we defy anyone to sample all the dishes during their stay (as an experienced buffet botherer, we tried and failed!) as the choice is fantastic. Fans of simple meals will find plenty of grilled meats, simple carbs and veggies to enjoy, but there’s also a sumptuous array of Greek and international dishes, pastas, stews and salads.
Don’t forget to save room for the dessert – if the cakes and gateaux don’t tempt you, there’s plenty of exotic fruits to end your meal on a sweet note, or stay savoury with a cheese board. You can also upgrade to include lunch throughout your stay, and our meals in the beachside Taverna Avli restaurant were outstanding. On Tuesday and Thursday evenings, the restaurant hosts a barbecue, which you can enjoy for an extra cost. Alternatively, take the opportunity to head into Palairos (10 minutes by car) to explore the tiny restaurants and bars overlooking the sea.
GOOD TO KNOW: Family mealtimes really are well taken care of – every afternoon, high tea is served for children who just can’t wait for dinner, and there’s a parents’ kitchen with microwaves, sterilisers, UHT whole milk, a kettle and a fridge.
Low rise, village-style accommodation
It might be designed with families in mind, but the resort itself feels fabulously grown up, with sleekly designed pools, restaurants and bars all surrounded by fragrant borders and low-rise accommodation. There are 130 rooms, reached via flower-lined pathways and within a short walk of the main pool area (no map-reading required here). While the buildings are well spaced out, the hotel has more of a village feel than the sprawling metropolis vibe you can find at some resorts.
Inside the air-conditioned rooms, the décor is modern and stylish, with light-filled spaces providing a cool retreat from the Mediterranean sun. Depending on your group size, choose from twin and doubles or family rooms and suites.
Family rooms are ideal if you want to keep your littlies close while having some privacy in the evening – the room is divided by sliding doors, so you can tuck the kids up into the twin beds before separating the space. You can also book interconnecting rooms for older children, or a spacious 4-person suite if you like a bit of extra living space.
Good news if your suitcase is overfilled with inflatables, tablets and extra sun cream – you’ll find complimentary towels, toiletries and hairdryers in every room, and there’s also a hotel shop for anything you’ve forgotten. And if you’re travelling with younger children, plenty of essential kit is provided to keep them comfy. As with other Mark Warner resorts with baby clubs, you can borrow all your baby kit for the week, from baby baths potties, highchairs and travel cots for under-2s, to bed guards and booster seats for ages 2+.
Friendly and helpful staff
When hotel manager Sue rounds off her welcome speech by telling guests about her ‘don’t ask, don’t get’ policy, she really does mean it. The resort welcomes feedback, and requests (within reason!) to help make your stay more enjoyable.
This friendly approach to customer services runs throughout the whole resort, from service with a smile in the restaurant, to the endless patience of the activity staff. Their friendly attitude is infectious, and if you fancy making friends during your stay there are plenty of opportunities. You can sign up to sit at the ‘social table’ during dinner – it’s hosted by the Mark Warner team and a great way to meet other guests. Other sociable activities include regattas races, quiz nights and tipsy tennis, but there’s absolutely no pressure if you’d rather retreat than mingle.
Fabulous swimming pools
There are 3 pools at the Paleros Beach Resort, including an adults-only option to enjoy while your little ones are at the kids’ club. The main pool is huge – even at around two-thirds capacity, it never once felt crowded during our stay. There are sun loungers aplenty, and the pool is so large you can easily find a peaceful pitch for both families with splashing children and peace-seeking couples.
Right beside the main pool is a children’s pool, meaning parents can easily nab loungers in between the two and take turns between sprog-watching and swimming solo.There’s also a bar on hand, so you can enhance your view of sparkling water and misty mountains with a glass of something chilled.
Of course, sometimes a morning by the pool isn’t quite enough to undo the stress of home and work. Thankfully, the hotel’s tranquil spa is on hand with a menu of Elemis treatments fit for royalty. Treatments range from a refreshing 20-minute head massage to a yes-I-deserve-this hour-long massages, scrubs and facials. Even pregnant mamas are catered for (check out the 2-hours+ Peaceful Pregnancy Face and Body Experience). Don’t forget to start your visit off with a steam and sauna session, or a trip to the gym if you’re feeling active.
Mark Warner is currently offering 15 per cent off all its summer holidays for June, July and August, bringing the price of a week-long holiday down to as little as £595pp, including childcare and watersports, tennis and cycling. Choose from carefully-selected resorts in Turkey, Greece, Sardinia, Corisca or the Greek Islands, including Paleros.
>> Book online or over the phone quoting the code ‘Getaway’ (033 0331 4790, markwarner.co.uk)