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European Resorts for Families
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Despite the adventurous spirit and hunger for experiential experiences of our family travellers, we appreciate that sometimes you just need a resort where you can chill out and recharge the batteries, with someone else taking on childcare responsibilities for a few hours. Here we share our favourite European hotspots; resorts which excel in entertaining and stimulating little ones, allowing them to make new friends, and learn new skills, whilst at the same time affording you a little of that all-important R&R time. Sit back and relax...
The Westin Resort Costa Navarino, Greece
Voted as the Best Family Destination in the Mediterranean among Europe’s Starwood Hotels & Resorts, The Westin Resort Costa Navarino is the ideal destination for family getaways, presenting a plethora of children’s activities. They can enjoy a wonderful aqua park with water slides, a playground and a recreational centre including an indoor sports arena for basketball and volleyball, ten-pin bowling, video arcades, cinema and ping pong. There are also two specially-designed hubs for children: Cocoon for ages four months to three years, and SandCastle for children aged four to 12 years. So with the kids taken care of, you can relax. There are many beautiful beaches in this part of Greece, along an unspoilt stretch of Ionian coastline that’s been relatively untouched by tourism, and of course there’s a whole range of activities on offer for you to explore.
Terre Blanche Hotel & Spa Golf Resort, France
We are big fans of Terre Blanche. Hidden among the rolling Provençal hills yet tantalisingly close to the French Riviera, this chic bolthole is a retreat within a retreat, offering one of the loveliest spas we’ve encountered (and it’s fair to say we’ve tried a few). While this may look like adults-only territory (the chic interiors, manicured gardens and decadent pools wouldn’t look out of place in a glossy design magazine). Terre Blanche is actually brilliantly equipped for families. Dedicated children’s facilities include a kids’ pool and a complimentary children’s club for ages two to 12 and generously sized villas and suites give boisterous families room to spread out. Designed to resemble a small Provençal village, there’s enough going on that you wouldn’t need to leave if you didn’t want to, but it would be a shame to miss the chance to explore the stunning countryside and coastline that’s a short drive away.
The Ritz-Carlton, Abama, Tenerife
Tenerife’s tranquil and little-known area of Guía de Isora is home to the exclusive Ritz-Carlton Abama resort, tucked away in the volcanic landscape and shielded by hundreds of palm trees. The whole resort is resplendent in colour, with the pink facade clashing with the brilliant blue waters of the Atlantic and vibrant plant life that surrounds the estate. Come as a family and you’ll be overwhelmed with choice for the little ones: baby products from sterilisers to pushchairs and toddler guard rails are available on request with babysitting an added bonus for when you need some adult conversation. The Ritz Kids programme is one of the best we’ve encountered; there’s everything from eco challenges, pizza workshops, treasure hunts, handicrafts, educational talks, talent contests and zumba, and the special kids’ menu is designed with health in mind.
Porto Elounda Golf & Spa Resort, Crete, Greece
The question is, what doesn’t Porto Elounda offer for children? On arrival they’ll be handed a special gift bag and a welcome juice, a bottle of water before bedtime and slippers to keep their feet cosy. Keen appetites will like the children’s dining room, open from 6pm, with a special menu that caters to fussy eaters and everything-goes adventurers. Evenings are low key, with a teenagers’ entertainment centre open until 11pm. Of course, this is your holiday too, so babysitting and nanny services are available for when you want some time to yourself. Activities include tennis, swimming, wakeboarding, water skiing, sailing, scuba diving, fishing and a Six Senses kids’ spa, and this is Crete, of course, so the beaches are some of the best in Europe and the locals love children.
Kempinski Hotel Barbaros Bay, Bodrum, Turkey
Barbaros Bay is magnificent: a clean, sparkling strip of sand on the Aegean Sea, with private access for guests of the Kempinski on the most unspoilt part of the peninsula. This is true Turkish luxury, maximising the most of its natural beauty to stunning effect. Blue is everywhere, from the lapping shores of the beach to the azure sky and the lofty infinity pool which seems to stretch limitlessly into the distance. Kids will love learning to sail or dive, mountain biking or trekking, and enjoy making new friends at the kids’ club, which has its own children’s restaurant. And if you’d like to arrive in style, there are water transfers by motor yacht or sailboat from a range of ports, or via helicopter. Not even the sky’s the limit here.
Borgo Egnazia, Puglia, Italy
Nestled in the green belt of San Domenico Golf and mere steps from the sea, Borgo Egnazia offers privacy and elegance with stunning views of the bay or Apulian countryside. Everywhere you look sparkling white tufo stone, typical of the region, glitters in the Italian sunlight, with interiors just as glamorous. But don’t be fooled by Borgo’s glossy looks, this hotel is perfect for families, sticky fingers and all. The Trullaleri kids’ club will keep little ones entertained for hours while you kick back and relax, while teens will enjoy Tarantari, for older explorers. The range of activities on offer is seemingly endless, with golf, cooking classes, horse riding, cycling, sailing or water sports available. Nearby beaches include La Fonte, with its fine sand, crystalline waters, toys, sunbeds, gazebos and bar – a veritable kids’ paradise.
Puente Romano Beach Resort, Andalucía, Spain
The Golden Mile between Marbella and Puerto Banus is replete with luxury properties, but the Puente Romano Beach Resort is one of the most exclusive, not to mention the best located. Families are well catered for with Junior Suites offering the perfect amount of space, and interconnecting rooms for privacy. The long sandy beach offers water sports with jet skis, sailing, water bicycles and the hotel’s own yacht, and there’s a choice of three swimming pools. The complimentary kids’ club is available during school holidays for children aged four to 10 years old, and offers private tennis or swimming lessons, plus searching for sea shells along the strip of sandy beach. Adults will love the Six Senses beachfront SPA. With its close proximity to cultural sights and a short drive from anywhere along the coastline, the Puente Romano is the perfect base for a family holiday in southern Spain.
Verdura Resort, Sicily, Italy
Verdura is a luxurious resort set within 230 hectares of stunning landscapes on the south coast of sunny Sicily. It’s a treasure trove of childfriendly features, with tennis courts, water sports, a full-size football pitch and miles of running trails in the lemon and olive groves for eager explorers to investigate. The 60m, two-tier swimming pool is one of the largest in Europe, with a private beach offering oodles more space. Bicycles are available to borrow to explore the estate, and a fully-staffed kids’ club, crèche and hang out area for teenagers means they can make friends with other children on holiday. Colourful pasta dishes are the order of the day, with a pizzeria and barbecue offering summery dishes. Babysitting is an added bonus – if you book early.
Sheraton Algarve & Pine Cliffs Resort, Portugal
Albufeira has long been a family holiday destination, but the Sheraton Algarve brings a welcome touch of luxury. As well as the hotel itself the accommodation includes the Pine Cliffs Residences and villas which offer their own pools and Jacuzzis for added privacy. There are activities for all ages, with junior golf clinics, family tennis lessons, a games room and water sports during the school holidays. The highlight could well be the 7,000m² kids’ club, Porto Pirata Children’s Village, which includes a pretty spectacular life-size wooden pirate ship. The beaches nearby are gorgeous, and there’s direct access to Falésia Beach by a panoramic lift. The hotel is currently undergoing an extensive refurbishment to further improve its facilities, so if you choose to stay this summer you’ll enjoy the brand spanking new improvements before anyone else.
Despite being a paradise for grown-ups, Anassa’s decadent touches are also great for kids. All rooms have balconies and complimentary Wi-Fi (in case you need to sit them down with the iPad for some down time) and some suites have private plunge pools and whirlpools on sea-facing terraces offering endless enjoyment. If they love getting wet this is the place to be: there are two outdoor pools, an indoor pool and seawater exercise pool, water skiing, sailing, snorkelling and scuba diving. There’s also tennis and a host of excursions if they prefer staying dry. We love the Anassa as it has one of the best kids’ clubs in Europe, with amazing facilities for children aged four months to 12 years. In July and August there’s also a teens club, to ensure that everyone’s happy on holiday. What’s more, the Baby Go Lightly service ensures all the baby care essentials are available on arrival.
Terre Blanche Hotel Spa Golf Resort*****
The Westin Resort Costa Navarino
Verdura Resort, a Rocco Forte Hotel
Porto Elounda Golf & Spa Resort
Puente Romano Beach Resort
The Ritz-Carlton, Abama
Sheraton Algarve & Pine Cliffs Resort