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Choosing a family friendly holiday

(As published by My Family Care Vouchers - an online parenting site for users of the market leading childcare voucher scheme.)

As a working parent, holiday time is so precious. That week or two away from your desk, relaxing and enjoying quality time with your partner and children is something we look forward to all year round. However, choosing the right holiday to suit all the family requires careful thinking.

First and foremost we want to go somewhere the children are safe and happy and have plenty to do. All too often, family holidays can seem like hard work, so finding a place which provides those child-friendly extras like outdoor toys and swings, an enclosed garden, kids’ activities, games, books and DVDs, can make all the difference. Also on the wishlist is a place which provides enough child-friendly equipment so you don’t have to pack everything plus the kitchen sink for your hard-earned trip away. And of course we also want a place which offers something for the adults to boot - beautiful scenery, good restaurants, interesting local markets and shops.

The following companies offer a range of family-friendly holidays along with those important little extras to guarantee a fun-filled break for the children, with plenty of well-earned relaxation time for mum and dad too.

Set up by working mum Sian Williams, Baby friendly boltholes offers a wide selection of cool cottages, funky farmstays, boutique hotels and luxury B&Bs, all selected to make sure that kids have fun but that parents feel special too. A detailed list of baby and toddler equipment is provided for each property so you know exactly what you need to pack and what you can leave at home. Many of the properties even offer in-house catering to give mum and dad a real break.

A typical property is Le Cottage, in Normandy, France, an idyllic stone building nestled in the grounds of an 18 th century manoir. The property has its own private terrace, an enclosed garden, a mini sandpit, and access to the manoir’s outdoor swimming pool, plus an array of family friendly equipment and local services. All in all a perfect romantic retreat for a couple with a baby.

www.babyfriendlyboltholes.co.uk

Mark Warner is a popular choice with families, as many of its resorts offer fantastic kids’ clubs, babysitting services and a huge range of sporting activities for slightly older children, including scuba diving, tennis coaching and mountain biking.

A typical resort is the Ocean Club Beach Resort in Portugal which offers a selection of fully furnished apartments, with on-site pools and tennis courts, free kids’ clubs and optional mountain biking, surfing and golf.

www.markwarner.co.uk

A more cost-conscious option is Eurocamp, who have sites all across Europe most of which feature great swimming pools, waterslides, and free kids’ clubs to suit all the different age groups. What’s more, you can take up to four children under 18, absolutely free!

A typical resort is La Garangeoire in the Vendée region of France. In a tranquil setting amongst woods, meadows and lakes, the resort boasts five swimming pools, a fishing and boating lake, a host of kids’ clubs, and is only 15 minutes’ drive away from the beautiful Atlantic coastline.

www.eurocamp.co.uk

Last but not least, why not try a ‘staycation’ here in the UK. OK so the UK is not renowned for its child-friendly hotels, but they do exist. The Good Hotel Guide publishes a list of the UK’s top ten family friendly hotels on its website, including gems such as the Seaview Hotel on the Isle of Wight. The Seaview Hotel enjoys a picturesque seaside location and with its child-friendly food options, great sports facilities nearby and an award-winning restaurant it offers something special for all the family.

Or try the Bedruthan Steps Hotel in north Cornwall, a 4 star seaside hotel which has won countless awards for its commitment to ‘eco tourism’. It offers a truly family friendly experience, with on-site kids’ clubs, fantastic indoor and outdoor children’s play areas, and an adults only ‘thermal suite’ including a sauna, spa pool and hammam. Ideal for a fun-filled family break on the beautiful Cornish coast this summer.

www.goodhotelguide.com

Article published on MyFamilyCareVouchers.co.uk (Subscribers Only Parenting Site), May 2010

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