Going on holiday as a whole family – including grandchildren, grandparents and everyone in between – can be a daunting and stressful prospect. But, there are ways to make sure it goes smoothly!
From adrenaline pumping activities, to soothing afternoons spent in the spa, Center Parcs has come up with a winning formula that seems to please most families. Sailing, kayaking, raft building, cycling and even a falconry session, are just a few of the activities available at the five UK sites.
All ages can splash about in the subtropical swimming pools, heated to 29.5°C year round, although grandparents may prefer to slope off to the spa while younger family members head to the Wild Water Rapids. A multiplayer paintball combat session might also be a way to dissolve any family disputes.
A three-night stay starts from £459 (www.centerparcs.co.uk).
Young children might yawn at the prospect of a week spent learning about the past, but in Rome even the most cynical tykes can’t fail to be impressed. Older generations will no doubt appreciate the wealth of ancient Roman treasures on public display – from the Colosseum to The Forum - and can literally take younger family members on a stroll back through time.
For a real treat, splash out on a stay at the Rome Cavalieri, set on one of the city’s seven hills. The hotel offers Gladiator Weekends designed to engage children in the city’s past by teaching them ancient combat techniques. The rest of the family can take time out to relax in the fifteen acres of parkland that surround the property, or in the spa which is considered to be one of the best in Europe. Rooms from 299 Euros (www.romecavalieri.com).
Easily accessible by ferry from Southampton, the Isle of Wight appeals to all ages as a short break or longer holiday destination. Stately homes, such as Queen Victoria’s Osbourne House, will interest older family members, along with the Ventnor Botanic Gardens filled with sub-tropical plants and trees from around the world.
The island also offers several quirky activities suitable for adventurers of all ages.
Recreational tree climbing specialists Goodleaf Tree Climbing teach anyone from eight to 80 how to climb trees with ropes, allowing them to enjoy sea views from up high.
Continue the treetop theme by staying overnight at the Isle of Wight Treehouses, all easily accessible via wooden platforms and sleeping up to six. A two night stay costs from £355 (www.isleofwighttreehouse.com). Return fares on Wightlink’s ferry service start at £13.80 per adult foot passenger (www.wightlink.co.uk).
Blessed with idyllic beaches, diverse wildlife and vibrant culture, Mauritius is a good all-round destination for big families. A resort such as the five-star Heritage Le Telfair in the Domaine de Bel Ombre caters to all needs, with services for young and old. Grandparents can play a round on the 18-hole, par 72 championship golf course, compete in a game of garden croquet or petanque, or head straight to the Seven Colours Spa Village for treatments and classes in relaxation. A choice of 12 different restaurants on site means fewer arguments at dinnertime, and children under 12 can share a parent’s room for free. Rooms from £118pp per night (www.heritageresorts.mu/en).
Situated on the edge of Hampshire’s New Forest, a short walk from the beach, the five-star Chewton Glen country house hotel is popular with large family groups, particularly at Christmas and New Year. Large parties can enjoy festive treats, including a visit from Santa, without having to worry about any tricky organisation or washing up. But even at other times of year, there’s good reason for big groups to book. A number of duplex suites offer spacious accommodation, while six Treehouse structures with hot tubs are ideal for grandparents, parents and kids.
Facilities include an excellent spa, golf course and driving range, indoor tennis centre plus outdoor courts, a croquet lawn and children’s play garden with a bug house and tipi for story time. Treehouse suites from £800 per night (www.chewtonglen.com).
It may require some planning and saving, but a safari family holiday is an unforgettable experience.
Formerly the family home of Singita founder Luke Bailes’ grandfather, Singita Castleton lodge in South Africa’s Sabi Sands Game Reserve is available for exclusive rental. The property combines elements of a traditional safari lodge with a country home and features a garden, swimming pool, wine cellar, gym, tennis court and spa.
Accommodation is in the original stone walled ‘farmhouse’ with individual cottages, and dinners can be shared together in the courtyard or country-style kitchen. Wine tastings can be arranged with a sommelier, while children can join a Mini Rangers' Course that includes tracking animals, a cosmic safari (astronomy) and learning bush survival techniques. The lodge costs from £4,745 per night for up to eight guests, including all meals and beverages, private guide, staff and safaris (www.singita.com).
Thanks to numerous TV period dramas, Cornwall continues to grow in popularity. This summer saw an even greater surge in bookings with most of Britain decamping to the West Country for their annual holiday.
Combining beautiful coastlines with pretty beaches, good food and a choice of large properties, it’s the perfect spot for extended families. For something extra special, try Nancealverne House, a Grade II listed 18th century manor set in idyllic countryside just outside Penzance.
Built with prize money from Nelson’s battle of the Nile, the property (sleeps eight) is set in 14 acres of gardens and parkland – and even has a small lake with a rowing boat. Grandparents can retreat to the drawing room, while teenagers amuse themselves with high-tech gadgets in the snug, and children play on a Victorian rocking horse. A week’s stay costs from £80pp (£636 total) with Classic Cottages (www.classic.co.uk).