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I love talking holidays. It’s my passion. I want every last detail from anyone who’ll tell me anything about their recent getaway. It’s just “my thing”.
Am I really the only one who has next year’s holiday in the back of mind 365 days a year? And am I the only parent who has a fair idea of what I want but is reluctant to invest chunks of savings in luxurious surroundings that are totally lost on little people? I want nice, fun, approachable, relaxing, homely, well-equipped but all for a reasonable price tag.
In my hunt for ideas to match my criteria, I’ve been listening hard to holiday stories. Today I’m feeling generous – I’m sharing them with you. Here are the top tip-offs I’ve gathered on where to stay on a family holiday.
- Le Jardin des Amis – Dordogne, France
Approx 20 minutes from Sarlat
Traditionally converted farm buildings in French style (lots of stone, beams and quirks), the five gites here are great for families – perfectly equipped for family cooking, both private and sociable dining facilities, with the obligatory holiday bbqs. The saltwater pool is spotless with ample pool-side lounging opportunity, gardens with numerous games options and equipment, and the great added bonus of a BYO bar cabin providing an ideal excuse (if you need one) to start the sociable afternoon drinks with your new friends while the kids play.
Location-wise, it works brilliantly. Under 30 minutes in the car will get you to numerous villages, towns, markets, castles, caves and of course rivers with their various activities for most ages.
Ok, so those of you who seek the coast might be tempted not to give the Dordogne a second glance but I challenge you to bore of this sunny, stunning, cultural and soulful area of France.
A two bedroom gite in August is from Euro 1050 per week. The large farmhouse in August is from Euro 1595 per week.
- Casale I Perugini – Umbria, Italy
Approx 15 minutes from Perugia
A really sociable family holiday but with oodles to get up to as a family too. The family owners (onsite and super-accommodating) know just how to welcome guests and have so lovingly converted this traditional Farmhouse into comfortable, typically Italian apartments. Each apartment has ample living, cooking and indoor dining space (necessary to retreat in the hotter months). Outdoor dining takes place (in all but one cases) on a shared courtyard set up like a BYO-dinner alfresco restaurant – ideal if you prefer a convivial evening setting over a romantic meal for two.
Along with the complimentary fresh espresso available each morning, the highlight has to be the extras on offer (optional, of course) to discover the local culture. Wine tasting in the local vineyard, group outings to the village parties, the evening pool party – take Casale I Perugini for all its worth and you’ll be booking again next year.
A two bedroom apartment in August is Euro 805 per week. A two bedroom apartment sleeping larger families of up to 6 in August is Euro 965 per week.
Approx 15 minutes from Padstow
Staycations can have it all. But let’s face it, they can be somewhat unpredictable too. There’s nothing more satisfying than taking a holiday on your own home turf and spending the whole time basking in the summer sun, exploring Britain’s hidden beaches and building world class sandcastles with gritty icecreams in hand. But what if it’s quite the opposite? This is where Retallack comes in.
It’s a perfect holiday village to avoid the craziness of CenterParcs but enjoy great indoor facilities with the sociable element for those rainy days. The lodges are so extensive you could cook the Sunday roast if so inclined, but otherwise the bistro on-site is fantastic as are, of course, the tons of Cornish eateries within a short drive. Pool, spa, soft play, wave simulator, tennis and a well-respected kids club – what’s not to love?
Should you be lucky (or choose, sensibly, not to holiday in the UK in August) the outdoors are the true highlight of Cornwall and this is a great spot from which to discover the region. Amazing for children, you’ll get nowhere near covering all that’s on offer in a week. The best thing about staying in the UK? You can sample Pitstops (www.pillowsandpitstops.com) your whole way there!
A two bedroom lodge in August is £1299 per week. A three bedroom lodge in August is £2199 per week.
- Cantueso – Andalucia, Spain
Approx 25 minutes from Torre del Mar
An idyllic way to sample Spanish life with hillside rustic villas, stunning lake views and it’s left to YOU to choose between privacy and community! With a choice of 10 cottages and an apartment all with private terraces, you can really believe it’s home – in fact you’ll struggle to drag the children away. The mini golf will no doubt be a daily tournament, broken up with dips in the excellent pool, table tennis competitions, football matches and exploring the huge grounds.
There’s a restaurant on-site that is actually brilliant and loved by the locals, to which all residents get priority for tables or you can opt to have it on your very own private terrace. Admit it, we all have lazy nights.
There are more villages and towns within a short drive than you can imagine, you’ll struggle to pick which market to visit next. And there’s always the 20 minute drive to the beaches, the 50 minute drive to trendy Malaga, or a bit further to do the must-visit Alhambra in Granada.
Community spirit abounds but there’s so much else beyond – this place is pretty much the perfect Spanish choice. Get there quick though, it’s darn popular!
A two bedroom cottage in August is 945 Euros per week and the three bedroom apartment (above the restaurant) in August is 1260 Euros per week. These prices are only valid for summer 2016 holidays booked before 30th September.
- The Peligoni Club – Zakynthos, Greece
Approx 45 minutes from Zakynthos Airport
Something a little different from the other recommendations I got but based around a members-only activity club which seems to leave nothing out!
All villas are located in the northern area of Zakynthos (the considerably sleepier part of the island) but dotted around the region, giving a good amount of choice on location, view, proximity etc while still enjoying the same facilities. My friends stayed in a great apartment with shared pool that was only a 10 minute drive to the Club facilities but had a shared pool with fantastic hillside sea views. There are in-villa facilities such as meals cooked by the Villa Hosts, breakfast hampers delivered and drinks parties catered for that you can order if feeling as sumptuous and lazy as you should be.
The activities on offer at the club are quite brilliant, and not extortionately priced compared to so many fun-filled holiday resorts. The bonus is the new Creche that has rave reviews, not to mention the complimentary Kids Club which is just adored by the little people. Maybe restaurant and bar could be enjoyed kid-free then with a quick trip to the spa for mum…
You get the feeling they’ve really thought it all through here – it makes it rather tempting to give in and just let them do the thinking.
A two bedroom apartment in August (10 minutes from the Club) is from £1200 per week and a new three bedroom villa with private pool in August (only 5 minutes from the Club) is from £3500 per week.