When we first had the girls we knew what we needed out of a baby friendly villa. We needed the villa to basically provide all the baby kit you need to save you carting it away with you. You know the sort of thing I mean, steriliser, cot, blender, bottle warmer, high chair, changing mat etc etc. Lots of villa companies do this really well and its fantastic for new parents. However once your kids become pre-schoolers there is a whole host of other things to look out for when booking villa holidays with kids.
The top ten things I look for in a villa when we go away with our three (all under 5) are:
1 A pool that’s gated.
My three girls are obsessed with swimming. So for us a villa with a pool is an essential requirement for us to have a fun holiday with the kids. I have a whole selection of float aids for the kids and the eldest can now actually swim but if I am going away and hiring a villa I need to know that the kids are safe round the pool. If for any reason we don’t see them open a door, I need to know that they aren’t going to be able to get into the pool without me! This allows us to relax and for them to be safe. It can be tricky finding villas with gated pools in some countries but Oliver’s Travels has a whole selection of them.
2 Outside area
We spend loads of time in the pool on holiday but I also look for an area they can play in outside, in or out of the sun. This could be a playground area, some grass, or just a large outside patio. But this should be quite separate from the pool. One of the best villas we ever stayed in had a small slide, a playhouse and a set of swings, it was all separate from the pool and the kids could run up and down happily just outside the villa perfectly safe with a sense of freedom.
3 Books and toys
It is much nicer if the villa has a selection of toys, books or dvds. For kids, like us I suppose, it is fun to do something different and playing with new toys makes a holiday fun. It also means you don’t have to pack an extra suitcase full of toys to keep them entertained.
If for any reason it rains on your foreign holiday, you need space in the villa to have fun with the kids. There is nothing worse than being stuck in a small room with three kids with nothing to do as all the ativites in the area are sun based. This has happened to us before in the wine region in France. Thankfully the villa we were in was huge and so we played lots of hide and seek!
5 Eating area outside
I love to eat outside on holiday. It is one of the things that makes it feel to me like we are away. I like to stay sitting outside until I climb into bed later in the evening. So I look for somewhere that will make me happy outside. This could be a fantastic view to look at, a secluded area that makes you feel as though you are all alone in the world, somewhere to people watch, or a patio with comfy longig chairs for after your bbq and cocktails.
Not an essential, but we love to BBQ in a villa on holiday and I love the option to cook outside. As BBQ seems to be a Hubby job in our family, then this works very well for me!
7 Stair Gates
Usually useful regardless of the age of the kids. If they are still unsteady on the stairs then essential, but sometimes useful just to contain the kids into one area.
I know not everyone wants this from a family holiday, but I think the option to go out and have dinner with your other half can make a holiday very special. Knowing that the villa has recommended babysitters and reading reviews of other peoples experiences with this can give you the security to go out and have a fun evening.
The option to have some help be that a babysitter, someone to clean the villa, someone to cook meals for you. When you have young kids it’s nice for someone to treat you sometimes too. It doesn’t have to be every night but the option to have that special treatment is very appealing.
I know you can’t book that, I know it can be aspirational depending on location, but sitting out in the sun with a cold glass of wine watching the kids play about, sums up a perfect villa holiday with kids for me!
NB: This post has been written in collaboration with Oliver’s Travels.