Family holidays

I need RoFs best recommendations for those god awful child friendly resorts. Looking to go in September and would prefer Europe. Will be travelling with a 2.5yr old and a 6 month old (and Mr FF) so ideally somewhere that offers two rooms. 

Pray 4 me m6s. 

I was going to suggest one of the centre parks in France - can drive over so dodging airport hell, won’t be too hot but should still be pleasant enough, no cars so good for cycling about with toddlers, loads of activities for little ones

Martinhal do houses with multiple bedrooms and have nurseries for all ages of children.  I went to Martinhal Sagres in May and would definitely recommend.

Club Med good for the kids activities' stuff, v all in French vibes. Pricey. 

Mark Warner bit less pricey depending, much more Anglo, generally v well run.

Neilsons also good. 

I feel like there's another one we've tried but sleep deprivation has erased it.

Separate rooms is good but interconnecting with sliding door between is what we've found best (ours are 6 and 4). 

Beware the flight time change farce - they can generally vary by up to 12 hrs and declare it all within Ts and Cs as not a significant change. Absurd but what can one do. 

Not been to Center Parcs and don't see a particular need to. 

Overall the joys of handing your children over to someone else are not to be under-estimated. 

Second Martinhal. 

Sani is incredible if you want something fancier than Martinhal but not khuntstyle expensive, still a lot of portly Russian blokes with insanely hot wives but mainly just the entire 30-40 population of West London.

Ikos apparently mind blowing but is the full khuntstyle option. 

I need to Google Club Med. We are thinking an all inclusive type resort for “ease” over self catering as I am fooking bored of cooking for everyone and toddler doesn’t wait very well for food. 

it gets easier doesn’t it?!

The most traumatic bit is the travel with all their kit - personally I found taking the car a real game changer. Not sure I could be bothered to drive to the Algarve though…

If you are in the happy position of having a reasonable budget, do not go Mark Warner over Club Med. We went mark Warner once and that was once too often.

Food at Club Med miles better.

Skied Club Med in the Alps at Easter, and all the poor families with weans seemed to be having a good time. 

They shipped in fresh oysters and langoustine from Brittany for one dinner....shucked them to order.

Club Med are actually great and fairly reasonably priced on a scale of these things.

If you are willing to chuck some fairly serious cash at it then look at Sani resort (Halkidiki, Greece). It's less squarely aimed at families with small children (and so rather nicer for adults as a result) but they have a creche that can take kids from babies upwards. We took ours when they were 7 and 3 (pre covid) and both loved the kids club. It's an absolutely idyllic setting and there are a wide range of food options (there are 5 hotels total in the resort and something like 15 restaurants I think).  The main hotel (Sani Beach) is the cheapest (though this is definitely relative) and probably the best with young kids. They have (or at least used to have) this quite cool beach baby sitting thing where if you are spending the day with the rugrats rather than dumping them at the kids club you can have someone on the beach watch them for maybe half an hour or something while you and your other half go for a swim.   


Sorry just realised the one sprog is 6 months old not 6 years old! Sani would still work but maybe somewhere super child friendly would be better....

Ikos is incredible but you have to book literally 12 calendar months to the second for October or Spring half term, as in stay up overnight whilst the booking calendar ticks over like it’s Glastonbury or something.

Thanks team, will check out all of these options!


Yes Donny, I haz new baby! A pink one this time 😊

When are you thinking of going? Martinhal great in summer but very exposed and right on the Atlantic, apparently gets very windy in autumn 

Martinhal Cascais was sh1te (expensive, average but extortionate food, miserable service, facilities not 5*) but have heard good things about Sagres. 

Looking to go in mid-September (as that’s when my childminder is away). Imagine Portugal is getting a bit iffy then. 

Algarve should be fine mid September. Sani definitely would be (nicer than august probably) 

I like Ammos in Crete but it doesn’t have kids clubs / other people to look after the kids all the time (tho I think they can organise babysitting etc).

Sani is incredible if you want something fancier than Martinhal but not khuntstyle expensive, still a lot of portly Russian blokes with insanely hot wives but mainly just the entire 30-40 population of West London.

Ikos apparently mind blowing but is the full khuntstyle option. 

Ikos was really disappointing, although I went pre-child, so not sure how it compares as a family resort.  But I thought Sani was generally more expensive than Ikos?  It has been the times I've thought about booking it.

Ikos is all inclusive (or at least the one we went to was) so it's a bit of a different experience/feel. Nice but not as nice as Sani for my money.

We’ve always just hired a house and then got a local regular babysitter (and on some holidays someone to come and cook, which I can highly recommend). Not more expensive and much nicer in my view. 

I can see why for older children the kids clubs are good bc lots of fun activities, but at FFs kids ages they will just be parked in a room somewhere anyway - might as well have the sitter come to you 

How do you set about finding the babysitters TC?  We normally bring one of ours with us but its a right pain to get visas at the moment with all the covid disruption.  

When I went to sagres I didn't put the kids in a club at all. Why would I want to do that. I want to spend every minute of my holiday with them, even though it's hard and annoying....


We did use the babysitter service though for evenings out

The issue OP has with resorts is that the kids are too young to put in the clubs, it’s sometimes 3 and more often 4 before they will take the kid. And some clubs are better than others, there is a particular place we stay which will take the kids all day of you want (and do fun stuff with them) whereas we stayed somewhere recently where it was an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon, hardly any point (so we didn’t).

i can recommend Princesa Yaiza in Lanzarote as a pretty plush family centred hotel resort with great pools and activities for the kids (even if you have to stay with them) - they also have a crèche where you can park the six month old as well

what TC said. A small villa in corsica c/o Simpson Travel who will supply a nanny for the odd afternoon / morning / evening. They used to do morning bread / croissant deliveries daily plus chefs available if you really aren't able to face a restaurant (or a roadside rotisserie chicken stall, which are superb).

Hotels are hideous with very small children because they go to bed so damn early / often. With a villa you can be in the pool / having dinner while they sleep 

Hotels are fkin ace with small kids. Lots of pools (instead of a crappy small villa pool), big breakfast, restaurants on site if you don’t want to head out, someone to clean your room every day including all the kids’ crap. Plus potential kids clubs etc.

There are loads of awesome places to take kids in Europe, never understand why people treat holidays with little kids as The End of Good Holidays. 

the Simpson nannies are all Norlandish english girls with interests in things like painting and sticking and cartwheels & bring their own paint and stuff with them. They're ace. 

Well throw out the DRB form, then, no posh English girl ever abused a kid or let them drown in the pool 

God bless blighty!

Pine Cliffs in the Algarve. 30 mins from Faro Airport. If you book with someone like Kuoni they will sort out a private transfer including car seats for toddler and baby.

Go for one of the Ocean Suites it’s two rooms with sitting room / kitchen and washing machine. Toddler can sleep on the pull out sofa and they will put a cot in the bedroom.

Staff couldn’t be more friendly and welcoming. Loads of stuff for kids to do (plenty of ice cream). Just go B&B and work out what you want to do for lunch and dinner. There’s a great kids club with a pirate ship and beach with restaurant.

As for hotels, Martinhal in Sagres if you want everything on a plate. Yaiza, Abama, Cordial Mogan if you want fairly anaemic but easy, sunny break. Domes Corfu, Domes Elounda, Columbia Beach or Amathus Beach in Cyprus. Or Gran Hotel Miramar in Malaga for a stunning city hotel on the beach with a mahoosive and gorgeous pool. 

We had a great holiday in Menorca when our kids were v young. Not aware of any livelier resorts there (and never felt there were many cars on the road) so it's great for young families.

We got beachside apartments here at a nice price in Punta Prima:…

Village around the corner called Binebeca was nicer still (looked bit more expensive). 

Enjoy. Hols with kids that age aren't the most relaxing but they're some of the most precious times you have with your kids...

Oooh two pools?! Still not as much fun for kids as a big, fun hotel swimming pool, especially if there are other kids to splash about with. Plus someone to call over for a beer so I don’t have to into a crappy villa kitchen and open the fridge (which I’ve spent stocking during an overlong supermarket visit). 

With a 6m old and a toddler, choose a hotel with a good creche and a pool that is covered. Ideally one with an adults-only pool also.

If you are into doing stuff rather than reading and swimming, go for Mark Warner. Has good childcare and tons of activities. They take small babies. Mark Warner vs Club Med is about how active you are, rather than how much it costs. MW is for outdoorsy type who will spend the morning riding a bike and the afternoon sailing, so people aren't that into the food. Club Med is more of a "lifestyle" thing.

Donny - I usually ask the owner of the house for a recommendation. They know someone who knows someone and you eventually find the right person. Same for swimming teachers etc. Other school parents whatsapp group and (gulp) our local Facebook mums group can be good sources too  

rham - do the same thing I do when adding a new babysitter to our roster in London…check IDs / get recommendations etc, and then start by having them come over when we’re there and do a couple of sessions with me or mr tc in the house (but not with the kids) & then go from there. 

Bahia del Duque in Tenerife is very good. Feels more like a Spanish village than a hotel with places like a coffee bar, teen cave, ice cream parlour waiting to be found. 

I think the mini- club took three year olds. Good, reasonably priced,  babysitting service too

Thirded for Marthinal if you're looking for an easy kid experience. You might want to check the cut off age for kids clubs (when I was there they had nursey for 3 year olds but not kids clubs, eldest was a bit bored).

Rham, babysitters/nannies  etc overseas like that would bother me. But I’ve never put kids in a kids club. Makes for less relaxing hols but we tend to camp/hike/van anyway. 


I can see that from my Kerry retreat. Before you ask it’s not ready for guests. Only got ⚡️ last week

As featured in the film The Lobster.

The hotel has many rules and rituals: masturbation is banned, but sexual stimulation by the hotel maid is mandatory, and guests attend dances and watch propaganda extolling the advantages of partnership. Residents can extend their deadline by hunting and tranquilizing the single people who live in the forest; each captured "loner" earns them a day. On one hunt, a woman with a fondness for biscuits offers David sexual favours, which he declines. She tells him that if she fails to find a mate, she will kill herself by jumping from a hotel window.

We've taken our little one to two Club Meds, the first when she was 6 months. They tick all the boxes for childcare, faciiities for that age group, suitable food and rooms etc. We went to Hammamet, Tunisia and Agadir, Morocco. We enjoyed both and both had a separate room for the little one, a must have. It's not luxury but comfortable and spotless and the food is great. Really can't find anything better fir this age group as no one else seems to want to open a crèche all day and be affordable. A few minor things to be aware of - the traditions of dancing round the pool each morning, the routine of the days and meals, the various themed evenings, one night they want everyone in white, another in jeans and a shirt..... 
he restaurants are a bit mad, full of kids running about but also chock full of families with borrowed prams covered in muslin squares with the little one sleeping while they enjoy a drink and relaxing meal
Otherwise, thoroughly recommended if your priority is some relaxation and childcare that allows you to have a proper break

It's been years since we went - soon after it opened I think - but the only negative I would say about Martinhal Sagres is that it's a pretty long drive from the airport, which always makes for a pretty dull beginning and end to any holiday especially one with young kids.  Although I am not a big fan and it's not as nice a hotel, Pine Cliffs is probably a better Algarve option for that reason alone.  Or go Greece/Turkey/Cyprus etc which should be lovely in September (but conversely unbearable in high summer).  Or the Canary Islands, all of which have identikit hotels as listed above and all of which are pretty good for what you're looking for I should think



If you use the martinhall concierge bus they have films loaded on tablets for them to watch. Ours loved that