Catherine Cooper heads to the Mark Warner resort of San Lucianu Resort in Corsica with her family, where, not only were the kids were kept thoroughly entertained, but Catherine and her husband enjoyed the relaxing resort and re-acquainted themselves with windsurfing.
My husband Alex and I - as (severely) lapsed windsurfers - wanted to go somewhere with easy access to watersports. Along with a full programme of activities for the children - Toby, 12, and Olivia, 9, - a warm sea, sunshine and, something I was particularly excited about, full catering, Mark Warner’s San Lucianu Resort in Corsica is ideal for sailing and tennis lovers, plus parents who simply want to have their children kept happy and occupied while they have some time to themselves.
The beauty of the resort set up is its flexibility. You can drift in and out of the water as you choose, change your board and sail (or boat, kayak or paddleboard) as often as you want and there is a cheerful army of buff young waterfront staff to offer advice and sort your equipment out for you.
Windsurfing: It’s is not like riding a bike, as I found out on my first day in the resort. You don’t just hop back on and go. On my first day back on a board I barely managed to stand up and certainly didn’t manage to move so stomped back to the beach, threw my board down and spent most of the rest of the day sulking on a sun lounger. Looking out over the sea, there were certainly worse places to sulk.
Every day windsurfing got easier. On the second day I tried a bigger sail which, bizarrely, seemed to make things easier and could travel a few metres before falling off. The next day I remembered how to turn in one direction and then the next day, the other. By the day before last I spent a couple of hours sailing back and forth quite happily, only falling in when I started boasting that I had spent the whole morning on the water without getting my hair wet.
Sailing: My husband Alex grew up sailing and given that he learned to ski in his mid-30s so he could join me on the slopes, I felt it was only fair I share his enthusiasm for the water. We went out in a boat called a Funboat which looked like a child’s toy and – hooray! – felt stable enough.
Learn to… Both children learned the basics of sailing, windsurfing and kayaking in their groupsbut RYA courses were also available (at a supplement) for both children and adults who wanted to learn more intensively.
While Alex and I were on (or in my case, mainly in) the water, Toby, 12, and Olivia, 9, were having an amazing time. Children and teenagers of all ages from four months up to 17 years are catered for in a variety of clubs so that they are with children who are of similar age. Each morning and afternoon there are three different activities for each group including windsurfing, sailing, kayaking, tennis, cricket and various games in the pool and sea. There’s also treasure hunts and making mocktails for smaller kids.
Children can do as many or as few activities as they want and Toby and Livi opted to do the vast majority. As the resort is fairly compact we’d see the children around even while they were with their groups and so could watch them as they went out on to the water, chat about what they were doing, put extra sun cream on them or sign them out if they wanted to spend some time with us.
Watersports: I signed a form to allow Toby to go out in a kayak on his own as he was desperate to do so (while secretly watching anxiously from the shore, of course) although the constant presence of the safety boat meant that I knew I didn’t really have to worry.
The swimming pool also has a lifeguard so we didn’t need to supervise the kids every time they wanted to go for a swim.
In the evenings children could choose to eat with their parents, there was a high tea for the younger children and the older children could eat with their group. This was followed by evening activities for all and then a film for the younger children. After the first night both children opted to spend their evenings with their new friends while Alex and I struggled to stay awake to pick them up at about 10pm.
In my excitement of not having to cook or go to the supermarket for a whole week I probably wouldn’t have cared what the food was like but actually, it was very good.
Breakfast and lunch were buffets with a particularly impressive array of lunchtime salads and dinner was generally a la carte with three choices per course.
Children’s meals also offered several options and there was always plenty of fruit available.
Somewhat shamefully, we were having such fun on the water that we didn’t see as much of the island as we intended, but one morning when the wind had dropped and the kids were happily ensconced in their clubs we ventured out to visit some local rock pools, so big you could swim in them with pouring waterfalls adding to the magic. We also visited the stunning hillside town of Cervione, well worth a visit.
Price: A week at San Lucianu, Corsica costs from £490 per person including return flights from London Heathrow with British Airways, seven nights half board accommodation, six half daya childcare plus activities such as watersports, mountain biking, tennis and fitness programmes.
Supplements are payable for childcare for children under two years, and for children under five who require childcare all day.
Travel time: A flight from London to Bastia is 2 hours 20 minutes, and then there's a short coach transfer to resort (less than an hour.)
Book: www.markwarner.co.uk, 0844 273 7425
Apart from re-finding our windsurfing feet, the real beauty of this holiday was having some time to ourselves without feeling like we were abandoning the children. Similarlythey loved having some independence from us without the rigidity typical of some holiday kids clubs in that they could drop in and out whenever they liked.
The childcare leaders – who stayed with the same groups all week – had seemingly boundless energy, enthusiasm and ideas and both children (especially Livi) became very attached to theirs. We can’t wait to go back!