1/10 Martinhal Resorts, Portugal
The only problem you might encounter at these luxury Algarve resorts – there are four of them dotted around Portugal on the Algarve and the Lisbon coast – is fitting everything in. An enormous menu of activities includes rock-climbing, cycling and horse-riding. Lessons are available for all ages at the award-winning windsurfing academy and a varied selection of Trek bikes are available if you want to head out on a family cycle.
When it’s time to indulge in the spa, there are seven different kids’ clubs catering for ages from six months to 18 years to keep the children occupied, and a soccer school run by former professional Mark McCarrick that is aimed at providing top-class coaching for all ages and abilities.”]
Price: Health and Fitness Travel offers seven nights at Martinhal from £995pp. Price includes breakfast, return flights and transfers.
Find out more about Martinhal Resorts.
2/10 Chia Laguna Resort, Sardinia
Chia village is set back from the sea and home to a few sleepy little local eateries, but a stone’s throw from the series of white crescent bays from which it takes its name. It comprises a mixture of four-star apartments interlinked with four- and fivestar hotels, restaurants and a top-of-the-range spa and rooftop pool that were part of a recent £30million overhaul.
In 2016, the resort staged the Spar European Cross Country championships for elite athletes and it also holds a half-marathon every April. Kids can take part in the Chia Laguna Football Academy, a residential course for six- to 16-year-olds run by former and existing pros such as Andy Johnson, who won eight caps for England. The resort also has a diving centre and there are some rewarding reefs.
Price: At Chia Laguna’s five-star Hotel Laguna, nightly prices start from £323 based on two sharing a room on a halfboard basis. Nightly rates at Chia Laguna’s four-star Hotel Village start from £197.
Find out more about Chia Laguna Resort.
3/10 Rosa Alpina, Italy
Nestling at the foot of the Dolomites, this exquisite five-star family hotel has plenty on offer for active families, the star attraction being the mountains themselves. With boulderclimbing recently announced as one of the new Olympic sports for Tokyo 2020, it is bang on trend to climb, and the Dolomites are the best place to do it, whatever your ability or age. The hotel can book an expert mountain guide, Diego Zanesco, for private family climbing tuition or you can head off for the real thing while the kids learn the basics on a newly installed beginner’s wall for children.
There are climbing walls for adults, too, or more experienced climbers can learn to boulder climb without ropes, enjoying the spectacular views. Even if that’s not your thing, there’s hiking and cycling excursions, or the local Via Ferrata routes – giant ladders carved into rock faces that date back to the World War I – and you can refuel in mountain huts that provide delicious local dishes.
Price: Rooms are available from £343 per night based on two adults sharing a Deluxe Double room. Rates include breakfast, taxes and services and exclude tourist tax.
Find out more about Rosa Alpina.
4/10 IMG Academy, USA
Tennis players worldwide have heard of this Florida resort thanks to its reputation as a centre of excellence for the sport, with top players such as Serena Williams and Andre Agassi among those who have been based here during their careers. But the 600-acre campus is also a hub for other sports. Several US soccer teams, including New York Red Bulls and DC United, have trained here and the four basketball courts are used to coach more than 100 current or former NBA players.
The best news is you don’t have to be an elite athlete to stay here, and the family programmes are among the most popular. There are also one-week camps available in eight sports (baseball, basketball, football, golf, lacrosse, soccer, tennis, track & field), for children, teens and adults, all with the option of five-star on-campus accommodation.
Price: Packages are tailored and prices are individual, depending on requirements.
Find out more about IMG Academy.
5/10 Canonnier Beachcomber, Mauritius
This revamped and newly reopened hotel on the lush north-west coast of Mauritius has an array of activities to keep your family busy. There are three floodlit tennis courts, plus equipment for table tennis, volleyball and archery as well as bocce ball, a form of boules the children will love. Residents have exclusive access to Mont Choisy Le Golf, an 18-hole championship course set amid an old sugarcane plantation that’s only a few minutes’ drive from the hotel.
If you can’t tear yourselves away from the turquoise ocean, you could take a dip in the warm waters or hire a kayak or pedal boat. And there are free weekly group sailing and windsurfing lessons on offer.
Price: A standard garden room for two adults and one child costs from £265 per night in the low season; a family duplex for two adults and three children costs from £377.
Find out more about Beachcomber Tours.
6/10 Upperud 9:9, Sweden
Sweden is a Mecca for families, and children will love the Upperud 9:9, a 100-year-old converted grain barn with solid wooden walls and stairs or ladders to the five loft rooms set in the Dalsland wilderness. With deep forests and more than 1,000 sparkling lakes, and a sparse population of only seven people per square kilometre, the area is a bolthole like few others. Look closely in the hotel and you can still find grains of wheat or rye in the gaps between the floorboards, and wildlife-spotting is a must from the vast windows.
All rooms have four beds, a kitchen, WC/bathroom with shower and underfloor heating and free wifi – not that you’ll be indoors much. At the nearby Dalslands Activity Centre, you can try horse-riding, canoeing, zipwires, a high-ropes course, visit a moose park and go panning for gold. Or take family hikes on the Dalsland Pilgrim Trail.
Price: Rooms cost from £174 per night.
Find out more about Upperud 9:9.
7/10 Anantara Vilamoura, Portugal
The Anantara group has a reputation for providing excellent family activity holidays in Oman, Thailand and Sri Lanka, and this, its first foray into Europe, is no exception. Situated in Vilamoura on the picturesque Algarve coast, it overlooks the lush expanse of Victoria Golf Course, a championship course designed by Arnold Palmer where the Portugal Masters takes place annually.
There are five pools, including a children-only pool, golden beaches, floodlit tennis courts and endless activities for kids, including the Worldwide Kids Dance Academy for those up to 18 years old, plus a football academy with fully qualified coaches. The hotel can also arrange for families to splash out at the nearby aquapark or ride horses in the surrounding area.
Price: Anantara Vilamoura nightly rates start at £218 for a Deluxe Double room for two persons on a B&B basis (VAT included).
Find out more about Anantara Vilamoura.
8/10 Coral Beach Hotel & Resort, Cyprus
There’s a reason many national sports teams – including Team GB – have chosen this resort in Paphos, on the western coast of Cyprus, as a warm-weather training base for many years: its fitness and sports facilities are second to none and its golden sandy beach is glorious. Keen swimmers can dive into the hotel’s outdoor freshwater Olympic-size pool or runners can head to the 400m athletics track on the hotel’s doorstep.
There are four championship golf courses within a 25-minute drive and Paphos is a hub for divers who come from miles around to search for submerged ruins and valleys. From the private beach, there are plentiful activities, including waterskiing, horse-riding and windsurfing, or you can join in water polo and beach volleyball sessions.
Price: Rooms cost from £104 per night in the low season.
Find out more about Leptos Calypso Hotels & Resorts.
9/10 Forte Village, Sardinia
Marooned in the Mediterranean, 178km from the nearest mainland and sitting slightly closer to Tunisia than Italy, Sardinia is renowned for its Caribbean-like landscape. And this resort, with its luxury villas and hotels set beside a flawless beach, is a haven for the sporting elite and families who can’t stand the thought of sitting still while on holiday.
It’s here that the most glamorous footballers, rugby players and athletes come to recharge their batteries and kick off pre-season training at the newly opened human performance centre that is also open to residents. While you take a dip in the medicinal thalassotherapy pools after your gym session or tennis lesson, your children can enjoy football coaching with Chelsea FC – my 12-year-old son was taught by Tore André Flo – rugby sessions with international players or sprint training with an international runner.
Price: Sovereign Luxury Travel offers a seven-night holiday at Forte Village, in the four-star Bouganville, on a half-board basis, from £898pp (based on a family of four sharing) – saving up to £1,991 in total.
Find out more about Forte Village Resort.
10/10 La Manga Club, Spain
If there is a longstanding favourite destination of sporty families, it is the La Manga Club resort near Murcia in Spain with its 5-star Hotel Principe Felipe and over 1,000 villas and apartments. You are as likely to spot a celebrity as you are an Olympian in the hotel pool, on one of the three golf courses or at the 28-court tennis centre. Name your sport and it is catered for here – with academies teaching everything from golf, tennis and rugby to triathlon, cricket and mountain biking.
New for 2018 is a Chelsea Foundation Soccer School, which will operate at Easter and during the summer holidays helping kids from 6-16 years improve their football skills on one of the 8 FIFA-standard football pitches. There is also a stand-out Junior Club offering archery and mini golf alongside a host of other sports. Venture outside the resort to the nearby Calblanque Natural Park for cycling and walking and take a well-earned break in the 2,000m squared wellness centre.
Price: A two-bedroom apartment with shared pool costs from £700 per week in low season to £993 per week in peak season; a classic standard room in Hotel Principe Felipe costs around £365 per night off season and from £484 per person in high season. The Chelsea Foundation Soccer School costs from €295 per week.