1/5 Dubai – Atlantis The Palm
If keeping the family happy is your #1 priority on holiday, it’s hard to think of a better place to stay than Atlantis The Palm in Dubai.
This expansive marine-themed resort is home to 65,000 underwater creatures, housed in an aquarium large enough to scuba dive around, as well as Aquaventure – a 42-acre waterpark (Atlantis guests automatically get free, unlimited access). There are world-first, record-breaking rides for thrill seekers, as well as ample splash playgrounds and slides for younger kids. Take flight on the longest zip line in the Middle East, or stick with the aquatic theme for sea lion encounters, cownose ray feeding and the once-in-a-lifetime chance to swim with dolphins.
Whilst the kids are busy at kids club or making a splash at Aquaventure, treat yourself to some de-stressing treatments at the sleek ShuiQi Spa, laze the morning away in a luxury private beach cabana, or indulge in some retail therapy at the resort’s upscale boutiques.
In the evenings, take advantage of the in-resort babysitters and try one of the 24 bars and restaurants (several are headed up by Michelin-starred chefs), before dancing the night away at the glamorous N’Dulge nightclub. Teens can relish in some strictly parent-free time at Club Rush, the resort’s nightclub for 13-18-year-olds. With so much on offer, Atlantis The Palm is a great destination for families with a wide range of ages.
February Half Term: 13-17 Feb 2017 – Save up to 25% and get FREE half board – 5 nights starts from just £3799 for a family of 3 (departing 15th Feb, includes flights).
Summer Holidays: 15 Jul–5 Sep 2017 – Save up to 40% and get a FREE Half board – 5 nights starts from just £2799 for a family of 3 (departing 18th Jul, includes flights).
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2/5 Barbados – Sugar Bay Barbados
If you’re looking for a holiday where the whole family can have a great time without subjecting everyone to an overdose of theme parks and waterslides, Barbados makes an excellent choice. It’s impossible not to love the low-key, laid-back island vibes, and the cockle-warming welcome you’ll receive from the locals.
The beaches are the main draw, but if you get restless after a few days of sandcastles and watersports, head out of the resort to discover more of the island’s attractions. Find out the difference between stalactites and stalagmites at Harrisons Cave, visit the monkeys at Barbados Wildlife Reserve, go on a catamaran cruise for the chance to swim with turtles, or jump on board the Atlantis submarine for an underwater tour of the coral reef.
For older kids, there’s go-karting at Bushy Park, surfing and kite-surfing lessons, as well as sea trampolines, rope swings and jet-skiing on offer at The Boatyard in Carlisle Bay (near Bridgetown).
It’s worth noting that Barbados’ Kids Clubs are amongst the best in the Caribbean, so for days when you feel like staying in-resort you can rest in the knowledge the little ones are being well-entertained by qualified childminders.
Stay all-inclusive at Sugar Bay Barbados. This hotel opened at the beginning of 2016 and has fast become one of the best family-friendly resorts on the south coast. It’s big enough that there’s plenty going on, but small enough to retain that relaxed ’boutique’ feel. For teens, unlimited non-motorised watersports are included, and for younger children there’s a kids club and crèche for babies from 4 months old. The hotel is close to the south coast boardwalk, which is great for pushchair walks, with a fab ice cream parlour mid-way. Even better, infants under 2 and the first child (aged 3 – 16) stays free at Sugar Bay Barbados.
Easter Holidays: 1 -24 Apr 2017 – Save up to 35% and get a free mini spa treatment – 7 nights all-inclusive starts from just £4055 for a family of 3 (depart 16 Apr, includes flights).
May Half Term: 27 May – 4 Jun 2017 – Save up to 35% and get a free mini spa treatment – 7 nights all-inclusive starts from just £3729 for a family of 3 (departing 28th May, includes flights).
Summer Holidays: 15 Jul–5 Sep 2017 – Save up to 35% and get a free mini spa treatment – 7 nights all-inclusive starts from just £3449 for a family of 3 (depart 27th Aug, includes flights).
October Half Term: 16-27 Oct 2017 – Save up to 35% and get a free mini spa treatment – 7 nights all-inclusive starts from just £3445 for a family of 3 (depart 16th Oct, includes flights).
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3/5 Maldives – Centara Grand Island
Think Maldives and images of idyllic honeymoon scenes – tranquil island paradises and couples walking hand in hand – come to mind. Whilst this cliché is not necessarily untrue, there are a handful resorts which are ideal for family escapes too. Centara Grand Island is one of our favourite family-friendly Maldives resorts. It has a number of family-orientated villas, including the Deluxe Family Water Villa, which has bunk beds in a separate kids room, and secure fencing around the terraces (with child-proof locks), so you can still enjoy the water villa experience without any safety concerns.
There are two very good kids clubs, one for youngsters and one for teenagers, as well as babysitting services to enable you to go out in the evenings. Staff in the restaurants delight in entertaining children with tricks and puzzles, and the staff from the kids club also put on family entertainment in the evenings. For teens, there’s a games zone with pool tables and so on – a good place to hang out and meet new friends.
The house reef is very good, with several protected areas (no currents), which are ideal for younger snorkellers. Budding marine biologists will enjoy the daily fish feeding each evening – it’s a memorable sight to see the large stingrays and reef sharks coming in for their food. There are also lots of teen-pleasing watersports on offer, including an introduction to scuba diving, banana boat riding and windsurfing.
Summer holidays: 15 Jul – 5 Sep 2017 – Save up to 15% and first child stays free – 7 nights all-inclusive starts from just £5255 for a family of 3 (depart 19th Jul)
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4/5 Greece – The Westin Costa Navarino
We make no secret of the fact that Costa Navarino is one of our favourite Europe beach resorts, thanks in part to the sheer variety of things do here.
For a start, the kids club is exceptional, with a comprehensive timetable of activities for 4-12-year-olds, a large outdoor play area, indoor pool and soft play centre inside. All the spaces are well-designed with children in mind, providing plenty of scope for imaginative play. Older kids can go mountain biking, rock climbing, wakeboarding, go-karting, play basketball or try one of the 9 available racket sports.
There’s also a 10-pin bowling alley, open-air cinema, and two swimming pools with a great ‘splashy bit’ for toddlers, plus water slides suitable for all ages (including two ‘racing’ slides, which sit side by side).
Within a two-hour radius, you’ll find fifteen historical sites for the open-minded (or those doing Ancient Greece at school), including Ancient Olympia (the site of the first Olympic games), and the Palace of King Nestor (legendary warrior from the Trojan War). With so much going on, it’s also a good destination for families with children of various ages or large age gaps; even hard-to-please teenagers will find something to get excited about here.
And with flight times of just 3.5 hours from London, you could be exploring this beautiful part of the Peloponnese sooner than you think!
May Half Term: 27 May–4 Jun 2017 – Save up to 20% and get a FREE room upgrade – 7 nights B&B starts from just £1579 for a family of 3 (depart 29th May, includes flights)
October Half Term: 14-27 Oct 2017 – Book early to save up to 25% and get a FREE half board upgrade -7 nights half board starts from just £1339 for a family of 3 (depart 14th Oct, includes flights)
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5/5 Phuket – Centara Karon Resort
Centara Karon Resort is a good family-friendly choice in Phuket, with three swimming pools (including one with waterslides), a decent kids club, games room (with a snooker table and darts), and tennis courts. It’s a lively resort with a happening feel; the Carpe Diem team is on hand to organise pool based games and activities, keeping everyone smiling and ensuring ‘I’m bored’ are two words never uttered here.
The rooms are clean and contemporary, with comfortable beds and cheerful, accommodating staff. The shops and restaurants of Karon Beach are a short walk away. Every week, a market is held at the Karon Temple, which is a good place to pick up souvenirs and sample some authentic Thai street food.
Phuket itself is a fab family holiday destination in Thailand, with plenty of attractions and large sandy beaches to explore. Nearby excursions include days out at Splash Jungle Waterpark, long-tailed boat cruises around the spectacular limestone islands of Phang Nga Bay, the highly entertaining Siam Niramit Phuket cultural show, and the amusing Phuket Trickeye Museum.
Summer holidays: 15 Jul–5 Sep 2017 – Get 4 FREE nights, 10 % discount and kids stay FREE – 8 nights B&B starts from just £2145 for a family of 3 (depart 19th Aug, includes flights).
October Half term: 14-27 Oct 2017 – Get 4 FREE nights, 10 % discount and kids stay FREE – 8 nights starts from just £1925 for a family of 3 (depart 16th Oct, includes flights)