In our opinion, the perfect family holiday is anything that sees parents and kids bonding through adventure; one that piques kids’ curiosity, rewards their sense of adventure, and encourages their appreciation of the world around them. Finally, it’s one in which every member of the family is wowed, inspired, or entertained - ideally all three! Here are just a few of our favourite FAMILY HOLIDAY DESTINATIONS.
MAURITIUS - FOR ALL THE SHELLS AND WHISTLES
Just 20 degrees south of the equator, the tropical island of Mauritius is a year-round beach destination, and perhaps the most family-friendly destination we have been to yet. With direct flights from London, no need for vaccinations and a GMT+4 hour time difference, it’s an easy-going option for families in need of tropical indulgence. The east coast of Mauritius is home to the most celebrated hotels and beaches, where miles of white sand gently slopes into a warm azure sea. Constance Le Prince Maurice is one of our top family properties — not only is it set along a sheltered coral-sand beach and a private lagoon, staff members will treat you and the kids like old friends. There are dedicated Family Rooms (with a second bunk room) and spacious Beach Front Villas with separate living areas. The kids club and hands-on babysitters leave enough time for the grown-ups to appreciate the secluded garden spa and romantic floating restaurant, reached via a lantern-lit walkway through the mangroves. For families who want a more 'buzzy' atmosphere Lux* Belle Mare is an all-inclusive hotel that offers great value - we particularly liked the little extras throughout, an in-room iPad for use during your stay, the resort’s own Cafe Lux where they roast their own beans, the fresh juice bar and the vintage phone box from where guests can make international calls free of charge.
South Africa - FOR ACTIVE KIDS
Wildlife at every turn, kid-loving and unbelievably good value for money, South Africa has lots going for it when it comes to family travel. We’ve tried and tested road trips, boutique apart-hotels, wine estates, family-friendly hikes, safaris, surf lessons and more. In Cape Town alone there’s something for everyone and enough to keep a whole family entertained for weeks. Catch the cable-car to the top of Table Mountain, explore rock pools in Kommetjie or spot zebras in Cape Point National Park. There’s accommodation to suit all shapes and sizes too, from living like kings at the 12 Apostles Hotel & Spa or playing local in trendy Kloof Street at More Quarters. Spend the weekend in the family-friendly Olive House at Bartholomeus Klip, sauntering between game drives, kayaking and hearty meals. There’s no need to shy away from the wineries even with the youngest of kids in tow, but we recommend picnics and deli-lunches in places like La Petite Ferme and Boschendale, rather than fine-dining. Heading out towards the Garden Route there’s Grootbos where endless on-tap activities, patient staff and friendly babysitters keep everyone happy. If your children are still very young then South Africa is the perfect place for your first family safari, with plenty of malaria-free options like Madikwe Game Reserve and Kwande Private Game Reserve.
Sri Lanka - FOR A TASTE OF THE EXOTIC
Sri Lanka is one of our top family holiday destinations, with fabulous accommodation - from fully staffed villas (ensuring complete privacy and a proper holiday from domestic drudgery!) to beautiful hotels - offering fun for all the family. Ambalama is a gorgeous villa that has been tried and tested with great success by Sally and Alice guests travelling with kids. Situated on the south coast, about 20 minutes from Galle, and two-hours drive from Colombo International Airport, Ambalama comes fully staffed including a chef. There is a lovely big pool and lawn that leads down to the beach; while the water is not suitable for swimming right there you can walk along the beach to Wijaya, which has calm waters and a great relaxed vibe. For a hotel stay nearby, Why House is a lovely nine-bedroom property in Mihiripenna, just a 5-minute drive inland from Talpe and Dalawella beaches. The two suites in the main building have an anteroom with a day bed suitable for sleeping a child (or plenty of space for a cot), whilst the cabanas are fun for independent teens. Larger families can book the whole Garden Villa, sleeping up to nine people in three double rooms, or for a multi-generational family holiday, the whole hotel can be booked exclusively. Fun activities onsite include visits from elephants, a snake charmer, face painters and magicians. Beyond the hotel, you can take surfing lessons at Weligama, go on whale and dolphin-watching boat trips or visit the turtle hatchery.
CANADA - FOR THE EXPLORERS
For thrill-seekers and nature-lovers, Canada has it all. Dare-devil kids will love heli-hiking amid massive glaciers, mountain biking in Whistler or zip-lining high above a lush valley floor, while others will be content trekking through The Rockies, spotting bears and picnicking on the shores of turquoise lakes. Vancouver is a city for outdoor lovers, with heaps of entertainment for the whole family; you can check out the totem poles in Stanley Park, visit the Vancouver Aquarium, eat your way through the colourful Kids Market on Granville Island, and choose from 200 flavours of ice-cream at Casa de Gelato. From Vancouver, it’s a short hop on a seaplane to Bedwell River, where en-suite family tents at Clayoquot Wilderness Resort give you a taste of adventure with all the comfort of a hotel. From your base on Vancouver Island’s magnificently rugged west coast you can explore the pristine wilderness of beaches and forests unlike anywhere else in the world. Travel miles of First Nations paths on foot or on horseback, follow waterways deep into the old-growth forests in canoes or kayaks, and discover abundant wildlife, including bears and whales, on guided zodiac tours.
KENYA - FOR YOUR FAMILY AND OTHER ANIMALS
An African safari holiday with your children is unlike any other family holiday - it's wildly beautiful, inspirational and educational - an unforgettable adventure for everyone. For older and more active children, Kenya is spot on. Situated in the wildlife-rich eastern corner of the Conservancy, Lewa Wilderness is a wonderfully safe family-friendly option where the Craig family have hosted guests for the past 30 years. Employees from the Maasai love to spend time with children and impart their knowledge — from lessons in making bows and arrows or fire with sticks, to tribal dancing and tracking with sniffer dogs. Bordering Lewa, Borana Lodge is set on a working cattle ranch where children of all ages are welcome. Home to the Dyer family for three generations, families can go on horseback or mountain-biking safaris or the anti-poaching guards will teach your young ones how to track and count Africa's endangered black and white rhino. The ultimate lodge for an extended family is the eight-bed, fully staffed Laragai House. Passing through Nairobi on a family safari holiday, families can visit the Daphne Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage to meet elephants from all over Africa or even feed Rothschild’s giraffes at Giraffe Manor. And at the beginning or end of your family safari, the Kenyan coast has resorts like Kinondo Kwetu or Alfajiri Villas, offering families total relaxation by the sea.
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We’ve driven around South Africa, ridden mules into the Atlas Mountains, villa-hopped in Sri Lanka, lazed about in Mauritius’ most luxurious resorts and quizzed safari lodges to find the very best family holiday experiences out there, all with our own little ones in tow...