Tiredness, tears, tantrums. And that’s just the parents. Sometimes, holidays with toddlers can be, well, a challenge. But not if you do your homework, says travel writer and mum of two, Jenny Childs…
Holidaying with a toddler, fact number one: when flying at 30,000 feet, tears before touchdown are almost a dead cert. A couple of hours in and routine is usually laughing in your face while your fellow passengers are tutting in it. Fact number two: when there’s suncream to be rubbed in and lilos to be blown up, the chances of getting past chapter four of Fifty Shades of Grey are slim to none. Fact number three: toddlers aren’t easily impressed. We took our daughter to Walt Disney World when she was young, and the only thing she was interested in was the Spiderman smoothies at Planet Hollywood.
But, while some things never change, others do. These days, fly-and-flop holidays especially geared up for families with little ones do exist. Their name? Thomson Family Resorts.
Why didn’t someone think of this sooner? Thomson Family Resorts is a collection of hotels that are not only family-friendly – they’re toddler-friendly. And we’re not just talking kids’ pools and playgrounds. Every little detail has been thought of, from activities based on CBeebies TV shows to special menus that keep mealtime meltdowns at bay. Plus, every property has a 4T or 5T rating, so there’s plenty to win over parents, like great food and locations where you’re never more than a hop from the beach.
The crèches for the under 3s are worth the airfare alone. They’re toddler heavens, with toys and activities courtesy of UK suppliers like the Early Learning Centre. Even better, you can borrow the kit for free – everything from trikes to playhouses. They pull out all the stops when it comes to comfort, too, with air-con and sleeping rooms. Best part is, they’re open six days a week for up to six hours a day – plus evening sessions three nights a week – so you’ll be free to notch up some rare down-time.
Older kids aren’t side-lined, either. Every Thomson Family Resort has a Kids’ Club, with at least two hours of activities, six days a week. It’s designed for older tots from the age of 3, right up to 11-year-olds.
Of course, you can only relax and enjoy yourselves when you know your little ones are in the safest hands going. No worries here. The crèches and Kids’ Clubs score top marks on every front. Only staff with UK-accredited qualifications make the grade, and they have to undergo advanced CRB checks. Plus, the crèches always have at least one member of staff to every three children.
Yes, there’s more. Lots more. The bright sparks who designed these hotels drew on the experience of taking their own kids to a place in the sun. You know how you normally have to pack the kitchen sink? Here, there’s no need. All the baby equipment you can think of can be booked before you go – cots, sterilisers, highchairs, you name it. All your pool towels are all taken care of. And any extras you want to take can be packed in your little ones’ own cases, as infants get a 10kg baggage allowance each.
On base, there’s no traipsing back to your room for nappy changes, breastfeeding or food warm-ups. Just pop into one of the Parent and Baby rooms, which are kitted out with Mothercare equipment. Getting everywhere is a cinch, as well, with nifty ‘buggy routes’ around each hotel. As for the bedrooms, all Thomson Family Resorts offer family and adjoining rooms with the kind of surplus space you need with kids. Some even have blackout blinds for tots’ siesta time.
There’s plenty of opportunity to cram in a full album of family memories, too. Get stuck in with crafts, music and stories alongside the children at Toddler Time. And take to the dance floor with Thomson the Dog during the early-evening T-Time Live parties.
All in all, it’s a winning formula that’s seen more than 20,000 families book a Thomson Family Resorts holiday to date. And, while I’m not making any promises when it comes to tears and tantrums, with any luck they’ll only occur when it’s time to say goodbye.
• Save your luggage kilos and buy the bulk of your nappies and wipes when you’re away. Ask the staff where to get them – it’s part of their induction training.
• If you’re taking a buggy, don’t forget you can take it right to the plane door with Thomson Airways, and it’ll be waiting for you when you land.
• Forget healthy eating for a few hours. Sweets or lollipops will not only turn the mood, they’ll help little ears on take-off and landing.
• Don’t be afraid to ask for help in the skies – that’s what the cabin crew are there for.
• Most Thomson Family Resorts have Swap Boxes where mums and dads have left things like buckets and spades, so have a rummage before you fork out.
• Ask for a Thomson Family Resort activity pack for the flight home – they’re filled with goodies like crayons, puzzles and stickers.
• Keep calm and carry on!
There are 19 Thomson Family Resorts in Europe and North Africa, including the Protur Aparthotel Bonaire, which TripAdvisor reviewers voted the best family hotel in Spain last year.
Do you have any tips for travelling with toddlers?
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Author: El Berwick
Published: June 14, 2013
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