Pictures: Heinz Troll; Jamesbedford.com
Find the family resort that fits best, says Laura French.
All-inclusives might get some stick, but for families seeking a relaxing and hassle-free holiday where costs are all laid bare at the start, they’re something of
a saviour – for you as well as your clients.
While the classic value resorts are still there for those after a cheap-and-cheerful break, higher-end options are bringing in ever more opportunities for kids and parents wanting added extras. Here we lay out a handful of the best from across the board, spanning everything from fun-filled Majorca to five-star Mauritius, via Halkidiki, the Caribbean and beyond.
1 St James’s Club Morgan Bay, Saint Lucia
For a far-flung family getaway, there’s the Caribbean and its palm-fringed, white-sand beaches. Among Saint Lucia’s smattering of family-friendly properties is St James’s Club in Morgan Bay, set against the Piton mountains and a good halfway point between peaceful spa break and all-out family adventure.
A free kids’ club provides activities such as jewellery making, mocktail mixing, children’s pilates and cooking classes, while non-motorised water sports – waterskiing, wakeboarding, paddle boarding, Hobie Cat sailing, snorkelling and more – and a ‘silent cinema’ add spice for those after something more hardcore.
A choice of six restaurants and bars (all included) makes it a good option for foodies, while those more sold on the idea of getting out and about can choose from various optional excursions, including zip-lining through the forest and taking a Jeep safari to see traditional crafts (both for an extra fee).
Book it: Hayes & Jarvis offers seven nights’ all-inclusive at the four-star St James’s Club Morgan Bay by Elite from £1,749 per person. The price includes transfers and return British Airways flights from Gatwick, based on a July 19 departure.
2 Atlantis Paradise Island, The Bahamas
First there are hotels, then there are resorts, and then there are entire villages. Atlantis Paradise Island sits firmly in the final category, with six hotels and villa complexes opening out on to a 60-hectare Aquaventure waterpark. It’s also home to 22 restaurants, a sparkling harbour and huge marine life habitat, Dolphin Cay, where guests can participate in wildlife conservation and learn more about all things undersea.
The best part is that all of these are now covered under a new All-Inclusive Experience available at the Beach Tower and Royal Towers properties. The package gives guests free drinks at most bars, as well as access to the Atlantic Fitness Centre, tennis courts, Climber’s Rush rock-climbing wall, gaming lessons, film screenings, certain entertainment venues and more, and from 2018, the newly refurbished, family-friendly Coral Towers will also get in on the
act. It’s set to become the first fully all-inclusive hotel on the resort, which makes an excellent hook for a hotel that’s just had a stylish facelift.
Book it: Funway Holidays offers seven nights’ all-inclusive from £2,169 per person, based on two adults and two children sharing a Royal Towers Water View room. The price includes British Airways flights from Heathrow, departing August 21.
3 Ikos Oceania, Halkidiki
Ikos knows how to do family as well as it does luxury, and if you’ve got clients looking to combine the two, you’re onto a winner.
Set right on the idyllic Halkidiki coastline, the recently refurbished Oceania property (like its sister Olivia) offers everything a family up for splashing the cash might want – Michelin-starred chefs, elegant Anne Semonin spas and evening shows ranging from live music to dancing, movies and more.
There are children’s clubs, tailor-made menus, excellent creche services and a range of options for active types, alongside Greek dance lessons and language classes for those looking to get cultural.
Perhaps its biggest USP is the dine-out option, which means guests can try out local restaurants as part of the all-inclusive deal – a good choice for clients wanting to combine the perks of all-inclusive with the freedom of getting out and about.
Book it: Sovereign offers seven nights’ all-inclusive at the five-star Ikos Oceania from £4,165 for a family of four, including a free place for one child. The price, which is based on an October 22 departure, includes security fast passes, airport lounge access, private transfers and flights from Gatwick.
4 Heritage Awali, Mauritius
Think Indian Ocean, think couples. But that’s not always the case; Mauritius is a magnet for families thanks to its excellent water sports and an array of good-value, child-friendly resorts.
Gold Medal recommends the five-star Heritage Awali, which is home to five restaurants, three pools and comprehensive baby, kids’ and teens’ clubs, all covered by its all-inclusive programme. Activities span cooking classes to crab hunts, and the on-site C Beach Club offers windsurfing, waterskiing, kayaking, diving, dolphin-watching and more to entice the older brood (some at extra charge).
Elsewhere, there’s everything from giant chess to crazy golf, while complimentary spa treatments and a daily green fee at the championship golf course give parents a chance to kick back too (over a glass of free champagne, obviously).
Book it: Seven nights’ all-inclusive in a Deluxe Garden View Room at the five-star Heritage Awali Golf & Spa Resort starts at £1,389 per person, for departures between August 10 and September 22.
5 Sol Katmandu Park and Resort, Majorca
This ‘Play and Stay’ resort excels in all things fun and is one of Jet2holidays’ top recommendations thanks to a sprawling attraction park complete with rides, water attractions and a 4D experience to which guests at the on-site hotel get free access.
It’s also home to Spain’s largest soft-play area alongside an excellent kids’ club – think arts, crafts, team games and water sports galore – all set right by the beach, making it a good option for those wanting to combine activities with some classic sun, sea and sand.
Back at the hotel, all-inclusive guests get buffet breakfasts, lunches and dinners, and a varied entertainment schedule, as well as a nightly selection of cocktails, ice cream and more – no going hungry here.
Book it: Jet2holidays offers a week’s all-inclusive at the four-star resort from £849 per person, based on two adults and one child flying from Manchester on August 11, including transfers.
6 Beaches Turks & Caicos
If a 12-mile stretch of sand, a water park and six pools don’t do it for your clients, the 19 speciality restaurants and 1 5 bars – spanning Caribbean, Italian, Asian, French and beyond – might.
There’s a supervised kids’ camp for all ages, an Xbox Play Lounge, a nightclub for teens, a dedicated toddler pool and a games room for ‘tweens’, plus excellent water and land-based sports facilities, and a diving programme. And as they’re all part of the Luxury Included package, customers won’t find any surprise costs on arrival.
Accommodation is spread across four villages, each with its own theme. A plethora of multi-bedroom villas makes it an ideal suggestion for larger families or multi-generational trips.
Just in case kids need any more convincing, there are Sesame Street characters wandering around putting smiles on faces and, new this year, a series of cinematic projections featuring circus acrobatics, live theatre and plenty more, from Alice in Wonderland to Jungle Book Live.
Book it: Seven nights’ Luxury Included in a Key West Luxury & Concierge Room at Beaches Turks & Caicos starts at £1,899 per person from August 29 to October 14. The price includes BA flights from Gatwick and transfers.
7 Parque Cristobal Bungalows & Siam Park, Tenerife
For an excellent-value, three-star-plus with a handy beachside location, suggest Parque Cristobal. Guests get free access to the nearby Siam Park, one of Europe’s largest waterparks, as well as a free shuttle bus over there. And the resort’s within easy reach of cafes, restaurants and shops.
Buffet meals, afternoon tea and a good range of activities are all part of the package – think beach volleyball, daily entertainment, a games arcade, pool and rifle shooting (for over-16s) – and self-contained bungalows mean it’s a wise option for clients wanting some time alone. Parents, meanwhile, can make the most of unlimited local drinks between 11am and 11pm, just in case the kids get a bit too much.
Book it: First Choice offers a week’s all-inclusive from £1,051 per adult, £636 for the first child and £450 for the second, based on two adults and two children sharing. The price is based on a July 26 departure, and includes flights from Gatwick and transfers.
8 Club Med Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Punta Cana is scattered with family-friendly five-star resorts, but for something a little different, suggest Club Med’s outpost, flanked by colourful gardens and aquamarine ocean.
Set between a 600-metre stretch of beach and a tropical coconut grove, it’s home to an on-site waterpark, a range of clubs catering for four-month-olds upwards, and a Zen Oasis area especially for adults.
But its unique element is the Creactive by Cirque du Soleil programme, where families can try their hand at circus skills and perfect their acrobatic moves among professionals.
Archery, windsurfing, sailing, tennis, golf, yoga, water polo and basketball are all included, while those willing to venture a little farther afield will find horse riding, scuba diving and fishing.
Kids under six stay free, which makes a good selling point for those hoping to go long-haul with their little ’uns.
Book it: A week’s all-inclusive starts at £1,911 for adults and £1,263 for children based on an October 21 departure, including flights from Heathrow.
9 Amada Colossos Resort, Rhodes
For family fun in the Greek sun, look to Amada Colossos Resort in Kallithea, on the scenic Dodecanese island of Rhodes. The hotel will reopen on July 1 following an extensive renovation, with dedicated family and adult-only sections for those seeking some quiet time, alongside a new ultra all-inclusive package.
Kids and kids-at-heart will find a waterpark, tennis courts, games room and plenty of entertainment areas, alongside six pools. A club for kids and teens will be added in 2018, bringing the total to three.
The resort also has a generous selection of family rooms, suites and studios available, while five restaurants mean there’s plenty to appease even the fussiest of eaters.
It all backs on to a 430-metre private sandy beach, which offers idyllic views over the Aegean.
Book it: A week’s all-inclusive at Amada Colossos Resort starts at £3,545 for two adults and two children with Thomson, including flights in early August.
10 Green Nature Resort & Spa, Turkey
If Turkey has fallen a little off the radar recently, good deals at its all-inclusives might be just the thing needed to draw holidaymakers back to its shores.
Monarch highlights the four-star Green Nature Resort & Spa in Marmaris on the Turquoise Coast of Dalaman, which sits behind a pine forest.
The resort offers various club family rooms (some with a separate living area) alongside three pools (one with a water slide), a playground, an amphitheatre for evening entertainment, a gym and a sauna. There’s a kids’ club for four to 12-year-olds and with the nearest beach only 500 metres away, it’s a wise suggestion for those after a straightforward fly-and-flop holiday.
Book it: Monarch offers seven nights’ all-inclusive from £699 per person, based on two adults and two children sharing a family club room, for departures from Luton on August 23.