Which hotels go the extra mile for the youngest travellers? Meera Dattani finds out

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There was a time when a kids’ club, children’s menus, interconnecting rooms and a babysitting service ticked the box for family-friendly, but it’s a different story now.

With holidaymakers seeking more experiential holidays, families are also among those seeking stand-out experiences.

Greece and Cyprus have long been favourites for family holidays, providing both good value and extended summers. From swim-up family suites, and on-site water parks to eco-awareness activities and teen spa menus, we pick 10 hotels that have stepped up to the challenge.

1 Marbella Beach, Corfu, Greece

On Corfu’s southeastern coast, five-star Marbella Beach Hotel has benefited from a hotel-wide revamp. Its 10 luxury two-bed family suites, 25 family rooms and 20 interconnecting rooms, some with gardens, are mostly located by the pool or the new Meli Crèche Club (four months to four years) and Meli Kids’ Club for four to 12-year-olds, Corfu’s first kids’ club run by the renowned Worldwide Kids Company with staff trained to Ofsted standards.

Tots benefit from sensory and motor skill activities while archery, tennis, volleyball and day trips keep older children happy. Booking is recommended due to strict carer to child ratios. A new tunnel provides easier beach access and the Poseidonia Dive Centre offers eco-friendly kids’ activities such as underwater cleanings.


2 Marmari Palace Imperial, Kos, Greece

From summer 2014, the four-star Marmari Palace Imperial will join First Choice’s 12 exclusive beachfront Club Magic Life resorts, which take all-inclusive a step further.

An extensive programme of activities includes everything from a windsurf station and canoeing to shuffleboard and mountain biking, plus entertainment including live music and parties. The ‘Magic Family’ product includes four kids’ clubs – Magic Mini Club (one-three years), Magic Mungo Club (three-six years), Magic Kids’ Club (six-12 years) and Teens’ Club (13-16 years) with special events such as the Mungo Olympiad, Kids’ Western Night and Teens Chillout & Relax. The resort also has five pools and a safe, flat, sandy beach.


3 Aldemar Olympian Village, Olympia, Greece

The Royal Olympian Spa at the five-star Aldemar Olympian Village is launching a Family programme for 2014 with massage for babies and children that improve circulation to promote deeper breathing and sounder sleeping, and mother-daughter (over-16s) pampering treatments.

The resort offers family suites, bungalows and apartments, plus children’s pools where kids can learn to swim with experienced trainers, supervised kids’ activities, children’s restaurants and a Playmobil corner and mini buffet. There’s a beach too and easy cycling routes. Thomson’s new weekly flights from Gatwick to Patra’s Araxos airport in May also make it easier to explore this west Peloponnese region.


4 westin resort costa Navarino, Messinia, Greece

Located in the southwest Peloponnese, Costa Navarino has two children’s hubs run by the Worldwide Kids Company. Creative and imaginative play is the focus of the Cocoon crèche for four month to three-year-olds while at the SandCastle hub, kids aged four to 12 are split into age groups for sports and activities.

Next door is the aqua park and indoor sports centre while at Navarino Dunes, children can learn watersports or take lessons at the Golf Academy or Navarino Racquet Academy. Navarino Outdoors encourages exploration of the countryside via its interactive Navarino Natura Hall.


5 Sani Resort, Halkidiki, Greece

Swimming lessons for babies, a football academy and Teen Spa menus are some of Sani Resort’s USPs. Kids can join two-hour football camps at the new Worldwide Kids Company Football Academy for five to 14-year-olds, learn to cycle, play tennis, join birdwatching tours or go on farm visits.

The four hotels include the more wallet-friendly Sani Beach Hotel and Sani Beach Club, Porto Sani Village, which is recommended if you have a pushchair, and the luxury Sani Asterias Suites. All offer kids’ clubs and a ‘babe watch’ beach service so parents can go for a swim while kids are watched.


6 Louis Creta Princess, Chania, Crete

Following refurbishment this year, a new water park is the highlight of the four-star beachfront Louis Creta Princess by Maleme Bay, near Platanias resort.

Five new slides include a speed slide, four-lane multi-slide and float slide, a second jungle-themed children’s pool offers gentler fun for under-12s and new water features have been added to the toddlers’ pool. Other features include a playground with pirate ship, renovated garden rooms, four-bed family rooms and gardens. An upgraded Santelino kids’ club offers a varied programme. There’s a Santelino Yummy Corner for kids at the buffet and children will love outdoor dining at the Pizzeria.


7 Atlantica Paphian Sun, Paphos, Cyprus

From summer 2014, the four-star Atlantica Paphian Sun joins Thomson’s Family Resorts. With children’s buffets and family rooms as standard, there’s a miniature pool for little guests and a playground. Next year will see refurbished rooms that include swim-up family suites, and free Wi-Fi zones.

As a Family Resort, it will include Thomson Family Resort entertainment programme, Thomson Kids’ Club, drop-in Kids’ Club and Thomson crèche for babies to three-year-olds. Kids will also enjoy visits from Thomson the Dog and Toddler Time sessions for parents and children. The resort also offers tennis, volleyball and other sports, and a huge swimming pool winds its way through the resort.


8 Anassa, Paphos, Cyprus

Among the innovative concepts at the luxury Anassa hotel is their Baby Go Lightly programme where parents can pre-order items from car seats to potties instead of packing them.

The Globetrotters Club for four-month-olds to under-threes offers complimentary nappies, freshly- made purees and a sleep room. The new-look Explorers kids’ club, splits kids by age into Adventurers, Voyagers and Pioneers. For teens, ‘Escape’ is an urban hang-out with pool table, Nintendo Wii and chill-out areas with a tailormade activity programme. Clients can also book tennis, scuba-diving and waterskiing lessons for children.


9 Louis Phaethon Beach, Paphos, Cyprus

The highlight of this renovated all-inclusive beachfront hotel is its extensive on-site water park with six water slides, two adventure playgrounds, pirate ship, a renovated pool with water games, new pool with Jacuzzi, plus an indoor heated pool.

The resort also has a Family World Centre, which offers all sorts of useful facilities free of charge, such as pushchairs and sterilising equipment as well as the Santelino children’s club and a creche. An animation team offers all-day entertainment from shows and disco to activities such as beach volleyball, tennis and dance lessons. Other extras include free bike hire, Santelino Yummy Corner kids’ buffet and babysitting.


10 Olympic Lagoon Resort, Ayia Napa, Cyprus

In the Nissi Bay area, away from Ayia Napa’s busy centre, this resort from Kanika Hotels has been massively revamped and upgraded, with a new focus on the family market.

Handily located on Landa Golden Beach, it offers a crèche for tots up to three and an innovative Little Monsters Kids’ Club for three to 12-year-olds with activities such as scavenger hunts, creative ‘messy playtime’ and pyjama parties. Additionally, the Teenz Club for eight to 17-year-olds has a high-tech arcade, internet cafe and a ‘cool club’ with a big screen and hang-out areas. There are seven pools including a kids’ splash pool with pirate boat and water slides, kids’ disco, and supervised early dining parties.