Original Travel has teamed up with the much loved children’s party people Sharky & George to inject some (much needed) creativity and fun into the family holiday process.
Couples and clubbers might heed the siren call of Greece’s many beautiful islands, but for family holidays the best bet by far is to stay on the mainland and make for those dramatically different peninsulas, Halkidiki and the Peloponnese.
FAMILY HOLIDAYS IN GREECE
Located on the Greek mainland in the northern Aegean, Halkidiki is instantly recognisable on a map by the trident-like peninsulas that jut into the sea. The westernmost of these is called the Kassandra Peninsula, and it's here that families will find a self-contained world that has everything they could possibly require from a family beach holiday and plenty more besides.
Welcome to the Sani Resort, set on a 1,000-acre private estate with pine forests, a private marina, three miles of shallow-watered sandy beaches, four hotels, a spa, swimming pools, two watersports centres, a diving centre with PADI instructors, a mountain-biking centre, eight tennis courts (some floodlit and with professional coaching available), 16 restaurants from tavernas to cafes and an open-air cinema.
Each hotel has an entertainment team that organises a huge range of sports and other activities - everything from archery and beach volleyball to waterskiing, windsurfing, sailing and pedaloes. Parents need not feel neglected - they can enjoy spa treatments or relax on the beach and enjoy the beach bar service while kids gaze across the Gulf of Salonica to distant Mount Olympus for inspiration before attempting that most traditional of Olympic events - the banana boat. Excursions to Mount Athos or traditional markets and villages can also be arranged.
PELOPONNESE FAMILY HOLIDAYS
Pretty impressive, no? But now Halkidiki (and Sardinia's Costa Smeralda) has serious competition for the European family holiday crown from another part of Greece. Enter the Peloponnese, the mystical and completely beautiful peninsula to the west of Athens.
Until recently this was somewhere best suited to intrepid couples willing to put up with long drives, but two recent developments mean that this is now a complete winner for famiy holidays too.
The first development - quite literally - was that of the Costa Navarino dunes area in the southern corner of the Peloponnese, comprising a mere 1,340 hectares of staggeringly beautiful coastline and olive grove covered hills overlooking a vast white sand beach and glittering Ionian Sea.
Westin Resort and Romanos are the first two hotels to open and the Westin, with its rooms and suites designed to resemble the mansions of wealthy Messinian merchants has all the makings of a fledgling family holiday classic.
It has everything the discerning family could wish for on a holiday, from kids clubs and nursery to a sports centre, an aquapark and restaurants specialising in kids favourites. It's all right here.
Best of all is development number two - there are direct flights into Kalamata Airport, just 25 miles from this previously hard to reach corner of paradise. We confidently predict this is going to be a hugely successful newcomer in the family summer holiday market.