Choosing where to stay is almost as important as choosing where to go, if not more so. A good place to stay can be the difference between securing the holy grail of luxury family travel, and being in the dog house for booking a hotel which calls a square foot of grass a kid's club. Perhaps our mini portfolio of Best Family Hotels might keep the holiday planning stresses at bay.
Carlisle Bay, Antigua
Antigua's Carlisle Bay ticks all the boxes for a luxury Caribbean getaway with white sandy beaches, tropical foliage, turquoise waters, excellent restaurants, water sports galore and spa treatments a plenty. Cool by name, cool by nature, the Cool Kids Club has got all bases covered when it comes to your little ones with a 'jungle gym', sandpit, paddling pool and activities such as lizard hunting. Seven to twelve year olds can spend their days building rafts and zip wiring, whilst brooding teens can just 'hang' in their very own common room playing table tennis and computer games, and when they fancy a spot of daylight the Carlisle Bay team will entice them with wakeboarding lessons and beach barbeques.
Costa Navarino, Greece
The Westin Costa Navarino is leading the ranks of great places to stay in Europe with your family. The Peloponnese region of Greece and particularly its Costa Navarino area offer a picture perfect coastline, whose stated aim is to rival the Costa Smeralda region of Sardinia. Whilst mum and dad enjoy a spot of pampering, youngsters can be kept entertained all day. The Cocoon nursery caters for tots and toddlers through a range of stimulating programmes from clay sculpting to musical games, while SandCastle is a proper heaven for four to twelve year olds, with workshops based in the beautifully designed wooden buildings and 'theatre' courtyard. There is also badminton, bowling, basketball, tennis, table tennis and golf available, including tuition, at the Sports Centre, and an aquapark complete with slides, so in essence - who needs Disney Land?
Martinhal Beach Resort, Portugal
The Algarve is a quick win for a short haul, guaranteed-sunshine summer holiday. One of our favourite family-friendly luxury hotels, Martinhal, has activities galore for children of all ages, from surf lessons to biking trips, and cookery classes to t-shirt painting. Teenagers can enjoy diving experiences and mocktail making contests, as well as attack of the acne facials in the spa, or a massage should they find their holiday particularly strenuous. The Spa also offers classes where parents can learn baby massage techniques! So whether you have the tiddlers or tweens and teens in toe, this family-friendly resort literally has something for all ages.
Six Senses Zighy Bay, Oman
Six Senses Zighy Bay is wonderfully equipped for a great family holiday. Entertain your inner child with all kinds of water sports, mountain biking and paragliding, whilst the kids are beyond occupied with an activity agenda the size of the Great Wall of China. Chaica's club for the younger bunch offers anything from mix and match juice time to feeding Zighy's goats, cookie, cupcake and pizza-making to alien scavenger hunts. Al Feetan's Teen club will not only keep your older ones amused with beach sports and rock climbing (to name but a few), but will also educate them through photography classes and survival skills. I'm also rather fond of little touches such as their al fresco cinema for the whole family to snuggle up in, under the stars with a choice of not one but five flavours of popcorn!
Ant's Nest, South Africa
Whether you came up trumps with a first class family holiday last year, or you need to rectify the rainy/caravan faux pas of summers past, Ant's Nest will keep you in good stead for parents of the year! South Africa is Malaria-free so that's the first hurdle well and truly knocked over. As their mantra is one of flexibility, you can wake up and game drive as and when you like, dine together or separately whilst the youngsters enjoy private picnics, and children can also join you on all game viewing activities. However they may also enjoy the specialised kids 'bug' and 'spoor' walks. Horse riding is a popular activity at Ant's Nest, and there are ponies for the little ones who don't want to miss out on the action.
One & Only Le St Geran, Mauritius
Mauritius is your picture perfect paradise destination with white sandy beaches and turquoise waters, and what One & Only Le St Geran has done is make this country ideal for family holidays. Their KidsOnly club is what it says on the tin, totally and utterly centred around kids and kids only. Not only is it designed like a huge pirate ship with portholes and all, but programmes have been artfully created around discovery, education, local culture, nature, sports, and arts & crafts for three to eleven year olds (younger ones also welcome - with supervision - and there's a Toddler area with sandpit). Apres the holiday of a lifetime your little monsters may be master chefs in the making from their cookery classes or green fingered garden experts from time spent in the Kid's herb garden - resourceful.
Ranch at Rock Creek, USA
If there was ever a place that made you want to time hop to childhood - Ranch at Rock Creek would be it. Yes there is plenty for all the family from exploring the great American outback to relaxing in the Spa, but the Little Grizzlies Kids Club steals the show. Your little ones will spend their days collecting tadpoles on the banks of Rock Creek, playing cowboy in the great outdoors, learning about horse care and all things nature really. If your kids happen to be 'late nest leaver' types there is plenty to keep them occupied, or to bring you all together for some good old fashioned family bonding, such as riding, fly fishing, shooting, archery, mountain biking, hiking, paintball, and pretty amazing food.
Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru, Maldives
The Maldives is an attractive destination for honeymooners and families alike, and the key to a harmonious existence is just not to invade each other's space. Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru's Kuda Velaa Kid's Club allows youngsters the freedom to enjoy their own Maldivian paradise without slushy romancers. The careful curation of activities includes nature walks, sandcastle building, beach games, lizard safari, hermit crab hunt and palm tree picnics. Water babies can enjoy swimming, snorkelling, sailing and kayaking, whilst your child's inner Dali Lama may fancy a spot of kid's yoga. And for those who have a yearning for learning they can learn how to make their own pizza or, wait for it, do Dhivehi language practice.
Rosewood Mayakoba, Mexico
Mexico's Rosewood Mayakoba is hands down one of the best resorts for families of all ages who want to share quality time together but also take some time for a spot of R&R. Rose Buds - the kids club has all the ingredients for an unforgettable experience. Whilst mum and dad lounge by the beach side infinity pool or enjoy tequila tasting sessions with an expert resident tequilier (yes, it is a real job), el ninos will be going on scavenger hunts or Eco tours accompanied by a biologist. In the evenings, don't be offended if they would rather return to Rose Buds for themed nights such as Mexican Night, Pirate Night, Pajama Party and Mayan Celebration. Rosewood also goes an extra step to offer additional amenities such as bottle warmers, baby monitors, baby bath tubs and skincare products. Children can also cosy up in their own dressing gowns and slippers.
Forte Village, Italy
Forte Village in Sardinia is undoubtedly geared towards families, and aspiring football legends, with its excellent 'Five Star Sport Academy by Forte Village' with Chelsea FC Soccer School for kids from five to sixteen years old who train with coaches from the Chelsea team. With more facilities than any other hotel on the planet boredom is banished. Aside from football, a full-on go-kart track, tennis, ice-skating rink, ten-pin bowling and many many more options, there is a spa which mum and daughter can relax in with a mani pedi and special Barbie spa treatments. Gender stereotyping aside, when the sounds of 'I'm hungry' beckon, the resort's restaurants serve everything from Brazilian to Japanese fare, and there is a simple dedicated kid's pizzeria, which understandably is most popular.