Smith & KidsStylish family travel: child-friendly hotels, family holiday tips and insider guides

Surf’s up! Six of the best family hotels for surfing

Posted by Lucy Fennings on April 16th, 2014

Learn to surf | Family hotels for surfingGot kids who’d love to learn to surf? There’s a water-world of fun out there, if you know where to find it.

Hone your hang-five skills with our round-up of fantastic family hotels for surfing, from child-friendly surf schools on the coast of Cornwall to the best breaks in the Indian Ocean.

Learn to surf in Cornwall | Watergate Bay hotelWATERGATE BAY
Cornwall, UK

Set on a two-mile stretch of sandy beach, this laid-back hotel’s Extreme Academy is both for rookies looking to discover their inner surfer and seasoned adrenalin junkies seeking new thrills. Book a session in surfing alongside traction skiing, paddle-surfing and several other watersports no-one’s ever heard of. Over-8s can surf and over-12s can try some of the more racy options; parents will need to sign consent forms.

Beach fun in EssaouiraLearn to surf in EssaouiraREBALI RIADS
Essaouira, Morocco

This child-friendly boutique hotel near Essaouira makes beach-side family holidays a doddle, with spacious rooms and kitchen-equipped villas. Surfing, kiteboarding and windsurfing can all be arranged at the Sidi Kaouki surf centre (+212 (0)672 044016), a short walk from the hotel. The club house has all equipment available to rent for novices and experts alike, and a small café serving (of all things) Vietnamese food.

Learn to surf in Cornwall at St Moritz hotelST MORITZ HOTEL
Cornwall, UK

During school holidays (including half-terms), for swimmers aged 6–14, St Moritz hosts the fantastic Wavehunters Surf Academy (9.45am–12 noon; £25 a day). This local surf outfit tailors activities to the beachside bolthole’s junior guests, taking them surfing, rockpooling or to play by the water. Surf equipment is supplied; all you need to provide is swim kit and towels. Individual lessons can be arranged, too.

Learn to surf in PortugalMEMMO BALEEIRA
Sagres, Portugal

Aside from the many family-friendly beaches nearby, the biggest draw for wannabe wave-riders here is the opportunity to learn or improve your surf skills: Memmo partners the Freeride Sagres Surf School, run by a team of experienced pro surfers, and the breaks along this coastline are renowned. Book a course of lessons or just hire boards; there’s a round-trip transfer service, too.

Learn to surf in Bali at Kayumanis JimbaranKAYUMANIS JIMBARAN
Bali, Indonesia

Bali’s well-known for its super surf spots, and only 20 minutes or so down the road from this stylish all-villa resort is the Bali Learn to Surf school (+62 (0)361 761 869), which can get you and your kids up and riding in almost no time at all. Under-12s can join the two-hour grommet class for a taster. If you’re staying for a while, there’s also the opportunity to book a series of three or six classes to really hone their skills.

Surfing Laamu, Maldives best breaksSIX SENSES LAAMU
Maldives, Indian Ocean

Ready for a bigger challenge? You might think it’s madness to surf in the Maldives when there’s so much snorkelling, diving and dozing to do, but you’re in prime surfing territory: Yin Yang is the Maldives’ most famous break, and it’s just minutes from the remote Six Senses Laamu resort by speedboat. The biggest waves are from June through til September (thank you Mother Nature, for providing something great AND free during the school holidays).

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Family beach fun with SaltskinPersuading a reluctant dipper into the water is easy: transform them into a tiger, cow, ladybird or giraffe.

Saltskin co-founder Cheryl ToolanFormer international director Nick Toolan and his wife Cheryl (right) set up their fun children’s wetsuit business with friends in 2012. These days, you’re most likely to catch the Saltskin founders corralling the biggest fans of their new venture – Hal, Rafe and Eva (7, 5 and 1) – on beaches, at triathlons and in the surf, clad in bright animal-print neoprene.

They share their story, their beach-holiday tips and a handy guide to wetsuit-wearing

In the beginning…
Saltskin was born when we asked ourselves ‘Why hasn’t anyone made a tiger-print wetsuit before? Wouldn’t that be brilliant?’ So we set about making great wetsuits that were fun and that kids would really enjoy themselves in.

Any hiccups/hilarity along the way?
Yep, too many to mention and maintain any degree of integrity! Our first prototype should have been gold-plated, the amount of money it cost us – but that’s what product development is all about.

Dream family weekend?
We’d be outside enjoying great weather somewhere. There are a few places in the world where, for short periods of the year, we could be on the beach or lakeside one day, then skiing in the mountains the next. That’s what we’d do.

Essential beach kit?
We always have sun cream. Eva doesn’t care as long as there is sand to eat; and a boat of any sort is great fun.

Beach holiday fun | Saltskin foundersBest family travel tip?
A bit of food, water and sleep get you through anything – plenty of snacks and a comfy shoulder can work wonders.

How can we encourage our kids to get in the water and get active?
The fundamental is to feel relaxed and comfortable in the water – just playing and messing around in it before you get anywhere near learning to swim for real. Learning to swim then becomes much more enjoyable, which in turn allows kids to take part in so many more activities.

Tips for wannabe surfers?
Start with a board the size of a bed on a wave the height of a pillow; and watch the film Chasing Mavericks.

What’s next?
Our brand new shorty wetsuits are launching in the first week of May, in Bumble Bee, Leopard and Zebra prints.


Why do I need one?
If your child is warm, they can to stay in the water and have more fun for longer, so the whole family is happy. Wetsuits are also great for protecting children from the sun, both in and out of the water; and Saltskin suits can be seen from miles away… it’s much easier to keep an eye on a zebra and a giraffe!

How do I choose the right one?
A full-length suit will keep your kids warmer longer in the water; a shorty is easier to get on and off if you’re mucking around on the beach. For a wetsuit to do its job, it needs to fit snugly. This means it should be tight without being restrictive (it will also give a little when wet). The length of the arms and legs is less critical than the fit overall; and the fit of the suit is aided by the quality of materials used – ours are really flexible, and soft to touch.

How do you wrangle a child into a wetsuit?
It’s not difficult, but there is a knack to it… It helps if the child is not too hot and their skin is dry. Some people find popping plastic bags over the feet helps them slide through the ankle openings more easily.

Family beach holiday funGetting it on:
1 Feet and ankles through the legs first.
2 Pull it up over the knees to the waist.
3 Hands and wrists into the arms next…
4 … then up, over the shoulders and zip it up.
5 Stretch the arms up as high as they will go.
6 Now crouch down, bending the knees…
7 … the wetsuit should adapt to the form of the body.

Taking it off:
Unzip, and roll down from the top – turning the arms inside out as you do so. Do the same with the legs, and step out. Rinse in clean water, and hang it up to drip-dry out of the sun. With proper care, Saltskins will last long enough to be handed down or passed on.

Saltskin wetsuits, from £38 at, Selfridges and independent retailers. Smith members get a discount, too!

Inspired? Check out our Beach in reach collection of coastal family hotels…


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Meet Molly Gunn. Selfish Mother and socialiser. And we love her.

Posted by Juliet Kinsman on March 31st, 2014

Molly & sons at Camber SandsAfter years of cultivation, Molly thinks she might have chanced upon the ultimate freelance life (for now). Mum to two gorgeous boys Rafferty (3) and Max, aka The Fox (nine months) and lives in a rural idyll called Iden in East Sussex, a hop from Camber Sands (pictured, right). It’s bliss, but she still loves a weekly cosmopolitan London fix. 

As editor of blogzine, she’s on point with other likeminded mothers. As a lifestyle journalist of 14 years, she’s written for myriad publications including Red, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Observer, ELLE, and As co-founder of she runs an inspiring streetwear label with her husband, Tom… and now she’s our guest social editor for Smith & Family…

Dream holiday?
A week in a chic hotel with a private villa featuring endless sunshine and swimming-pool action. Long lunches of seafood, fries and rosé. Plus spa time, book-reading and beach walks. And long lunches. And did I mention long lunches?

Aromatherapy_Associates_Soothing_Face_Oil_15ml_1373617746Packing essentials?
Aromatherapy Associates Soothing Oil, lavender eye mask by Otis Batterbee, iPad stacked with films and toddler-friendly programmes, Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life biography by Justine Picardie, Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, The Staves’ Dead & Born & Grown album, Fuji instant camera, Miu Miu shades.

Top travel tip?
Never be complacent that you have ‘loads of time’. My husband and I have a history of missing planes. We once missed an internal flight in Mexico because we were having lunch… in the airport. We missed the plane by two minutes… and had to wait eight hours until the next one.

Molly and familyHoliday horror?
The time when Rafferty was a tiny baby and he had an ‘accident’ at Heathrow that rendered his entire outfit unwearable. As a newbie mother I had forgotten the cardinal travel rule of always packing spare clothes. I was mortified to take him on the plane in just a nappy, telling anyone who so much as looked at me that I didn’t usually let him out like that.

Hit-list hotels?
Martinhal Beach Resort in Portugal (pictured, below) – it has everything a parent needs for a chic but super-kid-friendly stay. Babington House in Somerset – because it’s a classic that never dates!

Tweeps! Follow Molly’s Selfish Mother adventures on @Molly_Gunn and dip into our tales of @SmithandFamily shenanigans for practical travel advice, escapism and inspiration. Or find us on Facebook.



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New to Smith & Family: hotels in Barcelona, Bali and beyond…

Posted by Lucy Fennings on March 21st, 2014

Great beach for kids in the Maldives | Constance Halaveli

What’s the one thing guaranteed to make keep your little ones happy on holiday (apart from, say, rooms that look like they were created by a Lego master builder)? A great beach. Luckily, our four newest family-friendly hotels all come with suitably sandy stretches nearby – yes, even stylish self-catering city stay DestinationBCN. Here’s our latest clutch of Smith & Family springtime hatchlings, including great-for-kids crashpads in Bali, on the Great Barrier Reef, and in the Maldives…


Luna 2 pool | Bali, Indonesia

Luna2 Studios Bali, Indonesia

Just for them Popcorn-partnered screenings; retro games to play
Just for you Underground drinking den Pop! and rooftop cocktails

Launch your Balinese beach holiday at cosmic, crazy, cool Luna2 Studios, a young-at-heart hideaway with a design theme inspired by outer space, Lego blocks, Rubik’s cubes and a Monopoly game board. Go into Orbit (literally): Luna2′s restaurant has a ‘junior gastronauts’ menu featuring prawn cocktails, garlic snails and lemon meringue pie. There’s also a special ‘in-flight’ (room service) menu designed for little ones. Check out the kitchenette in your retro-futuristic studio suite – parents will love the ‘maxibar’ (a Smeg fridge); Smith Junior (and sweet-toothed adults) will love the Chupa Chups stashed away in them. There’s a private cinema and a pool, and a dedicated Kids Co-ordinator can sort the wee ones out with swimming lessons, cookery classes and more…

More about Luna2 Studios…


Hamilton Island Yacht Club villas pool | Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia

Hamilton Island Yacht Club Villas
Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Just for them Acres to explore; activities galore
Just for you Spa Wurmurdaylin; grown-up dining

On Hamilton Island – at the southern tip of the Whitsundays – this easy-to-reach tropical idyll is perched atop the Great Barrier Reef. At the architect-designed marina resort, you’ll find slickly designed four-bedroom holiday villas with every mod con a large family could require. Kitchens are Miele-equipped; bedrooms are vast; and the views are jaw-dropping. On your doorstep, there’s a baffling menu of stuff to do – this isn’t a world-renowned yachting centre for nothing: commandeer a catamaran to explore the coastline; paddle-board off the beach; knock about in Bumperz (giant protective bubbles); loll around the private lagoon pool; take an art class; revivify in the spa; or charter a sleek sailing vessel for your own offshore adventures.

More about Hamilton Island Yacht Club Villas…


Constance Halaveli Beach Villa bathroom | Maldives

Constance Halaveli Maldives

Just for them Toddler playground; kids’ club cookery classes
Just for you Romantic over-water dining at Jing

This is the sort of tropical-island escape Smith & Family was created to champion – a blissful retreat that pampers adults, panders to kids and pleases everyone. It’s the Maldives, so you know the drill: overwater spa, perfect private beaches, adults-only ambience. But wait now: Constance Halaveli has a dreamy kids’ club, tailored PADI dive courses, sandy floors, vast villas stocked with family essentials and adorned with private plunge pools, and so much to do in the way of water sports, beaching and exploring, little legs will tire, parents will sleep deeply and you’ll all leave wanting more.

More about Constance Halaveli…


Destination BCN apartment terrace | Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona, Spain

Just for them Room to romp; their own bedrooms
Just for you Mid-century modern design details

Welcome to Barcelona, baby! These carefully curated apartment suites perched near Plaça de Catalunya feel like borrowing your coolest friend’s pad for a few days: some have balconies and rooftop-view terraces, and with the renowned food market La Boqueria a few blocks away, you can whip up fiesta-worthy family feasts in your fully equipped kitchen. There are one- and two-bed apartments; some can be combined for larger groups. Surprisingly child-friendly, Barcelona has beaches, parks and culture to keep the whole tribe happy. Seaside city break, you say? Sí!

More about DestinationBCN…

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London with kids: spa stays at the Berkeley

Posted by Madevi Dailly on March 14th, 2014

The capital’s retro lidos certainly have their charm, but we want to celebrate spring’s first rays of sunshine with something just a little bit more special. Meet The Berkeley, a spa hotel in London with a magical rooftop garden and heated pool perfect for a family splash…

The Berkeley rooftop terrace, London

Remember how easy it was to get away from it all when you were little? There was that little corner under the eaves with a stash of toys for make-believe. Or you could smuggle a plate of contraband biscuits under a blanket fort. Maybe you commandeered that top bunk, piled high with pillows and a stack of books.

Now, wouldn’t it be nice if there was somewhere just like that to retreat to when you’ve had one fraught school run too many?

Handily, we’ve found just the little hiding nook for you. Book a babysitter, slip on a fluffy bathrobe and head to the top floor of the family-friendly Berkeley hotel in Knightsbridge, where you’ll find the white-washed sanctuary of the Bamford Haybarn Spa. Don’t get too distracted by the ethereally soft cashmere casuals in the shop, or the pretty rows of candy-coloured Essie polishes in the manicure room: you’re here for some serious R ‘n’ R. Let go of those pavement-pounding, commuter-dodging stresses and tensions in the bijou hammam (20 minutes in the herb-scented steam can work wonders) then make a beeline for one of the treatment suites. We loved the geranium-scented organic oil used in the Bamford Body Signature Treatment (£150 for 85 minutes), a blend of shiatsu, Swedish massage and deeply relaxing assisted breathing. You’ll be left feeling serene and – let’s be honest – a little bit sedated: flop down by the rooftop pool (in good weather, the roof slides open) for the finest Hyde Park views the city has to offer.

The Berkeley Bamford Haybarn Spa, London

And the best bit? Hiding away at the Berkeley is not just about me-time: children are allowed during set hours every afternoon, so you can snuggle up in your robes together after a good splash in the heated pool. Order a couple of smoothies and set up camp on the outdoor cinema’s astroturf to watch a Hollywood classic – now that’s what childhood memories are made of.

Looking for a spa retreat with tots in tow? Check out our hotels with family-friendly pools or pampering spas.

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Eight great family hotels for Easter

Posted by Lucy Fennings on March 11th, 2014

Hotels for Easter: Devon family hotel Bovey CastleSunshine and a slew of spring flowers, lush green lawns and child-luring chocolate displays in the shops can only mean one thing: Easter is nearly upon us. We’ve dusted off our egg-collecting baskets and gathered up a selection of our favourite short-haul family hotels for Easter – all with availability over the long bank-holiday weekend – so you don’t have to rely on the big bunny to sort your break out. Here are eight for starters…

Hotels for Easter: Devon family hotel Bovey Castle

BOVEY CASTLE United Kingdom
What? Outdoorsy British beauty
Where? Dartmoor parkland, Devon

This is where the outdoors is truly great: Scottish-feeling Bovey Castle near Dartmoor (pictured top and right) has waxed jackets and wellies at the ready for all moorland adventures. The kids’ club is excellent, so you can cheerfully pack your Bovey Ranger off to build campfires while you linger over lunch or go for a leisurely spa treatment. There’s also ‘Nfanga – Angel Bliss for children’, designed to improve your kids’ sleep quality. And did we mention the Lego room service menu?

From £359 a room a night.
Small print Based on two adults and one child sharing a Superior Castle room; extra bed, £20 (free cots for under-4s). 

Hotels for Easter: Spain, Barcelo La BobadillaBARCELO LA BOBADILLA Spain
What? Palatial five-star finca
Where? Remote rural estate, Granada

Andalusia for Easter? Sí, por favor. Here in the hills, you can fly falcons, ride horses or quad bikes, lounge poolside or lose yourself among the olive groves. The fine-dining restaurant, La Finca, is one of Granada’s most respected, on account of Antonio Organero’s creative flair: we’re talking outstanding wine cellar, and a whole mini-menu dedicated to gazpacho soups (lobster, say, or eel and dill), alongside Andalusian and Mediterranean dishes such as tomato jelly with vegetable ragout and baby calamari. Tearaway tykes get a pool and a playground; teens even have their own bar.
From £290 a room a night.
Small print Based on two adults and one child sharing a Deluxe room; extra beds, £55 (free cots for under-4s). 

Hotels for Easter: Marrakech farm stay Fellah HotelFELLAH HOTEL Morocco
What? Artistic family farmstead
Where? Between Atlas and Marrakech

Just a 20-minute trundle to the sense-assaulting souks of the medina, Fellah Hotel in Tassoultante offers a calm countryside getaway far from the madding crowd. Muck in around the kitchen garden, dive into the pool, live life alfresco or tackle the Atlas Mountains an hour to your north: whatever you do by day, this modern-art-adorned Moorish manor guarantees your brood blissful dreams by night.
From £173 a room a night.
Small print Based on two adults and one child sharing a Superior Castle room; extra beds, £25 (free cots for under-4s). 

Hotels for Easter: family resort Asia Gardens, SpainASIA GARDENS Spain
What? Zen-fusion fun spot
Where? Sierra-side, near Alicante

When you’re looking for luxurious family-friendly resorts with gorgeous grounds, impeccable Far Eastern style and that elusive combo of superlative spa and all-day kids’ club, the Costa Blanca isn’t the first place you’d look, but (surprise!) it’s where you find Asia Gardens hotel. The grounds are a jungly labyrinth, there are pools aplenty, the playground’s pirate-themed, and there are Blue Flag beaches a short drive away.

From £338 a room a night.
Small print Based on two adults and one child sharing a Deluxe Superior room; extra beds, £80 (free cots for under-2s). 

Hotels for Easter: child-friendly L'Albereta, ItalyL’ALBERETA Italy
What? Ivy-clad villa
Where? Winery wonderland, Brescia

With soul-stirring views and lush surroundings, L’Albereta is a decidedly grown-up family escape: the spa’s superlative and the wine flows freely. Take a dip in the family-friendly pool in the Bellavista Tower or lounge by the adults-only pool in the spa area – they’re both indoors and heated. The shores of Lakes Iseo and Garda are within easy reach, for watery pleasures great and small.

From £311 a room a night.
Small print Based on two adults and one child sharing a Superior room; extra beds, £25 (free cots for under-4s).

UK hotel for Easter: The Grove, HertsTHE GROVE United Kingdom
What? Town-in-country spa retreat
Where? Well-heeled Hertfordshire estate

The Grove’s Ofsted-rated crèche, pretty walled gardens and outdoor ‘beach’ zone make it super-fun for kids; for the grown-ups, there’s an award-winning spa, a tip-top golf course and a very short drive from London. If you’re lucky enough to get a bit of the sunny stuff, this is the perfect easy-access downtime destination.

From £405 a room a night.
Small print Based on two adults and two children sharing a Deluxe Room (West Wing); extra beds, £12.50 each (cots free).

Hotels for Easter: Memmo Baleeira, AlgarveMEMMO BALEEIRA Portugal
What? White and bright boutique hotel
Where? Sunkissed Atlantic-coast Algarve

The wind’s fresh at Easter time, but the sun is bright, the sky is blue and Sagres’ south and west coasts were made for walking, biking, boat trips, beach-combing and surfing. Memmo’s clifftop location and huge windows let the light shine in: the perfect spring pick-me-up for anyone in need of a little Vitamin D. It’s great value, there are lots of family-friendly restaurants, and reasonably priced flights into Faro airport, 75 minutes’ drive away, are plentiful.

From £200 a room a night.
Small print Based on two adults and two children sharing a One-Bedroom Memmo Suite Land View (with sofa-bed).  

Hotels for Easter: Magdalen Chapter, Exeter, DevonTHE MAGDALEN CHAPTER United Kingdom
What? Chic mini city stay
Where? By cathedral and quay, Exeter

Plot up en route to Cornwall (although this is a good expedition base in its own right) and potter around Exeter’s gargoyle-garlanded cathedral (ring ahead and reserve an activity backpack, with binoculars, puppets, puzzles and books). There are beaches and forest parks within a 20-minute drive in either direction, but you may not get that far: the hotel’s Ren spa, heated pool and garden games will keep you gently entertained for a few days.

From £235 a room a night.
Small print Based on two adults and one child sharing a Feature Room; extra beds free for under-12s.

Find and book family hotels for Easter; or browse the Smith & Family hotel collection for more child-friendly boutique stays.

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Parrot Cay family-friendly hotel | Turks & Caicos

Whether you’re craving an urban adventure, a rural hideaway or some beachside bliss, the Smith & Family collection has a bolthole for you and your little Smiths. Ready to ask ‘Are we there yet?’ Our most recent child-friendly hotels include sophisticated New York city spot the Surrey, Ralph-Lauren-designed villas at Round Hill in Jamaica, Tuscan rustic retreat La Bandita and the Parrot Cay private island in Turks & Caicos. So grab your kids and caboodle and get going…


The Surrey | family-friendly hotel New York


The Surrey, New York, USA

Just for them Signature Surrey sticker books
Just for you Michelin-starred restaurant Café Boulud

Think a swanky city residence that welcomes children is a rarity? The Surrey, in Manhattan’s des-res Upper East Side district, is just that: a hotel that warmly accommodates Smiths of all ages, and where award-winning chefs happily rustle up simple dishes to please even the fussiest of eaters. The neighbourhood has an abundance of galleries and museums, many of which allow children in for free and offer workshops to keep everyone in the family interested (nearby Metropolitan Museum of Art offers a host of art classes for all ages). Make sure to borrow the Bobbin bikes during your stay to cycle to Central Park, only a stone’s throw away from the hotel.


Round Hill family-friendly resort in Jamaica


Round Hill, Jamaica

Just for them Reggae lessons at the free kids club
Just for you Jamaican coffee bean body scrub at the spa

Set on a sprawling seaside estate, Round Hill has acres of tropical gardens and palm-shaded sands to roam on. The kids club, with its activities ranging from basket-weaving to basketball, will please high-octane players and craft-lovers alike; your little Smiths can make friends with fellow guests, and the experienced club co-ordinators will make sure no one is ever bored. With everyone kept busy and happy, parents are free to book into the resort’s spa for one of the invigorating hydrotherapy treatments and some well-deserved R ‘n’ R.


La Bandita family retreat in Tuscany, Italy


La Bandita, Tuscany, Italy

Just for them Free cookery class for little chefs
Just for you In-house hammam and access to the owner’s private wine cellar

A dash of laid-back luxury makes La Bandita a welcoming home from home. Set against a backdrop of Tuscan hills, this restored rustic farmhouse has a picture-perfect infinity pool where children can while away the hours. Roll up their sleeves and let them loose in the kitchen with in-house chef Dario, who’ll have them churning out pillowy gnocchi and to-die-for pizzas in no time. La Bandita is a back-to-basics bolthole, Italian-style, with olive groves to explore and meals in famiglia as its focus. Owner John knows the area inside out, so whether you’re looking for Montevarchi’s designer outlets or Montalcino’s abbey, he can point you in the right direction.


Parrot Cay child-friendly retreat | Turks & Caicos


Parrot Cay by Como, Turks & Caicos

Just for them Private beaches and watersports galore
Just for you Holistic therapists and wellbeing specialists

The Turks & Caicos islands are a honeymooners’ paradise, with turquoise seas, white sands and a liberal dose of hedonistic luxury. There’s no reason not to enjoy these earthly delights with the whole clan in tow: hurray for Parrot Cay, where staff welcome families with open arms and have created the perfect action-packed programme to keep everyone busy. Watersports centre? Check. Tennis courts? Check. Games room? Check. Yoga classes and an Ayurvedic spa mean adults are well looked after, too. Revived and restored, spend the rest of the day with your family snorkelling for sand dollars, spying iguanas or just paddling in the bay.

Need some more ideas for the Easter holidays? Browse through Smith & Family’s entire collection of child-friendly holiday destinations.

* Copy compiled by Georgina Conroy

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Help! I need a (family) holiday…

Posted by Lucy Fennings on February 19th, 2014

Harriet Whiting | family travel tipsEven the most worldly of travel-hungry explorers has to adjust their expectations once there are kids to factor in. To a new parent, just getting to the corner shop with a baby – never mind an island in the Med – can feel like mounting a full-on expedition, requiring the same amount of prep and equipment as a sherpa-led ascent of Everest. Travel writer and Smith reviewer Harriet Whiting – now living in West London with her husband and two young sons – talks adventure travel, toddler tantrums and finding family-holiday nirvana

Costa Rica | Central America adventure travelI’d like to think I’m a traveller at heart. Those months spent chasing an epic adventure in Africa on a gap year; thrill-seeking in Asia on student holidays; touring captivating Central America with a new boyfriend; and – the ultimate year-long trip for our honeymoon – Newlyweds: the World.

But now, the kids have landed and it’s stopped me in my tracks. Despite having once negotiated my way out of a small African country when I overstayed my visa, these days, I’m more fearful of the power of a poolside toddler tantrum than any other travel disaster.

These cheesy adverts on TV aren’t helping either: I know I haven’t booked a holiday yet but please, don’t try to make me think that drinks on tap, a non-stop buffet and thronging pool is what I want – because in my sleep-deprived state, I could be tempted.

So, what’s my best option with kids in tow, masses of luggage and (usually) a pair of frazzled parents at the helm? Turning to my old friends at Mr & Mrs Smith is a good start: this time not for sigh-inducing romantic getaways, but for the helpful embrace of their child-friendly hotel collection, Smith & Family, and its team of travel-savvy experts.

‘Let’s take this in stages’, they advised.

Family-friendly Cotswolds hotel Calcot ManorWell, just a few baby steps away, it turns out, we could be in Gloucestershire at lovely Calcot Manor. This luxurious yet extraordinarily family-friendly hotel ticked a good few boxes for us. Such as: hot chocolate in the bedroom (along with kettles, bottle warmers, sterilisers and cot-by-bed sleeping arrangements). Baby monitors at reception during dinner means you don’t have to fret while you enjoy your food. By day, kids can enjoy the free crèche, leaving parents to de-stress at the spa. And there’s plenty of adventurous Cotswolds country rambling to be done on your doorstep.

With growing confidence, we learn that a small skip and jump could take us to Daios Cove in Crete. This stylish number makes family holidays fabulously easy: villas come prepared (potties, changing mats, stair gates and pool gates), and a major plus is the villas’ own private pools, which give parents a new lease of life when little ones are napping. The biggest draw? A pretty, child-friendly, sandy beach with cobalt-blue water that wouldn’t look amiss in the Caribbean. A little island roving by car, and we can find many more beautiful bays to call our own.

Crete family resort Daios Cove

What next? Well, with Smith & Family’s assurances, we could take on the world… almost. Long-haul? Why not? Now, remember when you were young and foolish and wanted to find ‘The Beach’? Well, these days, Soneva Kiri is actually what you would find on your Beach. Set on Koh Kood, on Thailand’s West coast, this is (tropical) paradise to zonked parents. Hello treehouses, luxury jungle- living and stargazing. Oh, and probably the most amazing kids’ club in the world.

So with the promise of adventure beginning to bleep on my travel radar again, we’re looking to head off for some family fun. This brood is on the move once again!

*Copy by Harriet Whiting (

For help with your family-holiday bookings – from finding the perfect baby-friendly beach hotel to booking the best kids’ clubs – visit,uk or call the experts on our family-travel team. Adventure calls!

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Want to ride camels across dashing desert terrain, lunch with Berber locals and learn how to DJ on a star-lit roof terrace – before snacking on campfire-toasted s’mores? We’ve picked our five favourite hotels for activity-filled family holidays in Moroocco, from jewel-toned Marrakech riads to chic coastal villas in Essaouira and designer stays in Ouarzazate. Truly unique hotels and a temperate climate with a mercifully short flight time, Morocco is family-holiday heaven. Here’s where to go for sun-kissed adventure…
Family-friendly hotels Essaouira | Rebali Riads
Child-friendly riads | Rebali Riads
Where? Rebali Riads, Essaouira
These boutique villas – threaded through with pacific pools and tropical gardens – sit on Essaouira’s romantically rugged coast. This affordable child-friendly retreat offers off-the-grid adventure and desert-chic design.

They’ll love: Mingling Maroc-style: children can join a local family for lunch, to learn about Berber culture (€18 a person, no English or French is spoken so parents must accompany little ones). Teens and tweens will love the world-renowned surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing by the beach – spring brings big waves and calmer winds – rent equipment from Sidi Kaouki Surf Club for €25 a day.

Parents’ pick-me up: Get serene in the hammam. There are yoga classes for karma seekers, and belly dancing for the bold (both held twice a week, €15 a person).

Moroccan family getaways | Les Jardins des Douars
Child-friendly hotels Morocco | Le Jardin des DouarsCAMEL-BACK SIGHTSEEING
Where? Le Jardin des Douars, Essaouira
This boutique hotel is a terracotta-hued hilltop hideaway with a Gallic twist, where domed family villas nestle among nodding palms and verdant gardens. This kid-friendly kasbah – 20-minute’s drive from Essaouira – offers idle sunny days for a dirham-saving sum.

They’ll love: Playing pétanque and splashing in the kids’ pool, or for fast-paced fun hop on a quad bike. Riad Kalamalak’s farm and fromagerie (, skimming stones across the nearby River Ksob and visiting Sidi M’Barek’s desert waterfalls on camelback will enchant the whole family.

Parents’ pick-me up: Book a babysitter for some spa spoiling, dip into the adults-only pool and laze in the lush gardens.

Marrakech family-friendly hotel | Fellah Hotel
Child-friendly hotels Marrakech | Fellah HotelFARM FUN AND MEDINA DAY TRIPS 

Where? Fellah Hotel, Marrakech
This eye-catching and family-friendly hotel’s rooms showcase a kaleidoscopic mishmash of Maghrebi design and Pop Art. Fellah’s housed in ochre-hued buildings in Tassoultante, with a thatch-roofed restaurant and cacti-flanked pool.

They’ll love: Fellah spoils kids with a farm, treehouse and DJ decks on site. A kids’ club runs 15–23 February and 5–28 April; 4–11 year olds help on the farm, take art and yoga classes, bake Moroccan pastries and play mini-golf; over-12s learn scriptwriting and boxing, and make beauty products. In the evenings campfires are lit and s’mores are feasted on.

Parents’ pick-me up:
Muse over Fellah’s brilliantly bonkers art installations, or mellow out in the Wat Po Spa.

Family-friendly hotel Marrakech | Jnane Tamsna
Family-friendly hotels Marrakech | Jnane TamsnaPICK UP A PARTY TRICK
Where? Jnane Tamsna, Marrakech
This family-friendly riad is in the Palmeraie, 10-minute’s drive from Marrakech. Ogee arches and spice-hued walls enliven interiors, while palm-dotted grounds, five swimming pools and a spa help you to unwind.

They’ll love: Getting tricky, with on-site magic lessons. Off site, Ludiparc, Marrakech (+212 (0)524 336 124) – a 20-minute drive away from the hotel – has bouncy castles, pony rides, mini-golf and quad biking; a day’s entertainment for just €2.40. Perk up playtime with some pottery making at Arterre: Ateliers d’Art, Ceramique et Creation (+212 (0)15 644 274), or ride a donkey-driven cart through central Marrakech.

Parents’ pick-me up: While the kids learn tricks, conjure up a mouth-watering dish in a cookery class, or pep up your penmanship at a calligraphy workshop.


Child-friendly kasbah | Dar Ahlam
Family-friendly hotel | Dar AhlamFEEL LIKE A FILM STAR
Where? Dar Ahlam, Ouarzazate
Designed by a French party planner, this is a kasbah with added ooh la la. This family-friendly hotel’s name means ‘house of dreams’ – an apt moniker: its glorious greenery and impeccable interiors are food for sybaritic slumbers.

They’ll love: Historic movie magic: in a photogenic patch of desert, you’ll come across the Colosseum, abandoned forts and a posse of sphinxes; it’s not an erroneous archaeology dig, but Atlas Corporation Studios (+212 (0)524 882 223), the go-to destination for all desert-set epics. Cleopatra, Lawrence of Arabia and Kingdom of Heaven were filmed here, and the tour is a treat for fans and newbies alike.

Parents’ pick-me up: Babysitting is included in your room rate (must be booked in advance), so you can luxuriate in the hammam and tuck in to Pierre Hermé’s pâtisserie without the pitter patter of tiny feet.

Now’s a great time to go: our fellow travel obsessives British Airways are offering one-way flights to Marrakech for a mere £49 – so it’s the perfect time to rock up to a city-centre riad or tour with your family troupe. You’ll fly into Marrakech Menara Airport; the city is a three-hour drive from Ouarzazate and a two-hour drive from Essaouira, so you could easily combine a few of our favourite stays.

If we’ve tempted you to take a family holiday in Morocco this spring, take a look at our selection of luxurious child-friendly hotels and riads…

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Parent Panel #4: Andrew Diprose visits La Villa, Corsica

Posted by Juliet Kinsman on January 22nd, 2014

Contemporary design and toddlers aren’t the obvious holiday combination – clean-lined minimalist interiors can all-too-easily become a canvas for compositions in Crayola and crushed banana, right? After asking the delightful designer and dad, Andrew Diprose (art director of Wired and The Ride Journal, to decamp his brood (including daughter Bella, three) to head to Corsica to test out the family-friendly credentials of super slick shore-side stay La Villa we bugged him for every little detail…

la villa

‘La Villa feels immediately exclusive and secluded’, Andrew tells us. ‘Situated at the top of town and up the steepest of hills, it feels nicely distanced from the hustle and bustle of Calvi port.’ A grand old peach-hued house with modern and minimalist interiors set in the lush undulating Balagne hills that cradle the town of Calvi, it also overlooks the deep-blue Med. ‘The gardens are beautifully manicured and though it’s able to take around a hundred guests, and due to the size of the estate it feels incredibly quiet and peaceful. The fine topiary and landscaping makes the transitions from restaurants and reception to your Villa a pleasure.’

la villa1

A short trip downhill from the hotel is its private beach: ‘Spots can be reserved for you in advance, each separated by wind barriers which gives a very exclusive feel’. And if you’re feeling lazy, don’t fear, there’s a regular transfer service available all day to help get you back up that slope.

Bella and the sand car

Although you might want to work up an appetite: the island’s terroir cuisine and perfect produce is reason alone to visit Corsica, and right here is where it really sings. Michelin-starred La Table de Bastien is the hotel’s own eatery and one of Corsica’s finest eateries. Since there is no kids’ menu, and a babysitting service on standby, you have no excuse to skip a date-night dinner and drinks. ‘The atmosphere down at the pool bar is wealthy but unpretentious,’ observes Andrew. ‘And the views of Calvi’s walled old town at sunset from the terrace are pure romance – especially with a chilled glass of something bubbly.’ Parfait.

For meals as a family these Smiths especially enjoyed dining together at the affordable, family-friendly La Terrasse overlooking the night lights of the town. The restaurant’s maître d’ Dominic stole the heart of young Bella who, a week after returning home still mentioned her ‘friend Dominic’! La Terrasse caters for mature and mini palates. ‘While Bella tucked into chicken nuggets and green beans, I had the most delicious steak tartare I think I’ve ever eaten.’

Chic: Andrew reckons that is the only word to describe La Villa. ‘It is filled with a refined, quiet quality.’ Managing that delicate balance of delivering style for parents and space for kids, La Villa allows everyone the most comfort possible, whether they’re an adult aesthete or intrepid toddler.

la villa corsica

Thanks to Sofia Fernandez Vyas for compiling this post.

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