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

Hotels with baby-listening: UK stays where you don’t need a sitter

Posted by Matt Farquharson on July 23rd, 2015

Hotels with baby-listening let grown-ups roam free while staff keep an ear on the little Smiths. To take full advantage, you’ll want some parent-pleasing evening entertainment…

Luxury family holiday, baby-listening, The Ickworth, Fairy garden,

The Ickworth Hotel, Suffolk

For them
This 1,800-acre country estate includes a pretty, walled fairy garden (fairy sightings not guaranteed) with a large lawn and preschool-perfect climbing frame, so little Smiths should sleep well come the evening.

For you

Fine-dining Fredrick’s is an adults-only restaurant with two intimate rooms, decorated with striking Plisnier canvases and original fireplaces. If the free baby-listening service picks up a peep from your room, staff will let you know.

 

Luxury family holiday, baby listening, Bovey Castle

Bovey Castle, Devon

For them
At this grand country pile in the heart of Dartmoor, your little Smiths can make (much less grand) piles of their own, with the lego room service. Call reception, and a bucket of Denmark’s finest will be sent to your room before you can say ‘I need a square one’.

For you
Let staff know where you’ll be and head to the Great Western Restaurant to dine on fresh-from-the-moors game while they listen in on your happily sleeping offspring. It’s a grand room, full of chandeliers and chinoiserie, and if you’re there on a Sunday, it does a legendary, family-friendly lunch too.

 

luxury family holiday, baby listening, Calcot Manor

Calcot Manor, Cotswolds

For them
It is hard to picture a place better-suited to kids than Calcot Manor. The Playzone is a giant, Ofsted-accredited nursery in a barn, with supervised play, puzzles, arts and crafts. Family Suites have separate kids’ bedrooms strewn with teddies and toys.

For you

The award-winning Calcot Spa has seven rooms, a sauna, steam room and relaxation area, with treatments available until 9pm. Take advantage of the free baby-listening and get your nippers down early so you can slip off for some pampering.

 

Luxury family holiday, baby listening, Idle Rocks

The Idle Rocks, Cornwall

For them
The rugged beach a few steps beyond the hotel doors is perfect for crabbing, with rock pools revealed at low tide. There’s also a sandy stretch for paddling or taking a dip, and you can rent kayaks to meander up nearby rivers with older kids.

For you

Cornish crab and crispy breaded oysters feature prominently at the restaurant, alongside squid ink farfalle and salt-baked celeriac. Get the little Smiths down early (easy, given all that sea air), and keep an eye on them on your iPhone via a camera that staff can set up in your room. Then take a seat on the terrace as the sun sets.

For more luxury family holidays where childcare doesn’t break the bank, try these boutique hotels with free baby-listening.



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Best family holiday villas

Posted by Team Smith on July 22nd, 2015

From beachside bungalows in Bali to converted Tuscan olive presses, we’ve rounded up some of the best family villas and cottages for big brood breaks. Whether you’re an eleventh hour summer planner or an early half-term schemer, have a look and start daydreaming about private pools, cosy cottages, and al fresco dining for your next luxury family holiday. 

Best family villas: Tuscany's Monteverdi

VILLA SAN PIETRO | TUSCANY, ITALY
Style Wood-beamed and whitewashed
Setting The sprawling Monteverdi estate

Best for… school holidays and breaks with your teens; Villa San Pietro has two bedrooms with king-size beds (one upstairs and one down), giving you all plenty of space to do your own thing. Oenophiles will love the private wine cellar.
Star attractions Borrow bikes and cycling gear, arrange a private cookery class with Monteverdi’s head chef Paolo and explore Tuscany’s best bits, which are within easy reach.
Packing tips Don’t forget your swimsuits: the villa’s lavender-surrounded infinity pool overlooks the verdant Val d’Orcia. Bring your hiking shoes and sketchpads for the trails around Monteverdi (chat with the resident artist for inspiration).

Best family villas: Australia's Hamilton Island Yacht Club Villas

HAMILTON ISLAND YACHT CLUB VILLAS | GREAT BARRIER REEF, AUSTRALIA
Style Bright by the sea
Setting Island for aspiring Attenboroughs

Best for… multi-family holidays; the beds in these four-bedroom villas can be set up to suit your group. Spacious living areas, large kitchens and sea-facing furnished balconies give big broods more than enough room.
Star attractions Adventures await (think kayaking, windsurfing, snorkelling and deep water turtle-spotting), but the white-sand beach, trio of pools, and Spa Wurmurdaylin will beckon to relaxation seekers.
Packing tips Bring Mr Smith’s lucky apron for manning the barbie (ask your personal concierge where to find fresh fish and other grilling goodies), a floppy hat for Mrs Smith’s sunning, and little Smith water-wings for swimming in the seaside lagoon-style pool.

Best family villas: Greece's Amirandes hotel

AMIRANDES ROYAL RESIDENCE | CRETE, GREECE
Style Beachfront Aegean classic
Setting Seaside seclusion within a resort

Best for… families of five with kids of all ages, or holidays with GrandSmiths; the Royal Residence is split into two distinct areas, each with a master bedroom, and two cots are provided for little Smiths.
Star attractions There’s an Ayurvedic spa and pool-hopping options, but the lure of the blue and white seaside will likely keep everyone occupied. For a dinner à deux, head to Lago di Candia, the most romantic of the resort’s restaurants.
Packing tips Bring the swimsuits; Amirandes has three pools to choose from, including a stunning infinity pool and a behemoth of an Olympic pool, in addition to your two private villa pools. Swimming lessons can be arranged for aspiring little Mer-people.

Best family villas: Tuscany's Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco Villa Alba

VILLA ALBA | TUSCANY, ITALY
Style Stacked stone former farmhouse
Setting Castiglion del Bosco hilltop

Best for… a family of four to five, Villa Alba has one king room and one twin room, which can fit an additional bed. A separate guest house can accommodate two guests (perfect for traveling with GrandSmiths).
Star attractions Chef-led Tuscan cooking classes are held in the Borgo and the estate regularly hosts wine-making and wine-tasting seminars. To sample home-grown produce not derived from grapes, visit a local apiary, olive mill or farm.
Packing tips Bring your swimsuits; Villa Alba’s lavender-filled garden has a private heated pool. Pack outdoorsy gear too; the estate is in a sprawling Unesco-protected park, crisscrossed with hiking and cycling trails (borrow the bikes).

Best family villas: Morocco's Rebali Riads

DAR JESELIESSAOUIRA, MOROCCO
Style Beachfront Berber-style retreat
Setting Sand-side Rebali Riads

Best for… families with older children; With two bedrooms, a sitting room, open plan kitchen, and private pool, Dar Jeseli can comfortably fit a family of four or five.
Star attractions Lounging in your private pool, rejuvenating in the hotel’s hammam, and taking a break from the sun to indulge in afternoon mint tea and Moroccan pastries. After sunset, take the provided star map and head to the roof terrace for family stargazing.
Packing tips Rest and relaxation are encouraged, so pack your holiday reads with your flowing tunics and camel-riding best. Bring the swimsuits; the hotel has two communal pools and the beach is steps from the front door.

Best family villas: Tuscany's Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco

VILLA SANT’ANNA | TUSCANY, ITALY
Style Stacked stone Tuscan classic
Setting Ridge above the Castiglion del Bosco vineyards

Best for… multi-family holidays; Villa Sant’Anna has six bedrooms and space for additional beds. The spacious communal areas and garden with private pool provide more than enough room for large groups.
Star attractions Spend the day in your private pool-with-a-view, then make pizzas in the villa’s 17th-century outdoor wood-fired oven. The estate’s winery hosts making and tasting seminars; after setting up the little Smiths in the villa’s home theatre, grownups can take newfound-favourite local wines to the pool house terrace and continue the evening.
Packing tips Bring swimsuits and summer picnic attire, but pack outdoorsy gear for nearby horseback riding and hiking trails of the surrounding Unesco-protected park.

Best family villas: Thailand's Anantara Phuket villas

ANANTARA PHUKET TWO BEDROOM POOL RESIDENCE | PHUKET, THAILAND
Style Refined rainforest retreat
Setting Above Mai Khao Beach

Best for… families of six with kids of all ages. The master bedroom has a king-size bed and kitted-out ensuite and the second twin bedroom is on the opposite side of the villa. The living area’s sliding glass doors open to the villa’s private pool, which has a wading section at one end.
Star attractions Learn Thai cooking techniques and test-drive them in your villa, walk down to the beach for surfing lessons with your teen or lounge by the hotel’s vast infinity edged pool.
Packing tips A good book to read while the kiddos splash about in the wading pool and lots of sun protection; the Thai sun is fierce.

Best family villas: Bali's Karma Kandara

KARMA KANDARA POOL VILLA | BALI, INDONESIA
Style Supersized Balinese treehouse
Setting Overlooking Indian Ocean

Best for… newly minted families of three. With a king-size bed, open plan living area, private pool and outdoor terrace, the One-Bedroom Pool Villa is a roomy retreat for that belated babymoon.
Star attractions Indulging in the view and luxurious treatments at Karma Spa, snorkelling in the clear blue ocean, and celebrating with dinner at one of the perimeter tables of restaurant Di Mare.
Packing tips Prioritise the swimsuits; you will most likely spend days rotating between your private villa pool, the main two-level infinity pool, and the beach. Bring a waterproof camera for kayaking and snorkeling adventures.

Best family villas: Spain's Sa Rota Den Palerm

SA ROTA D’EN PALERM APARTMENT | MALLORCA, SPAIN
Style Family-run retreat
Setting Heart of the island

Best for… low-key family time for four; the apartment has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a terrace overlooking the Mallorcan countryside.
Star attractions Spend time in the pool or exploring the grounds, breakfast like champions on homemade jams and breads and gain a sense of traditional Mallorcan rural life by visiting the village of Sant Joan and Els Calderers, a working manor with stables, farm animals, bakery, and smithy stocked with historic tools.
Packing tips Take sturdy shoes for cycling through the countryside. Remember to bring your swimsuits; the hotel has a pool-with-a-view and several beaches are a short drive away.

Best family villas: Greece's Paradise Island Villas

PARADISE ISLAND VILLAS | CRETE, GREECE
Style Secluded villas
Setting Cretan paradise found

Best for… families with teens. The Executive Villa’s master suite has king-size bed and a balcony overlooking the sea; the junior bedroom has two twin beds. There’s a fireplace in the living room and the sea-view garden has a dining area and private pool surrounded by sunloungers and parasols.
Star attractions Spend days in and around the pool, and book into the spa for a relaxed tete-a-tete with your teen. Make a family meal together in your villa, or enjoy the Mediterranean cuisine at Ambrosia.
Packing tips Bring books and swimsuits for lounging in and around the pool. Pack your tennis shoes and whites to take advantage of the courts.

Best family villas: Marbella's Puente Romano Beach Resort

VILLA MARGARITA | MARBELLA, SPAIN
Style Whitewashed Andalusian serenity
Setting Seaside at Puente Romano Beach Resort

Best for… extended family gatherings or multi-family holidays, the three bedroom Villa Margarita has a large living area and kitchen for family chatting and snacking. Outside, there’s a seating area around your heated private pool.
Star attractions Walk to the beach, enjoy barbecues in your private garden and have dinner at beach-side restaurant Del Mar.
Packing tips Bring the family swim gear; the resort is steps from the beach and has three communal pools. Bring something outdoorsy to hit up the nearby equestrian centre and pack your tennis whites; the courts are right next to the villa.

 

Have we awoken your interest in luxurious self-catering stays? Check out our full collection of Family Villas and Cottages for more holiday inspiration. 

 

Copy by Lauren Coffey.



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Eco-friendly family breaks at rugged and remote Nihiwatu, on lesser-explored Sumba island in Indonesia, tend towards the swashbuckling, ripped-from-a-storybook kind.

This environmentally conscious resort has soaring break waves to surf, horse rides on the beach and hidden waterfalls to swim in, among other wonderfully wild kids activities. Don’t worry mums and dads: this island stay’s pretty palapa-thatched villas each have a private plunge pool to relax in after a day spent exploring.

Eco-friendly family travel | Nihiwatu resort's private pool villa

Nihiwatu’s unique unplugged experiences will set your little monkeys chattering excitedly. For juniors, tweens and teens (baby essentials are scarce here, and most activities are for over-3s), the eco-resort is an unfettered, unspoilt playground with plentiful Goonies-esque shenanigans to be found on and off site (Truffle Shuffle optional).

You’ll want to cash in Nihiwatu’s gobsmackingly great Smith extra as soon as you’ve checked in: a family outing in an open-top jeep through lush Wanukaka Valley to Lapopu Waterfalls (below) – the sort of idyllic jungle setting that pops up in sun cream adverts. Frolic in the lagoon and sunbathe on pandanus-tree-shaded rocks before cracking open a small family picnic rustled up by the hotel.

Eco-friendly family travel | Nihiwatu's super Smith Extra: a family trip to Lapopu Waterfalls

It’s hard to top such a spectacular trip, but expert surfers wax lyrical about the exhilarating break waves crashing onto the resort’s private beach. Confident over-8s can take lessons, but book in advance if you want to tackle high rollers: only 10 sessions are open each day. Fledgling swimmers may find the sea a bit choppy; instead, peer into critter-filled rock pools, or hop into the saddle for a breath-taking horse ride from bush to beach (for over-5s). A resident horse whisperer will happily instruct in-the-know equestrians.

From April to October bales of baby leatherback turtles are hatched on site, and nearby Tranquility Beach is a treasure trove of Jumanji-aping fun, with paddle-boarding, spear-fishing and other Bear Grylls-style survival skills. Trips to off-the-beaten-track villages and markets nearby give a glimpse into Melanesian culture; get a hands-on crash-course in local arts and crafts and pick up colourful Ikat weaves along the way.

Eco-friendly family travel | a cliffside bale at Nihiwatu resort, IndonesiaFor a little ‘me Tarzan, you Jane’ alone time book a babysitter and hide out in a secluded cliff-clinging bale (above), or take indulgence on the road with the Nihioka Spa Safari (body-buffing in a valley-set couples’ treatment room), or sneak a few cocktails in Ombak Bar – the kind of breezy rustic joint you can imagine a post-mission Indiana Jones raising an eyebrow and a stiff drink in – the mojitos with home-made mint will make you the good kind of giddy.

Want more wild family adventures? Explore the great outdoors and our collection of child-friendly hotels in Indonesia.



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Swim stars: family-friendly pools that parents love too

Posted by Kate Weir on June 29th, 2015

The best family-friendly hotel pools are the ones where you end up spending all your time; their temperatures are just right, their sunloungers are soft and you can hardly wait to check-in and cool off.  These eye-catching swim spots have twisty-turny waterslides, inflatables to keep babies buoyant and shaded cabanas (and perhaps a nearby pool bar) for parents. They look just as inviting when a posse of little Smiths are paddling in them, too.

We’ve earned our water wings by picking 10 enticing pools for babies, toddlers and teens, where aquatic antics can last from breakfast to bedtime on your luxury family holiday. Wade in for rooftop paddling spots, make-believe beaches and stylish swim-up suites…

Luxury family holidays | the best family-friendly pools | Intercontinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort, Da Nang, Vietnam

INTERCONTINENTAL DANANG SUN PENINSULA RESORT | DANANG, VIETNAM

Stone beasts and vigilant lifeguards stand guard by the zig-zag, palm-sheltered family pool (above and header image) at InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort. Secure a well-positioned sunlounger early so you can spend the afternoon watching the kids frolic and wrap them in big beach towels when they’re done. A shallow section is set aside for smalls, and it’s easy to shuttle back and forth from pool to beach.

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Luxury family holidays | the best family-friendly pools | The Grove, Hertfordshire, UK

THE GROVE | HERTFORDSHIRE, UK

Leafy Hertfordshire is set a few leagues from the sea, but each summer you can still knot your Hermès scarf like a hanky and drop into a deckchair at the man-made beach set up by the Grove hotel’s pool, which is hidden in a pretty walled garden. Borrow buckets and spades for sandcastle building, play volleyball and splash about under the gaze of attendant lifeguards. Slush puppies are served at the gazebo bar, barbecues are fired up too and a smaller shallow pool keeps water babies cool.

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Luxury family holidays | the best family-friendly pools | The Berkeley, London, UK

THE BERKELEY | LONDON, UK

City-centre rooftop pools are rare, especially one that opens out to the elements, looks this good and welcomes children too. The Berkeley Health Club & Spa’s heated pool is petite, but offers idyllic Hyde Park views, and often fun activities such as synchronised swimming. Accompanied children are welcomed at set times, there are Roman steps and floats can be borrowed. The pool’s alarmed too, and a sliding roof protects from summer showers.

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Luxury family holidays | the best family-friendly pools | Finca Cortesin, Marbella, Spain

FINCA CORTESIN | MARBELLA, SPAIN

Take your pick of pools at Finca Cortesin. The beckoning blue number above is suitable for confident kids learning their laps, but there’s also a bijou (25sq m) pool that’s shallow enough for teeny legs. Children are welcome at the palm-tree-lined beach club pool and the covered peaceful spa pool at set times. Psst, parents there’s a beautiful adults-only pool just for you.

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Luxury family holidays | the best family-friendly pools | Almyra, Paphos, Cyprus

ALMYRA | PAPHOS, CYPRUS

My, my, my, Almyra; the white canopy over the Cypriot resort’s family pool is a godsend for suntan-lotion-slathering parents. This is a true destination pool, where you only have to dry off when it comes to check-out. Close by, a bar serves satisfying in-between-dip snacks and the main restaurant sits within child-surveying distance. A toddler pool and an adults-only spa pool round up the suite of idyllic swimming spots.

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Luxury family holidays | the best family-friendly pools | Le Jardin des Douars, Essaouira, Morocco

LE JARDIN DES DOUARS | ESSAOUIRA, MOROCCO

Le Jardin des Douars offers simple pleasures: a stroll in the heady gardens, mother-and-daughter manicures in the spa, and splashing about in the jade-toned pool. Hidden among the greenery, this swimming spot overlooks a nearby gorge with herds of goats on the other side. Secluded cabanas keep you cool, and the shallow wading pool suits little Smiths. Parents are guaranteed a sunlounger spot too (there are no lifeguards to keep watch).

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Luxury family holidays | the best family-friendly pools | Anantara Dubai the Palm Resort and Spa, Dubai, UAE

ANANTARA DUBAI THE PALM RESORT | DUBAI, UAE

If your water babies spend their holidays clad in swimwear, book a Lagoon Access Villa at Anantara Dubai the Palm Resort for direct access to glistening, temperature-controlled waters. There are safe shallow areas for little ones, lifeguards keep watch, and pools are so sizeable that staff man mini boats carrying towels, fruit and water. A swim-up bar keeps parents sweet.

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Luxury family holidays | the best family-friendly pools | Indigo Pearl, Phuket, Thailand

INDIGO PEARL | PHUKET, THAILAND

If the shimmering green waters and curvy freeform shape don’t lure you in to Indigo Pearl’s pretty pool, refreshing fountains, playful pumps and a verdant setting will. A lifeguard mans the non-smoking, children-only section, so it’s ideal for all ages, and the Roman steps are toddler-friendly. Two adults-only pools allow parents some alone time.

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Luxury family holidays | the best family-friendly pools | Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort, Fiji

JEAN-MICHEL COUSTEAU RESORT | FIJI

Three kids’ pools to choose from, a 20-foot waterslide and a toddlers’ pool with a mushroom-shaped fountain (above): Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort immerses guests in aquatic fun.  Lifeguards keep watch over all pools from 8am–9pm, and there’s no out-of-hours access allowed. Beach towels and flotation devices are provided; pool toys too, but multiple turns on the slide will be all the fun they need.

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Luxury family holidays | the best family-friendly pools | Round Hill Hotel and Villas, Jamaica, Caribbean

ROUND HILL HOTEL & VILLAS | JAMAICA, CARIBBEAN

A glorious gradient of blue stretches from sea to pool to sky at Round Hill Hotel & Villas. The double-vanishing edge infinity pool overlooks the Caribbean, with a shallow end to toddle in and a side of smart periwinkle-hued sunloungers. Lifeguards look out from 9am–5pm and there’s a stash of pool toys to play with.

Need a spot where you can cool off with the kids? Plunge into our collection of hotels with family-friendly pools



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The best family beach hotels

Posted by Kate Weir on June 20th, 2015

Armbands at the ready: we’ve picked the best family beach hotels where topping up your tan comes with a host of child-friendly extras. 

We’ve dipped a toe in translucent shallow waters, sifted through the softest sands and (beach)combed through our collection to find the luxury family holidays to lure you coastwards…

Luxury family holidays | top 10 child-friendly beach hotels | Martinhal Beach resort & Hotel, Portugal

MARTINHAL BEACH RESORT & HOTEL | ALGARVE, PORTUGAL

Martinhal Beach Resort’s gold-and-blue curve of Sagres coast is oh-so pretty, even with the height-of-summer crowds. Holidaying parents are coddled as much as kids here: As Dunas Beach Bar and Restaurant (hello, trampoline and mini-playground) has dinnertime entertainment (or distraction) by on-the-ball kids club staff.

Luxury family holidays | top 10 child-friendly beach hotels | Daios Cove Luxury Resort & Villas, Crete, Greece

DAIOS COVE LUXURY RESORT & VILLAS | CRETE, GREECE

Daios Cove Luxury Resort’s cove-sheltered setting isn’t just jaw-slackeningly beautiful, it also ensures calm shallow waters for fledgling swimmers. The kids’ club’s supervised beach visits and watersports (for over-4s) let parents try the bar-to-sunlounger service. Can’t get enough of the scenery? Cliff-clinging family-sized suites give a bird’s eye view; book before 5 July 2015, you’ll get 40 per cent off too.

Luxury family holidays | top 10 child-friendly beach hotels | Puente Romano Beach Resort Marbella, Spain

PUENTE ROMANO BEACH RESORT  | MARBELLA, SPAIN

Puente Romano Beach Resort, on the ever-sunny Andalusian coast (and ever-monied Golden Mile), has a cosy village-style layout that’s almost low-key. However, there’s high-concept child-pleasing too, with tennis courts and an equestrian centre. The beach gets busy, but there are soft sands and laid-back restaurant Del Mar is just steps away.

Luxury family holidays | best family beach hotels | Six Senses Zighy Bay, Oman

SIX SENSES ZIGHY BAY | MUSANDAM, OMAN

Castaway families will immediately feel at home at Gulf-set resort Six Senses Zighy Bay. There are private, refined-rustic villas to shelter in and a raft of Ottolenghi-esque eateries to hunt and gather in. Swimming in the cliff-coddled bay is safe for small Smiths and landlubbers can feed the resident goats and take cookery lessons. Whether you stay one or 101 nights it’ll spur many an Arabian tale.

Luxury family holidays | top 10 child-friendly beach hotels | Six Senses Laamu, Maldives

SIX SENSES LAAMU | MALDIVES, INDIAN OCEAN

We’d quite like to be marooned on Maldivian resort Six Senses Laamu. Villas are a few flip-flopped steps from the shore, and days are spent paddling (there’s no lifeguard, but waters are calm) and sunbathing, before beach-set film screenings and dining. A crèche or kids’ club allow for spa-sneaking too. Rescue plane? No, must be a mirage…

Luxury family holidays | best family beach hotels | Constance Halaveli, Maldives

CONSTANCE HALAVELI | MALDIVES, INDIAN OCEAN

Days at Constance Halaveli are spent barefoot and swimwear-clad. Laid-back beaching is this hotel’s MO, with sand spilling into the reception and common areas too. Book one of the huge, family-essentials-packed Beach Villas for easy schleps to the shore, where swimming, snorkelling, diving, boat rides and marine-life spotting await.

Luxury family holidays | top 10 child-friendly beach hotels | The Nam Hai, Vietnam

THE NAM HAI | HOI AN, VIETNAM

The Nam Hai hotel’s patch of paradise – Ha My Beach (a secluded section of famed China Beach) – is an unsullied stretch of shore that justifies back-home humble-bragging. Alongside trips to historic Hoi An, the hotel’s kids’ club infuses fun with some local flavour. They’ll make paper lanterns and traditional nón lá hats, and fly kites on the sand.

Luxury family holidays | best family beach hotels | Karma Kandara, Bali

KARMA KANDARA | BALI, INDONESIA

Karma Kandara’s beautiful beach is reached by funicular from the resort’s dramatic setting atop a palm-clad cliff. This mild inconvenience is tempered by the beautiful reef-sheltered lagoon, a calm and safe space for splashing and snorkelling. Alongside mesmerising marine life, playful primates hang out onsite too.

Luxury family holidays | best family beach hotels | Parrot Cay by Como, Turks & Caicos, Caribbean

PARROT CAY BY COMO | TURKS & CAICOS, CARIBBEAN

Treasured island resort Parrot Cay by Como is edged with soft white sands, lapped by safe-for-paddling, bath-warm water. Simple pleasures (sandcastle building) or more elaborate pursuits (beach-cruiser bikes) negate the need for a kids’ club or crèche, but if you want a spoiling session in the Como Shambhala spa, babysitters can be booked with just four hours’ notice.

Luxury family hotels | top 10 child-friendly beach hotels | Hotel Esencia, Mexico

HOTEL ESENCIA | RIVIERA MAYA, MEXICO

Hotel Esencia – an antidote to the Riviera Maya’s mega-resorts – has many perks: a near-private beach; calm waters; and his, hers and the kids’ spa treatments (the chocolate massage is a treat). However, it’s the two free hours of babysitting a day that clinch it. Yes, we know quality time is important, but a little snatched sunbathing, cocktail-clinking and spa-ing time is invaluable. Go ahead parents, you’ve earned it.

If you’re yearning to be beside the seaside, dive into our collection of family beach hotels, or (beach)bag 40 per cent off your family holiday.



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What dads want for Father’s Day

Posted by Matt Farquharson on June 17th, 2015

Luxury family holidays | Gleneagles Hotel, Perthshire, Scotland

What do dads want for Father’s Day? Well it’s not power tools (subtext: ‘fix the shelves’) or aftershave (subtext: ‘you could smell nicer’). So here are a few ideas for last-minute Father’s Day treats at luxury family hotels.

Bovey

FOR INCURABLE ROMANTICS

Family time is great and all, but there are few parenting moments sweeter than the happy sigh that follows getting the Little Smiths to sleep. To make the most of it, head to Bovey Castle in Dartmoor National Park for free baby listening and dinner at Great Western. The restaurant is an art deco space with chandeliers, champagne, game from the moors and seafood fresh from the Cornish coast.
Or try: one of these luxury family hotels with free baby listening.

Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 14.22.55

FOR ACTIVE OUTDOORSMEN

If the family patriarch fancies himself as a rugged outdoorsman, pay a visit to Gleneagles in Perthshire, Scotland. The whole clan can fire arrows, shoot clay pigeons, handle Harris Hawks, train gun dogs or churn up the turf in various off-road vehicles (including mini Land Rover replicas for Little Smiths).
Or try: biking around the 1,800 acres of grounds at The Ickworth.

Luxury family holidays | The Connaught, London

FOR PAMPERED PAPAS

Even the manliest of men like a little pampering. The Connaught, in London, lays claim to Europe’s first Aman Spa, with treatments from China, Thailand, India and the Americas. Book a green-tea bath for his weary feet or send him in for an Oriental oil massage, or have him wrapped in red clay and Navajo herbs. Once he’s freshly buffed and pummelled, head for a picnic in Hyde Park.
Or try: the ecological facial for men at Claridge’s, or one of these child-friendly spa hotels.

Luxury family holidays | Chewton Glen, Hampshire

FOR LAZY LUNCHERS

It’s a big call, but we’re making it anyway: Chewton Glen has the best family Sunday lunch in the western world. It’s restaurant, Vetiver, is a Michelin-starred gastrodome that welcomes mini-munchers and serves Sunday staples in inventive style. Snug up in one of the green horseshoe booths where wriggly bums can be contained.
Or try: Sunday lunch at Stoke Park.

For more child-friendly hotels and luxury family holidays, pay a visit to Smith & Family.



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Top 10 half-term activities from KidRatedWe love our friends over at KidRated.com: the site that specialises in reviews by kids, for kids. Why spend hours trawling TripAdvisor or MumsyChat forums for sane advice about family-friendly activities, when you can hear it straight from the horses’ mouths: let’s face it, they’re the ones who really make the decisions anyway (‘because grown-ups can be a bit useless’).

So we’ve asked them to run down the 10 best half-term activities in and around London – as chosen by children. You’re (all) very welcome.

Half-term activities | Shard viewing platform1 GO UP THE SHARD

For those still reeling from the wallet-bashing Christmas gave us, a half-term visit to London’s highest landmark is well worth the trip as kids go free. The timed access to the Viewing Gallery cuts down on the queues so it never really feels busy and overcrowded, and kids rate it (ahem) highly. The lifts are breathtakingly fast and the guides are very friendly. Kids will love the digital telescopes that allow you to go back in time as you take in the fantastic views.

Half-term activities | Bletchley Park Turing project2 DECODE BLETCHLEY PARK

Bathing in the reflected glory of The Imitation Game’s Oscar nominations, a visit to Bletchley Park (just outside London in Milton Keynes) feels both topical and exciting. There is so much to see here a family can easily spend the whole day taking it all in. Highlights include authentic Enigma devices, a restored Bombe machine and a dedicated exhibit to the great Alan Turing. All the buildings and huts the code-breakers worked in have been lovingly recreated and, finally, in the main house you can see costumes and props from The Imitation Game. Under-12s go free, and visitors of all ages will love the snazzy iPod guides.

3 CELEBRATE CHINESE NEW YEAR

There are a host of events taking place around London for the Chinese New Year. Our favourites are the Chinese Shadow Firecracker workshop at the V&A Museum of Childhood, where kids can learn to make their own puppets(18 February; 10am–12.30pm and 1.30pm–4pm; free); Yeh Shen at the Polka Theatre – the Chinese version of the Cinderella story (18 February – 8 March). And of course the traditional Chinese New Year Parade through Chinatown and Trafalgar Square (from 10am, 22 February).

Half-term activities: RAF Museum4 TAKE FLIGHT AT THE RAF MUSEUM

They may have been surpassed by Minecraft and Candy Crush, but once upon a time, Airfix models were the ultimate pastime for any self-respecting kid. Ok, so we tended to just sit next to our parents as they made them, but nothing could beat the unrivalled joy of seeing a collection of plastic bits morph into a plane or tank.

From 16–20 February, the RAF Museum in Hendon will be holding their popular workshops where kids can go and make their Airfix models. Entrance and attendance is free; the kits cost £3 each. Watch the KidRated review.

5 SEE SHAUN THE SHEEP AND BIG HERO 6

With the weather still on the wet, cold and miserable side, the cinema is always a safe bet, and there are two critically acclaimed films currently on release for kids this half-term.

Shaun the Sheep Movie sees everyone’s favourite woolly friend turn action hero after a mix-up leaves him, the flock and the farmer stranded in the city. This is classic Aardman fare, with fast-paced jokes delivered with pinpoint accuracy. As usual, there’s more than enough here to keep both kids of all ages and adults entertained. And some of the set pieces will have your heart in your mouth and you rolling in the aisles.

Disney’s Big Hero 6 promises to another emotional rollercoaster. Somehow this story of boy meets robot feels like a cross between Scooby Doo and Battle of the Planets. There are big themes, including death, time travel and the meaning of friendship, but a word of warning: remember the opening scene in Up? Well we’re in that sort of territory here, and younger kids may find it a little overwhelming. Watch the KidRated review.

6 ZOOM THROUGH LONDON ON A SPEEDBOAT

Our K-Raters have never given the London RIB Experience a bad review, and this is echoed by TripAdvisor, which makes it their Number One London attraction.

You’ll be hard pushed to find a better experience as you take in the sights bombing down the Thames in one of their ‘Rocket’ boats. It’s exciting, informative and with their hilarious guides, always fun. Watch the KidRated review.

Half-term fun activities in Bath7 ENJOY BATH TIMES

Even if the weather isn’t great, there’s a lot for families to do in Bath this half-term. Why not visit the Fashion Museum, where kids and grown-ups can dress up in crinolines and collars to know what it really felt like to be Victorian?

At the Roman Baths, you can get up close to really ‘old money’, palm a few denarius, and design a Roman coin of your own.

And, at the Victoria Art Gallery, join the Jurassic Jaunt, to walk in the steps of dinosaurs and create art inspired by our fossilised friends.

Plot up at The Bath Priory hotel where parents will feel treated, too: there are family-friendly suites (one with bunk beds), dedicated kids’ swim times, a high-tea sitting in the Michelin-starred restaurant, and Ofsted-approved babysitters to give you the night off.

Half-term fun activities in London8 TOWER BRIDGE EXHIBITION

KidRated loved the Tower Bridge Exhibition even before it had its new glass walkway installed. Kids will be fascinated by the engineering feat that goes behind the magic of making London’s most famous bridge open. Time your visit right and you could be there to see this actually happen.

The exhibition also includes photographs of other famous bridges around the world plus the other designs that were submitted and rejected for this iconic building.

As mentioned though, this half-term will be all about the walkway: so make sure you take your camera and give yourself an epic thrill.

9 SURVIVAL SKILLS AT THE EDEN PROJECT

Adventurous kids who love the Hunger Games now have a chance to test their own survival skills at the incredible Eden Project in Cornwall. With various different missions to choose from across the indoor rainforest, kids can pick up survival tips from real-life explorers and exotic animals, learn how to shoot a blow-pipe, and listen to stories of survival told by some great storytellers. With so many activities, your kids will finish the day ready to brave the desert, jungle or even the Antarctic. Book online now and you’ll get 15% off tickets, too.

Half-term fun activities in London: HMS Belfast10 ALL ABOARD THE HMS BELFAST

Run by the Imperial War Museum, HMS Belfast is a museum ship permanently moored on the River Thames. Over the half-term week, they’re inviting kids to design their own tattoo T-shirts using traditional naval tattoos as their inspiration.

Not only will kids learn about the history and significance of these designs, but they’ll also explain the role the ship played in the D-Day landings. Plus they can explore the nine decks and discover what life was like at war and at sea. Watch the KidRated review.

MAKE A NIGHT OF IT

Top off your half-term thrills with a stay at a family-friendly London hotel or self-catering stay: here’s our pick of Smith & Family hotels in London



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¡Hola, family-friendly Formentera!

Posted by Rachel Juarez-Carr on February 6th, 2015

Paraíso de los Pinos hotel in Formentera

We’ve just added our very first family-friendly stay in Formentera to our collection: Paraíso de los Pinos. It’s a few minutes’ stroll from the beach, the two pools and a hottub are muy inviting, the restaurant serves seriously good food… and you have your own apartment, complete with kitchen, to hide out in if you fancy some quiet time.

See you there in the summer hols?

 



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Meet Aimee Chan: Smith reviewer, travel editor, founder of family-travel website Suitcases & Strollers and mum to two ridiculously beautiful little boys. Aimee somehow found a gap in her schedule to chat to us about Suitcases & Strollers, her experiences of travelling with tots in tow, what to do in Singapore with Smith Junior and where she likes to escape to for some R&R. Like Smith & Family, Aimee aims to provide practical advice for parents who don’t think that suitcases and strollers are incompatible. She’s even teamed up with us to offer one lucky family of four a three-night stay at quirky QT Port Douglas in Queensland (enter here to be in with a chance of winning). Enjoy…

Photo by Carolyn Soemarjono, Melia Photography                                                              Photo by Carolyn Soemarjono, Melia Photography

Tell us about Suitcases & Strollers…
Suitcases & Strollers is an online family travel website that provides ideas, tips and inspiration to parents travelling with kids under 12. I started it because when I became a parent, I realised there was no independent, magazine-like resource for me to consult as I tried to continue my travels en famille. At the time, there was no one website to tell me about flying with baby milk, whether the Inca Trail with kids was realistic or which luxury island resorts in Bali actually cater to (as opposed to tolerate) families.

Was there a particular experience that inspired Suitcases & Strollers?
I was always picking up tips and learning tricks about travelling with kids that I wanted to share with other parents – and they wanted to hear them. I realised Suitcases & Strollers could be a place where all this knowledge and information could be shared and stored for anyone to see, not just friends and people I was meeting at parties. I still regularly get personal emails and messages from strangers with travel questions; at least now I have a resource to refer them to.

We hope you point them in the direction of Smith & Family, too! Where is your favourite family holiday destination (and why?) in Asia for:

… a weekend trip?
I find that with small children, a trip needs to be at least more than a couple of days to warrant the hassle of boarding a flight. I particularly love Nikoi Island in Indonesia and Rawa Island in Malaysia. The beaches are clean, the water is tame enough even for very little ones and they are really easy places to chill out with the kids and feel like you’ve escaped from the everyday stress of living in Singapore.

… a two-week getaway?
For a city escape, I love Tokyo. Even two weeks is not enough; there is so much to see, do and experience. I also love Vietnam and somewhere like Danang or Hanoi probably has a better combination of beach/relaxation offerings and city and cultural excitement, all quite close together.

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Top five things to do with children in Singapore?
• Singaporeans are particularly proud of their street food and going to a hawker market is a fun way to introduce the local culture to the kids. Check out the teh tarik (local tea), roti (Indian-inspired bread) and any of the made-to-order fried noodle stalls as there’s always a lot of culinary theatre involved as well. We regularly visit Malaysia Street at Resorts World Sentosa as it is air-conditioned (hawker centres can get extremely hot and sweaty) and has lots of unique finds all in one spot.
• The many water play areas all over the city. Our favourite of late has been the one at Gardens by the Bay, but we’ve also spent lots of time at Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden (in the Botanic Gardens), Singapore Zoo and even in the water fountains at Resorts World Sentosa (strictly not supposed to be a water play area!).
• Spoil them by taking them for afternoon high tea at one of the luxury hotels. My son’s eyes nearly popped out of his head when he saw the array of desserts on offer at Goodwood Park Hotel. That was a treat for both of us.
Universal Studios Singapore. It’s tacky and touristy but the kids absolutely love a theme park and this one is done well enough that it’s enjoyable for parents too.
• Wandering around Marina Bay Sands is actually good fun and you don’t need to set foot inside the casino or spend a single dollar. The place is huge, air-conditioned and there’s lots of things to look at, such as the synthetic ice-skating rink and the gondolas that float between the shops. If you are happy to spend a bit of money, the theatre often hosts world-class family-friendly musicals and the ArtScience Museum has really fantastic exhibitions.

Have you experienced any holiday horror when travelling with your two boys?
I did a trip with my first son, normally a very placid child, and he screamed the entire flight there. Then he screamed for the next few days. He could not be settled at all. In that first hour or two on the flight it was the worst feeling knowing the entire plane was listening to him. But after that I realised that it actually could not get worse – he could not scream any louder and it was clear there was no stopping him – and I just resigned myself to it. Funnily, it’s made travel easier since. I now know that being the parent of That Screaming Kid on the plane is survivable after all.

What’s the best travel advice you’ve ever received for family-holiday bliss?
Plan for everything but then be prepared to throw all those plans out the window. Planning to the last detail means you will know where the plastic bags are when your child suddenly vomits, you’ll know how many nappies you have left or you have emergency medical contact details on hand when you need them. But remember that kids don’t always like to follow adult plans, so you need to realise that flexibility is the key to survival. If your child will only drink juice or eat white rice and nothing else for an entire day, sometimes it is just easier to roll with it so you can actually relax and have a holiday!

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What three things are always in your suitcase when packing for a family getaway?
• Multiple sets of clothes and shoes for every type of weather. Kids in wet shoes or clothes are a disaster, so having multiple options is important.
• Sunscreen and hats. I’m Australian and we’re all obsessed with sun protection.
• It doesn’t fit in a suitcase, but we never leave home without our stroller. We learnt the hard way when we went to Berlin with our three-year-old who never used the stroller at home. Within just a few minutes he was refusing to walk anywhere and we knew we’d made a big mistake!

Are there any myths about travelling with children that you and your family have busted?
Overnight flights are generally presumed to be better for kids. Personally, I disagree. I find that, when flying with kids in the daytime, other passengers are more tolerant and I prefer to live without the stress of worrying about my children waking up other people who are trying to sleep. In my experience, when the kids do the night flight they are generally the last to sleep and first to wake, which means they never have enough: cue meltdown.

What’s your dream family-holiday destination?
Beach holidays are always fabulous with kids and the most relaxing of them all. Our kids also love theme parks and it was really a great joy to take our (then) three-year-old to experience the magic of Disneyland. But I also love a city escape: living in a foreign city for a few days and doing a mixture of tourist attractions and chilling out in places the local parents do, such as parks and playgrounds. We have also done a lot of road trips and we all enjoy taking in the scenery as you cover long distances in the car.

Browse Smith’s family-friendly hotels in Asia, or admire the full collection at Smith & Family. Don’t forget to enter our competition to win a three-night family-friendly stay at QT Port Douglas – details here.



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A 7-year-old’s favourite boutique hotel in Sweden

Posted by Rachel Juarez-Carr on November 19th, 2014

Treehotel in Sweden

Smith co-founders Tamara and James Lohan took their children hunting for family-friendly boutique-hotels in Sweden, and their little ‘uns found their favourite:

Treehotel in SwedenTreehotel in Sweden‘What more could a 7 year old boy want out of life than to sleep in a UFO hidden and suspended amongst the trees in the depths of Swedish Lapland?’ wrote Tamara.

‘Actually, our three days at the Treehotel in Harads were full of dream like experiences – from zip lining through the tree canopy (even my 4-year-old loved it) to standing in the middle of a frozen lake, pulling out fish from a hole we cut out of the ice with a mini fishing rod – which, by the way, was my 7-year-old’s idea of heaven.

‘If I ask my children which holiday has been their favourite over the years (and they have travelled a lot) it’s not the countless swimming pools and beaches or even the best water park in the world, Waterbom in Bali: it’s freezing their little mittens off in Sweden, eating reindeer over a camp fire and drinking tree sap.

‘For me, the beauty of this unspoilt landscape with its stunning silver birches – and sleeping up among the tree tops – made me feel close to nature in a way that no luxury beach holiday ever has. I’d quite like to come back with just my husband and stay that incredibly romantic mirror-cube treehouse – I’m told no one can see in!’

All photos by Tamara Lohan



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