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

Top family hotels to book now for 2016

Posted by Lucy Fennings on September 17th, 2015

Family holidays for summer 2016
Dunno about you, but to us, the summer holidays already feel looong gone. Roll on, summer 2016. We all know that the best (and most talked-about) resorts get snaffled well in advance – if you’re canny, you’ll beat the crowds and make huge savings by booking early. Here’s our insider guide to the hotels you need to book now for 2016’s luxury family holiday…

Smith members can save up to 45 per cent off on 2016 holidays by booking before the end of September; and some of the best deals cover the late May bank holiday, too. (No need to thank us now. You can do it later, when you’re supine and smug in a heavenly resort somewhere, calculating the massive savings you’ve made.) Ready. Set. BOOK!

2016 holidays in Puglia: Borgo Egnazia resort

Puglia, Italy

This perennial Puglian favourite provides the perfect family-holiday package, and wraps it up in a stylish Italian bow (one probably made of beautifully understated linen). There are well-separated areas for grown-ups and families, so when you do carve out some quiet couples’ time, it can be just that. The Borgo and its villas are justifiably popular – thanks in part to knockout facilities, including a spa, two beach clubs and a golf course.
Insider trading Book with Smith & Family before 29 February 2016 and you’ll get 20% off Borgo Egnazia stays between 7 January and 30 June 2016.

Daios Cove resort & villas, Crete

Crete, Greece

Overlooking a serenely quiet cove on Crete, each of the 39 villas here has its own saltwater pool – as well as access to the resort’s private sandy bay, where miniSmiths can try their hand at an overwhelming array of aquatic activities: there’s waterskiing (for kids in young as four), sailing, scuba diving and more beach-based fun than you’d have time to shake a cocktail stick at.
Insider trading Book by the end of next week (22 September) and you can get a fantastic 45% off stays at Daios Cove between 22 April and 30 June 2016

Anassa family resort in Cyprus
Akamas Peninsula, Cyprus

With luxe credentials including an award-garnering thalasso spa, a made-to-measure kids’ club and baby crèche, and one of the island’s best restaurants, Anassa is a surprisingly secluded and grown-up family resort in Cyprus. Set on the remote and rocky Akamas Peninsula, its two-kilometre pebble-and-sand beach and family-friendly infinity pools are perfect for parents of babies and school-age children.
Insider trading Book by 30 September and save 20% at Anassa on stays between 14 March and 13 November 2016 – you’ll also get a €50 spa voucher with this exclusive-to-Smith deal.

Paraiso de los Pinos, Formentara | Summer 2016

Formentera, Balearic Islands

This budget Balearics bolthole is perfect for independence-craving families who want the trimmings of a resort without all the, ahem, trappings. Low-key self-catering apartments set around a pool – just a 10-minute walk from one of the island’s prettiest beaches – and bikes to borrow free make for an easy-going holiday on an island that still has a few relatively undiscovered spots.
Insider trading Book by the end of this month for 20% off Formentera holidays any time between 1 May and 31 October 2016.

Castello di Casole, Tuscany, Italy

Tuscany, Italy

Lord it up and embrace family life like a true Italian at this picture-perfect Tuscan wine estate: yomp around the green and gold countryside, dabble in dough-making at the sweet little pizzeria, play croquet or unwind in spa, housed in the former wine cellar. Beyond, the Renaissance glories of Siena and San Gimignano beckon.
Insider trading Book four nights or more, and save 25%; or save 30% on seven-night stays.

Verdura Resort, Sicily | Summer 2016 VERDURA RESORT
Sicily, Italy

This modern Olga Polizzi-designed palace on the southern shores of Sicily blends beautifully with its surroundings and offers an Italian-style slice of minimalist calm. Get away from the clutter of inboxes and toyboxes and shut out the noise of the world – here is a spa-enhanced golf resort to retreat to.
Insider trading Snag 25% off stays of four nights or more in June 2016, when you book by 31 October 2015.

Greece holidays 2016 |Domes of EloundaDOMES OF ELOUNDA
Crete, Greece

This lap-of-luxury family holiday resort is cut-above Crete: the grounds are manicured, the menus Michelin-starred, and the kids’ clubs Ofsted-rated. There are even Disney-themed bedrooms for your petite princesses and mini misters.
Insider trading Book by 3 October, and you can get 30% off Domes of Elounda between 25 March and 31 October 2016 when you book by 3 October 2015 – you’ll get a free upgrade to half-board, too.

Puente Romano Beach Resort & Spa Marbella

Marbella, Spain

We won’t lie, this is a fairly big resort, but it’s villagey layout and friendly atmosphere lend it a surprisingly cosy feel. The kids club is colourful, fun and free; the restaurants are plentiful; the swimming pool overlooks the beach club; and the new Six Senses spa is the therapeutic centre of your dreams.
Insider trading Book ahead and save 20% off Puente Romano next summer.

Martinhal beach resort Algarve | 2016 holidaysMARTINHAL BEACH RESORT
Algarve, Portugal

Actions speak louder than words: if you’ve been saying you’d like to stay here, go ahead and book it. It’s a beloved return stay for many families (thanks to its lovely safe beach, brilliant childcare and contemporary design) and if you don’t book early, you’ll be struggling to find availability in the school holidays.
Insider trading The sooner you book, the more chance you have of securing the room type or villa (and price) that suits you best. Check out Martinhal rooms and villas here.

Browse our exclusive early-booking discounts for summer 2016 or find more luxury family holidays.


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Postcard from Dartmoor: Bovey Castle’s magical mini menagerie

Posted by Lucy Fennings on September 14th, 2015

Devon family hotel Bovey Castle
Dartmoor. Home to countless cuddly-looking, free-roaming, pint-sized ponies. Also, Bovey Castle. Also, raptors.

Yup, raptors. AND snakes, owls, lizards, falcons, tarantulas, giant African millipedes and golfer-eating bald eagles. This family-friendly estate’s menagerie of on-hand fauna is pure holiday catnip for animal-loving children (provided you steer clear of the grumpy Russian Steppe eagle, which apparently ‘took down’ a golf player once*). There’s even a sociable parrot in the drawing room (Beaky, the African Grey). These are the top reasons you should stay there, according to our six-year-old son (a recent guest and now ardent one-kid PR campaign).

Kids draw places: Bovey Castle
There’s more to this child-friendly hotel in Devon than critters, of course: there’s a twinset of parent-pleasing restaurants (with kids menus), an Elemis spa, indoor pool, a renowned golf course and raft of moorish country pursuits to keep you busy (when you’re not taking tea in the prettily refurbished Adam Room or sipping highballs in the impressive baronial hall).

But a stay at Bovey Castle isn’t complete unless you’ve met resident falconer Martin Whitley of Dartmoor Hawking (below), whose free daily morning display on the terrace gives guests a chance to meet some of his amazing birds, including an acrobatic trio of Harris Hawks; Wol, the adolescent barn owl; and Rosie and Artemis, the eagles, as well as his dog Monty.

Falconry display at Bovey Castle: Martin, Wol the barn owl and Monty the dog
If your little people are nature-obsessed, treat them to one of the excellent Bovey Rangers kids’ club sessions with Andy from Dartmoor Reptiles, with handling sessions for both birds of prey (Fly an owl! Hold a hawk!) and reptiles and insects (Burmese pythons! Tarantulas!). Our small person was so excited after his sessions we managed to drag out the retelling over a three-course meal in Bovey’s glamorous Great Western dining room.

Let me just run that past you again: three courses, after 7pm, with candles and wine, and a conversational small person. Not even a colouring pencil in sight. Yes folks, we saw the future that night, and the future is liberation from babysitters and eaten-in-silence room-service meals… hallelujah!

Owl-handling at Bovey Castle

So in honour of our first grown-up evening meal out, here are some owl-related facts, shared in the name of journalism/familial harmony by my small Bovey Ranger:


Fact number one: owls are not waterproof These birds of prey are superhuman in many ways (amazing night vision; satellite-dish-accurate hearing; stealth-mode soundless flight), but water is owl Kryptonite. Especially barn owls. Barn owls are the sponges of the bird world.

Fact number two: a tawny owl can crush a tennis ball with one foot Yes, ‘foot’ sounds weird, as though owls have Monty Pythonesque human feet, but the 6YO insists on factual accuracy, and claw/talon isn’t accurate.

Fact number three: owls are a bit dim Contrary to received wisdom and popular culture, owls are ‘a bit thick’. I’m quoting verbatim there, from two independent owl experts.

*Martin’s something of a stand-up, so the running commentary is often laced with tongue-in-cheek tales. This may or may not be one of them.

Find out more or book a family break at Bovey Castle with Smith & Family (0330 100 3180)

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Make a splash in Australia’s largest pool

Posted by Kate Weir on September 7th, 2015

Australia's largest pool | One&Only Hayman Island, Great Barrier Reef

What’s blue, wobbly and the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere? One&Only Hayman Island‘s jaw-dropping, super-sized swimming pool (sorry, we’re better at hotels than comedy). And, it just so happens that you can experience Australia’s largest swimming spot for less (when you book before 15 September 2015) with our equally magnificent hotel offer.

This shimmering blue expanse – the size of seven Olympic pools – is perhaps the only watery wonderland that can outshine the Great Barrier Reef (well, almost), set close by. Its impressive proportions and superlative setting have earned it a nomination in the Smith Hotel Awards 2015 too.

Criss-crossed by walkways and floating platforms – including one with a smaller, shallow pool-within-a-pool – this sprawling nigh-on lake offers collision-free swimming for both playful water babies and dedicated lap-clockers. No lifeguard supervision means parents will have to keep an eye on smaller Smiths, but it’s easily done when you can hire a cosy four-poster day-bed by the side and ask waiters to ferry fruity cocktails and gourmet snacks back and forth from the On the Rocks bar.

Australia's largest pool | One&Only Hayman Island, Great Barrier Reef

Families of up to four should check-in to a Two-Bedroom Pool Suite, so juniors can swim to their heart’s content, so pack your jellies, towel ponchos and armbands, and dive on in – the water’s lovely.

Want your family break to go swimmingly? Take a peek at One&Only Hayman Island, or check out our collection of hotels with family-friendly pools.

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Best family spa hotels

Posted by Team Smith on August 9th, 2015

Because we’re concerned about your tense shoulders and furrowed brows, we’ve rounded up our favourite Smith & Family spa hotels, just for you. These luxury family-holiday stays will not only soothe your aching muscles – whether you’re craving a hammam treat, seaside massage, or thalassotherapy soak – but will also keep the little Smiths entertained…

Best family spa hotels; Puento Romano Beach Resort

Spa style Andalusia-inspired
Setting Seaside serenity space

The enticing spa bits This sleek Six Senses Spa has a wet area with hydrotherapy pool, a cold plunge pool, heat and ice experience showers, herbal steam room, sauna and hammam. There are nine treatment rooms: six indoors and three outdoors, with canopied roofs and swing cabanas overlooking the sea, and a range of signature massages, facials, body treatments and scrubs, and mani-pedis. The spa uses local products, which blend indigenous herbs with sea salt and olive oil for a Mediterranean-inspired experience. For a truly indulgent spa day, opt for the royal or energiser rituals.
For the little Smiths The multilingual kids club staff entertains kids aged four to eight with activities including watersports, sea shell hunting and painting, and there’s a soft play area for younger children.

Best family spa hotels; Bermuda hotels; Rosewood Tuckers Point Bermuda

Spa style Beachfront bliss
Setting Sprawling island spa

The enticing spa bits Lose yourself in a Bermuda Triangle massage, or try a rejuvenating Atlantic Sea Spray treatment, facial and shower therapies, or any of the relaxing services at the Sense Spa. There’s also a private pool, a full salon for the ladies and a proper barber shop for men in this island relaxation retreat.
For the little Smiths Little Smiths aged five and over can indulge in a mani or pedi, tweens can book a specially-tailored facial and 11–16s can unwind with a scalp or foot massage. The Rose Buds kids club entertains children aged four to eleven with activities including tennis lessons, daily swims at the Beach Club Fountain Pool and cooking lessons.

Best family spa hotels; Chewton Glen hotel

Spa style Indulgent and invigorating
Setting Renowned thalassotherapy spa

The enticing spa bits Chewton Glen’s award-winning spa has Europe’s biggest hydrotherapy spa pool, aromatherapy saunas, crystal steam rooms and an outdoor whirlpool. The treatment menu is exhaustive, and the well-equipped gym has a programme of free fitness classes, including Pilates, yoga and AquaFit.
For the little Smiths Your mini-me can join you for a pampering session; the spa menu includes mini beauty treatments for children. A kids club is available during school holidays and at weekends for toddlers through tweens; you’ll need to remain at the hotel, but can relax at the spa knowing that little Smiths are staying entertained with storytelling, painting and crafts, games and treasure hunts.

Best family spa hotels; Anassa hotel

Spa style Regular nominee for World’s Best Spa
Setting Remote crescent bay

The enticing spa bit Thalassa has an indoor Roman-style pool, tranquil chill-out area, thalassotherapy pool and a serious menu of detox and anti-ageing programmes, aromatherapy, therapeutic massage and couples’ and pregnancy treatments. Book well ahead for your holiday pampering. The gym provides personal training and yoga sessions.
For the little Smiths The spa has a treatment menu for little Smiths, sessions for young yogis and open pool time for families. Anassa’s crèche has sleeping nooks, an indoor soft-play area and a tree-shaded playground with swings and a climbing frame. Qualified English-speaking staff look after kids aged from four months to four years. Some sessions are available for older children too.

Verdura, Best family spa hotels

Spa style Holistic and Sicilian-inspired
Setting Resort central

The enticing spa bits This massive spa has a hammam, relaxation areas and heated mineral-rich thalassotherapy pools overlooking the olive groves and mountains. An extensive menu of treatments infused with organic Sicilian plant oils and extracts promises to promote anti-ageing, detoxification and fitness and guests receive a complimentary course of Shiatsu. A Vita Health preventative-health programme includes bespoke nutritional, non-invasive and anti-ageing plans.
For the little Smiths The spa is open to over-16s, so indulge in a pampering session with your teen. Verdura’s complimentary Kid’s Club is open to ages four through tween. Kids can partake in arts and crafts and film-screening fun, or play in the paddling pools, sand pit and playground; activities are available for teens too.

One&Only Hayman Island, Best family spa hotels

Spa style Island indulgence
Setting Reefside relaxation retreat

The enticing spa bits The One&Only puts an emphasis on unwinding and taking in your surroundings; partake in the spa’s signature Ocean Dreaming massage treatment and literally float on the sea. The spa has 13 treatment rooms (one specifically for couples), an extensive island-environs-inspired menu and a host of holistic add-ons, from private yoga to guided meditation sessions. Expectant mothers can rest and rejuvenate with a pre-natal massage or baby bloom package. There’s a mani-pedi bar and a hair salon, too.
For the little Smiths Specialised spa treatments are available for the seven and older crowd. The KidsOnly club hosts games, movies, daily craft sessions, island scavenger hunts and coconut bowling; under-fours are welcome with a parent. The Teens Club organises activities such as sea kayaking and tennis matches.

Montage Beverly Hills, Best family spa hotels

Spa style Biggest and best of Beverly Hills
Setting Mansion of pampering

The enticing spa bits With 17 treatment rooms, Turkish steam rooms, redwood saunas, a Grecian-style mineral pool, yoga room and Kim Vo Beauty Salon, the Spa Montage has everything you could want. Treatments range from caviar facials and Vichy hammam rituals to hydrotherapy and reflexology.
For the little Smiths The spa has mini-mani-pedi options. Paintbox, the hotel’s comprehensive kids club, is open to ages five to tween and staffed by former Disneyland employees. Younger children can join the fun if a parent is present. Every day has a theme and activities including art projects, indoor and outdoor games. On Fridays and Saturdays, Paintbox holds dinner and a film night from 6pm to 10pm.

The Berkeley, Best family spa

Spa style Traditional luxury
Setting Overlooking Hyde Park

The enticing spa bits The Berkeley Health Club & Spa has five treatment rooms, a sauna and steam room, and has a full menu of pampering with Bamford Haybarn products, Oskia facials, massages and mud wraps, beauty and pregnancy treatments. Personal training, yoga sessions, boxing and swimming lessons are available in the fully kitted-out gym, which has views of Hyde Park.
For the little Smiths Accompanied children are welcome in the Roman-stepped rooftop pool, which has floats to borrow, during specific times throughout the day. Although there’s no kids club, babysitters can be booked through reception, giving you the perfect opportunity to indulge in a couple’s massage.

Vidago, Best family spa hotels

Spa style Taking the waters
Setting Portuguese spa town

The enticing spa bits The star attraction at the gleaming spa is the water: book a three-, seven- or 14-day programme of traditional water therapy if you’re interested in old-school treatments.
For the little Smiths A selection of spa treatments are available for the younger Smiths, so make it a family spa day. The kids club usually meets outside (although there’s an indoor space in case of bad weather) and has a rotating programme of activities for smaller Smiths, including nature walks, face painting, creative art classes, magic tricks, music sessions, puppetry and cookery.

L'Albereta Spa, Best family spa hotel

Spa style Award-winning luxury
Setting Holistic hilltop retreat

The enticing spa bits Spa Espace Vitalité Henri Chenot has more than the standard scrubs and serene soaks: get your diet assessed and your energy tested as you sip the detox tea of the day, or delve deeper into the dizzyingly long menu of medical and aesthetic treatments.
For the little Smiths The bright, colourful Maty’s Club is open for children aged 15 and younger, although under-3s must have a parent in tow. The kids club is crammed with puzzles, toys and craft supplies and games in the grounds make sure little Smiths get plenty of fresh Brescian air. Staff members also organise daily creative workshops.


Nam Hai Hotel, Best family spa hotels

Spa style Coastal calm
Setting Floating above a koi-filled lagoon

The enticing spa bits Each one of the eight treatment rooms features an open-air relaxation deck with a deep soak tub and cushioned day-bed big enough for two. Mr and Mrs Smith and over-16s can enjoy warm stone massages, facials featuring rainforest mud and local seaweed, and other beautifying treatments.
For the little Smiths The free kids club is in a huge garden house hub of activity, and Smiths from four to tween are under the watchful eye of the resort’s female English-speaking, first-aid-trained counsellors. Entertainment includes sports, treasure hunts and traditional cultural activities, such as making paper lanterns and picking local herbs and vegetables in the hotel’s gardens. There’s a separate teen club too.

Esencia Spa, Best family spa hotels

Spa style Mayan organic
Setting Relaxed Riviera

The tempting spa bits Aroma organic spa uses indigenous fruits, plants and herbs – many grown in the estate’s garden – and has five treatment rooms, four Jacuzzis and two Mayan-style temazcal domed steam rooms.  Refresh with holistic healing treatments – reiki, cranio-sacral therapy – and a range of facials and other revitalizing couples’ massages.
For the little Smiths There is a menu tailored for children aged five to thirteen (14s and over can choose from the adult menu) with yummy signature treatments such chocolate baths and massages and tropical strawberry and vanilla body wraps. The hotel offers two hours’ complimentary babysitting every day: take advantage and sneak away to the spa for a couples’ massage.

Constance le Prince Maurice, Best family spa hotels

Spa style Luxurious Sisley spa
Setting Tranquil garden

The enticing spa bits Six treatment rooms and two couples’ rooms border a small heated thermal swimming pool. There’s a steam room, Jacuzzi, chilled bath, and a pampering menu of Sisley facials, warm-oil Shirobhyanga massages and mani-pedis. Try the signature Rum Spirit, a two-hour ritual using fragrant vanilla and cinnamon. Yoga, Pilates and Power Plate are offered at the gym.
For the little Smiths Over-12s can enjoy coconut or rose foot baths, mini massages and manicures at the spa. Inside the thatched huts of kids’ club Les Petits Princes, Smiths aged four to eleven will find activities including Mauritian arts and crafts and ice-cream making workshops. Over-eights can venture into the water for water-skiing, glass-bottom boat trips, or scuba diving initiations.

Still seeking a spa? Have a peek at our full collection of family-friendly spa hotels.


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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 Hotel


For kids 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 parents
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


For kids 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 parents 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


For kids 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 parents
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


For kids 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 parents 
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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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.


Luxury family holidays | the best family-friendly pools | 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.


Luxury family holidays | the best family-friendly pools | 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.


Luxury family holidays | the best family-friendly pools | 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.


Luxury family holidays | the best family-friendly pools | 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.


Luxury family holidays | the best family-friendly pools | 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).


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


Luxury family holidays | the best family-friendly pools | 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.


Luxury family holidays | the best family-friendly pools | 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.


Luxury family holidays | the best family-friendly pools | Round Hill Hotel and 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’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’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, 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


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


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


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 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’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


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 – 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.



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.

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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


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


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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