Call off the search: these are 2015’s top 10 luxury family hotels, as voted for by you, our hard-to-please panel of travel-loving parents.
More than 22,000 of you shared your travel favourites with us for this year’s Smith Hotel Awards, in categories from Best Hotel Pool to Hottest Hotel Bar and Sexiest Bedroom (one for that child-free weekend you’ve been promising yourselves): but one of the most hotly contested categories by far was Best for Families. So if you’re starting to think about next year’s holiday calendar, this is a great place to start…
Parent-pleasing highlights Dreamy dive sites • Free babysitting and kids’ club • Relaxing spa • Traditional Fijian Lovo feasts
We said as much last year, but it bears repeating: if you’re going to introduce the kids to the world beneath the waves, there’s nowhere better than this luxurious South Pacific resort, renowned for its eco-friendly attitude and outstanding scuba diving. But the top trump is Bula – the excellent free kids’ club – and its team of dawn-to-dusk nannies. Cultural and environmental learning is built intodaily ‘adventures’, and for big kids (and adults), there are plenty of watersports and activities included in rates.
Parent-pleasing highlights Beachfront spa • Martel-designed Champagne room
• Sandy beach • Europe’s coolest kids’ club • Lots of baby kit to borrow
Aside from this fit-for-a-prince finca’s obvious attractions (stylish beach club, top-notch pro golf course, elite equestrian centre and Thalasso spa), the family-friendly facility everyone’s talking about is Marbella Club’s Minimec-designed kids’ village. Scandi-chic good looks combine with a wonder-packed to-do list, hosted in sprawling stay-and-play centre that has its own lagoon pool, art and music studios, learning kitchen and dig-your-own garden.
Parent-pleasing highlights Exceptional staff • Junior bushcraft courses and kids’ safaris • True escapism • Free daily crèche
Zoos are one thing; 4,000 jaw-dropping acres of pristine natural wilderness (with world-class spa and restaurant) are quite another. At Wolgan Valley, families are in for the eco adventure of a lifetime, spotting wallabies, wombats, kangaroos and cockatoos, in jeeps, by bike, on foot or even horseback. Lap-of-luxury suites with unbeatable views complete the out-of-this-world picture.
Parent-pleasing highlights Woodland-set sauna • Refined regional dining • Campfire meals • Snowman-building classes • Unique treehouse accommodation
Would your kids rather stay in: Swedish Lapland; a UFO; a treehouse; or a giant bird’s nest? And would they rather: go horse-riding at midnight; cross wintry landscapes on a snowmobile or dog-sled; or eat their meals by a campfire? No need to choose, when you can do it all at Treehouse. Parents booking this incredible ‘pied-à-tree’ win at holidays before they’ve even set off from home.
Parent-pleasing highlights Glamorous dining room • Relaxed atmosphere • Adventurous kids’ activities • Lego delivery service • Heated indoor pool
A winning combination of heritage hideaway and country-house hotel, and recently refurbished to the tune of several million pounds, Bovey Castle takes its edge-of-Dartmoor setting seriously, with fresh-air pursuits from golf and rambling to riding and letterboxing. Menus cherry-pick from the countryside’s pantry, serving wild venison and fresh salmon to happy parents; kids merrily tuck into well-considered mini-menus after days spent romping the grounds, playing crolf, chasing ferrets, flying owls and building dens.
Parent-pleasing highlights Grown-up spa • Big, beautiful guest rooms • Sun, sea and sand • Home-grown organic kids’ food • Activities aplenty
Borgo Egnazia –a deserving regular on our Best for Families top 10 list – goes out of its way to keep families entertained. The style is sophisticated rural whimsy, and there are plenty of facilities for children, including a superb kids’ club with indoor and outdoor spaces, a childcare ratio of 1:2 and enticing to-do list of theatre workshops, dancing, and cookery classes. This is a sociable, fun holiday destination: expect to play football with staff, visit local farms and leave in love with Puglia.
Parent-pleasing highlights Large villas with private pools or family rooms with bunk beds • Romantic dining • Great value • Atmospheric traditional spa
Is this the ultimate kid-friendly kasbah? Once the party pad of a Belgian couple, Le Jardin des Douars reveals a Francophile slice of the Maghreb on a sunshine-coated hilltop, within easy reach of Essaouira’s medina and windswept coastline. It’s a restful, off-the-radar escape: Marais-chic French families gather here to seek out the sun, steam in the hammam, explore the rugged beaches and feast on delicately spiced tagines and mezze. Planted terraces lead up to the main house; loose tribes of children gather by the jade-green pool for short-but-sweet friendships under the North African sun.
Parent-pleasing highlights Dazzling views • Ann Semonin spa with hair and beauty salon • Delicious food • Private sandy beach • Plentiful pools
A perennial favourite, thanks to its sheltered beach, Daios Cove is a luxurious but unpretentious clifftop escape with more saltwater pools to splash in and watersports to try out than you can realistically manage on a short holiday. Families love it, as it has everything required for a blissful summer holiday: indulgent restaurants, a spa for frazzled parents, expert babysitters and a mountain of baby kit. Book a Family Villa and you could feasibly turn up empty-handed, armed with just your passport, a smile and your brood in tow.
Parent-pleasing highlights Private-island location • Shambhala cuisine • Castaway family picnics • Family-fitting beach houses with incredible views
As if ‘Turks & Caicos’ and ‘private island’ weren’t already synonymous with Caribbean luxury, Parrot Cay ups the ante with water adventures for the whole family, villas perched directly on the beach and a decadent Como Shambhala spa; delicious seafood doesn’t hurt, either. Days are spent snorkelling, spying iguanas, hoisting a sail or just strolling the white sand together… bliss.
Don’t see your family’s favourite holiday spot here? Check out the full Smith & Family hotel collection