When I was a teenager I was lucky enough to be taken skiing by my parents. To save money we went with a now defunct ... Read Feature
The day you have children is the day your holiday requirements change, if not forever, then at least for a very very long time.
Infinity pools, swim-up bars and room service are all wonderful in your hedonistic days of lazy coupledom but as soon as the little ones turn up then the rules have changed.
If they’re not having a great time you’re not having a great time and that means families up and down the country plan their holidays with one question in mind: what is in it for the children?
Mark Warner realised this a long time ago and have successfully carved out a niche for holidays which not only offer a boatload of activities for the entire family (pun intended) but a vast range of day-care options for children of most ages. From crèches to kids clubs, teen groups to baby-sitting; if you used everything on offer it’s possible you might never actually see your children. It’s an investment that hasn’t gone unnoticed amongst our users with a recent post from one (April 2017) highlighting just how much of a difference this made to a NappyValleyNetter’s recent skiing trip.
As far as summer sun is concerned, they operate a number of resorts across the Mediterranean and we revisited Levante, their luxury resort of the Greek island of Rhodes (click here for map) which sits on top of a gorgeous sandy beach, a 30 minute coach trip from the island’s airport.
Accommodation is both in a low rise hotel and a series of family “suites” spread throughout the grounds, with the majority nudging up against any one of the three outdoor pools. On my last day I discovered that there was even a series of super-luxury suites which, mistakenly, I had felt rather sorry for on account of their facing the ‘wrong way’ and away from the public pools; I hadn’t spotted that each had private and secluded ones of their own!
It’s a short walk from any of resort’s rooms to the beach where one can find an incredible range of activities.
The waterfront team will set you up on anything from a catamaran to a canoe. At one point I counted almost 50 craft messing about in the waves. There are water-skiing lessons in the morning and dingy races every afternoon. RYA courses run weekly and both my little passed their levels 3 and 4 sailing courses with instructors from the incredibly friendly beach crew.
Moving up the beach, and away from the sand, the “Activities” team run daily sessions of Pilates, yoga, water polo and aerobics. Most afternoons budding scuba divers can “try-dive” in one of the three pools and, if that wasn’t enough, there are an incredible range of road and mountain bikes to take advantage of the surrounding hills. This is an area of their operations which barely existed a few years ago and is now one of the resort’s most popular activities. Partly, this is due to the boom in British Cycling back home and partly due to the serious kit on offer in resort, I’m not a cyclist but I was told by guests who were that their carbon fibre road bikes were seriously cutting edge.
For the mini (and not so mini) Andy Murrays there are six tennis courses where competitions, social play and lessons are on offer pretty much every day. My favourite, after the hardcore competitions (ok, ok, it was just my clear favourite) was Thursday night’s ‘Tipsy Tennis’ which does exactly what it says on the tin. I would suggest it to my own club back home in London but I suspect, without the warm summer evenings, it would be more like ‘drunk damp dusk’ with correspondingly less appeal.
Whilst Mr NappyValleyNet revelled in all this activity I was quite happy to spend my time by the pool. Although I did feel a twinge of guilt that I wasn’t “doing” something in every spare minute there were enough of us on the loungers to keep those twinges pretty small. And with so much going on it was easy to fall into a daily rhythm: mornings spent by the pool whilst the children were in kids’ clubs and afternoons taken up with “family time”, mainly sailing and swimming. As the sun started to sink, and the temperature dropped accordingly, we’d head over to the courts for an early evening game of tennis.
For any self-contained resort of this size feeding everyone is a major logistical issue and, in the past, one could argue that the earlier Mark Warner resorts were a little “canteen style” in their catering efforts. Levante has been designed from the ground up to have a much more luxurious feel (indeed resort manager Sue explained one evening how she’d personally chosen much of the interior decoration) and this really shows. For those who want to swerve the main dining area there are a choice of two other restaurants and, across all three, waiters and waitresses were happy to bring a constant stream of drinks meaning we could linger whilst swapping sailing and tennis war stories with the other holidaymakers.
If Mark Warner viewed their responsibilities towards their guests as over once dinner was cleared away, and we were safely ensconced in one of their three bars, then who could blame them? However most evenings, the terrace overlooking the main pool, would host some form of entertainment. These ranged from a pub quiz to music nights and, even if this wasn’t your cup of tea, it succeeded in focusing the guests attention on an area where they would congregate and chat whilst the children played safely elsewhere (see childcare boxout).
And this is for me is what makes these Mark Warner holidays so special. The accommodation is great and the food wonderful but the real memory-making value is the never-ending stream of great facilities and wonderful staff. This translates into happy tired children and one could see from the sheer number of parents wandering around the resort with massive grins on their faces that this, as I said at the beginning, makes the holiday.
CHILDCARE: The childcare is comprehensive and ‘wrap around’. For babies and toddlers there is, in effect, an in-house full time nursery whereas older children have their own play scheme with clear timetables of activities ranging from swimming to sailing to tennis and more. There are kids clubs in the evenings and monitored sleeping in their nursery for babies and toddlers. The care isn’t quite all-day, as there is no lunch cover, but it does genuinely mean that you will be able to have a break whilst your children are both stimulated, making new friends and having a ton of fun.
Includes: British Airways flights from Heathrow T5, resort transfers, half board accommodation, childcare from 4 – 17 years (4 months – 2 years is chargeable), evening creche, sailing and windsurfing with tuition, kayaking, SUP boarding, tennis, mountain biking and a fitness programme.
To book call 0844 2736796 or visit www.markwarner.co.uk
Disclosure: we paid for our holiday. MW are an advertiser of NVN but this review was independently written.