AD | When is a perfect family holiday not a perfect family holiday? No, that’s not a typo, there really is a reason for my posing that question. What do you picture when you imagine your dream two week summer holiday getaway? I’m guessing sun, sea, sand, a pool, good food, fun activities, and spending some quality time together, yes? Because for many of us, that precious two weeks in July/August is something we look forward to, save up for, and invest a whole lot of expectation into each year. So what if those expectations aren’t met?
What is a perfect family holiday?
Firstly, there’s no right answer, what floats your boat may well be anathema to another family. I spent all my childhood summer holidays in Malta and I had a ball. The sea was clear, blue, and warm, the sun shone all the time, and when I wasn’t swimming, we were visiting various tourist attractions and dining out on Maltese cuisine every night. (My mother was very firmly of the opinion that holidays did not mean slaving over a hot stove). Alan, on the other hand, grew up in Scotland and most of his holidays were what we’d now call staycations. His globe trotting really got going after he’d joined the RAF, and today there are very few countries that he’s not visited. But we both have fabulous memories of our respective childhood holidays. Whether spent overseas with a villa pool, or at home with a blow up pool like one of these from Globo Surf. And to me, that’s what a perfect family holiday is all about: the chance to spend time together and make memories to last a lifetime.
Our first family holiday abroad
I remember swearing blind that having a child wouldn’t change our holidays, we’d still go to all the places we used to, and he/she would just have to fit in. Oh, how all my parent friends laughed. But, in the very early years, that’s exactly what happened. Alan and I used to go to Kalkan in Turkey every year (12 years running in fact) so, when Flora was six months old, we decided to introduce her to our favourite holiday destination too. As you can see, the locals were DELIGHTED to welcome us back…
The following year we went back again, but sadly realised that pushing a buggy up a seriously steep hill twice daily in 35 degree heat was not conducive to a perfect family holiday. Much as we loved Kalkan, there had to be an alternative to sweating by the pool and taking turns running around after an active toddler.
Villa holidays in Spain
The one thing we were always clear about was that we wanted our own private space and pool. For us, a villa means you can do your own thing. You can get up and go to bed when you want, eat what you like, not get into an early morning race to claim a sun lounger by the pool, and best of all, it feels like a home rather than a room.
Our following three holidays to Menorca gave us all that and more. Each time, we had our own two bedroom villa with a private pool and patio, which was literally minutes from the seafront and the main strip of restaurants. All we had to do was make memories: pony riding, trying paella, building sandcastles, going rock pooling, eating ice creams, swimming in our pool and the sea.
Villa holidays in Turkey
But Kalkan’s lure proved too strong to resist and back we went again for our next three holidays. So many memories here: Flora ordering her own food, trying and loving her first calamari, and feeling all grown up with her own fruit cocktail.
Other memories include her swimming and snorkelling like the proverbial fish, being allowed to steer our water taxis to and from the town, going out on multiple gulet boat trips, eating our body weight in ice cream, and cats. Always and forever, gazillions of cats, every day of our holidays, every year.
Villa holidays in Cyprus
All good things come to an end and as Flora got older, so the simple delights of Kalkan began to pall and more diverse activities were called for. Step forward Cyprus, which Alan knew well from his RAF days. Although we didn’t go ski-ing in the Troodos mountains, we did visit the most amazing zoo.
And hiring a car meant we could explore parts of the island that are inaccessible by bus. Secret coves, village restaurants, and several off the beaten track diversions, before coming back to cool down in our private pool.
Villa holidays in Lanzarote
Another casualty of her growing up was having to start taking holidays in July/August, which ruled out both Turkey and Cyprus as it’s too hot to breathe out there then. So for the last two years we’ve holidayed in Lanzarote. Still with our own villa and pool though, that’s the one constant. And visiting Rancho Texas to see the dolphins, going riding together, just her and me, and endless snorkelling in crystal clear waters will always be some of my most treasured memories.
What makes a perfect family holiday?
Coming back to the question I posed at the beginning of this post. Pristine white sands, turquoise waters, and smiling hand foot and finger service might well be a dream holiday for some. But I think the reality is so much simpler. It’s about being together, spending quality time with each other, and having the chance to reconnect and bond again. A recent study commissioned by Solmar Villas* found that the majority of parents see holidays as a key bonding time for them and their children. With no stress from household chores, homework, the school run, and work deadlines to intrude. Interestingly, the study also found children are better behaved on holiday than at home, indicating that it’s just as important for kids to have a break from everyday life as well.
We all live such busy lives that those precious two weeks away in the summer holidays really do have a lot to live up to. For us, booking a private villa with a pool is an essential part of that experience, a seed that was probably sown during my childhood in Malta. We haven’t decided yet where we’re going for our perfect family holiday this year. Spain and Greece are both up for discussion, but whichever we choose, I fancy a multi-centre holiday this time. Perhaps a villa on the Costa Brava together with a couple of nights in Barcelona? Having recently started working for a Spanish property portal, I’m sure my co-workers will have lots of brilliant suggestions of where to stay. Wherever we go though, I’m looking forward to making some more golden memories with the two most important people in my life again 🙂
Where do you like to go to for your family holidays? Are there any particular activities and accommodation that you prefer? What does the perfect family holiday look like to you?
* This is a sponsored post.