Looking for October half-term inspiration, late summer breaks or where to go for the August bank holiday? We round-up five of the best short-haul breaks that are as good for parents as they are for kids
1 Pavillon de la Reine, Paris
Paris is at its best in August when the locals leave town, and the wide boulevards are wonderfully quiet. Set on the Place des Vosges in the heart of the Marais, Paris’ oldest quartier, Pavillon de Reine is totally safe and wonderfully quiet making it ideal for a family break. The hotel dates back to the 17th century and is covered in greenery, hidden away from the galleries and cafés of the Place des Vosges by a private courtyard, awash with roses, it feels more like a private home rather than a hotel.
Families are well looked after, with interconnecting rooms and plenty to do. Children can practice their French with the local enfants in the small playground and a sandpit opposite the hotel, while some of the best museums in Paris are close by. Take a stroll down to the Seine in the sunshine, or visit the local boulangerie to buy the best ingredients for a picnic on the grassy Place des Vosges, often named one of the most beautiful squares in the world.
Pavillon de la Reine has €50 off rooms and 50% off a second room for families for August 2014 – from €495/£403 per night, based on two adults and two children under eleven sharing two rooms, or from €618/£504 per person for five nights. Eurostar offers services from London to Paris from £69 return for adults and £49 return for children under 11. pavillon-de-la-reine.com
2 Mosaic Palais Aziza & Spa, Marrakech
Mosaic Palais Aziza & Spa, Marrakech, is offering parents the chance to enjoy the best of both worlds: a magical Moroccan family holiday and stolen moments away from the kids. Set in the exclusive Palmerie area of Marrakech – often described as the Mayfair of Marrakech – where well-watered lawns give way to beautiful riads and palaces, Mosaic Palais Aziza & Spa’s grounds are a lovely spot for children splash around in the large outdoor pool and run around the groomed gardens, leaving you the chance to slip away, while a complimentary babysitter keeps an eye on them.
Enjoy alone time with a traditional hammam treatment for two in the spa, before re-grouping for a family camel adventure or guided tour of the Medina and souks where there is so much for curious eyes to take in. The monkeys, snakes and endless trinkets will captivate your family.
The Best of Both Worlds at Mosaic Palais Aziza & Spa from €2,085 (approx. £1,719) based on a family of four (two adults and two children under 12) staying for three nights. Price includes three course lunch at La Pergola or dinner at Maroliano restaurant each day (not including drinks), a one hour camel ride, a Hammam spa treatment for two adults, and a one hour baby sitter service for children during the treatment. Half-day guided tour of the medina is an additional €80 per family. Mosaic Villa accommodation available, flights are extra. mosaicpalaisaziza
3 La Réserve Geneva
La Réserve Geneva’s lake-side location and short flight time from London make it a wonderful option for a family holiday. This year from Monday 30 June – Friday 1 August and then Monday 18 – 22 August, the hotel’s 10-acre private gardens on the shores of Lake Geneva play host to five-day multisport courses for kids where they will learn to play tennis, wakeboard, sail, paddleboard and scuba in the swimming pool. After all this there will still be time to enjoy La Petite Réserve, the hotel’s open-air playground. This is a no-go zone for parents, welcoming kids from 6 months to 13 years old, under the supervision of a childcare team. It is built on stilts and home to games tables and a wooden obstacle course filled with climbing logs, a suspension bridge and a fireman’s pole. Swimming teachers offer swimming and diving lessons at the outdoor pool, and special programmes to overcome fear of water, in both group classes and private lessons can also be arranged.
While the kids are off having fun, lie by the pool, enjoy the award-winning spa or fantastic dining before arranging a trip into Geneva on the hotel’s complimentary Venetian taxi boat shuttle which goes from the lakeside right outside the hotel into Geneva city centre.
The five day activity courses start from £1,100 per child. This includes all sports activities, lunches and teas, qualified carers for your child, access to La Petite Réserve from 8.45 am to 6 pm. Superior Rooms at La Réserve Geneva start from £350 per room, per night. There are interconnecting rooms available for families. lareserve.ch
4 The Residence, Tunis
Tunisia’s most family-friendly hotel The Residence has launched a new Golf Performance Academy for adults and children on its superb Robert Trent Jones II 18-hole course. The Academy offers mental, technical and physical training for beginners or advance golfers wishing to improve all aspects of their game. Using state-of-the-art software to monitor brain activity, golfers are taught to relax, focus and visualise in order to reach their golfing potential.
The hotel’s par 72 links course is right in the middle of a natural reserve and has been carefully integrated to complement the beautiful surroundings. In addition to the golf clinics and personal coaching The Residence Tunis’ new GolfPerformanceAcademy has a year round driving range, 50 green bays, three dedicated short green games, a large putting green, online coaching (performance statistics, exercise programmes and drills) and a junior golf school. If all this sounds like too much exertion, relax at Les Thermes Marins de Carthage Spa.
Tour operator package: Enjoy 7 nights at The Residence Tunis from £935 per person including daily breakfast, international flights and private transfers. Book with Bailey Robinson; 01488 689 700; baileyrobinson.com theresidence.com/tunis
5 Torralbenc, Menorca
This is a great option for teenage girls. The boutique hotel in Menorca, which opened last year, offers plenty of opportunities to explore the surrounding culture, from spring and autumn horse treks to diving expeditions and now it has a fantastic shoe-focused offer.
Menorca has a long tradition for making high quality leather goods and over a weekend stay at Torralbenc, guests will be guided through the Old Town of Ciutadella, visiting authentic albarcas ateliers – or Menorcan sandals – and the Jaime Mascaro shoe factory.
Albarcas are now fashionware, but these extremely comfortable sandals were originally made as simple footwear for farmers. Never mass-produced, they lend themselves to individualism and these days feature a myriad of designs and in a rainbow of different coloured leathers. The shape is unisex and the soft leather moulds to any foot. The Jaime Mascaro factory opened on the island in 1918, making ballet shoes. It now has three global brands – Jaime Mascaro, Ursula Mascaro and, most famously, Pretty Ballerinas, much loved by Kate Moss, Lily Allen, Claudia Schiffer and Kylie Minogue.
‘Menorca at Your Feet’ – from €575 per room, based on two sharing a two night stay on a B&B basis. Price includes guided tour of Ciutadella, visit to Albarcas atelier and the J Mascaro factory. Also includes a pair of Albarcas each, 30 min reflexology/pedicure, and a bottle of Menorcan wine and local sweets in room on arrival. torralbenc.com