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To celebrate the second birthday of its Kids Collection, boutique accommodation specialist i-escape.com has announced the winners of its ‘Best for Kids’ awards 2013. Selected from over 850 family-friendly properties by the Collection’s Editor Nadine Mellor, the awards give families an insight into the breadth of exciting holiday options available to them and provide plenty of inspiration for those planning their 2014 travels.
Whether you’re looking for boutique family hotels, cool pools or island adventures, not to mention jungle jaunts or city-centre culture, the collection has something for even the fussiest offspring. And proves how it is possible to travel ‘in style’, even when you have a family in tow…
Best for… being new (summer 2013): Manoir du Moulin, Loire Valley, France
Why: A superb bijou retreat with gorgeous gardens that include a paddling pool and mini-playground, this charming 5-bedroom manor house warmly welcomes families. The friendly Canadian owners have thoughtfully provided heaps of baby and toddler equipment, and there are lots of local attractions for children, including a zoo, beaches, a nearby swimming pool, an amusement park and an aquarium.
Cost: Suite sleeping 2 adults and 1 child from £110 per night (low season). including breakfast and taxes. Plus homemade cakes, cookies and canapés on arrival, as a thank you for booking through i-escape.
Best… villas for all ages: Fawakay Villas, outside Marrakech, Morocco
Why: This collection of 3 villas is brilliantly located for those wanting to visit Marrakech’s teeming medina, but being able to escape the hustle and bustle, too. The ability to rent them together or separately means it can cater to large or small family parties and, with facilities including a pool, tennis courts, table tennis, farm animals, books and DVDs, it will suit a range of ages. Owners Dawn and Francis have 4 children of their own and are exceptionally well set-up to cater for families. Kids of all ages will be entertained by princess mini spa treatments, ‘minichef’ classes and clay modelling on site; plus within 20-30 minutes’ drive is a water park, camel and horse riding, dune-buggy riding, quad biking, day trips to Marrakech Medina and day treks in the Atlas Mountains.
Cost: Villa Laklak (1 double room and 1 twin room, plus a private garden and plunge pool) costs £270 per night, including breakfast and taxes, plus a hand-painted pot as a thank you for booking through i-escape.
Best for… active older kids: Round Hill Hotel and Villas, Montego Bay, Jamaica
Why: With so much on offer for both tweens and teens, you may only see them at mealtimes! From reggae lessons to watersports, and talent shows to river rafting, the fantastic 7-Up Club caters for 7 year olds to teenagers with a wide range of activities. There are facilities on site including movies, tennis courts and a fully equipped games room with foosball, Wii, Xbox, Rock Band and karaoke, as well as the ability to organise excursions such as glass-bottomed boat trips or nature walks.
Cost: Book 2 Classic Villa Suites in the same villa, sleeping 2 adults and 2 children, from £646 per night, based on accommodation only and excluding 25% tax. Price includes a bottle of wine as a thank you for booking through i-escape.
Best for… kids’ sleeping quarters: Kurland, Garden Route, South Africa
Why: This small but luxurious country hotel not only offers exquisite rooms, swimming pools, polo stables and a spa - but also a home away from home. The double-storeyed suites have imaginatively playful loft rooms specially designed for children, with low slanting ceilings, bright blankets, mini dressing gowns, toy baskets and even their own bathroom. Kids will absolutely love them and, with babysitters on hand and solutions for everything (including fussy eaters), parents will have a great time, too.
Cost: Luxury Suite sleeping 2 adults and 2 children from £305 per night, including breakfast and taxes.
Best for… a family island adventure: Flying Boat Cottages, Tresco, Isles of Scilly, UK
Why: With no cars and plenty of places to explore, unspoilt Tresco is heaven for kids. It is an utterly magical place with its wondrous sense of freedom - hire bikes, go crabbing, learn to sail, play tennis, become a knight or princesses in ruined castles, take a boat trip and discover hidden treehouses. At the end of the day return to the stylish Flying Boat Cottages on the seafront. They come in a range of sizes, are close to the café, shop and restaurant, and share a pool.
Cost: Cottage sleeping 6 from £211 per night, accommodation only but including taxes, plus a bottle of house wine in the Clubhouse as a thank you for booking through i-escape.
Best for… great value: Azur Hotel, near Antalya, Turkey
Why: Comprising 20 comfy wooden cabins set in idyllic gardens, with a great pool that has a shallow end for kids, and just 5 minutes from the sandy beach, this friendliest of hotels also provides excellent value for money, especially in the shoulder seasons. Children get the run of the place, including the small playground, and there are half-portions served in the restaurant.
Cost: Stone Bungalow sleeping 2 adults, 2 children and a baby from £65 per night, including breakfast and taxes, plus a bottle of wine as a thank you for booking through i-escape.
Best for… jungle encounters: Bosque del Cabo Rainforest Lodge, Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica
Why: This spot is perfect for children with a sense of wild adventure. Set within its own 750-acre rainforest reserve, the Lodge offers amazing wildlife encounters. Join an early morning birding walk or sunset tour, and spot bats, kinkajou, possum, reptiles, frogs, insects and snakes - as well as brightly coloured toucans, parakeets and macaws. Nearby activities include horse riding, surfing and a zip-line.
Cost: Casa Blanca sleeping 2 adults and 2 children in a double and twin room from £247 per night, accommodation only but including taxes.
Best for… a Robinson Crusoe experience: Nikoi Island, Bintan Islands, Indonesia
Why: Kids will love making like Robinson Crusoe on their very own desert island. This private island with powdery white beaches is the perfect barefoot getaway, only inhabited by the resort’s 15 beach houses. Experience superb snorkelling in crystal-clear waters, plus treasure hunts and pirate adventures, jetty-jumping and rock climbing. The attentive staff are genuinely delighted to take little ones on nature trails and island adventures.
Cost: Two-bedroom Beach House from £300 per night, accommodation only but including taxes, plus a Nikoi T-shirt and cap as a thank you for booking through i-escape.
Best for… wildlife spotting: RiverBend Lodge, Addo, South Africa
Why: Budding David Attenboroughs will be in their element here. Children can take a mini-ranger course, go on bug hunts, get close to snakes and raptors, be taken on guided walks and see elephants and giraffes up close. They are given a personalised pack on arrival (age-appropriate goodies such as books on Africa and drawing materials) and are welcome on game drives, with families allocated a private vehicle where possible. This really is the ideal family safari solution.
Cost: Luxury Suite sleeping 2 adults, 1 child and a baby from £530 per night, all inclusive.
Best for… kids' clubs: Anassa, Cyprus
Why: This ultra-luxe 5-star beachside spa resort is truly family-friendly. Kids' clubs here are divided into 4 age ranges, plus a crèche, and all offer superlative childcare from 4 months until 17 years. There is a daily changing schedule of activities, ranging from air hockey to monkey football, origami to stone painting, yoga to water polo. The English-speaking staff are highly qualified and confidence-inspiring. Other facilities include play kitchens, tennis courts, a kids’ pool and playground, and there’s every conceivable watersport on offer, too.
Cost: Family Studio sleeping 2 adults and 2 children from £496 per night, including breakfast and taxes, plus €100 spa credit as a thank you for booking through i-escape.
Best for… water babies: Borgo Egnazia, Puglia, Italy
Why: This place is perfect for water babies and swimming stars. Not only is there a huge, sleekly designed kids' pool with plenty of space, but there are 2 further 25m-long swimming pools plus a heated indoor pool. Combined with beautiful, flexible accommodation, an excellent crèche and kids' club (from 8 months to teens), and plenty of things to do on and off site, this place is the winner for any budding ‘Rebecca Adlingtons’.
Cost: Two-storey ‘townhouse’ sleeping 2 adults and 2 children from £468 per night (low season), including breakfast and tax. Plus a bottle of wine, as a thank you for booking through i-escape.
Best for… a family city break: Brilliant Apartments, Berlin, Germany
Why: Make a city break with kids easy and affordable in these comfortable yet stylish self-catering apartments. They are set in the heart of the Prenzlauer Berg district, which has a Bohemian atmosphere and is teeming with young families, child-friendly cafés and local entertainment - plus there’s good public transport so you can easily venture further afield. Once back at the apartments you have the benefit of self-catering, and extra beds, cots, bedding and highchairs can all be provided.
Cost: Apartment sleeping 2 adults and 2 children from £84 per night, including tax. Plus a bottle of sparkling wine, as a thank you for booking through i-escape.
Click here to see the full i-escape Kids Collection.