By Nadine Mellor, Kids Collection Editor

Having kids in tow makes one realise how fast time passes. In a blink of an eye, they grow from babies to toddlers to choosing your care home. We’re reflecting on time’s winged arrow here at i-escape HQ as we mark the moment our award-winning Kids Collection of stylish family hideaways turns 10. To mark the occasion, we’ve picked 10 winning hotels and villas for the categories we think are key to family holidays.

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10 years ago, along with the legalisation of same-sex marriage in the UK, Andy Murray winning Wimbledon, and Get Lucky topping the charts, our pioneering micro-site Kids Collection was launched.

The i-escape team researched how family-friendly our partner properties were, discovering details such as kids’ menus, kids’ clubs, best rooms for families, what baby gear is available to borrow, activities at or near the property, what parent pampering is available, useful information like distances from the airport and to the nearest shops, and if there was anything parents should bear in mind about the property, such as steep steps or unfenced pools.

For those which made the grade for welcoming families – and that meant more than simply adding a camp bed to a hotel room – properties were awarded 1, 2 or 3 Stars for Family (1 Star = going the extra mile for families; 3 Stars = truly outstanding family-focused ethos).

Additional search terms were added to the site so parents could search by age (whether best for babies, toddlers, kids or teens), by type (such as boutique hotels, family villa, city apartment, beach bolthole), and by must-have amenity or service (such as babysitting, pool, cots, kids’ club, kids’ meals, beach).

We created subsections for our favourite family villas, family city breaksfamily adventure and easy family beach.

And over time we’ve set up a dedicated Instagram account, personally visited (with family in tow) family-focused properties, written many informative blog posts and newsletters on family travel, and added lots more stylish family hideaways to the Collection, which now represents 2/3 of our entire portfolio.

We’ve also been awarded ‘Best Family Travel Brand’ in the Junior Design Awards, and our Kids Collections has been commended by the Guardian, who named us as one of the best boutique hotel websites.

And now we reach a decade of family travel! So, to mark the occasion, we’ve pinpointed 10 categories we feel are the most important when it comes to family travel. For each category, we’ve picked a winning hotel or villa and a runner-up. These are the Kids Collection superstars that get a solid 10/10 from us.

1 Best pool

Winner: Columbia Beach Resort

There’s not one but two enormous swimming pools at Columbia Beach Resort in southern Cyprus – a huge one which is a bit more geared to families, and a frankly enormous lagoon-style affair which stretches into the spa and has beach-style sides. Both have pool bars and eateries attached, and both feature crescent-shaped toddler splash pools alongside. Oh, and the beach, watersports, food, kids’ club and spacious suites ain’t half-bad either.

Runner-up: Glamorous Goldeneye on Jamaica’s north coast has a massive lagoon-style pool, which is part seawater and part spring water, plus a couple of freshwater pools and a splash pool for little’uns. The 58-acre resort offers plenty of other attractions for families, including white sand beaches, caves, watersports, glass-bottomed boat trips, kids’ menus, babysitting, jungle tours, zip lining and kids’ yoga.

2 Best hotel for active kids

Winner: Haus Hirt

The Alps are a brilliant playground both summer and winter for kids and adults of all ages. Hole up at boutique spa hotel Haus Hirt in the Austrian Alps for a myriad of outdoor pursuits year-round (programmes are published weekly) that include complimentary daily hikes, archery, skiing, climbing, horse riding, fishing, mini-golf, yoga, gold panning, cable-car riding, and finishing up with marshmallow toasting and bonfire nights. There’s also an indoor pool, great grub and movie nights.

Runner-up: A newer addition to the Kids Collection, and already an award-winner, boutique nature retreat Coot Club offers loads of outdoor fun from its enviable location between lagoon, mountain and sea. The estuary teems with wildlife and plant species, the views are spectacular, and the watersports (SUP, kayaking and sailing) are excellent. There are two swimming pools, fat bikes to borrow, lawn games to play and terrific hiking and beach safaris. Stay in cottages or boathouses.

3 Best family villa

Winner: The Rou Estate

In the Corfu hills, with shimmering views across the Ionian seas to Albania, The Rou Estate comprises 14 elegant villas of 2-5 bedrooms, so you’ll find one just right for your family. All have large living spaces, full kitchens and private pools. There’s a shared infinity pool, lovely gardens, a restaurant serving typical Greek fare, the hilltop location keeps you cool in the summer, and the beach is 15 minutes away.

Runner-up: A trio of boutique beach villas (for 4-8) on a golden Sri Lankan beach with panoramic Indian Ocean views, architect-designed Sri Villas have lush tropical gardens, fabulous staff (including a chef) and a 30m lap pool (plus baby pool for toddlers). It can be taken together or separately – ideal if you’re a multi-generational party or family gathering.

4 Best selling family property

Winner: Villas Martinhal Sagres

Villas Martinhal on the SW tip of the Algarve has it all: all-ages kids’ clubs, a golden beach, activities galore for all ages, a knock-out playground, oodles of baby kit to borrow, stylish villas so you can self-cater but there are lots of on-site eateries (with kids’ menus) too, plus unfailingly charming staff.

Runner-upChateau Les Carrasses in Languedoc has been converted into chic self-catering suites and villas, each with its own private space, in an idyllic rural setting of vineyards, meadows and woodland. It has a large heated infinity pool, bikes to borrow, tennis courts, a mini-farm, a lovely brasserie (with a kids’ menu), and a summer kids’ club.

5 Best beach bolthole

Winner: Arenas del Mar

Classy resort hotel Arenas del Mar is perched high on a bluff with two horseshoe bays either side, one is a private semi-circle of sand with a beach restaurant and pool, the other a long expanse of sand backed by jungle and the Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica’s most visited. There’s paragliding, surfing, kayaking through the mangroves and beach barbecues of an evening before you head out on your night safari, and do check out the daily programme of activities for all the family. Your fascinating wildlife tour through the national park ends on a third horseshoe bay beach of perfect white sand.

Runner-up: On a perfect sickle-shaped private beach of soft white sand, backed by littoral rainforest on the northern tip of Malaysia’s Langkawi island, The Datai is a thing of wonder and beauty. Try windsurfing and paddleboarding, kayaking and snorkelling. Sun loungers are shaded, and there’s an excellent beach bar and restaurant alongside. You reach the beach via a grand staircase and an enchanting butterfly walk. Heaven.

6 Best for babies & toddlers

Winner: Country Kids

Paradise for families with small fry, Country Kids is a former farm turned mini-all-inclusive resort with a creche and play group, soft-play, tractor and pony rides, ball pond, playground, trampolines and a big petting farm. Two nights of babysitting per week is included in the rates, and there’s even a dedicated toddler pool.

Runner-up: High in the hills above the Costa Blanca, family-sized retreat Caserio del Mirador has a delightful pool with long views, a menagerie of animals to meet, a sandpit, trampoline, dressing-up boxes, a play park, and rocking horses. The hosts are remarkable, providing meals, baby and toddler gear, and instilling a house party vibe for all ages.

7 Best kids’ club

Winner: Almyra

For a great fly-and-flop option with terrific kids’ clubs, coastal hotel Almyra is absolutely superb for a family looking for a really restful break. It’s just 20 minutes from the airport, with several pools to choose from, and superlative childcare in the all-day creche and kids’ clubs, which cater for ages 4 months to 12 years. Daily activities include T-shirt painting, beach games, treasure hunts, pottery, mini-golf, water park excursions, photography, and sports lessons on the under-12s playing field next door

Runner-up: This upscale family resort is laid out like an Italian village and has a mix of townhouses and suites. There’s a shuttle to the beach, gourmet restaurants, a sensational spa and vast swimming pools. Yet its the excellent kids clubs we like best at Borgo Egnazia, catering for babies to teens, with crafts, soft play, Lego, tennis, kite-surfing, painting, cooking, art and the brilliant kids pool (with a shallow end for small ones).

8 Best family city break

Winner: Martinhal Lisbon Chiado

Martinhal Chiado is in the centre of Lisbon, has cool studios and apartments (sleeping up to 6 plus a baby), a brilliant kids’ club (loads of toys and games, complete with indoor climbing wall), and evening pyjama parties so you can head out to dine nearby. There’s also an on-site cafe which serves kid-friendly meals and has a supervised Kids’ Corner during breakfast.

Runner-up: In the tranquil Palmeraie, just outside bustling Marrakech, stylish yet informal oasis Jnane Tamsna has stylish rooms across 5 houses, several swimming pools, kids’ menus and extraordinarily wonderful gardens. Do check out the imaginative activities for kids during school holidays, including belly dancing and magic lessons, Arabic calligraphy tuition and tennis coaching.

9 Best UK property

Winner: Moonfleet Manor

On Dorset’s compelling Jurassic Coast, laid-back Moonfleet Manor offers activities galore, from fossil-hunting to the climbing wall; arcade games to soft play. Parents get 90 minutes of free childcare per day (we suggest you spend it in the spa), kids get a kids’ club and creche, books and toys, and a dedicated kids’ pool. Rooms are spacious and sleek. The food is great too.

Runner-up: This private estate in a secluded South Devon valley is a wonderland for families with young children. Gitcombe Estate has 9 family-friendly cottages (sleeping 4-13) sharing two heated swimming pools, a sauna, tennis court, and adventure playground and a hot tub; the beach is 10 minutes away.

10 Best value family hideaway

Winner: Azur Hotel

Set in idyllic flowering gardens, a stone’s throw from one of Turkey’s most stunning beaches, with two pools and a small playground, Azur Hotel is a collection of simple stone houses and wooden cabins which have a double and a twin room apiece.

Runner-up: An eco-retreat just inland from Portugal’s Atlantic coast, in a bucolic meadow and cork oak woodland setting with a natural swimming pool (plus great jetty for dive bombing in), Muxima offers charming suites for families and delicious breakfasts.