For the last school half-term holiday of the year, we’ve unearthed some gorgeous places to take the kids for adventure, late-summer sun, city explorations and country charm. And all have special offers for you and your family.
One of the jewels in our Kids Collection crown: the elegant family villas at Villas St Pierre de Serjac, deep in authentic Languedoc countryside. Choose to self-cater or dine in style at the fine restaurant and cocktail bar. There are local markets, vineyards as far as the eye can see and quintessential villages. The kids will be more attracted to the large heated swimming pool, tennis courts, boules and holiday kids club, which arranges fun activities including scavenger hunts, den-building and foraging.
Offer: 10 free kids club half-day sessions for any booking of 7+ nights
By contrast, the glamping accommodation at Yorkshire’s Swinton Bivouac comes in the form of quirky off-grid woodland shacks and canvas yurts, both with wood-burning stoves and basic cooking facilities. There’s a cafe serving delicious home-made local fare, woods and pasture to romp through, bikes to hire, and a play area. There are waterfalls, castles and horse-riding close by.
Offer: 3 kids cooking courses on the Swinton Estate for ages 6-9 and 10-14, from £50/child
Tuscany in the autumn can be paradise found: truffle-scented bounty in local markets, glorious rolling hills bathed in warm sunshine, and far fewer crowds. The rustic-modern Fontelunga Villas sit in the beautiful Scannagallo Valley, near the Umbrian border. They nestle in the grounds of a traditional manor house and share a lavender-fringed swimming pool. One works for a family with a baby or young child, the other for a family of four plus a baby. Each has swish yet comfy interiors, a private garden and a terrace.
Exclusive Offer: 20% discount for a 7 night stay
Late October sees the end of the rainy season in Costa Rica, and is a good time to visit without the crowds you get at Christmas. The country’s signature cloud forest region is a must on any itinerary. Its mist-shrouded national parks teem with birdlife and, of course, there’s the excitement of seeing a real-life volcano in action. Base yourselves in Leaves and Lizards’ cosy cabins. They’re on a working farm (the kids can collect eggs in the morning) with views to Arenal volcano, which you can visit on a day trip. The farm also has horses to ride (you can try your hand at Costa Rican rodeo) and a swimming pool, plus there’s white-water rafting, caving and hot springs nearby.
Offer: Stay 4 nights pay 3 (and free pizza!)
The hauntingly beautiful Matarrana Mountains will delight families with older kids who yearn for the great outdoors. Found inland, about half a day from Valencia and Barcelona, they’re rich with medieval villages and ancient landscapes. There are wonderful walking trails, stunning gorges, turquoise lakes, waterfalls, horse riding, mountain biking and kayaking all to be discovered; go ibex, eagle or wild boar spotting! We recommend Mas de la Serra (available as a boutique hotel or a fabulous whole house rental), as it has a heated outdoor pool, a home cinema and great grub for when you return after the day’s excursions.
Offer: Stay 3 nights pay 2
Beach within reach
For families there are more than 4 Reasons to stay at this delightful boutique hotel and bistro, whose bougainvillea-draped houses cluster on a hillside overlooking Bodrum. But the top four cited by most are the superlative service you’ll receive (second to none), the sparkling swimming pool, the reasonable rates, and the close proximity to the beach. Enjoy watersports and hire a traditional gulet for a day cruise along the coast.
Offer: Stay 3 nights pay 2
There’s no question that any family would thrill to stay at Ian Fleming’s very own Jamaican estate, GoldenEye. The 58-acre resort of gardens, woodlands, caves, green lagoons, a pool and white-sand beaches is magical even without the 007 association. There are excellent watersports and glass-bottomed boat tours on offer, plus nearby you can watch turtles hatch, go zip-lining and swim with dolphins!
Offer: Stay 4 nights pay 3, stay 7 nights pay 5
Relax in tropical bliss at Coco Shambhala, where four serviced 2-bedroomed villas sit right beside tranquil Coco beach in North Goa. They share a free-form swimming pool yet each is screened by lush foliage for privacy. Each villa has a kitchen; 2 have outdoor showers, the other 2 have spa baths. This half-term, special creative weeks have been laid on for families, with cooking and pottery classes plus kids yoga sessions. The rates also include the use of a car and driver, and airport transfers.
Offer: Half-term Creative Kids package, for stays of 7+ nights
Lisbon is the perfect city for a half-term break: the weather is clement, there’s heaps to do, much of it within walking distance, and there’s good public transport for farther-flung sights (including those iconic yellow trams). In the heart of the city, Martinhal Lisbon Chiado is a new boutique apart-hotel with excellent facilities for families, including imaginative supervised play areas (there’s even a climbing wall). It also has a host of baby and toddler equipment to borrow if you’ve younger siblings to include in the party. The stylish 1- and 2-bedroom apartments all have kitchens, and there’s a family cafe on site.
Offer: Special discounted rates including breakfast and complimentary Kids Club until 10pm, plus 2 x 2-hr cooking demos
Just this week Scotland has been voted the most beautiful country in the world, and not just for its spectacular scenery, it has beautiful cities, too. Edinburgh wows with its castle atop a volcanic plug, its gracious Georgian terraces (both ‘Old’ and ‘New’ Towns are UNESCO-listed), and long views across the Firth of Forth. And there’s all that wonderful culture! It’s near impossible to get a room during the enormously popular summer months, so we suggest visiting in half-term. Stay at The Chester Residence, an elegant West End apart-hotel with luxurious self-catering apartments. Kids are catered for with PlayStations and Nintendos, games, toys, books and a DVD library.