The start of The Holiday Project

I’ve just started on Amanda Alexander’s annual Fulfilment and Balance (FaB) group coaching course for working mums. It is indeed FaB, with a great bunch of women, all facing the same ‘ishoos’ about balancing work and being a great mummy and hanging onto your own sense of identity too.

One of the questions Amanda asked in the introductory questionnaire was ‘what do you love doing so much that it gives you energy’. One of the (shockingly few) things that came to mind was the planning and organising of Family Events, such as birthday parties and holidays. And this week, as I started investigation into possible holiday options, I did indeed feel a little tingle of excitement.

We haven’t yet taken the plunge of holidaying with friends, for many reasons, and although we have been away with the grandparents on a couple of occasions with great success, we’re thinking a proper summer holiday with just the four of us. And by proper, I mean abandoning my eco credentials at the entrance to Gatwick and getting on a plane. Last year we did the driving to France thing via Baby Friendly Boltholes (lovely, though DS was a 10 month old shouting little bugger throughout), and we’ve got years of France and Cornwall coming up after DD starts school this September. So we thought: take advantage of being able to go abroad in June rather than school holidays, and only having one child air fare as DS isn’t two until the end of August.

We’ve narrowed it down to Spain or Portugal, and I’m thinking a self-catering apartment in or with access to a bigger hotel resort with all the facilities. I don’t know why anyone would go on summer hols with their children and use the kid’s club for five full days, but a couple of hours lying in peace with a book would be heaven.

A friend recommended Pine Cliffs, next to the Sheraton on the Algarve, and it looks heaven, though rather pricey and we might have to sit through a timeshare presentation. (We’ve done this before, by accident in Skiathos, when I fell for one of those scratchcard scams and ended up being driven up into the mountains to a hotel with no escape for hours. I don’t think DH would be very happy if we had to do that again)

Any other ideas warmly welcomed please! What’s worked best for you as a family holiday with two smalls? And what were the nightmares?



  1. We did a self catering resort in spain with a nearly 2 year old and a 4 year old and to be honest was not a great success! We only went for one week at the start of June and the weather was awful. It rained every day and we only got to use the outside pool one day. There was very little to do inside and the smallest would not go to the creche on site. My older girl did go to the kids club which she enjoyed.

    If the weather had been better it would have been a good choice, I think we were just unlucky !

  2. Can’t comment on what to do with two smalls, as only one to boot at present. Our experiences:
    We did a lastminutedotcom week away to the Algarve in September with Little Monster at 7 mth old; self-catering villa and pool plus car. Great choice and great fun, although the pool was a bit cold by then and the rocket fuelled crawler managed to fall down a marble staircase chasing after a toy… child fine with a hug (and quick once over from me), parental nerves needed something stronger to calm down with! Child friendly place to go (Portugal is great and Monster was welcomed everywhere we went) and car meant we were not tied to anyone/place. Downsides – being on our own terms meant nowhere to offload Little Monster for a while, so little time to chill a deux. But that did mean the ‘family holiday’ was exactly that, with opportunities to share (and care for monster) time together not just one on one. Saying that, we both got time off to relax with the other exploring the area with Monster in tow. All in all a good experience and good country to visit. Would do it again in an heartbeat.

    Most recent holiday was UK based and not the best. Predictable summer weather was, well, predictable, and it rained. Monster, then two, loved it – rain, puddles, boats, sandcastles (rain does not stop these, just perhaps parental enjoyment of building them with cold-ish fingers…) We had back-up plans for places to go, which helped, but paying for ‘organised activities’ made things far more expensive and time-table driven. Little Monster loved the adventure of being somewhere new with M+D regardless of the weather/location. Personally I would go abroad for more guaranteed sunshine next time, if only for our own grown up enjoyment and improved evening relaxation time.

  3. two key decisions are 1. Hire car, or stay within the resort?

    and 2. pool or beach?

    If you want to have the option to go exploring by car to nearby towns, Then Algarve offers less choice than Costa Brava in my experience.

    If you want the beach, then Algarve is not great for little ones. very cold sea, quite windy.

    Costa brava has similar climate to Majorca, and plenty of resorts.

    for guaranteed sun, go to The Canaries but choose resort carefully. wide range from beer/chips/disco resorts to well-posh enclaves. Lanzarote is a bit barren and no proper beaches. Friends all love Tenerife but I have’nt been (yet!). The longer flight is worth it.

  4. Thanks for all your comments – v useful! I’ve just found a little cracker, I think – a week in mid June in self-catering apartment on golf resort near Murcia in Spain with access to swanky club down the road, via Holiday Can’t believe easyJet are charging £18 per bag, though! Luckily DD and DS’s clothes are very small…

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