Luxury Family Holidays Handpicked for Parents

Monthly Archives: August 2014

Ursula Hirschkorn, the mother behind the fabulous blog Four Down, Mum to Go is our latest fantastic blogger to offer her wise and very experienced thoughts on how to travel with tots in tow and how to have a happy family holiday. She has four boys, including twins. Aside from her blog musings, Ursula can be followed @fourdownmumtogo.

Four down, mum to go boys

Travelling with children should probably come with a health warning, particularly if you are foolish enough to have four boys like me. That said, as a parent of a 10-year old, an 8-year-old and five-year-old twins, I find myself in regular need of a restorative break, even if the children do have to tag along.

Pros and Cons of family travel

I firmly believe the key to a successful break, en famille, is to ensure that there is enough in the way of activities and amusement to keep everyone happy, no matter where you go.

There is precious little point in booking a meandering wine tasting tour of Provence with four little non-drinkers in tow. I should know; I tried it once with disastrous results. I can now declare with confidence that long, boozy lunches in posh French restaurants and English toddlers, who eat nothing but pizza, do not mix well.

Equally, as I didn’t actually have all my brain cells sucked out along with the babies during labour, I cannot bear a holiday that involves nothing but ‘child-friendly’ activities. I am sorry, but it is not a holiday if I have to spend it pushing a buggy at the bottom of endless rollercoasters while the older ones get their thrills at a theme park. Nor do I consider chain restaurant burger and chips an exotic treat.

St James Royal Miami pool

So the magical formula is to find a location where there is enough fun stuff to keep the kids happy, but enough culture, food and, alright I admit it, shopping, to keep the parents happy. That being the case, some of my most successful holidays have been to the States.

The United States

America, arguably, might not have much to offer in the way of culture, but it certainly knows how to welcome a family, even one as large and boisterous as mine.

Contrary to popular belief, the food is a great mix of favourites the kids will eat and top quality dishes that leave parents equally satisfied. Even better, there appears to be no such thing as a child-friendly restaurant, because all restaurants make small diners feel at home. When my jet-lagged four-year-old fell asleep draped along a banquette in a smart California steakhouse, no one batted an eyelid.

St James Royal Miami pool views

As for activities, well I will admit to a serious weakness for American shopping malls. Normally, shopping with my sons is something I would avoid like the plague. But American malls come complete with play areas and plush baby and child areas playing Disney DVDs on a loop.

I can leave my husband to kick back in a recliner while he keeps an eye on the kids in the play area, while I let myself loose in Macys without fear that they will get bored and start bothering me before I’ve covered a single department.

But it’s not all about me (unfortunately) and we have enjoyed many attractions as a family including the fabulous USS Midway aircraft carrier moored in San Diego (I particularly loved posing with the same plane Tom Cruise flew in Top Gun), watching baby dolphins play in the Dolphin Habitat at the Mirage, and the amazing Mystere show by Cirque du Soleil at Treasure Island, both in Las Vegas.

Four down, mum to go holiday picture

We have also done the requisite Disneyland Florida trip many times and, while the plastic jollity of the theme parks isn’t for everyone, I have always made the trip tolerable by tacking on a week in one of the delightful Florida coastal seaside resorts. Anna Maria Island is particularly beautiful, with acres of pure white sand and blue sea to provide an adult antidote to Mickey and friends.

Staying at home

Despite the delights of America, you don’t have to cross the Atlantic for a fabulous family holiday. Staying at home in the UK has plenty of benefits, too. As long as you can hack the drive (DVD players, iPads and a mountain of snacks are the only way to go), there are some stunning places to explore.

My top picks would be Northumberland, with its Harry Potter castle at Alnwick and endless sandy beaches, Pembrokeshire for its cliff top walks and rockpools, or Shropshire with it’s rolling countryside and fascinating Ironbridge museums, that would take a whole week to explore properly.

So, while a family holiday has the potential to be harder work than staying at home, if you pick your destination with care it can be the recuperative break all parents crave. And if money were no object? I would whisk my brood off to the Turks and Caicos in the British West Indies. I spent my 26th birthday on the paradise island of Providenciales and remember celebrating by standing at midnight up to my knees in the deliciously warm crystal clear sea, wriggling my toes into the soft, powder white sand and raising a glass of champagne to the starlit sky. It was the most perfect moment in the most perfect place, so where better to have the perfect family holiday? I can imagine nothing more idyllic than building sandcastles and snorkelling with my boys on the Bacardi-ad beach of Grace Bay. 


Safaris, as we’ve said before, may not smack as family-friendly but, in some excellent cases, they are both accommodating and welcoming of children, as well as adults. The fact that safari suites can be mind-blowingly luxurious (not to mention eco-friendly), has made safari much more appealing to previous travel cynics. And today, parents shouldn’t write them off just because they are holidaying with children. This is a far greater way to introduce children to wildlife than in a zoo and the following two are particularly family-frendly.

Abu Camp elephant

Victoria Falls Safari Suites, Zimbabwe

Newly opened in April this year, the Victoria Falls Safari Suites offer sumptuous boutique accommodation from Africa Albida Tourism (AAT), the experts in Victoria Falls. Zimbabwe really may not reign top of your family travel list, but I’m assured by those in the know that Victoria Falls is the one part of the country totally unaffected by the politics and social strife of Zimbabwe, a place where tourism has remained steadfast throughout the years.

Victoria Falls Safari Lodge suite

The Victoria Falls Safari Lodge is an iconic property and the six new stand-alone suites now make it an ideal stop for families. Each offer stunning views of the bush, water holes and lots of impressive wildlife. You can choose from either two or three bedrooms; each suite has floor-to-ceiling glass doors that slide open to a patio where sundowners can be sipped before the sunset after a day exploring the Falls. All have en-suite rainfall showers which, let’s face it, may not be a big seller for the kids, but you’ll love such touches. And for the children? Well, there is more than enough to chose from: crocodile farms and supervised bush walks, boat rides through Chobe National Park to Lion walks and elephant back trails, canoeing the upper Zambezi to fishing trips on the Zambezi river – this is the stuff of legendary family holidays.

Abu Camp wildlife

Abu Camp, Okavango, Botswana

The Okavango Delta, one of the most incredible wilderness sanctuaries in Africa, is no less than 15,000 km² of water channels, lagoons and islands. Each year, floodwaters flow from the central African highlands over 1,000 kilometres away straight into the Delta, the result of which is this wondrous wetland within a desert. And nestled at the heart of it all is Wilderness Collection’s Abu Camp, which offers the ultimate experience for elephant lovers, or those wanting to get to know them better. Proudly offering guides who are specially trained for children (aged 6 and upwards), Wilderness Collection has introduced the ‘Bush buddy’ programme, which is available at Abu Camp. Upon arrival, children up to the age of 12 are given a unique Bush Buddy Bag filled with safari keepsakes, (one such example being a bug viewer), ‘My SafariGuide’ booklet, a water bottle, a cap and an eco-friendly wind-up torch. Teenage packs include a mini-Maglite torch and branded cap for those aged between 13 and 18. Activities arranged by guards for the children are always designed around the natural environment and are, of course, absolutely supervised and totally safe.

Abu Camp family and elephantAbu Camp elephant ride

The Elephant Experience

The Elephant Experience is one of the highlights of Abu Camp and offers a rare glimpse at these stunning creatures within one of the few remaining wetland wildernesses on the African continent. Aside from walking with these stunning creatures, you’ll be able to watch them mud-bathing and training and, if your children are up to it, enjoy elephant-back safaris. And after a day in the Delta, the intoxicatingly gorgeous accommodation on offer makes for the perfect place to unwind and relax as a family. Who says safaris and kids don’t mix!?

Abu Camp bar areaAbu Camp swimming pool

I have long been a fan of Marrakech. Having been lucky enough to first fly there back in 2009 to review two stunning hotels for Elle magazine, the in-your-face force of food, sound, scent and stunning architecture touched me the moment I stepped off the plane at Menara airport. The balmy heat, citrus groves outside my bedroom’s ornate terrace and the buzz of the medina made for a fabulous stay; (as did a seriously sensual massage from a gorgeous South African masseuse, but that’s a whole other story). Days spent in the hubbub of the city were followed by three days in the Atlas mountains amongst the Berber people, detoxing, hiking, sleeping and enjoying some delicate yoga. I was in love and have longed to go back ever since. Fast forward from those days and, now a mother, I am curious about the experience of Morocco’s best known city as a family destination. One such place that makes a bustling spot appealing with a three year old is the Mosaic Palais Aziza & Spa Hotel.

Mosaic Palais Aziza & Spa hotel palace and pool

The Mosaic Palais Aziza & Spa Hotel

This summer, this stunning hotel in the exclusive Palmerie area of the city promises to allow parents some romantic time alone while keeping children very well occupied. Between the camel rides, the organised visits to the souk (which you’ll appreciate if you’ve never been before – you can get pretty well haggled and hassled), and the five acres of scented gardens on the property, there is something for everyone. Located just ten minutes from the Medina amid private palaces, you’re near enough to everything to venture in and out of the market spaces, but return to an oasis where children can roam freely and play in the beautiful outdoor pool. More of a home in feel than a hotel, The Mosaic Palais Aziza & Spa Hotel affords you the luxury and service of a five star hotel and the privacy and safety of a house, while being as close to the action as is possible.

Mosaic Palais Aziza & Spa hotel terrace

The Spa

No visit to Morocco is complete without a traditional Hammam and the 670 square meter spa of this fabulous hotel is no exception. No need to worry about the children as complimentary babysitters are on hand to take care of them while you unwind in the capable hands of the spa staff. There are Hammam treatments available for two if you want to make a date of it which, after one of the hotel’s excursions into the Medina for monkey, snake and chameleon spotting, as well as some good old fashioned haggling while shopping, will be much needed.

Mosaic Palais Aziza & Spa hotel junior suite

The Food

The spice and flare of Moroccan cuisine may not appeal to all (especially the younger, more discerning diners amongst you), which is why the combination of Mediterranean and Moroccan flavours at the hotel’s Maroliano restaurant work so well. There are six large private pavilions in which to enjoy an intimate dinner en famille. After the sights, sounds and smells of a day spent in the Medina, this sort of peace and quiet will be welcomed and in such beautiful surroundings? That’s what I’m talking about.

Mosaic Palais Aziza & Spa hotel pool and restaurant


All of the accommodation types are fabulous, but if you’re travelling as a family the pavilions or the garden suites are highly recommended. With jacuzzi tubs, separate rain showers and large, feather beds amidst spacious bedrooms, there will be room enough for you all.

For more information on the hotel click here.

To book this hotel click here. 

To view our family-friendly guide to Marrakech click here.