Luxury Family Holidays Handpicked for Parents

Monthly Archives: February 2015

Role Model with children

Role Models‘ Managing Director Hugo Shepherd chats with about this fantastic new company, which provides a unique form of creative childcare.  Aside from the usual prerequisites we all want in those looking after our children, part of the Role Models’ service is also to offer fun, engaging child carers to accompany families abroad and ensure the holiday is even more relaxing for everyone involved.

Based in Wimbledon, they source talented musicians, actors, teachers and even artists who are also highly experienced childcarers, and pair them up with children who have keen aspirations in the same area. As parents, we can’t be all things to all children, and the idea is that adult role models have a massively important role to play in child development. And they are happy to travel abroad with you so their engagement can extend to your holidays, too. Genius.

Role Model with children in swimming pool

How did you come up with the idea for Role Models?

The idea for Role Models first came about when my lovely French au pair refused to play cricket with me in the garden!  I realised then that tailoring the child care to the child is vital. More recently, two good friends of mine started looking after local, part-time children whilst they were training to be a doctor and teacher and it became apparent there was a huge demand for engaging, talented childcare.

How do you find your carers? How do you thoroughly and safely research their backgrounds?

Most of our Role Models are referrals through word-of-mouth.  We also have close ties with particular public schools such as Wellington College, whose ex-pupils tend to be an excellent ‘fit’ for our service.  All our Role Models are interviewed, DBS / CRB checked, reference checked, over the age of 21, fluent English speakers and loaded with extensive childcare experience.

And if parents want a Role Model to take abroad, how would the process work?

We start by having a discussion with the parents to understand their children’s character and interests so we know who might fit in well with that particular family.  We then contact those Role Models who we feel meet the required criteria.  The profiles of Role Models who are available are then sent to the family, so they can decide who they’d like to interview before their upcoming holiday.

Role Model playing board game with child

Have you had any really odd or interesting requests?

We’ve been asked to find a babysitter in Gstaad, Switzerland for New Year’s Eve (which we found) and a Role Model on Christmas day (which we were less successful with!).

What is the starting age of children that you provide role models for?

We have looked after children from 3 months to 18 years old.  We always ensure the Role Model has the necessary experience, based on the child’s age, needs and interests.

What are your hopes for the future of the business?

We’re looking to grow exponentially over the next 3 – 4 years, both in terms of our private childcare and our special educational needs holiday camps.  We’re also developing resilience and well-being courses for children in Year 5 before they take their 11+ exams or start having school interviews.

How specific can parents be in their request for a role model regarding gender etc….?

Very specific.  We now have 79 Role Models on our books so the ability to cater for a range of specific requirements is becoming increasingly do-able.  Requests for male, sporty Role Models to look after young boys is particularly popular.


Gabriel O'Rorke with husband
What with Kate and Keira sporting baby bumps, 2015 seems to be the year to have a little one. But what about being pregnant on foreign shores? Travel writer, contributor, and ex-pat Gabriel O’Rorke discovers what it’s like having a baby aboard abroad…
Ever heard of a baby souvenir? You know, a personalized bottle of fizz, a little placard tied with a bow or a something sweet to munch on – all with your baby’s name on it, of course.
No, I had no idea either.
Pregnancy has been filled with the unknown for me, from technical terms and now to a whole minefield of prenatal etiquette that is apparently known by all Latinos. So, in Chile this is how it goes. When your baby is born your husband sends a note to the office delivering the good news. So far so good; all familiar enough. But, rather than just saying ‘It’s a boy! Both mum and baby doing well,’ the Chilean norm is to share the hospital room number so that the entirety of your office can come along to congratulate and meet the new little one.
As if the thought of having a herd of colleagues arrive before you’ve even had a shower wasn’t enough (it might almost be okay if we could all do a Kate Middleton and have our hairdresser turn up for a quick blowdry), you’re expected to present said intruders with a souvenir.
“A friend of mine went into labour two weeks early,” a Paraguayan friend told me the other day, “and she was beside herself because she hadn’t had time to sort out the souvenirs. Her husband ended up spending the day on the hunt for souvenirs when she headed to the hospital!”
My husband’s expression when I told him this confirmed my suspicions that we won’t be doing souvenirs. “Let’s just pretend we don’t know,” he suggested. “I wouldn’t even be comfortable visiting my sister-in-law in the hospital!” There are times – we hope anyway – when the foreigner card delivers a free round.
And this brings me to baby’s name. I’m now used to people holding their hand on my stomach as we talk – I no longer hold my breath and smile awkwardly – but we still stumble on the second of two questions all Chileans ask a pregnant woman.
1: Is it a boy or girl?
2: What’s his / her name?
Luckily we both wanted to find out; I’m not known for my patience and having to wait 9 months to find out whether this little passenger was a girl or boy was out of the question. What is more, finding out was wonderful; it made the whole thing feel much more real and exciting. Call me a simpleton, but for me not knowing made it feel more like an alien was inside me, rather than the little boy we are now very excitedly expecting.
So, as luck would have it we pass question number one with flying colours. In fact, we come out with brownie points for the fact that it’s a boy. Very Latino. However, when it comes to announcing the name, we are clearly from another planet. I have never met anyone in the UK who rubs their tummy and introduces you to their bump by name, but in Chile this is entirely normal. “This is Celeste,” announced my new yoga teacher as she introduced herself and her unborn baby to the class.
At first we said we hadn’t decided on a name yet, but recently I began to admit we have a name but we’re saving the announcement until the birth. Clearly from people’s expressions, this is a very odd thing to do. My only saving grace is to steer the conversation back to the joys of one’s first born being a boy…


So, this we really like the sound of. Based out of the Cotswolds, Retreat-Yourself is located in a part of this fine country that already appeals for its idyllic cobbled villages, gorgeous luxury family hotels and the ever-sensational Mark Hix gem that is Cowley Manor. And now there is more reason than ever to head to this corner of England. Whether you are already a mother or a mum-to-be, Retreat-Yourself is a new company located in the Cotswolds that specialises in pregnancy and motherhood retreats.  And if it’s just one day away or a proper break you’re hankering, they are all about serious pampering and relaxation in luxury surroundings. What more does one need when either coping with sleepless nights or gearing up for them?

Retreat Yourself, Sheepscombe

The retreats are run by pregnancy and birth expert, trained nurse, doula and natal hypnotherapist, Heather Guerrini, and her daughter-in-law, Eliza Guerrini who is an occupational therapist and natal hypnotherapist herself. In 2012, when Eliza was pregnant with her second child, she decided to devise Retreat-Yourself with the view to some physical and mental escapism in seriously tasty surroundings.

Matara Master Bedroom

Located in beautiful houses across the Cotswolds, the retreats include one day or two night ‘Pregnancy Retreats’ and a weekend ‘Retreat-Yourself Mum’ break for tired mums. They have recently tapped into that other market that seems to be swelling (excuse the pun) in popularity: babymoons. Offering both parents-to-be some well-earned relaxation and quality time together before baby arrives, again, the babymoon retreats are offered in the same, utterly gorgeous locations.

Elmore Master Bedroom

Everything from emotional support to encouragement and positive preparation for birth, inspiring workshops, taster sessions of natal hypnotherapy, pregnancy yoga classes, pregnancy-friendly treatments and delicious, freshly prepared food are offered on the pregnancy retreats. The ‘Babymoon’ and ‘Retreat-Yourself Mum’ packages offer a range of therapeutic treatments, workshops, delicious food, yoga and beautiful accommodation in very luxurious environs. So, whether you opt for Matara at Kingscote Park, Elmore Court, Ballinger House near Stroud or even Heather Guerrini’s own house, Forest View, you’ll unwind in seconds of arrival and leave utterly ready to face the maternal whirl.

Matara Facade

Forthcoming 2015 dates include:

  • Luxury Pregnancy 2 night Retreat At Martara, 11-13 May and 13-15 July, from  £600 per person (own room) and £420 per person for a twin share.
  • Luxury Babymoon 2 night Retreats at Elmore Court, 13-15 April and 14-16 September, from £350 based per person on two sharing a double room
  • Retreat-Yourself Mum 2 night Retreat at Ballinger House, 12-14 June and 9-11 October, from £450 per person (own room) and £360 based on two sharing a twin room
  • Pregnancy Day Retreats at Forest View, 14 March and 26 September, £150 per person

For more information visit or call 01453 833520.


As a woman I’m always on the hunt for the latest, greatest “best beauty buy.” And as a Mum, I’m knackered. Not being a martyr, but my skin is tired, far more sensitive than it used to be, and let’s face it, short of surgery it could really do with any help it can get. Add a glass (or three) of Pinot Noir now and then, food that is woofed on the hop, and bucket loads of multi-tasking, I am open to anything.


And so it was with absolute joy that I was introduced to the range that is Elemental Herbology. Made in England and packed with nutrients, the Elemental Herbology range is all about responsible harvesting and 100% free of any nasty fragrances, mineral oils, sulphates or parabens and preservatives; it truly delivers without loading your bloodstream with unpleasant, unnatural additives and, I promise you, after three months of using their range, I can assure you the results are instantaneous and long-lasting. Now, every lotion, potion, fragrance and oil I have tried I have loved, but a few stand out as being brilliant for tired mums and life-savers for those who travel.


Elemental Herbology Tree Of Life Balm


Loaded with 8 bio-oils, this is a wonder balm. An intensive moisturiser, it is recommended by Elemental Herbology for stretch marks and chapped feet, lips and hands. It’s fantastic for daily use on your belly when you’re pregnant, but I personally like to use it nightly in place of a cleanser. Rinse with warm water and a muslin cloth and, if you have seriously dry skin like me, you’ll see a difference in days. I’ve also tested this throughout long haul flights. I never ever fly with make up on and, hourly, popped some of this on my face to keep skin from dehydrating as only it can at 38,000 feet. This makes a wonderful lip salve, too.

Elemental Herbology Harmonising cleanse


Infused with 100% plant oils, again, this is great for those with dry skin but it won’t cause break outs either. It’ll easily remove all stubborn traces of make up, though I personally use it every morning and it’s a glorious start to the day. Rub it onto dry skin and then remove with water for best results.

Elemental Herbology cell food


There is no doubt the beauty market is saturated with serums these days. Cell Food has no less than three patents though, and with very good reason. Blend into cleansed skin before applying moisturiser, and you’re basically dosing your skin with a power house of anti-oxidants, proteins and vitamins. If you’re suffering from dull skin and purchase only one product from the Elemental Herbology range, this is the one.

Elemental Herbology Cell Plumping facial moisturiser


With an essential built-in SPF, this is a lightweight cream that intensely hydrates skin and, applied following the Cell Food serum, will leave your skin plumped and beautifully nourished. Fortified with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and ultra-hydrating botanicals, it is ideal during winter months and is designed with dry and mature skin in mind. It is for that reason that it is a fantastic in-flight moisturising option. Apply throughout the flight and on arrival and no one will know you’re tired and jet lagged.

Elemental Herbology Neroli and Rose Damask body cream


We all love a good moisturiser and this ticks every box. It blends straight into skin – I don’t have the time or patience for anything that doesn’t absorb rapidly – it serves as an intense moisturiser (I keep it on my desk as it makes a wonderful hand cream, too) and it smells heavenly. Infused with pure Rose Damask water and lashings of botanical nourishment, this moisturises and soothes even the most sensitive of skin. Either buy one to take abroad or treat yourself to one of these at home. Loaded with 6 bio-oils, it intensely nourishes as any excellent body creams should do. (The body wash is wonderful too and used in tandem doesn’t overload skin).

Elemental herbology can be order at or purchased at Space NK.

Ok, so this we love. If you’re skiing during the upcoming half term or easter holidays and your destination falls anywhere in the French, Austrian, Swiss or Italian Alps, your life is about to get easier than ever. The days of lugging heavy suitcases, bulky skis and endless cold weather gear (not to mention controlling your children through airport security) are over. A clever company called Piste of Mind, the UK’s only bespoke ski and snowboard carriage specialist, will transport all your baggage, as well as your ski equipment, from your home directly to your Alpine destination, so all you need to do is take your carry on and your kids.

W Verbier mountain view

W Verbier

Aimed at taking all the stress and strain out of ski travel, they will collect everything from your home and take it directly to your resort. Genius, I know.

Prices are comparative to booking luggage ‘in the hold’ of most budget airlines so this won’t cost you the earth and, in some cases, luggage goes free (depending on weight) so you only pay for your equipment.

Club Bellevarde exterior

VIP Club Bellevarde, Val d’Isere

Booking is easy and orders only need to be confirmed eight days before departure; transportation is provided by a trusted specialist carrier ensuring full care and security with all luggage and equipment. What’s not to love?

For more information click here.

For family-friendly ski holidays click here.

Snowboarding image