Luxury Family Holidays Handpicked for Parents

Monthly Archives: June 2015

The Martinhal Resort on the western tip of Portugal’s Algarve in Sagres is renound as a top notch, luxurious family resort. We have touted its excellence at every opportunity and so, it’ll come as little surprise, that we’re very excited about its latest opening.

Martinhal Quinta Family Resort pool

This month saw the soft opening of the Martinhal Quinta Family Resort in the gorgeous Quinta do Lago area of the Algarve. Having taken over what was the four star Monte da Quinta Club, the latest Martinhal sibling offers the same levels of service, attention to detail and comfort for families as its big brother.

Martinhal Quinta do Lago children

So, the Martinhal Quinta Family Resort compromises of beautiful two and three bedroom townhouses, and three and four bedroom villas, each with a private garden and pool area. A communal pool hangout area serves as home to the surf M Bar and ice-cream shop, which will no doubt prove a smash hit with young guests. The new Blue Room offers pre-teens and teens their own personal space to play games and meet new friends. An indoor and outdoor unsupervised play area and kids clubs for children aged 3 – 8 years will keep the children entertained during their stay so you can relax with a book by the pool and, if you’re travelling with very new additions to the family, a baby concierge service is available in resort for guests to pre-book potties, bottle sterilisers and baby baths.

Martinhal Quinta Family Resort pool slides

If you’re keen for a last minute summer booking, the Martinhal Quinta Family Resort is taking bookings from now until the 31st of October this year. It will then close for further renovations for the winter before opening with a bang in March 2016, at which point, it’ll be open year round. Sign us up please….

Martinhal Quinta Family Resort villa

This year, families can get a touch of the Martinhal experience at a great special offer for the soft opening of Martinhal Quinta Family Resort.  7 nights in a 2 bedroom town house start from 247€ per night for a limited period of time.

For further details please visit:

For more information on the Martinhal Beach Resort and Hotel, Sagres, please click here.

Tracey Blake is the features editor at Metro, mum to Minnie, 5, and Monty, 3 and other half to James. Tracey has been a national newspaper journalist for the past ten years and is co-author of the book Small Talk: Simple ways to boost your child’s speech and language development from birth. Tracey and Nic can be found vlogging on the YouTube Small Talk Time channel – full of friendly talking tips to get cheeky monkeys chatting.  The family live in Buckinghamshire but love to travel whenever they can…

Tracey Blake and family


Q: What is your first childhood memory of travel?

I recall a really fun, sun-saturated week in Jersey with my folks at some sort of holiday camp. I thought it was amazing!

Q: Where have you had your best holiday to date? 

Ooh, that’s a really tricky one. I might have to choose a few! James and I had a lovely trip to the Maldives and it was just like it is in the pictures – sparkling blue waters and white sands, just idyllic. We also had a great family holiday to Bali where we met up with my sister and her family who live in Australia. We stayed at a hotel on the beach just outside Kuta and rented a lovely villa with wooden doors backing straight on to the beach, had a great time white water rafting in Ubud, and James and I visited Nusa Lembongan. We stayed in quite a fancy hotel, but every evening we walked along the cove to a rustic hilltop café where they sold ice cold bottles of beer and chips with chilli sauce. Heaven.

Tracey Blake daughter

Q: Where was the first place you went with a little one in tow? How did it go?

I went to my friend’s lovely house in Vejer de la Frontera, Costa de la Luz, with a six-month-old Minnie. We’d just started to wean her but she hadn’t had meat yet, until James went to the Spanish supermarket and came back with a jar that Minnie devoured, which turned out to have chicken in it. By the end of the break she’d also tried chocolate ice-cream and biscuits!

Q: How do you find the experience of travelling with children generally? A wonderful, bonding experience, for example, or traumatic and stressful? Or a bit of both?

A bit of both. We always find the getting there stressful – marshalling two small children through a busy airport while they sit on Trunkis making very slow progress and bashing into people’s ankles, left right and centre, is always a challenge. We’ve learnt now to put the Trunkis in the hold! Once you’re there though, it’s wonderful. The enthusiasm of your little ones at going on this big adventure is always infectious. Our children are delighted to ride in a lift to the room, sleep in a new bed, explore the hotel, go to the pool, and Monty is mad for the mini soaps you get by the basin. He often has one in his hand for the entire time and I frequently raid the laundry trolley for extras.

Do you ever travel with your children for work?

I am very lucky that as Features Editor at Metro I do get to go on travel trips for work with the children. We recently went to Venice where we stayed at the Belmond Cipriani and had a wonderful time, despite the watery hazards of canals everywhere! Next up is Porto.

Q: Where was your best holiday with your child?

I think we had the best holidays in that house in Vejer and we’re so lucky that we get invited every summer. We spend all day at the beach and head back for ice-cream and a wander through the old town, then have lovely tapas in the evening. It all feels like such a treat. The Spanish people are so adoring of children, which really helps make taking them out to restaurants easy, too.

Q: And your worst?

The occasions when flights have been delayed – it’s a total nightmare with children.

Q: What is your must-have travel accessory when away with children?

I always pack sticker books and colouring books. They are ideal to whip out when the kids have finished their meal but you are still eating: far nicer and more inclusive than sticking them in front of a tablet.

Q: And top tips for travel with kids? 

I think the main thing I have learned recently is not to stress about the kids and their regular sleeping habits. On holiday they can stay up later and, hopefully, lie in later. You can’t make them nap if they don’t want to. If they are tired they will literally just drop off to catch up, be it in your arms at a restaurant or on a sun lounger. A short break from the usual routine doesn’t do any harm – things soon slot back into place when you get home. Having said that, we haven’t yet braved long haul so I am not sure how I’d cope if they had jetlag!

What inspired you to launch Small Talk? Can you tell us more about the books that are launching this spring?

My friend Nicola is a speech and language therapist specialising in kids and when she first met Minnie she was 10 weeks old. Nic said to me, ‘I’ve just had a lovely conversation with Minnie, she’s a wonderful talker!’ I thought she was bonkers but then she showed me how she was responding to Minnie’s babble and leaving long pauses so she could answer. It’s called the art of turn taking and is a very early form of conversation. I found it fascinating so went off to buy a book on how communication develops in babies but there wasn’t one – so we decided to write one!

Next year we’ve got story books for children coming out and we’re excited about our Small Talk Time channel on YouTube, which is full of friendly talking tips to get cheeky monkeys chatting

How do you find juggling your role at Metro with being a mother and running Small Talk?

It’s a real juggling act but we just about manage. Minnie started school this year and she once went to school in in her uniform on a mufti day. On one cake sale day I had to send her in with bought cakes and, recently, I forgot that it was her ‘show and tell’ day – but in the grand scheme of things we get by, things are just chaotic!

Can you talk us through your average day? Can you paint us a picture of how it starts and finishes?

This morning Monty was up at 5.30am (ahh!) and Minnie was up at 6am, so I actually had a really nice chunk of time with them. Minnie showed me every page of the baking book she’d bought at the school book sale; Monty and I had a good chat about Batman (his latest obsession). I also managed to get a lot of chores done – washing hung out to dry, dishwasher unloaded and reloaded, Monty’s packed lunch made etc…. We’re out the door by 8am as I have to drop them both off in different places and get the 8.44am train in to London. In the evenings I am home by 7.30pm – just in time to read them a story and say good night!

It’s here. It launched yesterday. And, honestly, you must check it out with your children if they are aged 7 or over. Yep, we’re talking the Kidzania launch at London’s Westfield in Shepherd’s Bush. Ok, so there will inevitably be many, many excited and hyperactive children on-site, but it’s educational, great fun for them and, if the going gets tough, you can drink champagne while they’re at it.

Kidzania firefighters

The West London shopping Mecca that is Westfield will be home to this highly-anticipated, educational entertainment experience, which has already proven to be a hugh hit in Dubai, amongst others (this is the 19th international opening of its kind). Set within a 75,000 square foot, child-sized city, KidZania London aims to be a real-life introduction to the world of work, representing experiential learning at its very best. It may sound terribly grown up, but the idea behind all this is that children can begin to understand and learn all about the nature of work for themselves, the diversity and function of businesses, and its overall contribution to our world today. The size of Leicester Square, with a a ceiling height that rivals Heathrow’s Terminal 5, this facility can welcome up to 1,700 guests at any one time. Remember, there is champagne: more on that below.

Kidzania City

On entering their “city”, kids will find the streets lined with over 60 real-world establishments, including a Hospital, Police Station, Fire Station, Airline, and Theatre, each offering real-life role play adventures in a fun and safe environment. They can learn about a vast variety of unique professions from the moment they enter the British Airways branded airport terminal. As they progress through boarding, all will be met with the body of a real A319 aircraft in which the Aviation Academy and Cabin Crew Training School are housed. From there they can study fashion in the H&M sponsored design studio, make their own juices at the Innocent smoothie factory, learn to change tires in the pit lane sponsored by Renault and even learn about housekeeping skills and front of house management, thanks to the partnership between Kidzania and Dorsett Hotels. The Dorsett Hotel Shepherd’s Bush is a great hotel option nearby if you aren’t London-based. It’s family-friendly and a stone’s throw from Westfield. Kidzania all about learning while playing, and it promises to be a huge hit.

Kidzania Japan

Now, there are several packages available, but the one love the idea of is the Kidzania Child Ticket with Personal Shopping Experience and VIP shopping pass for £135. While your little one hits Kidzania, you can kick back with a flute of bubbly whilst a professional stylist from ITV’s popular Style Doctors provides a style and colour consultation.  You can bring a friend with you if you choose to and, once the consultation is over, you can shop the day away, safe in the knowledge that your child is fully-supervised and also learning something, too. That’s a day out for you both sorted then.

Kidzania champagne package

To buy tickets or for further information please visit Buyagift here.


We are big lovers of Rome at The invigorating Roman sunshine that laps against all that stunning ancient architecture, delectable local cuisine and incredibly luxurious hotels? We’d go a million times if we could and never tire of the sensational Italian city. And when there, one of our favourite picks is the Rome Cavalieri as a stop to rest weary feet after a day of pounding the local pavements. This iconic hotel has it all – beautiful, large rooms with a fabulous three outdoor pools, great restaurants (it is the only hotel in all of Italy to hold three MIchelin stars) and an infamous Sunday Brunch. And now there even more reason to love it: The Rome Cavalieri is introducing a complimentary kids’ club for July and August this summer.

Rome Cavalieri terrace

Your kids may love exploring the local sites of Rome. And if they do, this’ll be a fun pit stop at the end of each day. If they don’t (and let’s be honest, not all do), then you can relax by the pool while they make new friends while exploring the 15 acres of delightful parkland that encircles the hotel.

Rome Cavalieri bedroom

The new Kids Club, available for children aged 4 to 10, will be open seven days a week from 2:30pm to 7:00pm throughout July and August. With everything from art classes to table tennis, table football to badminton, mini-golf to magic tricks, race remote-control cars to pizza-making, they will love it. And the hotel even boasts its own on-site fairground.Rome Cavalieri view of Rome

So, while the kids are busy playing, you can work off the inevitable calories earned in those fabulous restaurants in the incredible Cavalieri Grand Spa Club. Considered by many to be the most luxurious spa and fitness facility in all of Italy, the 2200 meter squared space is an oasis of health and pampering. The La Prairie caviar facial is a must, but if you’re after activity, try the 800-meter fitness trail within the stunning grounds of this private Mediterranean park. Or, you can simply relax by the pool with a good book, which is exactly what we would be doing.

Rome Cavalieri pool

Book this hotel here.

For other ideas on where to eat, stay and play in Rome click here.

For other ideas on where to eat, stay and play in Italy click here.

Hillary Graves and sons

Hillary Graves is co-founder of popular children’s food brand, Little Dish.  Originally from New York, Hillary lives in London with her husband Dean and two sons, Monty, 8, and Ridley, 6.  She set up Little Dish when she was expecting Monty and noticed that no one was making proper, healthy and convenient meals for children.  Little Dish now feeds over 100,000 children every week and Hillary has written two cookbooks.  Her first book ‘The Little Dish Favourites Cookbook’ was published in June 2010 and her second book ‘The Family Cookbook’ goes on sale on 28th August.  The new cookbook is packed full of 101 family-friendly recipes to make and enjoy with your children, and is a must-have cooking companion for parents.

I travelled a lot as a child, but my earliest memories are of my family making the twelve hour road trip from Memphis, Tennessee to Florida. My brother and I were bundled into the back of the car, without a seatbelt in those days, and I remember watching the amazing scenery of the Deep South fly by. My best holiday was a trip to South Africa with my husband before we had children. It’s such a beautiful country and the laid-back atmosphere stayed with us long after we returned home. We climbed Table Mountain, traveled to Robin Island, visited the wineries, ate delicious food and generally soaked up the incredible surroundings.

Our first trip with my eldest son Monty was when he was twelve weeks old. We took him to New York to meet my extended family. To be honest, it was surprisingly easy as he slept most of the way. In fact, we went to the US a few times in his first year to make sure my family didn’t miss out on getting to know him. Of course, once he started crawling it was a very different story! Our long haul trips became much less frequent.

Travelling with children can be a wonderful boding experience and a bit stressful simultaneously. I think it gets easier as your children get older because you have less kit to lug around with you but, as they get older, you have to plan more age-appropriate activities. Now we generally try to stay somewhere with a pool. It means there’s always something fun for the boys to do, and they can burn off their excess energy no matter what else we have planned during the day.

One year we spoilt ourselves and stayed at the Four Seasons hotel in Palm Beach, Florida. We all needed a family holiday with a bit of R&R, and it didn’t disappoint. It’s incredibly family-friendly with a wonderful beach and swimming pool, delicious food and the most amazing kid’s club. The boys were given fantastic welcome packs when they arrived, which they still remember. They did treasure hunts, played football on the beach, enjoyed arts and crafts and other other fun activities. And because they were so happy, we were able to properly relax. In the afternoons, we would all swim together or play Pétanque on the beach.

I also took my eldest son Monty on a city break to Paris when he was six, which was a magical weekend. I let him help plan our itinerary. We spent hours wandering around the army museum, Les Invalides, going to the top of the Eiffel Tower, and relaxing in the Jardin du Luxembourg, a stunning garden in the heart of Paris. And, of course, eating wonderful French food.

After that lovely weekend in Paris with Monty we went back as a family of four, but it wasn’t such a success. It was half-term, so it was very busy. And I scheduled too many cultural sights and not enough outdoor activities, so we were all a bit on edge. On the last day we escaped to the Jardin du Luxembourg, which ended up being the highlight of the visit. The weather was beautiful and the children just wanted to run around and get some fresh air.

We always travel with a book about the country we’re visiting. We love the ‘This is Paris,’ ‘This is London,’ and ‘This is New York’ by Miroslav Sasek. They are a great way to get children excited about the country they are visiting and help them decide what they would most like to see and do. Of course we also have a bag of tricks with all the usual suspects – pens, paper, books, snacks… and an iPad if all else fails!

To beat jet lag we always try to get the boys on to the new time zone as quickly as possible. This often means encouraging them to stay up as late as they can but it’s well worth it. I would also say, don’t over-schedule your days. It’s tempting to plan in lots of sights, but this can leave everyone exhausted. I think part of the fun of travelling with children is seeing things through their eyes, so take your time and let them help plan the day. And always keep blood sugar levels high – have snacks in your bag and an idea of where you might stop for lunch.

We often take the kids to the food market to help us shop when we are abroad. It’s a great way to teach them about the local delicacies. At restaurants, we order lots of different things to share and they often end up trying things they wouldn’t eat at home. Pudding is always popular and can be a handy reward to encourage them to try something new, if all else fails!

For convenience and ease when on holiday, my kids love pasta and a simple tomato sauce made from chopped garlic and onion, sautéed in a bit of olive oil and a tin of plum tomatoes. Simmer for 20 minutes and you’re good to go. Your children can sprinkle on grated cheese, or mix in whatever delicious ingredients you’ve managed to buy at the market such as local vegetables, mozzarella, olives, or salami – you can’t go wrong.