Luxury Family Holidays Handpicked for Parents

Monthly Archives: May 2016

Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley

Our favourite “Goddesses of Good Eating”, Hemsley and Hemsley, are back. Their new book Good + Simple was recently released and it’s flying off bookshelves. Last Monday saw the first episode of their new show, Eating Well with Hemsley + Hemsley air on Channel 4 to great applause and they recently opened the gorgeous space that is the Hemsley Cafe on the new floor of Selfridges London. Being delightful as Jasmine and Melissa are, they’ve taken some time out of their furious schedule to share a few of their favourite recipes from the new book. As ever, they are healthy but bursting with flavour and they will work wonders with children for days in the garden this summer or further afield on holiday. And if you see only one episode of their television show, make it that which airs on May 30th as it’s the family special. Meanwhile, from the girls….



Courgette and Cannellini Bean Lasagne

3 large courgettes


250g ricotta

80g Parmesan or Pecorino, finely grated, plus extra for sprinkling

1 egg


1 x 400g tin of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

2 garlic cloves

120g sundried tomatoes (about 20 pieces) in oil, drained

3 tablespoons tomato purée

A pinch of sea salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

1 Add the ingredients for the ‘béchamel’ sauce to a food processor and blend until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

2 Add the ingredients for the tomato sauce to the food processor (no need to clean out the bowl) and blend until smooth.

3 Using a mandolin or very sharp knife, finely slice the courgettes lengthways into 3mm-thick pieces.

4 Preheat the oven to fan 180°C/Gasmark 6. Spread about half the tomato sauce over the bottom of a 16cmx 22cm ovenproof dish which is at least 8cm deep, as a thin layer. Top with about a third of the courgette slices in an even layer. Cover the courgettes with about half the ‘béchamel’ sauce, then top with half the remaining courgettes in an even layer.

5 Repeat the layering with the remaining tomato sauce, courgettes and ‘béchamel’, then sprinkle over a final layer of Parmesan to finish.

6 Bake for 45 minutes until golden brown on top. Remove from the oven and leave to stand for 5–10 minutes before serving.



Hemsley and Hemsley Huevos Rancheros

4 large handfuls of spinach, roughly chopped

4 eggs

1 large handful of fresh coriander, leaves and stalks roughly chopped

1 small handful of grated mature Cheddar


1 large onion, diced

1 tablespoon ghee or coconut oil

2 garlic cloves, diced

2 red peppers, halved lengthways, deseeded and sliced into strips

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

A pinch of cayenne pepper or finely diced fresh red chilli, to taste

2 x 400g tins of tomatoes or 800g fresh tomatoes

200ml water (100ml if using fresh tomatoes)

Sea salt and black pepper


1 large ripe avocado

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Juice of ½–1 lime

2 spring onions or 1 small handful of fresh chives, chopped

1 handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped

1 First make the tomato sauce. Fry the onion in the ghee or coconut oil over a medium heat for about 8minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened.

2 Add the garlic, peppers, bay leaves and spices to the pan and cook for another 2minutes.

3 Add the tomatoes and water, season generously with salt and pepper, then stir everything together and leave to simmer for 10 minutes until reduced to a thick, rich sauce.

4 Meanwhile, make the guacamole. Halve and stone the avocado, then scoop out the flesh and roughly chop. Place in a bowl and stir in all the remaining ingredients and some seasoning. Set aside.

5 Check the seasoning of the tomato sauce, adding extra salt, pepper and cayenne/chilli as needed, then stir through the spinach and cook for a few minutes until just wilted.

6 Use a spatula or spoon to make four wells in the tomato sauce mixture and crack an egg into each. The eggs will poach in the sauce and cook in about 4 minutes (lid on) for set whites and runny yolks.

7 Scatter over the coriander and cheese. Serve immediately (as the eggs will keep cooking) with big heaped spoonfuls of guacamole on top.

Cannellini Vanilla Sponge Cake with Chocolate Avo Frosting

Serves 25–30

Hemsley and Hemsley Cannellini Vanilla Sponge Cake with Chocolate Avo Frosting

For the cake

125g butter or coconut oil, melted, plus extra for greasing

3 x 400g tins of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

9 medium eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

220ml maple syrup

5 teaspoons apple cider vinegar or lemon juice

90g coconut flour

2½ teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

¼ teaspoon sea salt

150g punnet of fresh raspberries, to decorate

For the chocolate avo frosting

4 medium ripe avocados

5 tablespoons (about 75g) coconut oil, melted

8 tablespoons raw honey (to taste)

10 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons lemon juice

½ teaspoon orange extract (not essence)

A pinch of sea salt

1 Preheat the oven to fan 180°C/gasmark 6, then line the bases of two 25cm-diameter cake tins with baking parchment and grease the sides with butter or coconut oil.

2 Blend all the ingredients for the frosting together in a food processor until smooth, adding a dash of cold water if needed. taste, adjusting the flavourings to taste, then transfer to a bowl and set aside in the fridge.

3 For the cake, add the cannellini beans to the cleaned food processor bowl with the eggs, vanilla extract and maple syrup and blend until smooth. Add the remaining cake ingredients, except the raspberries, and blend to combine.

4 Divide the cake batter between the prepared cake tins, spreading out evenly and smoothing the surface. Bake in the oven for 35 minutes until well risen and lightly golden on top. (Check the cakes after 25 minutes and swap the tins between shelves, if necessary, as they will cook at different rates.)

5 Remove from the oven, transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely in the tins before turning out.

6 While the cakes are cooling, gently wash the raspberries and dry them carefully using kitchen paper or leave to air dry; (they must be thoroughly dry before adding to the cake.)

7. Spread half the frosting on one of the cooled sponges, top with the other sponge and spread over the rest of the frosting. Store in the fridge and bring to room temperature to serve. decorate with the fresh raspberries just before serving.

Extracted from Good + Simple by Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley (Ebury Press, £25)

Photography by Nick Hopper

Mercedes Sieff is co-founder of the award winning Yeotown Health Retreat. A long time Vinyasa Flow Yoga instructor and, arguably, one of the UK’s happiest and most creative teachers, Mercedes divides her time between London and Devon. Flow Yoga Mama to two baby girls, Mercedes also miraculously ends time to lifestyle blog for the Huffington Post and frequently contributes articles to popular wellbeing websites such as MindBodyGreen and Elephant Journal. She is an ambassador for Lululemon Athletica and Manduka and features regularly on ITV1, BBC Radio and in publications such as Tatler, The Sunday Times, Conde Nast Traveler, OM Magazine, Harpers Bazaar and Yoga Magazine. If that’s not enough, Mercedes is also a Positive Psychology Coach and holds a Diploma in Coaching from Cambridge University. 

Mercedes Sieff with daughters

Q: What is your first childhood memory of travel?

I grew up in Ottawa, Canada but my mother is from Barcelona so my earliest memories of travelling was the plane ride over to Spain with my parents and three sisters. It was back in the day when air travel rules were a quite relaxed to say the least (remember smoking sections?!!) and I vividly remember my sisters and I setting up makeshift beds with the blankets and pillows and sleeping stretched out on the floor the whole ride over, something you’d never be allowed to do now.

Q: Where have you had your best holiday to date?
Gosh, this is a hard one as I have always had a sense of wanderlust and so have been fortunate to have travelled to some pretty cool places and experienced many great trips that would definitely battle it out for the title of best holiday ever. On top of that list would probably have to be when I went to Peru by myself for my 25th birthday and hiked Machu Piccu, white water rafted down the Urumamba River and hand glided over the Andes mountains: a super fun adventure for sure and I’d love to go back with my husband and kids.

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

Both my husband and I have a real love for Sri Lanka and go there annually so, when Rumi (my eldest) was born, we didn’t see why things should change. So, when she was 3 months old I strapped her to my chest and off we all went. It was our first plane ride with a baby, of course, and a long one at that (10 hours); we definitely made some amateur mistakes. I remember the biggest one was not bringing any formula as she was still so young and I was breastfeeding exclusively at the time. For some reason she fed twice as much during the flight, really non-stop it felt like, and so my milk was not able to keep up with the speed at which she needed it! Needless to say, you can imagine the chaos that ensued as she was crying out for food, poor thing, and there I was desperately trying to get her to suckle just to get her to stop crying, even though there was no milk coming out. We laugh about it now at how ignorant we were, but it was such a tense plane ride I’ll never forget.

Q: How do you find the experience of travelling with children generally? 

I would liken it to a set of waves when you are surfing. A big set comes at you and tries to take you out and you fight to keep your wits about you and stay on your board. Then they pass and you are sitting floating peacefully, chill out, happy and at one with a calm, beautiful sea. To me travelling with young kids is a bit like that. There are moments of extreme stress, chaos and thinking “I will never do this again” and then there are also super sweet moments that balance it out, like when they are sleeping, resting their little heads on my lap or excited with fits of giggles and excitement as the plane is taking off. I love seeing their wid-eyed joy at the adventure of it all and it makes me happy seeing them so happy.

Do you ever travel with your children for work?

Yes, quite a bit, as I run yoga and surf holidays a few times a year in far off places and always bring them. I also teach at various yoga conferences and festival around the globe so I like to bring them too if I am going to be away for more than a few days.

Q: Where was your best holiday with your child?

I’d say Bali is my favorite with the kids. The people, hotels, beaches, restaurants (even the trendy “cool” ones) are all really child-friendly and make travelling around with them so easy. I remember going there two summers ago when my youngest was just 5 weeks old and my eldest about 18 months. That initial period right after birth can be so stressful and taxing physically and emotionally (breastfeeding, hormones shifting, body aching from carrying baby all the time etc…) but I had such an opposite experience to my first time after giving birth. It was so healing having the warmth and sunshine every day, going for long walks on beautiful beaches with the baby on my chest, and my eldest holding my hand and toddling along and getting loads of nurturing Balinese massages. The Balinese people, in general, love children and have that “it takes a village” mentality. We had support from these wonderful Balinese women who had been taking care of our friend’s kids for years and they helped us out with ours, which gave me a little ‘down time’ to have a sleep, do some postnatal yoga and give my husband and I some space to get out for some nice meals together. It was definitely a great way to enjoy some of my maternity leave.

Q: And your worst?

Oh goodness, it was when I was about 10 weeks pregnant with my second child, Indra, and we went to Morocco for a holiday over the New Year. Rumi was only about 13 months and I had just been treated for tonsillitis. Even though I was feeling better before we left, we arrived and it came back with a vengeance. I was also at the tail end of my first trimester so I was still really nauseous and then, to top it off, we all came down with a nasty cold; Rumi was up most the nights crying with a fever and snotty nose. We still talk about what a miracle it was we made it back through the plane ride home as we could barely keep our heads up!

Q: What is your must-have travel accessory when away with children?
Must haves now are loads of markers, paper, pens, puzzles, crayons, books and my iPad with their favorite games, painting apps and cartoons on them.

Q: And top tips for travel with kids?

Most of our travel is long haul so I definitely recommend getting an overnight flight if possible for lengthier flights. The kids tend to sleep a lot of it and it helps pass the time a bit quicker. Lots of changes of clothes for both myself and the kids and, if there is an item you know they can’t be without to sleep and soothe themselves (my little one likes a bottle with water to suckle on and the other has to have a comfort blanket), then I always take a spare to have on hand. For jet lag, we try to eat according to the time zone we’re heading to instead of where we have just left. I find this really helps to get into the swing of things once we land. I also recommend lots of deep breaths, inhale to the count of 4, hold for 4 and then exhale for 4, just to keep calm, relaxed and less stressed through the chaos of travelling with little ones. Also just accepting it as short lived helps too, because they grow up so fast and I always remind myself in the moments of chaos that it won’t last forever!


Crete’s Daios Cove has long reigned as a family-favourite. And it’s a favourite for many others, in fact, thanks to its insanely well-curated kids’ programs, highly technical details that make this perfect with even the tiniest of babies for a holiday and, of course, its Greek location. And this upcoming season is no exception.

Daios Cove main pool

Budding young chefs, artists and marine biologists will have the chance to put their talents to good use, because Daios Cove have teamed up in conjunction with the renowned Worldwide Kids to create some new and fun, yet educational, Greek-inspired activities for children.

New Summer Programs

The first new activity theme – Mythical Greece – is a nod to the obvious rich history of Crete such as its stunning ancient temples, while the second new theme – Under the Sea – draws inspiration from the luxurious hotel’s turquoise-hued sea views, (which really are as gorgeous as the images suggest).

Daios Cove swimming pool

Mythical Greece

Younger guests aged between 4 and 12 can get as messy as they like with the arty, creative Greek Mosaic classes on offer or get a bit more physical with the organised Hellenic Olympics. If they love time in the kitchen, the Meze Chefs classes will appeal; children will learn about healthy eating while creating delicious Greek dishes using ingredients that make the most of the island’s rich natural produce, including olives, tomatoes and Greek cheese.

Under the Sea

If your children are under four and decide to opt for Under the Sea, you can relax knowing they are in excellent hands. (This is aimed at younger children). The Seaside Atlas Activity is a chance for intrepid young guests to make their own secret treasure map with brightly coloured paints, string and other craft materials. They will then be taken on a beach safari where they will follow the trails plotted on their new friends’ maps and head off in search of glittering treasure.

Daios Cove diving school

Or, if the heat is getting a bit much and they prefer an afternoon of relaxation, they will adore the underwater tales in which the Worldwide Kids’ expert childcare team will recount famous and lesser-known underwater stories and sing fishy-themed nursery rhymes.

Travelling with bigger kids? Fear not. Children over four-years-old, meanwhile, can learn to use “aqua scopes” that they will have made in the kids’ club to explore the shallow, crystal-clear water of Daios Cove’s private beach.

And for you?

Well, if you don’t know Daios Cove personally, it’s a fabulous choice with over 300 rooms, suites and villas set against a rugged mountain backdrop with views over a sheltered, private bay. This modern resort excels in keeping little guests happy without compromising on style or attentive service for the grown-ups. In-room desirables such as wi-fi, air-con and satellite television are standard, and the decor is a gorgeous blend of glass, natural stone and handcrafted furnishings. The two and three bedroom villas, each with their own pool, are perfectly sized for the family. Features such as safety fences around the pool and temperature-controlled water make them ideal choices for a stay with babies and small children.

Daios Cove bedroom

And this year, Daios Cove is launching new 84m2 Premium Sea View Suites, which will sleep up to two adults, two children and one infant so they are ideal for families. Perched on ancient hilltops with sweeping views of the cove, the suites also house spacious verandas, obvious hotspots for outdoor dining.

If you’re travelling with young babies, Daios Cove will equip the rooms with all the necessary gear so you can travel light, including baby baths and changers, high chairs, strollers, bottle warmers and sterilisers, toilet seats and baby potties.

Daios Cove Gran Melia

Or, if your children are old enough to get stuck into the fabulous array of 2016 summer programs, the hotel’s highlights for adults include weekly yoga and pilates classes and a watersports instructor, on-hand, should you fancy learning to waterski, dive or wakeboard down on the private beach. Babysitters are bookable so get one and reserve a table at Migames restaurant in nearby, very cosmopolitan Agios Nikolaos. With an outstanding view over the bottomless lake, it’s arguably the best restaurant in town. If you don’t feel like moving from Daios, there are excellent on-site dining options too, boasting gorgeous, local Cretan cuisine.
Daios Cove outdoor dining
To book this hotel click here.
Or, for more family-friendly holiday ideas in Crete, click here.

If you’ve a little one en route, particularly if it isn’t your first, you know all too well the furore of late, late nights, early, early starts and the lack of time you’ll have for yourself once the baby arrives. Not that the birth of a baby isn’t heavenly – it absolutely is – but the time for you to take care of yourself is now and, with the new “Baby-go-Lightly” service and tailored spa treatments for pregnant women now available at both Thanos Hotels in Cyprus, there is no excuse not to pamper yourself while you can.

Anassa pool

Almyra pool

Firstly, the ‘Baby Go Lightly’ service is offered at the glamorous Anassa Hotel, which provides all manner of baby gear to guests travelling with new babies so you can simply tackle the stress of flying and not worry too much about packing. Order whatever you need before arrival and it’ll be there waiting on your arrival. And if you’re pregnant and after some pampering, the specially tailored spa treatments available at the cool, slightly younger property, the Almyra Hotel, will also delight.
Anassa living room
Anassa view
Highlights include the Almyraspa’s ‘Mother-to-be Massage,’ which features a gentle rose hip, lavender and geranium infused argan oil massage and honey foot scrub. You’ll also adore the ‘Mother- to-be Indulgence’ treatment – a lavender and chamomile oil, full body massage and nourishing rose-essence facial (why not book both?) Using natural, organic products by luxury skincare specialists, ILA, the treatments are safe to use for all expectant mothers, following their first trimester of pregnancy.  
Anassa view
And when you consider the heavenly surroundings of azure blue water, matching skies and some guaranteed heat, what’s not to love? Get booked and get over there, either with new babies or with your bump. Tiny tots are the easiest to travel with and, if you’re pregnant and still up for travelling, you won’t regret getting one of these  Cypriot beauties booked.
For other family-friendly holiday ideas in Cyprus, click here.