Luxury Family Holidays Handpicked for Parents


“Ohhhhh the Vineyard! It’s an institution,” recalled virtually everyone I told about staying in one of Cape Town’s most iconic hotels on a recent family holiday. Whether it’s hunting for tortoises in the meandering gardens, piling in for Sunday brunch or the welcoming smile of a special staff member everyone, it seems, has a soft spot for this green corner of Cape Town. And I can see why. The Vineyard Hotel isn’t perfectly polished (although it’s newly refurbished rooms are spot on) and it’s still got an old-fashioned whiff about it, but that quickly becomes part of its charm. When it comes to comfort and a warm welcome, hotels don’t come much better than this.  And that’s before you’ve taken in the view.

The Vineyard Hotel exterior

As with most hotel arrivals, our two boys (aged 1 and 3), were clinging to our legs and threatening tantrums. Thankfully, within five minutes of entering the hotel driveway, a valet had unloaded our luggage, taken away the car and whisked us into the hotel lobby. Before toddler melt downs materialised, Cheryl (aka the kid-whisperer), presented gifts of rubber ducks and ‘Mandela and the Hare’ books to the boys, providing enough distraction to get us to our vast family suite stress-free.

Two interconnecting rooms gave the suite the feel of an apartment, with balconies overlooking a babbling stream, plenty of living space and bathrooms with walk-in showers and large tubs.

The Vineyard Hotel gardens

Mini bath robes, jelly beans and colouring-in kits kept the kids content, while we got stuck into some hotel info over coffee and handmade truffles.  Nick checked out the gym schedule, including personal training sessions by a former Springbok coach, and I marvelled at the hotel’s outward sustainable ethos — with notes, shower timers and rubber ducks instead of bath plugs, to raise awareness about the Cape Town’s drought. 30 minutes in and we had each found our happy place.

The Vineyard Hotel pool

The beauty of the Vineyard Hotel is that it’s just 20 minutes from Cape Town’s CBD, though there’s plenty to do on site or nearby, too. First up, a tour of the hotel’s riverside gardens was a relaxed distraction for everyone. Worth a gander for the views alone, the hotel’s gardens are award-winning for their eco credentials, restoring and preserving indigenous flora and fauna so close to the city centre. True to the name, there’s also a miniature vineyard of 100 vines, which supplies grapes to the Waterford Estate just 30 miles away in Stellenbosch; the kitchen garden does its best to keep the hotel stocked with fresh herbs. None of this would be quite as enjoyable if not for the spectacular views of Table Mountain’s Eastern Slopes peeping into view wherever there was a break in the vegetation.

When the rain started to fall, it didn’t stop us jumping into the irresistible outdoor pool, made all the better by its proximity to the heated indoor plunge pool when the chill started to bite.  Pilates, yoga and personal training sessions were all on offer, while the Angsana spa was a tempting reason to tap into the hotel’s babysitting service. But as the rain clouds cleared, a glass of wine on the hotel terrace beckoned just in time to watch the sun dip and pink skies light up uninterrupted views of Table Mountain.  The kids were well catered for with The Garden Lounge’s snack menu (fish goujons, corn fritters and sliders) and the zesty house favourite (Waterford Pecan Stream Sauvignon) did an excellent job at smoothing over any teatime dramas.

The Vineyard Hotel turtle

That evening, once the babysitter was happily installed, we headed straight to the bar. Martinis seemed the obvious choice when surrounded by the decadent gold and mahogany décor of the bar.  Samson serves our drinks with big smiles as we prop up the bar and discuss the many sides to Cape Town; if it wasn’t for the hushed tones of a slightly older clientele, we could well have settled in for a few more.  Dinner in The Square Restaurant was a jolly civilised affair, with live piano music and wine pairings to sample Cape vintages. Locally sourced mussels and oxtail combined with seasonal flavours of beetroot, fennel and Spekboom rouille, were washed down with Klein Constantia Pinot Noir and Meerlust Chardonnay. To finish, a warm lemon and almond cake was served with Waterford Heatherleigh, which was enough to tip us both towards bed.

Sunday morning breakfasts at the Vineyard Hotel are a lazy and lingering affair. The buffet is so vast, and so beautifully crafted, that families come from all over Cape Town to tuck in on the lawns and terrace overlooking the mountains. The ‘kids’ breakfast table kept our three-year-old entertained, enjoying the freedom of going about the buffet on his own, and when the pastries caused peak sugar rush, the lawn provided ample romping space.

The Vineyard Hotel bedroom

Before we headed off to Kirstenbosch Gardens, Cape Town’s answer to Kew Gardens just down the road from the hotel, we took in the art and artefacts that provide the personal touch.  The old kitchens at the back of the house are now a gallery dedicated to the history of the property.  The boys marvelled at images of Lady Anne and her family outside the original country cottage in 1799, and then started shooting their rubber ducks out of antique cannons. I rushed to stop them, but Cheryl jumped in and quickly silenced the boys with tales of where the cannons came from and how old they are.  One of the Porters popped a rubber duck on his head and there were laughs all around; that’s the moment you know you really are in a first-class, family-friendly hotel.

To book this hotel click here.

For more family-friendly holiday ideas in South Africa click here.

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.

Why Mauritius?

Mauritius is synonymous with perfect waters, powdery, unadulterated sand and a stunning climate. Located about 2000 kilometres off the southeast coast of Africa, it does require a long haul flight but, as with all these things, the end result will make you glad of it. With a tropical climate, the current winter months of June to September make it an ideal time to travel with children – the temperatures are gorgeous but not too, too hot and humid as you would find in their summer season. The locals are lovely, the general ambience is totally relaxed and with the St. Regis Mauritius now open, you can expect the most heavenly fly-and-flop holiday imaginable.

St. Regis Mauritius exterior

Why The St. Regis Mauritius?

Basically, because it takes levels of luxury to new heights. As family holidays in Mauritius go, this is as decedent as it gets. After celebrating its official opening just last March, this stunning waterside property of 172 rooms and suites is situated on the untouched white sand of UNESCO World Heritage site, Le Morne. It is, quite literally, bordered by a turquoise lagoon, and should money be no object, then families will do well to book The St. Regis Villa – the largest and most exclusive private villa in all of Mauritius, which opened in November 2013. The Manor House is the very epicentre of The St. Regis, and around that is built the resort itself, which is designed to resemble an historical estate. There are no less than six fine dining venues, including Simply India by twice Michelin starred chef, Atul Kochhar.

St. Regis Mauritius beach

Want to totally unwind? Hit The Iridium Spa where you’ll enjoy an array of signature massages, beauty treatments, and hair care. Want to use the vacation to get fit? There is a full fitness centre and the Club Mistral Prestige luxury kite surfing school, should that take your fancy. Other highlights include afternoon tea, midnight supper, a 24 hour St. Regis butler service and the staple St. Regis turndown.

St. Regis Mauritius balcony

And for the kids?

Complimentary child care can be found at The Kite Flyers Club, which showcases a playroom, a pool, a kitchen and quiet room. The club’s schedule is packed with activities for children aged 4 – 12 years of age, open seven days a week from 9am to 8pm. A great deal focuses on the stunning natural surroundings of the resort so imagine nature walks, crab hunting and glass bottom boat trips.If they need some time out of the sunshine, the club offers arts and crafts, musical games, movies and cooking classes.

St. Regis Mauritius kids' club

Family Traditions is a programme offered at all the St. Regis properties and this stunner in Mauritius is no exception. Younger guests will adore the  special Mauritian welcome amenities and turndown rituals, including treats, child-sized robes, slippers, and a step stool for very small children. The resort team will gladly recommend and arrange a selection of recreational activities, excursions, dining options, childcare services, and anything else that parents or children may need.

St. Regis Mauritius pool


The idea of heading to Africa and embarking on a safari with children may not appeal, but the new luxurious adventures being organised by Luxury experiential travel company, andBeyond, offer families exciting, safe and extremely well-curated safaris across Africa. With its new WILDchild programme and, in particular, a new bush and beach itinerary ‘Black Spots and Beach Balls’, a luxury safari holiday that keeps kids well and truly in mind is now an absolute reality. 

andbeyond safari holidays with children

After landing in South Africa, you’ll enjoy a four-night safari at the family-friendly andBeyond Phinda Mountain Lodge, which is nestled in the renowned Phinda Game Reserve. Boasting the Big Five, over 400 species of bird and even the elusive Cheetah, this is a wonderful way to introduce little ones to the spectacular delights of a safari in a world-renound area of the world. And while you may be in the middle of the African wilderness, this is as luxurious and family-friendly as it gets, thanks to the spacious and comfortable family suites and expertly trained staff. From here you’ll head on to a four-night beach break on the Umhlanga coastline.

andbeyond safari holidays big game

And if your children are too young for a full-on game drive, or you fancy a morning to yourself on a drive of your own, a nature walk or a river cruise, kids are kept captivated and very well entertained with a variety of age-appropriate adventures. From fishing trips and scavenger hunts to shorter (and absolutely safe) game-drives, this is the ideal way to introduce your little ones to the great outdoors. Once at the Umhlanga coast for the second part of your African adventure, you’ll stay at the charming and colonial Oyster Box Hotel for four nights of beachside activity, or relaxation, depending on what you’re after. This scenic stretch of coastline is on KwaZulu-Natal’s spectacular Golden Mile, just 20 kilometres from the bustling port city of Durban. With gentle and balmy ocean waters, this will give you your fix of sun bathing and water sports.  There is a very well organised Kids’ Holiday Club at The Oyster Box, which offers the requisite board games and a playstation, but also boasts face painting, and special events around the holidays such as carol singing at Christmas and Easter egg hunts in the springtime. As well as caring for your children by day, there are professional child-minding services if you want an evening out to yourselves.

andbeyond safari holidays luxury accommodation

And for that extra personal touch, children aged six and up will be made very welcome with andBeyond’s bush-focused WILDchild programme. Available in all of the company’s African lodges, each young guest receives a backpack on arrival filled with goodies designed to prove useful during their African safari adventure, from a special scrapbook to record each day’s sightings, a solar torch, a magnifying glass and a compass. You may think safari holidays are out the question, but there really is no better time to introduce young children to the delights of Big Game without sacrificing your own personal sense of adventure, relaxation and luxury.

andbeyond safari holidays children on jeep
andBeyond’s 8 night “Black Spots and Beach Balls itinerary” starts from £1953 per adult sharing, with children under six staying free.
This itinerary includes one complimentary night at The Oyster Box Hotel and free flights between Johannesburg and andBeyond Phinda Private Game Reserve. Children under six stay free at all andBeyond lodges. Those between six and sixteen pay half price. For more information visit