Until recently I always thought that I would never be ‘one of those parents’ who put their young children into childcare on foreign holidays. Older children or teens going to a kids club, yes, as it’s a great way for them to make friends, but with my children at the ages they are (one and three) it never crossed my mind to put them in to any sort of child care facility.
However that has all changed since our recent holiday to Levante Beach in Rhodes with Mark Warner. Mark Warner is a holiday company known for it’s family friendly ethos, in fact even before having my children I knew of them for this very reason. When we booked our holiday we were told that as part of our package our girls would be booked into childcare in the mornings for no extra cost. Before we left we decided that we would just go and have a look, and that if they weren’t keen or we didn’t like the look of it, we wouldn’t pressure them into going.
On the first afternoon after arriving in Rhodes, we were invited to a childcare meeting at the purpose built childcare block. On making our way there, our first reaction was that we were incredibly impressed with the building, the resort is only a couple of years old and the facilities were amazing- it was large, air conditioned, spotlessly clean and the toys were brand new and so many ones. In fact, both my children go to nursery at home and we found the facilities in Levante Beach to be even nicer than that. There was children’s artwork everywhere and the vibe felt very relaxed and friendly. My girl’s were in different groups- with my eldest in the Mini Club (3-5) and my youngest in the Toddler Club. (1-2)
We got to listen to the childcare staff do a little presentation and learnt more about what they would be getting up to in the mornings, as well as their night time service as well. In regards to the night time service, Levante Beach offer a children’s dinner, after which you can drop your child off at the childcare building from 7.30pm until 11pm. You take them in their PJ’s where they snuggle and watch a film, before getting into their designated little beds for the week. This is all included in the price of your holiday.
Before we left we thought we may try them in the kids club in the mornings, but we didn’t think for a second that we would do the night time service, mainly because I am very strict about bedtimes and routine. It turns out we used it every night although usually only for an hour or so. My daughter’s absolutely loved going in their pyjamas for a ‘sleepover’ and I was blown away with how well run it was.
I felt like the childcare staff really listened to our requirements, the first night they put my littlest down in a cot where she fell into quite a deep sleep and I asked if the next night they would let her snuggle up in the bed with her sister so she didn’t fall quite so deeply asleep. They listened and did that for me for the remainder of the week and it was so cute picking them up and seeing them cuddling up in bed together. There was always a staff member on the desk and when you went to pick them up they had a checklist of when they had fallen asleep. (if they had) So we were told if for example they had fallen asleep, say ten minutes before, or half an hour before. It was just very well run and organised.
Likewise for the morning sessions, I was incredibly impressed with the organisation of it all. At the start of the week you gave a password for signing them out and I was never not asked the password when I picked them up. Similarly to childcare at home, the girls were assigned a key worker who would come and collect them from you in the morning. There was a timetable on the front door where you could see what they were up to all week- indeed the activities that they did, especially my eldest daughter, were what made the trip for us.
She tried her hand at windsurfing, sailing, face painting, lots of swimming and beach time and she absolutely loved it, she really grew in confidence while we were there. I loved to watch her without her knowing and seeing what she was doing. I thought that I might feel nervous or unsure about them taking them in the water or around the resort without me, but actually I couldn’t have trusted them more- when walking around they held on to a little rope and you could often hear them singing before you saw them, and in the water they constantly had lifejackets on and the lifeguard was never too far away. They also covered them from head to toe in cream and hats and UV clothing (we supplied these) so I never worried about the sun.
The staff were brilliant, so friendly and reassuring, and on the first couple of mornings when my eldest daughter got a bit upset, they really spent time with her and I waited outside the door and after a few minutes they came out to tell me that she was absolutely fine. We couldn’t fault them in any way, they genuinely seemed to get to know our children over the course of the week. On the last day we were invited to a presentation where they sang a song and they handed each child an award and gave you their artwork from the week. It actually bought a little tear to my eye.
Overall there is no part of the Mark Warner childcare that we can criticise. We went with the attitude that it was there if we wanted, but that we didn’t have to use it, and in fact we were a little dubious. But we were blown away by the safety aspects, the facilities, the organisation and the staff. As a couple, we don’t get to spend much time together, so to have a couple of hours in the morning and evening to really feel like we were able to relax, while knowing our girls were safe and also having a lovely time, was just priceless to us. It also meant we had lunch time and the rest of the afternoon and early evening to spend time together as a family, although you could pay extra to have them in childcare every day if you wanted too. (We didn’t want this.)
Having been on foreign holidays with them in the past and not used the childcare facilities, I do still think that I would have to really trust a company to leave them, especially at their young age. However Mark Warner have definitely made us see that it is something we would do in the future, if others were as well organised as them. It made our holiday just that little bit more special and I couldn’t fault them at all.
Here is one of two little videos we made of our time in Levante Beach.
(You can check out my full review of Levante Beach over on Mummy Daddy Me.)