The two pilots in front of us (there were no locked cabins in those days) held hands. “What on earth are they doing?” we quizzed each other in mutual alarm. Was this some kind of religious ritual they perform in the Maldives? A prayer to the sea gods for safety on take-off? We were quickly relieved of our misconceptions as they yelled back through to the passenger cabin:
No, this is just in case one of us faints, or has a seizure, then there’ll still be one of us with a hand on the lever, to make sure the plane makes it up there.”
Our Dream Holidays
Yesterday, Space In Your Case travelled to World Travel Market London, in search of dream holidays. We were, quite frankly, blown away by the sheer size of ExCel London, and the vast array of travel and tourism exhibitors. The Maldives were there, as were representatives from India, Florida, New York, and the Philippines. But do you know what we discovered, as a child-oriented group of travellers? It’s not just the big operators that can create the holiday of a family’s dreams.
Here, the Space In Your Case team each reveal the top three destinations now on our travel hitlist, following World Travel Market. We hope it inspires you to some dream holidays!
Clockwise from top left: Alison, Helen, Katie and Penny prepare to meet travel exhibitors from World Travel Market at the Blogger speed networking event.
Helen’s Top 3:
I struggled to contain my excitement when British Columbia Travel came to chat to me about what the BC State of Canada has to offer. 10 years ago, as a final fling before starting a family, I spent a truly awesome Christmas discovering the city of Vancouver. With top shopping, bars, restaurants and music, it has such a cool vibe that we didn’t want to leave. But as I think about my family, I remember the parks and markets we wandered in, and can’t help wanting to see them through my children’s eyes. Being ski addicts, we tend to think of British Colombia as being best for its top notch ski resorts, such as Fernie and Lake Louise. But my jaw dropped as I heard about watching the Orcas, kayaking the gulf, and cycling through the majestic mountains. As my children get older their sense of adventure soars, and I long to experience this kind of holiday with nature by their sides. And you should have seen the Bug’s eyes when I told him you can watch bears in British Colombia!
We honeymooned in South Africa, spending a week in and around Cape Town, before heading into stunning Franschhoek and it’s delicious wines, then onwards along the garden route to watch whales and enjoy the vast beaches. One of the trips I’ve longed to repeat since then with my children is to South Africa’s game reserves – it was quite truly the pinnacle of my travelling life to date, and I’d love to see their reactions to being that close to nature. Just outside Cape Town is the Klein Karoo, a spectacular area of mountain passes and caves that would be fascinating to explore, and game reserves boasting the ‘Big 5’ of South Africa – leopard, lion, elephant, buffalo, and rhino. Add to that a fantastic itinerary of things to do with children, and Cape Town suddenly becomes a really interesting family travel proposition.
The ‘Real’ America
There are so many destinations in the USA I long to visit, but given my children’s new-found taste for adventure I was really taken with the idea of a family holiday in Rocky Mountain International. The ‘Real America’ includes Montana, Dakota, and Wyoming, and a quick look at the website tells you that you will spend your holiday there immersed in adventure, with the back-drop of the awe-inspiring scenery of America’s legendary National Parks. I want to stay in log cabins in Yellowstone National Park, and spend my days riding horses with cowboys! How about that for a family trip to remember?!
Alison’s Top 3:
Sani Resort, Halkidiki
As much as I love a bargain break, I’m all about finding little pockets of child-friendly luxury in the world too. Somewhere that friends have told me about is Sani Resort in Halkidiki. They were wowed by the family friendly approach and 5* surroundings, and after chatting to a representative from the resort, I can see why. The kids’ clubs and creche are run by Ofsted monitored staff, there’s a massively long stretch of golden sand along the shore and you can try out scuba diving or tennis before hitting the spa. Heaven in a hotel? I think so.
Shopping is always high up on my to do list, and being on holiday is no different. I met two lovely representatives from Simon Shopping Centers who own outlet malls all over America. My top pick is Orlando International Premium Outlet (they have stores like Seven For All Mankind, J.Crew and Kate Spade) and we’d stay in nearby Kissimmee – I met a super person from Experience Kissimmee who told me about the area and how great it is to hire a villa there, rather than be in the hubbub of Orlando.
I’ve never been to Dubai. Some people tell me it’s fantastic, some people say it’s not their cup of tea. I’d like to visit and make up my own mind. There are loads of things for families to do – from water parks to aquariums to KidZania (an indoor play centre, built to resemble a real town). You can also take the kids up the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa – cool huh?
Penny’s Top 3:
Grand Palladium Palace Ibiza Resort and Spa
One of my biggest regrets…I never did Ibiza when I was a young, single or even a child-free thing, but the island has always made me curious. It may be known as the hedonist summer playground, but it’s also laid back, creative, beautiful and family friendly. I’m excited to know more about the beachside Grand Palladium Palace Ibiza Resort and Spa. The funky kids’ clubs look like something out of an IKEA catalogue, and with daily and nightly entertainment, sports, movies and shows in two age groups, there is lots to keep them busy while parents enjoy the spa and pools. The food options look great too, with themed dining and buffet options to keep both the gourmets and the fuss pots in the family happy.
Siargao Bleu Resort and Spa, Siargao Island
Siargao Island is located on the East side of the Phillipines, an untouched island paradise. Siargao Bleu Resort and Spa opens March 2015 and all the marketing materials truly show that kids are welcome here. Apart from the words ‘island paradise’, the activities here sound amazing – kayak in the mangroves, visit a faith healer, ride a carabao, plant rice, meet crocodiles, surf and glamp or hire bikes, speedboats or ATVs. I had no idea how long it would take to fly to the Phillipines, so was relieved to hear a 14 hour flight, plus a 45min transfer, I really thought it would take lots longer to reach paradise.
Heart of Sharjah
I met fellow blogger Mohamed, who is also Marketing Executive for a region just beyond Dubai called Sharjah at World Travel Market. Having flown through Dubai, on route to Tanzania with Comic Relief earlier this year, I am utterly intrigued, but also a little unsure if I can cope with its lavish excess. However, Mohamed’s first point was that Sharjah is green, leafy and perhaps more likely to appeal to those seeking an authentic, cultural and creative experience of the Emirates. Certainly that is what Heart of Sharjah is dedicated to investing in.
Katie’s Top 3:
I was blown away by all the gorgeous destinations at WTM but I am really interested in finding out more about the Beaches brand. Everyone has heard of Sandals, the beautiful Caribbean All Inclusive resorts, but did you know that Beaches is their sister brand which is more suited to families? As a mother to two young children, I love to get out and about and explore, but I also love the All Inclusive concept, knowing that I can just go and relax and everything is taken care of. All the properties, situated in Jamaica and Turks and Caicos, look amazing and perfect for children of any age. I am also keen to learn about their new property opening in Barbados as having been to the island before, it is a beautiful place to visit.
The Channel Islands
Not quite so exotic, but still just as lovely, I had a fantastic chat with Condor Ferries while I was there and I was really interested to learn more about them. Jersey and Guernsey are places I have yet to visit, but have always been on my wish list, and with a smart new boat now in operation (that claims to massively reduce sea-sickness!), it looks like it might soon to be time to set sail! It looks like a beautiful part of the UK and somewhere which I know we would enjoy as a family.
Palladium Hotels sound like they are really investing in their properties and I am excited to find out more. I literally have been in awe of the photos of their Hard Rock Hotel property in Ibiza, it looks incredible and so stylish- their Sublimotion restaurant experience, where it’s limited to 12 guests a night for the perfect culinary experience looks like a chance in a lifetime thing, and family wise, like Penny, I am excited to find out more about their Ibiza resorts for families Grand Palladium Palace Ibiza Resort and Spa, it looks stylish but still family orientated. Having never been to Ibiza, I would love to try out the island and dip my toe slightly into the scene, but also see what it is like for families.
So what are your dream holidays?
Our trip to the Maldives was indeed a dream come true. It was the ultimate in blissful indulgence, and we have never forgotten a moment of it. Often Actually Daddy will wonder how much it might cost to take the children to that little piece of heaven, but I brush the suggestion off, knowing that they need to save some of life’s travel magic to savour with their own friends and partners in the future. After all, if we take them everywhere, their honeymoons will be wrecked by memories of their parents, and no-one wants that!
Inspired? We’ll tell you lots more about these, and other destinations over the coming weeks. But now it’s your turn. What are your dream holidays?
Coming soon, look out for our top ten family city breaks as inspired by our time at World Travel Market.
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