We definitely are. So meet Cass Chapman. Cass is the founder and director of Kodomo, an altogether brilliant website which curates the best luxury family holidays: so that’s your holiday sourced, impeccably reviewed, and you can book via the site. Genius. As a food and travel journalist, Cass has written for Vogue, Glamour, The Sunday Times and CN Traveller – and roamed the globe, but now lives an idyllic-sounding life by the sea with her husband Jamie and daughter, the adorable Lola. She is thus perfectly placed to tell us exactly what to book for the school holidays…
February is the very dreariest of months. The grey feels eternal, summer seems nothing but a vague and distant memory, and the promise that it is the shortest in the calendar does nothing to abate the whipping wind and rain. However, it is punctuated by half term and from that point on, the Easter holidays and then the Summer break are just a short hop away. So brighten up the month by looking ahead to your upcoming holidays. There is absolutely nothing to stop you jumping on a plane, throwing on skis or donning a diving suit with your kids alongside. You just need to know where to go.
You may think you have missed the ski season, what with Easter being so late this year, but if you want to get on the slopes this 2014, Whistler in Canada is well worth a look in. The season in this premier Canadian ski resort is lengthy, thanks to an annual snowfall of around 30 feet. Whistler is open until late April, and Blackcomb (right next door) stays open for skiing into May. The crowds are inevitably far and few between at this time of year, and Whistler’s village, which is nestled at the very heart of the action, is pedestrianized, making it an easy place to mill amongst the eateries and play areas with young children. Travelling with babies? Don’t be put off. Whistler has an incredible concierge service for tiny tots, Baby’s on the Go, which delivers anything you might need so you can travel light. Amen.
We recommend staying at The Fairmont Chateau Whistler, no matter what age your children. If your whole family is on skis you’ll adore the hotel’s ski valet and on-the-slopes guest service. If they are still too little, your toddlers and babies will love the indoor-outdoor pool (heated year round, of course). Children under 5 eat for free, the rooms are enormous so plenty of space, and the Alpine views out beyond the lifts to Blackcomb Mountain will eradicate all memory of drab UK winters.
If some serious sunshine is what you’re after, April in Malaysia is heavenly. It is the dry season and hot, but not searingly hot so perfect if you have small, sun-sensitive family-members with you. It is a long way from home, yes, but once you disembark the plane and inhale that gorgeous Southeast Asian air, you’ll be glad of the flight-time. The Malays couldn’t be more family-friendly if they tried. By their very nature they adore children, so you won’t find a hotel, restaurant, beach bar or swimming pool where they aren’t welcomed with open arms. The Four Seasons on the island of Langkawi (a short hop across the water from Kuala Lumpur) has so much on offer you won’t need to leave it (though we recommend you explore Langkawi, which is simply breathtaking). From its sensational kids’ club to the family-pool that overlooks the sea, the array of food choices for both parents and children to the impeccable childcare services, this ticks every box. (And do make the most of those babysitters if only to spend an hour in the award-winning spa).
There is less reason to travel quite so far in the summer and, should we be blessed by another gorgeous few months like last year, you need hardly travel at all. Britain has a smattering of fantastic hotels, idyllic little B&B’s and quaint cottages that make our fair isle as much of a playground as anywhere else in the world. We adore Bovey Castle in Devon. The main rooms of this castle are gorgeous, but if you have a large family you’ll probably be better suited to the three en-suite bedroom country lodges on the grounds. They sleep up to 8 and offer self-catering services, though you can still order room service or eat in the hotel’s restaurant if you really want a proper vacation from daily life. Outside, there couldn’t be more to do. Whether you’re avid golfers or fancy clay-pigeon shooting, want to introduce your little ones to archery or apple pressing – it’s all on offer. And the nicest touch? Bovey Castle is the only hotel we know of that has LEGO room service. Yup. The quintessential toy is delivered, by staff, on a tray no less, especially for children.
And if a European vacation beckons, the Borgo Egnazia in Puglia, which opened just in time for Justin Timberlake’s wedding to Jessica Biel in 2012, has become a firm favourite of Italians the country over. Located along the heel of Italy, Puglia is a relatively untouched rural haven, dotted in colourful citrus groves and sleepy olive trees. Seemingly out of nowhere emerges the Borgo Egnazia, a hotel that is as pleasing for parents as it is for their children. Mums and Dad’s will adore the tranquility and solitude, the sumptuous poolside loungers, the spa and the gorgeous local, Apulian wines. Children will revel in the pasta-making classes, the gigantic pirate ship that sits outside the children’s centre (one of the best we have seen), the two beaches just across the road and the watersports on offer. The local “trullo” architecture and historical towns make wonderful excursions for all the family, but you simply won’t find a more charming, not to mention luxurious stop, anywhere else in this region of Italy.
Kodomo.com was created by freelance food and luxury travel writer, Cass Chapman and launched in September 2013. After having her daughter Lola in 2011, she decided to create a website providing well-researched and authentic information for parents on where to eat, stay and play with babies, toddlers and young teens in tow. From Batu Batu to Barcelona, Montreal to Marbella, Kodomo.com (and its team of fabulous writers) gives personal and detailed information on hotels, villas, and restaurants across the world, with much-needed detail on when to visit, what to do once you get there, and essential need-to-know information specific to each destination. The site also features a monthly Kodomo Q&A with different parents of interest as well as news stories on the latest openings and offers across the world.
Image via Coco Kelly