We've been away a couple of times this year (just a week at a time) is all we want to do at the moment with a 16 month old sprogette, but we've had a lovely time at each, so thought I'd do a couple of reviews.
We've just come back from Majorca (it's the second time we've been there with Steph) and had a fantastic time. We didn't actually book until about 9.30pm on Friday night and then flew out on Sunday, so I was a bit dubious as it was such a late booking and an allocated on arrival deal. As it happened we ended up in a resort called Cala Bona on the east of the island – a side we'd never been to before.
The only downside was that it was a good hour and half transfer from Palma Airport and Steph was getting very restless before the bus left – especially as we had to wait ages for some people who'd had their luggage mislaid and had to fill in all the forms and stuff before we could go.
The hotel was the Bonamar and for a 3 star it was really good. The staff were fantastic, the food (half board basis) was excellent with a wide choice, nice pool area, reasonable entertainment and pretty much everything you'd expect – although there weren't many kids when we went as we went just before the schools broke up, and the rep wasn't really interested in entertaining the few that were around – I think she thought it wasn't really worth her time!
The rooms were a little on the small side and our view was quite interesting – on our invoice it said we had booked a 'limited/lateral sea view' – I never did quite work out what a lateral sea view was! Basically we were on the side of the hotel on a side street, but by turning your head left, you could see the sea at the bottom of the road – the back of the hotel was on the sea front, but it wasn't a bad view really – we've had much worse!
The resort of Cala Bona/Cala Millor (they're right next to each other) is a lovely bustling family resort. You need to be a bit careful, as you may get mowed down by energetic (largely German I think) families in these bit biycle things, kids on gocarts, or people whizzing about electric scooters! What surprised us though was how early everything seemed to shut up in the evening. It's a great place for street walking (a major Spanish past time) but come 10.00pm, the shops are shutting and by 11.00pm, all the bars are shutting up and everywhere goes deserted really quickly – even if you're having a drink somewhere, the staff start turning lights off and putting the furniture up, and you feel as if you've outstayed your welcome!
Cala Bona doesn't really have a beach as such but Cala Millor has a lovely sandy (man-made kind of thing) that goes on for miles, so there was plenty of room and plenty of sunbeds/parasols available. We paid 9 euros for 2 beds & a brolly daily, which I thought was a bit pricey, but you can always buy your own. Although you couldn't reserve sunbeds by the pool by leaving your towel on them (the hotel had a policy of removing them) you had to be up relatively early to get your spot. Bugger that, we don't do early on holiday -(I find it tricky to do early on any day these days!) so we generally went to the beach, mooched about there and then came up to the pool for the last swim. Steph loved playing on the beach and going in the sea. We'd bought her a little inflatable car which went down really well – and she sped about (well as fast as we could chuck it about), beeping the little horn! The best bit though was going back to the pool, where Steph was swimming – on her own!! (okay, so she did have arm bands on but there was little parental support going on). She is really good! I was so proud. Ian even had her jumping in (to his arms) but I didn't like that bit very much, cos I thought she was a bit small/young for leaping into a big pool – still she has no fear, which I'm not sure is a good thing or bad.
Anyway, thoroughly recommend Majorca, Cala Bona and the Bonamar! This was booked through latedeals.com and was through the Thomson group (TUI).
In April we went to Lanzarote, Lanzarote Gardens Aparthotel, in Costa Tesguise. This is a real family-oriented complex, but without being patronising or 'themed'. I chose this hotel, because it had some good reviews on 'holidays uncovered' and lastminute.com were offering a good deal at the time.
The apartments were fantastic, really well equipped and very spacious. If you have young children, the hotel automatically allocate you ground floor apartment, so you have no problem with steps/lifts etc – which I think is a nice touch.
Again the staff were fantastic, but this hotel was much more child-orientated than the Bonamar and there were creches and various kids clubs going on, even before the season had really started. The staff were tireless in trying to keep the kids entertained. The kids disco at night was really good, and the entertainment after the kids bit was exceptional.
Lovely pool areas with a lifeguard always around, although one was absolutely freezing but the other one was solar heated – guess which one we were in most of the time!
The resort of Costa Tesguise was pleasant enough – lovely beach area and large promenade – probably a bit more spaced out, and it was difficult to find the centre as such as it comprised of lots of different centres – squares with shops and restaurants etc but moret than okay for what we wanted to do.
We didn't go on any of the trips which was a shame really, but we figured it was just too much to lug all our child parapharnelia about, go on a long coach trip and perhaps not get the most out of it! Apparently there are some really good trips there (I've heard lots of reports) and you can get a good dollop of culture on most of them.
It's a strange place though – there can be really cold wind, but a hot sun at the same time, so you feel cold a lot of time, but later you've realised you've burnt! It was quite cold at night. We went quite early in the season, so it's probably better to go a bit later in May or June, when the wind has died off a bit.
One day I'll get some photos up of our travels (and Steph swimming), but I'm a bit crap with photos I'm afraid! We have a digital camera but it's not a particularly good one and the batteries die within a few minutes. My mum bought us a battery charger for Xmas, but we never seem to be sufficiently organised to charge it – then there is the palaver of downloading/deleting the pictures – so then I resort to conventional photos and then they sit around for months until the film is finished! We have just bought a new printer/copier/scanner though at the weekend, so you never know!