Monday, 9 November 2015

Family holidays: Self-catering or all-inclusive? By Katie McGonagle

PARENTS devote much time to teaching their offspring how to act in all sorts of different situations. Racing around at full speed might be fine for the park or the playground, but not for their grandmother’s living room. And the way they chat with friends probably isn’t the way they should talk to their teachers.

As in all things, context is key, so why not remind parents of that lesson next time they come in to book a holiday? While one country might lend itself to an all-inclusive resort-based break, others are suited to getting out and about, so a self-catering stay will be a better fit.

Orlando: Any worries about fussy eaters not finding food they like can be laid to rest across the pond. With plenty of reasonably priced, familiar, and child-friendly options, going #self-catering in the #US is a no-brainer.

Most hotels offer room-only rates with the option to add breakfast at a supplement, but the abundance of apartments and villa-style accommodation in popular family resorts such as Orlando also fits the self-catering model well. Guests can then mix and match between home cooking – many villas come equipped with a kitchen and outdoor barbecue grill – and eating out. There’s certainly no shortage of family-friendly restaurants, stretching far beyond our familiar fast-food joints to encompass the myriad cuisines of the US’s multi-cultural population.

Eating out is also much more affordable in the US than it is in Britain, so it shouldn’t break the bank to dine out with the family each night, but generous tipping – 20% – is expected.

Italy: While some short-haul favourites such as Spain and Portugal have embraced the all-inclusive model, family-oriented Italy remains resolutely outside that bracket, with only the occasional all-inclusive property in some of its beach resorts. That leaves families free to explore the local food scene, and with familiar flavours and easily recognizable dishes sure to appear on every menu – no matter how un-touristy the eatery – it shouldn’t pose major problems. 

John Escott, sales manager at Al Fresco Holidays, says: ‘Self-catering holidays in #Italy are easy when it comes to fussy eaters: kids know Italian food well, with pizza and pasta being firm favourites, which makes dining out less daunting. All of our parks in Italy have an on-site shop located conveniently for guests to pick up essentials or to provide the entire family meal. Each Al Fresco Holidays mobile homes comes with an easy-to-use kitchen and its own barbecue.’

Al Fresco has 18 parks across Italy.

Turkey: When a family asks for a Turkish holiday, it’s easy to steer them automatically towards an #all-inclusive resort along the coastline, many boasting water parks and sports facilities on top of a great-value dining and drinks package.

Yet that’s not the only family option. Parents who don’t want to be tied to the resort at every meal time will find Turkey’s relaxed coastal towns awash with cafes and restaurants serving good-value local bites, with a chance to browse through the shops and soak up the local vibe.

There shouldn’t be anything too challenging for younger palates, with plenty of grilled meats, dips, and pitta breads meaning picky eaters will always find something they can rely on.

Red Sea: ‘With the majority of properties in Sharm El Sheikh all-inclusive, it makes sense to book an all-in holiday and benefit from the exceptional prices available,’ says Olympic Holidays commercial director Photis Lambrianides. ‘Couple that with the fact that as Sharm covers a long stretch of the coast, individual properties can be a fair way from bars and restaurants, and it’s far simpler to eat and drink in the resort.’

Barbados: The Caribbean has long been known as a haven for all-inclusive escapes, pioneering the concept of mega-resorts where guests need never step outside the grounds unless they want to explore. That’s just as true today, with family-focused, all-inclusive properties dotted across the islands, including hugely popular brands such as Beaches on Jamaica and the Turks and Caicos Islands; Club Med in the Dominican Republic, Bahamas, and the French Caribbean; or AMResorts’ family brands Now and Sunscape in Mexico, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, and Curacao. 

Easygoing Barbados is no stranger to the all-inclusive concept. Despite having a reputation for great local dining, its relaxed beachfront properties are all about hassle-free holidays, with no need to head out in search of dinner each evening. 

Elegant Hotels’ all-inclusive Turtle Beach and Crystal Cove properties offer a premium all-inclusive package, factoring all meals, drinks and snacks, daily afternoon tea, water sports, and kids’ activities into the cost. With Turtle Beach’s family activities this season including cinema under the stars, beach football, treasure hunts around the hotel, and weekly pastry classes run by dessert chef Ezra Beckles, the food and drink isn’t the only highlight of an all-inclusive stay.

Cyprus: ‘Everyone wants all-inclusive these days,’ according to Theodoros Frangos, general manager of the Olympic Lagoon Resort Paphos. ‘We are going back to the original idea of all-inclusive – it doesn’t necessarily mean cheap holidays. It offers the facility of having everything there, but the biggest advantage is that people know what they will spend, so there are no surprises.” 

The all-inclusive trend is echoed across other new properties on the island, such as the 250-room King Evelthon Beach Hotel and Resort, which opened last year by the Tombs of the Kings in Paphos, and has an all-inclusive package covering themed dinners, snacks, ice cream, and local alcoholic drinks, and the re-branded Sensatori Resort Aphrodite Hills, both well set up for children.

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Picture Credit:">Still Beauty</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">(license),">IMG_3855</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">(license)

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