FIVE STAR KIDS: SMITH'S WINNING FAMILY STAYS
Looking for a family-friendly getaway with buckets and spades of style? Mr & Mrs Smith shortlisted 10 brilliant breaks for all ages at the inaugural Smith Hotel Awards, naming one finalist Best for Families. Here are five of our favourites. From sun-drenched beaches to paddle-perfect pools and rooms dedicated to chocolate, these incredible escapes have kids’ clubs so fun and activities so squeal-worthy, you’ll never have to venture beyond the hotel walls.
WORDS first appeared on Smith & Family blog
Style All-ages tropical playground
Setting Palm-fringed island bay
Taking luxury family holidays to a new level, Soneva Kiri has a jaw-dropping jungle-meets-ocean locale, switched-on service, a fun-loving attitude and a beyond impressive kids’ club, sure to seduce the young and young-at-heart. With activities to thrill, excite and occupy broods of all sizes for days on end, it’s no surprise that Soneva Kiri nabbed Smith’s Best for Families award.
For a stylish snooze, Oceanfront Pool Villa Suites numbers 1 to 5 are a short stroll from the restaurant and kids’ club. Extra beds in the dressing room off the bedroom can sleep up to two young ’uns. Larger families will suit the two-bedroom Cliff Pool Villa Suite, kitted out with its own spa deck, balconies and private pool.
Having asked groups of children to design their own dream play area, architect Olav Bruin created a dream of a kids’ club. His bamboo structure resembles a manta ray, elegantly swimming through the treetops.The focus is on nature and creativity; highlights include the drawbridge entrance, a slide exit and rooms dedicate to art, music and fashion. Little Smiths will get their cultural kicks from learning the Thai alphabet, creating a local toy, learning a Thai instrument or trying their hand at traditional batik. Outside the Den, children can build sandcastles on the sugar-sand beach, feed Soneva Kiri’s wild boars, play tennis, go snorkelling, visit the local village or hunt for crabs.
Children are welcome at all of Soneva Kiri’s restaurants and chefs are happy to customise meals to suit fussy palates. After a speedboat jaunt through the mangroves, little Smiths will love flopping onto the floor cushions at Benz, a lantern-lit Thai restaurant helmed by Khun Benz and propped up on stilts. For a meal in the trees, book a perch in a bamboo pod at Treepod (suitable for over-11s) and be winched up to six metres in the air to enjoy views of the rainforest and waves below – the acrobatic skills of your zip-lining waiter are perfect mealtime entertainment.
Main image: Beach heaven at Soneva Kiri
Above: Soneva Kiri poolside
Style Fairy-tale village resort
Setting Shore-side olive groves
Castle-like and candle-lit, Borgo Egnazia was a runner up in Smith’s Best for Families award. Thanks to its stellar kids’ club, tricked-out games room and staff that are up for a game of football, even the most brooding of teenagers will crack a smile here.
Snag a room in the Borgo – they have a rustic and colourful design, and the added benefit of being closer to the family-friendly pool. Casetta Bella rooms in the Borgo boast a private patio garden and are split over two levels: the downstairs has a living room, cooking nook with kettle and microwave, and space for an extra bed; upstairs has the bedroom with a stone bathroom and a balcony.
Going out of its way to keep families entertained, Borgo Egnazia showcases four pools, two beaches, a crèche, a free kids’ club and teenagers’ zone. Children can spend their days at I Trullaleri, designed for children aged 3–13, which has both indoor and outdoor areas, and a wicked stash of toys. Though it’s highly unlikely that children will tire of face-painting, dancing, bracelet-making and cookery classes, staff also help budding thesps put on theatre productions and plays in the evenings. Older children can tickle their fancy with tennis, swimming, bike rides, trips to the zoo and excursions to local ruins.
Make a beeline for Due Camini, serving traditional Pugliese fare as well as a special kiddy-focussed menu, so little ones can chow down on burgers, pasta with meatballs, mashed potato and vegetable soup. Children are welcome at Due Camini any time and can tackle the games and puzzles inside.
Above: Pool and room views from
From above: Martinhal Beach Resort exterior
Pool by beach at Martinhal
Indoor pool and luxury sleeps at Colcot Manor
MARTINHAL BEACH RESORT & HOTEL
Style Fabulous family affair
Setting Wild western Algarve
A family-focused hideaway, Martinhal Beach Resort & Hotel has sun-blazed beaches and a national park as its neighbours. Think restaurants with tot-tailored menus, a beckoning azure Atlantic with plenty of watersports, activities and games to occupy your brood for hours – there’s so much fun to be had here, you’ll need another escape to recover. No wonder it was also a runner up in Smith’s Best for Families award.
Ideal for families, the spacious House villas in Martinhal Village are available with one, two or three bedrooms. They also have fully equipped kitchens and an outdoor space: a balcony, terrace or private garden. The Deluxe villas in Pinewood House have their own private and gated swimming pool, or for more metres than you know what to do with, book one of the Luxury Villas.
Trouble keeping boisterous rugrats still? Don’t fret, activities at Martinhal are divided into age categories and are energy-burners. At the Fox Club (for kids aged 5–8), there are football matches, wall painting sessions or a crazy science hour for mini-Einsteins. For the 9–12s, the Explorer Club runs surf sessions or bike tours, sailing trips and scuba; the Adventure Club accommodates teens up to 18 with junior lifeguard courses, mocktail-making contests and dolphin-watching.
Traditional Portuguese recipes are reinvented at Martinhal’s main restaurant, O Terraço: try their signature starter with scrambled egg. Those with ankle-biters in tow should head to As Dunas Beach Bar and Restaurant, which is relaxed by day, candlelit by night and has a trampoline and sandpit for the wee ones.
Style Family-friendly farmhouse
Setting Homely heart of Gloucestershire
With child-friendly facilities at every turn and plenty of parent-pleasing touches, Calcot Manor offers the acme of boutique family escapes. Rooms have been designed specially for families, with plenty of sprawling space and a home-from-home-inspired style.
Away from the main house, all family rooms are housed in the courtyard-facing converted barn. Family Suites have a separate sleeping area for children, with twin or bunk beds; alternatively, splash out by nabbing the opulent Large Family Suite: spread over two floors, this room has separate kids’ bedrooms dotted with teddies and toys, plus a private garden.
Calcot Manor has a fully staffed Ofsted-accredited day nursery, the Playzone that welcomes newborns to 16 year olds and is open seven days a week. Toys, puzzles, arts and crafts and books will occupy the young ’uns for hours. Over-8s will never want to leave the Mez, situated on the Playzone’s first floor, which has the whole kit and caboodle of entertainment: table football, PlayStations, Wii consoles, Xbox 360s, computers and even a 12-seater cinema. Fancy outdoor pursuits? The estate’s 220 landscaped acres feature cycling trails, walking paths, tennis courts, a playground and a maize maze during the summer months.
A family-friendly haven, the Gumstool Inn is a standalone pub in Calcot’s grounds and serves an impressive children’s tea daily from 5.30pm.There is a children’s menu crafted entirely from homemade fare and organic produce; Baby Deli purées are also available in the Gumstool for the newly weaned.
From above: Stunning snow-view swims at El Lodge
Rustic chalet enteriors at El Lodge
Style Gingerbread Chalet
Setting Sunny Spanish slopes
A skiing sojourn on the sunny slopes of Sierra Nevada, El Lodge is a luxe setting for a wintery Andalucian getaway. Tackling the slopes becomes a family affair, made easy with a handy ski school for children and green-run tearaways alike.
Complete with vintage furniture, fur throw pillows and antler light fittings, the lodge has four suites suitable for families. Room 2 has a bedroom and separate lounge, with breathtaking views over the mountains and slopes. It’s ideally located to set up a baby monitor so Big Smiths can retreat to the restaurant and outdoor terrace bar. Room 1 can accommodate a couple with an older child, who can jump up and make camp on the upper bunk bed. Cots and extra-beds for under-12s are free.
Just peer out of the frosted window and look at the powdery playground that beckons; El Lodge is all about slipping, sliding and skiing. Indoors, there’s a pool table and board games, making for cosy days by the crackling fire. Restless kids will find consoles, toys, drawing and craft supplies in the free games room, open from 9am to 8pm.
MC Grill offers refined comfort food from a seasonal menu that makes use of game and local produce. This rustic-chic eatery has a kids’ menu – golden crispy Milanese escalopes, crepes and waffles – and chefs are happy to adapt any dish.
"Smith & Family is a hand-picked, anonymously reviewed collection of the world’s very best child-friendly hotels and family stays, every one of them selected and approved by parents. For more parent approved hotels or to make a booking visit www.smithandfamily.com