Holidays With Kids caught up with two celebrities, to see where they like to go, what they look for in a holiday and what tips they have to keep kids entertained.
Lisa Curry Kenny
Lisa Curry Kenny has just about done it all and there are no signs of her slowing down. She was a ‘golden girl’ of Australian swimming, winning 15 gold, seven silver and eight bronze international medals. At the Commonwealth Games in Auckland in 1990, she won four gold and one silver medal – a marvellous achievement considering she had a toddler to look after at home. She has competed in three Olympics and is the only Australian swimmer to have held Commonwealth and Australian records in every stroke except backstroke.
Lisa is chair of the National Australia Day Council, a successful motivational speaker, director of Curry Kenny Group Pty Ltd and has written several books, one of which is Fit Kids – an excellent read. She now competes in outrigger canoe at an elite level.
Lisa and her husband Grant Kenny have three children – Jaimi (17), Morgan (13) and Jett (9) – and live on Queenslands’ Sunshine Coast
Where do you love to take the family?
There are a few places. Couran Cove is one; Hawaii is another one and we also love skiing. We ski Utah and Canada. On holiday we need to go somewhere where the kids are almost self-entertained, because when you’re really busy and go on holidays, you need to relax. Life is just so full on, we need to go somewhere where there are lots of activities for the kids and that we can join in, too, if we want to.
What do you look for in a resort?
To be able to go somewhere with a safe environment is important for us – to know that the kids can go and have a swim or play tennis on their own. Couran Cove is perfect – they have bikes for hire and the kids can ride a long way and you know they’re safe. It’s a great place for both parents and kids. It’s so easy. It’s got a really big pool, a lap pool, kayaks in the lake, a playground, bike tracks down to the beach and they look after the kids at night if you want to have dinner on your own.
Skiing holidays are always good for us. We have the kids in ski school in the mornings, meet up with them at lunch and ski with them all afternoon. So it’s a really good holiday. In Utah we go to Alta. It’s great because it’s so high up. It has really dry snow and their end-of-season skiing is fantastic. You have beautiful days and the snow stays dry.
Do you take them on holidays to places that you went as a child?
When I was a kid, we went to the Gold Coast for weekends as we lived in Brisbane. Because we live at the beach, we feel like we’re on holiday all the time. Dad also took us overseas when we were young but there’s only a certain amount you can do overseas.
You’ve just been appointed ambassador for P&O in Brisbane and you’ve taken the kids on a cruise. How did you enjoy it?
We all thought it was great. We can’t wait to go on another one. It was interesting because it was a whole new experience. Sometimes we’d be lying in bed and say to each other: hey, we’re on the ocean! You’d forget because all you’d feel was a slight roll. It’s like a big resort on water. The kids can just go and explore or swim or eat.
The food is pretty much 24 hours a day and there’s so much variety. I have a daughter who eats everything in sight and the other two are very picky, so it was really great for the kids because there was so much to choose from. There were so many activities, including a movie theatre, that they were occupied the whole time. It was also good because you only have to unpack once. You don’t have to dress up. I was surprised how relaxing it was.
We loved it so much, we’ve booked a Mexico cruise – we can’t wait for that.
You’ve written a book called Fit Kids. Do you think holidays should be as active as possible?
It depends on the people. I think there are two types of holidays: there are holidays you have with the kids, which should be active, and there are recovery holidays for parents, where you can do absolutely nothing. That’s the beauty of a cruise – you can do as much as you want or as little as you want while the kids are busy. And for me, because I am so active the rest of the time, I just want to go and lie around, lie in the sun, have a coffee or a cocktail and be waited on hand and foot.
Any tips on how to make a holiday with children better?
If possible, take nighttime flights so the kids can sleep the whole way. It’s even easier these days to fly anywhere because airlines have the video screens in the back of the seats. Make sure you don’t give them lollies or anything that will make them hyper. When they were young, we had a ‘bribe bag’ for plane trips. Don’t take kids on long car trips – although there are exceptions. We had a campervan in the US and that was lots of fun because we could stop wherever we wanted to. We’d park and we’d wake up in the morning and there’d be snow on the ground or there’d be a great view. We were free to go wherever, whenever we wanted.
When families decide to go on holiday, they need to think about what they want to get out of the holiday and tailor it for that. Also, plan everything well in advance so you don’t have to work too hard in the weeks before you go away. Some people are so exhausted that they get sick on the first day of their holiday.
Anything on your holiday wish list?
Cruise in Mexico. I’d like to do a cruise in Alaska and do the Rocky Mountaineer train ride across the Canadian Rockies. I’d like to go to Everest base camp and do the Kokoda trail. And I’d like a holiday in my house with no work and nothing to do. That would be great!
Kieren Perkins OAM is best known for his two Olympic gold medals in the 1500 metres freestyle – the first in Barcelona and the second, more famous, victory in Atlanta, after just scraping into the final. He also won silver at the Sydney games in 2000. He broke 11 world records during his 12-year career, was World Male Swimmer of the Year in 1994 and Young Australian of the Year in 1992. He is married to Symantha and the couple have two children, Georgia (7) and Harry (6). Kieren and Symantha own and operate the Red Rover Playhouse, a family entertainment centre in Brookvale, Sydney.
Where do you love to take the family and why?
We love to visit the Gold Coast because both Sam and I grew up in Brisbane and had holidays there as kids, so it’s nice to come full circle with our own children. The beach is a great family holiday because it is relatively affordable compared with other vacation spots and there is so much to do. The kids wear themselves out playing at the beach or at one of the many theme parks near Surfers.
From the sand to the snow, we have become addicted to skiing. Sadly, the kids are almost better than us, but skiing is fantastic fun because the whole family can enjoy it and be challenged by the sport and grow together. It’s healthy and active, and who doesn’t love the fairytale quality of snow?
We also try and go to Hong Kong once a year to see Sam’s parents who live there. Hong Kong is a great destination – lots of eating, shopping and more shopping in a geographically amazing city with a buzz of organised chaos in the streets and markets. The Asian people also adore kids, and Georgia and Harry are always welcome and spoilt at any venue.
What do you look for in a resort?
Well, now that we have kids our priorities have changed a lot. We look for a child-friendly resort that boasts a kids’ club and experienced babysitting services for the odd moments Sam and I might want to share a dinner or an afternoon by the pool alone. The resort also needs to have family-friendly rooms and menus – there’s nothing worse than the kids having to survive on french fries and tomato sauce all week because there’s nothing else for them. Resort activities for the kids are also important – they have to have fun, too.
Do you take them to places you went to when you were a child?
We do enjoy sharing our happy experiences with them and I hope, as they get older, we can afford to take them to some of the overseas places we have both visited. Travelling is an excellent education for kids. Life is not just about textbooks – visiting different countries and cultures is a wonderful eye-opener and life experience.
What sort of things do you like to do with the kids when you’re on holiday?
Active things – we are not huge fans of ‘lie on the couch’ type vacations, which is probably why we always feel like we need a holiday after our holiday. Skiing, swimming at the beach, going to a farm and exploring the bush. We also like to go to the movies, as we rarely get the chance during the school term.
Any tips on how to make a holiday with kids better?
Planning and preparation, plus a flexible attitude. Sam always packs a survival pack for the car or plane with extra food, drinks, Band-aids and any medication the kids might need so that the trip there doesn’t turn into a nightmare. If you are travelling by plane, we’ve found booking suitable flight times the key to hassle-free travel. For us, with a seven- and a six-year-old, this means booking afternoon/evening flights for long haul and morning flights for domestic travel. There’s nothing worse than being stuck on a plane during the day with kids for nine hours – they are so much more manageable when they’re asleep.
Is there anywhere on your holiday wish list?
I would love to see more of China. Sam (her grandfather is Chinese) took me to the Great Wall a couple of years ago and we’ve promised to take the kids there when they are a little older. Whistler is a fabulous ski resort and I’d also love to try skiing in Europe one day. Tasmania is another place I’d love to explore because you hear so many good things about it.