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All our latest travel news and information.

Airlines Up Baggage Allowance
The credit crunch is having an unexpected effect on airline policy....

The credit crunch is having an unexpected effect on airline policy. In an effort to encourage families back on to planes, Thomsonfly and First Choice Airways are adopting a new baggage
allowance policy, which will make travelling for families with young children much easier.

From May 2009 there will be a free baggage allowance of 10kg (22Ibs) per infant. Thomsonfly and First Choice Airways already offer passengers a generous allowance of 25kg combined hand and hold luggage. Infant pushchairs and buggies are carried free of charge and do not count as part of the parents' baggage allowance.

Jet2.com has also announced that it is to increase its hold baggage allowance by 30% from 17kg to 22kg on all flights after 1st April 2009. This means the airline is now reported to offer the most
generous baggage allowance in the leisure sector.



No Frills Chic
Between 22 October and 2 November all visiting kids get check-in goodies like a blackcurrant and apple Fruit Shoot and a bar of Cadbury's Dairy Milk chocolate when you book in to any purplehotel....

Between 22 October and 2 November all visiting kids get check-in goodies like a blackcurrant and apple Fruit Shoot and a bar of Cadbury's Dairy Milk chocolate when you book in to any purplehotel. The half term package starts at £49 per room per night, with under 14s staying free when sharing with two adults. Included in the price is a ‘purple all you can eat buffet breakfast' for everyone, with speciality butcher's sausages "purple porkers".

purplehotels is a new “no frills chic” brand from the Real Hotel Company, providing large comfortable rooms with big squishy beds and bounce back pillows, as well as a walk in power shower. There are currently 10 of the hotels in Braintree, Birmingham, Cambridge, Baldock, Derby, Doncaster Glasgow, Peterborough, Shrewsbury and Tewkesbury.

For more details call (08444) 823 823 or see http:.//www.purplehotels.co.uk. To claim the goodies quote ‘purple treat' at the time of booking.


Is This The UK's First Male Hotel Nanny?
Luxury family hotel Woolley Grange (01225) 864705 http://www.luxuryfamilyhotels.com....continue

Luxury family hotel Woolley Grange (01225) 864705 http://www.luxuryfamilyhotels.com has introduced a new attraction to the kids club this year, namely Steven King, probably the first male nanny, or 'manny' in a UK hotel creche.

His arrival conforms with the view that children benefit from exposure to a wider range of positive role models including male ones. And as the hotel manager comments, particularly with boys, it's ideal to have a man doing things like setting up a race track, building Lego space ships or running an arts and crafts session.

And as a budding musician there are hopes Steven may introduce the younger guests to some live music in the den, with his rocking version of "Wind the Bobbin Up".

Like the others in the Luxury Family Hotels group, Woolley Grange offers the Woolley Bears Den - a supervised Ofsted registered playroom, purposely not structured so children can play freely - and the Hen House, an unsupervised den for older children.

Double rooms at the hotel are from £250 per room for dinner, bed & breakfast / £120 b&b.
Children sharing their parents' room stay free with meals are charged as taken. Use of the cr?che, baby listening service and outdoor pool are free.


Rate the Seaside with OnBeach
If the beach is integral to your holiday experience and you want an unbiased opinion of your preferred options, try visiting web site OnBeach http://www.Onbeach.com....continue

If the beach is integral to your holiday experience and you want an unbiased opinion of your preferred options, try visiting web site OnBeach http://www.Onbeach.com. This collects and publishes information on beaches and coasts, claiming to offer the largest (multimedia) database of beaches in the world.

After comparing more than 3000 beaches in Western Europe - reporting that they hae seen every one in France, Spain, Portugal and Italy - and analysing them for 100 issues such as cleanliness, facilities and suitability for swimming, the top five rated by OnBeach are: Platja S' Amarado in Mallorca, Cala Salada in Ibiza, Baie de Rondinara in Corsica, Praia de Sao Rafael on the Algarve, and Porto Nuova in Puglia in the south of Italy.

If you want to add your own comments - good or bad - you too can post your ratings.


Holidays with Grandparents
Grand Breaks http://www.grandbreaks.com....continue

Grand Breaks http://www.grandbreaks.com is a family-run business created by a former FTSE 100 Corporate Affairs Director and specialising in one, two or three day breaks in the UK for grandparents and grandchildren. It covers activities and attractions that can be enjoyed by both generations.

Breaks are categorised as Classic, Active, Discovery and Bespoke Grand Breaks and are in Warwickshire, Hampshire, London, Surrey, London and Sussex, with more destinations planned.

The package includes hotels chosen chosen as welcoming and fun for all ages and examples include the award-winning, independently owned Deans Place Hotel in the picturesque village of Alfriston; or the luxurious Buxted Park Hotel in Ashdown Forest, near Uckfield.


Beat the Cost of Flying
With news of increases in the cost of flying, European Rail is reporting that rail remains a bargain - while the growing high speed network means you can get there almost as fast, and without the hassle of airport security....continue

With news of increases in the cost of flying, European Rail is reporting that rail remains a bargain - while the growing high speed network means you can get there almost as fast, and without the hassle of airport security. Even better for those with children, there's space on a train for children to fidget, go for walks, visit the bar for snacks, and watch the countryside go flying by - all of which keeps them out of trouble.

Prices for second class returns departing London St Pancras include Cologne for £95; Berlin(overnight)for £159 (including couchette); Nice (also Cannes)for £97; and Geneva for £103.
Fares are subject to availability and advance purchase is required. Booking fees apply.

To make a booking contact the European Rail booking centre on (020) 7619 1083, email sales@europeanrail.com, or for enquiries call (0901) 235 0105 (60p per minute)

European Rail Ltd, established in 1994, is reported the UK's leading agency for booking rail tickets throughout Europe. For further details see http://www.europeanrail.com or for their range of independent rail holidays see http://www.eRail.co.uk.


The Original Christmas Markets
For the original Christmas market experience go to Germany, where the season starts on the last weekend in November with mulled wine, seasonal food specialities and the opportunity to find some charming presents, including wooden toys....continue

For the original Christmas market experience go to Germany, where the season starts on the last weekend in November with mulled wine, seasonal food specialities and the opportunity to find some charming presents, including wooden toys.

If you want to know which one to choose and how to book it, the German tourist office has published a 40-page brochure listing them all, including opening times. Information is also available at a dedicated website http://www.germany-christmas-market.org.uk.

Each geographical section also features recommendations such as markets in castles and other unusual locations, plus special tips on things to do during the festive season.

In the North, Bremen features 150 festively decorated stalls around the brick Gothic town hall, Roland Statue and St Peter's Cathedral. In Celle half-timbered facades surround the Christmas market in the heart of the old quarter while in the East Frisian port town of Emden a market is being set up on a giant pontoon in the harbour. In Hamburg, there are seven markets in the city centre alone including a historical and a hanseatic market.

Heading further East you will find the famous “Stollen” Christmas cake the Dresden version of which gives its name to the city's “Striezelmarkt”, Germany's oldest Christmas market. The “Erzgebirge” (Ore Mountains) are home of the famous Christmas decorations with Seiffen as the cradle of tradition and handicrafts featuring the largest nutcracker in Germany and the toy-making village. And Berlin boasts 50 different Christmas markets.

For Germany's biggest market, visitors should head west to Dortmund where they will also find the world's tallest Christmas tree. Or try a small and exquisite market such as the one in the famous wine town of Deidesheim at the German Wine Road. Further south, there is, of course, the country's most famous market in N?rnberg with the popular “Lebkuchen” (ginger bread). Try something different in Regensburg, UNESCO world heritage site on the Danube with three markets.

For a printed copy call (020) 7317 0908 or email gntolon@d-z-t.com.


Discounted Baby Breaks in Devon
For families with at least one child under three, Woolacombe Bay Holiday Parcs in Devon is offering Baby Breaks including specially furnished rooms complete with wooden cot, blackout blind and night light....continue

For families with at least one child under three, Woolacombe Bay Holiday Parcs in Devon is offering Baby Breaks including specially furnished rooms complete with wooden cot, blackout blind and night light. These are in the parc's luxury lodges or the top of the range holiday homes.

A high chair and changing mat are also provided, along with a free basket with the likes of shampoo, bubble bath, talc, disposable bibs and wipes. And included in the price is an hour's complimentary entry into the Romano Spa for both parents where they'll find a Jacuzzi, plunge pool, steam room and sauna. Mum and dad also get a complimentary bottle of wine.

Baby Breaks include a 15% discount off the standard price and are available until 23 December. Cost for seven nights in a centrally-heated two-bedroom Honeysuckle Lodge ranges from £306 down to £170.

For more details ring (01271) 870343 or see http://www.woolacombe.com/bp.


Families go Hostelling
Hostels are traditionally used by students and travellers on a budget but Hostelbookers http://www.hostelbookers.com....continue

Hostels are traditionally used by students and travellers on a budget but Hostelbookers http://www.hostelbookers.com reports that bookings for private rooms have increased by 121% since the start of the year, and many of those bookings are by families, looking for ways of cutting their holiday costs in the current economic climate.

What they have found is that they can get private rooms for three or more with en suite bathrooms, or even an entire dormitory for their exclusive use, at a lower price than hotel accommodation.

The site offers more than 10,000 hostels in 2,500 destinations, with independent reviews and strict quality ratings alongside reviews by former guests.

PGood hostels for families, with customer ratings of 80% or more, include the Hostel Meyerbeer Beach in Nice, Lybeer Travellers Hostel in Bruges, Stayokay Vondelpark in Amsterdam, Andonov Family B&B in Bulgaria, Sydney Beachhouse YHA in Sydney, Meininger City Hostel & Hotel in Vienna, Hostel Heart of Tuscany in Florence, and Meininger City Hostel & Hotel in London.




Protect Your Children's Sight in the Sun
Sun damage from UV rays contributes to a wide range of eye disorders from cataracts to cancer and recent research has shown that by the age of 16 more than half a lifetime's worth of damaging UV light has been absorbed by a child's eye, with those under 10 being particularly at risk....continue

Sun damage from UV rays contributes to a wide range of eye disorders from cataracts to cancer and recent research has shown that by the age of 16 more than half a lifetime's worth of damaging UV light has been absorbed by a child's eye, with those under 10 being particularly at risk. This is because kids have big pupils and a clear lens, and because children's eyes lack an enzyme which in adults creates a natural filter by reducing the clarity of the lens on exposure to UV.

There are plenty of poor quality children's glasses around and these can do more damage than good - encouraging the eye to open up without offering any protection. Kodak is one company specialising in high quality glasses for this age group with details of specialist outlets at http://www.kodaklens.co.uk where there are frames and lenses designed especially for children. Many of the styles are designed to look just like the ones worn by adults, as children often want to look like their parents or older brothers and sisters. Sunglasses can be tailor made and fitted for each child, and can include such features as scratch and impact resistance.

Their tips for choosing children's shades are:
? Only buy sunglasses with CE marking which means they conform to European safety
standards
? Only choose sunglasses that block out UVA and UVB rays as other versions could actually
damage your children's eyes rather than protect them
? Think about buying a strap to hold them in place
? Encourage your children to wear their glasses by wearing yours
? Explain the damage the sun can do to their eyes



Irish Ferries Entertainment
Crossings to Ireland with the Ulysses or Dublin Swift on the Holyhead/Dublin route feature extra crew in the form of children's entertainers offering balloon modelling, face painting and general clowning around....continue

Crossings to Ireland with the Ulysses or Dublin Swift on the Holyhead/Dublin route feature extra crew in the form of children's entertainers offering balloon modelling, face painting and general clowning around. The ships also have designated children's play areas with soft-play equipment and mini-cinemas showing cartoons and films.

The ships also include facilities like lounges, bars and restaurants, plus on-board cinemas and shops.

For more see http://www.irishferries.com or call (08705) 17 17 17 including child free special offers.



Backseat Brawl Syndrome (BBS)
As 1....continue

As 1.3 million Brits plan a family driving holiday this year, reasearch reveals that children average just three hours and 15 minutes into a car journey before bickering begins.

BBS aside, the ideal length of time for a driving holiday abroad has been identified as just over four days (4.25 days) before the arguments begin in earnest. However, seven out of 10 rate the car the least embarrassing way to travel compared to train, plane or ferry.

Best games to keep children entertained are the classic I-Spy (favoured by 30%), the number plate game (10%) and red car, blue car, yellow car (9%).


Find a Travel Companion
Buddies 4 Travel http://buddies4travel.co.uk....continue

Buddies 4 Travel http://buddies4travel.co.uk matches up women travellers, including single mums, looking for someone else to travel with.

As the site founder comments, many women find travelling on their own can be pretty lonely. It can be particularly problematic with children. Buddies 4 Travel can provide both company and the opportunity to cut costs by booking family accommodation.

Customers complete a questionnaire and return it with a recent photograph, which is then entered along with your profile on the Buddies 4 Travel database. A member of staff will also contact you to find out more about you and your travel buddy requirements, to make sure they match you with someone sharing the same interests - something done by a real person, not a computer.

Charges are £45 for one match, £75 for two matches, £100 for three matches and £120 for four matches.


Travellers Tales for Children
Adults get a click of recognition when they see famous places....continue

Adults get a click of recognition when they see famous places. Children however, who haven't had as much chance to hear about them beforehand, are sometimes undwerwhelmed by the famous 'sights' they are visiting. A solution is to give them a book on the subject beforehand.

The hitch with that is that there aren't very many suitable books, particularly when it comes to popular tourist destinations like France, Italy and Spain. A solution is Nobbys Travels http://www.nobbytravels.com a series which features the adventures of a cartoon brown labrador puppy visiting the various countries.

Originally published as printed books with stories in Australia, France, Hollywood, Italy, Scotland and Wales, titles in the second series are Italy, Spain, Ireland, London and New York, launched as downloadable ebooks from the web site. All 10 in both series are available at just £9.99, or for the printed books in series 1 £12.50 for all five.


Costa Cuts the Cost of Cruising
Costa, the specialists in Mediterranean cruising, is offering a special family deal on cruises, with children under 18 years paying just the port charges if booking a ‘cruise-only' package, and flights if booking a fly+cruise package....continue

Costa, the specialists in Mediterranean cruising, is offering a special family deal on cruises, with children under 18 years paying just the port charges if booking a ‘cruise-only' package, and flights if booking a fly+cruise package. The offer is valid for up to two children per cabin sharing with two adults, but excludes selected departure dates.

Founded by Italians, the line offers international style cruising with a mix of nationalities on board and routes like Costa Serena, “Ancient Treasures” costing from £854 per person including all meals. Sailing from Venice it stops in Bari, at Katakolon in Greece, birthplace of the Olympic games, at Izmir where there is the Turkish shrine said to be the home of the Virgin Mary, and then Istanbul. There's a stop in Dubrovnik on the way back to Venice.

Other routes take in for example Italy, Spain and Malta, Spain, Portugal and Morocco, and Italy, Spain and Provence

For more information or to book go to http://www.costacruises.co.uk or call (0845) 351 0552.

All Costa's ships have been awarded RINA's voluntary “Green Star” notation based on the highest environmental protection standards. Costa Cruises is also an official partner of the WWF for the protection of the marine ecoregions of the Mediterranean, the Greater Antilles and Brazil.


Good Hotel Guide On Line
The invaluable Good Hotel Guide has launched a website http://www.goodhotelguide.com....continue

The invaluable Good Hotel Guide has launched a website http://www.goodhotelguide.com with entries for all the 850 selected hotels hotels and B&Bs in its Great Britain, Ireland and the Channel Islands guide.

Unlike most internet information on hotels, details given here are completely reliable because, unlike most listings, no property listed pays to be included. That means the views provided are honest, unbiased comment on the merits (and sometimes short-comings) of each property. It is also up to date because it is based on readers' comments which are carefully tracked and assessed.

The Guide also benefits from readers reporting on new hotels they have discovered. As the editors say, 'Any fool can find an expensive hotel which charges fancy prices. Finding good-value hotels when they are still building up a reputation is more difficult.' And of course those are the ones which are much more useful to know about.





Holiday with King Arthur
Like England's West Country, Brittany in France lays claim to King Arthur....continue

Like England's West Country, Brittany in France lays claim to King Arthur. If your family fancy a Celtic break with a difference, plan a trip to the forest of Broceliande and then the cultural hub of Rennes which this year is paying him tribute in an exhibition running to the end of the year.

The exhibition looks at his life, the historical background to the literary character, touching on ancient sources and modern versions of the creation of the legend and myth through manuscripts, books, paintings, art and film posters plus one of the oldest, illustrated, manuscripts of the stories of the Round Table.

For further information on Brittany, please see http://www.brittanytourism.com.



Car Free Switzerland
The Switzerland Travel Centre (020) 7420 4900 http://www.stc.co.uk....continue

The Switzerland Travel Centre (020) 7420 4900 http://www.stc.co.uk is offering a seven-night holidays in the car-free Alpine village of Bettmeralp at the special twin share rate of £439 per adult, with one child under 12 years of age (sharing with two adults), paying just £142 in July and August including return flights from London City airport, taxes, rail transfers and accommodation with breakfast at the three-star Minotel Alpfrieden with family rooms available sleeping up to four.

Bettmeralp - high above the Rhone Valley - is a family-friendly destination offering gentle hiking (including pushchair friendly options), downhill scooter and cycle trails, tennis and miniature golf, along with fishing and swimming in the clear Lake Bettmer, and access via cable car to the UNESCO World Heritage site Aletsch Glacier.



Specials for Single Parents
Single Parent Holiday Savers http://www.singleparentholidaysavers.com....continue

Single Parent Holiday Savers http://www.singleparentholidaysavers.com launched in January 2008 to cater to single parent families wanting holidays without add-on costs or under occupancy charges.

It includes details of more than 40 hotels around mainland Spain and Majorca, all child-friendly and at prices including flights, accommodation, resort transfers, all meals, entertainment and kid's clubs.

A best-selling deal from Single Parent Holiday Savers is a seven-night all-inclusive deal at a 3* hotel in Lloret de Mar on the Costa Brava, minutes from the beach, 1 ? 8 June. The parent pays from £274 and each child from £137, flying from Stansted or East Midland airport. Or later in the summer 24 ? 26 July there's an all-inclusive deal at Tossa Beach, a 3 * hotel also on the Costa Brava where Mum or Dad pays from £314 and each child from £157.



A Chocolate Break
The minimum age is 14 so this isn't for young children, but plenty of teens will enjoy a chocolate workshop in Bournemouth http://www.chocolatedelight.co.uk/chocolate_workshops.html....continue

The minimum age is 14 so this isn't for young children, but plenty of teens will enjoy a chocolate workshop in Bournemouth http://www.chocolatedelight.co.uk/chocolate_workshops.html where you sample the chocolate fountain before learning to make truffle fillings, dip your truffles into Belgian chocolate and decorate them with a variety of toppings and coverings. All participants take home between 40 and 50 Belgian chocolates each, all wrapped, designed and made by you. Only downside of the two and a half hour workshop is the cost of £110 for two.

All this takes place at the Chcolate Boutique Hotel http://www.thechocolateboutiquehotel.co.uk/ with 13 bedrooms five minutes' walk from the centre of town or five minutes to the beaches, which also offers a five-day chocolate cookery school. The Chocolate Truffle Family Suite is £160 a night with children from 4 - 11 sharing just £20 each extra, and under 4s free.





The Great Outdoors - With Comfort
Perfect for families who love wildlife and the outdoors are the five-stary Doxford Cottages http://www.doxfordcottages.co.uk....continue

Perfect for families who love wildlife and the outdoors are the five-stary Doxford Cottages http://www.doxfordcottages.co.uk (01665) 589 393 or (07802) 517 121, near Alnwick and five minutes from the Northumberland coast on a 2,500-acre private estate.

There's a resident expert is on hand to explain where, when and how best to see red squirrels, badgers, deer and otters, or birds seldom spotted in other parts of the country. Live webcams in owl boxes and at squirrel feeding posts will also transmit Doxford wildlife images back to the cottages. There are a variety of signposted paths around the estate and guided wildlife and bird watching walks can be arranged. A large games room also provides games including pool and table tennis and cottages are equipped with shelves of good quality books. Office facilities and wi-fi internet access are also available.

The seven cottages in restored 19th century farm buildings range in size from one sleeping two people to Doxford House, which offers accommodation for eight in four bedrooms, each with its own bathroom. Every cottage has a south west-facing, stone-flagged terrace opening on to a lawned area which leads down to Doxford lake, complete with resident swans, via a secure gate to keep unaccompanied children safe.

A week in August in a property sleeping 6 to 8 is £830.


Alpine Experiences
The Swiss are among the world's best hoteliers and the Victoria-Jungrau Grand Hotel and Spa http://www.victoria-jungfrau-collection.ch/en....continue

The Swiss are among the world's best hoteliers and the Victoria-Jungrau Grand Hotel and Spa http://www.victoria-jungfrau-collection.ch/en in Interlaken offers everyting you'd expect from that - ESPA, Turkish and sauna baths, 16 therapy rooms offering treatments from an Indian head massage to Padabhyanga (foot massage) and aromatherapy.

You can go behind the scenes and learn about herbs and prepare your own pesto sauce, or visit a pastry cooke and make pastries, make picture frames, thread pearls, attend etiquette sessions for parents and children, take a Jaguar for a test drive, learn how to sail, play golf, go river rafting, take the free bikes for an outing, and more.

There are also family rooms, and free stays for one child up to 15 years sharing their parents' room, plus a 50% reduction on breakfast and evening meal and on second rooms for children. There's a Wunderhuus in the grounds with playroom and open air play area, professional children's entertainer for 2-8 years, and a children's programme for 6-13s during Swiss school holidays. And along with that there's babysitting on offer, Splash Hour in the pool, children's meals, and a children's passport with top tips for excusions.

Prices are from £643 per person for three nights in a superiod double room b&b plus Dine-Around with dinner each evening in one of the hotel's three restaurants.


Do Family Holidays Get More Remote?
Tucked away in a remote corner of the Western Himalayas, wedged between Tibet and Central Asia, is Ladakh....continue

Tucked away in a remote corner of the Western Himalayas, wedged between Tibet and Central Asia, is Ladakh. Specialists African & Indian Explorations http://www.africanexplorations.com (01993) 822 443 offers an 8-10 day itinerary that takes you through the high jagged mountains to the vast green fields below, passing a spectacularly diverse assortment of birds and mammals. There's walking and camping at high altitude, riding on the tough Zanskari and Ladakhi ponies, rafting on the Indus or Zanskar rivers, visits to monasteries, villages and schools, and the chance to understand how these hardy people are adapting to the modern age.

Alternatively (and a little less remote), the Elephant Safari and Wildlife Tour in Corbett Park enables families to explore the forests on elephant-back and even spend three ro four days travelling, riding, and camping with the elephants. You can then spend two more days exploring the amazingly diverse wildlife.

Prices to Ladakh start at £1,400 per person based on a family of four and includes sightseeing, guiding and entrance fees to monasteries, domestic return flights from Delhi, and all accommodation b&b and when camping all meals.

The basic six-day Corbett experience starts from £600 per person based on a family of four travelling together. It includes all accommodation with meals, entrance fees, expert naturalist guide accompanying, camping and transport with taxes. It does not include transport to and from Corbett or any services outside Corbett.


St Moritz - in Cornwall
Paying tribute to its 1930s roots is the brand new art deco inspired St Moritz Hotel at Trebetherrick near Rock http://www.stmoritzhotel.co.uk....continue

Paying tribute to its 1930s roots is the brand new art deco inspired St Moritz Hotel at Trebetherrick near Rock http://www.stmoritzhotel.co.uk (01208) 862 242. The £15 million property replacing the '30s original offers 32 double rooms and 16 suites, these second including a fully equipped kitchen and a living room opening on to a patio or balcony.

Alternatively families can make use of two, three and four-bedroom villas with kitchens, DVD players, private garden with barbeque, balcony and patio area.

A 'deli' on site sells best Cornish fare including organic breads, fresh fish from Padstow, fruit, preserves and wines. Or if you want to be catered to there's good food with a head chef previously in the same role at Soho House New York and J Sheekey's in London.

There's a Cowshed Spa - the first being at Babbington House Hotel - and a gym includes life fitness resistance and CV machines, personal training, daily fitness classes, a running club, iIndoor swimming pool, sauna, steam room, jacuzzi, and outdoors there's tennis - as well as access to the gardens and beyond that the Cornish beaches - though an outdoor pool is planned.

Families are of course welcome. Cots are provided free of charge and babysitting can be arranged.

Price of a suite in high season is £260 a night b&b for two with under 3s free and children to 14 years paying 65% of the adult rate.


The Government Pays For Your Child's Summer Camp
The action-packed YHA Do It 4 Real scheme is back after three sell-out summers, delivering adventures to more than 30,000 children and teens which, thanks to support from the Department for Children, Schools and Families, range in price from just £25....continue

The action-packed YHA Do It 4 Real scheme is back after three sell-out summers, delivering adventures to more than 30,000 children and teens which, thanks to support from the Department for Children, Schools and Families, range in price from just £25.

New camps for 2008 include Urban Vibe, working with one of the best music production and DJ colleges in the UK, creating beats and bass lines, trying street dancing and producing music videos.

An Ultimate Fun and Games Camp for 10-13 year olds is both in and outdoor and messy and noisy, with everything from flinging eggs to lifting fingerprints from a crime scene.

And the Adventure and Expedition Camp gets kids to push their mental and physical abilities to the limit on land and in water, culminating in an overnight expedition across the mountainous Lake District.

Camps last five nights/four days (Sunday ? Friday) and included in the price is accommodation, food, return coach travel from selected departure points, all activities, excursions, equipment and expert instruction.

With 27 locations and 23 pick up points, top price is just £399 - the full cost being subsidised for children living in England by the Department for Children, Schools and Families. Campers in care or from households that qualify for Income Support, Working Family Tax Credit or free school meals pay just £25, and those from families with a household income of less than £58K (and therefore entitled to Child Tax Credit) qualify for a concessionary rate of £150.

For more details see http://www.doit4real.co.uk or call (01629) 592 530.




Is There Really a Sausage Tree?
If real wild animals aren't enough of a draw for your kids, the name Sausage Tree Camp http://www.sausagetreecamp.com....continue

If real wild animals aren't enough of a draw for your kids, the name Sausage Tree Camp http://www.sausagetreecamp.com should tickle their fancy. It's in the Lower Zembezi National Park in Zambia.

There are just six Bedouin style tents, recently enlarged and fitted with sliding doors and teak decks looking over the river and passing wildlife. Private “open-air” bathrooms feature brass taps and showers and stone basins.

Families can tailor the day's activities with options including canoe trips lasting from an hour to a whole day, led by qualified canoe guides. On land there are 4x4 game drives into the bush to spot giraffe, buffalo and zebra by day, or by night civet, porcupine, genet and larger predators such as stalking leopard.

Bush walks are led by a ranger who shows the family how to track animals by interpreting their spoor and dung, while explaining the medicinal uses of the African flora and fauna, highlighting conservation issues along the way. Fishing trips for tilapia and catfish (which can grow to over 50kgs) guarantee excitement, or there are quieter sunset riverboat cruises.

There are currently free flights to and from Lusaka and the local airstrip for all bookings of a minimum of four nights for two people, including children over the age of twelve, and a seven-night stay in May including the half term week starts from £2,632 per person based on two people sharing, including international and internal flights, land and water-based activities, and full board accommodation. You can book through Expert Africa http://www.expertafrica.com
(020) 8232 9777.



A Chateau for the Family?
Western Loire http://www.westernloire.com....continue

Western Loire http://www.westernloire.com offers not just chateaux to stay in, but chateaux that welcome children. Chateau des Briotti?res http://www.briottieres.com offers a heated open air pool in the garden, new tennis court, bicycles for all ages, trampoline, ping pong, archery, coarse fishing, badminton, children's games, and 50 acres of park - and if that isn't enough to keep them quiet, riding at €30 per hour and hot air ballooning at €350 per hour.

Ch?teau des Arches in Yvr? L'Ev?que +33 2 43 89 49 92 michel.metais@neuf.fr offers another park, plus forest and river, with plans for a mini animal park with ostriches, lamas, yak and more.

The chateau of Saint Paterne in Sarthe http://www.chateau-saintpaterne.com offers an animal farm, tea on the farm, and activities like horse riding and quad biking. Special packages cater specifically to families, pampering the parents with a candle-lit dinner including aperitif, wines and coffee, along with daily buffet breakfasts for the whole family in the breakfast room and dinners for children up to 12 years plus lunch in a typical country inn in a lovely villages. Cost for two adults and two children is €810 for two nights.

The area is served by direct flights from Southampton to Angers and to Nantes in season from Gatwick, Nottingham East Midlands, Manchester, Stansted, Liverpool, Shannon, Cardiff, Cork and Dublin and there will shortly be seasonal flights from Bournemouth.


Child-friendly but Upmarket
The Ile de R? on the west coast of France is gaining popularity with families who want great restaurants, charming villages and excellent markets and beaches - at a destination where you don't even need a car because it's close enough for taxi transfers from La Rochelle airport....continue

The Ile de R? on the west coast of France is gaining popularity with families who want great restaurants, charming villages and excellent markets and beaches - at a destination where you don't even need a car because it's close enough for taxi transfers from La Rochelle airport. Hire a bike from the local bike rental shop and enjoy the fun of exploring the island on two wheels with the kids.

Wake up in France (01484) 680 855http://www.WakeupinFrance.co.uk offers properties including Villa Florence, a restored 4-bedroom village house sleeping eight, 800 metres from the beach and even closer to the local market, restaurants and shops. A one-week stay at the villa in June costs from around £1,756.



Family Surfing Break
The surf savvy owners of Finca Malvasia, four boutique self-catering apartments in Lanzarote, have launched a number of surfing holidays with one - the ‘Aspiring Surfer' - especially suited to families....continue

The surf savvy owners of Finca Malvasia, four boutique self-catering apartments in Lanzarote, have launched a number of surfing holidays with one - the ‘Aspiring Surfer' - especially suited to families. Lessons are tailored to suit individual students, from the youngest up to Mum and Dad.

The apartments are among vineyards, 6km from a beach offering year round waves. The five days of tuition are usually split into two days of surfing, a rest day and then three days surfing, leaving two days of relaxation before heading home.

Tuition runs from 10.30am to 4pm, and you learn how to paddle out through waves, turn and manoeuvre correctly, ride broken and unbroken waves, and more. First lessons are on soft trainer boards, helping you to stand and ride waves on your first day, then you move on to fibre glass boards. You also learn about the history of surfing, surf board design, rules of surfing, and how the weather affects the waves.

Price for the package is from £495 per person and includes b&b in a two-bedroomed apartment sleeping four, packed lunch for the five days of the surf course, wetsuits and surf board hire, five days tuition with a BSA accredited instructor, and one post-surf massage per person.

All apartments have private outdoor terraces, with views out to the pool or vineyards and dramatic Timanfaya Mountains beyond. Kitchens are well equipped and each apartment has an honesty bar, welcome hamper, TV and DVD,CD and book library.

For an extra £45 you can get a ‘Surfer's Supper' for four ? a Moroccan tagine served on your terrace after a day in the sea. For more details call + 34 928 173 460 or see http://www.fincamalvasia.com.


Archaeology for Kids
Archaeology specialists Peter Sommer Travels (01600) 888 220 http://www.petersommer.com....continue

Archaeology specialists Peter Sommer Travels (01600) 888 220 http://www.petersommer.com reports regular requests from clients to bring their families on their specialist breaks and Peter Sommer himself, father of a six-year-old girl, will be leading a week-long family archaeological gulet cruise during the October half term holidays, October 25th to November 1st, with further dates on offer for the summer.

Trips combine sea and ancient ruins - taking the stage and performing in the Greek and Roman theatres round the sites of Western Lycia, also taking in a bit of wildlife, like lizards and tortoises.

Cost is £1,195 per adult, £1,095 for children, including full board accommodation on the gulet, all road transfers, archaeological excursions, entrance fees and trips.


Tailormades for Families
Award-winning operator Original Travel (020) 7978 7333 http://www.originaltravel.co.uk....continue

Award-winning operator Original Travel (020) 7978 7333 http://www.originaltravel.co.uk is launching an Original Kids programme with a dedicated web site athttp://www.originalkids.co.uk.

As with the main programme the aim is to tailormake holidays to meet each family's requirements. Options include Young Indiana Jones in Jordan, Snowmobiling in Iceland, Wildlife in Borneo and Costa Rice, and Mediterranean and Caribbean classics, along with some UK hotels. They choose properties with childcare, or if you prefer there's also a holiday nanny service.


Single Parent Breaks
Specialist operator Mango Holidays http://www.mangoholidays.co.uk....continue

Specialist operator Mango Holidays http://www.mangoholidays.co.uk is offering a growing range of overseas holidays for singles with children. This year they include Jersey ? staying at the three-star Mayfair Hotel in St Helier 18-24 August where half board including flights and transfers is £499 adults, £399 for children, local payment adult £25, child £15.

Other options include Mallorca in the quiet resort of Puerto Soller, right on the sea in a pedestrianised area, and a Moroccan Adventure including Marrakech, a Berber village in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, and the seaside resort and old port of Essaouira staying in riads, a village house and a three-star hotel with pool.

And for later in the year there's Santa in Lapland including sledging, cross-country skiing, ice-skating and optional visits to a reindeer or a husky dog farm for a sleigh ride. Staying half board 4-7 December costs £795 per adult, £635 per child, or £295 if under 2.


A Fantasy Getaway
Elegant Resorts (01244) 897 516 http://www.elegantresorts.co.uk....continue

Elegant Resorts (01244) 897 516 http://www.elegantresorts.co.uk is offering a truly luxurious family holiday at Island Hideaway at Dhonakulhi Maldives Spa Resort & Marina http://www.island-hideaway.com.

Described as the ultimate barefoot destination for families, parents can relax on the beach, get pampered at the Hideaway Spa, or dive and explore the surrounding coral reefs, while children are looked after at the Tender Hearts club.

This features a white sand playground, library, traditional family board games and adventure activities ranging from sandcastle master classes to island cycle rides, Robinson Crusoe style treasure hunts to sandwich making.

Children are encouraged to get away from the influence of computer games and television and can explore the island's natural habitat and discover wildlife including resident fruit bats, a variety of tropical birds, lizards, and rainbow-coloured fish. Junior Certification Programmes, like Junior Marine Biologist and Junior Diver, will offer more dedicated activities.

All accommodation sleeps two adults and two children without compromising your privacy, and the villas are separated by beautiful lush greenery and have their own direct access to a personal white sandy beach. There's teak flooring, open air bathrooms, private plunge or infinity pool and an outdoor lounge and dinning areas.

A personal butler attends to every need, including caring for the children while parents get a lie-in, waking and dressing them, and even whisking them off to breakfast.

Elegant is offering stays of seven nights for the price of five from £3,970 per family - a saving up to £1,330 per family - or stay 14 nights for the price of 10 from £6,150 per family - saving up to £3,620 - based on two adults and two children under 11 b&b with return Emirates flights and plane and speedboat transfers.


Insights into the French
Anneke Elwes, mother of two teens, has just published a new style of guidebook, designed to appeal to the distinctive interests of that age group, along with adults retaining a sense of humour....continue

Anneke Elwes, mother of two teens, has just published a new style of guidebook, designed to appeal to the distinctive interests of that age group, along with adults retaining a sense of humour. Bof! available at http://www.lulu.com/content/1522264 is sub-titled 'France Funny Side Up' and includes sections on French swear words, gesticulations, sports, idioms and even French jokes.

It doesn't tell you where to go or what to see, but instead offers an insight into what the French really think and say, like and dislike. It's £5.99 to download or £8.99 as a paperback.


Voluntourism for Families
The Imaginative Traveller is offering two new itineraries for families based on volunteer work with elephants....continue

The Imaginative Traveller is offering two new itineraries for families based on volunteer work with elephants.

The 13-day Thailand Elephant Experience and 14-day African Elephant Sanctuary in Kenya with July, August and Christmas departures combine a 10-day adventure holiday with working on volunteer projects and have been designed for families (minimum child age 10) that want to put something back in the environment.

The Kenyan trip involves four days working as a volunteer in the Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary. The price is from £1,649 for adults and £1,519 for children, plus local payment of around £168 and donation payment of £150, including return flights from Heathrow.

The Thailand trip involves three days doing volunteer work in the Elephant Nature Park of Northern Thailand. It costs from £1,199 for adults and £1,149 for children, plus local payment of around £75 (US$150) and £180 donation, including return flights from Heathrow.

Each tour operates with a maximum of 20 - around four or five families. For further details call (0845) 077 8803, or see http://www.imaginative-traveller.com.



Find your Lost Luggage
Every year a reported 37 million pieces of luggage go missing in transit....continue

Every year a reported 37 million pieces of luggage go missing in transit. That's bad enough when it's only your stuff but there's children's as well it's a real pain. And when the paper label used by the airline gets torn off, the chances of getting it back are slim.

Registration and recovery service Trace Me Luggage Tracker http://www.tracemeluggagetracker.com provides a durable tag for bags, with an individual serial number and 2D bar code linked for life to registration details on a secure data storage system. And because it's just a number, you don't have to reveal personal details like your home address.

The tags provides baggage handlers and lost luggage officials at airlines, train operators, the police and local transport companies with the facility to identify the luggage and immediately notify the owners how to retrieve it. Cost is a one-off fee of just £12.50.








Baby-Friendly Boltholes
A spinoff from Boutique Boltholes is new programme offering luxury and welcoming families http://www.babyfriendlyboltholes.co.uk....continue

A spinoff from Boutique Boltholes is new programme offering luxury and welcoming families http://www.babyfriendlyboltholes.co.uk. Catering to parents and children in England, Wales, Scotland, Italy, Portugal and Spain, it also offers a few family-friendly resorts worldwide booked via Quo Vadis (see previous mentions).

Described as 'hip hideaways and elegant escapes', unlike others offering this kind of service, they include the genuinely hip ie small and discreet, some of them very attractive, and you can search on a list of facilities which includes babysitting, baby equipment, creche, toys, swimming pool, outdoor play equipment, meal delivery and farm animals.

For more details see the web site or phone (020) 7830 9332.


Advice from the Specialists
AITO is an association of independent travel agents which now offers a free (and fast) information service to all travellers....continue

AITO is an association of independent travel agents which now offers a free (and fast) information service to all travellers. Go to the web site http://www.aitoagents.com/travelclinic/enquiryForm.asp and an online Travel Consultancy Clinic will tap into the expertise of the 150-odd members.

They will be able to answer questions about destinations worldwide, from people who have either travelled to the destination you're interested in, or have organised successful holidays of the type you are considering. So you could ask them about anything from late night arrival in Marrakech to the availability of nappies in the Canaries or formula brands in north America. And because that's what membership is about, the advice will be both honest and impartial - not just designed to encourage you to book a holiday with them.


A luxury b&b for all the family
Trapham Farm http://www.traphamfarm.co.uk....continue

Trapham Farm http://www.traphamfarm.co.uk is a grade 2 listed farmhouse five miles from Canterbury, Kent, just opening as a b&b offering modern luxury for all guests, including babies, toddlers and children.

The building has been elegantly decorated and facilities include wooden cots and cotbeds, Egyptian cotton child bedding, vispring mattresses for children's beds, baby play mat and toys plus those for older children like Lego and Duplo; indulgent baby and children's toiletries, sterilising equipment, feeding equipment, bottle warmers, monitor, nappy bucket, changing mat, a small fridge in every room to store prepared bottles and food and can supply full fat cows milk for bottles and heat bottles.

There are also DVDs and CDs to borrow, use of Wii and games, garden games, swings, tree house, trampoline 3/4 of acre of child friendly grounds a fenced heated outdoor swimming pool.

There's a baby monitor for use when downstairs in the lounge or sitting outside, and baby listening service for parents visiting one of the local restaurants or pubs in the village (if parents can provide a contact mobile telephone number).

There are child portions of everything on the breakfast menu (homemade with local organic produce), children's high tea of light and main meals for babies and children, homemade and cooked to order; plus baby and toddler breakfast items in the room for early risers.

Although a b&b light evening meals are offered for those who want to eat in and they will also do you packed lunches and hampers.

Prices are from £60 per adult per night for two sharing, £15 per baby/toddler per night extra for babies and toddlers in cots/cotbed, £20 per child per night extra for children.


Useful Presents
A few ideas of places to find presents which will work on the road:

The Happy Puzzle Company http://www.happypuzzle.co.uk....continue

A few ideas of places to find presents which will work on the road:

The Happy Puzzle Company http://www.happypuzzle.co.uk (0870) 873 8989 offers a mass of puzles (plus some games) suitable for three years and up.

The Green Board Game Company http://www.greenboardgames.com/ features things like number snap and Around Europe Snap, plus sticker picture books and for while safely in one place, a World Time Zone jigsaw.

Itchyfeet http://www.itchyfeet.com (020) 7292 9750 sells for example a compendium of travel games in a small box while at radica uk http://www.radicauk.com (01992) 503 133 you'll find the fun 20Q gadget which you can try to beat at 20 Questions.

Worth considering because it now comes with headphones is Bop It from Hasbro http://www.hasbro.co.uk (0800 328 7007 which tests reactions in a way that seems compulsive. Hasbro also produces Travel Hungry Hippos, the game where the hippos are meant to munch marbles.

If you have time to trawl through the toy specialists like Letterbox http://www.letterbox.co.uk (0870) 600 7878 you will almost certainly find something not too large to attract the interests of your offspring (but avoid noises and small parts). And Toymaster http://www.toymaster.co.uk Youngsters http://www.youngsters.co.uk/ and Mail Order Express http://www.mailorderexpress.com offer the basics including a variety of Top Trumps sets plus Happy Families with characters ranging from harry Potter to Winnie the Pooh but also the traditional Pots the Painter and Bung the Brewer.

Don't forget traditional games like cribbage eg from Compendia http://www.compendia.co.uk.

Lastly Hamleys http://www.hamleys.com (0800 280 2444 is one of the more expensive places to shop for toys but they will almost certainly have what you are looking for eg magnetic travel games.


One Step to Finding Family Rooms
A new web site http://www.worldwide-family-hotels.com/....continue

A new web site http://www.worldwide-family-hotels.com/ is specialising in family hotels and apartments in Mediteranean resorts and further afield. Operated by The Linden Travel Group, it claims to offer the largest selection of family friendly hotels on the web.

The search checks all prices for available flights, along with the rates from all the major accommodation providers and then selects the lowest price, based on daily updated prices. Accommodation options range from self-catering to luxury hotels, all discounted. Most hotels offer children's clubs and pools, cots and baby chairs and children's games.

The Linden Travel Group is independent and offers flights and accommodation from all suppliers so while the holiday including budget airline flights, is protected by both the ABTA and ATOL licences of The Linden Travel Group, you are free to make up the package which suits you.


Family Walks in Northern France
A new publication Family Walks in Northern France offers 11 walking trails with maps and itineraries for those with children up to 12....continue

A new publication Family Walks in Northern France offers 11 walking trails with maps and itineraries for those with children up to 12. The walks go from 1.6 to almost six miles and are suitable for all ages and degrees of mobility, including in push chairs.

Routes take in walled towns, ports, life in the marshes and country lanes, in areas stretching into France along the Belgian border. Locations are easily accessible from the major autoroutes inland from Calais, making them good for a stop en route to or from the Channel. Alernatively each of the four areas comes with accommodation recommendations, plus ideas for other possible attractions, ranging from the Flanders Eco-Museum http://www.ecomusee-flandres.com to boat trips on the inland waterways http://www.lebrouckailler.com or the Casteel Meulen windmill where you can watch flour being milled or linseed oil extracted.

The guide is available free from 132 tourist attrctions in Kent and the Nord Turist Board http://www.cdt-nord.fr, along with the leaflet Cross Channel Days Out, a map for walkers, cyclists and riders featuring 172 trails plus information on the five areas which make up the Nord department.


Pollution Rises as Governments Propose to Cut Water Testing
The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) has challenged the UK and Scottish governments over their plans for a 50% cut in water quality testing....continue

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) has challenged the UK and Scottish governments over their plans for a 50% cut in water quality testing. Official figures for 2007 compared to 2006 have showed a ten-fold increase in official UK coastal bathing sites failing legal minimum standards. MCS believes that the number of failures will rise still further when unofficial sites are included in its Good Beach Guide 2008, published next May.

New bathing water standards have been adopted by the European Union which must become domestic law by March 2008, and current proposals are the minimum necessary to comply. The MSC is not happy.


Online UK Green Guide
A tight budget prompted the author of new green guide ecoescape to stop considering Britain as a second choice destination and start to look at it as an eco friendly option....continue

A tight budget prompted the author of new green guide ecoescape to stop considering Britain as a second choice destination and start to look at it as an eco friendly option. Her research has covered the whole country so, as Laura Burgess says 'an ecoescape could be as close to home as the local cycle path or the nearest railway station'.

Her online green guide to the UK covers sustainable attractions, accommodation, events, restaurants and activities in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and includes images, practical information and details of the nearest cycle network route and rail links. The businesses included do not pay for their entry, but are selected on environmental merit and the individuality of the experiences on offer.

Inclusions range from treehouse beds in Cornwall to an organic hotel on an island off an island. As well as accommodation there are listings of attractions and places to eat. Most are child friendly and specific isues such as the real nappy service offered at Higher Lank Farm are highlighted in the write-ups. Guests can leave feedback about the businesses in the online guestbook.

The guide is available at http://www.ecoescape.org or a printed version can be ordered at a cost of £3.65 for postage and packing.


Toddler Friendly but not Tacky
At Glynn Barton in Cornwall eight attractive holiday cottages have been shaped out of stables dating back to the 18th century....continue

At Glynn Barton in Cornwall eight attractive holiday cottages have been shaped out of stables dating back to the 18th century. Run by parents who left London in 2000, they cater specifically to families, particularly welcoming toddlers. About 30 minutes are spent with young visitors every morning hand-feeding two highland cows, two kune kune pigs, donkeys and sheep, and collecting the freshly laid eggs from the chickens and ducks.

Other entertainments include an indoor heating pool with terrace and garden all safely enclosed, a games room with pool, table football, books, videos and board games, a games barn with enclosed toddler ride on area, table tennis and swing ball, an all weather tennis court, children's play area, forest walks and children's toys.

Features for children include built in stair gates, cots and high chairs. Babysitting can be arranged and extras include a supply of frozen homemade goodies and catering services, plus the option of supermarket ordering online.

The cottages themselves look good but are also designed for ease of use with facilities including dishwasher, fan oven and hob, microwave, cast iron stoves, DVD player and video, and even the likes of washing up liquid, all purpose cleaner, j cloths, and sponge scourers provided.

Set in 13 acres they are helpfully 2/3rds mile from the public road and two miles from the hamlet of Cardinham - or if you can tear yourself away from Glynn Barton's attractions, 12 miles from the north coast and eight from the south one.

For more details see http://www.glynnbarton.co.uk or ring (01208) 821 104. A two-bedroom property is generally £750 for a week at Easter.


And Granny Goes Skiing Too
Family ski specialist Ski Famille is offering a special deal for families wanting to ski at Christmas without feeling guilty about abandoning the grandparents....continue

Family ski specialist Ski Famille is offering a special deal for families wanting to ski at Christmas without feeling guilty about abandoning the grandparents. Any Grandparent joining a family of four or more booking for the weeks beginning 15th or 22nd December will pay half Ski Famille's discounted rate, as little as £182.50. The usual under occupancy charge (£350) is also halved if a grandparent would like a room to themselves.

Ski Famille holidays include a channel crossing or transfers from Geneva, half board accommodation and of course five days childcare. Standard brochure prices start at £435 per adult and £395 per child (15th December, Chalet Portes du Soleil ? Les Gets) rising to £1040 per adult and £860 per child (9th & 16th February, Chalet Le Marjorie ? Les Gets). Infants are £375 on all dates in all chalets.

For further details contact Ski Famille on (0845) 64 437 64 or seehttp://www.skifamille.co.uk.


Weekend Breaks to Relax to
At the six Shire Hotels http://www.shirehotels.com/....continue

At the six Shire Hotels http://www.shirehotels.com/ not only do under 16s stay free when sharing with parents, there are milk and cookies before bed plus fluffy white robes bearing the logo Back off: Relaxing! for the little ones to wear while enjoying the evening snack.

And for adults there are hotel spas with options like an 'Espa Totally Holistic body Treatment and VitaMan treatments for tired dads.

Venues for the largely modern hotels are Penrith for the Lake District, Blackburn in Lancashire, the quiet village of Knutsford in Cheshire, Leeds, Kettering in Northamptonshire, Bristol (the Solent Hotel), and Fareham close to Portsmouth and Southampton.

Childcare is run by a groupwide partnership with the childcare specialists Safehands, and each hotel can arrange for a nanny with Safehands training to provide babysitting.

Activities at the North Lakes Hotel include pool, air hockey, video games, table top football plus popcorn movie nights and treasure hunts. There's also a newly renovated pool and children's spash pool while Solent Hotel, Cottons Hotel in Knutsford and Aztec Hotel in Bristol also have kids' pools.

A room at Knutsford would be £138 b&b for two adults in an Executive Room, under 16s sharing free, their breakfast from £4. Alternatively, families can stay in two inter-connecting Executive rooms for two nights b&b for £376, including family entrance to Chester Zoo.

For further details see the web site or call (01254) 267 444.


Easy Passport Photos
Nowadays all children must have their own passport and the Paspic web site at http://www.paspic.com....continue

Nowadays all children must have their own passport and the Paspic web site at http://www.paspic.com has come up with a solution to help parents get approved passport photographs for those quickly and easily. Parents take a picture of their child using a digital camera, upload it to the Paspic website and within two working days will receive four passport photographs, guaranteed to be approved for use.

The idea is to avoid the traumas of photo booths, expense of professional photographers, or trying to crop their own images themselves.

Paspic provides simple guidelines and online video tutorials explaining how to take a suitable picture and once uploaded to the site the picture is formatted into a passport photo size and the image is centered so the head is in the middle of the frame. It is then examined ? both by built in technology and by Paspic staff - to ensure it meets all the Passport Agency guidelines.

A set of four passport pictures costs £3.50 for UK, AU and/or EU style photos including free postage, while a set of three US style photos including free postage costs £4.20.


Travel with Barnaby
Although they don't cover every destination you might be thinking of, Barnaby Bear books are a useful resource from the Geographical Association....continue

Although they don't cover every destination you might be thinking of, Barnaby Bear books are a useful resource from the Geographical Association. Covering Key Stages 1 and 2, the books take Barnaby to places including Edinburgh, Norway and Brittany, learnining about landscape, lifestyle and customs. There are associated titles like Barnaby Bear's tartin tie (about tartan and Scottish clans) or Baranaby's mountain rescue, about climbing in the Welsh mountains.

These are more are available at the Geography shop http://www.geographyshop.org.uk. including books for older children linking fiction to geography.


Take a Big House for Christmas
Large properties are always at a premium at Christmas but try some of the following specialists....continue

Large properties are always at a premium at Christmas but try some of the following specialists.

Coastal Cottages of Pembrokeshire has Ty Ystrad on the banks of the River Teifi with access to beautiful riverside walks. The origins of the house  which sleeps 10 - date back to the 1650s, with a large, baronial slate-floored lounge plus two woodburning stoves and central heating. Price is £949 for the week. Coastal Cottages can also pre-book Christmas hampers with prices for a special festive edition  containing sparkling wine, chocolates, salmon, ham, cheese, mince pies, Christmas pudding and nuts  from £65. For more details phone (01437) 772 760 or see http://www.coastalcottages.co.uk.

Ecosse Unique has Aberchalder Lodge, a traditional shooting lodge in Inverness-shire with views across Loch Oich and the Caledonian canal. Five bedrooms can sleep up to 12 and the property has a large, modern kitchen and elegant dining room. The estate offers fishing, walking, bird, wildlife and even Nessie-spotting. The price for Christmas week is £1,450 inclusive of bed linen and towels, while a cook and domestic help are available at extra charge. For mroe details call (01835) 822 277 or see http://www.unique-cottages.co.uk.

Holiday Lets http://www.holidaylets.net offers Claires Cottage in Devon's most southerly village, East Prawle. This five-bedroom property (one ensuite, one family bathroom, one separate WC) sleeps 10 and has a large, comfortable living room with TV/DVD/video and fitted kitchen with all appliances.Christmas week costs £852. For details call (01234) 757 290 or see http://www.holidaylets.net.

The Cornish Collection includes May Lane House in Millendreath, near Looe and only yards from the beach. It sleeps 10 people in five bedrooms  each with its own bathroom. There is a large dining room with a table that seats up to 10 people comfortably with further dining space available in the breakfast room. Cost is £1395, more details on (0845) 365 1394 or at http://www.cornishcollection.co.uk.


Go Green - and Child-Friendly
TYF Eco Hotel in St David's in Pembrokeshire http://www.tyf.com....continue

TYF Eco Hotel in St David's in Pembrokeshire http://www.tyf.com doesn't just reduce food miles, serve organic meals, use green electricity, and do all those desirable eco-friendly things like provide wind-up Indigo lanterns and wind-up and solar powered EyeMax radios. It also welcomes children.

The ethos of this 12-bedroomed converted windmill is laid back and relaxed, and there are family rooms, children's menus and board games, high chairs and cots - plus space outside for kids to let off steam.

If they need to do something really demanding TYF Eco Hotel's sister company - TYF Adventure - offers coasteering, kayaking, surfing and climbing adventures along the lovely Pembrokeshire coastline for children aged 8 and over.

Price for Dinner, B&B is £50, children under the age of 12 years sharing with parents / guardians are £10 per night B&B, and under 5s are free. Packed lunch (baguette, crisps, drink, chocolate bar, fruit) is £5.





Supernannying on Holiday with You
Butlins has teamed up with childcare expert Dr Pat Spungin to give parents with pre-school children a well-earned break....continue

Butlins has teamed up with childcare expert Dr Pat Spungin to give parents with pre-school children a well-earned break. Families visiting one of the three Butlins Resorts, at Minehead, Bognor Regis and Skegness, between Monday and Friday can take advantage of a free appointment with the good doctor.

Dr Spungin, founder of Raising Kids http://www.Raisingkids.co.uk has trained Butlins' Redcoats and nursery nurses to provide ‘Nanny Knowledge' and is happy to pass on the same skills to mums and dads who want tips on anything from helping the children get to sleep and avoiding tantrums, to making friends with other children and sticking to eating routines.

Particularly designed for those with pre-schoolers, ‘Nanny Knowledge' is particularly helpful for children who might be playing up away from their familiar home routines.

And with those skills under their belt parents can take advantage of attractions like the Bob the Builder interactive show and Family Sports Day as well as nurseries which will look after the children while parents enjoy some time to themselves.

There's self-catering accommodation apartments allow parents to stick to familiar eating routines and the nurseries on all Resorts allow for parents to enjoy some time to themselves.

To book a Butlins break call 0845 070 4730 or see http://www.butlins.com for a virtual tour around the resorts.


True Swiss Luxury - for all the family
The Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa in the Bernese Oberland in Switzerland is a rather smart, traditional style hotel, but to make sure families know they are welcome, it has created a family summer programme including a kindergarden with professional supervision and baby sitting in the evening....continue

The Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa in the Bernese Oberland in Switzerland is a rather smart, traditional style hotel, but to make sure families know they are welcome, it has created a family summer programme including a kindergarden with professional supervision and baby sitting in the evening. Children to the age of 15 stay free and have their own buffet breakfast and dedicated lunch and dinner menu.

The Wunderhuus, based round an indoor playroom and outdoor play area, is a free rpgramme of fun and games for children 2 to 8 years 9am to midday and 2-5pm. There is also a daily “Splash-Hour” between 4 and 5pm at the hotel's swimming pool. For the very little ones, there are more craft orientated play times as well as a kid's disco, a monorail adventure, and indoor climbing. For older children excursions options include Schilthorn Peak (a favourite on the James Bond trail); a visit to an Emmenthal cheese dairy; the model railway museum; a musical on Lake Thun's floating stage; skateboarding instruction; lessons from the pastry chef; plus sports including water skiing, tennis, bike hire, and crossbow shooting.

All children are invited to BBQ parties, in-house cinema screenings, and classes in the spa from Hip Hop to dance aerobics, encouraging them to meet and mix.

For parents there is golf at the nearby 18-hole course, an award-winning spa, gourmet restaurants, romantic walks and the tranquil and opulent surroundings of the hotel itself.

Rate for a double room is from CHF 450 (approx. £184) and for a two-bedroom suite from CHF1950 (approx £796.45*). Children to the age of two are free if sleeping in a cot in their parent's room while children to the age of 15 are free in a separate room, (one child per adult, up to the maximum of three children in the same room), subject to availability. Babysitting is CHF30/£12.10 per hour and CHF35/£14.10 per hour for two children. For more details see http://www.victoria-jungfrau-collection.ch.


Crystal has it Covered
Crystal Families offers pretty much every type of active holiday you might think of for a family - from Santa to safaris....continue

Crystal Families offers pretty much every type of active holiday you might think of for a family - from Santa to safaris. Theree are theme park trips, seaside and watersport holidays, lakes and mountains active holidays, and of course, ski and snowboarding.

In the Lakes & Mountains programmes Les Gets in the French Alps has been awarded a Famille Plus Montagne award by the French National Tourist Office as a resort particularly suitable for families. It's on offer with Crystal Families from May to September for summer activities as well as for the ski season. Also in the ski programme new resorts include Chamonix in France with free creche and kids club places, Ischgl in Austria with a family resort with creche, play rooms with ball pool and mini train to take children to ski school, or the family-friendly Kranjska Gora in Slovenia.

If you fancy something more exotic, new this year is the Intrepids Flying Safari which includes three wildlife reserves, a visit to an elephant orphanage, and children's clubs which including making camp fires, tracking, throwing spears and more.

Or if it's seaside anwatersprots you want there's Dubai and the luxury Jumeirah Beach Hotel, or self-catering villages in Aquitaine, Cote d'Azur and Brittany with childcare and clubs for children from 3 months old.

Prices start at £81 per person based on eight sharing, or £733 for a three-bedroom house at the Belle Dune Holiday Resort in Brittany for seven nights' self-catering, including a midweek Channel crossing.

For more details see http://www.crystalfamilies.co.uk or phone (0870) 402 0293.


Being Beside the Seaside - in Style
Small independent hotels group Elite Hotels has been investing in interesting old properties, including the five-star Grand Hotel in Eastbourne....continue

Small independent hotels group Elite Hotels has been investing in interesting old properties, including the five-star Grand Hotel in Eastbourne. Known as The White Palace, it was built in 1875 and dominated the seafront until World War II when it was requisitioned for miltary purposes. Now sympathetically restored, with the beach in front and the rolling South Downs on the other three sides, it boasts a restaurant voted by The Independent as one of the 50 best in the UK.

The resort remains one of the most traditional and is officially the UK's sunniest spot. There are Blue Flag beaches, and a busy events programme but not too much razzamatazz.

But it's not all retired old fogies. The hotel is offreing real family service with a dedicated creches for children 3 to 8, evening babysitting service, a swimming gala every Saturday and Sunday afternoon, mini deckchairs on the beach, a Junior Crew goody bag on arrival, and a chance to take a free family boat trip with Allchorn Boats - an institution running for more than 140 years, offering cruises in style along the South Coast.

A deluxe room would be around £180 a night, a junior seaview suite £370. For more information see http://www.elitehotels.com or call (01323) 412 345.


Suitable for September
Balkan Holidays http://www.balkanholidays.co.uk....continue

Balkan Holidays http://www.balkanholidays.co.uk (0845) 130 1114, has a number of suggestions for holidays after the high heat of summer and suitable for preschoolers.

These include Albena, on a scenic wooded bay with a 7km sandy Blue Flag beach, which shelves gently into safe calm waters. Around the resort are parks and flower gardens, many with playgrounds; plus toddler-friendly activities including a fun fair and a miniature train, which costs just a few pence for a ride around the resort. As an added bonus, the streets are largely traffic free.

The all-inclusive 4-star Hotel Ralitsa and adjoining 3-star Ralitsa Park complex offer a children's section in the swimming pool, children's entertainment through the day, playground and family rooms

Prices for a week based on two adults and two under 5s in September start from £1,204, including return flights, three star all inclusive board, transfers and supplements.

For more ideas, see the web site.






Sunsail Antigua Newly Refurbished
Sunsail's Club Colonna in Antigua opened its brand new kids club this year, complete with a life-sized pirate's galleon, a statue of Captain Hook, cannons and a slide leading into the sandy play area....continue

Sunsail's Club Colonna in Antigua opened its brand new kids club this year, complete with a life-sized pirate's galleon, a statue of Captain Hook, cannons and a slide leading into the sandy play area. The new kids area also has an exclusive beach area for children and an adult-free chill out zone for the teenagers. Bikes, cars, scooters, and activity gyms are also on offer.

Club Colonna is close to Antigua's local attractions as well as the airport and has undergone a total makeover including new reception area, bar, upgraded accommodation, new fitness facilities and a spa with sauna, steam rooms and outdoor Jacuzzi.

One child under the age of 17 goes free for every two full paying adults so one week at Sunsail's Club Colonna in Antigua departing 27 July, 3 August, 10 August and 17 August costs £4,077 for a family of four. Price includes half board accommodation, return economy flights from Gatwick, free Kid's Clubs for children 2-17yrs, use of Sunsail's watersports equipment, fitness, tennis, spa and lots more.

For reservations contact Sunsail Clubs (0870) 112 8487 or visit http://www.sunsail.co.uk/clubs.



Tipi Camping
Cledan Valley Tipis (01686) 420 409 http://www.cledanvalleytipi.co.uk....continue

Cledan Valley Tipis (01686) 420 409 http://www.cledanvalleytipi.co.uk in Powys is a new green holiday provider. It offers the kind of place where you build a fire to grill your sausages and after dark listen to the owls. There are candles for light and sheepskins on futons to sleep on.

The site is seven acres, fed by a natural spring, and there are currently five tipis of different sizes on the wooded land. Each tipi is based round a central hearth and there are daily deliveries of wood for the fire and ice for the cool boxes. The tipis are made less than 20 miles away and the site can even cater to wheelchair users.

Cost is £107 a night or £600 a week for a tipi sleeping between six and eight.


Travel Journals for Little Ones
A small but not overly onerous project for children on holiday is to keep a travel journal....continue

A small but not overly onerous project for children on holiday is to keep a travel journal. Any old scrapbook will do as it's likely to see the attachment of leaves, tickets, and sometimes even larger objects. But as you are likely to value the end product above any of the souvenirs you bring home, it is nice to have a good home for all the comments, drawings, photographs and other treasures your offspring draw together.

Darling & Darling http://www.darlinganddarling.co.uk offers a dedicated book for the purpose called ‘This is my Holiday'. Photographs to take include `My bed on holiday`, `Something that I really like to eat on holiday` and `My family enjoying their holiday`. Other sections include `Can you draw a picture of something you saw on holiday that you never see at home?`. Costing £17, each pack contains a reusable camera (loaded, with flash) and a fun-to-fill photobook contained in a handy carry case.





Ferry Helpful
Stena Line http://www.StenaLine.co.uk....continue

Stena Line http://www.StenaLine.co.uk is looking to keep parents happy and children entertained in a link-up with a mischievous, childlike monkey - Curious George. George, who featured in the 2006 film about a museum guide trying to save his museum from becoming a car park, will appear on board five the the ships operating on the Irish Sea every day in full costume in the summer holidays plus October half-term and at Christmas Christmas. Children will receive Curious George goodies, including a set of postcards to colour in, a foldable Frisbee and more.

Therwe will also be the chance to win a family holiday to Universal Studios Holloywood with an on board kids colouring prize draw plus a VIP tour to meet the Curious George animators.

Curious George will also be introduce on the North Sea Stena routes to Holland later in the year.



Rural Luxury
Forest Holidays http://www.forestholidays.co.uk....continue

Forest Holidays http://www.forestholidays.co.uk (0845) 130 8224 is the brainchild of The Forestry Commission and the Camping and Caravan Association, who have joined forces to reposition the concept of open-air holidays firmly within most people's comfort zones.

Along with traditional camping and caravan sites, there's the option of cabins, which now include features like flat screen TV, DVD player and hot tub on the veranda, bookable for three, four and seven nights. And of course there is also immediate access to the surrounding woodlands courtesy of cycle trails and walks, plus Forest Ranger led activities to discover the local flora and fauna.

Already three sites (Keldy in North Yorkshire, Strathyre in Scotland and Deerpark in Cornwall) include comprehensively equipped Standard, Superior and VIP Cabins, and depending on the size booked, they will sleep up to 8 people, plus pets.

Prices start from £249 for a week in a superior cabin and £349 in a VIP cabin (with outdoor hot tub), sleeping up to 6.


Kids Free Cruise Break
DFDS Seaways http://www.dfds.co.uk....continue

DFDS Seaways http://www.dfds.co.uk is offering free kids places on the Norway Coastal Cruise Break midweek sailings, departing from Newcastle upon Tyne. The three-night Coastal Cruise Breaks are at their best in summer, sailing out Tuesday and returning Friday.

On board is a restaurant, swimming pool, cinema and dancing at the Columbus Club, while children get their own dedicated play area, videos, games, ball pool and Pirate's Club with treasure hunts and compettions.

The route is along the extraordinary Norwegian Coast featuring two brief stops before a stop in Bergen.Prices are from £59 per person or from £89 to include breakfasts and dinner buffet on the return journey.



Keep the Little Ogres Happy
Holiday Inn has teamed up with Dreamworks for Shrek-themed family breaks....continue

Holiday Inn has teamed up with Dreamworks for Shrek-themed family breaks. B&B breaks are from £49 per room per night, or two nights' b&b plus dinner one night for all the family from just £109. On departure the kids get a Shrek the Third goody bag - keeping them busy on the next leg of the journey. For more details see http://www.holidayinn.co.uk or call (0870) 400 9670. There's also a competition to win return flights to Los Angeles, accommodation at the Holiday Inn Hollywood, VIP passes to Universal Studios - home of the new Shrek 4-D attraction - plus £500 spending money. For details see http://www.ihg-competition.com/shrek.

Watch out too for the next promotion, linked to the animated penguin movie, Surf's Up.


Worth Packing
Here at Family Travel we're not big fans of the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach to travel, and we're doubtful abou the usefulness of some travel gadgets on the market, but when you can find items with multiple uses, then it's a diffrent matter....continue

Here at Family Travel we're not big fans of the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach to travel, and we're doubtful abou the usefulness of some travel gadgets on the market, but when you can find items with multiple uses, then it's a diffrent matter.

A great idea from Crazy About Gadgets http://www.crazyaboutgadgets.com is a beach towel that's also a game. The super soft Twister Beach Towel is 158 x 128 cm, and costs £19.95, with the classic board game printed on it. It comes with two inflatable waterproof dice printed with body parts and colours, the dice doubling up as pillows.

Also offering plenty of fun in return for space in the suitcase is the inflatable Boogie Board, which in its mesh carry bag is about the size of a rolled up beach towel. It's £19.95 and you use if for bodysurfing, or ‘sponging' as it's called by regular boogie boarders, easier than surfing and suitable for kids.


Bath for Families
The mainly Georgian, UNESCO World Heritage city is not known as a big family destination but is keen to encourage those with children to consider a trip with the ‘Family Friendly Bath' section of the official destination website http://Visitbath.co.uk....continue

The mainly Georgian, UNESCO World Heritage city is not known as a big family destination but is keen to encourage those with children to consider a trip with the ‘Family Friendly Bath' section of the official destination website http://Visitbath.co.uk listing all the practicalities like where to stay and eat, plus weekend and school holiday events designed for children.

Attractions include the Bertinet Kitchen with its unaccompanied cookery classes for children of 7-plus, mainly during school holidays, or parent and child sessions. Or Minerva Chocolate offers ‘Chocolate Initiation Workshops' which teach children how to handle chocolate (before eating it).

At Bath Theatre of Glass an audio presentation explains to the audience what is happening as the glassmakers go about their work against a backdrop of burning furnaces.

Museums and galleries include 400 years of fashion at the Fashion Museum, or the site where the planet Uranus was discovered, at the William Herschel Museum of Astronomy. The Museum of East Asian Art runs children's workshops, and the Building of Bath Museum tells the firsthand story of the city's architecture and social history. American History is covered at the American Museum in Britain, with a new interactive, computerised exhibition alongside rooms displayed in the style of different stages of American History. Children can meet cowboys and Indians and watch civil war battles on the lawn. The Roman Baths museum includes the relics of a real Roman spa complex and a special children's audio tour.

At Farleigh Hungerford Castle history comes alive with an extensive programme of military re-enactments, music and drama. During the summer months at Glastonbury Abbey, characters from the Abbey's past are brought back to life by actors, while at No.1 Royal Crescent the guides tell stories of the Georgian past in the painstaking recreation of the house in its heyday.

Jane Austen spent six years in the city and featured it in two of her novels. The Jane Austen centre offers guided tours suitable for children, a short film about her, fashion from her era, and even ‘Tea with Mr Darcy' in the regency tea rooms. There's also a free Jane Austen walking tour available to download from from http://www.VisitBath.co.uk.

The area includes a number of heritage railways running on steam and diesel, with reconstructed stations, refurbished carriages and lvingly restored track. The Avon Valley Railway runs to Bristol, with the option of switching for a boat ride back. At the Somerset and Dorset, based at Midsomer Norton, visitors can learn about another restoration project.

Horseworld is the area's main equine welfare charity where you can meet rescued horses, ponies and donkeys. There's an interactive Museum of the Horse and the Heritage Tack Museum, plus a nature trail, and ‘touch and groom sessions'.


A new - and safe - insect repellant
Insect repellants are variously smelly, ineffective, sticky and dangerous....continue

Insect repellants are variously smelly, ineffective, sticky and dangerous. Now there's a third option, an insect repellent patch containing the vitamin thiamine. When used vitamin is released through the skin, reported to offer 36 hours of protection from mosquitoes, midges, sand flies and most other biting insects.

Unlike other sprays and treatments Omozone continues working during and after swimming, works all over the body, and can be used on infants from as young as just one year old. The odour is reported undetectable to humans but repellent to biting insects.

Originally from the US, the patch is now available in the UK by mail order from http://www.repelpatch.info with a week's supply of patches (5) for £6.75 or two weeks'(10) for £13.50, plus a free gift of sunglasses. In both cases postage and packing is included.





Get Active Summer Courses - at Great Prices
After two sell-out summers, the minimum age for the YHA's DoIt4Real courses http://www.doit4real.co.uk....continue

After two sell-out summers, the minimum age for the YHA's DoIt4Real courses http://www.doit4real.co.uk has dropped from 11 to 10 and the programme is running in 23 locations in Yorkshire, The Lake District, Wales and the Midlands.

New camps for 2007 include ‘Live like a star', a week at a gothic manor house where young people will produce and star in their own pop DVD, learn about costume and design and enjoy a celebrity outing to Alton Towers. A much bigger range of Watersports Action camps is also on offer following their popularity in previous years. All-day surfing at Okehampton, in Devon, and ghyll-scrambling, at Derwentwater, in the Lake District, are two more of the new challenges available.

10-17 year olds from families with a household income of less than £58K (and therefore entitled to Child Tax Credit) qualify for a concessionary rate of £199 thanks to help from the Big Lottery Fund. Full price places are £399 but the subsidy means YHA can offer substantial discounts to the majority of campers, particularly those from disadvantaged households.

Campers who are in care, or come from households that qualify for Income Support, Working Family Tax Credit or free school meals pay just £25. Children must be resident in England to qualify for subsidised places, but non-English residents can attend.

There are no hidden extras and all prices include ? transport to and from camp, accommodation, food, activities, tuition and equipment. YHA are offering free Family membership and a £20 YHA accommodation voucher to all campers, all of whom also get a free goodie bag.

Contact phone number is (0870) 118 8018.


Keeping the Teens Busy
Guests of the Columbia Beach Resort and Columbia Beachotel in Pissouri Bay Cyprus http://
<br>www.columbia-hotels.com....continue

Guests of the Columbia Beach Resort and Columbia Beachotel in Pissouri Bay Cyprus http://
<br>www.columbia-hotels.com can keep the teens happy with a new water-sports course for older children and teenagers.

The Columbia Beachotel and sister five-star Columbia Beach Resort host Surf Cyprus, http://www.surfcyprus.com, taking advantage of reliable mid-strength winds April to November plus clean, warm water and a 2km Blue Flag beach - and plenty of space as it is flanked by just the two hotels and a few villas.

The courses for children aged 8 to 18 years last one or two days in half-day periods and include windsurfing, kayaking, water-skiing and Hobie-cat sailing. Instructors are all RYA qualified and use high quality kit. A sample package including a water-ski lesson, a sailing lesson, a wind-surf lesson, 60 minutes of kayaking and 60 minutes in a pedal boat costs £60. Kite-surfing, the fasting growing water-sport in the Mediterranean, is also available.

The Columbia Beachotel offers 116 rooms and suites with a pool overlooking the Mediterranean, a children's pool and from July to September, and on local Bank Holidays a children's club and playground included in the price and offering crafts, games, sports and competitions.

The 94 suites of the Columbia Beach Resort are in 'villas', some thier own plunge pools, clustered around the 80m lagoon style pool surrounded by cliffs and vineyards in the valley behind. Facilities include free wi-fi and fast internet connections.


New Escorted Family Adventures
The new brochure from adventure specialist Imaginative Traveller (01473) 667 337 http://www.imaginative-traveller.com....continue

The new brochure from adventure specialist Imaginative Traveller (01473) 667 337 http://www.imaginative-traveller.com for ages six and up includes new escorted itineraries in Latin America, Madagascar and China.

The new Latin America adventures are Gauchos & Waterfalls (Brazil), Peruvian Adventure (Peru), Wildlife Discovery (Costa Rica) and Journey to the Centre of the Earth (Ecuador).

A Madagascar Adventure has also been introduced while a second China tour is added, Naturally China.

Other destinations featured in a programme of 17 tours, ranging from eight to 15 days are Egypt, Morocco, Turkey, Thailand, Vietnam, India, Sri Lanka and Kenya.

Itineraries have been specially adapted for the family market with stops of at least two nights and the meal plan modified to satisfy young tastes from Imaginative Traveller's Worldwide programme.

The 15-day Ecuador Journey to the Centre of the Earth takes in Quito and Cuenca, traditional markets in the Andean highlands, the Amazon rainforest, by boat and on foot, plus a spectacular journey on board the Devil's Nose railway.

The land-only cost of £725 per person (no child reductions), plus local payment of US$200, includes a flight from Cuenca to Quito, and boat, train and private bus travel, and 14 nights' accommodation with breakfast (mainly hotels but two full-board in jungle lodge and one at a spa).

The newly added 14-day Madagascar Adventure looks for lemurs at Andasibe and Berenty and spends a few days on the tropical Ile Sainte Marie to visit a pirate cemetery, go exploring by canoe and snorkelling among the coral reefs. The land-only cost is £1,155 plus local payment of US$275).


Ideas for offbeat family holidays
Unlike most guides on travel with children, Bin the Bucket and Spade: Unusual family holidays in the usual destinations, refreshingly assumes a willingness by all members of the party to get stuck in....continue

Unlike most guides on travel with children, Bin the Bucket and Spade: Unusual family holidays in the usual destinations, refreshingly assumes a willingness by all members of the party to get stuck in.

Organised by theme (beach holidays, cultural, fiestas, winter sports, call of the wildlife and more) there should be something here to cater to any interest. There's even a chapter called 'Parents Chill, Kids Thrill', on holidays to suit families where the kids want to get active and the parents just need to kick back (cruising and places offering kids clubs).

There are practical pointers (two to three hours on a boat watching whales is quite enough for little ones) and a table of 66 holidays rated for age groups, active or note, time of year and budget. There are also very extensive listings of specialist operators, together with a list of questions to ask, but no detailed descriptions.

Written by Paul Jenner and Christine Smith, White Ladder Press http://www.whiteladderpress.com, £9.99, this is a title to make you realise there's a lot more to do on holiday than sit round a pool.


Virtual TV Holidays with Nickelodeon and Marriott
Nickelodeon TV has just announced a joint venture with Marriott Hotels to create 20 dedicated self-contained resort hotels....continue

Nickelodeon TV has just announced a joint venture with Marriott Hotels to create 20 dedicated self-contained resort hotels. The first is expected to be a 650-room resort in San Diego in the US, which will incorporate a 100,000 square-foot water park and activity deck complex featuring a variety of pools and interactive attractions, opening early 2010, with a further 19 planned worldwide, including in the UK.

Each resort will feature state-of-the-art pools and water features (indoors in cooler destinations), plus live entertainment programmes with costumed Nickelodeon characters like Dora the Explorer and SpongeBob SquarePants. And Studio Nick, a state of the art main stage theatre space will be the base for the resorts' live entertainment programmes. Guest rooms and suites for families will include multi-bedroom suites, HDTV's and new plug in technology. Kids' suites will be themed with Nick's most popular hits.

Along with other restaurants there will be a NickToons Caf? with daily character breakfasts as well as special evenings and there will also be plenty of opportunities to buy Nick-themed items, a Nick Pix photo studio and Nick.com Cyberzone, where kids and families can surf Nick.com and Nickjr.com content online. There will also be a large games room featuring the latest and most popular video and traditional table top games.

Sounds like an opportunity to step right inside the Nickelodeon TV screen.



Gradual Greening for Traditional Family Hotel
The four-star Bedruthan Steps Hotel in North Cornwall (01637) 860 555 http://www.bedruthan.com....continue

The four-star Bedruthan Steps Hotel in North Cornwall (01637) 860 555 http://www.bedruthan.com has been catering to the next generation for some years, with an OFSTED registered nursery, a pre-school and four holiday clubs. Now, mindful of the planet their younger guests will inherit, the hotel has been going green.

In addition to traditional children's facilities ? play area, ball pool, table tennis etc ? there are options like a ‘green' board with games like a word search game made from recycled items, and snap cards with a recycling theme. Colouring-in pictures include green themes like recycling. There are wildlife tours to conservation areas in the hotel grounds, and the clubs have their own wormery and butterfly farm.

A weekly visit from the Newquay Aquarium team introduces children to sea life and the marine environment, there are wildlife/environmental themed books to read, and bug kaleidoscopes for the children to play with.

Each nursery room has a recycling bin which the children are encouraged to use. Re-useable materials are used for crafts and there are also plans for a children's garden in the hotel grounds

The hotel encourages guests arriving by car to become carbon neutral with a contribution of £10 to planting a tree that will be allowed to grow for 100 years.

Prices start from £80 per person based on two sharing a double room on half board basis.


Holiday Bedtime Reading
Forgot to pack the bedtime book? Novotel (0870) 609 0962 http://www.novotel-uk.com....continue

Forgot to pack the bedtime book? Novotel (0870) 609 0962 http://www.novotel-uk.com has the solution - introducing “Puffin Libraries” into their hotel lobbies with a selection of some of the best titles for kids to borrow and take to bed.

For city break ideas see Novotel City Explorers http://www.novotelcityexplorers.com which includes deals like 2 for 1 on tickets, free child entry and money off admission costs at attractions including theme parks, city tours, stately homes, museums and more.

So at the Novotel Cardiff you can take in Cardiff Castle, Civic Centre, Cardiff Bay, Mermaid Quay, The Wales Millennium Stadium, The National Museum of Wales & City Centre Shopping, or in London stay at the Novotel London Tower Bridge and experience the thrills of the London Dungeon or a cultural visit to the Dali Universe.

Under 12s stay free with breakfast served until noon on weekends, and late Sunday check out. And there's a competition as well, with prizes of £25 of Puffin book vouchers for lucky winners.


En Route Entertainment
If you've got a long journey ahead, a treat can make all the difference....continue

If you've got a long journey ahead, a treat can make all the difference. Some parents actually wait until under way before handing over a gift-wrapped parcel, but the real key to success here is less about showmanship, and more about picking the right thing.

If your children are happy to read, the latest blockbuster will do the trick. If they prefer to be entertained, try the latest story tapes (though do make sure you can replace/recharge the batteries on anything you use to listen with). Or there are drawing books and kits.

David and Charles (0870) 220 0200 customer.services@davidandcharles.co.uk, carry the Dover Fun Kits which are great for the purpose, including things like stencils and colouring books. The Pirate Adventure Fun Kit (£12.99) features not just those but also tattoos, a colour your own poster, pirate eye patch, and bandana. Alternatives include an origami kit for beginners (£13.50), Bugs, including a glitter spider, Fairy Tales with stickers, bookmarks, mazes and pupzzles, fairy princess paper doll, colouring books, plus the Invisible Fairy Tale Magic Picture Book.

For a full list go to http://www.doverandcharles.co.uk and search on Fun Kits, where currently they are on offer from £8.99.


Aardvark Adventures
Aardvark Safaris (01980) 849 160 http://www.aardvarksafaris.com....continue

Aardvark Safaris (01980) 849 160 http://www.aardvarksafaris.com reports that since starting seven years ago, the number of families travelling with them has increased to now almost half of their business.

To help families they've now produced a dedicated family safari brochure, drawing on their own experiences, including advice on when to go, what to do, and where to stay, along with tips on health and packing.

Recommended destinations depend on what you want to see and do, time of travel and ages of children - as well as the issue of malaria: there are camps in non-malarial areas for example. Most trips are designed for children of 6 and over, but there are some options for younger ones. Itineraries include at least three nights per camp, and at least a couple of camps to see different habitats.

Accommodation is in lodges, private houses, tented sfari camps 9with proper beds and furniture, bush camps - more remote versions of the same thing, some in timber buildings rather than tents - plus mobile tented camps.

Activities include camel riding, canoe and boat safaris, cultural activities like visiting local schools, elephant back safaris, fishing, horse riding, mountain biking, nigh drives, picnics and sundowners, swimming and walking safaris.

Average cost per person on a family trip is just over £3,750 per person for two weeks in the summer holiday, including international flights, accommodation and activities. You can pay less but Aardvark say they prefer to recommend smaller camps with better guides which tend to cost more. Costs can be a little lower for those with younger children or where children share with parents or siblings. And if you want to spend more, well you could go to £6,000 and and up per person for business class flights and extra luxury and/or remoteness.


Frommers For the Family
Frommers Guides have a new series of guides for the family which lay out as accessibly as possible what is relevant and useful to those planning a trip with children....continue

Frommers Guides have a new series of guides for the family which lay out as accessibly as possible what is relevant and useful to those planning a trip with children. To help with that planning early on are lists of 'Bests' from 'Best with toddlers', to 'Best events', or 'Best family museums and galleries'. There's advice on planning a trip, including suggested itineraries, and even advice on getting the children interested in the destination. For Italy suggestions include Pinocchio, the film cinema Paradiso, books on Christopher Columbus or da Vinci. For the Balearics recommendations include locally published books about island animals and learning some Spanish - or finding out about the celebrities who also visit.

Advice on sightseeing comes with a recommended age band, and there is also the all important recommendation of places to stay - hotel (cheaper end) camping or sometimes villa rental.

£12.99 each, destinations cover Britanny, Normandy, Croatia, Northern Italy, The Algarve, the Balearics and Mediterranean Spain.


High Life for the Family
The five-star Kulm Hotel http:www.kulmhotel-stmoritz.ch....continue

The five-star Kulm Hotel http:www.kulmhotel-stmoritz.ch in St Moritz in Switzerland +41 (0)81 836 80 00, is offering families not just a chance to enjoy the Alpine views but also luge-riding, river-rafting, and daily Nordic walking, plus a free mountain railway pass for the region. Under the supervision of licensed guides, guests can try a mountain hike at sunrise, a day tour on a glacier with the chance of peeking down into the icy depths of the Pers glacier, canyoning in the most beautiful gorges of the area, or a “multi sport day” trying out any three of climbing, rappelling, rap jumping, hydro speed and more.

The hotel's “Marmotta Club” is run by kindergarten-trained staff for children aged 3 and up with a weekly program including cookie and pizza baking, mixing junior cocktails at the bar, fun and games in the fitness room or outdoors on the hotel's own playground. In the evenings they can help prepare the special children's suppers.

In the evening there's a family BBQ party or for parents if they want to use one of the experienced babysitters, gourmet restaurants or late-night jazz.

In July, a three-night package starts at £211 per person including half-board, free access to the Panorama Spa & Health Club and a relaxing massage. Children to 12 are half-price.



Tummy Trouble Treatment
The good bacteria that live in your gut and keep your digestion and immune system healthy, can be knocked out by bad bacteria from food poisoning and other tummy troubles, of the kind encountered by an estimated half of all travellers....continue

The good bacteria that live in your gut and keep your digestion and immune system healthy, can be knocked out by bad bacteria from food poisoning and other tummy troubles, of the kind encountered by an estimated half of all travellers.

FloraCare is a four step programme over eight days to reintroduce good bacteria to your gut in four steps (the same as happens when they arrive in the first place in babies).

The bacteria come in 16, numbered, freeze dried sachets with 2 billion bacteria per sachet which need to be dissolved in still, bottled water (chlorine kills the bacteria).

Suitable even for babies once they are on solids, the sachets can be included in a travel first aid kit and will last a year from purchase without refrigeration. Cost is £14.95 and is available from good health food stores, the web site http://www.revital.com or by calling 0870 366 5729.


Family Attractions in Germany
Germanwings http://www.germanwings.com....continue

Germanwings http://www.germanwings.com, which operates direct flights form London to Hamburg, Stuttgart and Cologne/Bonn, with prices starting at £13 one-way including taxes, is recommending the destinations for families this summer.

Hamburg offers one of Europe's best and most historic zoos where 2,500 animals and 360 species live in specially designed open enclosures that imitate natural living conditions. Kids can enjoy feeding giraffes, riding ponies or picnicking alongside their favourite animals. Or there's the miniature world where Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, the Alps, Scandinavia are all just 1:87 of their original size. Visitors can try operating underground trains, turning the sails of a windmill ? or even scoring a goal in a famous football stadium. There's also a planetarium, and at 217 metres the world's first TV tower,

Cologne on the other hand offers a chocolate museum where visitors can take tastes from a pool of chocolate and view extraordinary chocolate scupltures. There's also Phantasialand with its wild water rapids, mystery castle, Hollywood tour, space centre and Colorado adventure. Admission is €30 per adult and free for child up to 1 metre in height.




Midweek Deal on School Holidays
The Priory Inn in Tetbury, http://www.theprioryinn.co.uk....continue

The Priory Inn in Tetbury, http://www.theprioryinn.co.uk a family-friendly award-winning gastro-inn in the Cotswolds, is offering two midweek rooms for the price of one for families in the school holidays.

The price includes beauty treatments for mum, family tickets to nearby Westonbirt Arboretum, ideas of how to entertain the whole family including a wildlife park; animals at local farms; canoeing, sailing or swimming at the nearby water park; and a trout farm with a beginners fishery, (any catches cooked in a wood-fired oven that evening), plus evening dinner for two (with peace of mind as monitors work from bedrooms to restaurant).

The Priory Inn's School Holiday Midweek break costs £229 per night. Children under 12 get bed and breakfast free in a separate or adjoining room to their parents', paying extra only for kids food.

Alternatively, a double room with breakfast starts at £99.00 or a family suite from £139.00 - all under 12s can stay in the same room as their parents for free.




Theme Parks Poor Value for Money
Does it really take Holiday Which? to tell us what most parents know already - theme parks are increasingly bad value for money costing up to £89 for wo adults and two children an involving waits of half an hour for ordinary rides and up to an hour and a half for the more poular ones?

If you have teenagers the price can rise to £130 for the tickets alone....continue

Does it really take Holiday Which? to tell us what most parents know already - theme parks are increasingly bad value for money costing up to £89 for wo adults and two children an involving waits of half an hour for ordinary rides and up to an hour and a half for the more poular ones?

If you have teenagers the price can rise to £130 for the tickets alone. Then there's the food which is both expensive and very poor quality. Smelly loos, over flowing bins and dirty entrances draw further criticism. Heavy advertising and resulting pester power is surely the main reason these places can carry on like this.




Save Time on Visas
The Visa Company http://www.thevisacompany.com....continue

The Visa Company http://www.thevisacompany.com contains up-to-the-minute information on specific visa requirements for all nationalities and offers a service which can cut out the cost and time required for obtaining a visa in person.

The online travel service is a new consumer service from TLCS Global Visa Services, who have been providing visa management expertise for business users for the last 10 years and handle more than 6,000 visa applications a month.

The Visa Company runs comprehensive checks on all documentation on receipt. If there are any
discrepancies, clients are contacted in person to resolve them. The company also handles the payment of consular fees so there is only one bill to pay.

The Visa Company will submit and collect the visa from the embassy, and will check the visa issued is fully correct before issuing it to the customer. The website offers tracking tools that allow users to see the current status of their visa application and the estimated completion date.

Sounds like an invaluable service for busy parents.




Activity Holiday Options
Exodus (0870) 950 0029 http://www.exodus.co.uk....continue

Exodus (0870) 950 0029 http://www.exodus.co.uk offers three styles of Family Adventures to choose from, including at half term.

For families wanting to be based at one location throughout the holiday there are Exodus' Activity Centre holidays, which also allow each family member to select from a range of fun activities of their choice. The Picos Mountain Adventure trip in Europe's largest National Park in northern Spain includes accommodation at locally run hotels in a mountain village and activities include caving, horse-riding, rock climbing, biking, canyoning, canoeing, quad biking, a gorge walk, treasure hunt, or visits to Ribadesella beach and museum or the house of honey. Price is from £580 per person over the May half term. There are alternatives in Slovenia and southern Turkey.

Group Trip options include an Aegean Family Cruise Group Trip round the little-visited Greek island of Evia with eight days on a traditional Greek sailboat (caique) exploring remote coves, sandy beaches, a fjord and exclusive private islands, with plenty of time for swimming, snorkelling, or sunbathing on deck. Optional excursions include hiking in the surrounding countryside amongst typical old white-washed villages and visits to ancient Greek ruins. Price is £664 per person.

There is also a range of Independent Trips which provide the same itinerary as the Group Trips, but enable friends and family to travel in their own private group. One option is Cycling in the Loire Valley, travelling by train to Amboise, and spending a week cycling along France's longest river past vineyards, forests, green valleys and charming villages. Price is £699 per person.

Exodus' family itineraries are designed with children in mind, with daily travelling distances are kept short, and lots of entertaining activities on offer to keep them enthralled throughout the holiday.


London Edwardian Style
The Draycott Hotel (020) 7730 6466 http://www.draycotthotel.com....continue

The Draycott Hotel (020) 7730 6466 http://www.draycotthotel.com, close to Sloane Square in London, was built in the 1890s as three Edwardian houses. It has now been converted to offer 35 rooms and suites all furnished in traditional, period style, with rates from £235 for a double room.

The hotel welcomes children and has a number of family suites which allow a family to take up the whole floor of one house, or adjoining room options which might suit those with younger children. These include fun themed single and bunk bed rooms.

Included in the price all guests get afternoon tea with homemade bisuits, plus hot chocolate before bed, while parents can enjoy a glass of champagne before dinner - available in your room from 24-hour room service.


Tuscany or Umbria for Families
Summers Leases (0845)230 2223 http://www.sumlea.com....continue

Summers Leases (0845)230 2223 http://www.sumlea.com is that rare find, an operator offering well-priced properties in Tuscany and Umbria. New this year is Il Salariato near Siena, a farmhouse divided into two with the first-floor turned into a bright apartment for six people. It has three bedrooms, a beamed sitting room, private garden area and good-size shared swimming pool. The friendly farmer's family offers a delicious welcome buffet (€20 per person) on the first night and is happy to prepare home-cooked meals using the freshest farm produce whenever guests want a break from self-catering. Children can make friends with the goats, calves, hens and horses.

Surrounded by countryside, the farm is just five minutes' drive from the little market town of Buonconvento and 15 miles from Siena. Weekly rental is £750 from March 31-June 23 and through September, and £840 June 27-August 31.

Across the border in Umbria, just six miles from the historic regional capital Perugia, is another farmhouse suitable for families, shaded by pine trees with a children's play area and a safety-fenced swimming pool. There is also a games field, huge barbecue and a small fountain. Il Camino has two bedrooms (sleeping up to six) and a sitting room with oak beams and stone walls. It costs £610 per week May 26-July 6 and September, and £690 July 7-August 31. Nearby is a sleepy little village with shops, a bar and bus service into Perugia, and there are walks and wildlife to discover in the surrounding countryside.


Winnie the Pooh Breaks
Ashdown Park Hotel (01342) 824 988 http://www.ashdownpark.com....continue

Ashdown Park Hotel (01342) 824 988 http://www.ashdownpark.com is offering dedicated family Winnie the Pooh breaks.

On arrival children will receive a goodie bag with a themed map of Ashdown Forest - known also as One Hundred Acre Wood. Families can take a self-guided walk, finding places like Pooh sticks bridge, and there's a Winnie-the-Pooh afternoon tea for children. For adults there's a three course evening meal and children can join them, meals charged as taken, including from a children's dinner menu.

The hotel is in 186 acres of parkland in Sussex with golf course and country club including a spa. Other attractions include Anne Boleyn's childhood home at Hever Castle, the Llamas at Ashdown Forest Llama Farm, and the steam trains on the Bluebell Railway. Or in the local village of Hartfield is Pooh Corner, a 300-year-old shop with the largest selection of Pooh-phernalia in the world.

The package for two adults and two children sharing a large suite is £225 or £240 per room.


Soccer Camp Marbella
Ramon Vega's Soccercamp Marbella is now in its third year....continue

Ramon Vega's Soccercamp Marbella is now in its third year. It welcomes girls and boys between 5 and 16 of all abilities to learn and develop skills with qualified coaches, take part in competitions and matches, but most of all have fun. It's an international experience, reporting visitors from more than 20 countries.

Multi-Sports @ Soccercamp Marbella is a day camp offering volleyball, tennis, golf, tag rugby, softball, soccer and lots more. Play 'n' Stay is for children 10 to 15 with accommodation, Spanish/English language school, Soccercamp, adventure activities, trips and events. There's healthy food on offer and the venues are chosen as secure and protected, with plenty of shade from the Spanish sun.

Prices for a day are £60 up to £298 for seven days. Play 'n' Stay is £895 for seven days. For more details see the web site at http://www.soccercampmarbella.com.


Family Properties in Italy
Discovery Travel is a tailormade specialist to Italy with a generous number of properties ideal for families, including cots, high chairs in the price, and even the option of babysitting and a private chef....continue

Discovery Travel is a tailormade specialist to Italy with a generous number of properties ideal for families, including cots, high chairs in the price, and even the option of babysitting and a private chef.

A special addition is available at Il Convento, a hotel in Tuscany with just 26 rooms and four apartments but two swimming pools. A stay there includes a free family pass to Norcenni Girasole holiday theme park just 3km away. The park offers two outdoor pools, a heated covered pool, and activity pool (open end June) a waterslide, lazy river ride, spa, two children's pools, football pitch, volleyball, fitness trail, table tennis, gym, and play area and more. For an extra charge there are also facilities like a children's club for 5 to 12 years, solariu, wine tastings and cookery lessons.

A two-bedroom apartment at Il Convento based on a family of four during July and August will cost £115 per apartment per night. Breakfast if wished is €9 per person.

For more details see the Discovery Travel web site at http://www.discovery-travel.co.uk.


Simply Morzine goes to Portugal
Well regarded family Alpine specialists Simply Morzine have started a second centre, in the fishing port of Salema on the Western Algarve....continue

Well regarded family Alpine specialists Simply Morzine have started a second centre, in the fishing port of Salema on the Western Algarve.

The Casa das Estevas has been built as a traditional Portuguese villa with large private pool and terraces in a residential area with ocean views and five minutes on foot from the main beach, shops, restaurants and bars. A footpath leads directly from the villa to a sandy cove.

Unlike chalet holidays, the house is priced for exclusive occupancy and will accommodate up to 10 guests in five en suite bedrooms. The aim is to offer the equivalent level of accommodation, personal service and attention to detail as Simply Morzine in the French Alps.

From September to June they can tailormake special interest holidays using the villa as a base for anything from adrenaline sports to walking, golf, art or just wanting a variety of activities for parents and children in Salema and surrounding area.

For more details see the Simply Salema web site http://www.simply-salema.co.uk. Prices range from £950 in low season to £2,450 in July and August.


Baby Care at the Almyra, Cyprus
The Almyra http://www.thanoshotels.com....continue

The Almyra http://www.thanoshotels.com the first member of Design Hotels in Cyprus, has hooked up with family specialists Powder Byrne to offer high quality childcare with qualified English-speaking nannies, plus facilities like children's menus in the restaurants. The hotel also offers a shallow pool and outside play area, shaded by awnings in summer.

Running from the start of April to end October, the Baby Go Lightly Creche offers a personalised service with a creche manager available to discuss each child's needs before arrival. Designed for children 6 months to 4 years, the creche is open 9am to 1pm and 2pm to 5pm, closed Tuesdays. Price is €20 per day per child.

The Smiling Dolphin Kiddies Club operating the same hours, is for children 4 to 11 years, offering supervised in and outdoor free play activities. The club is free to hotel residents except for certain planned activities and optional supervised lunch.
Children this age can also take part in a supervised lunch at additional cost.

Rooms at the Almyra start from £48 per person b&b.



Independent Adventure
Adventure specialist Explore (0870) 333 4001 or http://www.explore.co.uk/familyadventures....continue

Adventure specialist Explore (0870) 333 4001 or http://www.explore.co.uk/familyadventures is introducing Go Independent trips for one or more families to plan their own Explore tour, with flexible dates. The itineraries are the ones in the brochure but you can pick your own dates and company.

With many Go Independent departures there is no minimum age (normally 5 or 8), making them suitable for children who are too young for scheduled Family Adventures.

The programme includes 19 trip options, including, Borneo, Cambodia, Costa Rica, India, Jordan, Peru, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sweden and Vietnam. Lead-in prices are from £499 per adult and from £449 per child for the Dordogne Adventure. However, prices are quoted individually, based on the destination, timing and number of people travelling.


Warning to Holiday Price Cheats
Family Travel has complained before now of the way big tour operators hide their prices, putting them in tiny print, with lots of add ons shown in even smaller print, and particularly targeting families with 'free'child offers which alwys turn out to apply only during term time, and only for the first three children who book....continue

Family Travel has complained before now of the way big tour operators hide their prices, putting them in tiny print, with lots of add ons shown in even smaller print, and particularly targeting families with 'free'child offers which alwys turn out to apply only during term time, and only for the first three children who book. (slight exaggeration with that last point, but you get the idea.)

Now the Office of Fair Trading has weighed in, yet again, issuing a warning to holiday and travel suppliers not to be misleading about prices. The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) Code of Conduct requires all fixed non-optional costs to be included in the basic advertised prices of their holidays.

Even so, certain fixed non-optional costs are frequently excluded from basic advertised holiday and travel prices. These include, for example, fuel supplements which can add up to £65 per person to the price of a flight or holiday. When the extra costs are added on the price is significantly higher than advertised. In one example, the price of a flight from the UK to Barcelona advertised at £19.99 was more than double when all fixed non-optional costs were
included.

Alternatively pick smaller specialist operators, who sell on service, not bargain basement prices.


Dubai Boosts Its Family Attractions
Despite the flight times Dubai is doing its best to attract more families, promoting water parks and theme parks alongside beaches, desert safaris and of course sunshine....continue

Despite the flight times Dubai is doing its best to attract more families, promoting water parks and theme parks alongside beaches, desert safaris and of course sunshine.

Safaris can include an overnight stay in a Bedouin-style tents as well as wadi-bashing - exploring the wadis (or dry beds of streams) that flow after winter rains. There's also sand-skiing or sand-boarding down the dunes. Alternatively Dubai is home to the first indoor ski slope in the desert, measuring 400 metres and using 6,000 tons of snow http://www.skibxb.com.

Children's City is an interactive science and cultural centre with themed zones looking at physical science, the human body, space, nature and the environment, as well as international culture and communication with computer interactive displays, audiovisual exhibits, 3D animation and slide projections http://www.childrencity.ae.

Dubai zoo is home to more than 230 difference species of animals including gazelle, caracal, foxes, wolves, hyena, wild cat, flamingo, cormorant, eagles, buzzards, snakes and lizards. Endangered species include barbary sheep, water buck, Siberian and Bengal tigers, Arabian wolves, hyena, wild cats, scimitar-horned oryx, gorilla and chimpanzee.

Wild Wadi is the best known of the water parks, featuring everything from waterfalls and cliffs to swimming holes, a tidal pool, and scores of waterslides. With 23 rides there's a complete range of styles, right up to the Jumeirah Sceirah - a 33-metre high slide with steep angles to propel riders up to 80km per hour, plus Breakers Bay, which has a wave machine creating 1.5-metre waves all day http://www.wildwadi.com.

Wonderland is a 44-acre amusement park with every attraction from roller coasters to go-carts. It also features a world-renowned water mist show and a water cinema, where films are projected onto a thin film of water.

For more details see http://www.dubaitourism.ae.


Self-Cater in the City
City Breaks can be great with kids - all cities have children living there and there's plenty on offer for them to enjoy....continue

City Breaks can be great with kids - all cities have children living there and there's plenty on offer for them to enjoy. The problem is that for families city hotels are usually expensive and inconvenient.

The Serviced Apartment Company SACO 0845 122 0405 http://www.sacoapartments.co.uk offers an alternative. With properties in 43 city centres across the UK, accommodation is available with separate living rooms and bedrooms, and a fully-equipped kitchen. Rates average 25% less than equivalent accommodation in a four-star hotel and facilities include satellite TV, DVD players, and washer-dryers, and cots, high-chairs, and the latest X-Box and PlayStation games can be provided.

At bedtime, the little ones can go off to sleep in their own room without the need for baby-sitters or a baby-listening service, while the adults enjoy their own meal ? which can be ordered in.

Prices vary according to location but this winter/spring (including half term) a two-bedroom apartment a short walk from Hyde Park in London's Bayswater, costs £222 per night. In central Edinburgh, apartments handy for the castle and Royal Mile cost £194; and in Georgian Bath the cost is £200. Apartments can sleep two adults and up to three children.


More Go Self-Catering
Industry analyst Mintel reports a growing number of Brits taking self-catering holidays and preducts that 62....continue

Industry analyst Mintel reports a growing number of Brits taking self-catering holidays and preducts that 62.2% of overseas holidays in 2007 will be self-catering ones.
Some go and stay in their own holiday property (an estimated 1.2 million of them owning overseas)
but if you are looking to rent, take a look at the various Family Travel self-catering reports.



Luxury Island Goes Family Friendly
Necker Island in the British virgin Islands in the Caribbean is that place that features in round-ups of the most fabulously expensive holidays....continue

Necker Island in the British virgin Islands in the Caribbean is that place that features in round-ups of the most fabulously expensive holidays. Now even they are catering to families. This year the 74-acre island is offering Family Fun weeks 'a great chance to have some fun with the kids and awaken your childhood years'.

There will be boat races around the island, grand slam tennis tournaments, beach Olympics with egg and spoon races, and somersault competitions from the aqua trampoline into the sea. A team of instructors will be on hand to help perfect skills where necessary.

Children get their own evening adventures, complete with Pirate of the Caribbean treasure hunts, where the big kids can pillage their own chest of buried treasure during a beach BBQ's feast.The Family fun weeks are 16 February and 20 October with three, four and seven-night stays available.

Rates (wait for it) start at US$8,600 for two adults sharing for three nights. But that includes accommodation, all meals and drinks, included unlimited champagne, return launch transfers, a team of 50 staff, kayaks, water ski equipment, windsurfing, kite surfing, snorkelling, inflatable bana, aqua trampoline, sailing ans speed boats. There's a full sized snooker table, floodlit terrin, video, book and music libraries, board games, fully equipped gym, two fresh water pools and two jacuzzis. Under 5s sharing with parents go free, other children sharing pay supplement rates. For more see http://www.virgin.com/limitededition.


Siblu Goes Greener
Holiday-parc group Siblu http://www.siblu.com....continue

Holiday-parc group Siblu http://www.siblu.com (prevously known as Haven) is implementing a programme of environmental improvements at its parcs in Brittany, Vend?e, Charente Maritime, Aquitaine and Languedoc. The first step is an optional £10 carbon offset levy, which customers can add to the cost of their holiday. This will pay for the planting and managing of one tree for life in France, which will absorb about 900kg of CO2 by the time it reaches maturity, approximately the same level of carbon as a family driving to France.

A new web site includes videos and 360o tours of siblu parcs, podcasts from past customers, and an interactive map detailing regions, parcs and closest air and ferry ports, plus latest offers. Deals include 20% off all holidays taken before 11 May, 15% off late May and June breaks and 5% off accommodation in August. There are also two-for-one holidays, a third week for free and £50 off for recommending a friend.

And for children Max the Mouse is joining the siblu entertainments team, heading up free children's clubs, with toddlers and under 10s taking part in Max's pirate parties, games and activities.


Crystal Expands the Family Programme
The Crystal family programme for both summer and winter 2007 is introducing four new summer options....continue

The Crystal family programme for both summer and winter 2007 is introducing four new summer options. Chamonix in France offers holidays with plenty of adventure sports including the Junior Active Club for 6 to 11 years with a package of eight activities in four days. At Kirchdorf in Austria there are children's clubs, family rafting, mountain biking, ghost hunting, story telling and more. At Lefkas in the Ionian islands of Greece there are long sandy beaches and bays and small islands to explore.

Year-round family adventures include dive holidays with courses for children from 8 years at Sharm El Sheikh in Egyp, and safaris in Kenya with dedicated children and teen clubs to learn about wildlife, conservation and local culture.

Extras include the option of door to door luggage delivery with www.flymycase.com, but perhaps more importantly, there are family rooms, infant facilities, including cots, bottle warmers, baby sitting and high chairs, plus specials like free lift passes, mountain bikes, tuition and more.

Cyrstal Pepi Penguin creches for children 6 months to 4 years for five days a week costs £150. the Mini Active Club for 5 to 7 years and Junior Active Club for 8 to 12 years is free and includes a full programme of activities on and off water.

Prices start at £620 for a three-bedroom house in Brittany for seven nights' self-catering including Channel crossing in April. For more information see http://www.crystalfamilies.co.uk (0870) 402 0293.


Know Where Your Child Is
i-Kids http://www.i-kids.net....continue

i-Kids http://www.i-kids.net is a new child safety device with one-touch emergency button and GPS functionality. It will mean parents can locate their child in an area of 10-20 metres within a minute and a half, using their own mobile or PC.

Although clearly devised for children nearer home, it could be particularly useful on holiday when older children want to explore away from the watchful eye of their parents. These can be reached in case of need by pressing a one-touch emergency button. This automatically speed-dials four pre-programmed numbers in sequence until the child's alert is answered, or failing that, the call is diverted to the i-Kids service desk.

i-Kids only allows children to call those pre-programmed numbers and while children can receive text messages and calls from parents on the device, they can't send any. And even when the device is switched off the system alerts parents by text message when their child moves out of pre-set safety zones, those zones being adjustable.

The device is sold by mobiles2go http://www.mobiles2go.com/uk or (0844) 800 9133. Cost is £99.99, with a monthly tariff of £15.75 on an 18-month contract.


The Ultimate Adventure in Borneo
Ultimate Travel http://www.theultimatetravelcompany.co.uk....continue

Ultimate Travel http://www.theultimatetravelcompany.co.ukis recommending Borneo for a family break to see orang utans, hawksbill turtles and more. It's best visited in the summer holidays and itineraries can be tailored to suit all ages.

A typical itinerary might begin with the two-day ascent to the 13,500-foot summit of Kinabalu - challenging but not too technical - before visiting the orang utang sanctuary. Then it's on to the islands of Lankayan and Selingan where the sea turtles lay their eggs. Moving back inland you can visit a tribal longhouse and an eco-loge and track the Proboscis monkey and Asian elephant, seaarch for the world's largest flower, and learn about the jungle from a native guide. There's also the option of a visit to the dive resort of Kapalai.

At £2,500 it doesn't come cheap - but what a trip.


Going Walkabout
Walking can be a great way of getting children out and about but, as with all holiday planning, you need to know where you're going and how long it's going to take....continue

Walking can be a great way of getting children out and about but, as with all holiday planning, you need to know where you're going and how long it's going to take.

Walking books are great to help with that and Jarrold produces an excellent series of Short Walk guides covering England, Wles and Scotland featuring 20 walks in each, colour coded to indicate the level of difficulty. Some, such as that on the Brecon Beacons, is specifically designed for non-walkers, starting with short and gentle strolls before moving on to slightly more demanding jaunts.

Costing £5.99 the books cover areas ranging from the coastal fringe of Norfolk into Suffolk to Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. They include detailed maps from Ordnance Survey, and questions for children throughout.


Imaginative Family Holidays
The Imaginative Traveller http://www.imaginative-traveller.com....continue

The Imaginative Traveller http://www.imaginative-traveller.com is a specialist in destinations which offer something a little bit different. The Imaginative Family brochure takes the destinations most suitable for families and offers 15 escorted itineraries specially adapted for them - at least two nights in each place and modified emal plans to take account of young tastes.

Destinations include South Africa, Egypt, Turkey, Kenya, Jordan, Morocco, Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, China, Vietnam and Thailand. 14 nights in Sought Africa for example visit the Kruger National Park, Swaziland, the World Heritage Site of St Lucia with its beach, the Drakensberg Mountains, Lesotho, and the Indian Ocean so everyone gets wildlife, ancient tribal culture, mountains and beach.

Cost including accommodation, most meals, game drives and ponly trekking plus safari transport is £795 per person plus a local payment of approx £140.


Single Parents go Cruising
The second ship from cruise line Ocean Village is looking to help out single parents when it comes into service april 2007 with 100 specially designed three-berth cabins for single parents with two children....continue

The second ship from cruise line Ocean Village is looking to help out single parents when it comes into service april 2007 with 100 specially designed three-berth cabins for single parents with two children. The cabins will consist of standard twin beds and a specially designed bed which folds away when not in use.

The line reports a 26% rise in single parents travelling with two children in the last year and an 8% increase in families of one adult travelling with one child.

Some of those are separated parents, some holiday apart because the other parent remains at home, working. The ships include kids' and teens clubs and a night nursery, giving single parents some time to themselves and the casual cruising is suited to children.

For more details see http://www.oceanvillageholidays.co.uk/.


South African Family Adventure
Red Bush Africa Travel (01335) 370 929 http://www.redbushafrica.com....continue

Red Bush Africa Travel (01335) 370 929 http://www.redbushafrica.com is a specialist in southern Africa and is happy to cater to families, recommending a combination of bush and beach. Itineraries can combine natural attractions including game (though not usually for the under 5s) and theme parks, water parks and craft markets, plus potentially child-specific activities like foraging trips with a ranger.

A new 140-day self-drive family holiday includes a stay in Cape Town, a tour of the Cape Winelands, three days in a nature reserve by the Indian Ocean, a trip to Plettenburg Bay, and a two-day visit to a 7,500 hectare, malaria-free game reserve which is home to five different eco-systems as well as lion, elephant, rhino, buffalo and leopard. All accommodation welcomes children, and offers babysitting for parents wanting to safari alone or go out in the evening. Price for a family of four sharing, with car hire, starts at £6,700.


Travel Matters
Family Travel doesn't usually recommend travel agents but we make an exception for Travel Matters http://www.travelmatters.co.uk/....continue

Family Travel doesn't usually recommend travel agents but we make an exception for Travel Matters http://www.travelmatters.co.uk/ a specialist in holidays with families.

With a real walk-in travel shop in London, you can talk to a member of staff for advice (call them on 020 8675 7878) about the best holiday to suit your needs.

Alternatively the web site includes recommended accommodation at specific destinations they consider particularly suitable, or under Family Favourites you can search under Creches, Children's Clubs, and Teen Clubs.


A Bit of Help with Self-Catering
Tots to France http://www.totstofrance.co.uk....continue

Tots to France http://www.totstofrance.co.uk is a new business aiming specifically to offer properly equipped properties for families with young children.

As well as ensuring that the basic equipment is sufficient (are the pans big enough to cook for everyone) the properties include not just travel costs and changing mats but potties, bibs, plastic spoons, toys and more.

The restored rural properties are no more than an hour from an airport and come with a welcome pack on arrival, plus if ordered, a baby pack including correct size nappies, nappy sacks, wet wipes, full fat milk and jars of baby food. An English-speaking baysitting service is also available.

Sample price for a week in August in a property sleeping four is £684.


Avoid Taxi Ripoffs
Holiday taxis http://www.holidaytaxis.com....continue

Holiday taxis http://www.holidaytaxis.com started the idea of letting youy book your own airport taxi from your holiday arrival airport. Now Taxi Transfers http://www.taxitransfers.co.uk is offering a similar service.

Both operate from several hundred destinations worldwide, and both mean you know you won't be being ripped by local drivers.


Farm Welcome for Kids
North West Farm Toursim Initiative is looking to attract more families to farm stays with the Enjoy the Farm brochure....continue

North West Farm Toursim Initiative is looking to attract more families to farm stays with the Enjoy the Farm brochure.

This features 23 National Trust owned farms with full, fresh farmhouse breakfasts, wonderful scenic views, and get-away-from-it-all walks. for more details see http://www.golakes.co.uk/enjoythefarm.


Chcolate Cheat
Sometimes it takes a little something extra to get children out and about....continue

Sometimes it takes a little something extra to get children out and about. Here are two options featuring that surefire hit - chocolate.

The German Travel Centre is offering trips to Cologne featuring the Stollwerck Chocolate Museum. You could take the children round the magnificent cathedral, one or two of the multiple museums, past some great architecture, and keep order with the promise of a trip to the place where there is a chcolate fountain, chcolate nibbles so you can decide which you prefer, and of course a shop to stock up in.

Two night-breaks at three-star hotels are from £198 per person, phone 020 8429 290 or see http://www.german-travel.uk.com for more details.

If you don't want to go oversease Costal Cottages of Pemrobkeshire are highlighting tours of the 'chocolate village' with demonstrations and tastings, shops, cafe and even a chocolate cinema.

A weeks' rental of a two-bedroom property by the beach is around £420 in spring.

For details ring 01437 765765 or see http://www.costalcottages.co.uk.


Luxury Family Holidays Rise Again
Luxury Family Hotels have been sold - and to a group which puts a lot more emphasis on profit than service - so the pleasures of realxing at Fowey, Moonfleet Manor, Ickworth and Woolley Grange may be no more - or at least rather less pleasurable than they have been in the past....continue

Luxury Family Hotels have been sold - and to a group which puts a lot more emphasis on profit than service - so the pleasures of realxing at Fowey, Moonfleet Manor, Ickworth and Woolley Grange may be no more - or at least rather less pleasurable than they have been in the past.

However, the people who ran Luxury Family Hotels have not forgotten their customers and they have a couple of new projects happening.

First of all their company Four Winds has bought Meriski http:www.meriski.co.uk, the company offering 10 chalets in meribel with good food and wine, welcoming hosts, plus its own creche famility open six days a week, plus children taken to and from their ski lessons by complimentary minibus service.

And for summers they are developing a resort in the Western Algarve due to open in 2007/8, designed as 'a fabulous holiday designation for our luxury family market'.


Ride the Wild West - With the Kids
Ranch America http://www.ranchamerica.co.uk....continue

Ranch America http://www.ranchamerica.co.uk, the western-style holiday specialist, has combined its best family dude ranches with US adventure experiences to create two really memorable holidays.

On one you tour Yellowstone National Park with it geothermal hot spots as well as 60 species of wild animals including bears, bison and wolves.

Then you spend a week at Blackwater Creek, just 10 minutes' from Yellowstone, where kids' activities include a rodeo and talent competition, supervised swimming and fishing, as well as horseback riding for all the family. Accommodation is in western-style cabins with all meals served family-style in the main lodge.

Alternatively, within a couple of hours drive from Yellowstone in Wyoming's wilderness lies Goosewing Ranch. Here parents will love relaxing in the hot tub after a day or horseriding, hiking and fishing, while kids star in their very own rodeo.

Prices for a two week holiday combining Yellowstone with a week at Blackwater Creek start from £2,300 per adult and £1,300 per child. Prices staying at Goosewing start from £2,370 per adult and £1350 per child.

With children of 10 plus families can start with rafting on the Main Salmon River - an exhilarating but moderate white water experience where in July and August the water is just right for swimming, with calm sections and pools along the way. Relaxing evenings are spent camping out on sandy beaches backed by pine forests.

The next week there's the Twin Peaks Ranch, also in Idaho, a dude ranch and activity centre rolled into one. As well as horse riding for all abilities, parents and children can try their hand at target and clay shooting and line dancing, with entertainment provided by sing-alongs around the campfire and barbeques. Accommodation is in cosy cabins, themed western style.

Prices for a two week holiday combining white water rafting on the Main Salmon River with a week at the Twin Peaks Ranch start from £2,900 per adult £2195 per child from 1st June.

All package prices include return flights from London, accommodation (on a full board basis at the ranches) and all activities outlined above.


Unusual Holiday Ideas
Ditch the donkey: unusual holidays in the usual destinations, by Paul Jenner & Christine Smith is a fun title which, like Family Travel, looks at more than the standard holiday options....continue

Ditch the donkey: unusual holidays in the usual destinations, by Paul Jenner & Christine Smith is a fun title which, like Family Travel, looks at more than the standard holiday options.


It includes a chapter on family holidays. While most of those are already listed on this site, there are others could inspire families looking for holidays they won't forget. What about Sports Clinics, Travels with a Donkey, Hidden and Secret Places, or Holidays with Locals?

More details at http://www.whiteladderpress.com.


Tuscany Villas for Families
Summer's Leases (tel: 0845 2302223) http://www.summersleases.com....continue

Summer's Leases (tel: 0845 2302223) http://www.summersleases.com. A Tuscany and Umbria specialist for 13 years, offers 60 privately-owned character properties in Tuscany and neighbouring Umbria. All are known to the English owners of the company, who are based in Tuscany.

Among the properties are some particularly suitable for families, notably Villa Moscatelli with a bedroom sleeping four children with its own TV, a mountain of toys and private bathroom.

The homely four-bedroom villa dates back to the 14th-century and has a large garden with sweeping countryside views. It is close to the bustling village of Sarteano where there are restaurants, shops, a public swimming pool and tennis courts. Siena, Arezzo and Orvieto are all within an hour's drive.

Sleeping eight, it costs £895 a week in the summer school holidays.

For more villas in Tuscany and the rest of Italy, see our online reports on the area.


Easy Southwest
For parents of preschoolers who don't want the hassle of overseas travel, Southwest Tourism is offering a dedicated web site to make organising UK holidays even easier....continue

For parents of preschoolers who don't want the hassle of overseas travel, Southwest Tourism is offering a dedicated web site to make organising UK holidays even easier.

Easy Preschools Southwest http://www.easypreschoolsouthwest.co.uk offers details of child-friendly accommodation, much of which is reported just as stylish as the sort parents would have chosen pre-children, but with useful extras like babysitting, creches and homemade baby food.

Options range from spa hotels with creche facilities to self-catering cottages with play barns for the kids and hot tubs for the parents.

There is also a ‘Things to Do' search facility to find dry and wet weather activities for the whole family nearby.


Is a Holiday Just Too Much?
A survey of 600 families has revealed that trying to organise a family holiday and keeping everyone happy can be such a stressful experience that a third of all parents would rather stay at home than go on one....continue

A survey of 600 families has revealed that trying to organise a family holiday and keeping everyone happy can be such a stressful experience that a third of all parents would rather stay at home than go on one.

65% of families admitted they had difficulty trying to accommodate everyone's tastes and expectations when planning a summer break, and 34% wished they could opt out altogether and stay at home.

32% of parents quizzed even confessed they got so stressed by planning a family holiday that they would rather go with people from work and one in four graded the holiday planning as more stressful than moving house.

Solution? Find the holiday you fancy, and the experts to organise it for you, on the Family Travel web site.

If you're really stuck, post your dilemma on the noticeboard and get someone else to give you the solution.


Family Ski
If you want to be free to ski as and where you like, without the constraints of looking after your children, there really is nothing to match booking with one of the specialist tour operators who offer the full package including children's ski lessons and childcare....continue

If you want to be free to ski as and where you like, without the constraints of looking after your children, there really is nothing to match booking with one of the specialist tour operators who offer the full package including children's ski lessons and childcare. For details see our online reports in the Skiing section.

However, if you're happy to stick to the easier slopes Directski.com http://www.directski.com/go/ski/family has a new page recommending family-friendly accommodation and a range of special offers for children including discounts, reduced price ski packs, and free ski passes.


Winter Childcare in Mauritius and Antigua
Powder Byrne is operating its PB creche in mauritius from end January to end April at The Residence, a colonial five-star hotel on the east coast of the island....continue

Powder Byrne is operating its PB creche in mauritius from end January to end April at The Residence, a colonial five-star hotel on the east coast of the island.

On its own private beach, there are water sports from under sea walking to parasiling, and an extensive range of spa treatments.

In Antiguea they will be running over EAster, may half term, over the summer holidays and at October for half term.

Here the Carlisle Bay five-star hotel is set on a beach beside rainforest with water sports, nine tennis courts, plus spa, yoga, pilates and personal training and a private cinema.

Prices are from £3,258 in March and April.

For more on specialist operators see online reports listing operators that specifically offer childcare services.


South Africa in Comfort for Families
Tswalu, on the edge of the Kalahari Desert, is the largest private game reserve in South Africa with 70 species of mammals including lion, cheetah and desert black rhino, as well as 220-plus types of birds....continue

Tswalu, on the edge of the Kalahari Desert, is the largest private game reserve in South Africa with 70 species of mammals including lion, cheetah and desert black rhino, as well as 220-plus types of birds.

Unlike many game reserves, here children can join their parents on game drives, bush walks and horse riding, and while parents relax the staff will keep children busy with a range of activities.

Prices are from £400 per person per night full board, under 12s sharing with parents staying free.

Le Quartier Francais in the Cape Winelands in the French Huguenot village of Franschhoek is set in a private garden and includes a loft room especially designed for children, and private butler service.

Prices are from £125 per person per night b&b, babies staying free.

Kurland, on a 700-hectare polo estate on the Garden Route, minutes from the beach, includes loft rooms specially designed and decorated for children, a children's playroom of toys and games, a dedicated children's pool and baby pool, safe adventure play areas, and a children's own dining conservatory.

Activities include pony riding, hiking, tennis and cycling.

Prices are from £120 per person per night b&b with under 5s staying free.

For more details see Steppes Travel http://www/steppestravel.co.uk.


Family Friendly with Style
As befits its name, the gold stoned Plough Inn at Clanfield in the Cotswolds was built originally as a wealthy farmer's house....continue

As befits its name, the gold stoned Plough Inn at Clanfield in the Cotswolds was built originally as a wealthy farmer's house. Converted to an inn in the 19th century, it has been attracting vistors ever since.

Now it has been taken over by someone who remembers visits as special treats when he was a small boy. In an overhaul which does not undermine its past he still offers four poster beds, log fires, pretty gardens and excellent food; but with a younger and more informal style.

The restaurant for example combines antique tables, wooden floors, matt Farrow & Ball paintwork and soft jazz. The bar, with sofas around log fires, spills out onto the terrace and lawn, shaded in summer by huge umbrellas.

There are just 12 rooms, and as befits a man who himself enjoyed the place as a child, children are welcomed, with cots, baby listening, and child friendly food using fresh produce rather than chicken nuggets.

Nearby good places to visit are the Cotswold Wildlife Park, the Woolen Weavers (where you can actually see the weaving etc), and in summer Radcot Bridge just five minutes away hires boats for outings on the Thames.

For more details phone 01367 810222 or see http:www.theploughclanfield.co.uk for more details. Prices for a double are £65 to £100 per night b&b.


Family Cycling Holidays
Cycling holiday specialist Freewheel is runing more family trips this year offering cycles for adults and older children, plus bby seats and tag-along bikes for younger ones....continue

Cycling holiday specialist Freewheel is runing more family trips this year offering cycles for adults and older children, plus bby seats and tag-along bikes for younger ones. Detailed maps and route instructions - with sightseeing suggestions - are all part of the package, while transfer of luggage between overnight stops is taken care of by a Freewheel host.

Recommendations include a 10-day Into the Valley of the alps tour that vists some of Austria's most beautiful scenery, from Krimml village in the Kitzbuheler Alps, down through Kaprun,, Zell am See, and alongside the Saalach River.

Available in July and August, tour prices start at £693 for adults, £623 for 12-17s, £599 for two to 11 years, and £49 for under twos. Prices include return Salzburg airport transfers, cycle hire, route notes and maps, luggage transfers, plus nine nights' b&b in three and four-star hotels.

For more ideas see the report on Cycling Holidays.


Single Parent Skiing
Mango Holidays, a specialist single parent holiday company, is running a ski trip in the February half term to the small resort of Predeal in the Transylvanian Alps of Romania....continue

Mango Holidays, a specialist single parent holiday company, is running a ski trip in the February half term to the small resort of Predeal in the Transylvanian Alps of Romania.

The ski school specialises in teaching Romanian children to ski and there is also an ice skating rink, sledges, and a games room.

Accommodation is in the ski lodge at the foot of the slopes. All rooms are en suite, and with balconies.

Nearby at Sinaia, a £1 train ride away, you can visit the fairy tale castle, built as a royal summer palace, and you can visit the one-time holiday villa of Caesescu, now a folklore restaurant.

The holiday costs £699 for adults, £625 for children over 12, and £599 for under 12s. The package includes flights from Heathrow with BA (connections from Manchester and other regional airports available), full board accommodation, ski hire, ski school, and a trip to Dracula's castle and medieval Brasov. There is a local payment of €55 for adults and €45 for children and the ski pass works out at less than £20 for the week.

For more details see Mango Holidays http://www.mangoholidays.co.uk or call (01902) 373 410.


Little Feet Walking Trail
York Tourism Bureau has produced a leaflet called Little Feet to help children discover the treasures and architecture of one of England's oldest cities....continue

York Tourism Bureau has produced a leaflet called Little Feet to help children discover the treasures and architecture of one of England's oldest cities.

Little Feet features photographs which the children have to spot as they follow a trail round the oldest parts, numbering them as they go along.

You can download the leaflet from Visit York http://www.visityork.org/explore, along with other walking trails including on Roman York, the Walls and medieval churches.


Legionnaire's Disease Risk
Hygiene experts Check Safety First maintain that some large hotels are putting the lives of holidaymakers at risk by ignoring the threat of legionnaire's disease....continue

Hygiene experts Check Safety First maintain that some large hotels are putting the lives of holidaymakers at risk by ignoring the threat of legionnaire's disease.

The ailment is a pneumonia-like illness caused by the Legionella bacteria which is found in inadequately maintained large-scale water or air-conditioning systems.

This means that large resort hotels can be ideal places for the illness to spread. Guests can come into contact with it through showering, using swimming pools or spas, and when operating air-conditioning units.

Statistics released by the Health Protection Agency do show that there has been a rise in the number of cases of legionnaires' disease experienced by British travellers since 1980, offering support for the claim.

"The main issue is that hotel health and safety is still in its infancy," explains Check Safety First CEO Steve Tate.

The European Working Group for Legionella Infections has set up a dedicated weblink http://www.ewgli.org which 'names and shames' hotels which are unable to control outbreaks of the disease within four weeks of the initial case.

Check Safety First http://www.checksafetyfirst.com also provides free access to information on hotels that have implemented specific procedures to prevent the disease.

An alternative is simply to avoid staying in very large resort hotels.


The Great House - great for parents and children
Among the crooked cottages and Tudor Houses of Lavenham in Suffolk is The Great House, a sympthetically restored 15th century building owned by French couple Regis Crepy and his wife Martine....continue

Among the crooked cottages and Tudor Houses of Lavenham in Suffolk is The Great House, a sympthetically restored 15th century building owned by French couple Regis Crepy and his wife Martine.

Known for its good food, being French owned it is also - hurrah - child-friendly and welcome to stay in one of the five bedrooms with private sitting rooms.

The design is eclectic featuring beams, sloping ceilings, ancient fireplaces, and creaking floorboards alongside English and French antiques, and old books alongside black marble bathrooms and piles of white towels. Fresh fruit and sherry can be taken whilst enjoying views out over the Market Place.

The restaurant serves unfussy traditional food, much of it sourced from Paris.

For children the Great House will provide an early high tea, children's cots etc ? and children generally sleep in the living room adjoining each bedroom.

On Friday and Saturday nights, sharing with two children under 12 the room rate for four is £150 per night with breakfast and dinner as extra. Over 12 it is £25 per child.

For more details call (01787) 247 431 or Great House http://www.greathouse.co.uk.


Luxury Treasure Island
Raffles Resort on Canouan Island in the Grenadines offers villa accommodation with private patios and safe, covered terraces, plus a nanny/babysitting service, and Sugar Palm Kids Club....continue

Raffles Resort on Canouan Island in the Grenadines offers villa accommodation with private patios and safe, covered terraces, plus a nanny/babysitting service, and Sugar Palm Kids Club.

This year children visiting the resort will be able to take part in their own treasure hunt which will take them by boat to a deserted beach to hunt for lost treasure.

There will be cleus thorughout the week to help them on their way, and pirate outfits ot make sure everyone recognises what their mission

Stays are bookable through Abercrombie & Kent (0845) 070 0614, and cost from £1,499 per adult and £959 per child. b&b.


Theme Park Deals
Themepark Direct is a new web site with special deals on entrance tickets to 19 theme parks and attractions around the world....continue

Themepark Direct is a new web site with special deals on entrance tickets to 19 theme parks and attractions around the world.

There are savings for example of over £50 for a family of four on Disney's UK Ultimate Ticket for Walt Disney World Resort in Florid, costing £154 for adults and £134 for children, for 14 days' admission to the eight Disney attractions in the Orlando area.

A special offer is also available on the 3 day 2 park ticket to Universal Studio's and Universal's Island of Adventure. For a family of four the saving is nearly £100, the ticket including seven consecutive nights of all club access to the live entertainment at Universal CityWalk. The Universal ExpressSM ride access allows customers to get on to rides with the minimum waiting time.

The site sells actual tickets, not a voucher which has to be exchanged on arrival at the park, tickets are usually delivered free, and there are no credit card charges. The company is fully bonded with ABTA.

To book see Theme Park Direct http://www.themeparkdirect.co.uk or call (0870) 3303 030.


An Au Pair in the Air
Tiny Flyers http://www.tinyflyers.com....continue

Tiny Flyers http://www.tinyflyers.com is an on-line introduction service for those who need help when travelling with little ones.

The idea is to use the site to find a fellow traveller who is booked on the same flight and who is both willing and able to help you with checking in, keeping the little ones entertained, and ensuring you get your luggage when you arrive.

Likely candidates are students, parents of older children, or grandparents, who in return for their help would be paid up to half of their air fare - the details being for you to agree between you.

You place an advert explaining who you are and your travel plans and you can then e-mail other advertisers. The fee to join is just £7.50.


Italian Agriturismo
Discovery Tours http://www.discovery-tours.co.uk....continue

Discovery Tours http://www.discovery-tours.co.uk a specialist in Italian farm holidays, has introduced the region of Basilicata this year, in the deep south of the country, accessible with Ryanair flights to Bari.

Particularly highlighted is Card farm, a traditional fortified farmhouse with double and triple rooms, some inter-connecting, with air conditiong and garden ara or private veranda.

On site facilities include a pool, bicyles, horse riding, a restaurant, and an estate with organic olive groves, vineyards and fruit trees. The sea at Metaponto on the Ionian coast is fivekm away.

A seven night stay in late July starts at £273 per person based on two sharing. Flights and car hire can be arranged.


Specialist Hotel Finder
www....continue

www.RoomServiceHotels.com specialises in finding small, family-run, affordable hotels throughout Europe, and prides itself on offering both the right property for each customer, and the best deals.

Holidaymakers can book online, but can also talk to someone on the phone before making a booking.

The owners take their three-year old on as many of their research trips as possible. so can certainly advise on whether hotels have specific facilities for children, and if so, what the charges are.

Also offered is a range of aparthotels (small one and two bedroom apartments with kitchenettes, but with hotel facilities as well) in the main city centres, especially Barcelona.

They can also advise also on suitable destinations for younger children. For example, when travelling to Barcelona, they would suggest Sitges to take advantage of the beach, less formal restaurants and easy train journey into the city. Earlier in the year however an apartment in the centre of Barcelona would be better.

Room Service reports that families like the boutique style hotels, where the owners "adopt" children, so giving parents a little free time without consigning their children to a formal kid's club.


Links
Here are somes links to some sites which we think are useful to all parents....continue

Here are somes links to some sites which we think are useful to all parents.

mumsnet.com http://www.mumsnet.com

ukparents.co.uk http://www.ukparents.co.uk

allkids.co.uk http://www.allkids.co.uk

familyrapp http://www.familyrapp.co.uk

BabyGROE http://www.babygroe.co.uk (Green, Recycled, Organic, Ethical)

kwmap http://www.kwmap.net

A network of keywords and concepts as they logically relate to each other, on various topics, including travel.

Families Online http://www.familiesonline.co.uk

The web site of the extremely useful, free, newsletter style local magazines for parents.

Take the Family http://www.takethefamily.com

A site offering bookings as well as information about holidays ranging from Center Parcs to Dubai, plus options like Malta, California and the Dordogne, all suitable for families.


         

© FamilyTravel 2006