Booking holidays with your kids and wider family can be quite the undertaking. The style of accommodation needs to please adults and teens, there needs to be enough to do and you need to make sure family meals or the odd excursion won’t break the bank.
Europe has often been considered the go-to place for multi-generational holidays but villas can be costly and mean you do more cooking than when you’re at home. Dining, watersports and excursions can come with a hefty price tag and as the kids get older their sense of adventure grows and suddenly Spain doesn’t seem to float their boat.
New family holiday destinations
Savvy families are heading further afield to Asia and saving when they get there.
It may feel counterintuitive to spend more on long-haul flights for a family holiday, but choose the right destination and your money will go a lot further once you arrive.
A meal for six people in Thailand (eating locally), can come in under £30, a massage on the beach is around £5, manicures and pedicures £5-7, a beer is around £1.50 and a cocktail in a beachfront hotel bar will set you back around £4. In addition, family suites, villas and bungalows abound and it’s worth noting that you can secure five-star accommodation for the price you pay for four-star in the Med.
Even for those families with younger kids, Thailand’s hotels are some of the most family friendly we have found. Childrens’ clubs tend to be free or included in your hotel package and paddle boarding lessons, watersports, cookery classes, excursions and fine dining are also significantly cheaper.
Multi-generational holidays in Phuket
With regular year-round flights and carriers competing for your custom (read good flight sales), great weather, boundless activities on offer at very reasonable prices thanks to a strong exchange rate and a huge range of accommodation on offer, Phuket is emerging as an excellent family option.
South east Asia has its pick of islands and resorts, of course, but Phuket is modern, easy to get around and there are lots of good deals to be found, especially when booking larger properties or accommodation.
Why you’ll like it
Rest in the knowledge that you can have a two-week holiday without ever seeing the gaudy side of Phuket so widely written about over the last decade. The ‘new’ Phuket is all about families, wellness, golden sands and shady cabanas.
In keeping with their surroundings, most resorts have villa-style suites and bunglows, perfect for families in need of adjoining rooms and a bit more space. On Phuket, taxis are around £10 for a 20-minute cab ride so you can explore lots of the beaches, waterfalls, temples and markets near your resort – giving older children a plethora of things to do.
And the beaches are to die for; miles of soft, butter-coloured sand, warm shallows and calm waters make for excellent family fun.
Where to stay
Do your research and make sure your hotel offers great facilities. The selection on offer is tremendous and many hotels offer large double and triple cottages or apartments, bungalows and on-site villas perfect for multi-generational holidays.
Moevenpick’s Bangtao Beach Resort is located on a beautiful quiet stretch of the sweeping Bangtao beach and is one of our favourites for reasonably priced family getaways. It offers large, luxury apartments with up to three bedrooms in addition to the more usual doubles. The apartments are huge meaning everyone can spread out and the capacious living and dining areas are perfect for families who want to enjoy leisurely lunches and breakfasts together. The apartments also have large kitchens (perfect for families with small kids you can fix a snack or two) and overlook the stunning pool area, lagoon or beach (our favourite is the pool view). The pool is the real calling card of this resort. It’s Olympian in length and is surrounded by huge day beds and sun loungers, the beach is spotless, safe and sheltered and along the sweeping horse-shoe sands there are mini catamarans, jet-skis and paddleboards for hire. Nearby, the town has weekly markets and inland in Phuket’s lush interior you can visit waterfalls, hit the golf courses or go horse riding.
The resort’s kids’ club is open to four to 12 year olds and has a packed itinerary of art, adventures, team building and indoor fun and is open from 8am to 6pm. There is also a sunken spa and fitness centre for the adults.
Families with very young children should note there is a small road between the exterior and the sandy beach but it is staffed and there are coded gates to ensure children don’t wander out.
Three things we loved
- The pool bar staff bring round sorbets and fun frozen chocolate milk to cool frazzling sunbathers
- Security: the resort is very secure and has gates to and from the beach
- It’s great to be able to walk down the beach and in around 10 minutes be in the more bustling end of Bangtao
High50 Insider tips
- Thailand is a great place to snorkel or learn to dive. Ensure you sign up with a PADI accredited dive school
- Take a boat trip around the nearby islands and explore amazing caves and snorkelling
- Take a taxi to nearby markets, there are endless stalls with clothes, bags, shoes and trinkets to take home
- Check if you are insured for motorised watersports. It can be best to steer clear of the local banana boat rides
- Don’t discount the family twin-stop if your kids are old enough: routes to Phuket can include a stopover in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Bangkok (among others) and it can be a superb cultural addition to the beach side of things. Not to mention indirect flights are often cheaper.
We flew with Malaysia Airlines, stopping in Bangkok. Malaysia Airlines offers economy class return flights from London Heathrow to Phuket from £739. To book visit www.malaysiaairlines.com or call +44 (0) 871 4239 090
Chantal Borciani is travel editor at High50, responsible for food, travel and business content. She reports on travel trends and destinations. Twitter: @ChantalBorch