From a luxurious eco-resort just outside Paris to fun-filled vacations in North and Central America or an elegant luxury hotel in Goa, here are our five top picks for family summer holidays this year.
Schlitterbahn Waterpark, New Braunfels, Texas, USA
by Johanna Read, TravelEater.net
Fans of waterparks and waterslides might not believe what Schlitterbahn has to offer. Uphill water coasters? Check. Waterslides with dark tunnels? Check. Lazy river tube rides which include rapids, a real river, and even a people-conveyer-belt? Check. A giant wave pool? Check. A continuous-wave surfing ride? Check. Areas designed just for kids? Yup, that too. Schlitterbahn caters to the whole family from tiny kids to teenagers to grandparents wanting water-filled fun.
Schlitterbahn is a unique water amusement park outside of San Antonio, the original of five similar parks in Texas and Kansas. It’s open daily in June, July and August, plus some spring and fall weekends.
Schlitterbahn has several choices of accommodation, and these include park admission and extra hours before the park opens to the general public. The SchlitterStein Lofts are in a quiet area across the river from the park. Within and next to the park choose from Riverbend Cabins, Treehaus Luxury Suites and The Resort at Schlitterbahn. Transportation between the two sections of the park and to the accommodation is included in the rates.
Villages Nature, Paris
by Lucy Dodsworth, OnTheLuce.com
Is it possible to do Disney in a resort that appeals to the grown-ups almost as much as the kids? Villages Nature, a recently opened eco-resort just outside Paris, aims to do just that. It’s close to Disneyland Paris and Paris is easily accessible by train. But there’s plenty to do in the resort too. It’s like Centre Parcs but with a French touch. So you’ll find a bakery selling fresh croissants, boules by the lake and a good range of restaurants, including a wine bar selling delicious local meats and cheeses.
Villages Nature is built around five different immersive ‘worlds’, each of which has a different theme. There’s a lake, forest, gardens, huge waterpark and even a working farm. There are kids clubs for all ages and plenty of activities – from bee-keeping to Segway tours.
Accommodation is a mix of apartments and cottages, sleeping from 2 to 12, with three different levels – from simple functional Clan Comfort to Cocoon VIP with its luxe fabrics, jacuzzi baths and a prime lakefront location – all with their own kitchenettes and balcony or terrace. There’s a strong eco focus with geothermal heating, recycling points and shuttles to the Eurostar terminal.
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La Paz, Mexico
by Johanna Read, TravelEater.net
About two hours north of its more famous cousin Cabo San Lucas, La Paz is an ideal Mexican holiday for the family on the Baja peninsula. The city is quiet and calm, with few of the clubs and nightlife of its southern neighbour. Instead, it sits next to the “aquarium of the world”, as dubbed by Jacques Cousteau, and offers water sports and almost-empty beaches to go along with its family-friendly atmosphere.
Stroll the long malecón and see if you can see dolphins jumping out at sea. The Bay of La Paz is so calm even newbies will feel comfortable on a standup paddleboard rented from Harker Board. Pick up some garbage during your paddle (it will be tough to find any!) and Harker will give you a nice discount on your rental too.
Book a day trip with The Cortez Club to Isla Espiritu Santo, part of a UNESCO-protected bio-reserve. There you and your kids can snorkel with playful juvenile sea lions. You might see dolphins, turtles, rays, whale sharks or whales on your way out. Lunch will be on a Caribbean-like beach all to yourself. On the way back, strong swimmers can snorkel with the gentle giants of the sea — whale sharks — in the bay near downtown.
Stay at Costabaja Resort and Spa, just outside of downtown La Paz near the marina and golf course. It’s got views over the Bay of La Paz (you might see dolphins in the mornings) and marina, a separate beach club and several nearby restaurants.
Read more about Johanna’s experience of Whale Sharks and Whales in La Paz.
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Alila Diwa, Goa, India
by Kathryn Burrington, TravelWithKat.com
The elegant Alila Diwa in South Goa may not seem the most obvious choice for a family holiday at first glance but here you’ll find the perfect blend of luxury and sophistication to keep the most discerning parents happy combined with plenty to keep children entertained. And it’s just a 20-minute transfer from Goa Dabolim International Airport, always a plus when travelling with children.
Set back from Mjorda Beach the hotel and its stunning infinity pool looks out across the lush landscape of paddy fields, as does the smaller infinity children’s pool with safety rails and mini black and white sun loungers. As well as delicious fruit drinks and afternoon tea, you’ll also find an ice cream trolley by the pool.
The Kids’ Club, with trained attendants, will keep children under six happy with crafts and games while older children will enjoy the Teen Zone, a large room with table tennis, table football, Wii sports games and more. Plus, there’s a cinema with daily film screenings at 3 and 7 pm and a babysitting service and plenty of additional organised activities and a complimentary shuttle to the nearby beach.
Read more Goa hotel recommendations by Kathryn here, Top 6 hotels in Goa.
The Buenaventura Golf & Beach Resort, Rio Hato, Panama
by Johanna Read, TravelEater.net
Young engineers in-the-making will marvel at Panama’s famous canal, but after you’ve watched the ships passing through, take them south of Panama’s busy capital city to the seaside resort The Buenaventura.
The Buenaventura has so many pools your kids will likely each have one to themselves (unless they’re building sand castles on the sparkling beach). The waves are usually gentle enough for kid-friendly swimming, or if the wind is up, take a Hobiecat sailing ride.
Kids will also love the onsite animal reserve — one of Buenaventura’s owners takes in and cares for rescued animals and you can drop by and get a close look at peacocks, monkeys and maybe even a Central American wildcat. There are even bikes to borrow to get there, and The Buenaventura sits within a residential community and on a golf course, so older kids can easily cycle around to explore. And, of course, the resort has a kids club too.
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Boutique Travel Blog, a luxury, boutique and eco-chic travel and lifestyle blog.