Absolute Family

The Easter holidays are just around the corner, and this month we are looking at places to take the family, but with a little extra than the usual kids clubs. 

Words by Phoebe Oliver

Our picks below offer not only amazing activities to ensure the kids don’t have a single minute to be bored, but also realise it’s not all about them, and offer plenty for the grown ups too!

Festival going with the family  – Elderflower Fields Festival
Located at a new venue in the Ashdown Forest over the 23rd-26th May, the Elderflower Fields Festival has been completely designed for families with kids in mind, and is back for the third time in 2014 after becoming a huge success in previous years.

There will not be a dull minute for the kids at Elderflower Fields Festival.  The ‘Urban Woods’ activities are designed to give kids a flavour of sports and pursuits more normally associated with an urban or extreme environment, including skateboarding, climbing, slack lining, mountain biking and Parkour, and newly introduced for this year there is kayaking, raft-building and tree climbing.  There is also a Sports Camp that will include volley ball, archery, ultimate Frisbee, rounders, stoolball, hockey and an assault course.

For when the kids have completely worn themselves out at the urban woods and the sports camp, the extremely popular Arts Camp workshops will return for 2014, and there is also a brand new Youth Music Zone, that will encompass instrumental taster sessions provided by the teachers from Sussex Academy of Music plus group music making workshops and jam sessions.

They will also be able to immerse themselves in the great outdoors in the Environment Zone, where lessons on the woodland plants and animals are held and they will even be shown how to create a campfire.

All these activities mean mum and dad can relax, safe in the knowledge the kids are looked after. Tucked away in a peaceful corner of the forest, you’ll discover the Woodland Spa, offering a wide range of spa treatments including massages, reflexology and aromatherapy for a full festival pampering experience with prices at only £40 for a 60 minute treatment.

After a relaxing treatment meet up with friends at the Drunken Botanist – the fully stocked cocktail bar – for an Elderflower Mojito, or visit The Merry Maker to grab a craft beer before going to the main stage to see one of the 40 bands that will be playing over the festival.

To book tickets, go to www.elderflowerfields.co.uk.  Tickets start from £50 for children and £105 for adults.  Under 5’s go free


The Great Outdoors – Devon
Slapton Ley in South Devon with its world renowned Field Centre is the largest natural lake in the South West and a haven to hundreds of rare species of birds and animals.   Easter is a particularly good time to visit when young are being born and migrant birds appear, and with this in mind Toad Hall Cottages are offering some great value Easter breaks at a range of cottages in the area.

Slapton Ley is a unique freshwater lagoon separated from the sea by the beautiful 3 km Slapton Sands beach on the South Devon coast.  The lake, along with its surrounding marsh and woodland, is a National Nature Reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest and is a delight for bird watchers and wildlife enthusiasts of all ages.  In addition, Slapton Ley Field Centre runs a fantastic calendar of free guided walks around the reserve including ‘ Hedgerow Harvest’ , ‘Birds of Slapton Ley’ and ‘Bluebell Walks’ perfect for families;  and there are several scenic public footpaths through the Reserve to enjoy the wildlife and stunning scenery at your own pace.

Toad Hall Cottages have a number of properties in the nearby villages which provide the perfect base to enjoy Slapton Ley, Slapton Sands beach and the beautiful surrounding area.   2 Vale Cottages (sleeps 4, £491 for a week over Easter Holidays) is an immaculate thatched 17th Century cottage in the heart of Slapton village within walking distance of the Ley and beach.  Slapton Village is a cluster of traditional thatched and brick cottages with two pubs serving good food and a local shop. http://www.toadhallcottages.co.uk/holiday-cottages/2-vale-cottage/1302/

Get some sun – Canyon Ranch Hotel & Spa Miami Beach
Canyon Ranch Hotel & Spa Miami Beach, that rare phenomenon that is a family-friendly wellness resort, is offering families a variety of Spring family packages to promote physical activity, interaction and family fun! Located on beautiful Miami Beach, Canyon Ranch has a selection of enjoyable programmes for children over five years old to choose from, including Superfit Family Classes, Family Yoga and healthy cooking demonstrations.

SuperFit Families is geared towards building a strong foundation of wellness for the entire family. Trained instructors will lead activities and games teaching children that exercise is enjoyable. Canyon Ranch’s spectacular indoor rock climbing wall is the centerpiece in this family-oriented activity, offering the thrill of climbing in safe surroundings. Family yoga is also available with fun, interactive classes designed to teach kids and parents the benefits of the practice.

Canyon Ranch is also offering families the chance to learn how to create a true ‘Happy Meal’. Chef Giovanni Arias and Nutritionist Larisa Alonso will lead practical children and parents cooking demonstrations (and tastings!) that will empower families with a wealth of healthy new ideas, dishes and techniques.

The Healthy Holiday Company offers six nights at Canyon Ranch from £7,639 for a family of 4 staying in a Carillon Suite on a B&B basis from 16-22 April 2014 (Easter).

Price includes return flights with Virgin Atlantic (Heathrow to Miami), private airport transfers, daily fitness classes, use of Exercise & Movement facilities, Strength & Cardio training studio, Spa and Aquathermal experiences.

To book please call The Healthy Holiday Company on 0208 968 0501 or visit www.thehealthyholidaycompany.co.uk

Adventure option – Kerala, India
Families Worldwide has a 12-day trip to southern India entitled Backwaters of Kerala departing 5 and 12 April.  Activities include visiting a hill station, a boat cruise in Periyar National Park to see herds of elephants, a visit to a tea plantation and learning to cook Indian food!  The itinerary also includes a boat ride and spending a night on a converted rice barge.

The trip costs from £1629 per child (age guide 5+), £1729 per adult which includes flights, all transportation, 10 nights’ accommodation (hotels and rice barge), some meals (10 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 1 dinner) and a tour leader.  Land-only prices are available for those who prefer to make their own flight arrangements.  Call 0845 051 4567 (www.familiesworldwide.co.uk).