Baby-friendly villa holidays: everything you need to know

If you’re a parent going on a villa holiday with infant children, you’re in for a treat. Swimming pools, beaches and all the other attractions on offer make for treasured memories which you’ll always share. Before you book anything, though, it’s important to think about how to make the most of baby-friendly villa holidays. Keep a few simple precautions in mind and you’ll be fully prepared for a wholly enjoyable family getaway.

Think about the location

The first step in planning a baby-friendly villa holiday is finding a location suitable for your child’s needs. Staying in the centre of a popular resort town can be great for restaurants, shops and tourist attractions, but it’s more likely to be noisy come sundown.

Look for a rural property located close to a town or resort. You should also consider staying somewhere near the beach, that way you’re all set for long sunny afternoons spent making sandcastles and paddling in the shallows – just make sure they wear plenty of sun cream and are supervised at all times!

Book a suitable villa

Scout out a rental with a gated pool. You should always keep an eye on your child when they’re near water, but having a fenced-off pool puts a much-needed extra safety precaution in place.

If you’re planning on spending some time on the beach, check that the villa has space to store buckets, spades and inflatables. That way, you’ll be able to really enjoy the surrounding coastline.

Pack all the necessities

When you’re travelling with a baby or young child, it’s a good idea to make a checklist of what you’re going to need when abroad. This is particularly important if you’re leaving home for the first time since your little one was born. It can be all too easy to forget essential items, then not realise that you need them until you’ve boarded the flight!

Double check you’ve remembered things like baby monitors, changing mats, non-slip bathmats, plastic cutlery and bowls, a nightlight and cot linens. Bring a small supply of nappies, too. Foreign countries do sell these, but you can do no harm by bringing along a few extra in case it takes you a while to find a nearby supermarket.

Before you fly back, cross-check your own list against what the villa supplies to avoid returning home with the wrong baby accessories!

Scout out the property

After arriving at your villa, spend a little time scoping out the house and making yourself (and everyone else) aware of the new surroundings.

Once you’re settled and enjoying the holiday, be extra cautious around the pool. Supervise your young one at all times when they’re in the water – preferably by going in with them. Keep the gates locked whenever you’re not using the pool, and make sure your little ones are wearing the correct floatation devices and enough waterproof sun lotion.

Last but not least? Relax and have fun! Once you’ve planned sufficiently, you can savour all the precious moments of a gorgeous family holiday.

Stuck on where to holiday with your baby? Take a look at destinations catered for by Villa Plus.

By Isabella Perkins, a freelance travel writer best known for writing about self-catering holidays. Her writing tends to have a family focus, and she is in the middle of writing a new travel guide due to be published next year.

Holiday safety tips for villas with toddlers

Few things top the freedom that a self-catered holiday gifts your family, especially if you’re travelling with toddlers. Not only can you come and go as you please, cook for yourself and indulge in true privacy, holiday villas tend to come complete with either pools, hot tubs and balconies (and sometimes all three!). To get the very most out of your getaway, be vigilant and ensure that the kids enjoy these facilities too – safely.

We’ve compiled a list of holiday safety tips that will help put your mind at ease, leaving you to relish in your villa holiday and create memories that’ll last a lifetime.

Scope out poolside railings

Before you book anywhere, browse the options available to see what is suitable for your family. Look for a property with a gated pool. These fences are a great way of ensuring no one takes a dip when they’re not expecting it.

While these guarantee a certain degree of safety, they’re no match for the human eye. Keep watch whenever your children are using the pool, either from the side or right in midst of all the swimming pool fun!

Familiarise yourself with fire safety rules

A good holiday villa will be kitted out with the fire safety essentials – a smoke detector, fire extinguisher/blanket and emergency numbers. When you arrive, make sure you know where they all are. After you’ve done that, take a few minutes to explain to your children what they are for. This’ll help to make them experts on fire safety, whether they’re on holiday or back home!

Keep safe by the pool

A private pool is fantastic for keeping kids happy during the daylight hours, but it’s always wise to lay down some ground rules before jumping in. Don’t let children into the water unsupervised, and always have the non-swimmers wearing armbands.

If you’re lucky enough to have an infinity pool, be aware that different rules apply. You can’t use inflatables, and you should tell your children never to sit or lean against the edge.

Fight off sunburn

It’s vital to keep your children – and yourself, for that matter – protected from sunburn. In a foreign country, the sun’s rays can be a lot stronger than you’re used to, even on cloudy days.

Before going outside, apply water-resistant sun lotion that’s at least factor 30 (50 is usually recommended for babies and toddlers), and make sure it’s on their skin for 20 minutes before leaving the villa. Have them wear sunglasses, a hat and a UV suit if the sun is particularly strong.

Avoid silly accidents

Make sure your children dry themselves thoroughly before going inside after a swim. That way your floors will stay dry, and no one will be having any unexpected tumbles! Remind your little ones not to run in the house, and make them fully aware of any transparent glass doors. After all, who wants the embarrassment of walking into one face first?

Villa holidays have all the right ingredients for fun family bonding time. Browse Villa Plus options, and find accommodation best suited to you and your loved ones.

By Isabella Perkins, a freelance travel writer best known for writing about self-catering holidays. Her writing tends to have a family focus, and she is in the middle of writing a new travel guide due to be published next year.

5 romantic nights in for the best ways to propose on holiday

The best ways to propose on holiday are personal and based on what your partner loves. Stick to those two all-important mantras and you shouldn’t go far wrong. To stay on the safe side, it’s a good plan to brainstorm a handful of proposal ideas. For your convenience, here’s some engagement inspiration to get the ball rolling, all revolving around romantic nights in.

1. Make it all about them

Image by WineCountry Media, used under CC License (CC by 2.0)

Selfless love is often the most romantic, so dedicate an entire day of the holiday to making everything about them. Start by preparing a surprise breakfast in bed, then visit those attractions they’ve been banging on about all holiday. All the while, spoil them with flowers or dishes which they love.

When you get back to your holiday rental, run a candlelit bath and indulge in a glass of bubbly. Once you’re nice and tranquil, get down on one knee…

2. The classic proposal

Of all the ways to ask for someone’s hand in marriage, this is the easiest. Spend an evening in your holiday rental and cook up a storm –  why not go all out with a three-course meal which they won’t forget anytime soon? Add some champagne, their favourite romantic movie, and you’ve got all the ingredients for a truly idyllic proposal.

This is a classic for a reason – it’s simple, beautiful and not overly obvious that something special is just around the corner.

3. The sunrise/sunset proposal

Image by Kent Larsson, used under CC License (CC by 2.0)

As the title suggests, push the boat out with an early morning sunrise or tender sundown, then once the rays of light shimmer and glow, pop the big question. Other romantics might decide to choose a beach or landmark, but you can do it all from the comforts of your balcony with your soon-to-be fiancé. You could even combine this idea with parts of the so-called ‘classic proposal’, swapping dinner for breakfast if you’re opting for the early start.

4. Reach for the stars

For this one, choose secluded accommodation with a clear view of the open night sky. A private villa with a balcony, for example, makes for the perfect backdrop to this momentous occasion. You’ll need to wait for a starry night though, otherwise you won’t get the full effect.

Get cosy on the terrace for a few hours cuddled under the stars. If you have binoculars or a portable telescope, use them to help you both get a better perspective of the stars. Point out constellations written on love legends and share the stories with your partner. Casually throw in your own story (without being too overt), then propose.

Not clued up on the cosmos? You could do no wrong by checking out Perseus and the Andromeda, Orion and the Seven Sisters, or Altair and Vega.

5. Surprise them with loved ones

Imagine you’ve been on your romantic villa holiday together for several days. One evening, having spent another day exploring your chosen destination, you return to your villa as usual. Only this time, your partner’s friends and family are in wait! Muster your courage, pop down on one knee and let them know how much they mean to you, then enjoy the blissful moment together.

Got the lust for love? Check out Villa Plus rentals geared towards couples

By Isabella Perkins, a freelance travel writer best known for writing about self-catering holidays. Her writing tends to have a family focus, and she is in the middle of writing a new travel guide due to be published next year.

Villa honeymoon ideas: inspiration for cunning newlyweds

When many people imagine their perfect honeymoon, they envision nights in a hotel’s most luxurious suite, complete with a hot tub, rose petals and some bubbly. Yet this style of honeymoon can be both expensive and lacking in adventure. A villa honeymoon, on the other hand, gifts newlyweds the ideal blend of comfort, convenience and affordable luxury, with some great views thrown in the mix.

If you’re looking for a villa honeymoon to remember, follow these tips for a loved-up, unforgettable trip from day one.

Daytime exploration

crete-holidays-harbour

Staying in a hotel makes it easy to book yourselves onto guided tours and excursions. But if you’re seeking a little more adventure, get off the beaten track and go exploring! The romantic Greek island of Crete is littered with secluded spots, such as Frangokastello Beach. Why not use your villa as a base camp for uncovering them?

Charming towns like Gouves provide an attractive opportunity to observe the authentic Cretan way of life, sample traditional food and spark up conversation with the locals. To put it frankly, other methods of accommodation just don’t offer the same opportunity for adventure.

Romantic evenings at home

villa-holidays-evening-in

Villa honeymoons on Spain’s Costa Blanca or Costa del Sol give you the benefit of your own private space, while still keeping you close to the action. If you’re sticking to a budget, or simply don’t fancy going into town for the evening, bring the fun home with an indulgent night in.

Start with an alfresco meal on your balcony or terrace, then take your drinks into the hot tub or pool. For the ultimate touch of luxury, source a couple of bottles of local sparkling wine (Spain is famous for its cava) and chill them in the fridge of your rental in advance of your romantic evening.

Fantastic food

One of the key benefits of a private holiday villa is that you’re able to prepare food yourself. That means you can enjoy the local supermarkets, greengrocers, delis and the enticing ingredients they have in stock.

Tempted by dreamy Canary Island destinations like Tenerife? Then immerse yourself in the local cuisine by picking up kitchen staples like gofio (a flour added to all kinds of soups, stews and desserts, although it’s also eaten as a dough mixture) and goat’s cheese, which is normally eaten fresco (i.e. without being left to mature).

You can also try your hand at cooking Canarian specialities like mojo, a spicy sauce that combines garlic, chillies and paprika with vinegar, oil and other seasonings.

World class views

Whichever honeymoon destination you end up choosing, villas set in a hidden hilltop spot will make your stay truly special. Instead of being cooped up in your hotel room or jostling for room at the shared pool, you’ll be able to stretch your legs, enjoy some alone time with the fantastic view and, best of all, take a siesta under the sun.

It’s the recipe for a truly idyllic honeymoon. Once you’ve tied the knot, why not take a look at some romantic places you could visit?

By Isabella Perkins, a freelance travel writer best known for writing about self-catering holidays. Her writing tends to have a family focus, and she is in the middle of writing a new travel guide due to be published next year.​

5 kids’ swimming pool games for your family villa holiday

 When you’ve got a villa complete with a private pool, you’re in for the family holiday of a lifetime. No small wonder there – it’ll be shared just with you and your loved ones! Not only that, it’s the perfect opportunity to learn and enjoy some kids’ swimming pool games. Everyone can let loose, and you’ll never have to worry about incoming swimmers or other pool users!

families having fun in the pool

Don your swimming goggles and make a splash, these games that are so fun and infectious that even adults will want to join in.

1. Marco Polo

Sharing its name with the famous 13th century Venetian explorer, Marco Polo is one of the world’s most famous pool games. Like tag, one player is ‘it’ who must then catch the other participants. Unlike tag, ‘it’ must keep their eyes closed and rely on sound to catch their opponents. By shouting “Marco”, to which the other players must respond with “Polo”, ‘it’ must make their way around the swimming pool to catch the players. All together now…Marco!

2. Invisible bottle hunt

All you need for this is a clear plastic bottle with either a white cap or one the same colour as the pool tiles. Have everyone line up with their backs to the swimming pool, fill the bottle with water and throw it in. When the players hear the bottle land, they have to race to find it – a task much harder task than it sounds. Another version of this game is to get a variety of different sized bottles and draw a number on the inside of the bottle top, now it’s a competition to get the highest number. Bring it on.

3. Dolphin races

Each player has a ball and must push it from one side of the pool to the other using only their nose, the first person to do so is the winner. If hands or feet are used the contestant must return to the start line and begin again. This fantastic holiday activity that can be varied by going from a race to a relay or by changing the size of the ball. Try using beach balls, footballs and even ping pong balls for a challenge!

4. Mirror me

This simple children’s activity can provide hours of entertainment. Two people stand in front of each other with one person mirroring the actions of the designated leader. Throw in some funny swimming, silly noises and underwater movements for comical value. To add an extra edge to it, you can include more players and try to have no leader at all.

5. Stuck in the sand

Another game similar to tag, this family favourite sees one player trying to tag the others. When caught, you must stand still in a star shape and wait to be freed by someone swimming through your legs. The game ends when all players are caught. Try adding flippers and snorkels to give the game a little variation.

As with all swimming pool games, stay safe, keep watch and enjoy yourself. Let us know in the comments what kids’ swimming pool games you and your family play during your holiday break.

Browse some properties with heated pools and get the ball rolling for the family holiday of a lifetime.

By Isabella Perkins, a freelance travel writer best known for writing about self-catering holidays. Her writing tends to have a family focus, and she is in the middle of writing a new travel guide due to be published next year.

Why a holiday rental is perfect for retired couples

Package holidays in hotels might be convenient, but that doesn’t mean they’re the most cost-effective, or even the most comfortable option. In a holiday rental, you can experience luxury accommodation at a much lower price, and this is only one of the many advantages.

Self-catered rentals are ideal for seniors’ holidays, and it’s not just because of the privacy and tranquillity you’ll be able to enjoy. Here are some other benefits of holiday lettings:

Why not try Fuerteventura

Have a unique holiday tailored to your interests

By now, you might have been there and done that on many holiday experiences. Resorts don’t change much between destinations – sun and sea package holidays are much the same wherever you go.

If you’re ready to experience something a bit different, booking a rental apartment or villa is the best way to start. The increased flexibility makes it easier to immerse yourself in local culture. Dine whenever and wherever you want, pick and choose the activities you like, and in the end you’ll have enjoyed a holiday itinerary tailor-made for (and by) you.

Enjoy a self-catering trip to Tenerife

Stay abroad for longer

Now that you’re retired, you can take more than a long weekend away during your days off work. If you fancy spending a month in Turkey, or six weeks in Greece, holiday rentals are the perfect option.

This way, you could have a comfortable, spacious sea-view home away from home. Use your plentiful storage space to pack instead of living out of a suitcase. Stock the kitchen with your favourite food and drinks, and make yourself feel totally comfortable.

Treat yourselves to a Cretan holiday

Enjoy evening entertainment at home

You might not want to go out for dinner, drinks, or entertainment every single night, particularly if you’re on an extended trip. In a self-catered rental, quiet nights in are waiting for you whenever you feel like it.

Cook a romantic dinner for two, enjoy a glass of wine on the balcony as the sun sets, or put your feet up and watch film. The next day, you’ll feel refreshed and ready to do some exploring, so having a night in doesn’t mean missing out on great experiences.

Escape the crowds

In peak season, especially in top destinations like Costa del Sol, resorts are full to the brim of people. In a private rental, you’re guaranteed a more serene experience. Forget noisy hotel dining rooms or queuing for the dinner buffet.

Instead of crowded poolsides, you can enjoy a calmer swimming and sunbathing experience in your private pool. Best of all, after a long day of sight-seeing, you can come home to a space of your own.

Take your holiday at a leisurely place

Holiday resorts are not only busy, they’re also fast-paced. This might be great for hyperactive kids, but if you want to slow down and relax, a villa is the way to go. You won’t have to follow resort schedules. Instead of feeling pressured to constantly be on the go, you can have some down-time in your own personal space – after all, isn’t that what holidays are for?

By Lara Scott. A former executive at a major hotel chain, Lara Scott is a freelance travel writer and journalist. She says her previous career gives her extra insight into both sides of the tourism industry.

Why you should take your baby on a self-catering holiday

With a new baby in the family, it can be tempting to take the easy route and postpone any holidays for a couple of years. And while there is no denying that traveling to a holiday rental with an infant has its challenges, it is one of the most rewarding ways to take a holiday.

Enjoy a baby-friendly holiday

You may need to pack some extra equipment for the perfect baby-friendly holiday, but there is no reason why you and your little one can’t have a wonderful time on a self-catering trip. It also has plenty of benefits too. Granted you might want to stay away from long-haul destinations and busy hotels, but by taking a self-catering trip abroad you and your baby can bond, relax, and have fun! And here are some reasons why.

It offers a new world of stimulation

All children are sponges to their senses, and this is even more true with those under three years old. By taking them to an exotic destination, the new sights, sounds and smells they experience will help expand their minds and boost their development.

Discover the joys of a self-catering break

It helps you be more social

Everyone knows how easy it is to hide away in the comfort of your villa whilst on a self-catering holiday. But if you’re taking young children with you, you’ll far more likely to be active – ensuring they’re constantly amused! Combine this with the fact that children are the best ice-breaker and you may find yourself being much more social on holiday than you are used to. A love of kids is the most universal language, and a precocious little one is likely to turn even the stoniest faced local into a smiling and welcoming friend.

It helps you relax

Having a new baby is as rewarding as it is exhausting. By giving yourself the time to relax on holiday with none of the other stresses and distractions in life (chores, work, bills etc.) you are refuelling your energy levels and reenergising for the next leg of the parenting journey ahead.

It is easier than you think

If you’ve never travelled with a baby, you might be fooled into thinking it’s more difficult than it actually is. Babies are resilient, not to mention portable. In some ways, they’re the best people to travel with. After all, when faced with a short flight or a transfer to a hotel most babies will just fall asleep! And thanks to their predictable diet, you won’t have to worry about what to order them for dinner!

Most airlines let you take your buggy on the plane at no extra cost and wheel it right up to the plane.

It doesn’t cost much extra

Aside from a flat charge of around £10-45, babies aren’t expensive to fly. Most villa rentals, resorts, and hotels also provide cots and high chairs free of charge. While you always need to check what’s included before you book, you might be surprised at how little extra taking your baby will cost you.

So, there is really nothing stopping you taking your little bundle of joy on a self-catering holiday with you, just make sure you do it before they turn into a toddler!

By Isabella Perkins, a freelance travel writer best known for writing about self-catering holidays. Her writing tends to have a family-focus, and she is in the; midst of writing a new travel guide due to be published next year.

What are the advantages of holiday rentals for families?

Even if you love the convenience of staying in a hotel, it’s not always the best option for family holidays. Finding the right sized room can be a challenge, and with three or more people to pay for, prices soon start to skyrocket.

Holiday rentals are a fantastic alternative if you want to stick within your budget without skimping on comfort. Imagine lounging on the terrace of a villa in Menorca while the kids splash in the pool, or waking up to a beach view from your balcony in Fuerteventura. All the best family holiday destinations have a fantastic range of self-catering accommodation to choose from.

Interested? Here are some more advantages of holiday lettings for family breaks:

You’ll have more flexibility

Holiday rentals are like home away from home, and that means flexibility and freedom. You can come and go as you please, and choose you own mealtimes. You can put together your own itinerary without worrying about when breakfast is or what time reception closes at. Added flexibility makes family holidays more relaxing no matter how old the kids are.

There will be plenty of space

Dreading the thought of having your family of four crowded into a cramped hotel room? In a holiday letting, you’ll have separate bedrooms and a kitchen/living space all to yourselves. This is ideal if you’re travelling with young kids whose toys will soon be scattered all over the floor, or with older kids who want a bit more privacy.

Extra storage space also means that you won’t have to live out of a suitcase for your entire trip. You can unpack and make everyone more comfortable.

You can choose facilities tailored to your needs

When it comes to picking holiday rentals, you’ll find a wider range of options than in a typical hotel package. From a luxury family villa in the Algarve to a seafront apartment in the Costa del Sol, there are all kinds of rentals to suit many budgets.

There are plenty of features you can pick and choose from – stick to the basics with comfy beds and free Wi-Fi, treat your family to a hot tub, or pick a fun kids’ room with bunk beds. With rental accommodation, you can enjoy a holiday tailored perfectly to your family.

Longer stays for lower prices

If you like the sound of a long escape to a sun-soaked paradise, holiday lettings are definitely the way to go. Longer trips leave plenty of time for family adventures, sightseeing, and relaxation, so you’ll all return home feeling refreshing and energised.

Self-catering accommodation is an excellent way to save money on a longer break – no hidden charges for services, no expensive meal plans. Often, the longer the stay, the lower the price per night.

You can cook your own meals

For many families, having cooking facilities of your own is what seals the deal on holiday rentals. In self-catering accommodation, you don’t need to fret about whether your kids will like the food on a hotel menu. Cook up family favourites to make everyone feel like they’re back at home, or, for the more adventurous eaters in the family, try making a local dish. Your nearest supermarket will have all the essentials and ingredients you need. So, what are you waiting for?

By Lara Scott. A former executive at a major hotel chain, Lara Scott is a freelance travel writer and journalists. She says her previous career gives her valuable insight into both sides of the tourism industry.