GONE are the days when holidays meant clubbing until dawn and long days lying on a lounger by the pool to recover, ready to do it all again.
These days you’ve got the kids in tow and the only way to approach a family break is to put the little treasures first and make sure they’re happy, whether it’s on the beach, swinging around in a cable car or stalking wild animals – and that way parents might have some fun too.
There’s nothing like seeing wildlife in the raw, and Tanzania abounds with elephants, monkeys and hippos in an environment that no zoo can ever match. If you are confident about wild animals, up for an adventure, innoculated against malaria and armed with travel safety advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Tanzania has some of the best safari experiences in the world. With the Serengeti in the north and Selous in the south, and stunning beaches in between, it’s an unbeatable destination for animal-lovers.
• KLM (www.klm.com) flies from Edinburgh to Dar es Salaam from £578 return; Selous Safari Company (www.selous.com); Africa Odyssey (www.africaodyssey.com, 020 7471 8780) offers a seven-night safari and beach package from £2,864 per person (departures in October), which includes BA flights from London Heathrow, three nights at the boutique Selous safari camp, 4X4 game drives, daily walking and boat safaris, four nights at Ras Kutani beach retreat, transfers, taxes and surcharges
You’re guaranteed sun so leave the fleeces behind and pack a change of swimsuits. Not only are there ancient sites galore to immerse the youngsters in history, but the beaches are endless and the café culture and food very child-friendly. Typical of this family fun mentality is Westin Resort, at Costa Navarino, where children are top priority. Parents can rebuild their shattered nerves in the Anazoe spa or on the Dunes golf course or the Bay Course while their little darlings are embraced at the Cocoon and SandCastle experiences, which will even do overnight stays – bless them. With a range of activities including watersports, the martial arts of ancient Sparta and archaology and mythology everywhere you wander, this is more than just a bucket-and-spade holiday and could even be classed as, whisper it, educational.
• The Westin Resort, Costa Navarino, Messinia (www.westincostanavarino.com), has rates from £239 a night in a family suite – see website for a range of current offers
THE SWISS AND AUSTRIAN ALPS
Don’t ignore the Alps in autumn as they’re just as much fun when they’re not buried under metres of snow and still green and gorgeous. The mountainous terrain of Austria and Switzerland is ideal for hiking through forests, biking, messing about on lakes, horse-riding and generally working up an appetite to enjoy the bounty of the Teutonic larder in all its finger-licking fondu and foaming tankard glory. Family-oriented hotels abound, such as the four-star Sporthotel Valsana – in the heart of the stunning Swiss town of Arosa, which is perched 1,800m above sea level, and where the facilities include tennis, a kids’ club, playground, bikes for hire and the town’s biggest indoor swimming pool, with spa for parents.
• Sporthotel Valsana (en.valsana.ch), double rooms from around £66 a night; fly from Edinburgh to Geneva with easyJet (www.easyjet.com) from around £92, or with KLM (www.klm.com) to Zurich from around £342
THERE’S nowhere like Iceland and youngsters and grown-ups alike will be entranced by the unpredictable lava-field landscape that smokes and belches at every chance. And if you head up north to Húsavík, the whale-watching capital of Europe, you can take a trip out in an inflatable to get up close with majestic humpback and blue whales and watch the comical puffins. Then, when the cold gets too much, head to a geothermal spas such as the Blue Lagoon, famous for its warm geothermal seawater, rich in mineral salts, algae and silica. Not only will the kids wind up clean, the waters may do wonders for teen skins. Oh, and thee penis museum in Reykjavík will give them something interesting to write about their holiday when they get back to school.
• Visit Icland (www.visiticeland.com); Iceland Express (www.icelandexpress.com) flies from Edinburgh to Reykjavik from £178 return; whale-watching trips leave from Húsavík, £43 adults, £16 children, with Gentle Giants (www.gentlegiants.is)
You’ve done Florida and Mickey just doesn’t do it for your kids any more, so why not wow them with the jaw-dropping splendour of the natural world and Arizona’s breathtaking scenery. There’s the Grand Canyon, Sedona, Tombstone and Tucson – and if you base yourselves in the desert resort cities of Scottsdale, Tucson or Phoenix, you can enjoy a desert adventure during the day and be back for cocktails and a splash about in the pool by afternoon. Take a guided tour that includes a 50-minute helicopter ride over the deepest and widest part of the Grand Canyon, walk the rim if you dare and then return via an authentic Navajo trading post. Or relive the Wild West experience with a day trip to the notorious town of Tombstone. Line them up at Big Nose Kate’s Saloon, visit the museum at the Tombstone courthouse and walk among the graves at Boot Hill.
•Bon Voyage (www.bon-voyage.co.uk) offers seven-night packages, including flights and five-star room-only accommodation in Scottsdale, from £1,595 per person at the Phoenician Hotel, from £1,295 at the Montelucia Resort and Spa, and from £1,395 at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, all including taxes