Travel: Playa Montroig, Costa Dorada

The flumes and slides at Caribe Aquatic Park.
The flumes and slides at Caribe Aquatic Park.
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With plenty of activities and tasty takeaways, the holiday resort of Playa Montroig proves perfect for Colin Heggie and his wife and three young children

In search of a holiday with flexibility and lots to do for children, our family of five headed to Playa Montroig on Spain’s Costa Dorada coastline, just 15 miles from Reus Airport.

The Eurocamp holiday home.

The Eurocamp holiday home.

We flew from Edinburgh with Jet2 and opted to stay in one of Eurocamp’s three bedroom (one double, two twin) Azure holiday homes, with toilet and separate shower room and a combined living/dining/kitchen area with ample storage. Outside there was a large expanse of decking, half under cover for some much-needed shade, while the interior was clean and modern. Compact, yes, but certainly bigger than the space you’d get in a standard hotel family room.

On arrival at reception we were given a map to our holiday home and leaflets about the resort. Luckily we decided to actually read the literature they had given us, and discovered that the on-site supermarket had already closed and the takeaway was shutting in the next half hour – cue a quick dash with three tired and hungry boys. Expecting the food to be overpriced and average at such an outlet, we were very pleasantly surprised. As well as a lovely bottle of red wine and some drinks for the kids, we were served the most amazing pizzas, a filling caprese salad and a decent portion of fresh calamari. The takeaway, we later found out, shares a kitchen with the main restaurant and the quality was superb every time we used it.

The next morning we explored the parc (Eurocamps are parcs, not parks) and found its facilities impressive. The well-stocked supermarket is reasonably priced with a large wine section. There’s also an in-store grocer and butcher. Outside is a bakery and croissanterie, where a queue formed before opening every day, which stocked delicious fresh breads, pastries and savouries for lunch. The chocolate waffles were a firm holiday favourite. There was also a fishmonger and an ice-cream shop, but they only open in high season (we visited mid-June).

Playa Montroig is a super base if you like a sporty holiday and outdoor pursuits – there are tennis courts, miniature golf and table tennis (though one night after dressing for dinner a quick game of ping-pong turned me from smart casual to drowned rat in just ten minutes, such was the heat). There are two playgrounds and a hangout for older kids with snooker and table football, as well as the main restaurant and a cocktail bar. Sadly we never got a chance to sample any of the Euro disco or pina coladas, but we did venture to the restaurant a few times and the food was both fancy enough for the adults and simple enough for the kids. There was a kids’ club, and though we didn’t use it, the schedule looked varied and participants appeared to be having lots of fun.

The parc offers direct access to the huge, sandy beach, and if you’re coming with a camper van or tent, the best pitches are literally a few steps from the sea. Even the main communal area is just a few minutes’ walk to the golden sands beyond.

The main draw for our boys was the pools, with two sets of water slides, one only slightly less anxiety-inducing than the other, and a small baby/toddler pool for the little ones. The pool complex was clean and well maintained with loads of lifeguards keeping everyone right. The boys easily could have stayed on those slides every day but we thought we should venture out of the gates of Playa Montroig, so off we went. To a waterpark.

Just over 12 miles away was the famous PortAventura theme park, where the rides are so big they are visible from the beach at Playa Montroig. Next to these is the newly opened Ferrari Land, perfect for petrol-heads of all ages, and our destination, the Caribe Aquatic Park. Theme parks are always a little disorientating on arrival, especially with small children, but we quickly got our bearings and found they’d packed a lot of activity around an easily walkable main route. We found water slides for all abilities and ages, and a huge covered area, very good for my wife who was having flashbacks to suffering sunstroke at similar parks in the 1980s, when sunscreen was optional. The snack bars are plentiful and there weren’t too many queues to get on the slides or for refreshments.

As the boys are still quite small, many of the larger rides were (thankfully) out of bounds, but there was more than enough to do, whatever your age, from near vertical wedgie-inducing kamikaze slides to the lazy river, where I broke the speed record to find the phone which had fallen out of my pocket first time round. We did have a “moment” when youngest child was too small to get on the Sesame Street-themed pirate slides, which seemed a bit unfair to the target market.

The park is clean, easy to get round and well patrolled by the whistle-happy lifeguards. We could have spent another day there and still not been bored. If you can tear yourself away from Playa Montroig for just one excursion, it would have to be this.

Back at the parc, we spent our time lazily ambling between the pool, our holiday home and the beach. Without the set meal times of a hotel, days are much more relaxed. With the boys off snoozing in their own rooms after only being told six or seven times to go to sleep, we sat out on the deck, with a glass of wine, some delicious tapas and enjoyed the near silence. This kind of flexibility and space is more than you’d get in a traditional hotel holiday, and we know that our first time at a Eurocamp will not be our last.

FACT FILE

Jet2.com flies to Reus from Edinburgh from £51 one way including taxes and 22kg baggage allowance. www.jet2.com or call 0800 408 5599

Eurocamp costs £497 per week, per party; staying in a three bedroom Azure with decking and air-conditioning, arriving 29 March 2018. www.eurocamp.co.uk or call 01606 787125

PortAventura Caribe Aquatic Park one-day tickets cost €29 for adults (11-59 years), €25 for children (4-10 years) and over-60s. www.portaventuraworld.com/en