Are you longing for some winter sun? On crisp winter mornings we’re sure you can’t help but think about how lovely it would be just padding barefoot around the poolside in a bikini in the gloriously warm sun, sarong tied on an angle to hide the post-baby belly of course. Oh yes, and someone else to look after those rambunctious toddlers.
Run by London mums Emma and Deborah Barnett, Tots Too specialises in handpicked luxury holidays for families with young children. Having visited the resorts with their own children, they know exactly what mums will be looking for in a luxury holiday, and work hard to make sure you – and your little ones – have a wonderful holiday. We were fortunate enough to enjoy a Tots Too holiday in Tenerife last February, and it was the best, most relaxing holiday we have ever had. They thought about every tiny detail, right down to the best room layout to suit our 18 month old and 3 year old. Even our baby’s porridge was thoughtfully prepared by the kitchen staff a little in advance of our buffet breakfast so it had time to cool down. It is with great pleasure that we recommend Tots Too to any parents wishing to treat themselves to a genuinely relaxing holiday, and invite Emma to share her tips.
What can parents expect from a luxury holiday? Surely all the other people at the hotel will be annoyed that I’ve brought my toddler along?
For me, getting the transfer right to the hotel is crucial in feeling confident that kids are considered to be a crucial part of the baggage and not just excess. I know that once they are slotted safely into their age appropriate child seats in the car they have been properly acknowledged.
Hotel lobby’s are key to the first impressions; often this is the first opportunity kids will have the chance to properly stretch their legs after the long journey so it’s a green light for them to run around and make some noise. Equally, they be tired and grumpy and wary of their new surrounding. Its always comforting when the staff recognize that kids don’t like to wait at reception desks during the check-in process and swiftly either come to your aid in offering some distractions in the form of a child friendly cocktail, or better still their own little welcome pack with some goodies which many of our hotels have started providing.
Luxury holidays with kids should be easy; the rooms should be adequately child proofed with few expensive breakable items within easy reach of small hands; balconies should offer another place for kids to play without parents feeling terrified of accidents, child cots or beds are comfortable and secure and ideally not too close to the parents bed. We constantly advise our clients to think carefully about space; one child sharing your room is manageable but two kids in one room however spacious will inevitably disrupt sleep patterns (unless you all sleep in the same room at home!)
Be mindful of taking kids to a nice restaurant in the evening when most adults are likely to be eating without the kids. Most hotels veto kids in their fancier restaurants after a certain time but some don’t and expect the parents to be considerate.
Personally, the best hotels for toddlers are the ones where the hotel has laid out areas for families with separate areas for adults so everyone is happy (and parents have a peaceful haven once their offspring are safely ensconced in the kids club/crèche).
Some of us missed our holidays because of the snow… can you recommend any last minute Winter sun destinations?
There are several winter sun options without the long flights, although the further you travel usually the more guaranteed the weather is. Our most popular selling destination year round is Tenerife with a flight time of just 4.5 hours. The Island of Eternal Spring, as it’s commonly known, is a perfect destination for families with lovely beaches, two very good luxury hotels catering for the family market and it’s easy to drive around as explore the island. We travelled in March with our kids and had lovely weather.
Great recommendation – and you don’t have to worry about jet-lag or disrupted bedtime routines either. We stayed at The Abama in February last year on your recommendation and it was spectacular. What’s your favourite place to go with your little ones?
I have two favourite destinations; for short haul summer holidays I love Greece. I love the food, the people and the weather. Crete is my favourite island of them all and during the summer months they have the meltemi winds which make the temperatures bearable. For long haul winter sun it has to be Mauritius – the hospitality is second to none and there are some amazing hotels to choose from which are brilliantly set up for kids. Not to mention the powdery white beaches….
Which holidays are most parents booking at this time of year? This time of year we are very busy booking winter sun for February half term and Easter, but many clients are taking advantage of all the early booking offers and getting their summer holidays secured. Air travel for summer months is much cheaper if booked in January or February as opposed to later on when the good fares have all gone. The fewer the seats, the higher the price tag. Hotels prefer to have forward bookings so they release very good incentives for clients to secure their rooms early and again this leads to less disappointment in getting the accommodation you want.
And finally, please tell us a bit about yourself and your newest venture, SwellBeing…
I am a mum of two kids aged 5 and 3 and have another one on the way. I launched my company Essential Escapes in 2002 which was the UK’s first luxury dedicated spa tour operator. At the time, I was young, single and on a mission to turn my passion for luxury travel into a successful business, my livelihood.
Upon having my first child and travelling with her to Mauritius at 4 months old, I realized that there was a gap for a travel company that specialized in sending pre-schoolers away. The reason? I ended up packing an entire suitcase full of baby paraphernalia that the hotel could have provided me with, yet nowhere was this communicated on their website and to my knowledge, no other travel company was making a big deal of it either.
If you haven’t travelled with kids before, it becomes a mission in itself to try and pre-empt what they may need. The more a hotel provides you with, the less baggage you need to travel. In this age of airline crack downs on weight restrictions, knowing that you don’t have to bring your travel cot or baby paraphernalia with you becomes really important. At Tots Too, we are used to recognising which things a family will or won’t need, and we make sure that your family is catered for in each and every one of our holidays. We also make sure that you know exactly what to expect.
TotsToo specializes in luxury family holidays for the pre-school market. The key to our success has undoubtedly been two fold; we know every property we sell, intimately, and as parents, we understand what the most important factors are to consider when booking your holiday. Our service is what set us apart, with 70% of our clients booking with us again, and recommending us to their friends.
Our new venture, Swellbeing, was conceived in the same way, drawing on personal experiences during pregnancy at one of my hotels and seeing that there was lack of information available on which spa treatments were safe for expectant mums. There are few times in your life when a bit of pampering becomes almost compulsory so we have highlighted a few short breaks where you can indulge in some much needed TLC before the new arrival. In 2011 we will developing this portfolio more look forward to adding new hotels with pregnancy spa packages.
Tempted? Yes, we thought so. Pop over to the Tots Too website for a look at their incredible range of luxury family holidays, or call 020 7284 3344.
Images from TotsToo.com