Just because a property calls itself family friendly does not mean that it is. Our research has shown that the vast majority of properties will say they are family friendly but in fact the situation on the ground may not reflect that in some cases. Having a kid's club or a playground does not in itself make a property family friendly but it does go a long way and is a pretty clear sign that the property is treating families and kids as priority.
We have highlighted some hotels with kids clubs or supervised activities in each region but there are lots more and if you have any tips or great experiences do let others know on the forum. The Irish Hotels Federation has a great new Healthy Eating for Kids campaign with over 250 hotels and guesthouses signed up so far which is good news for parents who want their children to eat healthy food while on holiday which can be an issue.
Book Hotels with Kids Clubs
So what is the magic formula for a great family holiday? In reality there is no magic formula but what is important is providing a real welcome for parents and their children and appropriate facilities. Feeling welcome and being able to relax knowing the kids are enjoying themselves are the two things parents highlight most and kids clubs can help achieve that. They are not for everyone though but if they are for you read on.
Tips for selecting a hotel kids club
Many hotels and resorts provide supervised clubs or kids clubs. They can be an ideal way for your children to make new friends with children of the same age while mum and dad get their own break. Parents need their holidays too after all. They are halfway between having holidays together and holidays apart and sometimes it seems that the facilities for kids are actually better than those for adults. Kids clubs can introduce your children to sports and activities that you may have no aptitude or time for and help them learn new skills and make new friends both at home and abroad.
Not all kids clubs are equal and there can be a wide variety in terms of the quality of care both at home and abroad. You should check carefully while on site that standards are as you would expect, that the club is properly run and that you are happy with all of the arrangements. After all you will spend days agonising over whether to send your children to a full-time creche or to school and your diligence should be no different when investigating a kids club while on holiday.
Questions to ask at the kids club
If you are attracted to a particular hotel or resort because of the kids club check that it will be open when you are there as many are seasonal and only open during school holidays and bank holiday weekends.
Enquire about whether there are minimum age restrictions. Many kids clubs only take children from four upwards or require a responsible adult to stay with younger children.
Check whether there are restrictions on whether you can leave the hotel or not.
Ask whether all child carers are fully trained and qualified and that the club is approved for the age of your child.
Consider whether children are grouped according to age and whether there are more active options for the older kids. Toddlers have very different requirements to post primary children who definitely need structured activities and lots of interaction with other children.
If you have a young baby or a toddler make sure you are happy with the rest facilities and the changing facilities.
Make a note of the ratio of children to adults and check that it is appropriate for the age of your child. Ratio is a major safety issue especially if children are near water.
Consider if there are scheduled activities and are they appropriate for your children’s ages.
Check carefully the sign in & out arrangements and the arrangements for identifying children which should include name badges at the very least.
Enquire about the arrangements for medical emergencies and make sure you leave your contact details and where you will be.
If your children have allergies or special medical issues make sure the kids club are told about them.
Do not hesitate to complain if you feel safety or security is being compromised and if in doubt, do not leave your children in circumstances where you're uncomfortable.
After all of that try to relax and enjoy the break.
We have prepared guides including top tips for you on pretty much every type of family holiday we could think you might be planning with your family. These range from sun holidays to ski and adventure holidays and you will find lots of family friendly travel tips and advice.
You will also find lots of family friendly travel tips and advice in our research and advice section also.
Check out also the experience of other parents and travellers in our forum and add your own experiences as we are a great believer in real parent's experiences.