We did it, we went on our first holiday as a family of 3, and it was fab!
I was nervous about how much our luggage was going to weigh (see my blog on Holiday Weight) and so was going to pre-order Austin’s formula from Boots at Gatwick but, as I have the imagination of an overactive 5 year old, I would have worried about something happening to stop us being able to collect it. So we packed enough ready made formula in our cases to last the whole week. We were still all under our luggage allowances. Check. Us. Out.
It turned out we were running quite tight on time, through no fault of our own (damn those ridiculously long check-in and security queues!), so we would have been hard pushed to collect the milk afterall!
We parked the car at Gatwick with Maple Manor Meet and Greet Car Service, we phoned them to say we were 5 minutes away, they met us at the airport and took the car off to the car park. When we returned home, we phoned them once we’d collected our luggage and they met us outside the airport with our car. I really recommend it, it was so easy AND we got our car back after the holiday! Always a bonus!!
The flight out, Austin was a dream! He was so tired, bless him, he slept most of the 3 1/2 hours we were in the air. I fed him some milk as we took off and landed to keep him swallowing and help his ears adjust to the altitude (fab tip from friend of mine!). The rest of the time he ate some snacks and watched Peppa Pig on the iPad!
We decided to book a Thomson Family holiday, they have fab facilities for kids of all ages and I’d heard good things about them. After much deliberating (we wanted somewhere with good reviews, where the flight and transfer wouldn’t be too long), we chose the Atlantica Aegean Blue hotel in Rhodes and it was lovely. We booked a family room, to have a little bit more room than in a standard room. The family rooms have a partition wall which separates the main room from the childs bedroom area.
The room was equipped with a travel cot/playpen; high chair; bottle warmer and steriliser – all we requested and paid a little extra for when we booked. Plus Austin had a standard cot. All baby equipment was from Mothercare and this was the case throughout the resort.
Outside the room, the hotel facilities were great, perfect for kids. Austin loved the little soft play area and there was a creche we could have used if we’d wanted (for an extra charge). There is also a water park for older kids, plus kids clubs activities. As I’m typing this I’m thinking, this time last year, this would have been exactly the type of holiday I would have avoided!! How parenthood changes you!
The main pool area was always jam packed and REALLY annoyingly, sun beds were reserved at stupid o’clock in the morning, despite a sign saying to do so was “forbidden”! And a lot of them were reserved at 7am ish but not even used until 11am ish! Beyond irritating. It’s something I’ve never done before but, as we wanted enough shade for Austin to be comfortable and to be close enough to the baby pool that we could take him for a dunk whenever he got hot, we got in on the action too. If you can’t beat ’em..!
The beach right next to the hotel was, to be honest, not the best (narrow and with weird pebbly sand)! But Austin didn’t seem a fan of it anyway so it didn’t matter too much. He didn’t quite know what to do with the sand and wasn’t sure about the waves coming and going! He LOVED the pool, the smallest one was shallow enough at one end for him to sit in and the deeper end he could float around in his inflatable boat.
The hotel was All Inclusive, so there was always food available. For Austin, we took some dinner and fruit pouches, Heinz biscotti and Organix crisps, just in case they were needed. But actually, he ate everything we offered him, so we needn’t have worried at all! Highchairs were dotted around the main restaurant (all from Mothercare) so there was always one available to use. And it was lovely because the staff were fab with Austin and they really didn’t mind if any of the kids cried, or made a mess, it was a really relaxed atmosphere. There was even a family area in the restaurant if you preferred to sit amongst other families with kids, which was near the childrens buffet area.
The resort of Kolymbia, where the hotel is situated, is very quiet! There are a handful of bars and restaurants along the main street (about a 15 minute walk from the hotel). There are 2 cashpoints, although apparently they are normally empty of cash (!). One was working when we were there and I managed to take out some money but my card was cloned shortly afterwards..! Perhaps just a coincidence, but perhaps not! There are lots little “Supermarkets” dotted around too. I definitely saw an “Asda” and “Sainsbury” but I’m not convinced they are a genuine addition to the UK chains we know and love!
The flight home was not quite as successful as the way out…to start with, it was delayed for 2 hours and the air conditioning in the airport was next to useless (think breathing out of your mouth onto your hand and you’d be close!). Once on the flight, 4 families with babies had been seated in front of each other (not sure if this was intentional or not – but it did not work well!) and of course they all slept and cried at different times. So while Austin was in a deep sleep, the baby behind screamed at the top of her voice, scaring the shit out of Austin and causing him to scream at the top of his voice! Once I’d calmed him down, he was fine, a bit grumpy, but who wouldn’t be!
For a first holiday abroad with bubs, it was lovely. We needn’t really have gone for a Thomson Family hotel, we wold have been equally happy in a standard resort, but for the peace of mind that it gave us before and during the holiday of catering for Austin, it was a good choice for our first holiday as a family.
Fab for kids older than babies
All baby equipment is from Mothercare
Creche staff are UK qualified
All the staff loved Austin and went out of their way to help us
Sun-bed situation was just ridiculous
Austin was too young for most of the kids stuff – water park, play park, childrens buffet
He was also too young for most of the Thomson excursions (not that we wanted to go on any, but for your info)
The beach isn’t the best – a bit pebbly – but there is a much nicer, sandy one close by
I think that covers everything, if you want to know more, let me know! Where does anyone else recommend for a family holiday abroad?