Is a Mark Warner holiday suitable for toddlers? I’ve tried and failed to answer this question for some time now. If you’ve read my last post about searching for suitable holidays for our family of three, you’ll have read about my mission to find the most suitable style of holiday to meet all our needs. Pumpkinella, at 21 months old now, wants to play, eat, watch television and play when and where she wants to.
On the other hand, when I’m on holiday, I love to spend a few days just shopping, till my legs are sore or till i run out of cash. However it doesn’t seem to bring the same rush of excitement now Pumpkinella has come into my life. All I want to do is to make sure she’s happy, fed and watered and if hubby and I can have a bit of fun in between then that’s awesome.
The much-loved and regular 4 day city breaks I used to go on at least twice a year sadly aren’t as exciting unless we leave Pumpkinella with someone to look after and explore on our own.
With all of this in mind my husband and I were recommended to try a package holiday by my parents-in-law. To someone who has never been on a package holiday, the thought of being in an enclosed environment, with lots of other families, in the middle of resort, outside of the main cities and towns, terrifies my husband and I. We imagine, even though we want to go in late September when schools are all back in after the summer holidays, the hotel or apartment rooms will be quite basic and the bed uncomfortable due to overuse. We’d be herded from the plane to a coach where we’ll travel for hours before arriving at the resort and what we know to be a 4* standard room will appear more like a 2* hostel.
Pumpkinella would probably have to share the bed with us as she does halfway through the night every night. Watching television or having one-to-one time with each other would be very difficult once she’s asleep. In the daytime, the allure of a kid’s pool and play area would mean that we spend the holiday back and forth between these. We can’t imagine this will be a relaxing holiday so long as we’re surrounded by a sea of other travellers.
I love hotels run by the Melia group and so I could see us enjoying a break at a Melia resort. Previous visits to their Barcelona Sarria hotel were lovely (great food, even better service) and even though the last time i was there was around 10 years ago, it almost feels like yesterday. Looking at actual Melia resorts dotted around Europe, the prices for our dates are eye watering. The type of attention to detail that we’re looking for however is clear to see in most of them so maybe our expectations and our budget don’t quite match.
In comes a Mark Warner holiday again. There are some great things about their resorts that unfortunately aren’t so great for me. I can’t ride a bike, have likely forgotten how to swim with years of relative inactivity. I would love to exercise more but with an erratic and somewhat disorganised daily family routine, there’s no time to really do anything for myself until about 9:30pm each night. When I look at the Mark Warner websites, I can see clearly that their target audience the an active family, with children who like to do things independently. This being the case, I’d say at the moment that we’re not the typical Mark Warner family. So why does ta visit to one of their resorts still race through my mind? One reason is the beauty of the locations where the resorts are based. They look so serene, colourful and warm.
I have read from various Mark Warner ambassadors and Trip Advisor reviews that their childcare facilities are second to none. Part of me wonders whether anyone really goes on holiday and willingly leaves their toddler at a crèche to go and have some fun as a couple? That would surely be cruel and defeat the purpose of a ‘family’ holiday? One or two hours in the company of other kids of the same age while we watched and interacted, would seem more sensible. This is one of my constant nagging doubts as a parent. I feel like I neglect my daughter by not being with her every second of the day. But then I resent what becomes of a life where I have no sense of self and simply live through my daughter’s eyes.
One of the things I like to think when looking at a Mark Warner holiday is having the opportunity to do as much or as little as I want. On a half board basis, I wouldn’t need to cook any meals for an entire week and hopefully the rooms would be cleaned and tidied regularly so again I wouldn’t need to. Trip Advisor reviews of the two Greek resorts I’m looking at have been mostly great but one or two reviewers quite negative. These people feel the rooms provided, even when the resorts claim to be 4 or 5* are not what we would consider 4 or 5* in this neck of the woods. I can’t find many pictures on the Mark Warner website but the few I do see look somewhat basic in comparison to say a Radisson Blu hotel. the Levante resort, as we at looking at a very last-minute booking, only seem to have twin rooms available on their website. This would definitely mean bunking with our daughter and losing the precious couple of hours in the evening we normally have to ourselves when at home. the brochure pictures show rooms with a living area separate to the bedroom but these are much more expensive (the entire cost of another person’s holiday booking).
Trying to get my husband interested in the Levante and Lakitira resorts, I show him various reviews from parent bloggers. I really appreciate their opinions and pictures as they give me much more than I can find on the Mark Warner website. However he reminds me that all the 7-8 bloggers I’ve read reviews from, have all been paid or part compensated as part of writing the reviews. this means their assessment of the resorts could be biased. They are all staying in the suites within the resorts, something which I can’t afford at the moment at the Levante resort but would be very affordable the Lakitira Resort.
We want the ideal holiday but at cost of around £1000 and this should include luxurious accommodation, beautiful seaside locations, flights and transfers.
Update (I’ve sat on this post for weeks now) : I’ve found a company called Travel Designers, based in London, who will book us a break with Mark Warner’s Levante or Lakitira Resorts, at around £1200 for all three of us and with an extra £180 for 3 hours of childcare daily, if desired. Levante offers a modern-ish style twin room and Lakitira offers a more classically greek style junior suite with a separate living and sleeping area. With the migrant crisis situation in Greece at the moment, all over the news, Kos is the location of the Lakitira resort and we have some concerns that we might come face to face with the results of war and conflict, poor and displaced families looking for a better life. If the situation were reversed and I had to make the choice to travel illegally to another country or stay amidst conflict fearing for my family’s lives, I would definitely be looking for sanctuary in another country. The reality of all this is quite scary for me as I emigrated to the UK from Nigeria in search of a better quality of life, exactly the same reasons that the migrants are fleeing their countries.
So what’s it going to be? We’ve less that 2 weeks to go and we still can’t decide.
For those of you who may have experienced a similar predicament, how did you get on?
P.S. I’m also desperate for a place with good WiFi, something I’ve heard is intermittent at best at the two Mark Warner resorts I’ve looked at. This appears to be an issue across the board when looking at package holidays as they are often in remote locations. What to do what to do….