Why it’s time to stop being a snob about all inclusiveness

My middle daughter Bliss hasn’t had a proper holiday in five years. She’s a great traveler but two small children (and the lock-in) have gotten her pretty stuck. My dream was to get them out before Elliott, who is four years her eldest, starts school and they are caught up in the school holidays. Ivy, her little girl, is two.

As they live in south London and we live in the north, my eldest said, “They are lost to us now”. Not true, but I don’t spend as much time with my grandchildren as I would like.

What I wanted was a holiday that I would enjoy, give my daughter a break and be an adventure for Ivy and Elliott. How could one place deal with these conflicting demands?

I wanted decent food, a spa and some privacy away from the kids, as well as family time. Elliott’s claims were to see a gecko. Bliss wanted a break and a chance to wear nice dresses in the evening and sit out and have dinner. You forget how precious such things become with small children.

Wyndham Mirabello Bay of Crete seemed too good to be true. Villa in a resort and all inclusive. I really don’t know why anyone turns their nose up at all-inclusive deals. Sure, I suffered relatively low rent when my children were small in Majorca and Tunisia, where the food was fair, but a good all-inclusive will save you time and head space. These days there are plenty of elegant all-inclusive options in Europe to choose from.

A good all-inclusive will free up your time and headspace – and these days there are plenty of elegant all-inclusives in Europe to choose from.

You don’t have to think about meals, snacks around the pool or the price of tequila. It is joy. No one will hit you with a huge bill at the end of the holiday because you said ‘yes’ to every request for ice cream (because you’ve long since given up on any idea of ​​eating vegetables on holiday).

So was Crete. And really, can you go wrong with Greece? I’m not sure if you can. After being around the world, I rediscovered Greece a few years ago and wondered why I had long flights when there were so many Greek treasures available.

To say that the children were excited is an understatement. They had packed their little cases a week before we went. They had never flown before and I was just worried that there was nothing to expect, but Jet2 made sure we were all seated together even though we booked last minute. We drove out of Heraklion in a cool car and checked in less than an hour later.

It was late so the hotel had left us platters of charcuterie, cheese and cakes. And a bottle of fizz. My bedroom and large bathroom were downstairs. Bliss and the kids were upstairs with their own bathroom and large TVs in both rooms. The best bit, however, was our own terrace and pool overlooking the bay.

    (Wyndham Grand Crete Mirabello Bay)

(Wyndham Grand Crete Mirabello Bay)

Magic The only thing we had to worry about was Ivy, who is like her reckless mother at two and is prone to throwing herself into any water despite not being able to swim. Thankfully, Bliss was equipped with the latest floaty things little people wear.

The children were up for breakfast. Pancakes and sausages with chocolate sauce. Me? I was just happy with the coffee machine in the room. The big question of the day: where to go swimming? So many pools, so little time! We dived in our own pool, of course, and then down to the children’s pool with water slides. There is an adult pool for those who want peace and another with a swim-up bar for those who want to frolic and be shouted at by gym bunnies.

Water aerobics? The most intense activity we had that day was wine tasting. I thought we had to put the kids in the kids club but I had forgotten how accommodating the Greek people are to the kids. “They can go wine tasting too, why not?” So they went into the spooky cave for apple juice, and we sampled Greek wines and specifically Cretan wine.

Every night there was a children’s disco. If you haven’t heard I’m Gummy Bear mixed with Dame Shirley Bassey and then hard house Macarena, you really haven’t lived. There were also shows going on but our children were under pressure at that time and so were we. Those signature cocktails don’t drink themselves, you know.

The highlight of the next day was Elliott learning to swim. “This is the best day of my life,” he said. Actually he said that every day of the holiday, as far as I mean that the best points are Gran.

Octopus with a fave at the Bay Grill (Suzanne Moore)Octopus with a fave at the Bay Grill (Suzanne Moore)

Octopus with a fave at the Bay Grill (Suzanne Moore)

We ate in all the different restaurants. Bliss had great octopus and fava at the Bay Grill. For those without children there is a shisha patio and all kinds of water sports, from diving to pedalos, as well as a large, fully equipped gym and indoor pool.

The whole deal with this option is that you can shape your vacation around your needs. Everything is there, but if you want to go out and explore Crete you can. The hotel has a shop where you can buy volcanic soap, groceries and wonderful jewellery. Bliss and I had an anti-stress massage at the spa, but to be honest the whole place is stress-free.

The buffets are not the mad affairs you find in some places, there is plenty of shade around the pools and beach. Nothing is too much for the team. When we asked for a change of sheets because Ivy was a little sick, they asked if we needed a doctor. She was absolutely fine but perhaps four desserts was too ambitious

After learning to swim, Elliott also had the time of his life because the men who drove the golf buggies around would let him drive too.

On the last day we went out on a speed boat to the island of Spinalonga. It was incredible – we passed caves that pirates had stuffed their ears into. Although I was a little nervous, Ivy was shouting “Faster, faster”. Bliss and the children sat on the edge of the boat treading on their feet in the cobalt blue water. Of course, Manos, the boatman, handed Elliott the helm and I thought he might explode with excitement.

That night when I went out for my sundowner (Bliss and I gave each other little breaks, because you need to), I felt overcome with happiness. It’s not often that something exceeds everyone’s expectations. She relayed to me the wisdom of Elliott who declared, “What’s better than walking on a hot day in wet shoes in Greece”?

The outdoor cinema at Wyndham Grand Crete Mirabello Bay (Wyndham Grand Crete Mirabello Bay)The outdoor cinema at Wyndham Grand Crete Mirabello Bay (Wyndham Grand Crete Mirabello Bay)

The outdoor cinema at Wyndham Grand Crete Mirabello Bay (Wyndham Grand Crete Mirabello Bay)

The formula for a multi-generational holiday is simple: if the kids are happy the adults will be too. But that alone isn’t enough, and I’ve been on enough trips to know that adults deserve some comfort too or you can feel like a baby into a world of chicken nuggets and magic shows.

Here the adults get to be adults too – from fine dining to spa dining and adventure sports. It was as wonderful for me to have grown up time with my grown daughter as it was to be with the grandchildren. Wyndham lets you take the vacation you want. And we made sure to build it. Nothing but the grandest of memories.

Deluxe room with garden view on a B&B basis from £207 per night during peak season, and £189 per night during the shoulder months of September/October. wyndhamgrandmirabello.com

Daiios Cove Crete (Daiios Cove)Daiios Cove Crete (Daiios Cove)

Daiios Cove Crete (Daiios Cove)

Five more family-friendly all-inclusive hotels

Daiios Cove Crete

A five-star holiday overlooking the Aegean sea. There’s a strong focus on wellness (hyperbaric rooms! 3D bodyscans! cryotherapy!) and the kids’ club takes babies as young as four months old. And breathe…

From £612 per night, daioscovecrete.com

Ikos Porto Petro Mallorca

Ikos specializes in all-inclusive luxury goods, so you’re in extremely safe hands. This one has five pools, five restaurants (with Michelin-starred chefs, no less) and six bars including a theatre.

From £1,457 for five nights, ikosresorts.com

Room at Ikos Porto Petro Mallorca (Ikos Porto Petro)Room at Ikos Porto Petro Mallorca (Ikos Porto Petro)

Room at Ikos Porto Petro Mallorca (Ikos Porto Petro)

Elix, Mar-Bella Parga Collection, Greece

Unlimited ice cream all day, champagne and Ofsted rated kids clubs. What else do you want to get?

From £270 per night, marbella.gr

Tivoli Alvor Algarve Resort in Portugal

A big offer with almost 500 rooms and unlimited daily activities for the kids. The gorgeous beach is only a 10 minute walk away and there is a circus on Saturdays. Roll up!

From £206 per night, tivolihotels.com

Gran Tacande Wellness & Relax Tenerife

Huge bedrooms, ocean views and the loveliest staff make this an affordable choice you won’t regret.

From £136 per night, dreamplacehotels.com

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