Jetting off to the other side of the world with your family can be a worrying thought for some people, don’t worry, we get it! One week, ten days or even two full weeks in paradise sounds lush, but with kids? No thanks! But, what would you do if we told you we have the key to survival when it comes to long haul family holidays?
The one thing you look forward to after stepping off a long haul flight is of course, checking out your hotel. And the key to long haul family holiday survival is exactly that, picking the perfect hotel! Better still, we’ve done the hard work for you and have hand picked some of our favourite spots around the globe that are just perfect for long haul family holidays.
Dreams Flora Resort & Spa – Baravo, Dominican Republic
Dreams Flora Resort & Spa opened its doors in winter 2022 so it’s still looking fresh out of the wrapping! The hotel boasts stylish and spacious rooms, perfect for families, as well as stacks of facilities so there’s something for everyone to enjoy here. Bedroom wise, you have a choice when booking – Deluxe double rooms and junior suites have air-conditioning, King-size or 2 Queen-size beds, a flatscreen TV, a coffee maker, in-room safe, luxury bathroom toiletries and 24-hour room service. There are also swim-up junior suites available which have direct access to a pool, from the terrace, via a small garden.
The main swimming spot features a swim-up bar, plus there’s an infinity pool pitched just steps from the sand. But, what’s a real hit with the kids is the onsite water park! It’s home to racer slides and tube chutes. Minimum height requirement to be met is 1.20m or 3.9 ft, meanwhile, to go on the slides, children must be 9-years-old at least. Children must use floats at all times.
If your family love a bit of healthy competition, and are happy to compete against each other in a range of sports, you’ll find plenty of things here to challenge each other with. The sports line-up includes a tennis court, a basketball court, darts and an indoor games room. There’s also a watersports centre which will offer non-motorized water spots, snorkelling and introductory scuba diving lessons in the pool.
Tummies won’t go hungry here either, there’s a total of eight restaurants! These include an adults-only French place which features its own wine cellar and a spot that majors in Mexican dishes. Elsewhere, there’s a light snack eatery on the beach and a buffet place that’s open until the early hours. There are also 13 bars at this hotel, including an adults-only nightclub, a swim-up bar and a spot on the beach. Teenagers have got a bar in the Core Zone for soft drinks, too.
Bahia Principe Grand Tulum – Tulum, Mexico
Bahia Principe Grand Tulum is a resort that’s BIG on facilities for the whole family. This place is part of the Bahia Principe Riviera Maya Resort, meaning you’ve got tons of restaurants and bars to choose from. You’ll have access to 5 different restaurants in the hotel when you stay here, with four of them being à la cartes. At the sister hotel, Bahia Principe Grand Coba, there are 6 à la cartes, plus two poolside eateries that you can dine at, too.
If you’re ready to make a splash during your long haul holiday, you’ll be pleased to know there’s plenty of spots to enjoy whether you’re wanting to play water games, do some lengths of just bob around in the cooling waters. The lagoon-like pool’s in a central courtyard, a few metres away from the shore. There’s a bar on an island in the middle of the water, and it’s got a swim-up section, meaning you can grab a drink without leaving the pool. You’ll find another pool on the other side of the hotel. It’s also by the beach, and has a shallow area for kids to splash around in. The sister hotel, the Bahia Principe Grand Coba, has a slide-filled splash park, as well.
Activity-wise, you can try ping pong, darts and tennis. Plus, there’s an 27-hole golf course* a 10-minute drive away – you get a discount to play there as part of your stay. Head to the beach, meanwhile, and you can give sailing, snorkelling, scuba diving, canoeing and windsurfing a go. Little ones can let out their inner David Attenborough thanks to the Bahia Scouts Programme. During a guided walk around the grounds, they’ll learn about the different plants and animals that live in this part of Mexico.
Eventing entertainment is top notch too! After sunset, you can clap along to a live music show, dance in the nightclub, or hit the slots at the casino. And when it all becomes a little too tiring and you’re ready to head to bed, your room will be filled with everything you need. All rooms and suites come with a king-size or 2 double beds, air-conditioning, tea and coffee facilities, a minibar, safe, TV, free Wi-Fi for 2 devices and a balcony or terrace.
Iberostar Varadero Hotel – Varadero, Cuba
The Iberostar Varadero pulls out all the stops! The hotel is a 20-minute taxi journey away from the popular Varadero. The beaches here are gorgeous, but that’s not the only draw. Away from the laidback beach vibes, you’ll find history, culture and plenty to explore. Back at your hotel, you’ll find comfort in your cosy room after a long day of exploring. These rooms come with air-conditioning, a balcony or terrace, plus an in-room safe. There are double rooms or family rooms available. For that extra bit of space – junior suites are available and can be upgraded to a superior for even more space.
At the Iberostar Varadero three pools sit just metres from the beach, along with their sunbed-fringed terraces. One takes to the spotlight with a swim-up bar and a white, domed pergola. There’s also a fantastic splash park with a pirate ship in the middle with tipping buckets, sprinklers and slides. Pool and beach towels are also available to hire, saving you some space in your case for extra outfits!
The pool’s a hive of activity, with games, water polo and aqua aerobics taking place in it. That said, the beach is just as buzzing. Here, you can join in with salsa lessons, go kayaking or play volleyball. There’s always something going on after dark too. Over at the theatre bar, bands, singers and tribute acts keep things lively, and synchronised swimmers perform in the pool. You can expect more shows at the nightclub, or if you’re looking for a quiet evening, the cigar lounge will do the trick
Filling hungry tummies won’t be a problem here! You can try a range of international favourites at the buffet. If you’re poolside, there’s a place serving pizzas and burgers. The trio of à la cartes, meanwhile, cover off seafood, Japanese and Mediterranean cuisine. TripAdvisor reviewers rave about the surf and turf at La Dorada, while show-cooking on teppanyaki tables steals the limelight at Manzoku.
RIU Guanacaste Hotel – Playa de Matapalo, Costa Rica
Does your perfect family holiday look like luxury around every corner? Then look no further than the Hotel Riu Guanacaste! This beautiful hotel has a secluded beachfront setting, a swim-up bar, and a great choice of restaurants, and of course A* rooms. All rooms come with Wi-Fi, air-con, a satellite TV, minibar and a balcony or terrace. They also come with an in-room drinks optic – meaning you’ll have locally-branded spirits on tap in your room. Double rooms have the option to come with a courtyard view, or you can upgrade further to a sea view. Or, you can splash out on a spacious sea-view suite.
The huge lagoon-like pool takes centre stage at this hotel. It meanders into different corners accessorised by things like in-water loungers and a swim-up bar area. In the middle of it all, you’ll find a whirlpool bath. Little ones, meanwhile, have their own splash pool, complete with slides, sprinklers and a tipping bucket. There’s also Splash Water World, the onsite waterpark, that’s open six days a week for plenty of fun!
The hotel has its own entertainment team that are on hand throughout the day and into the evenings. They offer up everything from quizzes through to glitzy shows. In terms of activities, you can take your pick from a list that includes beach volleyball, tennis, snorkelling and kayaking. Plus, the hotel has its own gym. Children are well-looked after, thanks to the kids’ club. There’s a small play park and a children’s pool for pint-sized guests.
As well as a help-yourself restaurant, the Riu Guanacaste serves up four themed eateries. There’s the stylish ‘Tucán’ gourmet restaurant, a rustic Italian called ‘Toscana’ and the Asian buffet ‘Furama’ that serves Thai, Chinese and Japanese dishes. Rounding things off is ‘Ocotal’. It has something of a split personality – in the daytime it’s a snack bar and at night it morphs into a steak grill.
RIU Ocho Rios – Jamaica
Overlooking a pristine beach with a backdrop of dense rainforest, the Riu Ocho Rios is the ultimate tropical retreat. Set in immaculate gardens, the hotel is just a 10-minute drive away from the town centre. After a day of exploring your local surroundings, you want to come home to a comfy bed and a well equipped room. Luckily, that’s on the cards here! All rooms at this hotel come with an in-room drinks optic – meaning you’ll have your very own locally-branded spirits on tap in your room. They’ll also have satellite TV, Wi-Fi and a minibar.
You’ll have a total of five outdoor pools to take a dip in, and the two smaller ones each come with a swim-up bar. There’s free-to-use sunbeds, parasols and towels by the pools, too. A smaller pool is on hand for children to paddle in, too, along with a slide-filled splash park. If sandy shorelines are more your scene, you’ll find a pillow-soft beach a pebble’s throw from the pool area.
Family-friendly activities aren’t hard to find here, and there’s plenty to keep everyone busy from youngsters to grandparents! You’ll find a watersports centre on the beach, where you can give paddle-surfing, kayaking and catamaran sailing a go. If you’d prefer to try scuba diving, there are free lessons available in one of the pools. On dry land, you can opt for a game of volleyball on the beach, and kick back with a friendly game of billiards.
When everyone is ready to sit down and enjoy a lovely family meal together, there’s plenty of choice here. This place has three buffet restaurants – an international number, an Asian eatery and an Italian place. The main buffet restaurant serves up three meals a day, and offers live cooking stations. There’s also a Jamaican barbecue station, a gourmet à la carte, a steakhouse and six bars round off the dining options.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – Florida, USA
The Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is a firm favourite of ours when it comes to family hotels. You can wake up to a scene straight out of The Lion King when you stay here. The hotel’s built around a 43-acre savannah, so you can sit on your balcony and watch gazelles, giraffes, and zebras grazing, safari-style. The African theme doesn’t stop with the animals. Walk into the three-storey lobby and you’re met with dark-wood floors, carved furniture and tribal art. It’s more of the same in the bedrooms, too.
As a Disney hotel guest, you’ll receive complimentary Walt Disney World transportation to and from the Disney Parks, Disney Springs and more. This will come in super handy because we’re pretty sure the parks are going to be where you spend most of your time as a family during your holiday! Back at the hotel, when the sun sets, you can make friends around an old-fashioned campfire. For drinks, there’s the Victoria Falls Lounge, which is set over a waterfall like its namesake, or the Cape Town Lounge and Wine Bar.
When you’re not exploring the Disney and Universal parks, there’s lots to keep you entertained at the hotel. there’s a games arcade and a playground, plus drumming and singing sessions in the lobby. You can also pick up one of the hotel’s wildlife-spotting guides, and start ticking off different species in the surrounding savannah. As well as the giraffes and zebras, there are African flamingos, white-bearded wildebeest and impala. If you fancy a dip in cooling waters, The pool feels like a tucked-away tropical oasis. Flower-spotted bushes gather around the edge, with the hotel’s authentic thatched roof peeking over the top. Little ones can launch themselves down a mini-slide into the shallow end. Grown-ups, meanwhile, can put their feet up at a bar beside the water.
There are a handful of dining options at Disney Animal Kingdom Lodge too! Gourmet dishes, like elk loin, are served in the resort’s signature fine-dining restaurant, Jiko – The Cooking Place. The buffets in Boma, meanwhile, lay out African-inspired lamb stew, curried seafood broth and Durban-style roast chicken. In The Mara, you can order well-known dishes, like crispy chicken sandwiches and chilli cheese hot dogs. If you’d rather stick to the African theme, try the potjie stew – it’s a hearty mix of beef, turkey, ham, carrots, potatoes, and raisins.
Loving Long Haul
Ready to try out a long haul holiday with your family? There’s plenty of amazing long haul deals waiting for you!