Five destinations for an unforgettable multi-generational holiday
Between toddler tantrums, teenage eyerolls and tortoise-paced grandparents, it can feel impossible to please everyone on a family holiday. But it doesn't have to be this way. If you’re up for a trip that brings the whole gang closer together, these destinations have got what it takes to create memories to cherish for years to come
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Catalonia’s capital is one of the more popular Euro hubs, and for good reason. Brimming with chichi bars, kooky coffee spots and awe-inspiring architecture, Barcelona genuinely has it all. And, with a beach within walking distance, all bases are covered should anyone start to flag. It might seem a tad twee, but one of the best ways to take it all in is via open-air bus, which covers all the essentials, from Gaudí’s Sagrada Família and Park Güell to Casa Milà, whose façade is shaped like an enormous snaking sea-creature-cum-spaceship. Fix ebbing energy levels with a shot of vermouth and pickles along La Rambla, a buzzing dining promenade, or stroll labyrinthine streets to reach Montjuïc Park for ice cream by fountains in view of the stately National Palace.
If murmurings of sore feet begin to surface, take comfort in the swoon-worthy rooms at H10 Marina Barcelona, clad in soothing, monochrome tones, plus the hotel spa’s Jacuzzi, Turkish bath, and lap pool. While grandparents kick back poolside with the kids, parents can take a paseo on the boardwalk of the Olympic port nearby, or on the Platja de la Nova Icària beach, considered one of the quietest in Barcelona.
Arenal, Costa Rica
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Costa Rica’s rigorous eco-tourism drive has made it a recent hot spot for environmentally conscious travellers. A staggering six per cent of the world’s species are found here, and nature-obsessed tots will be wide-eyed from encounters with sloths, toucans, macaws and iguanas, while bird-watchers of any age will be equally in awe of the 850 species that call the country home – that’s twice as many as the US and Canada combined. Arenal is Costa Rica’s most active volcano, and the base, which is lush with rainforest, can be explored via easy-going hiking trails that were last engulfed by lava as recently as 1968. Ziplining over vertiginous canyons will sate adrenaline junkies’ thirst for peril, while more sedate members of the family can retire to nearby Tamarindo beach for a day of catching rays.
For a family-friendly base, rooms at The Springs Resort & Spa start at a vast 720sq m, and come kitted out with hammocks, rocking chairs, a hot tub and smart TVs. Activities aplenty are also on offer, including a putting course, kids’ game room, water slide and animal sanctuary.
Taylor River, Colorado, United States
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Colorado is a wonderland for active families thanks to its unbridled wilderness and middle-of-the-country setting, with the Rockies on your doorstep. Deep in the county of Gunnison, Taylor River and its surroundings are an idyll for back-to-nature enthusiasts, offering everything from white water rafting to horseback riding, rock climbing and mountain biking. For more mature family members, fly-fishing or angling for trout in Taylor River will retrieve memories of scouting days, while parents can ramble the region’s countless hiking trails with teens in tow, before settling in for a hard-earned whiskey or hot choc at the hotel’s fire pit.
A true Coloradan gem is Taylor River Lodge, whose luxury log cabins come decked out with hygge-inspired furnishings, and from which families can easily explore the snow-sprinkled forests of Taylor Canyon and the river by bike, raft or on foot. Come evening, kids can burrow away in the lodge’s cosy tepee lounge, while parents soothe fractured nerves and tired limbs in the bathhouse’s saltwater pool and hot tub. Hyperactive tweens still needing to expend excess energy can let loose on the lodge’s private climbing wall and ice-skating rink, before the whole family reconvenes for a farm-to-table feast whipped up by the Lodge’s private chef.
Mayan Riviera, Mexico
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Mexico’s Mayan Riviera is more than picture-perfect beaches fringed with six-star resorts. This rim of the Caribbean coast is steeped in culture and almost ostentatious beauty, from the ancient walled city of Tulum, which served as a key Mayan trading hub between the 11th and 16th centuries, to the region’s cenotes – limestone sinkholes that the Mayans considered sacred gateways to the underworld. Today, you can take a dip in these freshwater swimming holes, or dive within their ethereal underwater cave systems, where colourful fish and turtles roam. Food from this part of the world is popular for a reason, and the restaurants in Playa del Carmen offer plenty of proof – try tacos loaded with shrimp, tuna and strawberry-habanero salsa at Los Aguachiles and the Pastel Azteca (Mexican lasagne) at Aldea Corazón.
If you’re looking for a safe pair of hands, the Iberostar Selection Paraiso Lindo has every accommodation need covered. It’s all-inclusive, with free cancellation, and well-priced suites come with kitchenettes, a private terrace and sweeping jungle views. Beyond the room, there’s direct access to the beach, a golf course, wave pools and a kids’ camp.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
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Described by the 19th-century Thai king Rama V as the “prime diamond in Thailand’s crown”, the northern city of Chiang Mai attracts backpackers and families in equal quantities, thanks to its rural charm, calm-invoking landscapes and hilltribe enclaves, which invite travellers to stay and sample their self-sufficient way of life. It’s great for escaping the din of Bangkok, though there’s still plenty to do between the city’s 24 temples, earthy cafés and countryside day trips. For those who’ve drawn the long straw (i.e. babysitting duties) – this is your moment. Chiang Mai’s night markets overload the senses in the very best way, with vendors touting handicrafts and some of the finest street food this side of the Silk Road. Don’t go home without trying a Thai roti, stuffed with condensed milk and banana.
For mind-bending luxury, check into the Four Seasons Chiang Mai, where pavilion-style rooms overlook emerald-green rice paddies and the Suthep mountain range beyond, each with their own private veranda. Private yoga, Muay Thai and traditional Thai cookery workshops provide focus and cultural immersion, while the hotel’s kids club offers parasol painting and family rice planting activities.