HOLIDAYS with two young children are not meant to be stress-free.
As I sat in the Algarve sunshine while our daughter, Romy, six, and 18-month-old son George played, I kept thinking the same thing — this should not be so easy.
Salema beach, Portugal[/caption]
But we were staying at a Tots To Travel complex, geared to families with babies and small children.
Salema Beach Village, on the western tip of Portugal’s Algarve region, is a luxury collection of self-catering apartments — with every safety measure a parent could wish for, and wonderful shared facilities to keep the kids occupied.
The hilltop complex has a secure, village-like ambiance and affords stunning views down to the fishing village of Salema.
As our children occupied them-selves in one of the three swimming pools — two specifically designed for children — my wife and I were able to relax with a beer.
Within hours of arriving, after a 90-minute drive from Faro airport, we felt completely at ease.
Our two-storey villa was just yards from the pool, with two generously sized bedrooms, a family bathroom, spacious shower room, large open-plan lounge and modern kitchen.
We didn’t have much packing to do because each Tots To Travel property comes kitted out with everything parents need to take the hassle out of travelling with young children.
The list is extensive, from cot, high chair, baby monitor, potty, steriliser and changing mat, to baby and child cutlery, bath toys, blackout blinds, books, DVDs and night light.
Tots even carries out child-safety checks on a daily basis and stairgates are already fitted when you arrive.
There is a full schedule of Tots Club activities, letting the little ones play, and get messy and creative.
An excellent breakfast is served at the child-friendly time of 7am — no stressful hanging around with hungry children for the buffet to open later.
There is also a very good room-service menu, with a variety of child-friendly dishes promptly delivered.
Each property has self-catering facilities so you can feed your famished little ones whatever they want, whenever you want.
A small supermarket in the village is perfect for essentials and a larger store is just five minutes’ drive away.
Because this is a complex geared to families, we loved the fact our children made friends of similar ages quickly and easily.
The pretty village of Salema, a five-minute walk down the hill, is home to one of Portugal’s best beaches and has featured in several lists of Europe’s beast coastlines.
Take an early-morning stroll to the village and enjoy some wonderful views of the sea[/caption]
An early-morning stroll to the village throws up some wonderful views of the sea, over whitewashed rooftops.
At one end, Salema beach is home to a collection of dinosaur footprints dating back 125 million years.
One of my happiest memories of our holiday is the joyful time spent down at the wide sandy beach, which is more or less deserted until the sunseekers start to arrive at around 11am.
If you get there early you can watch fishermen unloading the morning catch of octopus and tuna from their nets — to be served at lunchtime in the various beachside restaurants.
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Our favourite eaterie in Salema was the unpretentious Restaurante O Lourenco — where you can escape the heat on the shaded terrace and enjoy the fresh fish of the day for just ten euros.
Our children loved the traditional Portuguese chicken, which put Nando’s to shame.
As we enjoyed a bottle of rosé on our last night, one thing was clear — our family holiday had been peri-peri easy.
If you get to the beach early, you can watch fishermen unloading the morning catch of octopus and tuna from their nets[/caption]
GETTING THERE: Fly into Faro airport – about 90 minutes’ drive from Salema Beach Village – with EasyJet, Ryanair or Jet2.com.
STAYING THERE: A two-bed family villa at Salema Beach Village is from £127 per night, including breakfast.
See totstotravel.co.uk or call 0800 014 2770.
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