We have recently returned from a wonderful family holiday in El Campello in Spain.
Jack is soon starting school so we avoided the school holidays to enjoy our first family holiday abroad.
After spending years alternating between Devon and Suffolk for our annual holiday, I was desperate for a ‘proper’ sunny holiday. Spending 10-hours in a car, constantly checking over my shoulder to make sure the kids weren’t getting car sick and hovering a bucket underneath Jack’s chin as he turned pale. I didn’t want that hassle.
Surely catching a 2-hour plane journey is easier?
You know what, it is easier. Don’t get me wrong, we had tantrums, late departures and being yelled at by security. But on the whole, it was better than sitting in traffic on the M5 with two screaming toddlers.
Finding the Right Place
The search took on a life of its own in pursuit of the perfect family getaway.
All we wanted was somewhere the kids would be happy and feel at home, and that as parents, we could relax.
While heading to a resort was extremely tempting, we didn’t like the thought of being crammed into one room or the boys having to share a bedroom (only ever been disastorous!)
We did the whole lights-out at 8pm thing while I sit in the bath until an acceptable bedtime so not to wake the baby. It’s not a way I’d envision spending balmy summer nights on holiday. Our best bet would be to book a child-friendly private villa or apartment.
With two young children, we had to consider the climate and how the children would cope with the summer heat.
After A LOT of searching, I came across a duplex apartment in Costa Blanca, 20 minutes drive from Alicante airport.
Close to Playa Muschavista beach and the tram, it is the ideal spot to enjoy beach days and explore.
I booked the apartment through Holiday Tots and we weren’t disappointed. It is one of the few times the accommodation exceeded our expectations. The duplex is set in a quiet residential complex with a clean pool, shaded spots, tennis court and small playground.
From the very start, our host Caroline was friendly and helpful, arranging taxis and food provisions for when we arrived. I was a little apprehensive about our first holiday abroad with young children but she made it very easy. She greeted us upon our arrival and showed us around the apartment.
Usually, my apprehension about our accommodation lingers until I settle in. The moment we stepped through the door we all felt at complete ease – despite having just endured a horrendous flight!
The duplex is across two floors with three bedrooms, a double, a twin and a single with a cot. There is a family bathroom, an en-suite to the double and a downstairs toilet.
I loved the pretty, little courtyard decked out with artificial turf, sun loungers and table and chairs. It is shaded from the afternoon sun allowing the little ones to play outside.
The apartment has an abundance of toys, baby equipment, stair gates, mosquito nets, baby monitors, blackout blinds, air conditioning, sun cream, beach equipment, sun loungers. You can tell that someone with young children put a serious amount of thought, care and attention into making it a holiday home where parents can relax and children can enjoy themselves. Caroline also informed me that guests are able to book a babysitter should they wish.
As the apartment is set in a residential area, we mingled with the locals which what my husband and I always love about travelling the world so it was so nice to be able to experience that with our children. Jack tried to speak a bit of Spanish, made a few friends and had plenty of fun splashing about in the pool.
During the evening, the children all came out to play until about midnight which from my understanding is normal in Spain, especially during the summer holidays. From 3-5pm, the pool was very quiet due to residents seeking shelter from the sweltering heat or taking siestas.
The complex and the apartment was everything that we hoped for and I’ve already recommended it to everyone we know! Caroline has a few apartments next to each other which are perfect if you are going on holiday with extended family.
Most days, the heat exceeded 30 degrees by 10am so we spent early mornings sauntering around the local area or going to the beach.
While we would have loved to have explored further afield, it was too hot for the children to cope with so we alternated between El Campello and Playa Muchavista beach.
El Campello is a 10 minute journey on the tram (the stop is a five-minute walk from the apartment) and a supermarket directly opposite the tram station in El Campello should you need it.
Parc Municipal is a short walk from the tram station and a huge hit with the kids. It had huge climbing frames, plenty of slides, pretty walks and fountains. We spoke to some expats who recommended we visit the family-friendly Mandarina Garden Cafe on the edge of the park as it has a crèche should you want to explore the area while the kids are looked after.
We put the kids the crèche for an hour while we enjoyed a coffee which is something we never do at home so it was nice to have some time together while the kids had fun. They didn’t want to leave!
On our last day, we tried a different cafe in the park where we indulged in churros dipped in hot chocolate – followed by ice cream! Yum!
Playa Muchavista and Eating Out
Playa Muchavista beach is a short five-minute walk from the apartment. The vast golden sands stretch on for miles and not at all crowded with clear waters and very clean.
Restaurants and cafes line the beach front but you do have to be mindful of their opening times which are more in line with local timescales than what we’re used to. For example, restaurants open at around 1pm-4pm then reopen at 8pm.
After speaking to a couple of locals, they said they usually have an early supper, go to the pool then have more food at around 8 or 9pm.
If the boys were older we would have probably gone with these timings bit more, but they struggled with staying up past 8pm. We did try eating out during the afternoon, but by 1pm it was far too hot for us to go anywhere with the boys who by that time were well and truly ready for their siestas.
Would We Go Again?
We absolutely would go again. It was a wonderful holiday and I would love to explore more of the area as the kids get older. Jack declared his desire to live in Spain – I can’t say I’m not tempted!
Where have you been on holiday this year? Any tips for families?