And baby came too

By Jan Barden, Daily Mail

Last updated at 09:52 12 December 2005


Travelling with toddlers needn't be a nightmare

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A new baby brings joy, chaos and - more often than not - the cancellation of any decent holidays for a few years. But a growing number of European resorts now specialise in providing blissful family getaways, offering top-of-the-range facilities for the babies, as well as for new mums and dads. Escape presents the best breaks for baby - and for you.

Almyra Hotel, Paphos, Cyprus

The worst thing about travelling with a baby is lugging around all the essential paraphernalia, but here you can leave most of your worries at home. The Almyra showcases the brilliant 'Baby Go Lightly' concept: the hotel provides everything for you.

Car seats, buggies, carrier pouches and baby baths are all available, as well as sterilisers, extra bottles, nappies - including swim nappies - and even wet wipes. All you have to bring is the baby.

A qualified, English- speaking nanny can be booked through the hotel for £6 an hour. A 'baby concierge' is also on hand to deal with any unexpected needs, and baby-listening is available in the evenings.

For the grown-ups, there is a pool, a gym, a sauna and designer shopping. Otherwise, spread out in the sun, and soak up the views across the harbour to Paphos castle.

Tennis and golf are there for the taking, while watersports fanatics can try their hand at windsurfing, water-skiing, sailing, parascending or scuba-diving. Don't miss the marvellous mosaics at the nearby House of Dionysos.

Seven-night packages cost from £529 per person, including flights, transfers and bed & breakfast. Babies under two stay free. Abercrombie & Kent (0845 070 0612;

Ferienart Resort And Spa, Saas Fee, Switzerland

Clean air for tiny lungs, skiing for dad and a spa for mum - what more could you want for your first holiday with baby? Leave the set beside a beautiful lake in 600 acres of dunes and pine forest, and there are lovely sandy beaches a mile or so away at Fort Mahon.

The Baby Club - booked locally - is staffed by trained nannies, opens daily between 9am and 6.30pm, and costs £75 for six three-and-a-half hour sessions. A baby kit, including folding cot, sheet and high chair, costs £15 per stay.

You, meanwhile, can tone up in the Aquaclub's fabulous heated pools - which feature waterslides and wave machines - or take it easy and pamper yourself at the resort's sauna and Turkish bath.

There's a golf course next door, or you can try archery, sand-yachting, microlight-flying, or even shrimpfishing.

A two-bedroom house at Belle Dune costs from £626 per week, including Channel crossing with car. Crystal Family Holidays (0870 402 0293;

Sani Asterias Suites, Greece

Most new parents will appreciate a little time to themselves. The free 'Babe Watch' service on the beach here allows you to frolic together in the surf while baby is looked after nearby free for half an hour every day (you can pay to extend the service).

The welcome gift of a basketful of bottles, nappies and blankets is another nice touch.

Parents then get to try out the beauty treatments, including Shiatsu and Reiki massages, play tennis or go mountain-biking or try scuba-diving at the PADI centre.

Seven-nights B&B at Sani Asterias boutique hotel cost from £759 per person. Abercrombie & Kent (0845 070 0612;

Forte Village, Sardinia

Take a deep breath - this is the Rolls-Royce of baby-friendly destinations and it does not come cheap. But hey, you've just had a baby: you've earned it.

The qualified English- speaking nannies in the creche (from 9am until 4pm) will care for the tiniest tot from £14 per hour.

There are also facilities for changing nappies, sterilising and heating bottles and a cot will be provided in your room.

A special children's restaurant provides high tea for little ones, and babysitting is available from £15 an hour.

Beauty treatments, thalassotherapy and Turkish baths at the Thermae Del Parco spa are there for you, as are instructors to coach you in tennis or horse-riding.

Plus there are enough designer boutiques to melt your gold card. But you could also just lie by one of the magnificent, palm-shaded pools and catch up on some much-needed sleep.

A week in a four- star bungalow room, on a dinner, bed and breakfast basis, costs from £1,029 per adult and £349 for a baby under two. This includes one free entry to the Thermae del Parco spa (normally £60), return flights and transfers. Magic of Italy (0870 888 0222;

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Sunsail, Club Perili, Turkey

This beautiful club, set on a stunning sweep of beach,offers awardwinning childcare from trained, experienced nannies on a really flexible basis. The Minnows Club takes babies from four months and costs £215 per week.

A night creche and baby-listening devices take care of evenings. Rooms are equipped with essentials such as cots, baby baths and changing mats, as well as fridges and kettles. There is also a 24-hour kitchen with microwave and sterilising equipment.

Mums get free fitness classes (you can also hire personal trainers or tennis coaches), and can also indulge in a top-notch pampering at the health and beauty sanctuary.

Then there's the watersports equipment, tennis, volleyball and mountain bikes, all free. If it's a certificate you're after, you can pay for a sailing course or scuba training.

Seven-night packages cost from £519 per adult, plus £70 for a baby under two, including flights, transfers, and half board. Discounts are available on bookings received by December 17. Sunsail (0870 112 8487;

Jardins Do Lago, Funchal, Madeira

OK, Madeira has no beaches but that's not going to bother baby. What will make parents happy is that the founders of the excellent Luxury Family Hotels brand have set up their first overseas venture here.

An 18-hour package of childcare in the well-equipped creche run by British nannies costs £100, additional hours can be paid for locally. Cots and other baby extras, such as changing mats and sterilisers, are provided free. Babysitting and baby-listening can also be arranged. A special children's tea is provided at 5.30pm.

Parents can meanwhile take a stroll through the sub-tropical walled gardens around the hotel, which once housed the British military commander's residence.

There's a week's unlimited golf for £200, which includes transfers from the hotel, or £45 a round, with a 50 per cent discount on club hire.

Seven-night breaks cost from £895 per adult, including flights and transfers - baby goes free. Four Winds Holidays (01285 648518;

Mark Warner, San Lucianu, Corsica

Mark Warner deserves its reputation as a provider of fabulous family holidays. And San Lucianu is a truly child-friendly resort, with a full childcare programme.

The Baby Club, staffed by English-speaking nannies, takes tots from the age of four months, six days a week (with a break for lunch) and costs £250. Extra babysitting can be arranged, and baby-listening is free.

You, meanwhile, get to enjoy Corsica: the climate's great, the cuisine is deliciously robust and the scenery ranges from wonderful beaches and majestic cliffs to scented chestnut forests and towering mountains.

Spa treatments, scuba diving, sailing, windsurfing and waterskiing will all vie for your attention, but a walk in the neighbouring countryside can't be beaten.

A week's package costs from £575 per adult, plus £100 for a baby, including flights and transfers. Mark Warner (0870 770 4227;

The Ickworth Hotel, Suffolk

One day all hotels will be like this: a haven of comfort, where children are seen and heard, and welcomed all the more for it.

The on-site creche is staffed by qualified nannies, who will take your little one for two-hour sessions morning and afternoon. Your room can be equipped with a fridge, steriliser, bottle-warmer, changing mat, nappy bucket, cot and bedding on request. There's even a night porter for when you need warm milk in a hurry.

Mums should head straight for the Aquae Sulis spa, or if you are feeling active, plunge into the indoor pool or hire a horse from the stately stables.

Otherwise use your free pass to wander around the sensational National Trust gardens and 1,800 acres of parkland.

From £240 per room, including dinner and breakfast for two, including two spa treatments worth £35 each. Ickworth (01284 735350;

Club Med, Metaponto, Italy

The grande dame of all-inclusive holidays, Club Med has been running holiday childcare for 30 years so they really know what they are doing.

Infants from four months old are welcomed by the trained staff at Baby Club Med at an extra cost of £151 per week.

The service is deliberately lowkey and is available from 9am to 5.30pm, six days a week. Pushchairs, cots, changing mats, highchairs, bottle-warmers, sterilisers, mini-fridges, and baby baths are provided, while a special area in the restaurant is equipped with baby food and utensils.

And don't be put off by Club Med's sporty reputation - no one's going to force you onto the tennis court.

If you want to lose that post-baby jelly-belly, however, there are all sorts of fitness activities to choose from, including water aerobics, rollerblading, and guided cycle rides.

A week costs from £585 per adult, £111 for a baby, inclusive of flights, transfers, all meals and wine, beer or soft drinks with food. Club Med (0845 367 6767;

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