вторник, 1 октября 2013 г.

Family Holidays: Holidays in Menorca - Royal Son Bou Family Club (July-August 2013)

I would like to tell you about our wonderful vacation in a small, but beautiful Spanish island - Menorca (Balearic Islands, Mediterranean Sea).  
We were there this past summer at the end of July/beginning of August 2013. The worst time to plan a vacation at the sea side: the best option might be Turkey, but it is too hot there, too crowded, too many children and their “crazy” parents ... Where should we go to the sea side with our child?

Fortunately, I managed to find a kids hotel Royal Son Bou Family Club (4 stars).

My selection criteria were: 
- hotel's proximity to the beach: close, not on the beach. You need to walk a little bit, but it is manageable
- the sea and the beach should be clean: great white sand beach and beautiful clear sea, in Europe such a thing is more an exception rather than a rule
- good entrance to the sea: Shallow and smooth – cannot be better!
- close to the airport : 20 minutes by bus / taxi
- a short flight time : 2 hours from Vienna, Austria, where we live
- a lot of entertainment for children and adults : I'll write about it below. 

My husband, 5 ½ year old daughter and I met our friends (plus their 2 and 4 year old kids) there.

I was afraid that it would be hot there, but it turned out that we escaped from Vienna’s heat wave: in our absence it was about +40°C (104°F) in Vienna!
In Menorca it was +38°C (100°F) in the afternoon on the hottest days. During this time we had our siesta in the room. On average the temperature was +32-35°C (90-95°F) during the day.

About the hotel
All the rooms in the hotel are apartments They have a one-room apartment as well as two or more room apartments for large families. There is a small kitchen with an electric hot plate, as well as other necessary things like a microwave, an electric kettle, etc. So if you want, you can cook for yourself in the room. It is practical with small children – moms can warm up food for small kids.
We  chose the "all inclusive" meal plan.

Our Room
Although there were cheaper rooms available, we booked a newly renovated two room apartment: a bedroom - for adults and a living room with a sofa, where 2 kids could sleep or 1 adult and 1 kid). Each room has a flat-screen TV and air conditioning. In the bath there is even a separate (low) wash-basin, which can be easily accessed by kids! 
Each room has a terrace where you can sit, drink coffee and enjoy long evenings... 
It is even possible to have a baby cot for a small child in the room. 

The price for such a room is 200-300 eur in the high season (2 adults and 1 child with All-inclusive basis). Off season would be much less.
To make it easier for the kids to remember which section of the hotel they are staying, all apartments are divided into blocks and each block has a picture of an animal: a bear, a camel, etc
.. Kids get oriented quickly by pictures, not by numbers...

The Amenities
There are two swimming pools: a large one and separately a small one  for kids (the depth is about 40 cm.). The small pool has a pirate ship and a small water slide. There are a lot of sunbeds in the shade; it is very convenient to watch the small ones while they are in the pool. We were there in the high season, the hotel was completely full, but we always managed to find free sunbeds.

In the large pool (it is really big!) the entertainers and the guests play water polo. Insider tip: don’t miss the aqua aerobics (especially with Eduardo from Nicaragua – he is a star!). They offer other water activities for adults and children.
For adults there is a diverse sports program - from Zumba and step aerobics to archery or air gun shooting. 

Food: There are two restaurants - the main buffet and Italian a la carte. We preferred the main one, because of the large selection and variety. I do not eat meat, but it was not a problem - there was always plenty of vegetables and fruits, a large selection of fish. Every night at the dinner they offer a themed Cousine: Asian, specialties from Menorca, daily fish special, etc. Everything was very delicious. As a result, +4kg and a restricted diet after the holidays :)
My daughter was also happy, there was a separate children's buffet with pasta, French fries, vegetables, and other (favorite) children's meals. The hotel thought even about the little things: for the children there were plastic plates, forks, spoons, knives, cups - very convenient and practical! 
Next to the restaurant there was a children's playground with the entertainers from the kid's club, who can keep an eye on your kids while you enjoy dinner.

The guests can choose any kind of meal plan: only breakfast or half-board or "All Inclusive" - it depends on your appetite and budget. We were happy with our "all inclusive". Please be aware that the drinks and food are quite expensive (if you have to pay for them separately).
On the other hand, in front of the hotel’s entrance there are several supermarkets and restaurants/cafes, so that you can eat out. We didn’t want to leave the hotel.

Activities for children: kid's club "Kikoland" for children of all ages: 
- baby club 0-3 years, 
- a mini-club 4-6 years, 
- Children's club 7-9 years ,
- club for tweens and teens 10-16 years old. 
The club is open from 9 am to 12.30 pm and from 15.30 to 18.00. There is a lot of entertainment, interesting programs, including pony rides, a tour to the mini farm nearby, feeding ducks in  a pond, a visit to Trogloland (the cave of the first inhabitants of Son Bou).

They offer a standard program for children: a lot of outdoor games, T-shirt painting, baking cookies, etc. 

The hotel has its mascots: Kiko (a duck), Cuqui (a hippo) and Hooky (a pirate). The kids are very fond of them; you can take a picture with them and enjoy dancing at the mini-disco. 

In "Kikoland" there is a separate play zone for the kids. There is also a small theater for children with popcorn and air conditioning. The kids can be left under the supervision of the entertainers, they offer free drinks and ice cream for kids in “Kikoland”.

The evening program for kids starts at 20:00 every day. This is a mini-disco or different shows, for example, a show with horses, loro show with parrots. 

The show with soap bubbles was great. Both kids and adults loved it! 

 During our stay, once a week there was a beauty contest for kids. Actually it was not a contest as such; they introduced all kids at the stage and gave each one a certificate. It was very touching - the first catwalk for our daughter ...
After the kid’s show they start to entertain the adults: to my surprise the program was very professional and interesting: various musicals with the hotel entertainers and the guest artists: Chinese acrobats, jazz singer from the South Africa, the magician show, etc. And the quality was sometimes even better than the shows in five-star hotels in Turkey...

The hotel guests are mainly English and German-speaking (England, Germany, Switzerland, Austria), sometimes we heard the Russian language. There were also Spanish from the mainland of Spain.

About the sea and the beach: the beach is public. The hotel has a private tunnel to the beach (about 100 meters long), but it is ok. As the locals say, it's one of the best beaches in Menorca. White sand, clear water, beautiful entry into the water for the kids and shallow. If you like swimming, you can find deeper places closer to the buoy. My husband and our friends got up early in the morning to go jogging on the beach and swim in the morning sea. They said it was an unforgettable experience...

Azure color of the sea reminded me of the Maldives, you could hardly find such beaches in Europe... You can rent a deck chair and sun umbrella on the beach, but we spent most of the time at the pool and went just swimming in the sea. A couple of times we saw a jellyfish, but it was not so bad, one has to be careful in the water...

The hotel staff is very friendly and helpful, but, unfortunately, not without an exception. mostly we have no complaints just a positive impression.

If a child gets sick, it is possible to call for a doctor, he can come to the hotel (surcharges apply). The reception mentioned that the doctor (a hospital) is not far away from the hotel.
Overall, I could highly recommend this hotel for families with kids of different ages, especially with young children! Everything is well thought of and adapted for needs of the families with children. A lot of fun for everyone, most importantly - clean sea and the weather is not as hot as in Turkey! 

Would I go there again? YES, without any hesitation... But I have to warn you - book this hotel in advance in the high season - there are a lot of loyal and repeat customers :)

By the way, this hotel was in the top 25 family-friendly hotels in the world in 2013 on TripAdvisor (“Top 25 Hotels for Families World, Travelers' Choice 2013”). 

Enjoy your trip! 
Looking forward to getting your feedback and comments!

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