A surprise to wake to in Mallorca at a hotel full of swimming pools

A surprise to wake to in Mallorca at a hotel full of swimming pools

We take a family holiday to Mallorca and stay at the five-star Zafiro Palace Alcudia

To land at night is to preserve the mystery of your surroundings until morning – and we were in for a pleasant surprise on our break to the Balearic island of Mallorca.

Early signs are good – we land at Palma and are out of the plane, the airport and into our hire car in a record-breaking 20 minutes.

Safely at the hotel a little later, we love our big, open-plan, ground floor room despite the partially see-through frosted toilet door!

Zafiro Palace Alcudia aerial view of the pools

Zafiro Palace Hotel

The huge comfortable bed and sofa which converts into two singles mean it’s easy to sleep.

And when we pull back the curtains the following morning, we are greeted with a sight befitting this five-star hotel, Zafiro Palace Alcudia.

Our room at Zafiro Palace Alcudia

Our room

A big terrace awaits us, furnished with a table and chairs and comfy sun loungers.

But there’s also a gate. A gate which leads on to a swim-up pool. Bliss.

Swim-up pool at Zafiro Palace Alcudia

Swim-up pool

In fact, most ground floor rooms here have this luxurious option while top floor suites benefit from a hot tub.

Water is a common theme, perfect for a Mediterranean island known for the aqua sea surrounding it – I count at least 12 swimming pools.

For children, there’s a pirate-themed pool with water slides and another with a ‘wet bubble’ in the middle to climb and bounce off which opens out into the biggest pool here, with a swim-up bar.

Water slides in a pirate-themed children's pool at Zafiro Palace Hotel, Mallorca

Water slides in a pirate-themed children’s pool

But as it’s October and the water is a little chilly, the warmest pool here is the busiest, with one lane sectioned off for serious swimming and double sun beds over the water on the other side for those who’d rather watch.

The warmest swimming pool at Zafiro Palace Alcudia

The warmest pool

All that swimming builds up appetites and the food here is fantastic. Thankfully the main buffet restaurant has enough pancakes, pizza and pasta to keep even our daughter happy.
Plus a good variety of Spanish favourites like Paella and fish and other international cuisine to satisfy all palates.

There are several a la carte restaurants too – an Italian, Japanese, Mediterranean and Bistro/Grill. All of them offer high quality food in a relaxed atmosphere which caters to children.

And the younger ones are also well-served by a playground, entertainment such as mini discos in the afternoons, a mini golf course and a basketball court/football pitch.

The hotel is in Puerto de Alcudia, in the north of this popular island.

It’s surrounded by mountainous scenery and is within walking distance of Playa de Alcudia, a long sandy beach with shallow waters and playground equipment.

Play equipment for children on Playa de Alcudia beach

Playa de Alcudia beach

We also spend time on other stunning beaches and explore Port de Pollensa, which inspired Agatha Christie’s story Problem at Pollensa Bay.

The beach at Pollensa

The beach at Pollensa

Alcudia Old Town is also worth a look as are the fabulous Caves of Drach with its stalagmites and stalactites and stunning musical experience.

One day we take the twisty mountain road up to a clifftop vantage point at Es Colomer, with fabulous sweeping views of this wonderful island.

Es Colomer - walking up to a view

Es Colomer – walking up to a view

We admire the keen cyclists cruising up the steep slopes – they didn’t appear to have overindulged in a hotel buffet like I had.

We may have arrived at night but we departed in the morning – just time for a final trip to the breakfast buffet.

*For more details of the hotel, read our full review and guide next – Zafiro Palace Alcudia.

(We were guests of Zafiro Palace Alcudia, all views are my own).

Mallorca: we review the five-star hotel Zafiro Palace Alcudia

Mallorca: we review the five-star hotel Zafiro Palace Alcudia

Does the Zafiro Palace Alcudia live up to its five-star rating on a family holiday with our children to Mallorca


Zafiro Palace Alcudia

Where is it?

In Port d’Alcudia on the north coast of Mallorca, a Spanish Balearic island in the Mediterranean.

What is it?

A luxury five-star hotel with all-inclusive option, with lots of swimming pools, big rooms and delicious food, within walking distance of a beach.

Zafiro Palace Alcudia aerial view of the pools

Is it family friendly?

Yes. There are children’s pools, an outdoor play area, a mini disco, mini golf course and a football/basketball pitch/court too.

Water slides in a pirate-themed children's pool at Zafiro Palace Hotel, Mallorca

Water slides in a pirate-themed children’s pool

The hotel is also suitable for people travelling without youngsters as there are adult-only areas.

Adults only area and pool at Zafiro Palace Alcudia

Adults only section is on raised area in the middle of the site

The rooms

The rooms are laid out in a U-shape around the pools.

Many of the ground floor rooms have pool access while the top-level rooms benefit from a hot tub each.

There are two other levels, mostly with pool views.

Our room: We had a ground-floor room with an outside terrace furnished with two sunbeds, a table and two chairs and a round love seat.

Swim-up pool at Zafiro Palace Alcudia

Swim-up pool

A gate from the terrace leads on to one of the swim-up pools. This feels amazing although in reality, in October, the water in ours was sadly a little chilly to spend long enjoying.

Our ground floor swim-up room at Zafiro Palace Alcudia

Our room

The room itself was a lovely big square shape with a huge, comfortable bed big enough for the four of us. But the sofa converted into two single beds for the children.

It’s not for the shy as the room is open-plan to the bathroom, which has a bath and two sinks. There’s some privacy with a separate shower and separate toilet although the doors are frosted and slightly transparent!

Food and drink

There are various price options for food including all-inclusive. We were half-board with breakfast and an evening meal.

The main restaurant – The Market – is buffet-style with indoor and outdoor seating.

Breakfast is a lovely selection of hot and cold food and drinks with more than enough choice to keep us all happy.

Outdoor seating at the main buffet restaurant at Zafiro Palace Alcudia

Outdoor seating at the main buffet restaurant

One chef, Miguel, impressed us as he cooked up a constant supply of pancakes, fried eggs and scrambled eggs.

He was there again in the evening, cooking tasty meats and fish.

Also at night were plenty of pasta and pizza options to keep our daughter happy and enough paella and other Spanish specialities for an authentic experience.

Plus, lovely desserts and ice-cream.

There are a la carte restaurants too – Italian, Japanese, Mediterranean and a steak/grill with delicious food. But you must book first thing in the morning at the start of your holiday or you won’t get a reservation as spaces fill up quickly.

Our highlights

*The swimming pools – I counted 12, including:

Several long pools which swim-up ground floor rooms open on to.

Two children’s pools – a pirate-themed one with slides and splashes. And one with a big bouncy bubble in the middle to climb and slide/bounce/jump off which opens out into the biggest pool here, with a swim-up bar.

Bubble pool at Zafiro Palace Alcudia

Bubble pool

The warmest pool was the busiest when we visited in October as it is covered at night to retain heat. It had a strip sectioned off for lane swimming and on the other side are double beds over the water.

The warmest swimming pool at Zafiro Palace Alcudia

The warmest pool

There is also a pool in a raised section in the middle of the site in an adults-only section.

And there are two warmer indoor pools – a small heated one which we spent time in. And a longer, shallow pool for adults in the gym/spa section of the hotel.

Indoor family swimming pool at Zafiro Palace Alcudia

Indoor family pool

*Pool towels are freely available, you aren’t rationed to one each a day so if you need dry ones later in the day or to take to the beach, you can help yourself.

*The food. We all loved the food, the children particularly enjoyed the choice a buffet affords. We visited post-Covid and guests had to wear masks when choosing food and walking around the restaurant. Plus there were numerous hand sanitisers around.


*Alcudia – the town is a couple of miles inland from the touristy port area. It’s a beautiful walled town with a largely pedestrianised city centre. Ideal for strolling around, the children can explore the city walls but they are high with just a wire guard on the one side so take care with younger ones.

Alcudia Old Town

Alcudia Old Town

*Mallorca is famous for its lovely beaches, the nearest to the hotel is Playa de Alcudia – a shallow bay, with calm waters and sandy beach. There are lots of facilities including toilets, sunbeds and lifeguards. You can walk from the hotel to the start of the beach in about five to 10 minutes.

Play equipment for children on Playa de Alcudia beach

Playa de Alcudia beach

*Playa de Muro – slightly further along the bay is another soft sand beach. It is slightly less touristy than Alcudia beach but not as spacious at busy times.

*There are loads of other beaches to explore if you have a hire car, we enjoyed Formentor in particular, a 30-minute drive away over mountains. This beautiful beach felt like we were in the Carribean.

The beach at Formentor, Mallorca

The beach at Formentor

*Cycling is a hugely popular activity in this part of Mallorca and you can hire bikes at the hotel. There are good cycle paths and lots of groups and tours available. The more adventurous can tackle the surrounding mountains where we drove past dozens of riders climbing the steep hills.

*Caves of Drach (Cuevas del Drach) on the east coast in Porto Cristo – stunning caves with stalactites and stalagmites and an atmospheric music show on an underground lake.

*We also explore Puerto Pollensa, which inspired Agatha Christie to write a crime story – Problem at Pollensa Bay is about the disappearance of a holidaymaker while staying at a hotel, under suspicious circumstances.

Pine Walk at Pollensa, Mallorca

Pine Walk at Pollensa

We walked along the Pine Walk then stopped on the main beach which has calm waters, plenty of facilities, along with rocks and coral to see just metres from the shore.

For our full holiday review read: A surprise to wake to in Mallorca at a hotel full of swimming pools

More Zafiro Palace Alcudia information

Airport: Palma de Mallorca Airport is 29.8 miles away.

Address: Zafiro Palace Alcudia, C/ Camí Real al Moll, 2 07400 Port d’Alcúdia, Mallorca, Balearic Islands, Spain.

Parking: There is a free car park.

Book here.


Mallorca, also called Majorca, is the largest of the Balearic Islands along with Menorca, Ibiza, Formentera and smaller islands.

They are off eastern Spain in the Mediterranean.

Mallorca, popular with holidaymakers and famous for its sandy beaches, has one airport in its capital, Palma.

Flight times from the UK are from around 2 hours 15 minutes in the south to about 2 hours 55 minutes.

*We stayed as guests at Zafiro Palace Hotel, all views are our own.

We visit Mallorca/Majorca in August with our children to find out why it is so popular with families

We visit Mallorca/Majorca in August with our children to find out why it is so popular with families

Read our review of a beach hotel stay near Alcudia in Mallorca and a visit to the magnificent Caves of Drach

The Spanish Balearic island of Mallorca (or Majorca*) was a favourite holiday destination for my family when I was growing up.

I have hazy, happy memories of golden sands and learning to swim in a warm, blue sea.

Then there was the Spanish keyboard player in our hotel who inspired me at the age of three to take organ lessons.

He’s probably retired now but the seas and sand remain so 30 years after I last visited it was time to make new memories of the island with my own children.

And so we found ourselves joining hoardes of other British families in August heading to this Mediterranean hotspot.


We used our air miles (see here for more information) and flew with BA City Flyer.

Once again, we were really impressed with the service, the planes (2-2 seating) and the leg room.

Leg room on our BA City Flyer flight

Leg room on our BA City Flyer flight

The flight at just over two hours was perfect for our children, they enjoyed the taking off and landing with just enough time in between to eat, read and watch iPads.

Palma airport

My first impression after landing was how enormous the island’s only airport Palma is now. My parents remember it as just a ‘hut’ in the 1960s when they first went.

There is an extraordinarily long walk to collect your suitcases, something to plan for if you have young children.

We collected a hire car, fitted our children’s car seats (see here for our car seat advice) and headed north to our hotel.


It took 45 minutes to reach the Prinsotel La Dorada, a four-star resort in Playa de Muro near Alcudia.

Prinsotel La Dorada entrance

Prinsotel La Dorada

This aparthotel has all the benefits of self-catering and a hotel stay combined.

The rooms are like apartments with mini-kitchens but you can choose to eat at the hotel or mix and match.

The lounge area of our room at Prinsotel La Dorada

Our living area

The resort is a great size – just big enough. And really well designed. The rooms are located in five blocks around the pools so everybody is in a good position.

Our room overlooked an adjacent nature reserve so we had a beautiful view. Other rooms overlook the pools.

The nature reserve our room at Prinsotel La Dorada overlooks

The view from our room

And the pools are gorgeous – beautifully designed in different sections to keep the interest up for children, with varying water depths to suit all.

Swimming pools at Prinsotel La Dorada

There is also a pool for babies, toddlers and younger children with a slide and other water fun.

the baby/toddler pool at Prinsotel La Dorada near Alducia

The entertainment was great – we all enjoyed the evening shows and entertainers were busy in the day as well, leading aqua aerobics and other games and activities.


The pools kept ours entertained but there is a miniclub for children aged four to 12 with a programme of activities. There’s also a playground and a mini disco in the evenings. Our two tried one of the activities – pony riding around the grounds (an extra €6 per child), which was a highlight, even when my daughter’s horse stopped to relieve itself on the pristine hotel gardens!

A pony ride around the grounds of Prinsotel La Dorada in Mallorca

There is also a maxiclub for older children, who have access to a PlayStation.

Then there’s a crazy golf course, pool and table tennis tables for adults and children.

A nice touch in the main buffet restaurant is a children’s section set inside a train where they can help themselves to food displayed at their height.

Children's buffet train at Prinsotel La Dorada near Alcudia


It is a five-minute walk (200m) to the lovely, sandy Muro Beach. Here, the sea remains shallow for quite a way out – great for children.

We hired a pedalo one day for €15 and although I never made it to the hotel spa (or obviously the gym), I enjoyed two foot massages on the beach for €10 each, while the waves crashed in front of me. Bliss.

Muro beach near Alcudia, Mallorca


You can stay self-catering or half board or you can pay as and when you fancy for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

For evening meals, we did a mixture of cooking in our room, eating at the hotel buffet restaurant and sampling the local restaurants – a great variety which really suited us.

For more details of the hotel, click here.

Surrounding area

Cuevas del Drach

I was keen to take my children to the Caves of Drach which I had enjoyed as a child (apart from the year we went to the wrong caves and didn’t realise – apparently this still happens now so check the website for the exact location as there are other caves nearby).

The attraction is on the east coast of Mallorca in Porto Cristo and we were glad to escape the August heat to the 21C temperature inside.

It is incredible – there is a long path and lots of steps through the caves, which are dimly lit and bursting with stalagmites and stalactites.

Finally, you reach one of the largest underground lakes in the world, Lake Martel where you sit down, the lights go off (some children may not like this) and three lit rowing boats appear, the first with musicians in, for an unforgettable 10-minute classical music concert. See here for more information on this attraction.

The boat show at the Caves of Drach, Porto Cristo, Mallorca


We also visited Alcudia old town on market day – a Tuesday morning – and haggled for a few bits before a welcome stop in a restaurant for tapas (and pizza).

It is a pretty, walled town with lots of atmosphere and lots to see and buy.

A boy at the walls of Alcudia old town

Alcudia old town


We went to a couple of other beaches, Alcudia and S’illot, but preferred the Playa del Muro by our hotel.

Alcudia beach in Mallorca/Majorca

Alcudia beach

In conclusion

Mallorca was as lovely as I remembered. August was a touch too hot for us, so we are keen to try it out at a different time of year.

*Finally, Mallorca or Majorca what is the difference?

The Spanish spell it Mallorca, the British started to call it Majorca as they struggled with the double L sound, although both are pronounced Ma-yor-ka. So now you know!

Fuerteventura’s Corralejo beach is full of surprises on a family holiday to the Canary Islands

Fuerteventura’s Corralejo beach is full of surprises on a family holiday to the Canary Islands

We take our children to review the all-inclusive Clubhotel Riu Oliva Beach in Corralejo, Fuerteventura

“Everybody is naked,” said my brother in a mock whisper.

The glorious beach at our hotel in Fuerteventura is full of surprises.

Not only is Corralejo bigger and sandier than any beach I can remember. With gently crashing turquoise waves, perfect for the children to try out their new bodyboards. And camel rides along sands which stretch for miles from the front of our hotel, the Clubhotel Riu Oliva Beach Resort.

A boy bodyboards in the sea on Corralejo beach in front of the ClubHotel Riu Oliva Beach Resort.

Bodyboarding in the sea on Corralejo beach

But one day as we turn right out of the hotel and venture further along in search of rock pools, we unwittingly gatecrash a naturist section.

This eye-opening experience was not part of the plan for a family trip away to celebrate my mum’s 70th.

My embarrassed mum picked up her pace, I tried not to snigger like a child while the actual children with us didn’t bat an eyelid, except my eight-year-old nephew who asked if it was legal.

While I had carefully dressed my son and daughter in their UV swimsuits, the youngsters in this area were in their birthday suits, while relaxed adults strolled in and out of the sea.

And the giggle we had about it later (apologies to naturist readers) confirmed this as a holiday to remember.


The Riu Oliva Beach is a huge, all-inclusive resort set back from the sands.

We are Riu regulars and love the good food, child-friendly pools and fun feel of their hotels.

We knew this one was soon to be refurbished but the location more than made up for the slightly tired surroundings.

One of the pools at the Riu Oliva Beach hotel, with the beach behind

One of the pools at the Riu Oliva Beach hotel, next to the beach

The hotel is divided into a main tower and a lower rise annexe area better suited to families, where we stayed.

Our family room had a lovely large balcony, double bedroom and two single sofa beds for our children.

Swimming pools

There are two swimming pools – the fish-shaped one was where we spent most of our time. It is well designed for children with varying depths and an island to swim around.

Hotel guests relax by one of the wimming pools at Clubhotel Riu Oliva Beach Resort

The fish-shaped swimming pool at Clubhotel Riu Oliva Beach Resort

On one side is a handy shop, filled with temping inflatables for the children and buckets and spades.


On the other side of the pool is the smaller of the two main buffet restaurants.

There is also a restaurant specialising in Asian cuisine and another boasting Canarian favourites.

Our party of 11 – aged from three to 70 – all found something to their taste.


There is children’s entertainment daily with a party at 5pm, plus an adults’ show every night at 9.30pm.

A children’s disco would also have been welcome in the early evening which we have had at other Riu hotels.


All-inclusive here means just that, all we paid for all week was a camel ride along the beach. And our inflatable dolphin for the pool!

Having all your food and drink included certainly makes it easier when you are in a big group as we were.


The nearby town of Corralejo has a pretty square, markets, a water park plus a ferry to nearby Lanzarote.
But we found plenty to entertain us at the hotel.

A camel ride along Corralejo beach in front of the Riu Oliva Beach Resort in Fuerteventura

A camel ride along Corralejo beach

In conclusion

Mornings in the pool, afternoons at the beach and evenings enjoying the food, drink and entertainment.

One magic show for children was especially good.

You might find plusher venues in the Canaries but I doubt you will find one in a better spot to enjoy the landscape.

Just remember to watch where you walk if you want to explore the sands.

Or pack extra sun cream.

*For a more detailed review of the hotel, see here.

Accommodation: We stayed as guests at Clubhotel Riu Oliva Beach Resort, an all-inclusive hotel in Corralejo, Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands, Spain, for the purposes of this review. All opinions are our own.

The Costa del Sol in two halves – can a mix of Malaga and Estepona make for a fantastic family holiday?

The Costa del Sol in two halves – can a mix of Malaga and Estepona make for a fantastic family holiday?

We take our children on a whistlestop tour of Malaga before heading for relaxation in Estepona.

It’s one of family travel’s trickiest conundrums. 

How do you please mum and dad as well as the tiny travellers? 

How to balance a need for sandcastles with a desire to trek around real castles? 

The answer may well lie in two less familiar parts of that very familiar destination – the Costa del Sol. 

We mixed a city break in Malaga with child-friendly sun and swimming in Estepona – and everyone was happy. 


We flew with Norwegian from Manchester Airport.

There was good legroom, discounts on child tickets and free WiFi on board with entertainment and children’s programmes to watch on your own tablets and phones. 

It’s clear why the company has often won Europe’s best low-cost airline. 


Our first stop – the city of Malaga – is often overlooked as just an airport. 

But this is a child-friendly city – ours loved walking around the 1,000-year-old fortress palace Alcazaba and tasting tapas in Plaza de la Merced. 

Panoramic view of Malaga and the sea


There are gorgeous gardens, playgrounds a plenty plus a modern, renovated port area. 

There are beaches too. On Playa San Andres you can get a well-priced paella and a dip in the sea – 10 minutes’ walk from our hotel. 

The Barceló Málaga, next to the train station, is one of the most modern hotels around. Our suite was straight out of a designer’s dream and bath time will never be the same again for our children after enjoying the jacuzzi in the bathroom. 

The family’s hotel room at Barceló Málaga hotel

The room at Barceló Málaga hotel

They liked the slide almost as much. Not outside the hotel – this one is inside – taking guests from their tasty breakfast on the first floor down to reception to explore the city. 

A girl takes the slide at Barceló Málaga hotel to get to receptiona

Using the slide to get to reception

After two days, it was time to head 50 miles south for part two. 

A good tip if you need car seats – there’s a company called Tots Store which provides proper modern seats and meets you in arrivals at Malaga Airport to get you kitted out. 

Safely strapped in we head down the motorway.


Next stop, relaxation, as we check into the Kempinski Hotel Bahía on the outskirts of Estepona. 

The town itself is more traditionally Spanish than the likes of Marbella and Torremolinos. Think packed plazas and tasty tapas at every turn. 

The Kempinski is the area’s premier hotel – and you can see why. 

A swimming pool at Kempinski Hotel Bahía in Estepona

A swimming pool at Kempinski Hotel Bahía in Estepona

It’s worth a stay here for the pool alone. Or should I say pools, there are four after all. 

The main children’s one is perfect for small swimmers, winding its way under bridges and past trees so you can create your own adventures. 

The beach in front of the hotel is not the most beautiful but has enough sand to bury a dad up to his knees, enough stones to keep a two-year-old happy and the gentle waves of the Mediterranean inviting everyone in for a swim with views of Gibraltar on a clear day. 

Palm trees on the beach and a family playing by the sea

The beach in front of the hotel

The hotel has four restaurants, a spa, gym and indoor pool. Rooms are spacious and luxurious with beautiful views. 

A table set for dinner at Kempinski Hotel Bahía, with the sea beyond

Dining at Kempinski Hotel Bahía

It’s an upmarket hotel but caters for children well with a kids’ corner at the breakfast buffet, mini dressing gowns and an ice cream bar along with a children’s club at peak times. 

The last night

After five days, two hotels, one city and one town, our last night was the same as our first. 

The four of us sharing a paella at a beachfront restaurant. 

Even on a twin-stop balanced break there are some things equally popular with all of us. 

*For our more detailed review of the Kempinski Hotel Bahía, click here.

*For a more detailed review on the Barcelo Malago hotel, click here.

*You may also like this article about why Malaga makes a great city for a family beach holiday.

Accommodation: We stayed as guests at Barceló Málaga hotel and Kempinski Hotel Bahía in Estepona for the purpose of this review. All opinions are our own.

Travel: Norwegian Air – fares from £29.90 – we received a discount for the purpose of this review.

Submarines and volcanoes – the highs and lows of a family holiday in Lanzarote

Submarines and volcanoes – the highs and lows of a family holiday in Lanzarote

We review an all-inclusive week full of adventure in the Canary Islands with children

“That was brilliant Mummy, I loved it. Can we get off now?”

Erm, no. We are 100 feet beneath the sea in a (yellow) submarine.

A box looks through the viewport of the submarine to see the fish in the sea

Enjoying the view from the submarine

We’ve passed shipwrecks and divers  and hundreds of fish. And my young son loved every minute. But now he thinks we can just climb out and carry on exploring the pretty port where our hosts Submarine Safaris are based. 

Thankfully, the appearance of a stingray draws our little Octonauts-fan back in to the view outside our viewport. 

We are in Lanzarote – an island of highs and lows.  The day after exploring deep beneath the ocean, we are up among its staggering volcanoes. 


And it’s on a high that the holiday starts with a remarkably relaxing flight with Jet2. 

Thanks to the airline’s generous hand-luggage allowance (10kg per person, double that of our last flight with a different company) we were well-equipped with entertainment for our son and daughter.

Fortunately, the four-hour journey passed without a hitch – we even arrived early. 

Basking in the glow of compliments from other passengers on the children’s behaviour, we left the plane, expecting to further bask in the ‘guaranteed’ winter sun of the Canary Islands.  Unfortunately it stayed firmly hidden behind clouds for the duration of our stay. 


Still, we had a bright welcome from the wonderful hotel staff at the ClubHotel Riu Paraiso Lanzarote Resort. 

Family pool at the ClubHotel Riu Paraiso Lanzarote Resort

Family pool at the ClubHotel Riu Paraiso Lanzarote Resort

It’s in a great location on the outskirts of Puerto del Carmen, sandwiched between the sea and a glorious volcanic vista.

The huge, 600-room, spotless complex, is set in beautiful grounds and we had a fabulous suite away from the reception and restaurants.

We were glad of the longer walk back to the room (and my daughter’s pushchair) after thoroughly tucking in to the sumptuous food on offer.

The hotel is all inclusive with a large, main restaurant and two other options for dinner – an Asian and a world food restaurant which was our favourite. 

Thankfully, most of the hotel’s six swimming pools are heated and our children particularly enjoyed ordering drinks at the swim-up bar. 

Family pool at the ClubHotel Riu Paraiso Lanzarote Resort

Another pool


Children are well catered for with a playground and the RiuLand club.

The entertainers work hard to ensure they have fun during the day and at the evening’s ‘Mini Disco’ where a particularly hilarious entertainer kept the adults as amused as the children. 

Beach and nearby attractions

We wrapped up well to enjoy the expansive Playa de los Pocillos beach, which is just across the road.

It was too cold to swim in the sea, but Josh and I went one better with our trip in the tourist submarine, where tour guides talk you through a memorable hour-long view of sea life.

The submarine in the sea at Puerto Calero in Lanzarote

Submarine Safaris at Puerto Calero in Lanzarote

The interior of the submarine

Inside the submarine

There were more creatures to see back on dry land at Rancho Texas Lanzarote Park.

They have sea lion, eagle and parrot shows plus ponies, canoe rides and a water park with slides.

We couldn’t leave Lanzarote without exploring its volcanic history so we hired a car and drove to Timanfaya National Park.  The black, rocky landscape makes it hard to believe the last eruptions here were in 1824. 

Timanfaya National Park

Timanfaya National Park

Staff demonstrate the hot earth by setting dry bush alight, cooking food and creating great gushes of steam out of the ground.

Visitors also take a coach trip around the volcanoes – ours ended with a round of applause.

Whether our fellow passengers were moved by the sights or just grateful to be back in one piece after navigating the narrow, winding mountain roads and sheer drops, I wasn’t sure. 

In conclusion

Thank you Lanzarote – for the volcanic highs, the oceanic lows and everything in between. 

Accommodation: We stayed as guests at ClubHotel Riu Paraiso Lanzarote Resort, Puerto del Carmen, Lanzarote for the purpose of this review. All opinions are our own.

Travel: Jet2 – we received a discount for the purpose of this review.

A hotel on the best beach in the Canary Islands? We stay at the Club Hotel Riu Oliva Beach in Fuerteventura with children

A hotel on the best beach in the Canary Islands? We stay at the Club Hotel Riu Oliva Beach in Fuerteventura with children

Five reasons to book a family-friendly all-inclusive holiday at this hotel on Corralejo beach


The location is the big selling point of this hotel. The Riu Oliva Beach sits on one of the best beaches in the Canary Islands – the Grandes Playas de Corralejo.

The sweeping beach has perfect white sand and the warm sea has rolling waves ideal for playing and a bit of bodyboarding.

It’s a great beach where you can take a camel ride or a stroll. But a word of warning if you do walk – turning right eventually  takes you to a naturist section!

Oliva Beach in Fuerteventura


The hotel is soon to be refurbished. When we stayed, the rooms were a bit dated but a good size and kept clean.

a hotel room at Club Hotel Riu Oliva Beach

A family room at Club Hotel Riu Oliva Beach

Our family room had a double bedroom, two single sofa beds in the lounge, a kitchen table and fridge plus a good sized balcony.

Refurbished room at Club Hotel Riu Oliva Beach

The hotel is being refurbished to look like this

Swimming pools

The hotel is split in two, the original high rise section and a low rise villa area better suited to families.

The villa area has a lovely pool shaped like a fish, with an island in the middle and varying depths.

The main hotel section has an older, oblong-shaped pool and small toddlers pool.

a swimming pool at Club Hotel Riu Oliva Beach

The pool at the main complex of Club Hotel Riu Oliva Beach


There are four restaurants and it is all-inclusive.

The two main restaurants – one in each area of the hotel – serve the same food.

We preferred the one in the villa section which felt less of a canteen.

There is also a Canarian restaurant which does tasty steaks and an enjoyable Chinese restaurant. You have to book both of these in advance.


The RiuLand club for children wasn’t the best we have seen but the staff were great. There is a small playground, and they do an outdoor show at 5pm every day.

There was an excellent magician who visited and the evening shows for all are good fun.

The only complaint was the lack of a children’s disco around 7pm which we have seen at other Riu hotels.

*For a full review of the holiday, see here.

(We stayed as guests of the hotel for this review. For prices and information visit the Club Hotel Riu Oliva Beach website).

A luxury family hotel on the Costa Del Sol – 5 reasons to stay at the Kempinski Bahia

A luxury family hotel on the Costa Del Sol – 5 reasons to stay at the Kempinski Bahia

On a beach, with great pools and an amazing breakfast – why this Estepona hotel is a family favourite

Swimming pools

Definitely a big draw at the Kempinski Bahia, there are three outdoor pools and a small indoor one.

The largest outdoor pool is heated. It winds its way under bridges and past palm trees and we all thought it was great.

A swimming pool at Kempinski Hotel Bahía in Estepona

It is perfectly designed for children’s games, large and varied but little ones are never too far from the side.

We spent many happy hours in there pretending to be pirates or explorers.

The rooms

We had a junior suite for the four of us with one double bed, one single and one sofa bed.

There was also a large bathroom with separate bath and shower. And a lovely balcony with great views over the pool and all the mod cons you need.

A room at Kempinski-Hotel-Bahia

A room at Kempinski Hotel Bahia

It had tasteful decor and plenty of space and the twice-a-day housekeeping service kept everything spotless.

The food

Breakfast is included and it is one of the best we have had at a hotel.

A good choice, there is even a children’s area with cereals, tiny pastries and fresh fruit. Our little ones loved choosing from their own area.

There were also fresh juices and on-demand omelettes at the egg station.

If you have any room left after breakfast there are other bars and great restaurants.

A table set for dinner at Kempinski Hotel Bahía, with the sea beyond

Dining at Kempinski Hotel Bahía at the sea front restaurant

If you stay half board, you have a set amount of Euros each day to cover your evening meal and drinks. Children aged 0 to 5​ are free and children aged six to 11, receive a 50 per cent discount.

Otherwise, the food here isn’t cheap but it is very tasty. If you want to venture beyond the hotel there is a boardwalk to half a dozen restaurants about 10 minutes walk away.

A pool and bar at Kempinski-Hotel-Bahia

The Location

The hotel is about two miles from the centre of Estepona, a charming town near Marbella.

It’s next to a busy road but also set on a beach with views stretching along the Costa Del Sol. Gibraltar is visible on a clear day.

The beach is a mix of sand and pebbles with sun loungers and sports equipment available.

Palm trees on the beach and a family playing by the sea

The beach in front of the hotel

A short wander along the beach and boardwalk brings you to Laguna Village, a small development of shops, bars and restaurants.

The services and the staff

The hotel has a tennis court, a spa with the full range of treatments available, a kids’ club which is open in peak periods and grounds you can explore.

The staff were so friendly, one man on reception even put our son’s drawings of his holiday on the lobby walls to showcase them which made his day.

It’s those little touches that make a holiday.

In conclusion

A high end, luxury hotel in a great location. It’s worth splashing out for the pool and the breakfast.

*For a full review of our holiday, read here.

For more information and rates visit the Kempinski Bahia website.

(We stayed as guests of the Kempinski Bahia, all views are our own.

Why Malaga on the Costa Del Sol makes a great city for a family beach holiday

Why Malaga on the Costa Del Sol makes a great city for a family beach holiday

Malaga is well worth a family break with its parks, port, beaches and castles

The parks

Malaga is a very green city and its main park, called the Parque de Malaga, is an oblong oasis of huge trees, curving paths and children’s playgrounds.

It is situated between the port and the city and on a hot day is an ideal place to grab a bit of shade.

a panoramic view of Malaga

A view of the port and park area of Malaga

The new port

This recently-developed area has wide, open walkways and plenty of shops and restaurants.

There is a huge underground car park and a small version of Paris’ Pompidou Centre for modern art.

We ate a meal here at one of the small outside stalls and it was a great spot to people watch.

The Alcazaba

Malaga’s most famous historical site is child-friendly.

the alcazaba in Malaga in sunlight

The Alcazaba is child-friendly but watch little ones on the raised wall areas

There aren’t too many steps but you have to be careful when walking along some of the walls. This Moorish palace has great views of the sea and the city.

The tapas

There is no shortage of restaurants on squares to indulge in tapas. Our children liked the variety of the options and the Spanish cheeses.

Plaza de la Merced is one of the best squares with plenty of places to choose from.

Top tip: When in Spain with children, it is better to eat your main meal out at lunchtime as the Spanish eat their evening meal very late. Try to eat early evening and the best restaurants will be closed or very quiet. 

The beaches

Malaga’s beaches aren’t pure white sand but they are plenty good enough for an afternoon’s entertainment.

children on a sunny beach in Malaga

One of the many beaches in and around Malaga

The man-made Playa de la Malagueta is nearest the city centre and has a playground.

We also liked Playa San Andres near our hotel and the quieter Playa de la Caleta.

We visited at the end of October and found the temperature of the sand and sea to be perfect.

In conclusion

Often overlooked as an industrial gateway to the Costa Del Sol, Malaga is actually very child-friendly. Well worth a couple of days.

A hotel with a slide inside which takes guests to reception! Why Barcelo Malaga is a good family-friendly hotel

A hotel with a slide inside which takes guests to reception! Why Barcelo Malaga is a good family-friendly hotel

Near a beach, with modern rooms, we explain why the Barcelo Malaga hotel on the Costa Del Sol is a good family choice

It has a slide

Not just any old slide in a playground, this one is inside the hotel and takes you from the first floor breakfast room down to the lobby.

Our children were beyond excited by this wacky feature and loved whizzing down after breakfast.

The room

Our family room was split in two divided by a door you could pull shut.

a hotel room with bed at the Barcelo Malaga

The ultra-modern room complete with jacuzzi bath

There was one double bed and a sofa bed with plenty of space around both.

The bathroom was massive with a jacuzzi bath which the children loved using, they spent hours enjoying the noise and bubbles.

There is also a double shower. The decor is ultra-modern with funky wallpaper and moody lighting, there’s even an okay view of the hills beyond Malaga from the huge window.


Cava was available but so too was plenty of fresh fruit, continental and cooked options.

The pastries were fresh, the service good and there was lots of choice. The room where breakfast is served is on the first floor next to the slide – it is fairly bland but spacious.


It is right next to one of Malaga’s main stations, the Maria Zambrano station.

That makes it straightforward if you are catching the train from the airport.

It is a fair walk into the heart of the city but just 10 minutes to the nearest beach, Playa de San Andres, which has a couple of good chiringuitos or beach restaurants and a playground.

children on a beach at sunset in Malaga

The nearest beach is about a 10 minute walk away

Eating and drinking

There is a nice, small bar with some cool booth-style seating next to the lobby, there are also some seats outside but it is not a view to write home about.

tables and chairs inside a hotel in Malaga

You can eat and drink in the funky lobby bar area

The El Anden restaurant serves local food all day long. There is a terrace bar in high season but that was not open when we visited.

In conclusion

Smart, sleek and well-positioned. The Barcelo Malaga hotel has enough wacky touches to be a hit with children and adults.

*For a full review of our holiday, click here.

(We stayed as guests of the hotel for this review. For more information and rates visit Barcelo Malaga).

Lanzarote – the best beaches, parks and attractions on a family holiday

Lanzarote – the best beaches, parks and attractions on a family holiday

Five family-friendly attractions for children to enjoy when visiting the Canary Island of Lanzarote

Submarine Trip

This is a real experience, the chance to dive 100 feet down in a tourist submarine from the pretty marina at Puerto Calero with Submarine Safaris.

Tour guides talk you through the memorable hour-long trip and you get the chance to spot a diver, shipwrecks and a stingray amongst other things.

Combine with a visit to the town’s market and you get a great trip out.

The submarine in the sea at Puerto Calero in Lanzarote

Submarine Safaris at Puerto Calero in Lanzarote

Timanfaya National Park

The last eruptions here were in 1824 but the volcanic earth still draws the crowds. Fortunately there is a huge car park and well organised activities.

Staff demonstrate the hot earth by setting dry bush alight, cooking food and creating great gushes of steam out of the ground.

Visitors then take a coach trip around the volcanoes – the roads are narrow and winding with sheer drops but the coach drivers know what they’re doing.

timanfaya volcano and park

Visiting Timanfaya National Park is a spectacular day out

Take a trip to Texas

Well not quite, but Rancho Texas Lanzarote Park has a wild west theme. It is a zoo and water park.

There are sea lion, eagle and parrot shows plus ponies, canoe rides and a water park with slides.

A full day’s entertainment near Puerto Del Carmen.


Hire a car and explore, the children will be fascinated by the volcanic landscape.

Just a few miles inland from the beaches, the land turns black. Young ones will feel like they’ve visited the moon.

black lunar landscape in Lanzarote

Lanzarote’s landscape will wow visitors of all ages


The best in Lanzarote for fine white sand is probably Papagayo beach near Playa Blanca.

The island is second only to Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands for good beaches.

Papagayo beach from the air

Papagayo beach is one of the best in Lanzarote

Other options to try are Famara in the north and Playa Quemada – the “burnt beach” – with its black rocks for something a bit different.

Have we missed your favourite? What are your top tips for families visiting Lanzarote?

We review an all-inclusive hotel in Gran Canaria

We review an all-inclusive hotel in Gran Canaria

We enjoy a family holiday at Club Hotel Riu Gran Canaria


Club Hotel Riu Gran Canaria.

Where is it?

In Maspalomas on the southern coast of Gran Canaria.

What is it?

A renovated, all-inclusive family resort with children’s pool area and restaurants, with views over the Atlantic.

Is it family friendly?

Yes, we think all-inclusive is a great option for young children and this hotel has a wonderful children’s pool with slides.

The rooms

The hotel has 600 modern rooms. Every room has whitewashed interiors with modern furniture and flat screen TVs with most balconies overlooking the sea.

A double room at the Riu Gran Canaria hotel

Food and drink

The hotel is all-inclusive and the food is great, it is all buffet-style and the main, large restaurant can’t help but have a school canteen feel.

Fortunately there is also a smaller restaurant which overlooks the sea, this is definitely the best spot for breakfast and dinner.


The hotel is a 10-minute walk to the nearest beach – you can either turn left along a pleasant promenade to Maspalomas, or head right to the smaller but quieter Playa de Las Mujeres.

The hotel is in the heart of the town so if you want restaurants or shops then you won’t have to walk far.

Our highlights

* Sea view restaurant. A great spot to enjoy breakfast and dinner, this smaller restaurant overlooked the ocean and was a lovely spot.

* Children’s pool. One of four pools, the children’s one has been designed to impress little ones. Dragon slides and shallow waters makes is safe and fun.

Children's pool at the Riu Gran Canaria hotel

Children’s pool

The only problem if you are travelling in winter is that it isn’t heated.

Slides in the children's pool at the Riu Gran Canaria hotel

Thankfully there is a larger heated pool and an adult-only infinity pool with sea views.

Infinity pool at the Riu Gran Canaria hotel

The infinity pool is not for children

*Children’s club – there’s a RiuLand Club for children aged four to 12 and, our son wanted to try it out – we stayed with him and he loved it.

Riuland children's club

Riuland children’s club

*Calu – this giant turtle is the Riu mascot who makes regular appearances through the day and at the evening entertainment. The children can’t get enough of him!

*Children’s evening entertainment – our son also loved the evenings when the energetic entertainers lead music and dancing for the excited children.


Club Hotel Riu Gran Canaria, Urbanización Las Meloneras, Avenida del Mediterraneo, s/n, 35100 Maspalomas, Gran Canaria, Las Palmas, Spain.

How to book

For prices and information visit the Club Hotel Riu Gran Canaria website.

(We received free accommodation, all views are our own).