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 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.
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.
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
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 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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
The hotel is also suitable for people travelling without youngsters as there are adult-only areas.
Adults only section is on raised area in the middle of the site
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.
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.
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
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.
*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.
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 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 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
*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.
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
*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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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 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.
There is also a pool for babies, toddlers and younger children with a slide and other water fun.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Alcudia old town
We went to a couple of other beaches, Alcudia and S’illot, but preferred the Playa del Muro by our hotel.
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!
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.
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, 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Submarine Safaris at Puerto Calero in Lanzarote
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
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.
Thank you Lanzarote – for the volcanic highs, the oceanic lows and everything in between.
Malaga is well worth a family break with its parks, port, beaches and castles
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 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.
Malaga’s most famous historical site is child-friendly.
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.
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.
Malaga’s beaches aren’t pure white sand but they are plenty good enough for an afternoon’s entertainment.
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.
Often overlooked as an industrial gateway to the Costa Del Sol, Malaga is actually very child-friendly. Well worth a couple of days.