Top Ten Getaways for Tiny Travelers

Top European Getaways
By Fran Falkin
  |  Gorp.com
Algarve, Portugal
Algarve, Portugal (Hemera)

The Athenaeum Hotel and Apartments
London W1
011-44-171-499-3464
US Toll Free: (800) 335-3300

Located near Buckingham Palace, Green Park, and the theater district, this recently refurbished, privately owned hotel is convenient, luxurious, and family-friendly. The staff of the Athenaeum seeks to provide a comfortable atmosphere and warm, personal service in the traditional British style.

Complete childcare services in your apartment, including feeding and bathing of younger children and infants, can be arranged on an hourly basis through the hotel. (They use Child Minders, a London agency—[tel] 171 935 2049). Care givers are bonded and you can request a sitter with CPR training. Rates range from $6-$6.50/hr. Sunday through Friday evenings, $7.75/hr on Saturday evening and $9.25/hr during the day. Cribs are provided by the hotel, and other equipment—such as high chairs, potties, and even a proper British pram—can be requested.

Your older children (5 to 10 years) can be ushered around London in grand style as part of the "Mary Poppins Package." A trained and uniformed nanny will take them to see the changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace (remember Alice?), as well as to the Regent Park Zoo, for tea at Fortnum and Mason and many other fun and interesting excursions. The nanny's fee, picnic lunch, and admissions for two children are included in the US$150/day fee.

Perfect for families are the Edwardian townhouses near the main hotel with 1 and 2 bedroom apartments (US$395 and US$625, plus VAT, respectively when you ask for the "Mary Poppins Package"). Each has a fully-equipped kitchen, washing machine, and grocery shopping services. A modern health spa with gym, sauna, steamroom, spa pool, and treatment room is also available.

Sheraton Algarve Pine Cliffs
Algarve, Portugal
011-35-1-289-500-100
US Toll Free: (800) 325-3589

Portugal is one of those European getaways that rarely tops any North American's must-see list. Yet its rich culture, Mediterranean-Arabic style, delicious cuisine, and unhurried lifestyle make it an ideal destination for families interested in a more-than-just-a-beach vacation. As delightful as the capital of Lisbon is, the Portuguese themselves head for the wilds of the Algarve region to unwind.

Here, on pine-tipped, strikingly eroded red cliffs you'll find the Sheraton Algarve overlooking the Praia da Falesia and the Atlantic. In a relaxed environment geared to fitness buffs, families will find a 9-hole golf course and golf academy, a health club and indoorpool, tennis courts, and a large outdoor pool surrounded by white stucco clusters of single and duplex guest rooms. Brocade fabrics, Moorish tiles, stone paving, ablution fountains, and low-key elegance reign throughout. To round out this snapshot of ultimate R'n'R, there's Porto Pirata, an imaginative children's village. Even with a leading name like Pirate's Port, it's hard to imagine a 7000 square-meter area with two private ships to play on, remote-controlled boats, a private pool and restaurant, a playground, napping quarters, organized team sports, treasure hunts, and other counselor-led activities. The youngest family members (from 6 months to 2 years) are given individual supervision by a university-trained staff (approximate rates are $58/day, $33/half-day, $10.50/hour). Kids 3 to 12 years are welcomed for full days (9am-6pm, $22 including lunch), half days ($17) or by the hour ($4.50). Also available is the Weekly Porto Pirata Package (approximately $116 per child) with a weekly "passport" entitling children to use the facilities daily during their stay, as well as a complimentary lunch, snacks, and drinks.

This deluxe property's 33 suites can accommodate a family of four for $533/night, including buffet breakfast.


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 6 Feb 2013
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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