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Interview with Kathryn, founder of Healthy Holidays Company

By Kathryn Brierley

Kathryn is the founder of the fast-growing Healthy Holiday Company, which focuses on healthy holidays all over the world, helping people to relax, get active, detox or practise mindfulness - whatever they’re looking for their break.

She features the best resorts in the world and for having worked with her before, we know how amazing her services are for ensuring we have an incredible and stress-free break.

Q: You used to be focused mainly on adults, what drove you to extend your offer to family holidays?

We started the business 15 years ago, yes to focus on adult health, fitness and yoga retreats but more and more our clients were asking us to help with family holiday ideas, so we established Healthy Holiday Company in order to help them with all their holiday needs. Under this brand our main business is sourcing superb family holiday options for families who want to have a restorative, healthy and/or active break. I now have a vested interest in all the research as I have a little three year old, so I totally get what needs to be put in place to make a family holiday work with as little stress as possible!

Healthy Holiday Company Kids Pool Marbella

Q: What do you think parents look for in family holidays? Are there new trends?

Parents want to know that their children are a) safe and b) happy. If those two boxes are ticked then they themselves can start to relax. I would say two ongoing trends are i) exciting ongoing development in what is offered facility and activity-wise within the kids’ clubs and ii) a major focus on wellness within many family-friendly hotels. Kids can now enjoy yoga, spa treatments, learn about ancient Greece or marine life and climb aboard a life-sized pirate ship. Some kids clubs even offer a ‘sleepover’ service for those who want a pyjama party! And in terms of wellness, most hotels now are offering fitness/yoga classes, have a great gym, offer extensive spa treatments and far healthier menu options than previously. It’s really exciting to see the industry develop with a far greater focus on health.

Q: Is it possible to combine a family holiday with a health & well-being program for the parents, e.g. detox? What are the best options to do so?

Absolutely, though it has to be said that many ‘wellness focussed’ destinations /destination spas are still adult only. However what is impressive is that most great family resorts are now offering wellness programmes so parents can dedicate themselves to a fitness or detox programme should they want to, while the children are also well catered for. Pine Cliffs in Portugal and The Marbella Club in Spain for example both do this extremely well.

Q: What is the best way to ensure we have a successful family holiday? What are your top tips?

My two over-riding tips would be 1) Preparation is everything and 2) Make it as easy for yourself as you can! If these are covered there will be far less stress and you’ll be able to relax far more when you’re away! But here are 5 areas to think about:

  • Do your research. Take time to properly research the hotels/resorts you’re contemplating and take advice from an operator or agent who knows the resort well. Some hotels for example require parents/nannies to stay with their tots in the crèche. Is it wise to pre-book the kids’ club? Is the hotel buggy friendly rather than full of stairs? is there a kids pool with shallow areas? Is it near a supermarket or do you have to take a week’s supply of nappies? Getting the right place for your children but also for you is vital! And book as far in advance as you can (ie now for summer 2018) You can save hundreds, even thousands of pounds by securing early booking offers and getting flights booked before they increase.
  • Think through the travel end to end. The travel part is the most stressful, so make it as easy for yourself as you can. For me this means avoiding 3am alarm calls for a 7am flight. Treat yourself to valet parking at the airport so you can just drive to departures. Do you really want to be managing suitcases, handluggage a buggy and a toddler onto a bus from the long term car park?! Pre-book airline seats in advance. And if you need a hire car, why not think about getting it delivered to your hotel the next day, rather than queuing for it at the airport on arrival and negotiating unknown motorways! Have a driver meet you instead, you’ll be tired after the journey and you’ll get to the hotel sooner. Have you got childrens’ car seats booked?
  • Kit preparation! Make sure you have got the kind of travel bags that make life easy for you at the airport, on the plane and at the hotel. Rather than a voluminous lucky-dip of a hand-held travel bag get a ‘handsfree’ rucksack with different areas and zip up pockets! Buy some see-through zip up pouches of varying sizes to help keep your packing organised and enable you to find things quickly when you need them. Remember also that buggies can get battered in the hold, so invest in a cheap one that you won’t mind if it gets damaged.
  • Lists! Before motherhood I was the girl who threw things into a bag at midnight for a 7am flight and I do so miss being able to do that! Now it requires extreme planning to avoid last minute stress. Take time to write your packing lists and save it on your phone so you’re not re-inventing it next time you travel. Categorise the lists so everything is covered. While only you know what you need, there are some extensive packing lists you can find online to help check you’ve covered all areas.
  • Familiar items It’s an obvious one, but think of your little one’s familiar items and make sure several of them are packed. They’ll feel more readily settled and relaxed in a totally new environment if they’re surrounded by items they know –the favourite blanket, toys, books, games.
  • …. And relax! When you’re away make sure you take time for yourself. It’s a precious time for you to recharge and restore. Kids clubs can be amazing and your little one will have a whale of a time with all they have on offer, so make sure you book that spa afternoon.

Paradis Plag Beach Healthy Holiday Company

Q: What destinations are most popular with families for Easter as well as Summer holidays?

For Easter many families want guaranteed warmth, so are heading long haul to the Maldives, Mauritius, the Caribbean, however these are already booking up fast. For shorter, easier flights you’ll get beautiful weather in Morocco or the Canaries, but given Easter is in April this year, we also have many families looking at Southern Europe. Prices are great in Portugal or Sicily for example at Easter compared to peak months, and the weather should be warm and sunny. For the summer holidays Europe is always the main choice – Portugal and Greece are extremely popular and have some wonderful family destinations, but also consider parts of Mauritius for the summer, where the weather is in the twenties and you can stay at incredible beach properties for far less than a trip to Greece!

Parents, if you are already looking for amazing family holidays for 2018, don’t wait too long and find here Kathryn’s 10 best picks.

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