When my son was a toddler (he’s now 11), one of the first stops on any interstate holiday was the $2 shop, where I would buy a bucket & spade and maybe a ball for the pool.Back then, pool and beach toys were not generally available at holiday accommodation – but today it something owners and managers realise is a pretty cheap and easy way to help make their property more family friendly.

With my focus on family friendly accommodation, it is something I often get asked – what exactly is family friendly?

Broadly, I say it is any holiday property that welcomes and caters for children. I think it is also about making the holiday experience as stress-free as possible for parents.

Owners of holiday houses and apartments are in the perfect position to set up a family friendly property – and many of them do.

This can include having safety and convenience features, such as stair gates, highchairs and cots included in the rental. A toy box and even boogie boards all add to the family experience. Older kids often appreciate an Xbox or WII games. Then there is plastic crockery to reduce the risk of breakages.

Many resort complexes are also becoming more aware of this important holiday market, offering beach and pool toys, wading pools and basic playgrounds. Some managers have relationships with local baby equipment hire companies, through which you can pre-arrange hire and delivery.

When it comes to hotels, offering interconnecting rooms as a package, not at a cost of 2 rooms, is another way to entice families to stay. I personally love an outside bar or café area with adjoining grassed or play area, perfect for a coffee or pre-dinner drink.

Location can be another factor. Proximity to a park, pathways, playgrounds or local shops can make it so much easier to keep young children entertained and happy.

At the top end of the scale are kids clubs and activities – more common in Pacific and Asian resorts, but also now offered by many larger Australian resorts and holiday parks during peak holiday periods.

But I think the difference with family holidays – compared to say, corporate accommodation, which expects a certain standard and consistency – is that a family can change their expectations for every holiday they have.

One holiday might see us wanting all the bells and whistles of a resort, but for the next, we want seclusion and basic comfort. Sometimes cooking is the last thing we want to think about, other times we prefer to self-cater.

Obviously I am just one person and I make these assumptions based on my own experiences, as well as those of friends and colleagues. I would love to hear your thoughts on what family friendly features you look for in your holiday accommodation.

I plan to summarise your feedback, so follow me on Facebook to keep up to date and continue to engage in the conversation.

And don’t forget to let me know if you have any family travel topics you would like me to write about.


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