Five child-friendly hotels from i-escape kids, winner of Travel & Leisure Good Web Guide Award 2016.

Congratulations to i-escape kids for winning the Travel & Leisure Good Web Guide Award 2016. In January 2016,i-escape kids re-launched with an innovative, mobile-friendly design to highlight the key family-friendly features of the properties it lists.

The original founders of popular travel site i-escape (Laila Ram, Nikki Tinto and Editor-in-Chief Michael Cullen) all had children around the same time. ‘We were facing the same dilemma of where to go on holiday with our new families,’ said Laila and so the trio created i-escape kids.

Each of the 850+ properties in its Kids Collection is handpicked and personally reviewed to ensure it is stylish, and delivers for both parents and children. Many have kids clubs and pools, plus a spa and great restaurant with family meals. The honest, in-depth reviews and insider tips detail which age group the property is best suited to, which rooms to book, what baby equipment is present, and family-friendly activities at the property and nearby.

We asked co-founder Laila to choose five new additions to i-escape kids.

PORTUGAL: Martinhal Cascais, Cascais

This heaven-sent resort, forty-five minutes from Lisbon, opened this spring and was an instant hit with adults and children alike. We’d say it’s best suited to under-10s. It has an imaginative large playground, heated swimming pools (none too deep), kids menus, a kids’ clubhouse with activity sessions and a signature play camper van. Parent pampering is offered too, in the delightful spa, and through a choice of restaurants. All restaurants have a supervised playspace alongside to prevent kids melting down at the table. Babysitting is readily available if proper dining is preferred. Beaches are a few minutes down the road, as is the lovely seaside town of Cascais and the hotel arranges day trips to Lisbon and Sintra.

MALAYSIA: Batu Batu, Pulau Tengah, East Coast

Families seeking a back-to-nature vibe will love this barefoot-chic resort on a private island in the South China Sea. It has white sandy beaches and unspoilt coral reefs. There are just twenty-two traditional Malay villas; all are lovely in a low-key luxury way, and most have annexes with bunkbeds attached to the main bedroom. There’s a kids menu in the restaurant, a playhouse and an infinity pool. Watersports include kayaking, paddle boarding and snorkelling. Children over eight can take a Bubblemaker diving course. Guests release turtle hatchlings into the surf, take a walk through the jungle walk or have a family game of beach volleyball. Paradise found!

ITALIAN ALPS: Nira Montana, La Thuile

Nira Montana is a super-stylish Alpine hotel. The designer interiors (including tree-trunk bedside tables and statement wallpapers) may not seem an obvious choice for families. Yet this latest addition to the Kids Collection is actually a wonderful family hotel. It has a Kids Zone (fully loaded with toys, games and DVDs), pizzeria, and a heated indoor pool. Children sharing their parents' room stay for free and are welcomed with a teddy bear and are gifted biscuits on departure. La Thuile is a cool destination whether in summer (mountain biking, horse riding, zip-lining) or winter (skiing, snowboarding, husky dog sledding) so you’ll always find exciting activities for the whole family to enjoy.

CANARY ISLANDS: Baobab Suites, Tenerife

Apart-hotels are all the rage these days, and no wonder when they’re as elegant and well equipped as Baobab Suites. Sited within the Costa Adeje resort (just twenty minutes from the airport), these minimalist suites offer the independence of a self-catering apartment and the luxury of a hotel, with concierge services to boot. A fifteen-minute stroll down the hill brings you to sandy beaches with warm shallows (there are regular transfers if you prefer). On site, there is a free Kids Club for four-twelve year olds, a big playground and two swimming pools. Some suites have their own jacuzzi or pool, or even sunken sandpits on their private decks; a genius idea for those with small fry. Older children will enjoy the water parks, go-karting and banana boat rides nearby.

FRANCE: Languedoc Hideaways, nr Carcassonne

Officially launched at the beginning of 2016, and already a firm favourite with i-escape guests, these three boutique gîtes look westwards over valleys and vineyards. Interiors are a quirky mix of vintage finds and bespoke carpentry, all brought together with a deft touch and great prices. There’s a fenced swimming pool with valley views, a games barn with pool and table tennis, and a small playground, treehouse, hammocks and boxes of toys. The British owners live on-site and can assist with restaurant recommendations if you want a break from self-catering. The ambience is wholly relaxed. Collect eggs from the chickens, bounce on the trampoline, ride the rocking horse. Head out for the day to climb Cathar castles, discover market towns and visit local farms. Each gîte sleeps 2-7 or you can rent the whole property for 14 guests.

November 2016