UK holidaymakers look for memory-making family trips to save money

According to research conducted by London North Eastern Railway (LNER), family leisure trips, memory-making experiences and time spent together really matter for nine in 10 families, who are looking for summer savings to offset rising cost of living.

The online survey conducted for LNER by UK parenting network Mumsnet, showed that 91 per cent of people agree that leisure trips are important for bonding and making memories, leading to 85 per cent looking for deals.

London tops the list of places families want to visit most along the 900-mile LNER network, followed by York and Edinburgh. The Northumberland coast, Newcastle, Leeds, Harrogate and Lincoln also feature among the top ten destinations.

On the choice of destinations, 82 per cent of people opted for a coastal escape, while 76 per cent were looking to visit organised attractions.

Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty also proved popular destinations with 63 per cent of respondents, along with visits to towns and cities to make the most of the cultural, tourism and shopping scene.

David Horne, Managing Director at LNER, said: ‘At LNER we’ve been welcoming more people back to travel with us faster than any other train company in Britain. We want to help even more people take advantage of ways to save money for a great value getaway. From booking direct to enjoying some of the many free experiences and attractions at the fantastic selection of destinations we serve, there’s many ways people can save money and have a low-cost, highly memorable trip away.’

Justine Roberts, CEO and founder of Mumsnet, said: ‘We know from Mumsnet users that spending quality time together is one of the most important elements of family life. With the cost of living rising and parents therefore budgeting harder, getting the best value for money possible will be more important than ever for those considering a family day out.’

Around 42 per cent of respondents said that day trips will replace some of their long breaks as a way of saving money. LNER’s Family Return tickets offer fixed price travel for up to two adults and four children between a variety of destinations, with fares starting from £49 for the whole group.

Customers who plan ahead and book direct via the LNER website or app are able to secure Advance fares with no booking fee. There are also savings for those with Railcards offering up to a third off and by joining LNER’s loyalty scheme LNER Perks, members can earn £5 credit for signing up and two per cent credit back on each LNER journey.

Thomson and First Choice offer half term getaways

With half term fast approaching, Thomson and First Choice are offering a range of holiday getaways centred around the whole family.

The resorts and locales on offer include Thomson Sensatori – Crete, Thomson Family Resorts – Majorca and Kos, Holiday Village – Cyprus and SplashWorld – Majorca.

Thomson Sensatori resorts is claimed to have much to offer for families – parents can enjoy quality time with little ones at the Stay and Play sessions at the Play House. UK-accredited childcare staff is also on hand day or night to treat children to parties, movies and sleepovers. Thomson offers seven night holidays to Crete with stay at the 5T Sensatori Resort Crete on a full board basis from £740 per adult, while the first child travels from £550 and from £614 for the second.

The select Thomson Family Resorts collection features 4T and 5T hotels designed for family holidays. Family Resorts, which comes with the standard children’s buffets and family-size rooms, also offer locations near the beach. Thomson offers seven night holidays to Majorca with stay at the 4T+ Protur Aparthotel Bonaire Thomson Family Resort on a half board basis from £589 per adult, first child travels from £469 and from £535 for the second.

Thomson offers seven night holidays to Kos with stay at the 5T Blue Lagoon Village Thomson Family Resort on an all-inclusive basis from £1,180 per adult, first child travels from £529 and from £615 for the second. Price is based on a family of four sharing and includes flights departing from Cardiff airport on the 24th May 2014.

Cyprus Holiday Villages boasts kids’ clubs, academies and dedicated activities for teenagers as part of the deal. First Choice offers seven night holidays to Cyprus with stay at the 4Sun Holiday Village Aliathon on an all-inclusive basis from £914 per adult, children travel from £584.

SplashWorld holidays offer families a trip to the waterpark, as unlimited access is included in the price. First Choice offers seven night holidays to Majorca with stay at the 3Sun Hotel Saturno SplashWorld Resort on an all-inclusive basis from £774 per adult, first child travels from £485 and from £570 for the second.

All prices are based on a family of four sharing. Flights to the different destinations are now operating from London Stansted, Newcastle, Cardiff airport and Doncaster Sheffield.

Skyscanner survey names Heathrow Europe’s best airport for families

London Heathrow has been named the best European airport for families, according to a study conducted by travel search site, Skyscanner.

Skyscanner commissioned the study with the help of 35 family travel experts, who rated Europe’s top 20 airports by passenger numbers, for their family facilities. Paris Orly and Moscow DME failed to qualify as not enough valid scores were received for those airports.

Each airport was marked for its baby changing facilities, security process, food offerings and entertainment, as well as an overall general family friendly score to take into account accessibility, the check-in process and baggage reclaim.

In 2012, the same Skyscanner study named Heathrow the least family friendly airport in the UK. The airport has faced tough competition across Europe, including from the major hubs of Frankfurt and Paris Charles De Gaulle.

Skyscanner’s Mary Porter commented: ‘This is great news for Heathrow and, although the sample was small, it is these personal experiences by those in the know that really demonstrate how well an airport is meeting the needs of its youngest customers.

‘Flying with a family can be challenging and it is great to see airports addressing this. Judging by the results of our study, this has certainly paid off for Heathrow and our hope is that other airports will now look to take similar steps, making life as easy as possible for flying families.’

Europe’s busiest airport, carrying almost 70 million passengers each year, London Heathrow is also presently the world’s busiest airport. The airport said that over the past 18 months it has invested heavily in its facilities for families, including the introduction of play areas in each terminal and a dedicated family lounge.

The study focused on families with pre-school children and was conducted from June to September this year. The family travel experts included bloggers from across Europe, including Spain, Italy, Russia and Germany.


Top sun-kissed destinations for family holidays

Are you aching to get away from the drizzle of the UK and feel the sun on the back of your neck? With plenty of sun-kissed destinations perfectly suited to family holidays, we take a look at the locations which could bring you the sunshine you deserve over coming months.

Orlando, Florida (USA)

If you’re looking for a fun-packed holiday with lots days out, Orlando is certainly a good option. Located in sunny Florida, famous for its pleasant climate, Orlando boasts such attractions as Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Studios, SeaWorld Orlando, the Kennedy Space Center and much more.

If your kids are the kind that love Disney movies (let’s face, don’t they all?) the chance to get up close to their favourite characters like Mickey Mouse and Dumbo will be an experience they will remember their whole lives.

For the parents, there’s always the swimming pool to lounge around at, or if you fancy leaving your accommodation there is a great range of golf courses for you to practise your swing.

Consider staying in one of the many villas that have sprung up to cater for the family market and enjoy the sun in what can only be described as a home-from-home.

Ibiza, Spain

You may associate the Balearic island of Ibiza with wild nightlife and never-ending parties but the reality is far different. Whilst active nightlife is one feature of the island, there are plenty of family-friendly resorts located on it too.

Choosing villas in Ibiza can be hard – there are just so many spots to choose from – but wherever you choose to stay you can be guaranteed of a warm welcome. Even the properties themselves are designed to reflect the warmth of the area and are usually painted in a traditional whitewash to reflect the heat of the sun.

The island is perhaps most popular for its beaches, which offer warm waters and cool sands for the enjoyment of parents and children alike. If you’re looking for something a little more active, the island has some great snorkelling and diving activities on offer with the chance to see plenty of wildlife in its natural habitat.

Almeria, Spain

Almeria is known for having the ‘best’ climate in Europe for a sunny break, with an amazing 3,127 hours sunlight a year and mild winters. The region’s scenery is astonishing; the long, deserted beaches are overlooked by rocky outcrops that are starkly beautiful.

You can sunbathe all you like on one of the resort’s unspoilt beaches which are sure to be a walk away from your villa. This is thanks to the popularity of Almeria, which sees reputable brands such as James Villas offer a range of accommodation in the local area.

For a day out and an educational trip for the kids, explore Spain’s Moorish past by visiting the hilltop fort of La Alcazaba, which dominates the skyline of the town. After this you can visit the Cabo de Gata Natural Park, a wild and isolated landscape dotted with picturesque fishing villages.

Edinburgh named as most family-friendly airport

A study has revealed that parents find Scottish airports the most family friendly, with Edinburgh being rated the best in the UK, followed closely by Glasgow.

As part of the study, Skyscanner asked parents to rate airport facilities for children allowing them to establish which airports best catered for families.

Airports were rated on children’s play areas and facilities, food options for children and the efficiency of the security process.

Edinburgh Airport – which caters for more than 9million passengers each year – was praised for its family friendly restaurants, which provide a wide choice of food.

Parents recommended the airport for its runway viewing areas and its accessibility, whereas Glasgow International was rated highly for the variety of children’s play areas.

Mary Porter, Skyscanner’s family expert said: “We conducted this study following a consumer survey last year which saw 59 per cent of people state that UK airports failed to cater for families”.

Liverpool and Manchester Airports were ranked third and fourth in the survey complied of parents, and Gatwick followed in fifth place.

However the UK’s busiest airport Gatwick – which caters for more than 69 million passengers each year – only came in at 10th place.

The airport was criticised for the lack of children’s play areas, small seatings areas and overcrowding.

Birmingham Airport was ranked 7th place after 45 per cent of families travelling through the hub claimed the process was ‘too long.’

She added: “It is encouraging that several airports across the UK are now well prepared for family travellers and no airport scored less than six marks out of a possible 10”.

It is no wonder that young children who have already experienced long queues and little entertainment at the airport are then prone to having meltdowns by the time they board the aircraft.

“By catering better for them at the airport, the on board experience could be far less stressful for families and in turn more enjoyable for all passengers”.

Article by Charlotte Greenhalgh

Last Minute Family Holidays: The Good, The Great And The Grand

Whether you jet off to South Beach, cruise to the Caribbean or schedule last minute holidays in a chalet in Spain, enjoying family holidays together can bring people closer than anything else can. Children grow up much too fast, so it’s important for parents to set aside quality time to spend with them. Exploring the world’s best vacation destinations together is a great way to do it.

South Beach is a popular vacation destination. First head to Collins Avenue to see the colorful Art Deco buildings and the other amazing South Beach landmarks. Next sample the spicy ethnic cooking and watch the surfers and beautiful people as they frolic in the warm waters and milk white sands. As the sun sets visit Washington Avenue where people party like rock stars. Finally, relax at your hotel. The right hotel can take your family holidays to another level. The Ritz-Carlton South Beach with their ocean front location, suites mimicking a yacht’s stateroom, upscale dining and elevated pool with private cabanas are an experience your family will never forget. The Setai, W South Beach and the Mandarin Oriental Miami also offer luxury, fantastic ocean views and top quality amenities.

The tropical climate, excellent beaches, warm waters, brilliant sunshine and cool Trade Winds draw many people looking for unique family holidays to the Caribbean. For last minute holidays Jamaica is ideal. The Half Moon A Rock Resort in Montego Bay offers villa holidays on their 400 acre landscaped beachfront grounds. Each villa has a pool and private staff. You can explore the beach, swim in their exclusive natural Dolphin Lagoon, play golf or tennis and Jet Ski, water ski, and parasail to your hearts content. The experience at Jamaica Inn in Ocho Rios, Moon Dance Villas in Negril and Sandals Royal Plantation will also leave the whole family saying: ‘Jamaica, Jamaica!’

There is no better place for family holidays than Spain. In this land bordering the Mediterranean Sea you can relax in the lap of luxury at places like the Hotel Arts Barcelona, Barceló Sancti Petri Spa Resort in Cadiz, The Westin Palace Madrid and the Gran Hotel la Perla in Pamplona. All of these feature furniture, food and fun fit for a king. The rooms are spacious and well appointed, the service is superb and the culture, climate and character of the inhabitants will make you wish your family holidays never had to end.

Half price UK breaks until the end of June with Haven Holidays

Haven Holidays have re-introduced their half price holiday offer up to the end of June – so families can enjoy four night UK breaks at Seton Sands on the Firth of Forth from as little as £99 in June for up to six people! School holiday breaks start at just £199 for three nights arriving on July 1st or £499 for 7 nights.

There are loads of activities to keep family members of all ages entertained at Seton Sands Holiday Park, plenty of which is included in the cost. Plus, picking one of Haven’s Scottish parks means you can be on holiday and enjoying yourself in less time than it takes to check in at the airport!

Little ones will enjoy pint-sized fun with Little Cubs Club for 0-4 year olds, splash-teeny fun in and around the heated indoor pool, water confidence sessions, indoor and outdoor play areas and free mini-archery and mini-fencing sessions.

Children’s favourite Polly celebrates her birthday between Mon 11th – Fri 15th July. Highlight of the week will be Polly’s Party, when everyone’s invited to join in with party games and dances, cupcake decorating and a special birthday show.

Other activities available at no extra cost include the Wildlife Detectives with mini-beast hunts and a nature trail around the Park, character Olympics with Haven’s own Rory the Tiger, Annabel’s Creative Kitchen – fun cooking sessions created in conjunction with TV presenter and children’s cooking guru Annabel Karmel and family entertainment in the evenings.

And it’s not just about little ones. When schools break up there’s loads for bigger kids and grown ups too with organised sports and activities, kids’ clubs, daytime and evening entertainment.

Check out parks with golf courses, climbing walls, Laser Combat Zones, Adventure Golf, indoor and outdoor sports zones and even Spas!

Facilities and family holiday deals vary from park so check the website or phone for details. Click or call 0871 230 1900.