Family travel gurus Smith & Family on where the kiddos can stretch their legs, breathe some fresh air, and let mama relax in ultimate luxury!
Looking for a natural playground where you and your little monsters can roam free? Here are five family-friendly Mr & Mrs Smith stays where ‘outside space’ doesn’t mean a poky balcony or broom-cupboard-sized ‘garden’. Put the iPods, iPads and iPhones down, happy campers: these hotels will have you forsaking tech toys for glorious Mother Nature.
Three magic words: treetop cabin suites. We’ll resist the obligatory Tarzan and Jane references and just tell you that this brilliant British hideaway is well worth monkeying around in. Wake up with the birds (from a safe distance, and with added luxury) in one of Chewton’s 12 Treehouse Suites, which have have hidden bunk areas for up to four children, as well as a dining and sitting area. Adults aren’t neglected, thanks to the covetable cedar and stone fittings and the rather sexy hot tub on your private covered deck – all 30 feet off the ground and framed by the forest canopy. Descend to ground level for mealtimes at swish Vetiver or the relaxed bar; alternatively, order a picnic hamper and trot off together to the grounds or beach. There’s no chance you’ll hear mewls of ‘I’m bored!’, thanks to the riding, fishing, sailing and even shooting on offer.
Family fact Baby Wellies and all manner of other mini-sized kit is available to borrow.
Smith Extra A half-bottle of Champagne in your room and breakfast (usually £20 a head).
The school playground will look a little lacklustre after a stay at Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley, which is a Jurassic Park without the dinosaurs (though there is an equestrian centre, with top-notch nags). Smiths of all sizes will go saucer-eyed and beaker-mouthed at the hotel’s 7,000-acre rugged wilderness: we’re talking fog-capped mountains, native bushland and rolling green fields dotted with kangaroos. Parents can put their feet up at Timeless Spa, which is open 8am–8pm; active sorts will love the wildlife tours, mountain biking, kite flying and horse riding. Gather your tribe for casual family meals at café-style Country Kitchen, or book a babysitter and rekindle the date nights of yore with a feast for two in the dazzling Wolgan Dining Room.
Family fact Cots can be added to rooms at no extra cost; babysitting is AU$40 an hour.
Smith Extra A bottle of local Orange or Mudgee wine on arrival. Lucky GoldSmiths also get a nine-course degustation dinner, matched with local wines.
Show us a child that doesn’t like tents and we’ll eat our cork-strung bush hat. This tree-fringed eco-retreat is only two hours from Sydney, but you’ll soon forget what a city feels like after a day here. If your offspring exist in a permanent state of uber-adrenalised excitement, fear not: Paperbark’s Staff know how to handle small, hyper humans. The hotel’s deliciously tiring pursuits include: bike rides, forest walks, canoeing, kayaking, surfing, snorkelling and swimming in Currambene Creek and Jervis Bay; of course, you can also set a slower pace with an in-tent spa or beauty treatment. Games of ‘I spy” will be way more interesting than they are back home, thanks to the obliging resident possums, kookaburra and other native animals in the trees around your tent; you can also hope for kangaroo sightings at dawn and dusk. Continuing the wild-at-heart theme, there’s even a treetop restaurant.
Family fact Gunyah restaurant has a hearty children’s menu: dishes include grilled local fish, spaghetti Bolognese, and sausages and mash; kids can eat here until 6.30pm.
Smith Extra A bottle of Australian sparkling wine on arrival.
In need of a jet-set jungle adventure? Look no further than mountain-spying Muthi Maya, whose charms include an 18-hole golf course, lush gardens, neighbouring forests and a rejuvenating spa and beauty salon for mums seeking a tropical pick-me-up. (On that note, Myth Bar does very good cocktails.) Villas have been thoughtfully designed for families, featuring mini kitchens, a separate living room and private plunge pools. There’s also a 30-metre infinity pool flanked by day-beds; take toys, sun lotion and your holiday read and settle in for a lazy afternoon. Keep the relaxation-ratings off the scale by summoning the services of your 24-hour butler, who can organise just about everything: private dinners in your villa, local activities (guided hikes, night safaris, mountain biking, bird watching and elephant trekking) and in-room spa treatments.
Family fact Cots for babies are free of charge; extra beds can be arranged for THB1,400.
Smith Extra A bottle of wine; 10 per cent off spa treatments and food and soft drinks in the hotel restaurants and bar (excludes alcohol, minibar snacks and room service).
Watched the Lion King? Loved the Lion King? You’ll all be singing ‘Hakuna Matata’ when you spy Singita Sweni’s game-viewing decks, indoor/outdoor showers and free minibars. Yes, there’s a pool, an adventurous chef, six romantic riverside rooms and a tempting onsite wine cellar, but the main reason you’re here has four legs and some splendid facial hair: go and spy on the local lions in a six-seater Land Rover. After a few days in Kruger National Park, you would be unlucky not to have spotted the Big Five: lions, leopards, elephants, Cape buffalo and black rhino. You’re also likely to spot the Five’s favourite food items: giraffes, wildebeests, impala and zebras.
Family fact Under-2s stay free; 2–16 year-olds are charged 50 per cent off the full rate when sharing with an adult or another child. Families must book a private safari vehicle (free for families of four or more with at least one child under 10).
Smith Extra A South African wine-tasting experience for guests staying three nights or more.
Smith & Family gives you the best price, guaranteed, as well as a little something extra on arrival. Book online at smithandfamily.com or by calling the expert Smith24 Team toll-free on +1 800 905 326.
Lead image (Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley) via Mr and Mrs Smith.