Young Families Want More Than Just a Bargain Holiday!

As one might expect I get all sorts of emails land in my inbox.  Some of these emails are clearly spam and others are sent out giving information to people like myself to be used as content if we so wish.  Generally I don’t post these as I don’t have much time to also include content from others but having had a read of the information sent through from a company called Tots To Travel I thought that I might share some snippets with you, not because I needed content as I have plenty of my own but in this instance I thought that this might be of relevance to many of you.

The email titled “YOUNG FAMILIES DRIVE JANUARY HOLIDAY BOOKINGS – As holiday industry ‘bargain shouting’ falls on deaf ears –“ was an interesting read and actually stopped to make me think.

With the start of 2017 the initial overseas winter holiday market rush which initially began in December 2016 with the over 55’s is overtaken by young parents.  These young parents are on the hunt for holidays that are more than just a bargain.  When you have little ones there is so much more that needs to be considered aside from the price.

The UK’s leading baby and toddler-friendly holiday company Tots To Travel have been doing their research and the findings suggest the holiday preferences of parents with young children are based on compensating for the quality time challenges many face in their daily lives.  Parents with demanding full-time jobs or with larger families have less everyday quality time with their young children and these parents look to family holiday as the time to redress the balance.

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Time challenges at home

Although both parents will cherish the same top five weekly activities that they regard to be ‘quality time moments’ with their young children – such as cuddle time which has to be my favourite (76%), going to the park (73%), family walks (69%), bedtime stories (67%) and eating dinner together (66%) less than one in two fathers manage to enjoy a wide range of other important activities with their children during the typical week.  These include: eating breakfast together (47%), swimming (44%), taking family photos (42%), doing arts and crafts (38%), taking children to play dates or parties (25%) or going to a toddler group (26%).  The issues faced by fathers is mirrored by those working full-time.  Men are the primary breadwinners in two in three households suggesting the quality time gap is more a symptom of long working hours than being a gender divide.

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Similar challenges are faced by parents with three or more children (I would fall into this category), who simply don’t have the time to enjoy such a range of nourishing quality time moments at home with their young children (see table one).

Table one: Weekly quality time activities by number of children in the household

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child

2 children 3+ children
Going to the park/playing in the garden 73% 78% 62%
Going out for family walks or day trips 74% 67% 53%
One-to-one playtime (i.e. just me and my child) 71% 69% 40%
Reading bedtime stories 67% 71% 57%
Bath time “fun” 76% 60% 49%
Learning numbers and/or words 68% 64% 38%
Eating breakfast together 55% 50% 33%

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Quality time preferences drive holiday choices 

Recent figures indicate the number of UK people working more than 48 hours a week has increased by 350,000 in the last decade.  I work as many hours as I physically can from home around the children and their schedules.  The time challenges that families such as mine face at home plays out directly on what we look for from our family holiday.

  1. i) Choosing the resort

Whilst 41% of young parents do want a good deal it isn’t the only factor at play when we select our holiday destination.  With parents being more conscious about the foods their children eat a factor to consider is whether the resort offers child-friendly and nutritious menus rather than just smaller portions of adult menus and this was the top consideration (44%) in the survey carried out.  This was followed by a range of other convenience considerations that would free parents up to enjoy quality time with their children: Accommodation being close to shops and amenities (37%), having inter-connecting rooms as standard (25%) and the resort providing baby essentials including blackout blinds, baby monitors and sterilisers for free (24%).  These factors were all more important to parents with busy, full-time jobs at home.

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  1. ii) Getting there

Beyond simply choosing the location, factors that related to getting to the resort were also hugely important for young parents.  The majority (57%) would only consider a location that offered a direct flight (if there wasn’t a direct flight I wouldn’t even consider the location as an option), 53% said they would want to fly from a nearby airport and 43% would look for an easy transfer from airport to the resort.  Short flights were also crucial (46%) as was the ability to fly at a time of day that didn’t disrupt a child’s sleep or food routine.  Any recent holidays that I have been on have all been to places that had a flight time of under 5 hours as the thought of travelling further with my 3 little ones is not an option.

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Wendy Shand, Founding Director at Tots To Travel comments: “Despite all the economic gloom before Christmas, the holiday industry has started with a bang in 2017 and young families are becoming one of the key driving forces in the UK market. Whereas research in recent years has pointed towards a resurgence in staycations for many consumers, for parents of young children the overseas family holiday remains a keystone of their year and has a serious role to play. For young parents, the overseas holiday is one of the key times in the year when everyone gets the chance to enjoy quality time together – and quality time that isn’t against the clock as can be the case at home.

 

The work-life balance dynamics at home are changing the terms on what young parents want from a holiday abroad. A bargain is always welcome, but at a time of year when holiday firms are bombarding consumers with offers that don’t go much deeper than headline price, it is time for the industry at large to stand back, wake up and better understand what young families actually want from their fortnight abroad.”

 

At Tots, we are a holiday business by and for young families and in the last two weeks we have experienced a significant upturn in holiday enquiries. Christmas week and the summer holiday are possibly the two times of the year when young families can truly switch off and enjoy total and uninterrupted quality time with their young children. It is perhaps no surprise that once Christmas is over, many young families are keen to book their next tranche of quality family time before returning to work.”

 

The research was conducted by YouGov among a nat.rep sample of 519 young families.

To discover more about Tots To Travel and its difference visit: https://totstotravel.co.uk

Are you planning on travelling this year?

If you have children do they influence your holiday choices?

Photographs are copyright of Melanie Edjourian

Places I would Love to Visit in Sicily

Sicily, a multicultural island home to a stunning collection of architectural splendours, interesting, fresh and delicious cuisine and engaging activities that are guaranteed to create memories that will last a lifetime.  I can just picture myself relaxing in one of the beautiful villas in Sicily surrounded by the vast sea.  In my eagerness to find out more about the island, I came upon wishsicily.com which had everything I needed all on one site – accommodation (including a vast selection of Sicilian villas), flights, car rentals and details about various points of interest.

Palermo

Visiting Palermo is somewhat an adventure because although this may be a large city the rough beauty of the place is a mystery that sparks the imagination. It is a vibrant place but the untouched areas and the historic environment are reportedly still very Baroque.  There are a number of cathedrals, museums, monasteries and castles that I would love to visit.  The old and mythical feel of this place will certainly give the atmosphere of the medieval splendour.

Mount Etna

A very popular destination. A trip to Mount Etna is said to be rather fascinating. It is the dominating attraction in the East and it is still an active volcano which inspires me to take one of the many scheduled tours.  This legendary mountain has food stalls, picnic spots and fabulous panoramic views perfect for those that enjoy beautiful natural scenery and getting close to nature.

Agrigento

If I get to visit Agrigento I would like to visit both the Valle  dei Templi and Scala dei Turchi which are both UNESCO Heritage Sites.  Valle dei Templi or Valley of the Temples is one of the grandest works of Greek art and architecture. The surrounding olive groves and almond orchards mirror the magnificence of this amazing place.  I would also love to include the beaches of the Scala dei Turchi which are just a stone’s throw away from the temple site.

Taormina

This picture ­perfect place is popular among travellers. It is bustling with life which makes it appealing for day excursions. It overlooks the Ionian coast and it is filled with shops, markets, restaurants and beaches that will fill a day’s tour. I hear the cuisine is one of the best, too, perfect for a foodie like myself.  Syracuse is one of the historic cities of Sicily.  It is a collection of Greek culture, art and architecture.  It is the birthplace of Archimedes, a legendary mathematician which makes it all the more interesting. The magnificent Greek and Roman amphitheatres are located here as well.  It also includes Ortigia and the ruins of the Temple of Athena, an ancient UNESCO heritage site worth seeing. These are just a few of the many towns, islands and parks in Sicily that I would love to visit.

For those travelling with children why not visit Etna Land.  This is a theme park, dinosaur park and water park so is bound to keep little ones happy.

Have you ever been to one of these places?  Where did you go and what exciting things did you see?

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Malibu Factor 50

I use a high sun factor on my face most of the year.  In the summer I am guaranteed to remember to apply my factor 50 but in the winter I will admit it is a bit more hit and miss.  The sun has finally decided to show its face and I have had to stock up on sun protection to have enough to last myself and the children and not forgetting the hubby the duration of the summer period.

As well as the level of sun protection I can also be influenced the scent of a product when making my purchase.  Last year I discovered Malibu had the most amazing scented sun protector offering UVA and UVB protection that is supposed to last for the whole day (8 hours), has a SPFof 50, is water resistant, has a dry feel and is photostable.  It is as if they have bottled the aroma of a tropical holiday, I simple do love it as do my daughters who now refuse to wear their children’s factor 50 in favour of this product.

I normally reapply every few hours if I am visiting a hot climate to make sure I have as much protection as possible.  It is also suggested that the product is reapplied after swimming in case any of the product has rubbed off.  The product soak into the skin well and gives a light sheen but isn’t greasy to the touch and leaves the skin feeling silky soft too!

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Do you use a high sun factor on your skin?

Top Tips for Haggling when you are on Holiday

Are you off on holiday this year?

Are you planning on going shopping at any markets?

Do you know how to haggle?

Having had many years of experience in this field I thought I should share what I have learnt over the years for those that may not have had much practice in the art of haggling.  I’ve been haggling since I was a mini person so now even my mum gets me to haggle for her when we go away together.  It can be great fun and very satisfying to get a great discount.  And no it’s not cheeky, many market holders in countries such as Spain for example expect people to haggle so they actually hike up their prices in preparation.  Those that do not haggle are often caught out paying a third or even double more than what an item should have cost.

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Here are my top tips for haggling:

You should find they work pretty well.

* Make sure you have a range of notes / change on you in advance.  Change some at your hotel if you need to before you go out.

* It needs to be a place you can haggle ie. a market.

* Have a look around before you decide on an item.  If there are similar items on other stalls ask them the price then experiment with haggling with them first.  You don’t want to offend the person on the stall with the item you really want now do you!

* Offer a fair price, don’t try to discount the item excessively unless other stalls will go down that amount.

* If you have offered a fair price, initially stand your ground.  Brits are known for giving in easily when it comes to haggling and some stall holders take advantage of this knowledge.

* Mention that another / other stall(s) have the same item / similar for less.  Using your knowledge against them can be a valuable tool, don’t let them think you can be fooled easily.

* If they are still not budging offer to increase the amount by a little.

* Still no joy?  Flash your cash.  Don’t show more than the amount you are offering or the stall holder may not budge on the price.

* How are we doing?  Any lucky yet.  In some cases walking off helps, I have had numerous stall holders follow me down the market walkway saying “ok, yes I will do if for that price”, or something along those lines.

* Make sure you barter for something you actually want, it’s pointless for you and the stall holder to start the bartering process then you change your mind after the stall holder has caved and said they will sell for a lower price.  I’ve seen people do it and it’s not fair after all the effort!

Have fun!

Halfords ‘The Ultimate Camping Guide 2016’

Camping can be great fun for children and adults plus it can save you a fortune as an alternative to holidaying abroad.  I remember having gone camping with my school in Wales.  It was great fun and we got to do all sorts of activities but the best part for me was the evenings spent beside an enormous bonfire roasting marshmallows, singing songs and telling stories.  It’s a great educational tool as you can teach children about their surroundings, the local fauna and flora and even basic outdoor survival skills as using dock leaves on nettle stings to soothe the pain!  Sometimes you don’t even need to venture out too far to to make new friends.

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Camp sites have come a long way since when I was a child and now you don’t need to worry about taking a trip to the local bush if you need to go to the toilet (I don’t actually remember what we did then), you can now take a shower, you can even plug in a phone to charge or a hairdryer.  Camping is growing in popularity with lone adults, groups and families alike.  I keep hearing more families at my children’s school are off camping to various great locations.

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And then there is glamping!

Camping in luxury certainly appeals to me so much more now that I am older than going old school with the modern day perks.

I must admit it’s been a while since I last camped and I wouldn’t have a clue about locations or what I need but thankfully Halfords came to my rescue by sending me all the information I needed via ‘The Ultimate Camping Guide’ which you can download for free from their site ‘here‘.  On the guide you will find everything including information on what gear you will need, tips and recipes (their Campsite chilli con carne sounds yummy!), a great checklist at the back of the guide, information about camping abroad and also great UK camping locations.

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One site in the UK that stood out for me was Hooks House Farm Campsite, Whitby.  Apparently this is great for families, couples, cyclists and walkers (not the walking dead kind).  The farm has a lovely scenic location and is working farm!!!!  You’ll be seeing more then the horse in my top photo there.  There are also tips and tricks on their site plus information about the equipment that you will need which is great for the novices among us.  Don’t forget just because you are going camping it doesn’t mean you are stuck making your own food in a field.  If you do your research first you can make a note of good local restaurants that are worth visiting.  That really appeals to the foodie in me as I do like to experiment a bit with food.

Have you ever been camping or is glamping more to your taste?

Want to win two nights in a Camping Pod for up to 2 adults and 3 children (dogs welcome too!)

Click here to ‘enter‘.  Hurry to ends tonight!!!!

This is a sponsored post.

Fabulous All Inclusive Getaways for June 2016

Having written a post for all-inclusive holidays in May 2016 and rather enjoying looking at the various gorgeous holidays I wanted to do the same for June.  So here is my top 5 holiday round up for all-inclusive holidays abroad (short haul) for June 2016.

The Holiday Village Costa del Sol, Spain (First Choice Holidays) looks like a fabulous place for a getaway for those ready to pack their bags and jet off into the sunset (9th-16th June).  I do love the Costa del Sol with its beach walkways, great weather and gorgeous foods.  The swimming pool looks great here with panoramic views of the sea.  If you have young children Tivoli World  (a local theme park) is great fun, I’ve been there a few times myself.  There are also two street markets where you can get some lovely shoes, bags etc. (Again I’ve been there a few times, quite a few and you can get some great bargains, don’t be scared to haggle either).  They have all sorts of activities for children and adults at the hotel and some lovely local beaches.  It’s a bargain at £390 per person (pp) and is popular with Trip Advisor users having a rating of 4 out of 5.

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Another hotel from First Choice Holidays at a similar price bracket but at a slightly later date (14-22nd June) was the Hotel Flamingo Oasis in Benidorm, Costa Blanca, Spain (£374 pp).  Here it is all about location and this hotel has it all.  There are shops, bars and restaurants just across the way and Levante beach is just a 15 minute walk.  Another 4 out of 5 rating with Trip Advisor users this sounds like a great place to visit.

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Akti Beach Club in Kardamena, Kos, Greece (Thomson) has a great collection of pools, with 3 for adults and 4 for kids. Activities include things like archery, boules and water polo.  This will set you back £410 per person for all inclusive (15th-23rd June).  Scoring 4 out of 5 with Trip Advisor users it’s a popular choice.  It is located near a long sand and shingle beach and there is a free courtesy bus to the local village.

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Atlantica Porto Bello Beach in Helona Beach, Kos, Greece (Thomson) is on a beach and also has a water park!!!  Its £415 per person (14-22nd June), all-inclusive, scored 4 out of 5 on Trips Advisor and looks lovely!  It has a large pool, chutes, slides and a lazy river.

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The St Elias Resort in Protaras, Cyprus (Thomson) looks amazing and has just been refurbished (May 2016) as a result it only has 1 review on Trip Advisor but that is for 5 out of 5 and I am sure there will be more like that.  Costing £422 per person (15th-23rd June) I suggest you get your skates on and book this one before it books up.  It is located 15 minutes from a beach and from bars and restaurants.

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I hope you enjoyed reading my holiday round up for all-inclusive holidays for June 2016.

Where would you love to go next on holiday?

This is NOT a sponsored post.

Fabulous All Inclusive Getaways Abroad for Couples, Families and Minimoons May 2016

I was speaking to a bride to be who was asking if I had written any posts on minimoons.  Not having covered this topic just yet but having considered writing about great honeymoon destinations I thought I would assist especially as it is wedding season.

 Firstly, what is a minimoon?

 It’s a short holiday taken by newlyweds prior to a longer generally long haul holiday that is to be taken a year or a few years down the line when finances are a little healthier.  Having had a quick look online I discovered that although having been covered by others all those covered are luxury minimoons costing £2000 plus for the couple.  My intention is to take a look at possible locations for minimoons and general great holiday destinations that don’t cost an arm and a leg but are also of a good quality (I shall be looking at trip advisor reviews to help me).

 So whether you need to arrange a minimoon or simply want to book a last minute holiday for this month this is the blog post to read.

My posts will focus on warm locations and will feature all-inclusive holiday packages making life much easier for all.

 The Family Life Aegean Blue in Kolymbia, Rhodes can be found on the Thompson website.  Hurry if you want to go as its departing on the 11th May and returning on the 19th of May this looks like a great choice of hotel.  Located next to a sand and shingle beach you have your choice of beach or pool.  I should mention there’s a lagoon-style swimming pool a waterpark with tube slides, racers and a whole splash area just for little ones.  Apparently the premium rooms with pool entry are the best ones.  I love the fact these guys do a late breakfast for anyone that wants to lie in and they also provide picnic baskets if you are going out for the day, how lovely of them.  It costs £414 per person to visit this lovely 5T hotel which has been given 4.5 out of 5 by Trip Advisor users.  Parents will be pleased to hear they also have 3 age specific kids clubs!!!!  This is a perfect location for those wanting a relaxing holiday as it isn’t that close to shops etc.  For those with children look for an entertainer called Chris as apparently he is very good with little ones.  Evi and Sashia in the reception are apparently very patient and helpful, Alevizos who is a bartender working at the pool bar and is a pro at cocktail making so make sure you go find him for some great drinks!

Mayhol2016 1 Mayhol2016 2Tasia Maris Gardens in Nissi Beach, Larnaca, Cyprus is near a very popular sandy beach that I have actually visited a few times myself.  This is also near Ayia Napa which is full of restaurants, clubs and bars should you chose not to eat the hotel food one day or night.  Found on the First Choice website this is a 4* premier hotel voted as a 4.5 out of 5 by Trip Advisor users.  With poolside activities for children and adults and a children’s club there is plenty to keep all busy here not bad for £410 per person.  The flight departs on the 18th of May and returns on the 25th of May.  Walkways allow easy disabled access to the beach, a handy tip for the disabled and those with pushchairs.  Look out for Netta, Diana and Yianna on reception who are very helpful I hear.  Karen who does the daytime entertainment is very good and great fun, the barmaids Tamara and Nicolletta and waiters Andreas, Sobos and Christopher are all great so look out for them.

Mayhol2016 3 Mayhol2016 4Louis Phaethon Beach Club in Paphos Cyprus is a 4* according to First Choice and was voted 4.5 out of 5 by Trip Advisor users.  They have just about everything covered activity wise.  There’s a large pool, another with 6 slides which is open from May to October and an indoor pool with a big Jacuzzi (that’s where you’ll find me). There’s also a kids’ splash pool with tipping buckets and mushroom fountains.  As well as a buffet they have a restaurant that serves Chinese food and a Viennese café.  This price is for a holiday on the week beginning 18th of May the hotel is located in a quiet area by a small beach and it’s only 10 minutes by bus to Paphos harbour.  The cost for a week £438 per person.  The general manager Paraskevas is very welcoming, Nadia on reception is very smiley and friendly.  The entertainment team Carlie, Jax, and Chloe come highly recommended.

Mayhol2016 5 Mayhol2016 6SENTIDO Gran Canaria Princess in the Canary Islands (Thomas Cook) is an adults only hotel that has been given 4 out of 5 from Trip Advisor users.  Flying out from Birmingham on the 9th of May if you fancy going you had better get a wiggle on!  It’s a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence winner and at £493 per person seems like a great place to explore.  It isn’t far from the local beach and those that have visited have said that the hotel is lovely and clean, always a good sign and that the food was not only good but there was also a nice variety.  The hotel looks stunning and the perfect place for adults to unwind.  The higher floors that are south facing apparently have the best seaviews.  The hotel is approx. a 10 minute walk to the beach and the Yumbo centre.  I would love to go along sometime myself, who wants 3 children for the week?

Mayhol2016 7 SENTIDO Gran Canaria PrincessHotel Barceló Santiago in Tenerife is built into a cliff giving guests panoramic views over the island of La Gomera and Los Gigantes.  It’s just 5 minutes from a sandy beach and a 15 minute walk from Playa de Arena.  With 3 large pools and a range of activities for big and small including ride-on toys to mini-football nets for children (I know some adults that would love to play on those to) there is plenty to do.  I loved that the à la carte restaurant becomes a Tapas bar on certain days giving a bit more variety and beautiful views of Mount Teide.  They do of course have a kid’s club, handy for parents to take a break from the “mummy mummy are we there yet” scenarios if you fancy popping out for a spot of shopping.  At £447 per person you can visit this 4 T (Thompson) 4 out of 5 rated on Trip Advisor hotel from the 18th of May for a week.  Guests have reported spotting dolphins swimming in the ocean from the hotel and there are some great costal walking paths for those feeling a little adventurous.  There are also bars and restaurants nearby if you decide you something to eat on your travels.

Mayhol2016 9 Mayhol2016 10I hope you all love my selections and that they are useful for those planning a last minute trip this May.

Are you planning on going away this summer and if so have you decided where to go yet?

 

I’d love a London Holiday with my Girls

It’s 20:30 on Sunday 14th of February and a friend has just passed me over a link to a blogger competition.  Time is against me as this competition ends tonight at 23:59.  OMG!!!!  Hosted by icelolly.com this competition called Send Me Away has a fab prize on offer.  The prize is £1000 to put towards a dream holiday this year plus an Olympus Pen E-PL7 camera.  Am I game? hell yeah!!!  I’d love a little break away or a camera as both would come in handy having no breaks booked and issues with my existing camera.  The dilemma, I have a strawberry and vanilla sponge cake to make before I go to bed tonight, can I cope with both!!!  Well luckily my sponge was ready so all that was left was making the filling and preparing the strawberries.  Did I forget to mention I also have some other blog posts that need to be written and children that need putting to bed.  With the odds stacking up against me I began to type like a possessed woman.  If only I had trimmed my nails earlier this would be so much easier.

 So what is my dream destination for 2016?  icelolly has a wide variety of destinations on its books from Spain to Barbados, the Dominican Republic to the USA and many of which look fabulous over on their site.

P1110283P1030056P1030340I am sure all the other entries will feature gorgeous tropical beaches and exotic locations and that would be simple enough to write about but my dream holiday is a little different.  If I had £1000 to use on a holiday I would use it on a stay for myself and my girls in central London.  For those that are unaware I actually live in London.  So why choose London?  London is full of so many interesting and fun activities that I would love to experience with my little girls and I am sure they would have the time of their lives.  icelolly have some great theatre breaks in London, we could watch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or Matilda (depending on which the little ones preferred).  I’ve done my research and The Waldorf Hilton looks like it would be perfect whichever show we opt for as it is in the theatre district so it’s nice and easy to reach even for those with little legs.  Maybe we could pop along to the London Zoo whilst we are there followed by an afternoon tea provided my little chimps don’t get themselves locked in with the monkeys whilst at the zoo. The options are endless.  I could even show them the London sites which they have yet to see.

DSC00746DSC00795DSC00738We could pop into a museum or two making the visit not only fun but also educational (I’ll take any opportunity poor children).

DSC00763London is truly an exciting and interesting place which many Londoners don’t always get to fully experience which is such a shame.

The competition rules state that I should nominate 3 other bloggers to take part in this competition for my entry to count so I am selecting these three great bloggers:

Sarah from Life in a Breakdown

Rachel from U me and the kids

and last but not least

Di from Super Lucky

Hurry and enter guys and wishing you loads of luck if you do xxx

Now I’m off to finish the cake!

Wish me luck.

Should I give Center Parcs Another Chance?

I have been trying to decide whether or not to write this post since early last year.  Why???  I don’t really like writing posts negative posts about experiences or products etc. so these generally don’t make it to my blog.  Anyone that knows me and that would be quite a few people will all agree that I am a happy, fair and friendly individual that doesn’t like to cause trouble but will speak up on occasion should the need require.

So in this instance I am making an exception to my no negative blog post rule as it appears my issue doesn’t appear to be a one off.  To be fair this post mentions positive aspects too so it does actually fit in to a degree.  A number of Center Parcs clients appear to have been affected by the same issue that my group had last year.  How do I know this?  Probably due to the fact that I talk a fair amount and not just to a select few at the school gates (although I do NOT gossip!!!).  My dad thinks I am like donkey from Shrek (the movie with the big green ogre) and that the trick is getting me to be quiet, lol, thanks dad.

 This issue turned what should have been a lovely holiday into a total disaster and here is why.  Last year in March I went on holiday with my family to celebrate my dad’s 70th birthday.  My siblings and I had all discussed where to go and decide we wanted to relive the wonderful memories we had made during our childhood on our numerous visits to the various Center Parcs sites.  We booked the recently opened Woburn site as the accommodation at the last one that I had visited Elveden had been a little worse for wear a few years before.  Whose glad she took her bottle of dettol and some extra paper rolls that time around!!!!!!!

 We opted for a woodland lodge for our 2015 visit as it seemed to cover all our basic requirements.  We have been going to Center Parcs since I was little (it’s been a looooong time) and have been to most of their UK sites.  I loved it so much I even had my hen weekend there, although it was not your normal style hen weekend as my fiancé and other males were also invited (I tend not to follow the norm but like to do my own thing).

 Anyway last year extremely excited (me probably even more than the kids, lol) we drove to the site, checked in and collected the keys for what was to be our home for the weekend.  I was looking forward to my children (all 3) experiencing the beautiful scenery, the fabulous swimming facilities and getting that little bit closer to nature than normal.

DSC04263The lodge was well equipped although I must admit I did bring a few cooking essentials with me having remembered what I had to work with in the past.  The girls couldn’t wait to go and see the pool so of course we went swimming.  For those that haven’t been to Center Parcs this is one of the few things that you don’t have to pay for when you are there.  The subtropical swimming area is great for young and old although I did think the Woburn pool was a little lacking in comparison to that at Elveden Forest as for a start there were no hot whirlpools (with their own bubbles so you didn’t need to create your own, hey I never did lol). We ate out on numerous occasions and took part in various activities it wasn’t long until some of the party began to get ill.

DSC04229Not realising at first what the cause was at first we continued using the pool and more of the party began to feel ill.  Some of the party felt so ill that they almost went home on the Sunday.  By the time we had come home all but one out of the 9 of us were ill or showing the first signs of illness and through a simply differential diagnosis I deduced that the cause of the illness was actually cryptosporidium a microscopic parasite that is chlorine resistant.  I had thought this would be the case whilst on site so I made a point of mentioning the illness and likely cause to two members of staff but they didn’t seem that bothered.  I was surprised at the lack of interest in preventing this from happening to others as this was not what I had expected at all.

It was quite upsetting to have had this happen as it made what should have been a fun and positive experience the total opposite for all concerned and some of them now wouldn’t fancy returning.  I had wanted to begin making memories with my children but now when I mention Center Parcs they think of it as the place that made them ill, not a very good advert for them I am sure.  I was considering taking the children again this year my only concern would now be the swimming pool but as this is an important part of the holiday I am not sure exactly how this could be avoided.  This hasn’t happened every time we have been and clearly we were unlucky but as other families have said that they experienced the same thing at different sites it is not an isolated occurrence.  I will say that if we were to return that I doubt we would set foot in the children’s pool as this would be the most likely origin of the initial contamination.  What do you think guys, should I risk it and take the kids again???  Should I have contacted them and asked for compensation too considering what happened???  (I know others that tried this but had to keep on at Centre Parcs to get anything acceptable which was one reason why I didn’t bother at the time.)

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I want to go to Florida with Ocean Florida!!!

Planning a trip to Floria?  I wish I was!!!  I went years ago and the first thing that I noticed was how much fresher and cleaner the air there seemed.  It’s gorgeous in Florida, the beaches are amazing with their crystal clear waters the scenery especially the Keys and the locals simply love the British accent.  I came across a company on twitter called Ocean Florida who specialise in trips to Florida offering a whole range of options.

Ocean FloridaOcean Florida asked if I would like to host a giveaway for one of their goody bags and I of course said yes after checking out their site that is.  I’m really loving this company, they are the UK’s leading Independent Florida Specialist and cover Disney World Florida as well as the Key’s.  I will admit I have travelled to my fair share of places around the world but one place that I really want to revisit is Marco Island in Florida.  We spent 1 day and one night there but severe weather forced us to move elsewhere.  It would be a dream come true to revisit that part of Florida and it just so happens that they have hotels and villas available there OMG!!! (If I do get to go you know who I will be booking with).  I mentioned a competition!!!  Ocean Florida have kindly said that I can give away a goody bag as seen below (contents may vary slightly from those shown).DSC04518To enter just fill in the Rafflecopter form:

 Not sure how to?

 Don’t worry just have a quick read of this and see how easy it is:

 http://melaniesfabfinds.co.uk/competitions/how-to-enter-rafflecopter-competitions/

 Not all of the entry options are compulsory but the more you do the more entries you will gain.  Look out for the daily entry options for extra entries.

 Likes on Facebook are NOT compulsory but are very much appreciated plus it will ensure you don’t miss great posts, freebies and competitions.

 (Please do not cheat, anyone caught doing so will be disqualified)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This is NOT a sponsored post.