Why It’s Time to Stop Being Snobby About All-Inclusives

My middle daughter Bliss hasn’t had a proper holiday in five years. She’s a great traveller, but two small children (and lockdown) have left her feeling pretty stuck. My dream was to take them away before her eldest, four-year-old Elliott, starts school and they get stuck in the school holidays. Her daughter Ivy is two.

Because they live in South London and we live in the North, my eldest joked: “They’re lost to us now.” That’s not true, but I don’t spend as much time with my grandchildren as I would like.

What I wanted was a vacation that would appeal to me, give my daughter a break, and be an adventure for Ivy and Elliott. How could one place handle these conflicting demands?

I wanted decent food, a spa, and some privacy away from the kids, and some family time. Elliott wanted to see a gecko. Bliss wanted to relax and have the chance to wear pretty dresses in the evening and sit outside and eat. You forget how precious those things become with small children.

The Wyndham Grand Crete Mirabello Bay looked too good to be true. A villa in a resort and all-inclusive. I really don’t get why people turn their noses up at all-inclusive deals. Sure, I’ve had a few when my kids were little in Mallorca and Tunisia where the food was pretty bad, but a good all-inclusive gives you more time and space. There are plenty of fancy all-inclusive options in Europe to choose from these days.

A good all-inclusive will give you time and space – and these days there are plenty of elegant all-inclusive options to choose from in Europe

You don’t have to worry about meals, poolside snacks or the price of tequila. It’s bliss. No one is going to leave you with a huge bill at the end of your vacation because you said yes to every request for ice cream (since you’ve long since given up on the idea of ​​letting them eat vegetables on vacation).

So, Crete it was. And really, can you go wrong with Greece? I’m not sure. I’ve been all over the world and rediscovered Greece a few years ago. I wondered why I would take long flights when Greece’s many treasures are within easy reach.

To say the kids were over excited is an understatement. They had packed their little suitcases a week before we left. They had never flown before and I was just worried that nothing would meet their expectations, but Jet2 made sure we were all seated together, even though we had booked last minute. We were picked up from Heraklion in a cool car and checked in less than an hour later.

It was late so the hotel had left us platters of charcuterie, cheese and cake. And a bottle of bubbly. My bedroom and large bathroom were downstairs. Bliss and the kids were upstairs with their own bathroom and large TVs in both rooms. The best part though was our terrace with our own pool overlooking the bay.

    (Wyndham Grand Crete Mirabello Bay)

(Wyndham Grand Crete Mirabello Bay)

Magic. The only thing we had to worry about was Ivy, who at two takes after her reckless mother and is prone to throwing herself in the water, despite the fact that she can’t swim. Luckily, Bliss was equipped with the latest floating things that little ones wear.

The kids were up for breakfast. Pancakes and sausages with chocolate sauce. Me? I was just happy about the coffee maker in the room. The big question of the day: where are we going to swim? So many pools, so little time! We of course dived into our own pool and then to the children’s pool with water slides. There is an adult pool for those who want peace and quiet and another with a swim-up bar for those who want to romp around and be booed by gym bunnies.

Water aerobics? Our toughest activity that day was wine tasting. I thought we were supposed to send the kids to the kids club, but I had forgotten how welcoming the Greeks are to children. “They can taste wine, why not?” So they went into the spooky cave for apple juice, while we tasted Greek and specifically Cretan wines.

There was a kids disco every night. If you haven’t heard I’m a Gummy Bear mixed with Dame Shirley Bassey and then hard house Macarena, you honestly haven’t lived. There were shows too, but our kids were exhausted by then and so were we. Those signature cocktails don’t drink themselves, you know.

The highlight of the next day was Elliott learning to swim. “This is the best day of my life,” he declared. In fact, he said that about every day of the holiday, which to me are the highlights of Gran.

Octopus with Favorite at the Bay Grill (Suzanne Moore)Octopus with Favorite at the Bay Grill (Suzanne Moore)

Octopus with Favorite at the Bay Grill (Suzanne Moore)

We ate at all the different restaurants. Bliss had a beautiful octopus with fava at the Bay Grill. For those without children there is a shisha patio and all sorts of water sports from diving to pedalos, as well as a large fully equipped gym and indoor pool.

The whole idea of ​​this resort is that you can shape your holiday to your own wishes. Everything is there, but if you want to explore Crete, you can. There is a shop in the hotel where you can buy volcanic soap, groceries and spectacular jewellery. Bliss and I both had an anti-stress massage in the spa, but honestly the whole place is stress-free.

The buffets are not the crazy overcrowded affairs you see in some places, there is plenty of shade around the pools and beach. Nothing is too much for the staff. When we asked for a change of sheets as Ivy was a bit unwell they asked if we needed a doctor. She was perfectly fine but maybe four desserts would have been too ambitious

After Elliot learned to swim, he also really enjoyed the golf carts, which also allowed him to drive.

On the last day we took a speedboat to the island of Spinalonga. It was amazing — we sailed past caves where pirates had stored their catch. While I was a little nervous, Ivy was yelling “Faster, faster.” Bliss and the kids sat on the edge of the boat, dragging their feet in the cobalt blue water. Manos, the skipper, then of course handed the wheel over to Elliott, who I thought was going to explode with excitement.

That evening as I headed out for my sundowner (Bliss and I allowed each other little breaks, as you need), I felt overwhelmed with happiness. It’s not often that something meets everyone’s expectations. She WhatsApped me back Elliott’s wisdom announcing: “What’s better than walking in wet shoes in Greece on a hot day?”

The Open Air Cinema at Wyndham Grand Crete Mirabello Bay (Wyndham Grand Crete Mirabello Bay)The Open Air Cinema at Wyndham Grand Crete Mirabello Bay (Wyndham Grand Crete Mirabello Bay)

The Open Air Cinema at Wyndham Grand Crete Mirabello Bay (Wyndham Grand Crete Mirabello Bay)

The formula for a multi-generational vacation is simple: if the kids are happy, the adults are happy. But that alone isn’t enough, and I’ve traveled enough to know that adults deserve a little luxury too, or you can feel infantile in a world of chicken nuggets and magic shows.

Here, adults can be adults too — from fine dining to spa treatments to adventure sports. I enjoyed spending adult time with my adult daughter just as much as I enjoyed spending time with the grandkids. Wyndham lets you create the vacation you want. And we certainly did. Nothing but the most amazing memories.

Deluxe Garden View Room on a bed and breakfast basis, from £207 per night in high season and £189 per night in the shoulder months of September/October. wyndhamgrandmirabello.com

Daios Cove Crete (Daios Cover)Daios Cove Crete (Daios Cover)

Daios Cove Crete (Daios Cover)

Five more family-friendly all-inclusive hotels

Daios Cove Crete

A five-star resort on the Aegean Sea. Wellness is key (hyperbaric chambers! 3D body scans! Cryotherapy!) and the kids’ club is for little ones from four months old. And breathe…

From £612 per night, daioscovecrete.com

Ikos Porto Petro Mallorca

Ikos specialises in super-luxurious all-inclusives, so you’re in extremely safe hands. It has five pools, five restaurants (with Michelin-starred chefs, no less) and six bars, including a theatre.

From £1,457 for five nights, ikosresorts.com

A room in Ikos Porto Petro Mallorca (Ikos Porto Petro)A room in Ikos Porto Petro Mallorca (Ikos Porto Petro)

A room in Ikos Porto Petro Mallorca (Ikos Porto Petro)

Elix, Mar-Bella Collection Parga, Greece

Unlimited ice cream, champagne and Ofsted-grade kids clubs all day long. What else do you need to know?

From £270 per night, marbella.gr

Tivoli Alvor Algarve Resort Portugal

A great offer with almost 500 rooms and endless daily activities for children. The beautiful beach is just a 10 minute walk away and there is a circus on Saturdays. Come on!

From £206 per night, tivolihotels.com

Gran Tacande Wellness & Relax Tenerife

Huge bedrooms, sea views and the most fantastic staff make this an affordable choice you won’t regret.

From £136 per night, dreamplacehotels.com

Leave a Comment