Good Things in Smaller Packages; Q&A ; the Independent Parent: Your Questions Answered

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Send your family travel questions to S F Robinson, The Independent Parent, Travel Desk, The Independent, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL

Q. I am expecting twins in May, and we would love a late summer holiday in October. I know that many tour operators offer family services and clubs, but we prefer the idea of a smaller, less "jolly" hotel, though nothing too expensive. Any ideas?

Abigail Callaghan


A. Happily, Abigail, there is still a supply of small, more personal hotels around the Med, which may lack lavish facilities, children's clubs and entertainment, but where you'll be greeted by name, not by room number.

Few holidaymakers realise that hidden among the tonnage of brochures from tour operator Thomson is a modest programme called "Small and Friendly" which features quieter locations away from the more commercialised resorts and huge hotels, and offering a more personal taste of Mediterranean life.

Two different brochures cover the western and eastern Med. You can get them by phoning 0990 502555. There are 25 destinations throughout Spain and the Balearics, Tenerife, Portugal, Madeira, Croatia, Malta, Greece, Cyprus and Turkey. The hotels chosen are on beaches or in quiet parts of town, often family-run and homely, with simple comforts and services. Several offer good reductions for children - although as yours will still be under the two-year deadline when they have to have their own aircraft seats and you have to start paying for them, you'll only need to pay a nominal charge to the hotelier.

My own family has experience of The Travel Club of Upminster (01708 225000), which offers the simple three-star Hotel Miramar in Mallorca's Puerto Pollenca; it is right on the traffic-free promenade opposite a small sandy beach where you could let the twins crawl around in complete safety. The hotel has been in the same hands, the Sastre family, for over 80 years. They used to put up British families staying there to acclimatise en route for postings to India.

Puerto Pollenca is a superb resort, elegant, picturesque and relaxed. In October, you would pay pounds 388 for a week's half- board for each adult, and only pounds 168 each extra for a second week. Try to go early in October as the weather often changes after the middle of the month, when you'll also coincide with the busier and more expensive half-term week.

Still in Spain, some of the most charming family hotels are hidden away in the rugged northern Costa Brava that stretches 90 miles or so from the French border. There's a clutch of marvellous small resorts, great favourites with Spanish families; Aiguablava, Tamariu, Sa Riera, Llafranch and Calella de la Palafrugell are some of the best. For accommodation in this area, try Spanish Harbour Holidays (0117-986 0777).

You could also discuss your needs with the following companies: Sunvil (020 8568 4499) offers off-the-beaten track resorts and hotels in Greece and Cyprus; Lagrange (020 7371 6111) for France; and the Simply Travel Group (020 8994 4462) which is now part of Thomson but has so far maintained its own identity. …