Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Going Independent; Half-Term on Crete Keeps the Family Entertained - without Kids' Clubs

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Going Independent; Half-Term on Crete Keeps the Family Entertained - without Kids' Clubs

Article excerpt

Byline: ANDREW HEALEY

KIDS' clubs are great in principle, but our children are at an awkward stage right now. Fourteen-year-old Ryan is far too cool for that sort of thing, Adam (12) is an independent so-and-so and Caitlin (six) is still a wee bit clingy. We'd also rather get out and about than hang around all morning, waiting for the little darlings. So we were looking for a slightly less structured feel to our half-term break in Crete when we contacted the Travel Club of Upminster - a "family business" which gave us decent child discounts and then left us to get on with it.

The child-friendly aspects to this holiday were less obvious. No kids' club of course, but no night flights either - instead a 10am departure from Gatwick direct to Hania, on the peaceful north-western coast of the island, and a 40-minute coach transfer to Gerani. No family rooms - just a dozen, mostly one-bedroom apartments, facing either the orange grove or the pool. We bagged the only two-bedroom one and, because it was not busy, were given an extra one-bed as well.

There were no laid-on activities - the helpful (local, not imported) rep visits twice a week. No kids either, even though it was half-term: our fellow guests were much older than us.

We panicked for a moment, until we remembered why we'd come. Later, waved over from the poolside while the kids were picking peaches, I found myself sharing wine, raki (a fiery local hooch like grappa), tomatoes, sardines and two types of goat's cheese with Zina, the owner. This time we could trust Greeks bearing gifts: she had definite ideas of what we should do to keep the kids on side.

We followed her advice. After getting up when we wanted (the boys have missed so many 9am activities with us), having breakfast and a swim, we took our hire car off to several different beaches, to a water park, to the harbour for a boat trip, unanimously voted "the best bit" of our stay. They even enjoyed an architectural tour of the old town of Hania. Well, maybe not as much as the boat ride, but it only took a single ice-cream bribe to keep them sweet.

There's a decent bus service from Hania along the northern coast (past Gerani) and radiating out to attractions like the vast Limnoupolis water park at Varipetro. …

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