Fam­i­lyfriendly spas? It’s child’s play

The Sunday Telegraph - Travel - - Front Page -

The spa world is di­vided over what to do about chil­dren. Those who head off reg­u­larly to detox, lose weight or re­gain their mar­bles would rather share a sauna with Sad­dam Hus­sein than spend time sur­rounded by bounc­ing four-year-olds or bored 10-year-olds. But canny and suc­cess­ful ho­tel own­ers know that fraught par­ents need a break with a good dol­lop of pam­per­ing, which is one rea­son why Cal­cot Manor (cal­cot.co) – close to Prince Charles’s HQ at Tet­bury, Glouces­ter­shire – con­sis­tently tops the list of best ho­tel spas in Bri­tain.

Very early on, its man­age­ment re­alised that lo­cals pop­ping in for a mas­sage or a fa­cial dur­ing school hours were as im­por­tant a mar­ket as short-break week­enders. School hol­i­days posed a prob­lem, though, which is why the pool and its sur­rounds were opened to chil­dren at cer­tain hours of the af­ter­noon, if they were ac­com­pa­nied by an adult.

This be­came a blueprint for many ho­tel spas, but re­sort spas had to try harder. Af­ter all, they were hous­ing whole fam­i­lies for up to 14 nights. But it isn’t rocket science to re­alise that a happy child means a happy par­ent. Lots of re­sorts went into over­drive on kids’ clubs and ac­tiv­i­ties, such as the award-win­ning Forte Vil­lage (fortevil­lagere­sort.com) in Sar­dinia. Its staff and fa­cil­i­ties keep chil­dren so en­thralled and oc­cu­pied that the re­sort has be­come a sum­mer must, with groups of friends re­unit­ing there sum­mer af­ter sum­mer.

Foot­ball and face-paint­ing were first to ap­pear on the menu, fol­lowed by nail-paint­ing, hair-braid­ing and shoul­der mas­sages for both teenagers and smaller chil­dren – al­ways in the pres­ence of an adult.

The French, of course, were decades ahead. At Évian- les-Bains (evian.com) in the Haute-Savoie re­gion, mothers were en­cour­aged to take to the ther­mal wa­ters with their ba­bies. Pro­grammes were in­tro­duced teach­ing new mums how to mas­sage their off­spring in the wa­ter.

Grad­u­ally, spa re­sorts recog­nised the im­por­tance of the fam­ily mar­ket and be­gan to spend time, imag­i­na­tion and money on this new sec­tor. One of the most imag­i­na­tive re­sults emerged just a cou­ple of years ago at Stan­glwirt (stan­glwirt.com) in Aus­tria. It fea­tures a water­world with pools of dif­fer­ent depths for dif­fer­ent ages, plus a mag­nif­i­cent wa­ter slide that is 40ft high and 10 times as long. An­other at­trac­tion is a pool cin­ema show­ing chil­dren’s clas­sic movies.

Less sportif are the spa treat­ments of­fered at the Princess Yaiza re­sort (prince­sayaiza.com) in Lan­zarote, where chil­dren can share a 40-minute chocolate head and body mas­sage with a par­ent, us­ing chocolate-in­fused lo­tions and oils that smell just like the real thing.

At the Fon­taverde spa (fonteverdespa.com) in Italy, vis­it­ing chil­dren are given tow­elling robes and slip­pers and treated to yo­gurt face masks and candy-scented mas­sage oil treat­ments. Tak­ing it one step fur­ther, older chil­dren with nu­tri­tional queries or prob­lems such as teenage acne have ac­cess to a spe­cially trained di­eti­tian.

My Spa at Sani Beach (sani-re­sort.

Youth is no bar to spa ben­e­fits

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