Whether you’re after ski field access for pocket change or private island luxury, Dilvin Yasa discovers child-friendly holidays are in abundance for every budget. Here are the best family-friendly places to holiday with kids.
If it were up to our children, every school holiday would be spent living it up at Disneyland, but if – like every other parent – you’re on a budget or you’re alternating the pricier trips with the more budget-friendly, you may want to consider picking and choosing from the following options.
>>> Luxe family holidays…
Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley, NSW
Offering families 1620 jaw-dropping hectares of pristine wilderness to explore (not to mention your own heated indoor pool, spectacular dining room and invigorating spa), where better to yank your children from their all-consuming gadgets and immerse them into everything our unique Aussie environment has to offer?
Giving a wide berth to the traditional primary colour-soaked kids clubs often found in many other resorts, at Wolgan Valley, kids under eight (juniors) and those aged nine plus (seniors) are instead treated to age-appropriate ranger programs. In these programs – held during the school holidays – kids can learn everything from bush survival skills (perhaps not so essential, mind you, when you’re staying at a resort that charges $2500 a night) and orienteering, to archery and bush craft. Mid-term, field guides are available to take the kids exploring in all-terrain vehicles, and horse riding, biking and hiking activities are always on offer.
Saffire Freycinet, Coles Bay, TAS
Nope, not a ‘family’ resort as you know it, but if you’re looking for a luxury holiday where you can truly unwind at the same time you’re fostering a great love of nature within your little ones (dynamic parenting tick!), there’s no greater place to check in. Ideal for children aged seven and up, there are plenty of activities to be enjoyed at Saffire Freycinet with a wide collection of board and beach games offered, as well as kite flying, craft and bike riding.
This is all great, but it’s really the property’s position on one of Tasmania’s most scenic spots which lends itself to a large number of adventures to be had. Send the kids out on long guided walks and Tasmanian devil experiences while you relax in the spa. Rates at Saffire Freycinet start from $2100 per night.
Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef, Qld
Traditionally thought of as the kind of place where children are made and not heard, Lizard Island is probably about as child-friendly as it gets without reaching back into a world filled with dessert buffets and traditional kids clubs.
This isn’t to say it doesn’t have a kids club – it’s just that it’s the outdoors kind where junior guests can take part in snorkelling, diving, kayaking, paddle-boarding and hiking. Lizard Island accepts children over 10, and they’re welcome to use all facilities. Priced from $1899 per night.
>>> Mid-range family holidays…
Cable Beach Club Resort & Spa, Cable Beach, WA
With an adults-only pool retreat, invigorating Chahoya Spa by L’Occitane and one of the country’s best beaches, Cable Beach Club Resort & Spa has long been a favourite with honeymooners, but it’s just as popular with the kids and it’s easy to see why.
Picture a lagoon-style family pool (complete with water playground) set in tropical gardens, and add to that a traditional playground, mini-golf and activity centre plus games around the clock. Now throw in the opportunity to ride a camel (or a hovercraft), hang out at the outdoor cinema or check out some crocs and you can be sure you’ll never once hear, “Muuuum, I’m bored!” Rates start from $299 for a classic bungalow that sleeps four.
Fairmont Resort, Leura, NSW
Thinking of treating the family to a trip to the Blue Mountains? Just as exciting as the destination itself is a stay at the gorgeous Fairmont Resort, which effortlessly combines old-school glamour (think wood burning fires and opulent foyers) with mod-cons the whole family can enjoy. Mums and dads will be thrilled with the interconnecting rooms, dining and wellness options, but kids of all ages will be even happier with the ten-pin bowling alley, merry-go-round, jungle gym and mirror maze arcade in the KidsZone.
Add to that golf classes for juniors at nearby Leura Golf Club, indoor and outdoor pools, mini electric car rides, pony rides and the infamous Fairmont Express Train and you’re only just scratching the tip of the iceberg. The fun at Fairmont Resort starts from $249 a night.
Turtle Beach Resort, Gold Coast, Qld
No Australian childhood is complete without at least one Gold Coast holiday memory and there’s no better source to get those pictures burned in your children’s minds than at Turtle Beach Resort, located on Mermaid Beach, Gold Coast. The rooms at Turtle Beach Resort aren’t going to be winning design awards any time soon, that much is certain, however when it comes to offering those big ticket items that make families happy, it’s got it all in spades and more.
Facilities include four swimming areas (including one adults-only), splash park, cinema, mini golf, arcade games and a dedicated kids club so parents can actually rest and get a little bit of well-deserved time off. And of course, it’s only a short drive away from all of the major theme parks… Rates start from $250 a night.
>>> Less: budget family holidays…
NRMA Treasure Island Holiday Park, Biggera Waters, Qld
Fancy having access to three resort pools, tennis courts, an on-site water park, and a dedicated kids club where children can ride go-karts or use the play centre until the sun sets for only $50 a night? It’s not a dream, but the reality of booking a site at NRMA Treasure Island Holiday Park on the Gold Coast.
Offering families a wide range of accommodation options from powered sites to three-bedroom luxury villas, NRMA Treasure Island Holiday Park is located 10 minutes north of Surfers Paradise so that should the kids tire of the park’s giant pillows, playground and activities (not likely), theme parks, beaches and shopping destinations are only a short drive away.
Discovery Holiday Parks, Jindabyne, NSW
Dreaming of hitting the slopes with the family but can’t stand the financial pain that can often come with such a holiday? A great option is Discovery Holiday Parks Jindabyne, which sits on the banks of Lake Jindabyne, A.K.A. the gateway to the Snowy Mountains.
Located a mere 30 minutes from the ski fields of Thredbo, this holiday park may not offer much by way of child-friendly facilities (no kids club or waterslides here, I’m afraid), but you’ve got the option of a range of snow-covered accommodation sites (priced from $41 a night) and access to horse riding, kayaking and oh yes, the snow fields nearby.
Big4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort, Airlie Beach, Qld
Say what you will about holiday parks, they sure didn’t make them like this when we were kids. Picture a 13-slide water park, lagoon-style pool, mini golf tournaments, discos under the stars, outdoor movies and family trivia nights all held in this award-winning 10 hectare tropical resort just outside Airlie Beach.
Accommodation at Big4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort (starting from $45 a night) ranges from powered sites to three-bedroom condos with a pool view, and best of all, the resort even has a frog mascot by the name of Gavin, which some might say is worth the trip within itself.