Wednesday, 16 March 2016
Travel the Zodiac
Fancy aligning your family holiday with your tot's stars? Cathy Winston predicts this year's hotspots
21 March-20 April
IN THEIR STARS: Curious and courageous, athletic and adventurous, the energetic Aries child will always be up for a bit more excitement than a standard seaside break.
2016 HOTSPOT: For a beach with added drama, head to Tenerife. Dominated by the volcanic peak of Mount Teide, the island is perfect for inquisitive children – even the littlest adventurers will love playing with the black volcanic sand on the beaches. And now you can start the action before take-off with a new app aimed at children two years plus from family-friendly five-star Roca Nivaria Gran Hotel, introducing them to the island.
STAR ATTRACTION: A Junior Sunset Suite sleeping two adults and two children starts from around £177 per night, including breakfast and a free Mini Club for ten-month-olds up.
UK DAY OUT: Your little Aries adventurer will love following the new Nottingham Cave Trail, complete with mini hard hats so children can explore beneath the city streets, from the castle to a Victorian music hall. The trail is gentle enough for babies, too. Download the free app to help you with your exploration.
21 April-21 May
IN THEIR STARS: Strong-willed and stubborn, the Taurean tot is attached to what they know, and loves their home and family.
2016 HOTSPOT: A home-from-home should appeal to tiny Taureans, which means a hotel with all the paraphernalia to enable them to remain in their comfort zone. Fortunately, Portugal’s Martinhal Beach Resort & Hotel, which has won numerous awards for its family-friendly luxury, is getting two sister hotels this year: Lisbon Chiado Family Suites in the capital, and Lisbon Cascais Family Resort on the coast. With staff not remotely fazed by a tantrum, it’s not just the under-fives who come home feeling laid-back.
STAR ATTRACTION: Double rooms with breakfast at the Chiado Family Suites cost from around £105 per night, or around £165 at the Cascais Family resort.
UK DAY OUT: What could be more homely than good old Peter Rabbit? Celebrating the 150th anniversary of Beatrix Potter’s birth, Willows Activity Farm in Hertfordshire is opening a new adventure play area, with ten themed activities including Mrs Tiggy-Winkle’s Kitchen and Peter Rabbit’s Secret Treehouse.
22 May-21 June
IN THEIR STARS: Imaginative and energetic, mini Geminis are fascinated by the world around them and have a yearning to learn.
2016 HOTSPOT: British Airways’ new direct flights to Costa Rica (from May) will make it even easier to reach the country’s unique mix of scenery and wildlife, where spider monkeys and brightly coloured birds are guaranteed to intrigue little Geminians. No malaria, thankfully, but plenty of rainforest plus volcano and beach, depending on just how energetic your little one is.
STAR ATTRACTION: First Choice’s all-inclusive Premier Dreams Las Mareas Costa Rica costs around £1,050 per adult, £700 per child, for seven nights, including flights, with a kids’ club for ages three up. Or i-escape Kids Collection, including Xandari Resort, has rooms from £130 per night.
UK DAY OUT: With its off-road bike trails, plus trailers or tag-alongs to hire at Hicks Lodge, the National Forest in the Midlands is ideal for little Geminians to explore the world around them.
22 June-22 July
IN THEIR STARS: Sensitive and caring Cancerians are happiest surrounded by family, and crave comfort and security.
2016 HOTSPOT: Farm stays are always a winner for mini Cancerians, but you can upgrade pigs and sheep to a friendly alpaca herd at Casa San Gabriel in Umbria, and follow farm dogs on a guided woodland truffle hunt. Between making friends with the animals, there’s a secure pool and plenty of baby paraphernalia on-site, as well as pizza-making for mini gourmets.
STAR ATTRACTION: From £450 a week for two adults and baby.
UK DAY OUT: Cancerian babies will love feeling like they’re part of the tribe in the new Gibbon Forest at the recently revamped Twycross Zoo in Warwickshire. The zoo’s four species of endangered gibbons get their own moated islands to live on, designed to feel like an Asian rainforest. There’s also a new water play area, not to mention endless other animals to meet.
23 July-22 August
IN THEIR STARS: Confident and ambitious, little Leos love the spotlight and drama, and have a penchant for the finer things in life.
2016 HOTSPOT: Give baby Leos a taste of wild Africa without travelling further than France. Kimaro Farmhouse in Burgundy has civilised treats such as four-poster beds and animal prints in its ‘tents’, while kids can discover a child-friendly safari as they hunt for frogs by the lake. Worn-out explorers can then doze off on mattresses by the evening campfire.
STAR ATTRACTION: From £61 per night for a Safari tent, which sleeps six.
UK DAY OUT: Watch the portcullis open at Wray Castle in Cumbria, before dressing up as royalty and discovering its connection to Beatrix Potter. And meet children’s book VIPs, such as Axel Scheffler, at the National Trust’s Book Festival, 4-6 March, which is held at the castle.
23 August-23 September
IN THEIR STARS: Occasionally shy, the Virgoan child is focused, driven and likes routine – and can be fussy if they don’t get it.
2016 HOTSPOT: Even the shyest toddler relaxes at the chance to meet Olaf. And Sven. And Elsa. Chances are, the world of Frozen is part of their routine. So the new Frozen Ever After ride in Epcot at Walt Disney World in Florida has to be the best way to persuade mini Virgoans out of their comfort zone and onto a journey through Arendelle (aka, the Norway Pavilion). Suitable for all ages; you can meet the likes of Nemo and Mickey, too.
STAR ATTRACTION: Seven nights in Orlando with the Walt Disney Travel Company costs from around £984 per person, including flights and a 7-Day Ultimate Ticket for entry to all six parks, based on two adults and two children sharing a standard room for six nights.
UK DAY OUT: If you can’t go to them, they’ll come to you – Disney On Ice has nine stops across the UK between March and May on its Silver Anniversary tour, featuring Frozen, The Lion King, The Little Mermaid... the list goes on.
24 September-23 October
IN THEIR STARS: Graceful little Librans have great social skills, love balance and beauty, and are happiest in feel-good situations.
2016 HOTSPOT: Brand-new postnatal retreats in the Limousin region of France are perfect for keeping everyone happy. Designed for frazzled families with newborns to under-threes, the goal is to make parents feel de-stressed, pampered and rejuvenated with massage and Pilates. Set in an 18th-century manor house, with a bit of babysitting thrown in and bedrooms within baby monitor-range of meals, you’ll all be gurgling contentedly.
STAR ATTRACTIONS: Seven nights full board costs £1,500 for two adults and one child. Flights are around £100pp.
UK DAY OUT: Put that Libran balance to the test at Jump Nation in Manchester, where the 139 trampolines are open to toddlers only (with parents) in new once-weekly sessions.
24 October-22 November
IN THEIR STARS: Passionate and determined, the Scorpion child loves a bold lifestyle, but enjoys a bit of solitude too.
2016 HOTSPOT: Head to the middle of nowhere (while still only being 2km from the shops) with new back-to-basics holidays in south-western France at Gîtes de Sevenne. Hidden among sunflower fields and forest, the farmhouse cottages are home to free-range hens and ducks, while the ex-nursery nurse owner creates games and activities for the kids. Plus toys, free bikes to hire, and a pool.
STAR ATTRACTION: From £220 per week for a cottage sleeping four.
UK DAY OUT: Flee the crowds and escape to the trees. The new Treetop Walkway at Westonbirt The National Arboretum, opening this spring, is still pushchair-friendly, despite rising 13.5m above the ground. There are family interpretation spots along the walk – download the TreeQuest app for the most up-to-date routes.
23 November-21 December
IN THEIR STARS: Adventurous and sharp, even the smallest Sagittarian is ready for an expedition, with a boundless energy that keeps them on the move.
2016 HOTSPOT: Morocco is the perfect spot for satisfying your little Bear Grylls in training, and Families Worldwide has tours suitable for two years and up, where you can head into the Atlas Mountains and ride on mules. You’ll also visit Marrakech and Essaouira to relax in a horse-drawn carriage, watch fire-eaters and acrobats, and find some time to play on the beach. Next stop, Everest. Maybe.
STAR ATTRACTION: From around £699 for adults and £679 for children, including flights.
UK DAY OUT: Swap the mountains for the deeps, and venture below the waves to discover the sharks that live there. Until the kids are old enough for scuba lessons, the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth has introduced new lemon sharks to the already toothy collection in its impressive Atlantic Ocean Tank.
22 December-20 January
IN THEIR STARS: Thoughtful and responsible, little Capricorns like to keep their feet very firmly on the ground, and enjoy problem-solving and planning.
2016 HOTSPOT: Hands up who likes dinos? And digging? The US National Parks Service is celebrating 100 years with fossils galore in several locations. Explore Wyoming, which inspired the Pixar movie The Good Dinosaur, or get hands-on at the Mammoth Site in South Dakota, where four-years plus can visit a bone bed or dig for fossil replicas, or meet a T-Rex on the Montana Dinosaur Trail.
STAR ATTRACTION: Nine nights in South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana costs around £1,636 per person, based on two adults and two kids sharing, including flights and car hire. For more ideas, visit realamerica.com.
UK DAY OUT: Cornwall’s Flambards is introducing Jurassic Journey where, among other attractions, kids can find fossils in the Dino Dig sandpit.
21 January-19 February
IN THEIR STARS: Little Aquarians love their freedom and like to push the boundaries, so unorthodox challenges suit them to a tee.
2016 HOTSPOT: Mini fencing, raft building and circus skills, to name but a few, should keep the most independent pre-schoolers happy on Canvas Holidays’ new Zero2Five preschool programme. Launching in the spring, it’s available at two French resorts, in the Loire Valley and south Brittany.
STAR ATTRACTION: Seven nights in a Maxi Tent sleeping two adults and up to four children at Camping les Deux Fontaines from around £182.
UK DAY OUT: Roam free on a quest to find 14 interactive statues throughout Bridgend County in South Wales, which will lead you off the beaten track from the mountains to the beaches, discovering the local wildlife along the way. For a handy visitor’s guide, download the free Dare to Discover app.
20 February-20 March
IN THEIR STARS: Compassionate, creative, introverted and selfless, the Piscean child is happiest when water is involved.
2016 HOTSPOT: If travel nirvana for mini Pisceans is an entire holiday on the water, how about a cruise? Far from the old-fashioned, blue rinse-only option of the past, Carnival has kids’ clubs from age two, while younger tots and babies can use some of the facilities, along with splash zones, story time, a Dr Seuss-themed library and so much food even the fussiest eater will be content.
STAR ATTRACTION: Carnival Vista has a Mediterranean itinerary this year. Eight nights cost from around £799 per person, based on two sharing an inside stateroom.
UK DAY OUT: Relax in the warm waves of Scarborough... No, not the North Sea, but one of Europe’s largest water parks, due to open in the town this summer with gigantic wave pool, heated outdoor family pool and state-of-the-art water rides. Visit yorkshire.com for the latest news on the water park’s opening date.