Travelling with a baby
Can a holiday or a specific hotel restore confidence in humanity? I think so. We recently got back from the Dalaman coast – Hillside Beach Club does a wonderful job in this direction.
The setting is beautiful; little villas spread harmoniously on the green hills, half hiding graciously between trees and some between flowers and vegetation. The seaside is wonderful and the water crystal clear. Hordes of fish, some very cheeky just in front of the main beach, pedicuring and pecking without any training or specific request. There is one silent beach, 3 lovely pontons for swimmers to stop by and sunbathe quietly, a long stretch of main beach with 2 bars, including Pacha serving late breakfasts 10-12 and one sunset bar paying great tunes and doing happy hours. There’s also another gem of a beach – Serenity; a boat runs every half hour, 5 minutes ride or 20 min trek for energetic people.
The hotel is baby, toddler and kids friendly to perfection, attracting lots of parents and families. Possible downside is of course on the main stretch of beach the moments where no little creature is vocal or crying are very limited.But the hotel comes with an army of personnel going the extra mile every minute to accommodate, serve and please, from little creatures to parents, grandparents or childless friends and guests. From the kids club to bar staff, entertainment team to sailing people, there is so much attention to detail and every little need is covered.
Someone coming by and cleaning your sunglasses? Never experienced before, great to have one, certainly enhancing the wonderful views. Buttons at each umbrellas to order drinks? Ticked. An app to be installed on smart phones and ipads and solicit whatever you fancy? Ticked. Cold refreshers towels? Ticked. I may be a messy clumsy mum but it is so wonderful to be spoilt and pampered at such level.
The food is a delight and slightly obscene in choices. My favourites were the late breakfasts at Pasha, we would sit down in this little white setting by the sea at 10am and indulge in coffee, freshly cut watermelon and still warm patisserie. Lunches served at the main restaurant, fresh salad bar just for you to pick herbs and spices plus huge variety of buffet salads, steaks, baklavas and fruit. The house wine is surprisingly very good and flows so well with the food and the 30 degrees. Tea is served at 4pm, we tried it just on the last day, it is just very difficult to feel hungry after the lunch feasts. Dinners at the main restaurant include fresh grilled whole seabass, seabreams, langustines and steaks, again amazing salads and troubling number of delicious deserts plus icecream. We also tried dinner at the Italian restaurant, a cosy setting by the sea allowing kids, another feast involving mozarella di buffalo, beef carpaccio, delicious bruschettas, truffle rissotto, amazing fresh pasta, steaks and Italian deserts. The chef came by each table going through the dishes, his training in Milan and going through clients’ feedback. Our lovely cheeky monkey has been spoilt with choice and indulged every day in fresh fruit, steaks, fish, vegetables (french fries amazingly have been mixed with lots of healthier options) and ice-cream every evening. Amazingly looked after and fed.
The diving and sailing facilities are also there, including school and various boats. We’ve been kayaking few days, even our toddler loved it, despite moaning at putting on the life vest. The gulfs of Hillside are protected so the waves are gentle, a kayak ride even with a baby or toddler has been very enjoyable. One afternoon we also ventured on a sunset cruise, another wonderful experience. The boat sails at 6pm from Hillside, champagne, nibbles and fresh fruit pair up the ride. We sailed past the Serenity beach and some other delightful bays, beautiful yachts and boats, the Red island and its lighthouse – all smooth up to the point you are truly out in the Mediterranean. In there we stopped to observe the sunset and despite the smooth appearance, the waves and currents are strong and our sailing boat was rocking quite impressively. Interestingly enough, the novelty element, swinging and variety of snacks kept our toddler mesmerised and very chilled. Purple and orange wide skies, little boats sailing in the blue, mountain shades around, chill out vibes played by our boat – we all had a blissful sunset experience.
We went for a Room A, a double room with a nice large terrace, sofa, shower and bathroom facilities outdoors. It’s been our usual preference to retain some grown-up privacy when our little one naps at lunch times and in the evening, so we could gaze at stars or night shows. The entertainment in the evening was also quite good, kids mini disco most evenings and some funky options every evening from 9:30 onwards, good water show and musicals.
The kids club has 2 pools: a shallow very warm option filled with fun balls for babies and toddlers and a fun bigger version with a variety of slides for toddlers with parents and kids. We tested all the slides and declared very satisfied with the rides, we could easily spend 2 hours every day in there. There’s also one sand play area, lots of fun toys, one soft play area, customised lockers for each kid and various other props and games. The personnel is brilliant and offers babysitting facilities for below 4 years olds.
On this occasion we have not done very well though leaving our toddler at the kids club. Having so much fun swimming, sliding, kayaking, singing and so on, he decided this is truly a family holiday and didn’t have much intention to let us go enjoy too much that Serenity beach. We managed two little breaks overall, the kids club personnel doing their best to fill in for mum & dad.
Weather end of September/ beginning of October has been surprisingly good: mornings starting at a nice 24 degrees, lunch time and after getting close to 28/29. Water temperature perfect, between 25-27. Sun rising up at a lazy 7am and setting around 6:40pm, it is a good time for babies as well, avoiding the temperatures extremes so common in summers.
Sanda spa warmly recommended; Elemis treatments and a long lists of various pampering options.