Generally, when you announce to the world that you’re pregnant with your third child, the same statements seem to echo from person to person. “Was it planned?” “You’ll need a bigger car.” “You’ll never be able to go on holiday again.”
Our daughter was born in early August, so we were aware that getting away in the summer whilst the schools were off wasn’t going to happen, but knew there was a window open to travel in the October half term. Travelling with kids is stressful – this is a given, especially when children still need nap times plus all the paraphernalia that comes when travelling with a baby. With this in mind, we did our research to find the perfect place for our first holiday abroad as a family of five! Basil is seven, Sonny is four and Inca is two months old, so there would need to be a lot of boxes to tick to make our holiday not only one to remember, but also one that fits into our beautifully chaotic life.
So this time, we checked into a self-catering villa with a jacuzzi at Four Seasons Fairways. To say it exceeded our expectations is an understatement! Everything a parent needs is already in the resort, and I’m not talking high chairs and a baby pool (although they had these too); I’m talking about Kids Club, babysitters and wait for it… a convenience store a stone’s throw away from where we were staying. Necessary essentials that you would buy at home were at this store… from fish fingers to nappies, sunscreen to newspapers to wine and beer, this little shop had it all. And just to make your experience there even more seamless, you could pay for your items by adding them to your villa bill. Small move, massive effect.
This was just one of the many brilliant facilities that we parents need when away with kids.
Our spacious modern villa was so comfortable, cosy, and I know this may sound controversial (to my mother perhaps, anyway) but the TVs in the villa were all the same channels you get at home – and more. So once again, when the kids are exhausted from swimming all day but we’re getting ready to go out for dinner, they can have some down-time watching their favourite TV show whilst I get ready, feed the baby and have some needed ‘me time’.
“To say it exceeded our expectations is an understatement! “
Talking of being entertained – the Kids Club there is one of the best I’ve seen. It worked so well for us my 7 and 4-year-old actually asked me on many occasions if they could go back to Kids Club…er yes! With a new-born that slept most of the day, and the boys happily keeping themselves busy at Kids Club, this was the perfect time for my husband and I to relax and unwind.
The icing on the cake for me was having a date with my husband Jesse for the very first time since our daughter was born. With in-villa babysitters, we were literally seconds away from coming back to the villa and our sitter was fab. She was a mum herself and knew exactly what to expect from looking after two active boys and an eight-week-old baby. Our date night was perfect – at the newly opened and acclaimed Amara. Very decadent, delicious food and the perfect tonic for a woman who needed to step away from motherhood for a few hours and connect with herself and her husband again. I asked the babysitter to WhatsApp me to let me know if everything was ok, and just after our starter arrived and a glass of wine was being poured by our waiter, I got a text saying “all kids are asleep – enjoy your night off”. Gold. Utter gold.
There’s more… as mentioned, we had a self-catering villa, but if we didn’t want to cook we could order takeaway from the main Vivo restaurant. What about other evenings out without the kids, I hear you ask? We had a jacuzzi in our spacious outside area that we would sneak into after the kids were asleep, pop open the Prosecco, relax and be able to hear the kids if they woke up.
One day we hired bikes and visited The Campus, where the kids had a tennis lesson with Judy Murray (wow) and I took in the stunning vast golf courses in the surrounding areas, where my husband casually bumped into Chris Evans!
I’d never been to Portugal before and was absolutely gobsmacked at the beauty of it. The beaches, the restaurants, the architecture, and of course, Four Seasons Fairways.