Who ever thought growing up that they would one day dread the school holidays? For parents, it’s a stressful time of juggling child care and somehow keeping the little ones entertained for what can feel like an eternity.
Finding somewhere that ticks all the boxes can feel like a daunting task, with endless hours searching online for the perfect resort. Well worry not, because we’ve done all the hard work for you – and found somewhere that the whole family will return to year after year.
To be more accurate Archer Fricker, the five-year-old son of Daily Mirror journalist Martin Fricker, did the legwork. The intrepid junior travel reporter fell in love with the Caretta Paradise hotel in Tragaki, Zante – as did his parents.
Archer: “We had to leave home in the MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT to get our jumbo jet! Mummy let me sit by the window but it was dark so I couldn’t see anything. The sausages weren’t as good as English ones.”
Martin’s interpretation: “Our flight was 05:00am so it meant a 01.30am wake-up call for the whole family. As any parent can relate to, Archer was not up for sleeping in the car on the way to the airport. Check-in at Birmingham was a breeze, with lots of Thomas Cook staff on hand to keep queues to a minimum. The Thomas Cook rep was waiting our arrival and pointed us in the direction of our coach. The transfer to the hotel was quick and easy.
Archer: “The best thing was ice cream. I had it every day. The sausage tasted funny. Daddy let me choose at the buffet. I had chips. The chef must be the best in the world because he cooked for all those people by himself.”
Martin’s interpretation: “This was the first holiday where Archer has questioned the food. ‘Why does the tomato sauce taste different?’ ‘Why are the sausages funny?’ ‘These burgers are weird’.
“That’s just part and parcel of growing up, and the wide selection of offerings in the restaurant meant there was always something for him to enjoy. Predictably, the ‘help yourself’ ice cream parlours were a massive hit. I preferred the ‘pour your own pint’ bar for obvious reasons. The staff were incredible, constantly topping up dishes and clearing tables. Both my wife and I remarked at how hard they worked.”THE HOTEL:
Archer: “It was MASSIVE. It had a waterpark, swings, bouncy castles and an actual arcade. I want to live in Greece because you stay up late.”
Martin’s interpretation: “As with all new hotels, we expected teething problems. But there weren’t any. Guests stay in a series of ‘blocks’, half of them swim-up and the other half first-floor apartments. The disco and entertainment takes place in a central zone – where a games room with pool, air hockey and arcade machines is also located. There is also a gym, two All Inclusive bars and two pay bars, including a stunning open-air grill showing live football on big screens.
THE SWIMMING POOL:
Archer: “We had a pool outside the bedroom. I made friends and we played all day. The other big pool had a pirate ship and bucket that splashed everyone. I shouted ‘zero’ to tell everyone to watch out. There were big slides too. I went on the orange one. Daddy went on the yellow one and was like a bullet. It made a big splash.”
Martin’s interpretation: “The pools are without doubt the hotel’s biggest selling points. It was our first time using a swim-up and we were blown away with the ease of climbing straight from the room into the lovely water. We would have been happy with just that, so the communal pool and kiddy splash park were an amazing added bonus. The slides would not have looked out of place at an expensive purpose-built water park. Apologies for everyone I soaked when I plunged out of the fast yellow slide.
Archer: “Mummy and daddy had to wake me up for breakfast, they said it was because I was so comfy in my bed.”
Martin’s interpretation: “Archer had his own bedroom, which was between the bathroom and our own room, which led onto the balcony. This was a revelation, as it meant in the evening we could sit on the balcony or in our room chatting or reading without disturbing him. As he says, the usual 07:00am wake-ups disappeared and instead we were having to wake him at 09:00am before we missed out on breakfast. Nothing says ‘good hotel bedroom’ more than a happy, sleeping child. And as with the rest of the hotel, everything was spotless.
Archer: “Daddy asked me what the best bit of the holiday was but I think everything was. I don’t have a favourite.”
Martin’s interpretation: “We asked Archer where he would like to go on holiday next year and he instantly said Caretta Paradise. Like he says, he couldn’t choose a ‘best bit’. Both Lynsey and I would have to say the waterpark and swim-up pool. Seeing Archer enjoying the water, progressing with his swimming and even learning to snorkel made us so happy.
STAFF & HELPFULNESS:
Archer: “I did loads of high fives with everyone. And nobody told me off when I spilled my apple juice.”
Martin’s interpretation: “Everyone had a smile on their face from the moment we arrived, which is a sign we chose the right hotel. When he cut his foot in the pool a lifeguard was on hand with a plaster in no time. Our questions about car rental and directions to Smuggler’s Cove were quickly answered. The staff were a credit to the hotel and it’s amazing to think all of them had only been working there for three months when we visited.
Would you like to splash around at the Caretta Paradise? Which of Archer’s adventures do you think your little ones would like the most? Let me know in the comments below.