My central heating has just gone on which means two things. One, my next gas bill will make me cry and two, I want a holiday somewhere warm and sunny. Last winter we had our first foreign family holiday and my 6 year old has been virtually begging us to go away for some winter sun and it is oh so tempting.
Last year we went to Mallorca which was great for us. It was a fairly short flight and we were blessed with lots of winter sun to warm our bones. I think we’d all be happy to go back and that would be the easy option, but where could we go that was still a short-ish flight, still sunny and still within our budget?
I’ve picked out some of my favourite winter sun destinations available on Holiday Gems this year…
We love Cyprus. We went several times before we had our son and they were some of the best holidays we’ve ever had. Lots of sunshine, some history, some culture, lots of great food and good wine. Pretty much perfect. We will definitely go back, but we might leave that until he’s a bit older.
The Canaries are real wish list stuff for me. I’ve wanted to go for years but we’ve never quite managed it. The islands are the perfect place for a family holiday, a couples break or just to grab some much needed winter sun.
It’s a bit further than I’d normally choose to go, but these laid back islands are perfect for a beach break. With year round sunshine and decent temperatures even in the depths of winter, Cape Verde might be just the ticket to pull us out of the doldrums this winter.
I’ve wanted to visit Croatia since my brother went and fell for its stunning good looks. With beautiful beaches, spectacular cultural landmarks and a fine selection of resorts Croatia is high on my list, especially as it’s pretty good value to holiday there too.
I’m not sure where we will choose, that will have to go to a family vote. But I can see the Canaries in our future, fingers crossed!
As a family we were confirmed holiday cottage enthusiasts. The thought of being subject to strict meal times and the rules of a hotel didn’t really appeal. We’ve always enjoyed our own space and the freedom a holiday cottage in the UK has allowed us. We never, ever thought we’d find ourselves on a plane heading to Majorca to stay in a hotel. But one week abroad has completely changed our pre-conceptions, and our holiday horizons have been well and truly broadened.
Over the October half term we flew via Jet2 from Manchester to Majorca, for a week in the sun at the 4 star Sol Katmandu Hotel in Magaluf. On paper it was the polar opposite of every holiday we’ve ever had. But we discovered that sometimes doing something completely different is exactly the right thing to do.
The Sol Katmandu Hotel
We arrived at the Sol Katmandu after an early morning flight from Manchester. The hotel reception was busy but we checked in after a fashion and we found our way to our room.
The room was clean, well decorated, it had a little fridge, free WIFI, a TV with a couple of English kids TV channels and a rather lovely bathroom. What it didn’t have was a balcony you could sit out on, something we really wanted. Probably about two thirds of the rooms had balconies, so this would be something I’d make sure I had in future.
The Sol Katmandu is set in an aquatic theme park and the amenities include a buffet restaurant, 2 bars, 3 outdoor pools and a sunbathing terrace. The hotel offers complimentary passes to the Katmandu Park’s amusement park, a kids’ club and nightly live entertainment.
Food & Drink
We were staying on a half board basis, which meant we had breakfast and dinner in the hotel. Lunch and drinks were extra, but we found that half board suited us. We weren’t completely tied to the hotel and it mean’t we explored the local cafes and bars in the area.
For me breakfast was the highlight of my foodie day. There was a very extensive breakfast buffet including a wall of fruit, continental options, English breakfast, Spanish breakfast, yoghurt, unlimited tea, coffee and juice as well as a pancake and fried egg bar where you watched your pancakes being made.
We all fell into our own pattern, the small boy would have scrambled eggs and sausages followed by a pancake with chocolate sauce. My husband would start with fruit and then go for a selection of English breakfast items and I would have a couple of slices of the most delicious tortilla I’ve ever had, usually with some grilled tomatoes, then I’d follow that with pancakes, because the pancakes were excellent.
Lunch was usually a casual affair, we’d pop to the nearby Aldi for bread and cheese, or go to a local cafe and have a sandwich or share a pizza. We never really felt like eating much after our big breakfast.
Dinner in the hotel was another buffet style feast. I’m a vegetarian and I did find my options were a bit limited, but there were always a few veggie dishes to choose from. They also had child friendly options such as fish fingers and chips, though the boy liked to choose his own and often went more exotic dishes.
Hubs was in his element at dinner, there was a grill where chefs cooked to order fish and meat such as lamb chops and steak, and there was more often than not a paella available.
The salad bar was excellent, I liked to fill up on salad and have a little plate of other bits and pieces before launching myself at the desserts. The dessert selection was excellent, there were individual tubs of ice cream and beautiful jewel coloured cakes and treats, as well as cheese and biscuits.
Being half board we had to pay extra for our drinks, but we were content to have a drink or two in the bar after dinner, so the drinks bill did not add up.
Tip: If you like sangria, the sangria in the pool bar is made from scratch and is delicious, whereas the sangria in the hotel bar inside is ready mixed and not quite as good.
The Sol Katmandu has a holiday club for little ones each day and they all seem to have a really good time. Lots of dressing up and doing fun activities. The boy went for a superhero morning and made his own cape. He had a great time. The kids club is included in the price of the hotel and it’s well worth looking at if you fancy a couple of peaceful hours to yourself.
In the evenings there was entertainment, but we didn’t really go to this, we preferred to go back to our room, wind down and have an early night.
The Swimming pools
The Sol Katmandu has three swimming pools. One small splash pool, one deeper round pool and one longer pool. None of them are heated, so it is a bit bracing if you dive in and you’re not expecting it. But after an afternoon in the sun, the cool water of the pool is exactly what you need to come back to a normal temperature.
For us the pools were a big draw. Each day we’d ask the boy what he wanted to do, and all he wanted to do was play in the pool, so that’s more or less what we did. The local shops sell inflatables and water guns, and all the little boys seemed to have them, so their days were filled with water fights and lots of laughter.
Like most hotels there was a big of a culture of claiming a sun lounger with a towel, which meant that most of the well positioned loungers were reserved for invisible people for large portions of the day. Despite this, we managed to spend most of our days lounging by the pool, relaxing and reading, going for a quick dip and just chilling out. It was bliss.
The sol katmandu park
One of the biggest selling points of this hotel is the amusement park attached to it. As a resident of the hotel you get a free play pass which gets you into the park and entry to the attractions (though terms and conditions apply etc).
The Katmandu Park has two excellent crazy golf courses – probably the best I’ve seen, and most days we played a round of golf after breakfast before heading out for the day or settling down round the pool.
There is the “Upside Down House” where everything is a crazy optical illusion. I would have liked to have spent longer exploring the house but the boy was a bit freaked out by it. So we rushed through it, which was a shame.
There’s also the Katlantis Splash Park which looked great, but was closed as October is the end of season for the resort. There is also a 4D cinema and various interactive games, rides and a soft play centre, most of which are indoors. There’s also a bar where you can grab a snack and a drink.
During the week we were there, the park wasn’t too busy and we only had to queue a few minutes for things. I liked the park and would like to have explored it more and taken more time over things, but the small boy was a bit freaked out by the house (in fairness he was a bit poorly that day and out of sorts) so we just stuck to the crazy golf.
I think the Katmandu Park is great, and if you’ve got lively kids its a great way for them to burn off some excess energy. Quite a lot of the attractions are indoors, so if you’re wanting to shelter from the sun for an hour, then the park is a good option for that too.
We were staying at the hotel during the October half term, the week before Halloween. The Sol Katmandu goes all out for Halloween and even has it’s own hashtag. The hotel and park were gloriously decorated, even the beds had a Halloween bedspread on them!
At dinner on the last night all the staff were dressed up with Halloween headgear and most of the desserts had wriggly jelly worms on them, or creepy spiders – the amount of effort they put in was well worth it. I loved it. The hotel has a Steampunk vibe anyway and lends itself to being decorated up for an occasion.
What we liked about the Sol katmandu
This was our first family holiday abroad and it smashed a lot of our preconceptions about that kind of holiday.
♥ We really liked being able to properly relax and have someone else cook and clean for us while we were away.
♥ The pools were great. They were clean and a life guard was around at all times.
♥ The Katmandu Park is a great addition and we spent about an hour a day in the park. The play pass is free and there are some really fun things to do in the park.
♥ Going half board gave us the best of both worlds – we could eat breakfast and dinner in the hotel, but we could also go out, explore and have lunch.
♥ October was a great time to go abroad for us, it was still hot and sunny during the day, but it wasn’t uncomfortably hot. Magaluf was fairly quiet and felt like more of a family resort than a party destination at that time of the year.
Our week at the Sol Katmandu was a real game changer for us. We now understand just how fantastically relaxing these kinds of holidays are. Whilst there’s still room in our lives for our self catering holiday cottage breaks, I think having a gloriously relaxing holiday where someone else cooks and cleans for you, where you can sit and relax for hours by the pool and everyone’s batteries recharge.
We really liked the hotel. It was clean and comfortable, the facilities were great, the food was good and the pools were a huge hit. We came home with big smiles on our faces, we just need to decide where to go next.
We were invited guests of The Sol Katmandu and Jet2 Holidays. All images and opinions are our own and this is a true reflection of our experience.
My husband is famously a man of few words, but he kindly volunteered to put pen to paper and write about what we did on our holiday this October Half Term. We stayed at the Sol Katmandu in Majorca, courtesy of Jet2 Holidays. It’s always interesting for me to see things from his point of view, but it looks like he had a good time…
Being self-employed has its ups and downs. I am my own boss and I answer to no-one, but on the flip side I am totally responsible for everything at work. If I ever think about taking a sickie, the boss knows about it straight away.
Because I work for myself, I’ve had to work some long hours recently to get things ship shape before our first family holiday abroad. Over the October Half Term we packed our bags and went on a family holiday to Majorca courtesy of Jet2. It was eagerly anticipated, especially by the little fella as it was going to be his first time on a plane.
On departure day we woke early at 4am as the flight was due to depart at 6.30am. We jumped in a taxi and headed off to the airport. The check in at the airport and passing through security was a doddle and soon we were relaxing in the departure lounge with a coffee and sausage butty.
We didn’t have long to wait before our flight was called and we made our way to the gate and boarded the plane. I did wonder at this point if the little fella would be a bit scared by it all, but he was happy as Larry and took it all in his stride. He loved the flight, especially the take off, and soon we were landing in Majorca which again put a big smile on his face.
The transfer to the hotel was a breeze. We were staying at the 4* the Sol Kathmandu in Magaluf. The hotel was excellent, our only quibble was the lack of a balcony which we could sit out on, but I think everyone will always find something not to their satisfaction.
After we’d unpacked in our room, the lad wanted to go exploring as he’d seen the three outdoor swimming pools on our way into the hotel and couldn’t wait to get in the water, and his dad couldn’t wait to get on a sun lounger.
If you want to know what we did on our holiday, most of our days were spent relaxing by the pools; sometimes all of us splashing about in the water, sometimes Ben in the water with the new friends he’d made, while his parents topped up their tans, read their books and had a glass of sangria or two.
Twenty-four hours into the holiday, both my better half and I said that we definitely more relaxed in a hotel abroad than on our usual holidays in Devon. We usually go self-catering and in Devon we are the small boy’s only source of entertainment.
It was so nice to be away and to only have to think about when next to apply sun cream and not about the stresses of work, if only for a week. It was nice to spend time with my family, especially the missus, instead of rushing around badgering the boy to get dressed, or going back to work in the evenings to catch up with stuff.
Here’s to our next holiday abroad, which hopefully won’t be too far away. Thank you to the Sol Katmandu for putting up with us and Jet2 for getting us there and back safely and efficiently.
-What we did on our holiday by Matthew, aged 41 and a half
On Saturday I was invited to the Jet2Sunchester blogger event run by Jet2Holidays. It was a showcase of some of their hottest summer destinations including Majorca, Malta and Tenerife and an afternoon of food, cocktails, glitter, sunshine and palm trees and catching up with some friends. Oh and I won a holiday, but more of that later.
We were invited to dress for summer but the Manchester weather hadn’t got the memo so was treating us to a day of wind and rain. However the sun shone inside and the Jet2 team had decked the room out with palm trees, deckchairs and a mini golf course. Around the room four holiday resorts had set up stalls and in one (very popular) corner you could get your nails done and have a massage.
But first, in true tour-guide style, let us take a whirlwind tour of the Mediterranean…
The Sol Katmandu Park & Resort in Majorca. It’s a new 4* family hotel set in an aquatic theme park, this vibrant hotel is a 5-minute walk from the beach. The Sol Katmandu Park & Resort is full of fun family things to do, including 3 pools, water slides, a soft play area, a 4D cinema and access to the theme park. It looks and sounds like the most fun family holiday destination in the world.
BH Mallorca was launched 2015 and has taken the holiday clubbing world by storm. The hotel guarantees a superstar DJs, stunning accommodation and the world’s first over 18s waterpark full of high adrenaline thrills. It’s the prefect party hotel.
Hotel Botanico and The Oriental Spa Garden in Tenerife looked and sounded like heaven. This 5 star luxury hotel combines luxurious accommodation, fine dining restaurants and leisure facilities, including the award-winning Oriental Spa Garden. It’s a beautiful looking hotel and I can’t think of a more stunning location for a spa.
Lastly there was Malta & Gozo – Malta has a rich history and lots to recommend it. It has almost year-round sun, 9 UNESCO sites – ancient temples, Roman ruins and medieval cities as well as beautiful coastlines and lively resorts sporting a mixture of old town charm and modern day attractions with a range of accommodation to suit everyone.
Tour of the Mediterranean over, I decided it was time to hit the cocktail bar, grab myself a still smoking and bubbling cocktail (it’s alive I tell you!) and go and get my nails done. After that there was no stopping me, I had an amazing massage (seriously Jet2, can I have her number?) and then got my face glittered, because it’s nice to shimmer sometimes.
The afternoon was drawing to a close, I was tired and ready to go home and wistfully flick through some holiday brochures. It was time for the prize draw and everyone gathered round waiting to hear who’d won the holiday. I never win anything so I hung back playing it cool (think Del Boy and Trigger at the bar) when my name was called out and I nearly fell off my deckchair in shock.
I had no words, I couldn’t speak and I was beyond delighted and excited and giddy, and, and, and completely lost for words. I’m so excited about being able to take my son on his first foreign holiday and on his first plane journey, there will be so many firsts for him and I can’t wait to share that all with him. Thank you to Jet2 and to The Sol Kathmandu Park & Resort for our prize, we are so looking forward to our visit to Majorca and I’m looking forward to sharing our experience with you on my blog.
You’ve got to be in it to win it or something like that.