Already stressing about half-term? Grab your swimming cossies and escape on one of these four fabulous family-friendly getaways…
Anantara Dhigu, South Malé Atoll, Maldives
Best for… A-list families
Will it be a swim with giant turtles, waterskiing, or a chill in an Insta-worthy slice of paradise (think hammocks suspended over turquoise waters and swings that skim the surf)? This family-friendly resort has excellent service, perfect beaches and coconuts served fresh to your lounger. The overwater Thai spa is heavenly, with ocean-facing windows in the floor beneath the treatment beds, and outdoor plunge pools. All rooms have sumptuous modern interiors. Choose from the newly renovated beach villas (with private decks and outdoor bathrooms) or overwater villas. For an extra dose of enchantment, look out for manta rays and turtles outside. The beachside Aqua Bar is the island’s social hub, with its huge infinity pool and activities including table tennis and giant chess. For dinner, there’s the choice of Dhigu’s restaurants or those at sister-resort Velhi. Don’t miss the fresh fish served on the ocean-side deck at Sea.Fire.Salt, the themed buffet nights at Fushi Cafe (Indian night is a must) and the most flavoursome of Thai fair at Baan Huraa, with its equally breathtaking setting above the waves.
Stella loves: Dhigu’s own treasure island, Gulhifushi, a stone’s throw across the lagoon. At low tide you can walk through the water to its sandy banks, otherwise it’s a two-minute boat ride away. It’s coral reef makes for fabulous snorkelling and tropical cocktails and lunches are served from a beach shack. Utterly enchanting.
Out and about: The island’s Aquafanatics centre offers everything from high-octane water sports (waterskiing, windsurfing, wakeboarding and canoeing) to fabulous marine-life adventures. It doesn’t get more magical than swimming alongside giant turtles in the Indian Ocean. You can also snorkel with sharks (nurse sharks are harmless, but just try keeping your heart from racing…), set sail on a dolphin quest or sunset fishing trip. Back on shore, the chef will discuss how you want your evening’s catches served up for dinner.
Rooms from £814 a night, b&b, for a Sunset Beach Villa;
Read the full expert review: Anantara Dhigu
Jumeirah Al Naseem, Dubai, UAE
Best for… fun-loving families
The spacious rooms at this palatial hotel are ideal for families – and they come with enclosed terraces or balconies and gorgeous views, either of the hotel’s pools, many restaurants or the popular Jumeirah beach. Playrooms and a children’s pool (complete with shade and supervision) will help keep young ones entertained, as will the 2.4km stretch of beach. At lunchtime, choose between Shimmers (for a refreshing pineapple sorbet served in a pineapple), and the Ibiza-worthy Summersalt Beach Club for Japanese/South American fusion dishes. Later, enrol children in Sinbad’s Kids Club and enjoy some adult time – the hotel’s Mediterranean restaurant, Rockfish, is worth visiting for a meal à deux – be sure to try the lobster risotto and don’t miss the bespoke gin cocktail from the award-winning bartender, Dr Gin.
Stella loves: The chic afternoon tea at Al Mandhar lounge for a spot of adult-only time – try the miniature crême brulée and delightful brownie tiramisu.
Out and about: Jumeirah Beach is right on your doorstep – there are butlers on hand to dish out lemon-and-lime ice lollies to little ones and fruity iced cocktails for the adults. If you’re laden down with buckets and spades, the hotel buggies can ferry you to lunch and back, or to and from your suite. The resort is home to over 50 restaurants, so there’s no need to travel far at dinnertime.
Rooms from £178 a night, b&b;
Read the full expert review: Jumeirah Al Naseem
ITC Grand Bharat, Gurgaon, India
Best for… culture-vulture families
This tranquil all-suite resort, a sprawling sandstone oasis, feels a world away from the chaos of Delhi, even though it’s just an hour away. The highlight is the nine-room spa, which uses organic oils and natural ingredients – try the Prana Vitality massage (using natural geranium, juniper and lemongrass to release toxins), which will leave you rejuvenated after the long flight. The resort is set in 300 acres and there are Segways to travel around on, or golf buggies to whisk you between the tennis courts and swimming pool – keep an eye out for the resident peacocks. Golfers will love the 27-hole course, designed by pro-golfer Jack Nicklaus, but there’s plenty for families too, including a childrens’ club and a list of activities almost impossible to get through. Adjoining rooms are available, and some include sofa beds.
Stella loves: The pillow menu by your bed – choose between thicknesses, different levels of back support, pillowcases – there’s even a ‘bath comfort’ option if you fancy an extra-luxurious soak in the tub.
Out and about: Head to Delhi to visit Asia’s largest spice market, Khari Baoli – spend hours wandering between the stalls, which sell steaming chai, sacks of turmeric powder and chilli peppers, and everything from Himalayan pink salt and lotus seeds to peacock feathers.
Rooms from £228 a night, b&b;
Read the full expert review: ITC Grand Bharat
JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa, Cancun, Mexico
Best for… burnt-out families who want to flop
Relaxation is the order of the day at this seriously luxurious resort, 10 minutes from Cancun’s shopping centres and nightlife. The beauty of the resort is its beachfront location – every room has a balcony with a view of the Caribbean Sea, and you wake to the sound of it lapping against the shore. Pack the children’s buckets and spades – the colours of the beach and water here remain unmatched – but there’s also volleyball for more active families. For children, there’s also an arcade games area and a shallow, child-friendly area of the pool. At dinnertime you’ll be spoilt for choice with everything from fresh Mexican fare to an Italian restaurant with pizza and pasta.
Stella loves: The 150-strong margarita menu to indulge in when the kids are asleep – it has every kind of tequila, including habañeros, rose syrup, tamarind, even Nutella-flavoured.
Out and about: Take a day trip to Tulum, around 1h 45mins away, where you can visit ancient Mayan ruins, swim in ancient cenotes (natural pools) and, if you’re feeling gung-ho, go ziplining – a perfect mix of culture, caves and a treetop view of the lush forest below, all in a one-day tour (alltournative.com).
Rooms from £181 a night, room only; call 00800 1927 1927 or visit
Read the full expert review: JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa
Edited by Laura Powell. Reviews by Kate Bussmann, Krissy Turner, Elinore Court and Charlotte Lytton