Take the Kids

Adventures in (Kids’) Clubland

Issue 8 - 2018
Words by Esther Walker · Images The Westin Resort Costa Navarino

What do you do when one child likes to chill and the other is all action-man energy? Esther Walker and husband Giles Coren put their feet up and toast the kids’ club at Costa Navarino in Greece

Issue 8 - 2018
By Esther Walker · Images The Westin Resort Costa Navarino

What do you do when one child likes to chill and the other is all action-man energy? Esther Walker and husband Giles Coren put their feet up and toast the kids’ club at Costa Navarino in Greece

When it comes to holidays, my husband and I are resolutely stuck in the 1970s.

 

We do not go skiing or hiking. We do not want to do yoga or windsurf. We do not wish to play tennis or beach volleyball. Do not ask us to sail.

 

What we really want to do is lie in the sun for so long that we become radioactive; in the evening, we would like to drink ice-cold rosé and pick at local cheese from 6pm until both the rosé and the cheese run out. If the lying-in-the-sun thing gets a bit samey after five or six days, we might go for a swim. Or read a book. Maybe.

 

This holidaying compatibility is one of the reasons we are still married. I could never bear to spend my life with some twitchy adventure nerd who would pace around the pool saying things like, “But don’t you want to explore?”

 

Our daughter Kitty, now seven, is a chip off the lazy old block. Give her a stack of Garfield books and a shady sunlounger, toss her in a pool every now and again, and she’s happy. As luck would have it, she is also the slowest eater in the Western Hemisphere – stars are born, live and then die in the time it takes her to finish a boiled egg – which means that leisurely lunches are alright with her.
Kitty likes nothing more than a slow trawl down a beach looking for shells, and will then spend the next five hours (I’m not exaggerating) lining the shells up, counting the shells, naming the shells, washing and buffing the shells, setting up a small beach-side shell “shop” for passing geriatrics. If you’re a certain sort of person, Kitty is probably the best holiday companion under 10 there is.

 

So, for a while, it looked like life was going to be just rosy.

 

But then we had another child: a son, Sam. And Sam does not like to holiday in this way. Sam is now five years old and is up at 6am GMT every morning, regardless of time zone or when he went to bed the night before. He is quickly armed to the teeth with assorted toy light-sabres, sticks and a range of “Ninja moves”. Sam wants action, Sam wants adventure. Sam does not want to sit down and contemplate the horizon with a long, cool drink. He does not want to pick lazily at charcuterie and discuss the latest Dave Eggers novel.

 

Sam wants to stuff food as fast as he can into his face, jamming it into his cheeks, in order to get back to hitting things with sticks, al fresco widdling and catching bugs to keep as “pets”.

 

Alas, he doesn’t take himself off to do these things on his own. Because, more than anything, Sam wants companionship in this unholy schedule of holiday activities. He wants to junk-model a life-sized replica of Darth Vader and play in the sand with his diggers with a soulmate. But my husband and I are not going to do that, and nor is Kitty. That’s why we now holiday exclusively at hotels with kids’ clubs.

 

I was assured by a mother at the school gates that the Costa Navarino resort in Messinia, Greece would keep even the most psychopathically demanding small boy busy. “There is a water park,” she said confidently. “And a climbing wall.”

 

 

Sam wants action, Sam wants adventure. Sam does not want to pick lazily at charcuterie and discuss the latest Dave Eggers novel

 

 

There is also the biggest kids’ club I’ve ever seen – and I’ve seen some kids’ clubs. They are usually tucked away in basements, but at Costa Navarino, the Scott Dunn Explorers kids’ club occupies two low buildings: one for under-fives and one for over-fives. There is a shaded sandpit area, more crafting stuff than you can shake a stick at, and bouncy young people all keen as mustard to play tennis with Sam, dig about in the sandpit with Sam, take Sam on an adventure to the beach.

 

While we, meanwhile, hailed the nearest golf buggy and whizzed directly off to the glorious beach with views of rugged rocks and the aqua-blue sea. I liked to stand on the beach and look out to sea, feel the wind in my hair and pretend to be Penelope waiting for Ulysses to return. Then my husband would hail me from the sunloungers to tell me my Diet Coke had arrived and I’d go back to my book.

 

Kitty considers herself too grown up to have anything to do with any kids’ club anywhere, so she came to sit on the beach with us. And we let her, because she just sits quietly, reading.

 

So I must admit I felt a small pang of guilt at taking Kitty with us, while leaving Sam to the professionals. But whenever I picked him up in order to take him back to the beach restaurant for their excellent fish and chips, he was always happy as a clam; he was usually just putting the finishing touches to some giant craft project, sitting resplendent in a Scott Dunn emblazoned rash vest and matching baseball cap. He was so attached to his branded rash vest and hat, I briefly thought we ought to change his name to “Scott Dunn” for ease.

 

Unfortunately, Sam didn’t get the hang of the water park, declaring it “too scary” until the very last day of the holiday. At this point, he decided that water slides were the very pinnacle of human invention. And – awkward to the very end – he wouldn’t bloody leave.

 


Scott Dunn offers seven nights at Costa Navarino from £1,400 per person, including flights and transfers. For more information, visit: scottdunn.com/navarino

 

 

Esther Walker with daughter Kitty

 

 

Costa Navarino from above

 

 

Kitty and Sam take a break

 

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