Let me tell you about all the “holidays” I have had with my now two-year-old daughter, Edie. There was the one to Yorkshire, when she was about 10 weeks old, which saw her roll off a sofa on to a stone floor and ended with us spending a day in a walk-in health centre; then there was the trip to Devon, aged around seven months, when she developed a horrible stomach bug: we spent the week acquainting ourselves with the local GP and scrubbing the rented cottage while fervently praying we wouldn’t lose our deposit. I shall only touch on our belated honeymoon to the Maldives, where I burst my eardrum and cowered in fear of her screaming. But she was 11 months old, and at that stage all she really did was scream.
And then… well, then we booked a Scott Dunn holiday and I had a sense that this would be different. We were to spend a week in Las Palmeras, a villa in the Mallorcan region of Pollença, which slept eight and came with a chef, nanny and “host” (not to mention pool, playroom and vast amounts of land on which trampolines and football goalposts sat). Joining our family of three on this trip were my friends Martha and Adam and their young daughter; my aunt; and finally, my mother. She needed a break, but secretly I also thought she might be useful for looking after Edie. As it turned out, the villa’s staff meant that she could properly relax and enjoy her granddaughter without becoming resentful of us for using her as unpaid childcare.
Before we had even arrived I felt like I was on holiday, thanks to a call from our chef asking for dietary requirements and alcohol preferences, and telling us that there was no need to bring nappies as they would be provided (do you know how much room nappies take up in a suitcase?). When we actually got to the villa we were greeted at the door by Sam, our host, Phil, our chef, and Kim, our nanny. The latter immediately spirited the children to the air-conditioned playroom, where she set about introducing them to the endless books, toys and games on offer. The rest of us marvelled at the grounds as Sam brought us cooling juices; Martha and I let out yelps when we saw our bedrooms, packed with all of the baby essentials a parent could ever need: cots, monitors, Sudocrem, swim nappies, baby-friendly toiletries (and Cowshed for the grown-ups). And so began what I have since come to call the best holiday ever.
The children slept like logs, swam like fish and ate like little princesses
The villa has a backdrop of towering mountains, while the beach and the old town of Pollença were just a five-minute drive away. This meant that people could easily escape if they wanted to swim in the crystal waters of the Med, or shop in Pollença’s market and artisan food shops.
What made it so special was being able to relax, while the kids roamed around us under the watchful eye of Kim. Plus, I got to spend some quality time with my mother, to properly enjoy her company. So much of our recent relationship has, joyfully, been about Edie, but it was nice to be able to discuss other things: the books we were reading, or her plans for her new house as we swam lengths of the pool. We had massages while watching the kids on the trampoline, and felt the unspeakable bliss of not having to prepare any meals. Our stay at Las Palmeras wasn’t just a holiday; it was a complete recharge of batteries, and not just for the adults, but the children too, who slept like logs, swam like fish, and ate like little princesses. So often enforced family time can be stressful. Add to the mix the often incompatible holiday desires of a mixed group and you can have a recipe for holiday hell. But this was quite the opposite. There wasn’t a raised voice the whole week we were there, and I can’t wait to do it again.