Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Why we picked a Mark Warner Holiday - Part One

So, we've just returned (if you follow my Instagram page you'll have seen me bombarding you with sunshine shots, no hot dog legs mind you!) from the beautiful island of Lemnos.

We traveled to our first Greek island with Mark Warner. I had heard of Mark Warner through ski seasons of the past and now since becoming a parent decided that it was time to put them through their paces for a family holiday. This is our second Mark Warner holiday having traveled to Turkey with them two years back. We booked back in October and after a lengthy telephone conversation whittling down the resorts to which best suited our needs, opted for Lemnos, a three hour flight from Heathrow and a half hour coach transfer - perfect when travelling with two children under 5!

Mark Warner exclusively charter a British Airways plane so you are guaranteed the excellent customer service that one expects from an airline like themselves, and this is a nice touch - no running on board to secure seats together. Being a chartered airline we benefited from a whopping 92kg (23kg free with every infant) in luggage allowance - even I could not take that many shoes!!

We knew from our previous MW holiday that we needn't take that many clothes for the kids as they would be hanging out in swimmers and t-shirts during the day and because of evening childcare (I will come back to that later on) really only needed pj's for the evening.

We had an 0830am (a good get up and go flight) from T5 (the holy grail of airports!) and pre-booked breakfast at Gordon Ramsay Plane Food for breakfast. After some pretty hideous delays through security we arrived and had a quick breakfast filling our bellies for the flight ahead. It's one of the restaurants where kids eat free! Check out my post here for more tips on flying with little people!

We boarded the flight and off we set! Within moments Hector was out for the count and we enjoyed a peaceful 1hr 40mins of him sleeping - always a bonus and before we knew it we'd touched down at Lemnos airport.

The transfer to the resort takes less than half an hour and were greeted at the airport by the Mark Warner representatives and informed us that when we got to the resort that our keys to our rooms would be in the doors and we could head straight there where our bags would be with us shortly. Once our bags had arrived (less than twenty minutes after we arrived) where we donned our swimmers and headed straight to the pool! We had room 210 which was on the second level just before the steps which was ideal as we didn't have any steps to negotiate with the buggy but still had a cracking sea view.

A real bonus for the smaller people is the "baby pool" as we called it (bottom right). Hector spent all week cruising around the sides playing with his Happyland!

Firstly, let me explain why WE chose Mark Warner for our family holiday. One reason and one reason alone. CHILDCARE.

Tom and I both work so when we go on holiday we also look for a place that offers sun and the facilities with childcare for both the children. Charlie (4) is entitled to morning or afternoon childcare free of charge and we paid £180 to put Hector into childcare, this gave Tom and I three whole hours to enjoy to ourselves and to dip our toe in the sea for some water sports or even just to hang out at the beach bar and soak up the surroundings knowing the children are all sorted! All nannies that work for Mark Warner are fully qualified and British - it's like a home from home nursery which is very reassuring as a parent!

The Mini Club (3-5) that Charlie went into with Kelly (who was fab!), enabled him to experience water front sports that he's never done before and before the week was over his confidence for being in the sea had gone through the roof, especially with a new found love for sailing!!

Hector attended Toddler Club (12 months -2 years of age) and given that he had pooped himself out at the pool all morning, the nanny Sasha listened to his needs and paced the grounds in the pram whilst he snoozed. There was a full activities schedule for this group but he was only one of two that week and luckily they tailored the activities around extra sleeps!

Don't worry Tom was just out of shot!
After kids club there is a High Tea for the children which is served in the main restaurant at 5.30pm so every evening after we dashed up to fill up the small bellies ready for a pre bedtime/evening childcare swim. That brings me onto the food for the kids. Now, don't get me wrong - the kids food is not cordon bleu - but it is the types of food that kids typically eat and at the end of the day when they are hungry and mine can be notoriously picky and I am just pleased they will eat something. Lunch and breakfasts are fab with loads of choice and with pancakes and spaghetti bolognese on offer everyday I knew the kids would at least go through the day with full bellies.

High chairs, boosters and plastic cups and plates are available but what I would suggest bringing is plastic cutlery and bibs for the smaller people as these are not provided. Hector is still on formula milk but there is a parents kitchen in the Kids Club where you can get cows milk, soya milk (on request) and sterelise all your kit so don't worry about bringing steraliser and washing up liquid etc.

After our late swim we headed to the room to get ourselves ready for dinner and the kiddos ready for bedtime. At 7:30 we would drop the boys down to the evening childcare (included in the price) where they would watch a movie and then when bedtime came pop them in little camp beds or travel cots for them to drift off to sleep and where you could then pick them up at 10.30pm. On our last night we paid for an extra couple of hours childcare after so that we could enjoy our last couple of hours before we headed home - this was 14 Euros and available upon request and you can charge this to your room. After drop off, Tom and I would head to the main bar for a pre dinner beverage and to watch the sun set which really is quite beautiful.

Pre-dinner photo shoot!

All set up ready for evening childcare

Children are settled after the film in the little beds above

The childcare at Mark Warner really is second to none. The ability to book a sunshine family holiday knowing that for half the day the children will be looked after with nannies who's aim is solely for the children to have fun and make the most out of their holiday, whilst at the same time leaving you to recharge the batteries and have some "me" time really is priceless for us.

In my next post I will focus on what we as parents got out of our holiday, but in the meantime if it's got you thinking check out their website, you never know you might even find yourself bagging a last minute deal!

Nathalie x

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