Drakensberg Sun Resort, KwaZulu-Natal
Overlooking Cathkin Peak and other mountains in the Drakensberg region near Winterton, this resort got a facelift two years ago, and is the perfect place for couples and families. Yes, people with children need no longer worry about being given dirty looks by those without children – miffed by the intrusions of restless toddlers and grumpy teenagers – on their romantic getaway. At Drakensberg Sun, children have their own dining area with a television, a kids’ entertainment itinerary for holidays and weekends, and there are babysitting services. On days when the weather isn’t great, quizzes are organised to keep young minds entertained. With high-speed Wi-Fi available throughout the resort, kids can share on Facebook what they’re up to on holiday. Teens can go paintballing or horse riding, too. With only 78 en-suite rooms, couples are also catered for – and you can go hiking, canoeing and mountain biking. A late check-out is available upon request, should you still be hunting for teddy bears to pack, as is often the case when holidaying with kids.
When a destinations labelled 'kid-friendly' it conjures up ideas of crowded restaurants and menus of burgers and fish fingers. But it is possible to find holiday spots that are child-friendly without compromising on adult luxury.
De Hoop Nature Reserve, Western Cape
The De Hoop Reserve – a perfect stopover en route from the Cape Winelands to Plettenberg Bay – is a 36 000 hectare conservation area in the Overberg region. It’s a bountiful haven that offers everything from self-catering cottages to upmarket, fully catered suites that can be configured to accommodate families, friends or couples looking for a romantic escape. Its luxurious spa is a partnership with Africology, a brand which draws on the healing powers of nature. De Hoop also has activities (such as star-gazing) within the Elim Wine Route, which is hugged by two oceans and falls within the Agulhas district along the Cape south coast – one of the most well-known wine-producing regions in the world. Best of all, adventurous nature-loving children of all ages will relish the freedom to explore the safe, outdoor destination with almost year-round sunshine. There are various “fun-ducational” activities to enjoy, including informative marine walks with diverse fauna and flora, guided birdwatching, eco-quad biking, picnics on the beach, treasure hunts, swimming, tennis or croquet. One of the highlights for all visitors is the shoreline, which offers some of the best whale watching in the world – 40% of the global southern right whale population use these waters as an annual breeding ground. In peak season, between 80 to 300 whales can be seen in the bay; they generally leave by the end of November.
Anantara Bazaruto Island Resort, Mozambique
Some 30 kilometres east of the Mozambican mainland and less than an hour’s boat ride (there are also direct flights from Joburg), you arrive at what possibly could be nirvana if you’re a parent yearning for some sophisticated downtime. With sea and beach views, this resort is the ideal destination for families who love water. Dune boarding, waterskiing, banana boating and a traditional dhow ride are possibilities if you like a little adventure. But if you want to fit in more mental stimulation, take the family snorkelling or on a boat trip to Paradise Island, where they can spot turtles, dolphins and the elusive dugong (usually seen only seasonally, so check with the hotel when booking). Looking to explore the island on horseback? Anantara Bazaruto offers trips with stable masters on the island’s Boerperds, a breed of South African horses. For mothers craving some much-needed rest and recuperation, the spa has a wet room, hydrotherapy pool and rhassoul chamber and offers a traditional Thai massage (considered to be “passive yoga”). If you’re in need of some “vitamin sea” without compromise, this is the holiday spot for you.
Avani Victoria Falls Resort, Zambia
Family rooms at Avani Victoria Falls afford accommodate two adults and two children, and there’s Wi-Fi in all the rooms. Open to children between the ages of two and 12 (although children between two and four years old need to be accompanied by a childminder or parent), AvaniKids is a place where kiddies will enjoy the jumping castle, games and nature walks. To see one of the seven wonders of the world, go on a tour of the majestic Vic Falls (as an Avani guest, you have unlimited access to the falls). But if you’re looking for a bird’s eye view of the falls, get a different perspective by booking a helicopter ride. Bring your binoculars and book your family on a river cruise on the African Queen or African Princess along the Zambezi River, and check out the birdlife and animals that call it home. For those looking for an authentically “rural” experience, the resort offers a Zambian village experience, where tourists get to see how the locals live on a day-to-day basis.