Like many kids his age, 10-year-old Ethan is at that awkward ‘in-between’ age when he’s starting to crave independence but isn’t old enough to be left completely to his own devices, when he doesn’t want to spend all his time with boring parents but disdains the general notion of organised activities and kids’ clubs, and when he doesn’t make new friends as easily as an unselfconscious toddler or pre-schooler.
I was interested in what it would be like holidaying at Mark Warner's Lakitira Beach Resort on Kos – with a child of this age, not least because I’d already experienced one of the firm’s holidays from the point of view of a mum travelling solo with a 5-year-old (see my feature on the Levante Beach Resort on Rhodes).
Travelling with a child of Ethan’s age gives you a foretaste of what it must be like to travel with teens. Suddenly your kid has strong opinions of his or her own about what they do and don’t want to do – and often they might not want to do very much at all. And why should they? Suddenly, like adults, they recognise that it can be rather nice lying by the pool or on the beach and reading a book, or simply snoozing.
At Lakitira there are still morning, afternoon and evening sessions covering all ages from 4 months to 17 years daily except Saturday (the main arrivals and departures day), the kids’ club for Ethan’s age range is much less structured than the one Zac attended in Rhodes. One crucial difference was that that Ethan could roll up to Surfers at whim, signing himself in and out according to what activities he was interested in doing. I just had to tell him where I was going to be and he could come and find me when he was done. Similarly, if he didn't want to eat with me in the evening, he could meet up with his new friends for a kids' dinner followed by activities until 9.30pm.
Save the babies’ club, which is in a shady room, the kids’ clubs at Lakitira are in open-sided wood-and-cane pavilions that afford shade while retaining an alfresco vibe. An adjoining lawn provides space for games, and there are covered structures for table tennis and similar. Beyond those lie the kids’ pool and large family pool, which, unlike at Levante, are fenced off (as is the adult-only pool at the front of the hotel), and also the kids’ beach.
Naturally, many of the kids’ (and adults’) activities are water- or sand-based: during our stay, Ethan enjoyed pool Olympics, windsurfing and beach volleyball. The highlight of his trip, however, was his first scuba-dive. Scuba is available for ages 8 and 9 in the pool (in the form of the Seals Team Course), but Ethan was able, after a successful free trial dive in the pool, to sign up for a three-hour introduction course that involved a safety briefing on the beach, theory and training in the pool and then a 45-minute dive to see some of the fishy splendours of the Med. This cost a reasonable €99, including certification that lets him progress to the PADI Open Water Dive Course qualification.
Meanwhile, I did very little indeed. That’s not for lack of things to do at the resort, including mountain biking (solo or as part of an organised tour), tennis and watersports. But I was feeling lazy, so my activities were limited to swimming in the sea and the pool and a bit of sunset yoga. I also managed to drag myself to the spa for a good (and good-value) hot-stone massage and facial using Elemis products.
If you want to explore this pretty little island, a public bus from directly outside the hotel takes you to lovely Kos Town in about 20 minutes, to admire its white and dusky pink mosque, dating from the days when the Ottomans ruled the island, and wander its streets and harbourside. This is also the starting point for day-trips to nearby Bodrum on the Aegean coast of Turkey or boat-trips around smaller surrounding islands, spotting dolphins en route. If you do go to Kos Town, we highly recommend Aegli on the main square – a cooperative run by local women, serving authentic Greek food, it’s fantastic for people-watching.
We also visited the pretty archaeological site of Asklepeio, a sort of ancient ‘wellness centre’ (the father of Greek medicine, Hippocrates, was born on Kos), and a local vineyard belonging to Vasilis Hatziemmanouil and his British-born wife, who will talk you through the wine-making process and let you sample their wares (which make for great presents to take home).
Another good eating recommendation is Avli, a flower-filled courtyard oasis of calm in the resort town of Kardamena, reputed for its partying, outside which Lakitira lies. Otherwise, the four restaurants at the hotel serve good if not outstanding food – all except the Greek taverna are buffet restaurants.
Ethan and I were in a double room close to reception, which was perfect for our needs. Though interconnecting doubles are available, families tend to opt for the newly refurbished ‘village’ of two-storey ‘villa-style’ (but non-self-catering) accommodation at the furthest end of the resort, near the kids’ clubs.
Please note, the Lakitira Beach Resort is no longer available with Mark Warner. See our Mark Warner page for details of other properties they currently offer.