If I had to summarise our family holiday at Mark Warners Lakitira Beach Resort in just a few words they would be FUN, RELAXING & EASY! I am sure any parents reading this will agree that ‘relaxing and easy’ are not words commonly used to describe a family holiday. Let’s be honest going away with kids can be described in many ways… fun and memorable most definitely but also stressful at times and exhausting!
Every time I spoke to a fellow parent at the resort the same words were exchanged time and time again – “It’s just so easy” we would exclaim whilst greeting each over the buffet table/around the pool. It was almost as if we were in shock that a family holiday could be easy and relaxing!
From our stress-free experience of booking with Mark Warner, the convenient kids tea and the ease of getting out on the water to enjoy the many water sports on offer my husband and I found travelling with Mark Warner fun, relaxing and easy. It is the first time we have returned from a family holiday feeling recharged and recuperated!
Since we returned from Greece a couple of weeks ago we have raved to family, friends and anyone who will listen about our holiday and in particular the kids clubs. For the first time on holiday since having kids, we enjoyed some child free time. I thought we would feel guilty putting our boys in kids club whilst on holiday, but from day one our eldest son Charlie was pestering to go to kids club (or ‘Awesome Club’ as he called it!) from the minute he woke up!
Thanks to the three-hour kids club afternoon sessions our boys attended my husband and I were able to take part in water sports together, as a couple, without having to take it in turns to watch our boys, we even had time during the week to read a book each (a real treat!) The highlight for us though was the evening kids club which allowed us to enjoy uninterrupted meals – an average years worth of date nights in just one week!
This is our review of Mark Warner Holiday Lakitira Beach Resort near Kos in Greece. I have written the review in sections from booking the holiday through to our first and lasting impressions of the flight, resort, food and facilities. I have published a separate article reviewing the childcare provision as there is so much to cover! I have also put together a list of top tips for making the most of a Mark Warner summer family holiday. I hope you find these three articles useful if you are considering a summer family holiday with Mark Warner. If there is anything that I have not covered please do drop me a quick line by commenting below or email me direct at firstname.lastname@example.org – I am very happy to help:)
Booking our Mark Warner Holiday
During one short phone call our family holiday was quickly booked and paid for. The sales consultant was helpful and efficient, quickly putting my mind at ease about my minor niggles and concerns. A few weeks before our departure date we received details via email of how to manage and personalise our booking online. In just a few clicks I was able to book my husband onto a RYA sailing course and when I changed my mind and decided to upgrade from half board to full board it was a quick phone call with no hassle.
I was kindly invited as a guest of Mark Warner, and took advantage of the special off-season discount for my husband Richard and two boys (ages nearly 2 and 5 years old). The resort had only been open for this summer season for a week when we visited (11th to 18th May). The holiday for the four of us should have been £1,477 on a half board basis including flights, transfers and kids club for my eldest son, Charlie. Harry’s kids club sessions, due to being just under the age of two, were £180 for six afternoons 2.30pm – 5.30pm. To give you an idea of the fabulous deals offered during the off-peak season, the same holiday in July during the first week of the school holidays would cost £4,300 – I would therefore definitely recommend booking in May, June or September!
Flight and Transfer
Our flights were part of the package. In the off-peak season there is one flight a week on a Wednesday, with Germania, from London Gatwick to and from Kos. During the summer holidays flights are also available from London Heathrow with BA on a Saturday. Our outbound flight was at a convenient 9.50am from London Gatwick and not at some ghastly hour! We stayed the night before our flight at the Holiday Inn Express, you can read our full review here. The three-hour 20 minute flight (closer to 4 hours on the return) was completely feasible even with an energetic toddler and over excited 5-year-old!
To be honest I had never heard of Germania before, a German airline. As luck should have it we were onboard their 30th anniversary flight and were greeted at check in with celebratory cake and a photographer! The flight itself was ok, we didn’t think much of the inflight food and would buy from the airport if we were to fly with them again but the cabin crew were pleasant and accommodating.
After picking up our luggage at Kos airport we were warmly greeted by Mark Warner staff wearing bright red easily recognisable t-shirts. Our bags were quickly labelled with our room number and we did not see them again until later when they were dropped off at our room. 20 minutes after landing we were travelling from Kos airport to Lakitira Beach Resort for the pleasant 15 minute journey onboard an air-conditioned coach. Wrist bands were given out for us to wear throughout our holiday and registration forms were distributed. Checking in at the resort front desk was a breeze as everyone had already completed their forms on the coach, we quickly received our room keys and shortly after exploring our room our bags were delivered. The entire experience from arriving into Kos to checking into our room was stress free and enjoyable:)
We realised as we sat on the coach that it was our first package holiday since being kids ourselves. We tend to shy away from staying in one place and instead go on road trip/multi-centre type holidays and city breaks. The closest we have come to a package holiday was to Mexico a few years ago but we booked our own flights and transfers. Package holidays usually conjure up images of being herded around like cattle. We never once felt this way at Lakitira! Our first impressions of Mark Warner were that it was a slick operation with customer service an absolute priority and every little detail carefully taken into account.
Upon arriving at the resort that we had just enough time to unpack before checking out our first kids tea (5.15-6pm nightly) followed by a conveniently timed kids club welcome meeting in the lobby at 6pm. Lauren the Kids Club Manager explained the procedure for kids club, where to meet, how to know what to pack for the days activities (written on the notice board the night before) and completely reassured us that our children would be in very safe hands by the fully qualified British nannies.
The kids club meeting was quickly followed by the main welcome meeting where we met the entire management team including Jono the Hotel Manager and Justine the Operations Manager. Both Jono and Justine genuinely wanted guests to have an incredible time at Lakitira. We really appreciated that throughout the week we regularly saw them walking around the resort stopping to talk to guests and dining in the guest restaurant. They were very approachable and proactive; I mentioned to Justine that it was a pity there was no evening entertainment on day three of our holiday and for the last three nights we suddenly had live entertainment in the bar during the evenings. (During the peak summer months evening entertainment takes place nightly).
The welcome meetings continued the next day with a beach briefing at 10am and a tennis briefing at 11am (we are not tennis fans so did not attend this one). The beach meeting lasted no longer than 15 minutes but it was well worth attending. We met all the key members of staff and were given an overview of all the complimentary water sports (kayaking, windsurfing, paddle boards, sailing dingy’s, scuba diving pool trails) and free courses (intro to windsurfing & sailing and sunset challenges). We were also given a quick run through of the courses you could pay extra for including RYA sailing courses, scuba diving & snorkelling excursions. The Beach Manager also briefed us on the safety rules (the different flag system and how to call for help from the rescue boat driver etc) and safety equipment which meant that when we did wish to take part in water sports we did so without any lengthy delays as we had already been briefed.
Lakitira Beach Resort
Lakitira was built to resemble a pretty traditional Greek village. It made me feel like I was on the set of Mamma Mia with sugar white-painted buildings, royal blue wooden doors/balconies and paved paths. The resort is surrounded by lush and immaculately maintained greenery, bright flowers, swaying palm trees and spectacular views of other Greek islands and nearby Turkey. The resort even has its own Greek Taverna (not available on the full board dining plan) located in its own square.
The resort has three swimming pools, the main pool and kids paddling pool located in front of the Main Terrace Restaurant and an adult only pool located at the back of the resort near the main tennis courts. There is a shop useful for restocking up on sun cream, buying buckets, spades, inflatable pool toys etc, a beauty spa and a 24-hour kitchen invaluable for cleaning, sterilising and making up bottles for baby. (Complimentary UHT milk for babies was also available from here).
We stayed in a hotel junior suite. We were conveniently located near the main beach a couple of minutes walking distance to the two main restaurants – the Trattoria and Main Terrace. Our room provided everything we needed – a comfortable double bed, three good-sized wardrobes with plenty of space for hanging and storing clothes, a fridge, safe, bath, shower, two small single beds (fine for Charlie at the age of five although I would have thought a bit of a squeeze for older kids) and an outdoor terrace area with patio furniture and a very handy clothes airer.
The first features I spotted as I walked into our room were the wooden sliding doors between the main bedroom and kids bedroom (I am not a fan of creeping around in the dark whilst the kids are in bed so I was delighted that I would not need to) and the thick black out curtains! I nearly cheered when I noticed them, they can make such a HUGE difference between kids awaking at the crack of dawn and actually waking at a respectable hour!
My only slight criticisms with the room was the toilet was inside the shower cubicle which was slightly odd and also the mattress on Harry’s travel cot was incredibly uncomfortable. I mentioned this to the staff at reception and they sent through some thick blankets to place underneath the travel cot mattress which did help hugely.
Restaurants, Bars and Food
We are big foodies. We love to experience different foods whilst on holiday, it is a huge part of the travelling experience for us. We were apprehensive about the food especially with being on a full board basis and knowing that for three meals a day we would be dining from a buffet. Hand on heart I can say the food was AMAZING! Always tasty, varied, fresh and well presented.
Breakfast, served in the main Terrace Restaurant, was a FEAST! Freshly baked breads, pastries, locally grown fruits, cheeses & cold meats on one side of the restaurant and a variety of hot breakfast dishes on the other. (Eggs were served scrambled, hard-boiled, soft-boiled – you name it they had it). My boys quickly became accustomed to the freshly made pancakes and nutella (and have nagged me to make them at home ever since!) I made a beeline every morning for the fresh fruit smoothies which were amazing!
As we had paid extra for the full board option our lunch was in the Trattoria Restaurant, with evening meals back in the main Terrace Restaurant. We were spoilt for choice, particularly in the evenings… a variety of fresh salads, seafood, fish dishes, perfectly cooked meat dishes. My particular favourite dish was the Greek salad, a whole section of the buffet table was often reserved for all the main ingredients for Greek salad and next to it the seasonings – herbs, oils, chilli flakes and vinegar so that you could make it exactly how you liked it. It was so tasty. I have since tried to replicate the dish at home but it just does not taste the same – the tomatoes are not as juicy, the feta cheese not as tangy, the olives lack the intense flavour.
The kids tea, served every day 5.15pm – 6pm in the Trattoria Restaurant, was a rather eye-opening experience! The atmosphere was completely different to that in the evenings. Toddlers throwing tantrums, parents pleading with them to eat more peas, food being spilt on the floor, kids climbing out of high chairs and knocking over glasses of water .. it was great fun, it made me feel very normal!
Although the kids tea food options had a smaller selection available than the main restaurant, it was exactly what kids love to eat – there were at least three options on the buffet every evening from freshly made pizzas, pasta and rice dishes, plain chicken, sausages, fish and vegetables with a couple of choices of pudding too such as ice cream, Greek yoghurt and fresh fruit.
We found the restaurant staff at the resort to be very helpful and friendly particularly during kids tea when no request was ever any trouble.
To say that my hubby and I were excited to be able to take part in water sports is a massive understatement! Almost all our holidays before kids were activity based (skiing, snowboarding or water sports). Since Charlie and Harry have come along activities on holidays have mainly involved building and rebuilding sand castles and walking back and forth to the ocean carrying buckets of water!
With the boys signed up to kids club in the afternoons we were eager to make full use of the resorts facilities. Expecting the water sports to be popular, Richard and I headed straight to the water sports desk on our first morning and attempted to book in slots for taking boats out around our boys kids club times. The water sports staff kindly explained that it was unnecessary as the resort was very quiet during our stay and we literally could take out whatever we wished as and when we wanted to (weather permitting obviously) – another good reason to visit during the off-peak season!
I cannot compliment the water sports staff at Lakitira highly enough. Throughout the week they were friendly, welcoming, accommodating and most importantly patient! I took part in the free intro to sailing course, there were five beginner sailors on the course. After a quick run through of the main sailing boat terminology our instructor Olly must have demonstrated how to do a basic tack on the demo boat at least a dozen times… he then watched each member of our group fail to follow his instructions. How he managed to keep his cool, I don’t know!
The next day I decided to take a boat out alone to practice my newly acquired skills. Olly was on the beach and reassured me that I would be absolutely fine. I was doing ok for about 30 minutes until I spoke to a fellow intro sailor student who was out paddle boarding. She told me she had not been allowed to take a boat out as the flag had changed due to heavier winds and bigger waves. I forgot everything Olly had taught me and struggled to control the boat which was ridiculous as I had sailed perfectly fine up until this point! I never felt unsafe though, a rescue boat spotted that I was struggling and came to guide me back to the beach where water sports staff helped me bring the boat onto the shore.
Richard took part in a free intro to windsurfing course with an equally helpful instructor Ed. He also paid for a RYA level 3 sailing course which took place over four afternoons for three hours a day with a highly qualified and friendly instructor, Rachael. One afternoon the heavens opened and we experienced a huge downpour of rain. Wondering where Richard had got to, as I did not think for one moment he would still be sailing in such extreme conditions, I ran quickly up to the beach to search for him. Out on the water I could just make out through the pelting rain a sailing dinghy and safety boat. Rachael could have easily have called off the sailing but she knew how much Richard wished to complete the qualification and as the weather conditions were safe to continue (just not particularly pleasant) she pushed on regardless of the rain.
Over the course of the week Richard and I both enjoyed paddle boarding, kayaking and we also took out a larger catamaran. Charlie also came out with us on a kayak and even experienced sailing during one particularly fun kids club! We were out sailing and suddenly heard Charlie excitedly shouting “That’s my Mummy and Daddy” from his little sailing boat:) It was the highlight of our holiday to see him enjoying sailing with his new friend and kids club teacher. We waited to see him come back to shore and took this photo to capture our favourite #MWMoment!
Similar to the water sports set up, we could have paid extra for tennis classes and one on one instruction. We enjoyed a tennis knock about with Charlie a couple of times (it was easy and free to take out tennis rackets you just signed them out at the tennis centre). Charlie has since decided that he wants to take up lessons back home in the UK. It was a perfect opportunity to introduce him to new sports which we may never have done at home.
I enjoyed a sunset stretching class one evening. It was great to chat with other guests whilst stretching out some aching muscles from a day on the water with the sun setting in the background. Claire the aerobics instructor offered several classes a day, all included in the cost of the holiday including aqua aerobics, toning and high intensity classes.
For the first time in my life I felt no desire to explore outside of the resort. I surprised myself, as before our holiday I was apprehensive that we may get restless and have itchy feet to explore Kos. I think because we were busy in the mornings enjoying and making the most of family time with our boys and then in the afternoons we both wanted to make the most of the all-inclusive water sports, we didn’t feel the need to hire a car to explore the island.
I did take out a mountain bike one afternoon whilst Richard was out sailing. I cycled along to the next village and had a quick look around the quirky shops and harbour. It only took 15 minutes in each direction and gave me the opportunity to take some photos of the surrounding area.
Having experienced just one week with Mark Warner, I can completely understand why they have such a loyal following. I’m honestly not sure how another family holiday could compare, we are hooked as we have been truly spoilt. A few months ago I published a post about our favourite holiday which before experiencing Greece with Mark Warner was two weeks with Al Fresco, a week in France and a week in Italy staying in mobile homes. It was a fun memorable holiday, but it definitely was not as easy or relaxing as a week with Mark Warner. Thinking back I still had to consider what to do for food, tidy the mobile home and our days activities were dictated by Charlie’s nap time and bedtime. We also didn’t get to enjoy any water sports, as we always had Charlie with us. Other family holidays have involved laying in dark hotel rooms from 7pm afraid to wake our boys up, hardly ideal!
In addition to enjoying the benefits of childcare, a huge part of the holiday fun was chatting to fellow guests. We found everyone staying at the resort to be very like-minded and met many first timers who, like us, said it would be their first of many Mark Warner holidays.
We also met a couple who had been on a family ski holiday with Mark Warner, they said winter holidays were equally as relaxing, easy and fun as summer holidays with a similar kids club set up. As mentioned in our Mark Warner ambassador application, we were adventure junkies before having kids, we went on several ski and snowboarding holidays. Although we have never seriously considered taking our boys on a winter sports holiday, until now!
Thanks for reading this review of our family holiday with Mark Warner at Lakitira Beach Resort. Click here to read our review of the day and evening childcare services. Click here for our top tips for a memorable Mark Warner family summer holiday including packing list and dress code.
Have you experienced a Mark Warner Holiday? I would love to hear about your experience!
Disclosure – I stayed as a guest of Mark Warner at the Lakitira Beach Resort. All opinions and words are my own.
Copyright – All photos are copyright Travel Loving Family
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