What's the story?Lanzarote didn't have the most sophisticated reputation back in the 80s. So what's changed? Everything. From the high quality design-led villas to the clean and chic coastline, we headed to the town of Playa Blanca and were happy to tear up those pre-disposed opinions. Fact is, Lanzarote (if you go to the right places) is a great holiday choice, especially for families.
Where is it located?The small (volcanic) island is part of the Canary Islands and consequently enjoys warm weather year round (if you imagine it's only 125km off the coast of Africa you'll understand the kind of heat this place can reach in the summer). However being an island, the breeze is ever present and keeps temperatures bearable. The landscape sees long stretches of post-volcanic rock right down to the coast where on many beaches you can experience the famous black sand.
Where to stay?If you're looking to really experience the best of this island, head south to the town of Playa Blanca ('White Beach'). Set on the very edge of the coast over a 9km bay, the pretty town harbour caters for all tastes with an array of shops and restaurants and tapas bars.
Out & aboutAside from the beautiful beaches and volcano treks, you can plan day-trips to Timanfaya National Park for everything about volcano's you ever wanted to know, plus the island has several waterparks for the kids, snorkelling, golf, diving and adventure parks.
AccommodationWe stayed in the stunning Natural Retreats villas. Clearly a step ahead of most of the other private villas on the island the holiday homes combined luxury, practicality and design to exemplary standards. The 4 bedroom villas have open plan living spaces with high spec kitchens (everything PLUS the kitchen sink) that lead out to a terrace and private pool. Everything has been considered here. From the built-in barbeque, to creature comforts such as a big flat screen TV (in the unlikely event you'll be watching). The accommodation is so beautifully designed that it's hard to tear yourself away from it. We found after a day chilling by the pool (the perfect size for kids) we'd take a stroll along the coastline to the town. It takes 25 minutes looking out to sea and passing by the exceptionally well-kept beaches and paths. A dip in the sea is highly recommended, as is a glass of wine at one of the chic tapas bars. All restaurants are super kid friendly and as long you avoid the trappings of chicken nuggets and chips, your little ones can enjoy some real Spanish fare. The built in barbeque means that time and again we were inclined to stay at home and enjoy beautiful home cooked food followed by swimming after dark and enjoying the clear starry skies. The good news is, you have the option to stay-in or go out - both easily.
Eating & DrinkingThe Canaries are essentially Spanish islands so traditional food is not dissimilar from what you would get on the mainland. As with all holiday destinations a large percentage of restaurants appeal/cater for British tastes but if you keep your eyes peeled you'll discover some genuinely traditional places to eat.
What's the crowdSuper family friendly. This is a destination that has something for everyone and the island, especially Playa Blanca, feels safe and relaxed. The kids love the sun, beach and swimming and grown-ups can enjoy the warmth in the evening and a little tranquillity. For families, Natural Retreats properties are brilliant. Need a cot? You got it. Need a high chair? You got it. The villa sensibly collects left over buckets, spades and kids toys from previous guests meaning you don't have to lug any over. The villas come with concierge facilities (in our case the super-capable Mark) with a wealth of knowledge, helpfulness and resource, which was actually worth its weight in gold when planning trips with children.
What to packVery little. It's very hot here so shorts and bikini tops for the day and something cool for the evenings and plenty of books to read - this is the perfect place to unwind.
RateNatural Retreats (0844 384 3166) offers 7 nights at Playa Blanca, Lanzarote from £815 for a three-bedroom villa.