20 best multi-generational holidays for parents, grandparents and kids
Our travel experts pick the best '3G' holidays for family groups - at home in Ireland and overseas...
Maybe it’s because we’re busy. Maybe it’s the range of accommodation available — from villas to Airbnbs and self-catering lodges at hotels.
Maybe it’s our changing lifestyles. Maybe it’s just a fad. But when I read research by Viking Cruises claiming almost 20pc of over-65s are taking regular holidays with their adult kids and grandchildren, I wasn’t surprised.
To me, ‘3G’ holidays are a no-brainer. You can split costs, share childcare and get priceless bonding time — as a group, and one-on-one.
Of course, there’s plenty of potential for dysfunction, too (Christmas, anyone?). That’s why you need to spend time finding the right space, discuss everyone’s expectations before you go, and book well in advance.
I hope these tips help you make a start. — Pól Ó Conghaile
Top 10 '3G' holidays in Ireland
Where: Sneem, Co Kerry
Why: With two-bedroom lodges, three-bedroom villas and seaview rooms in the main hotel, Parknasilla offers great choice to family groups of all ages and budgets, complete with access to the resort’s excellent facilities for drinks receptions and dinners. There are 500 acres to explore, so there’s no need to venture far: wonderful Kerry scenery, tennis, swimming, kayaking, golf (including a kids’ fun golf area), a new teen zone, archery, fishing, a playground, fairy trail and a lovely swimming pool are all on site. During the summer additional family events, such as falconry or boat trips to Killmackillogue for mussels and fresh crab sandwiches, are offered. On-site kennels are available for €10 per night and dogs can be walked on a lead on the resort’s many trails. — Jillian Bolger
Details: parknasillaresort.com; two-bedroom lodges, sleeping four, start from €155 a night.
If you like that, try this: Family favourite Kelly’s Resort in Rosslare offers one luxurious self-catering lodge, Leinster Lodge, which sleeps 13 and is ideal for groups; kellys.ie.
2. Mount Falcon
Where: Ballina, Co Mayo
Why: Set within acres of dense woodland, Mount Falcon is a glorious Gothic manor on the banks of the River Moy that’s been imaginatively converted into a luxury hotel. The generous estate also offers up a choice of self-catering lodges, from woodland and lakeside to stone courtyard, meaning family groups can mix and match accommodation to suit all needs. Lodges sleep six people, with breakfast included in the rate for the Woodlands Lodges. (Breakfast is an add-on option for Courtyard and Lakeside Lodges, at €15pp.) The estate offers endless country pursuits, including falconry, clay pigeon shooting, archery, walking trails, bike hire, a woodland playground and a lovely pool and spa. For a special celebration, book a family dinner in the hotel’s atmospheric Kitchen Restaurant, and maybe squeeze in afternoon tea too! — JB
Details: mountfalcon.com; lodges from €250 a night, based on a two-night stay.
If you like that, try this: For a luxury hotel experience with plenty of outdoor pursuits on your doorstep, try Hunter’s Yard, the stylish new sister property to Mount Juliet in Co Kilkenny; mountjuliet.ie.
3. Riverhaven Log Cabins
Where: Knockvicar, Co Roscommon
Why: Get close to nature in one of River Haven’s six eco-friendly authentic Scandinavian log cabins on the shores of Lough Key and the Boyle River in north Roscommon. The cabins each sleep six to eight, with covered verandas and patio furniture. Everything has been thought of here: playgrounds, football goals, wood-burning stoves, a welcome pack of essentials (everything from milk to fire lighters), wheelchair access, and pets are welcome too. Hire a few cabins together and settle in for a relaxed get-together. Row boats on Lough Key, try fishing or make friends with Misty the pony and Buster the dog at the working family farm. Lough Key Forest & Activity Park offers a huge choice of fun family pursuits. — JB
Details: riverhavenselfcatering.ie; €300 for a two-night stay or €375 for a three-night stay.
If you like that, try this: In Co Monaghan, Castle Leslie’s elegant self-catering cottages offer all the estate facilities enjoyed by Castle and Lodge guests; castleleslie.com
Where: The Rower, Inistioge, Co Kilkenny
Why: Comprising three traditional stone houses, reimagined as modernist dreams inside, Ballilogue is as chic and full of character as you could ever hope for. Specialising in family reunions, the five-bedroom house, four-bedroom lodge and two-bedroom barn make up a private hamlet around a series of gardens, sleeping 22 across all three luxurious hideaways. Offering beautiful grounds, secluded countryside, the Shed Bar for pre-dinner drinks and the Old Dairy for large dinners (maybe a catered sit-down feast), a break here is high on creature comforts, style and spaciousness. Venture into the pretty village of Inistioge, hang out in Kilkenny city or nearby New Ross, and don’t worry about leaving pooch at home — he’s welcome too. — JB
Details: ballilogue.com; The Lodge, sleeping eight people sharing, costs from €1,120 for a two-day minimum.
If you like that, try this: Plush and luxurious, Gatsby House is a glamorous self-catering Victorian house, sleeping 10, in Ardara, Co Donegal; gatsby-house.com
5. Inchiquin House
Where: Corofin, Co Clare
Why: A handsome historic home on the edge of the Burren, Inchiquin House was built around 1800 and has been lovingly restored by The Irish Landmark Trust as a luxurious self-catering bolthole. Quality furnishings, period details and a real sense of history make this tranquil retreat an idyllic space for a multi-generational break (it sleeps up to 10 people). Generous gardens provide outdoor space for the kids, with views across the fields making al fresco dining a treat... if the weather co-operates. Cook dinners in the large, well-stocked kitchen or decamp to the formal dining room and let a caterer do the hard work. Peaceful sleep is guaranteed, as are fun days exploring the nearby abbey, chocolate and perfume factories. Pets are welcome too. — JB
Details: irishlandmark.com/property/inchiquin-house; a two-night low-season weekend stay (incl. energy fee) is €1,340.
If you like that, try this: Farran House in Ovens, Co Cork, is an 18th-century manor that can be rented as self-catering, or with caterers. It sleeps 10–18 (with additional buildings) from €3,200 a week; farranhouse.com
6. Delphi Lodge
Where: Delphi Valley, Leenane, Co Galway
Why: A historic fishing lodge located deep in a wild Connemara valley: few places rival Delphi Lodge’s magnificent setting. Not to be confused with Delphi Resort nearby, the lodge is large enough to accommodate 26 guests in 13 generous bedrooms — and there are five additional self-catering cottages across the road. Food is always an attraction here, making it especially popular for older groups, and you can work with the chef before your arrival to plan the perfect menu. Dinner is served around a large dining table, setting the scene for a memorable house party. The luxurious lodge has an extensive wine list, but guests can also agree corkage and bring their own alcohol. By day, explore the incredible countryside; by night, retire to the generous reception rooms for cosy fires and catch-up conversations. — JB
Details: delphilodge.ie; two nights’ B&B and two dinners from €380pp, with a minimum of 20 people. The Lodge is also available for Christmas 2018 (non-catered; POA).
If you like that, try this: Across the valley, Delphi Resort offers a four-star hotel with adventure centre and spa, making it popular for younger groups; delphiadventureresort.com
7. Center Parcs
Where: Ballymahon, Co Longford
Why: Opening next summer, the €233 million Longford Forest is Center Parcs’ first Irish resort, and a game-changer for the staycation scene. The 395-acre woodland campus promises over 100 activities from pottery to laser combat, swimming and soccer coaching — so there’s plenty to do together… and apart. Groups can share open-plan lodges or book adjacent properties, and there are options for eating out and cooking in. Be sure to book popular activities in advance, and think about loading up the car with bikes and provisions to save costs. Prices really do add up, but there’s no scrimping on the quality. — PÓC
Details: centerparcs.ie; short stays (three to four nights) from €399 to €999 for a two-bed lodge.
If you like that, try this: Voted Ireland’s Favourite Family Friendly Stay in our Reader Travel Awards 2018, Amber Springs in Gorey, Co Wexford, is a great four-star with innovative on-site activities for all ages; ambersprings.ie
8. Ballyvolane House
Where: North Fermoy, Castlelyons, Co Cork
Why: Ballyvolane House sets out to wow all generations, and does so with aplomb. This luxury country house ticks all the boxes for a great family escape: excellent food, stylish setting, peaceful surroundings, super hosts, lots of fun and a sense of being somewhere extra-special. Little ones can help feed the pigs, collect eggs, play in the woods or enjoy a number of sports before children’s high tea at 5.30pm. A babysitter can be arranged while the grown-ups enjoy dinner around the fabulous communal dining table. Dinner is a high point, featuring much home-grown produce (and started perhaps with a delicious Bertha’s Revenge gin cocktail, which is distilled here). — JB
Details: ballyvolanehouse.ie; Main House (six bedrooms, sleeping 12 with extra beds and cots), from €198 per room per night B&B. Glamping from €150 per bell tent per night B&B.
If you like that, try this: Welcoming Carrig Country House in Killorglin, Co Kerry, is a luxurious hideaway on the shores of Caragh Lake; carrighouse.com
9. Muckno Lodge
Where: Toome, Castleblayney, Co Monaghan
Why: Built in 1869, this old gamekeeper’s cottage looks tiny but unfolds inside to reveal a beautiful light-filled home, including a fully accessible ensuite bedroom. Spacious and stylish, the lakeside house sleeps 10 and offers a well-equipped kitchen, large living-cum-dining room with stove, and huge patio with dining furniture and views over a private lake. A separate cottage sleeps another three people, and there’s a games room with air hockey and pool table for a fun family tournament. Homemade scones make for a warm welcome from the owners, who live locally. Minutes from Castleblayney and Lough Muckno, the unspoilt area is just an hour’s drive from Dublin and Belfast. — JB
Details: mucknolodge.ie; from €590 per week, minimum two-night stay. Lakeside Cottage from €120 per night.
If you like that, try this: Bellan Lodge, a B&B with a renovated courtyard of cosy stone self-catering options, in Athy, Co Kildare, costs from €175 a weekend; belanlodge.com
10. Lionsden house
Where: Longwood, Co Meath
Why: A rambling Georgian country house in Meath, Lionsden is a great option for a group of families on a budget. Available through Airbnb, the comfortable house sits on 52 acres of mature parkland, offering up endless opportunities for outdoor fun — tree climbing, exploring and the freshest air. It sleeps 17 across six spacious bedrooms so families can commandeer individual bedrooms or let the kids all bunk in the 10-bed children’s dorm for a monster pyjama party! A well-equipped kitchen with an Aga makes cooking here fun, and there’s a large dining table for group dinners. Three miles from the village of Longwood, and 10 miles from Trim; you can venture out for supplies before enjoying the thrill of your own country estate. — JB
Details: aairbnb.ie/rooms/3164297; €250 per night.
If you like that, try this: A luxurious 18th-century home with magnificent views, Lakeen House in Shillelagh, Co Wicklow, sleeps 16+ people from €800 per night. airbnb.ie/rooms/13719758
Top 10 '3G' holidays overseas
Looking for the best multi-generational holidays overseas? Nicola Brady rounds up villas, hotels, cruises and Aibrnbs for your next trip...
11. Eurocamp, Playa Bara
Where: Costa Dorada, Spain
Why: A Eurocamp holiday was the only kind I went on as a child. And, boy, did I love them. When you’re taking kids away, they don’t really care about exotic destinations or anything that resembles culture. They want a pool, a playground and a gaggle of other kids to make friends with. Even the classic mobile homes in these sites are exciting, particularly if they score a bunk-bed room. Playa Bara is great for multi-generational groups because you can book an eight-person ‘Aspect’ near a smaller ‘Esprit’, so the grandparents have privacy, too. — Nicola Brady
If you like that, try this: The villa holidays from Brittany Ferries all have private pools and sleep up to 12 — there’s often a golf course nearby, too; brittanyferries.ie.
12. Royal Caribbean cruise
Where: France, Spain and Portugal
Why: Royal Caribbean’s ships tend to be big, so it’s easy to keep everyone happy. Kids will love the endless entertainment, pools, slides and — let’s face it — unlimited self-serve ice-cream. Teens are kept happy with their own game-filled zones, and adults can escape it all in the spa. The ever-changing cityscapes will be an adventure for all (though don’t be surprised if smaller kids would rather stay on the ship). Symphony of the Seas launched this year as the world’s biggest cruise ship, while Independence of the Seas recently got a family-friendly reboot. — NB
Details: royalcaribbean.ie; seven-night cruises start from €2,937 for a family of four.
If you like that, try this: A Disney cruise will send little ones dizzy with excitement (and older folks will love the Caribbean islands). See americanholidays.com, among others.
Read more: Symphony of the Seas: What's it really like?
13. Villa Stella Maris
Where: Šipan, Croatia
Why: Airbnb isn’t just about city apartments and spare rooms, you know. Sometimes you can find a whopper of a villa, as is the case with this Dubrovnik showstopper. The luxury stone villa is plopped on the second-highest hill on the island, with gorgeous views and a lovely big pool. It can sleep up to 14, so there’s plenty of space for a big group — and teenagers will be thrilled with the private football pitch and basketball court. The island is a ferry ride away from Dubrovnik, and the villa is only 800m from the port. — NB
Details: airbnb.ie/rooms/23516239; from €470 a night. Fly to Dubrovnik with Aer Lingus.
If you like that, try this: Have a browse on James Villas — a villa specialist, it has thousands of hand-picked spots around the world; jamesvillas.ie
14. Club Med, Kamarina
Why: One thing that can make life tricky on a big family holidays? Mealtimes. Balancing fussy eaters with grandparents who don’t fancy fish fingers is a tricky one, but going all-inclusive is the perfect solution. It also means that the awkward wrangle for the cheque at the end of dinner is avoided. Kids will love the unlimited snacks and watersports at Club Med Kamarina, and adults can get out to explore Sicily. — NB
Details: sunway.ie; seven nights from €909pp (€619pp for kids, under-6 go free), departing October 13.
If you like that, try this: Beaches Resorts are the family-friendly holidays from Sandals, with all-inclusive properties in the Caribbean; beachesresorts.co.uk.
15. Coxswain’s Cottage
Where: St Ives, Cornwall
Why: A multi-gen trip needn’t mean a huge gaggle of people — sometimes it can be a couple of kids and one set of grandparents. For smaller groups, this gorgeous cottage in St Ives is the perfect fit. There’s a secret tunnel that leads to a stonker of a beach, a steam room and a huge squishy sofa for chilling out in the evening. Two of the bedrooms are ensuite for a bit of privacy, and the village of St Ives is the perfect place to amble; it’s also home to the Tate St Ives. — NB
Details: beachspoke.com; from €184 a night. Fly to Newquay with Aer Lingus.
If you like that, try this: Next spring, Loganair will commence flights into Carlisle, gateway to the Lake District. The gorgeous cottages at Tottergill Farm are just 20 minutes away. See tottergill.co.uk and loganair.co.uk
16. Villa Jardin des Roses
Why: The reintroduction of Ryanair’s direct route to Marrakech has made the Moroccan city a breeze to get to. But it can be a little overwhelming, particularly if you have little ones in tow. The best solution is to stay right outside the city walls, keeping the medina for daytrips. This villa from Mint Morocco is a doozy. You’ll have a housekeeper, cook and maids, a couple of dinners included and a large pool with views of the Atlas Mountains. — NB
Details: mintmorocco.com; from €3,360 for three nights, sleeping up to eight people.
If you like that, try this: Check out the gorgeous villas on redsavannah.com — they cover all the European favourites as well as far more exotic destinations.
17. Skiing in La Rosiére 1850
Why: Hear me out. A ski holiday might not leap to mind when you’re planning for all ages, but a cosy little chalet is actually the perfect choice. The adventurous can head out on the slopes and spend the day whizzing around the mountains (or scooting on their bums) and anyone not so keen can just snuggle up by the fire with hot chocolate. Topflight chalets have their own hosts, who will keep you fed (and watered) with no arguments about who cooks or washes up. And there’s nothing cuter than little kids on the bunny slopes. — NB
Details: topflight.ie; seven nights from €796pp.
If you like that, try this: Not keen on a full week? Highlife has three-night catered chalet breaks in Morzine; highlife.ie
18. Four Seasons Fairways
Where: Algarve, Portugal
Why: Sometimes you just want a bit of a middle ground. The idea of all the extended family inside one villa might fill you with dread… but you don’t want to split up either. Enter the Four Seasons Fairways. Smaller groups can easily share a villa or apartment, but if you want a bit of space, you can rent another. All of them have their own private pool or hot tub and are a decent size. The separate storage room with washing machine comes in handy too. The old town of Faro is nearby and the Quinta do Lago region is a beaut. — NB
Details: fourseasonsfairways.com; from €1,200 a week for a two-bed apartment.
If you like that, try this: Get active at Turkey’s Phokaia Beach Resort for a wealth of all-inclusive watersports; bspoketours.com
19. A lofty Airbnb
Why: Let’s face it: there’s always an element of risk with an Airbnb. However many reviews you read, or photos you scrutinise, you could end up lumbered with a dingy apartment and mouldy pillowcases. Enter Airbnb Plus. These super-swish properties have all been personally inspected — like this stunning loft bang on Las Ramblas, with huge, bright bedrooms, an outdoor patio and lashings of style. It sleeps 10 and has four (four!) bathrooms. There are blackout blinds too, to avoid those 5am toddler wake-up calls. — NB
Details: airbnb.ie/rooms/plus/10065521; from €500 a night. Fly to Barcelona with Aer Lingus or Ryanair.
If you like that, try this: Have a look on The Plum Guide — their hand-picked city properties are dreamy.
20. Villages Nature Paris
Why: This brand-new eco resort is a few kilometres outside Paris, and a wonderland for families. There’s a huge waterpark (heated entirely by geothermal energy), a lake, a forest play area and a whole heap of activities on offer, from archery to honey-making. It’s a great one if you have a wide age range of kids to entertain — teenagers can roam free and younger kids will be happy splashing around or having fun in the kids’ club. Those of a calmer disposition will love the extensive gardens and nifty spa. And, whisper it… Disneyland is 10 minutes away. — NB
Details: villagesnatureparis.co.uk; two nights in a cottage sleeping four in January starts at €235. Fly to Paris with Air France, Ryanair or Aer Lingis.
If you like that, try this: Ahead of the 2019 Irish opening, check out one of the Center Parcs locations throughout Europe (centerparcs.com).
NB: All prices subject to availability.