You’ll find a nice balance of kids’ clubs, spacious beaches and an enormous choice of sporting activities
FINDING a summer holiday to suit all the family is never easy.
It gets especially tough when the children are no longer toddlers, but are still young enough to have to come with mum and dad.
The idea of self-catering — with food shopping, cooking and cleaning — doesn’t sound much like a break.
While kids who are a little older get bored quickly while most parents are just desperate to keep them off their phones and doing something active.
But we may have the answer at Neilson Messini Beachclub in Greece.
Neilson because it’s one of the leaders in active holiday.
Messini Beachclub because it has a nice balance of kids’ clubs, spacious and varied beach life and, a priority for me, good tennis.
Former Great Britain tennis star Mark Petchey is tennis ambassador for the travel firm.
This resort, down on the southernmost tip of the Greek mainland, really has an enormous choice of sporting activities.
Even a glance at the weekly activities schedule on arrival is enough to make you feel tired.
Apart from the seven tennis courts, with four specialist coaches, there are water sports galore, mountain biking, yoga, pilates and a gym.
But there’s no pressure to do all of these things, or indeed any, if you just fancy flopping by the pool or ocean.
Messini Beachclub is big. And this year it becomes bigger still, with an adults-only club, Buca, opening next door.
Luckily, it’s big enough to have a few quiet spots to escape to as well.
But in for a penny in for a euro, so on the first night we grown-ups signed up for the daily tennis courses (two hours each morning), the odd water sports experience and an “intermediate” mountain bike ride, just to give it a try.
We also decided to attempt daily yoga to stretch out the muscles.
But of course, all of this is only any good for parents if their kids are kept happy too.
Messini is outstanding in this respect.
There are nine different kids’ clubs for children, aged from four months all the way up to 17, most of which are included in the holiday price.
The staff-to-kids ratio feels reassuringly good, understandably decreasing with increasing child age.
Our daughter, who is ten, spent much of each day being well looked after, happily playing games on the beach, in the pool or in the shade, as well as trying out a variety of water sports and tennis.
She made such good friends that several evenings she preferred to go back to the indoor club to eat there and watch movies.
For adults — and kids who do want to eat with them — the dining options revolve around one big buffet restaurant, which is one area where Messini Beachclub lacks a little variety.
Wine with meals is extra and, while lunch is always included, for three of the seven nights the evening meal is not.
So instead guests head out to tavernas or restaurants in nearby villages.
On one of these nights there is a very generous barbecue laid on at the pool bar for a small supplement.
Nightlife is a little limited in this sleepy part of the southern Peloponnese.
To be honest, though, on an active family holiday, and with many classes starting at 8am or 9am, few people are keen to stay up late.
So evenings after dinner are spent around the pool bar.
Here, the young, good-natured, almost exclusively British staff hold quizzes or show off their singing.
It all creates a relaxed, happy vibe that younger kids and teenagers alike seem to appreciate.
In any case, I was keen to get up early to play tennis before the Greek sun approaches full power.
The tennis team is superb.
On our trip Joe, Kat, Josh and Sarah were out from early in the morning to late in the evening, six days a week.
Despite this they were always smiling and fizzing with energy.
The tennis includes daily coaching courses, drills and social tennis sessions.
One can also book courts fairly easily, although the cooler times of day are understandably busy.
There are equally large teams of friendly young people running the water sports, all of which take place in Analipsi’s very safe bay where the wind often picks up suitably in the afternoons.
The only criticism was the mountain biking experience, which we novices found a little low on information and tuition.
Even the intermediate session took place on some hard, steep terrain, leading to my partner taking a couple of painful tumbles.
This aside, it was probably the best family-friendly activity holiday we have been on.
And it’s no surprise that Neilson seems to be investing further, expanding Messini and opening new beachclubs in Croatia and Sardinia for 2017.