*Advertorial / Press Trip*
Last week, Little Mr and I were invited by Thomson Holidays to spend 3 nights in one of their Thomson Family Resorts on the Spanish sunshine isle of Majorca. Before the trip I was a mix of emotions as this would be Little Mr’s first holiday away from his Daddy and his first trip on a plane. I was a little nervous with how he would cope with the change of scenery, the Mediterranean heat and a different routine but with a bit of preparation and the full support and backing from my husband, Little Mr and I packed our suitcases and headed down to Gatwick Airport to catch our plane.
We stayed at the Protur Aparthotel Bonaire in Cala Bona, Majorca which is one of Thomson’s Family Resorts on the East coast of the island. It’s just an hours transfer away from Palma airport and the beach is just a short stroll away.
First Impressions of Protur Aparthotel Bonair
The hotel is a very good size with 206 apartments set in 5 blocks circling the main pool. There are 3 pools; one large river style pool, a children’s splash pool complete with its own pirate ship and slides and an indoor pool (open during off-peak season). The hotel has some brilliant facilities for children including play equipment dotted around the hotel. There is a soft play room ideal for little ones and a covered playground with mini slides. For the older ones there’s a small playground with tube slides and a climbing frame.
We were allocated a second floor apartment in block 5 with a garden view. We could see the sea from our balcony which was great as I do love a sea view on holiday. On opening the front door of the apartment, you walk straight into the main living space where there is two large sofa beds, a dining table and 4 chairs, flat screen television, coffee table and the kitchenette. The kitchenette has more than enough equipment with a fridge, microwave, kettle, toaster, blender, an electric two hot plate cooker, sink and basic kitchen cutlery and crockery.
The tiled bathroom is very modern with a bath, shower, sink, toilet and hairdryer. Next to the bathroom is the bedroom where we had two twin beds and a cot. I had requested to hire a cot and fully expected Little Mr to sleep in a travel cot. Much to my surprise, there was a full size wooden cot with a thick mattress and Little Mr slept soundly on it all week, hurrah!
There was plenty of storage space in the apartment with two large wardrobes with integrated shelving perfect for storing your holiday essentials. The apartment was a perfect size for me and Little Mr and would be great for hubby and another child too. With older children, you would need to decide where they would be sleeping during your holiday; either in the bedroom on the beds or on the sofa beds in the main living space.
The living space was big enough for a family to live in for a good couple of weeks with the use of the balcony (and its childproof locks) for al fresco dining. The apartment was air-conditioned but I didn’t need to use it.
Hire of Equipment
One of the features of a Thomson Family Resort is the ability to hire baby equipment out in resort. As Little Mr is still being bottle fed and weaned, I hired a bottle steriliser, bottle warmer and a high chair. All equipment came from Mothercare with adapters for use in the apartment and were in brilliant condition. I also hired a basic stroller for use within and around the resort. The cost to hire the equipment is very reasonable (from as little as a few Euro per day) and definitely saves space in your luggage.
Unfortunately the stroller only reclined in two positions, both of which were sitting up so Little Mr fell asleep sitting up in the stroller when we were out and about. This wasn’t a major problem but I would have preferred him to nap flat.
Prices of Equipment Hire (2013 & 2014 prices)
– Mothercare cot: £15
– Highchair: £10
– Playpen & travel cot: £20
– Stroller: £20
– Warmer set: £15
Family friendly facilities at Protur Aparthotel Bonaire
The play areas for children in the hotel are good with lots for them to do and play with. The soft play area is a great idea but a little sparse and could do with some balls so that small children can play with something in the safety of the soft flooring. Little Mr however enjoyed looking at himself in the mirror but didn’t like the soft slide.
The Bonaire has a Parent and Baby room perfect for little ones needing some time out of the sun or needing a nappy change. The room has soft flooring, a playpen/ travel cot, a small table and chairs, a television and comfy chair for parents and is filled with good condition books and toys for little ones to play with. The room also has a bathroom with a changing unit. This is a brilliant facility where you can change your little ones nappy or pop to the toilet leaving your child in a safe environment without going back up to your apartment.
The restaurant has lots of highchairs with safety straps to use so that the little ones can eat with you at the table and these were all very clean when we used them. I would advise that they are probably only suitable for babies who can support themselves sitting up as Little Mr slouched a couple of times and got upset but otherwise they were fine.
The children’s entertainment team are brilliant. There’s a huge range of activities for children to do if they’re a little bored of the pool. Notice boards around the hotel, let you know what activities are taking place on which day and how to get involved. On the days where we sat by the pool sipping an iced cold drink, the entertainment team were having a blast. One of the days was Superhero day and children had masks painted on their faces and wore shower caps as helmets. It was all brilliant fun to watch so taking part must have been brilliant for the children.
Thomson the Dog is Thomson’s mascot and he features heavily in the branding and merchandise. Little Mr wasn’t fazed by the big cuddly dog but the girls in our party absolutely loved him. You can buy souvenir activity packs with Thomson on and hand puppets too.
During the early evenings there is live entertainment from the team with talent shows, discos and award presentations. We only stayed up late enough to catch one show which started at 7:45pm as Little Mr was just too tired to stay up but from what we saw there was brilliant audience participation from both children and their parents.
From dipping my toes into the splash pool during our first day, the pool was too cold for Little Mr to enjoy it. Toddlers and smaller children were happily splashing away in the water but in my opinion it was too cold for a baby. If the pool had been heated, I’m sure he would have been able to go in but unfortunately for him it was too cold and so didn’t don his new Buzz Lightyear swimming suit all week. During the hot Summer months I’m reassured that the pool does warm up but in months where the weather is not so humid, the pool can be quite cool which is a shame.
What about the childcare?
Thomson Family Resorts have a range of childcare facilities in their hotels and at the Bonaire, there was a Kids Club and crèche available for use (for a small fee) during your stay. If truth be told, I was quite anxious about leaving Little Mr in the crèche. I have never left him with anyone but family so leaving him for a couple of hours with complete strangers really worried me.
On the first day of our trip, we took part in a Toddler time session where the parents could observe their children in the crèche with the staff. Unfortunately Little Mr was mega grumpy as I had to wake him up to attend the session so there were tears from both of us but the staff are absolutely lovely. They took the time to ask questions about Little Mr, how he was developing, what his usual routine is and how he eats and sleeps.
Before any parent leaves a child in the childcare, you’re asked to complete a ‘getting to know’ you form. This asks questions about likes and dislikes, if the child is allergic to anything and if they’re ok to have their faces painted. All children who attend the childcare get a Thomson hoodie t-shirt and Little Mr’s had dog ears on. Very cute!
On the morning of our first session of crèche, Little Mr was well rested and his usual smiley self. I had taken his bottle of milk and left instructions that he was due a mid-morning nap at some point during the morning. In crèche there’s a sleep room with cots in so babies and toddlers can sleep if they need to. I left Little Mr smiling away at the friendly staff and edged my way out of the room. I burst into tears as this was such a strange experience for me but I’m happy to report that Little Mr didn’t even miss me. He took part in some games, played with the toys and had even done some hand painting shortly followed by his usual nap. After a long hour and forty minutes for me, I went back to crèche to be told Little Mr was absolutely fine and asleep. The crèche staff told me about changing his nappy, how much he had drank and what his behaviour was like. I felt really reassured and pleased that it had all gone so well.
The all inclusive option
We were lucky enough to have been given the all-inclusive wristband during our stay. This must be worn at all times but allows us to eat and drink to our bellies content. If you wanted too, you could literally eat and drink all day long.
The main restaurant serves food buffet style so you can go up and choose your meal and help yourself to as much or as little as you like. There’s also a children’s buffet so children can go up and choose their own food too. The food selection is outstanding. At breakfast, lunch and dinner I was stuck for choice on what to try first. There’s a huge range of meats, fish and vegetables along with pasta, rice and bread.
For those wanting to try something different there was a range of Spanish style foods to try out. I was brave enough to try something out of the norm and tried the Red Scorpion fish which was actually quite nice. For desserts you could eat ice cream, cakes or a selection of individual puddings which I am happy to report were delicious. See what I do for you? There was plenty of choice and having had a look around the restaurant families were all tucking into huge plates of food with very little waste. Waiters came round to clear plates, replace cutlery and offer drinks and were friendly to all, including the children in our party.
Outside of the main restaurant opening times, you could eat from the snack bar by the pool. This snack bar served a range of hot and cold foods including burgers, hot dogs, pork and chicken skewers, salads and vegetables, fruits and ice cream.
A selection of ice-creams is available for those wearing the all-inclusive wristband and again, I might have tried one or two in the name of research. They were nice by the way but had to be eaten quick against the heat!
Local alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks were available from the bar and these were served in plastic cups perfect for use around the pool. Coffee and Tea was also available.
The hotel was very clean with friendly and helpful staff. Towels can be changed up to five times per week with the option to save on replacing clean towels by placing dirty ones in the bath which I believe is standard hotel practice. Linen is changed twice weekly and beds made on a daily basis. Free Wi-Fi is available in the reception and lobby area and is accessible via a password. This is the only place where you can access free Wi-Fi in the hotel. In my opinion, holidays are for getting away from it all and should you have to sit on the comfy sofas in the lobby to access your emails and catch up on social media then that’s fine by me.
It’s rated as a 4T which I believe is spot on. The apartments are modern and stylish with excellent facilities and home comforts. There’s an excellent selection of food and drinks and the staff are very friendly and helpful.
As a first time mum taking a 7 month old baby abroad for the first time, we had a brilliant time. I felt safe and very comfortable in the apartment having all the facilities I needed, only retiring to our room for nap times, bath and bedtime. The all-inclusive wristband makes it easy for parents of children who want daily ice-creams, drink after drink and snacks in the afternoon. Thomson Reps were friendly and very helpful, going out of their way to ensure we were enjoying ourselves.
Baby friendly drinking water was available which I boiled up for Little Mr’s formula bottles. The hire of the equipment takes the hassle out of packing a huge suitcase full of stuff leaving you room for clothes, toys and sun cream. I particularly like the swap box which was where you could leave products for others to use. On our last day in resort, I left some nappies in the box instead of bringing them home. I’m sure they would have gone to a Mum who didn’t pack enough supplies or who’s little one got caught short during the day.
Overall, we had a lovely break in the sunshine surrounded by good company, food and drink galore, brilliant facilities and great entertainment. What a perfect way to end my maternity leave. Thank you to Thomson for a fabulous break in the sunshine with brilliant company and excellent facilities.
Who’s in for next year? I’ll certainly be seriously considering a Thomson Family Resort.
Disclosure: I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network Research Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity.