Our First Family Holiday Abroad – Iberostar Lanzarote Park hotel, Playa Blanca, Lanzarote

In October 2012, we decided it was time we deserved a holiday.  We had been through a lot these last couple of years, dealing with PND and anxiety, a house move and a new baby to name a few, and we needed a break!  We mentioned the idea to A’s mum and dad, E and P, who are regular holidaymakers!  We suggested that we might look at going away in May/June 2013 when it wouldn’t be too hot.  So E said she would do some searching on the web.  We had a budget of around £1200 and our only stipulation was that we wanted somewhere suitable for O.

When searching, she stumbled upon the Iberostar Lanzarote Park hotel situated in Playa Blanca, Lanzarote.  I have a lot of love for Lanzarote, having holidayed there several times whilst growing up.  It felt right that O’s first holiday abroad should be somewhere that I had enjoyed so much as a kid.  So we decided to book it! The first 2 weeks in June 2013 would be a focal point of the next 8 months.

It really was a great deal.  We were to fly from Newcastle airport at 7:30am, which means we get to Lanzarote around lunch time. We spend two weeks all inclusive in the Iberostar hotel, and return home on an early afternoon flight, to be back in our own homes by 9pm.  All for £1100, as O was less than 2 years old he didn’t cost a thing!  Well, apart from the passport!!  E and P also booked the fortnight’s holiday, which would help to let A and I relax a bit more, but they’re also wonderful company!  Now how many of you can say that about your in-laws?!?

Fast forward to June 2013

The night before our early departing flight, we decided to stay in the Premier Inn a stones throw away from the airport terminal.  O was so excited, although he didn’t really know what was going on!  We had dinner in the restaurant and retired to our rooms around 7:30pm to get some rest before our 4am wake up call.  O was amazed he had been given a single bed and spent 2 hours treating it like a trampoline!  When it was time to wake up the next morning, he was not a happy chappy…

We got through the airport into the departure lounge and enjoyed some breakfast whilst O watched the airplanes driving around outside.  We watched one or two take off before we were called to the gate to board immediately.  O was very good on the flight there; thankfully, there was a spare seat on our row so he sat/napped on that for the full flight other than take off and landing.

When we arrived at our hotel, we were greeted at a clean and light reception area by lovely staff who gave us fresh orange juice or sparkling wine as a welcome drink and checked us in.  We were shown up to our rooms, without having to carry any of our bags, and were pleasantly surprised. we were on the second floor, with a balcony overlooking one of the quieter pools and the ocean.  Yes, the bathroom was a bit dated and the room had no air conditioning (which we knew about at booking), but we had been given a proper cot, rather than travel cot (which was what i was expecting), for O.

View from our balcony

Considering the Iberostar Lanzarote Park hotel is rated three stars; the facilities are amazing.  There are three big pools for capable swimmers and three smaller pools half a metre deep for the children, with plenty of sun loungers.  A sandy section along the front by the promenade with parasols and loungers; perfect for O to build sandcastles and play safely whilst we relaxed.  The poolside bar offered shaded areas, with food from 10am until evening.  Many of the drinks were available for guests to help themselves and cold water dispensers were kept full at all times.

Playa Blanca Promenade

The weather was hot, there was a couple of mornings where it was overcast or cloudy, but by the afternoon the weather brightened up and was wonderful.  Lanzarote gets quite a strong breeze off the sea, which helped to keep O (and us!) cool.

The restaurant served breakfast, lunch and dinner; each are buffet style service with chefs cooking fresh pancakes, fish, eggs and steaks on hot plates with pizza ovens behind them.  O loved trying all the different foods that were available.  He tried tapas, different pasta dishes, frittata and other Spanish delights.  But of course, the sweets counter was O’s favourite part of the restaurant.  He would ask to be taken up with A and I to choose which cake he would like to try and any jelly or ice cream to go with it.  He loved the variety of fresh fruit on offer at breakfast and lunchtimes too.

Looking for pirates…  Arrr, me hearties!

Most days, after breakfast we’d go on a walk down the promenade looking out at the sea.  O enjoyed looking for pirate ships and fishing boats.  Playa Blanca is a quiet resort, most of which is pedestrianised areas, with a view of the Fuerteventura island.  There is a regular ferry available for trips to the island, although we didn’t bother with this.

On our return back to the hotel, E and I would take O in the pool whilst A and P got involved in the activities with the hotel staff.  They had regular activities each day including pool, water aerobics, shooting,  zumba, darts, table tennis, the list goes on!  The slogan at the hotel was “fit is fun” and it certainly was.  The daily “red wine game” was thoroughly enjoyed by many guests at the hotel, in which a random game of skill ended with the winner being awarded a bottle of red wine (surprise, surprise!).

Authentic Spanish Tapas

On the couple of days were the weather wasn’t quite up to a dip in the pool, we took O into the kids area of the hotel.  The staff ran various kids club with activities but we found, at 22 months, O was a bit young to be involved in these.  They did have a small soft play area with a ball pool and boxes of pre-school, toddler-friendly toys available of which O loved.  As the hotel attracts guests from around Europe, the staff were incredibly helpful with all families being able to speak many languages.  I was so impressed!

Lunchtime would come and go, and A would take O up to the room for his afternoon nap.  O would sleep too!  This gave E and I the opportunity to relax on a lounger with a book or my iPod for two or three hours.  Utter bliss.  A isn’t really one for sunbathing so was happy to take over nap time in the hotel room!

After dinner in the restaurant, there was a “mini disco” provided for the children staying at the hotel.  Two members of the animation team would dress up in costumes and dance to an hours worth of songs before some poor volunteer (-ed by his wife) dad from the audience would be dressed as DJ Smiley the dog and be asked to pose for pictures on the stage with the children.  Thankfully, none of us were asked to do this, but I know A was secretly disappointed!  O loved to dance along with the other children, although because he is only young he did get pushed over a couple of times…

DJ Smiley’s party show, aka Mini Disco

Evening entertainment was then provided for the adults, ranging from shows by the animation team that were funny although did leave a little to be desired, magic shows, live rock and pop music and dancers.

I hope to return to the Iberostar Lanzarote Park hotel at some point in the not too distant future.  We were even thinking about returning in February or March, but with the impending house move it doesn’t look likely.  I would wholeheartedly recommend this resort, and particularly this hotel complex, to families with children.  The animation team are in one word ‘amazing’, the bar and restaurant staff are incredibly helpful and kind, the food and drinks are of brilliant quality and the facilities and rooms are great.

Where have you taken your kids? Or where do you plan to take them in the future?

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