by Ben Groundwater

You have to love a resort. It’s the feeling of freedom, coupled with the sense of luxury. It’s the knowledge that you could do almost anything today – or you could, just as reasonably, do nothing at all.

A good resort fits all of the clichés, with poolside cocktails and breakfast buffets that could feed a small army; with activities and adventures for the whole family; with sunshine and palm trees and plenty of pampering. If you and your family are keen on a resort stay, these are the newest destinations you’ll want to check out.

Jaco Beach, Costa Rica

Costa Rica has quietly been turning itself into a resort-lover’s dream over the last decade or so, with plenty of affordable properties opening up in exotic, beautiful locations. One of the hotspots is Jaco Beach, on the country’s Pacific coast.

Jaco is the place for water-borne adventure, with surfing, deep-sea fishing, kayaking, boat rides, rafting and more on offer. For those who don’t quite have their sea legs, there’s also horseback riding, ATV tours, abseiling, zip-lining and hiking. This is a destination for active families who like to get out of their comfort zones.

The resorts in Jaco Beach – the likes of Croc’s Resort, the Amapola Hotel, and Hotel Club Del Mar – offer affordable, comfortable accommodation for families, couples and singles alike.

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Cabo is not just the domain of the rich and famous, though it certainly has its share of celebrity visitors who jet in from Hollywood on a regular basis. It’s not just a college-kid party destination either, despite the cheap drinks and proximity to the USA. This beautiful beach town, on the tip of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, is also the ideal spot for families looking for an affordable resort stay with good food, reliable sunshine, and plenty to do.

To steer clear of the party scene, avoid the marina and downtown areas of Cabo San Lucas and instead focus on artsy San Jose del Cabo, as well as the long stretch of beach that connects the two towns, which is dotted with great resorts. These places often have large rooms with pull-out couches, perfect for families, and offer the chance to idle by a pool all day (with the help of baby-sitters), or get into the likes of boating, snorkelling, parasailing and more.

Krabi, Thailand

Krabi is spectacular – there’s no other word for it. Those pictures you’ve seen of Thailand, with the soaring, tree-covered limestone karsts rising from warm, clear waters, set against an achingly blue sky? That’s Krabi. People come here for natural beauty, for relaxation, for luxury, and for unadulterated joy, and that’s exactly what they get.

For resort-goers, Krabi has a multitude of options, from the budget-friendly but beautiful Aonang Villa Resort, to the mid-priced Dusit Thani Krabi Beach Resort, to the stunning, luxurious Rayavadee. At all of these locations you’ll find pools, buffets, sun and sand. There will also be the chance to go rock-climbing, to take a boat across to famed Phi Phi island, to do a cooking class, to hike, to swim, or just to hang out and relax.

Malolo Island, Fiji

Fiji isn’t exactly a new destination for family-friendly resort holidays. This island nation is, in fact, the original and the best, a place that literally welcomes you with open arms, that envelopes you in a huge hug and barely lets you go until you leave. You’ll feel safe and comfortable in Fiji. You’ll feel that your kids are always in good, kind hands. You’ll feel that you have a million things to do, but that they can all probably wait until tomorrow. Or the next day.

There are new resorts popping up in Fiji constantly, and one of the new hotspots right now is Malolo Island, in the Mamanuca group. There are several classic properties here, each enjoying stretches of white-sand beach shaded by tall palms: Malolo Island Resort, Tropica Island Resort, and the uber-luxe Likuliku Lagoon. Meanwhile, Six Senses has just opened a stylish new property with its own surf school, yoga classes and meditation program. Relax and enjoy.

Kruger National Park, South Africa

Here’s another resort holiday you may not previously have considered, but definitely should: safari. An African safari is a thing of family-friendly beauty, a thrilling adventure that offers the chance to glory in all of nature’s wonders while bonding with loved ones. And as with any good resort stay, everything is taken care of during a visit to a safari lodge: your accommodation, your meals, your drinks, and most importantly your safari excursions, led by knowledgeable, entertaining guides.

South Africa is the ideal location for your safari adventure. The country has a huge number of family-friendly camps and lodges spread throughout, from Kwandwe Ecca Lodge in the country’s south, to Tswalu Motse Lodge in the Kalahari, to Royal Malewane Africa House in Kruger National Park. At each you can power down the iPads, switch off the mobile phones, and get ready to spot one of the Big 5.

Read the latest from our guest columnist and Travel expert, Ben Groundwater: 


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