Eurocamp review: Family holidays that don't break the bank and even the teenagers are happy
The food and the beach - there are times when kids can sum up the best bits of a holiday far better than any pontificating adult. Eurocamp holidays are designed for families and, wow, they know their customers to perfection. So when I asked my 11-year-old son what he had enjoyed most, his answer was clear. Pizza, pasta, gelato, beach, pool, football and friends. What more could any boy that age want?
If the children are happy, the parents are happy. Making that happen is usually easier said than done but the resort we visited was so well executed, even the teenagers had huge smiles on their faces as they hung out looking 'cool'. Nobody wants to spend all day - or any of the day depending on moods - with their parents so having a resort which feels safe when everyone separates is absolutely priceless. We picked Italy's Marina di Venezia exactly for this reason. There are endless restaurants, entertainment, sports, incredible pools and a beach straight out of our dreams.
We stayed a week but could happily have doubled our time there. In a nutshell, the best Eurocamp sites give you the relaxed camping approach with the luxury of a proper bed and facilities. You are both at one with nature and able to experience some of the best foods Italy has to offer. You can either do it alone or with the reassurance of having very well trained staff both working for the site and the travel firm. For these reasons, the atmosphere is second to none.
Holidays always bring out the best in people but it isn't always easy to spend quality family time without having to spend more money that most of us can afford these days. The beauty of large campsites is you can cook everything from scratch yourself - making the most of the barbecue which comes as standard and the 'fill your own' bottle wines which are less than € 2 a litre. We loved meandering around the local markets and being able to try the foods actually eaten by locals rather than just recommended by well briefed tourist reps. But we also adored treating ourselves to very reasonably priced meals in the stunning outdoor restaurants, where the gorgeous settings competed with the wonderful tasty dishes for the beauty prize. Pasta and pizza for the kids; seafood and steak for the adults. There aren't too many resorts which allow you to spend as little or as much as you want or can afford - in the forest, on the beach, by the stage ... everywhere.
The weather was so hot that we couldn't help but feel sympathy for campers who had nothing but a tent to protect them from the relentless sun. Fortunately, our cabin had very efficient air conditioning which allowed a bit of down time away from the soaring temperatures. The rooms were spacious enough for us not to fall out and there were beds for six, spread through three bedrooms. The shower and kitchen facilities had everything you could need and much more.
The pool complex was always busy but large enough to cope without people getting in each other's way. The slides are fantastic and though there was always a queue, they were most definitely worth the wait. Well, if truth be told, it was worth my husband waiting with our youngest son while I kept a watchful eye and lazed in the spa area. It wasn't all relaxation though. We did take on the aqua aerobics, albeit it more for the fun than fitness .Most days we allowed ourselves time to recover - haha - with an Aperol Spritz or Hugo cocktail. The children were happy to dally over a fruit mocktail and discuss the subtle differences between ice cream and gelato. They even put down their mobile phones to join the conversations, although the holiday might not have been quite as harmonious if it weren't for the wifi on site.
Having flown to Venice and feeling adventurous after finding our way to the camp via two lengthy waterbus journeys, we decided not to hire a car. It was definitely the right decision and even hopping on a bus for days in pastures new added to the experience. The team on site were more than helpful with tips and advice on everything from where to go and what to see, to basics like how to buy a ticket and make sure your boat was heading the right way.
I hadn't been to Venice since I was a child and it was reassuring how little has changed amidst a world that rarely seems to do enough to protect its past. This is a city that was not only carved from some of the most important moments in international history but knows how to make the most of that in 2023. Everything about it oozes the charm that Italy prides itself on. It is still one of the most romantic places on earth but it is also somewhere that takes its responsibilities to the next generation very seriously. Children are always welcome, whether you are fine dining at one of the world's top tourist spots or sipping a coffee in an offbeat cafe alongside retired locals reading their daily newspapers.
As police make their way through along the waterways and Amazon delivery drivers push their parcels on a trolley rather than driving vans, this is a place where old and new meet in a romantic embrace. We wandered through the streets for hours, marvelling at the buildings which stand firm against rising waters and wondering what the Romans would make of today's modern melting pot of tourists from every corner of the globe. We bought glass figurines, of course, but enjoyed window shopping as much as anything else. Absorbing the cultures coming together and people-watching is very addictive in a place as special as Venice.
There was nothing about our holiday that we didn't love and we would do it all again in a heartbeat. If you don't want to fly and Venice sounds a little far to drive, there are plenty of Eurocamp sites which are much closer to the UK and easy to reach by car.The best holidays don't have to break the bank. There is something truly special about families enjoying themselves surrounded by others from countries right across Europe, oblivious of everything except being together.
What you need to know about Eurocamp:
Azure - 3 bedroom holiday home (sleeps 6)
Contemporary Kitchen with oven
Modern Shower room
From: Party Price of £668.35 (-10% £741.25)
June 2024: Party Price of £1,316 (Comfort Range)
What you need to know about Marina di Venezia:
Parc located near to the ferry port at Punta Sabbioni, short ride from Venice, Italy
Superb pool complex with Olympic-sized swimming pool, large kids pool and waterslide
Includes Supermarket / driving school / restaurants / hairdresser
Activities and evening entertainment for all of the family
White sandy beach and stunning woodlands located at the back of campsite