For families with young kids traveling with other families can be a logistical nightmare – or it can make your holiday even better. Kids can play together, there are extra pairs of eyes and arms for the little ones – and you don’t have to listen to each others’ same old stories every night after the kids have gone to bed. Oops! I mean, the more the merrier! And of course, if some people want to pop out for shopping or massage, there are others that can take over the nap duty.
After a few trips with friends we’ve come to a conclusion that renting a house, villa or apartment is hands-down the most relaxing way to do multi-family holidays. No running up to the hotel room to pick up stuff, people disappearing for hours for naps and nappy changes, trying to get everyone ready at the same time to go out for meals or kids running riot in small hotel rooms. It also often works out cheaper than multiple hotel rooms, gives a bit more space and an opportunity for the kids share rooms with their friends.
Our beach villa near Galle
On our recent trip to Sri Lanka we stayed at Rose Villa near beautiful Galle. We loved it from the moment we stepped into the garden and saw this:
In most countries the beach side properties are quite hard to come buy without a very thick wallet, but the Sri Lankan coastline is dotted with private villas and small hotels on quiet beaches like ours. The villa itself was lovely and had everything we could ask for, from baby cots to fully equipped kitchen and lots of space to lounge inside and out. We booked the villa through Home Away and paid the rental conveniently via PayPal.
We had never before experienced a villa with staff and were blown away by the attention from Chef and his team. Breakfast was prepared every day according to our preferences, and lunches and dinners whipped up as and when needed – including a lavish seafood bbq. We loved the ease of having a simple Sri Lankan lunch of curry and vegetables after a morning on the beach. Chef also took care of all our travel needs like booking drivers and shopping for extra items.
We fell in love with Sri Lanka, not only because of the gorgeous beaches but mostly thanks to the friendliness of everyone we encountered. When my mother came back from a package tour in Sri Lanka years ago having made friends with tuk-tuk drivers I was highly skeptical and rolled my eyes behind her back thinking she had been truly ripped off on those numerous visits to local workshops and villages. Now I have to join the choir and say that everyone was amazingly welcoming and friendly.
Rose Villa is located just 10 minutes tuk-tuk ride away from Galle but the beach in front is pretty much deserted. At sunset local families come out for a stroll, and fishermen take off to the sea in the mornings.
The waves here are fierce and swimming is off-limits for kids, but there are gentler waves within a short drive. One of the perks of a villa holiday is the freedom of having your own supplies handy, say, for a sunset picnic with wine with the waves crashing and kids building sand castles. Just and idea.
With this loud bunch meals out are always a bit of an ordeal, so we were pleased to stumble upon a tiny gem of a restaurant right on the beach. We would walk up to order our meal a few hours in advance – “whatever you have today”- and every time arrived to a table full of delicious curries, salads and roti.
Staying in a catered villa can eliminate a lot of the noise and minor hassle from your holiday – you know, stuff like walking through busy poolsides looking for sunbeds, queuing for food, waiting for drinks. During our week in Galle kids were napping, drawing or watching a film and I had unusually long reading breaks in the hammock. I managed to get through quite a few fascinating books on the troubled history of the island. I may share my reading list with you later – they made for a dramatic contrast between this bubble of paradise and the hardships people here have survived very recently.
Tips for a villa holiday near Galle:
- There are mini marts that stock basics like nappies, milk and yoghurt. Keells supermarket in Galle has a bit more variety but don’t expect Western brands beyond Oreos and Tuc crackers. Bringing snacks for the kids is always a good idea.
- Many villas have an option of staff included: take it! Every moment away from washing up is time in the hammock. A tip for the staff is not expected, but small token is happily accepted, we were told.
- If you have a favourite tipple, pick it up along the way (airport, Colombo or even from home).
- Bring earplugs. Many of the villas on the coast are sandwiched between the road and the beach and the traffic noise is inevitable.
- Be vigilant in villas with pools! They do not generally have any fences around the pools.
- Bring crafts that are light and non-messy, as well as a few games and pool toys. Many villas have some, but you never know.
- It is all about location! If you don’t want to move an inch on your holiday, the house and surroundings are super important. If you want to explore, you want to be within a child-friendly distance from somewhere of interest. The stretch on both sides of Galle works perfectly for both types, especially if tuk-tuks are easily available near the villa. Many villas on the coast are directly on the beach – ideal for a family holiday. If you want the kids to be able to swim in the sea, check with the owner or the villa, the ocean is ferocious in many parts of the coast.