‘Green Garden was perfect for us’
After the excitement of a very early flight (and quite a spectacular 4am flash flood complete with thunder and lightening at Bristol airport!) we stepped off the plane on the other side to warm air and as I led Jude (two-and-a-half) down the steps I felt my shoulders relax and my smile widen, deciding then and there to forgive him for kicking me in the legs and shouting, ‘I hate Tenerife!’ for a large proportion of our four-hour flight. We were met at the airport by our transfer driver who was exceptionally friendly, high-fiving the kids – much to the delight of Henry (age five) who is very into high fives and fist bumps at the moment. (Jude refused to high five and instead stood there shaking his head and pouting, but we felt this was to be expected noting that he’s two-and-a-half and when you’re two-and-a-half it’s pretty inconsiderate for another person to even look at you, particularly if you got up at 3am).
Upon arrival at the Green Garden Resort, the first thing I noticed (and perhaps the clue was in the name!) was just how green it really is. A huge effort has clearly been made with the planting of trees, shrubs and beautiful flowers, and as we walked along the Tots Boulevard to our two-bedroom villa, my first thought was that it didn’t feel very ‘resorty’ (in a good way – it was much calmer and more serene than I ever would have expected from resort accommodation).
The villa itself had everything we needed and more – including its own private garden, which though small was plenty big enough for the boys to play (and fight) in. Modern, airy and newly decorated following a recent Tots facelift, we found it a calm environment to return to when the kids became overexcited or overtired from too much fun in the sun. The extra Tots touches made it a home from home – books, a selection of toys (indoor and outdoor) and knitted star cushions on the kids’ beds which they are still talking about now. In fact, the boys’ bedroom was one of the most impressive things for me – it was so nicely decorated that it felt less like we were on holiday and more like we were having a sleepover a friend’s house.
This was actually the first all-inclusive resort holiday we’ve been on (as a family, that is – I don’t allow myself to reminisce about the three glorious all-inclusive weeks we spent in the Dominican Republic as a couple in our early twenties, because the memory of taking naps makes me weepy). I wasn’t sure quite what to expect. Would it feel too busy for us? Would we all be fighting for sunbeds? Would the restaurant feel like a canteen? Would we get bored of doing the same thing every day? We soon realised, however, that Green Garden is actually quite small and certainly doesn’t have the kind of mega-complex vibe I’ve seen when browsing larger resorts online. At peak times, the pool area was quite busy but it never felt overcrowded and we didn’t have any trouble finding free sun loungers. We also benefitted from use of the daybeds and pods around the pool, which are exclusive to Tots guests.
The all-inclusive food was varied and catered both for the demands of a more sophisticated adult palate and the palate of a fussy toddler who is suspicious of any food that isn’t beige. I’d love to report back that both the boys tucked in to the full range of cuisine offered, relishing the opportunity to try new foods, but that would be a lie – in all honesty, we were very grateful for the safety zone options of chips and pasta that were reliably available every day!
There was something different by way of entertainment each day too, including kids’ activities and evening shows after dinner. Both boys enjoyed a boogie at the mini disco and joined in with a Disney themed party. I was impressed that none of the activities invites felt pushy (I have been to hotels abroad where my sunbathing has been interrupted every other second with an overenthusiastic invitation to join in with Aqua Aerobics – I liked the fact that at Green Garden there was plenty on offer but no pressure to get involved). From the reception desk to the waiters, we also found the staff at the resort to be remarkably friendly, and I think this really contributed to the overall sociable and relaxed atmosphere.
One of our favourite things about the holiday was the shaded sandpit area at the end of the Tots Boulevard, just a stone’s throw from the front of our villa. With plenty of comfy seating (and all-inclusive drinks on tap!) we spent almost every evening sitting out with a glass of something cold while the kids played with the assortment of toy construction vehicles provided. It was here that Henry’s friendship with Sophie, age 7, really blossomed and by the end of the week the pair were pretty inseparable which was very cute to witness – I’m fairly confident that meeting his first real holiday buddy was the highlight of his week!
If there was one thing we felt the resort could have done with, it was a larger playground space, or, at the very least, more seating for parents around the play area. In contrast to the plentiful seating around the sandpit, there were only two chairs in the play area and there were a couple of occasions after dinner where we found ourselves in a crowd of other parents – all supervising our children from the other side of the fence, standing up – which ultimately cut those play sessions short as we headed back to the sandpit so we could park our bums!
To break up our week a bit we made a trip out of the resort to the beach (it was both easy and cheap to get a taxi both ways) and though we had a nice time exploring rockpools and having a bit of a mooch around, both the boys were keen to get back to the resort, jump in the pool and help themselves to another round of all-inclusive snacks (I think they had started to feel quite at home!)
As our first experience of a family resort holiday, Green Garden was perfect for us. There was plenty for the boys to do at the resort – they were able to make friends with other children and I didn’t have to cook for an entire week, which was pretty blissful in itself!
Having just taken a break from all the holiday washing (magnified in volume by a week’s worth of potty-training mishaps) I have been looking through the photos and wishing we could re-live the whole week again.
Well, maybe not the whole week.