Thursday, 22 August 2013

Best Kids Club ever @Tamarind Cove

So if you're planning your hols to Barbados with the munchkins you should definitely try Tamarind Cove.

It's on the West Coast in St James (oooh fancy) so you can basically pretend to be a celeb for your whole stay because you know the West Coast is famously frequented by the rich and famous. Just get your hair and nails done beforehand put on your best bikini and oversized sunnies, suck in and strut down the beach like you own it and people will probably assume you're a 'somebody' lol

So before I get into the actual hotel, let's talk about the most important place, the kids club, because let’s face it you want a decent place to leave the kids *cough cough everyday* so you can have some mummy time. Now I read some nice things about this Kids Club which was the main reason I chose this hotel over anything. Ok, so it's called The Flying Fish club and they take the kids from 4 years up, now this aint no ordinary kids club, both of mine have been to different kids clubs on the island and although RDs one was good, this one is on another level, Cali loved it, actually love would be an understatement, sometimes I'd go to collect her and peer through the door and see her having so much fun I had to just leave her till later, because you know that would have ended in a massive tantrum so I dodged that bullet a few times.

They do a tonne of activities, obviously they have the Wii & colouring and movie time play but it's not just free play they have real activities. While we were there Cali did swimming games (to the point where she now feels confident enough to swim without her armbands or swim ring) made a journal with some heavily decorated foam cover, She also did some baking where she made traditional Bajan Turnovers, which I love, she had 1 and was hoping to eat the other one later I was like ummm.... mummies hahahaha it tasted sooo good and looked store brought. We were also there during Cropover season so Cali made a cute tie dyed T-Shirt and carnival mask, she also went on a day trip into town to Bridgetown Market which is a huge street fair so Cali got to experience a little piece of Cropover and learn a bit about it and join in the celebrations which I thought was perfect for her. They even braided Cali's hair for me which was soooo appreciated and looked soooo cute she literally looked like a little munchkin bless her.

They also used to take Cali for lunch so you would see a group of kids sitting together in the hotel restaurant eating which was cute. Cali made a lot of new friends which was fun for her and made my life easier knowing she was enjoying meeting new people, because it's every mum’s worst nightmare that you take your child somewhere and no one plays with them then you get paranoid that they were in some dark corner playing by themselves. But all the kids seemed to just join in and hang out with each other and there was a mix of mostly UK and US kids.

The ladies who work there are sooo lovely and welcoming like you would have no problems handing your child over to them. They're all happy and upbeat and enthusiastic (but not annoyingly over enthusiastic like cheerleaders or something) As soon as we checked in they came straight away and introduced themselves and invited Cali to Kids Club the next day, which is something I’ve never experienced before as normally I have to go hunting for the Kids Club (which is normally located in some really hidden location)

Also maybe around 3/4pm they go outside and do games either on the beach or on the grass so then you have a good mix of kids from the younger ones to the older kids all playing something like beach cricket together. Now normally I would be very hesitant to leave Cali with ‘random people’ regardless of their childcare qualifications/experience around water but I felt totally comfortable leaving her there with them and obviously nothing ever happened to her.

The actual Kids Club itself is in a typical hidden location and by hidden I mean you will happily walk past it a few times before you realize it’s there. Like all the other kids clubs, you have to take your shoes off before you enter and once inside it’s all colourful and inviting. There’s the main room with the big TV and Wii, then a room to the left full of arts and crafts stuff then rooms off to the right where they have squashy sofas and cushions and do movie time and play games etc. It’s a nice size and very very clean, even the cleaners have to take off their shoes to clean in there lol

Even if the hotel was nothing special I would go back again just for the Kids Club literally because it’s that good and obviously when it comes to my kids and childcare  I am like a health inspector I am very anal about everything so if I’m recommending it, it’s definitely high end.

Oh one more thing that will probably interest you especially if you plan on having a night out (which you should because you deserve it) is babysitting. The ladies in the kids club actually double up as babysitters at night which is good as you already know them so you won’t feel scared leaving your babies while you’re out shaking a leg and it’s actually a decent price too.

OK so I’ll do a quick rundown on the hotel, alright so it’s West Coast so you would expect high end and as soon as you walk in you’re facing the beach then you look around and you’re like wow am I actually here?? It’s that nice. We were greeted with cold towels and rum/fruit punch, Yeah... so... quick warning, if you’re a lightweight probably best to stay away from the rum punch after the long flight you will be happy drunk after a few sips and skipping around the hotel professing your love for everyone lol its STRONG!!

The hotel is a bed and breakfast basis hotel but you can add on extra meal deals.
The breakfast was amazing (another reason I chose this hotel as I read a lot of glowing reviews on their breakfast too) it’s a proper buffet breakfast, with hot and cold options, I literally went crazy and had 1st, 2nds *whispers and 3rds* most mornings. They had everything you can think of including lots of ‘normal’ stuff the kids will eat like cereal, toast, yogurts and fruits.
Most days the breakfast kept me going past lunch time so I would only need dinner.
They have a Spa and adults only pool, so once the kids are at Kids Club you can go relax in there undisturbed.
There are a few restaurants but we mostly ate dinner by the bar as dinner doesn’t start until 7 and foods served all the time at the bar.
There’s Free Water sports which you should definitely take advantage of. I even took Cali on the HobbieCat (which she hated and cried on until she got used to it)
Oh they also have a water taxi to the other hotels in their chain on the West Coast which is pretty cool so you can go have a nose and compare and look totally fabulous on another beach.
Wow nearly forgot to tell you about the room, oh did I mention my room was upgraded *smug face* dunno why and I didn’t ask why, just in case it was a mistake lol but our room was beautiful and very big too. We had 2 single beds and 1 sofa bed which was more like a double bed. A big balcony with comfy (and quite fancy) furniture on it as well as a good sized drying rack perfect for if you’re like me and like to wash the kids stuff all in one go.
There’s a big flat screen TV and a walk in wardrobe I was like OMG I don’t even have one of these at home now I don’t wanna leave!!!!!! There’s also a bath/shower so you can still give the kiddies a bath at night.
The hotel grounds are very pretty and they have hammocks which are perfect for reading the kids a bedtime story as you can then rock them to sleep too.
Also the bus stop is just outside and there’s a petrol station across the road where you can fill up on snacks.

The staff are very friendly which is very important to me when staying at a hotel as I’ve had some bad experiences in that department where I actually wanted to leave early as I was treated sooo poorly and staff were so rude to me. Also when you’re travelling by yourself with small kids you want to feel comfortable and you don’t wanna feel like you are actually by yourself. But this hotel is great even management are very approachable and very visible. So, I do really like this hotel definitely worth a visit you deserve a bit of luxury. Tell them Jade with the green hair sent you J

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Bagging a cheap holiday

Sign up for an Airmiles scheme

Avios and Virgin are the main ones that spring to mind. If you plan to travel more with Virgin then it's best to just sign up with Virgin miles and reap the benefits of being a member, if you prefer BA or other airlines it's best to register with Avios.

Now I'm mostly going to talk about Virgin as I have first hand knowledge of this, but I've included the link to Avios so you can have a nose and see what it's all about.
If you sign up with Virgin you have the extra benefit of saving an extra 7% off your holiday with them. Now 7% doesn't sound like a lot but when you're spending hundreds or even grands 7% knocks off a good piece of change, it's a noticeable amount. Also as you move up the membership ladder (as they start you on Red, then you move to Silver then Gold) the more you save and obviously the more benefits you get.

So even if you haven't taken your flight yet you can still sign up then once you book you can give the agent your frequent flyer number and get your little discount. Well... actually make sure you ask for the discount as they may not automatically apply it...

Also if you normally do your monthly shop at Tesco you can actually change your Clubcard points into Virgin Airmiles, then after changing them into airmiles, you can then change them into holiday vouchers and use them towards the cost of your holiday. For every 10,000 miles you have you get a £50 holiday voucher. Also with Tesco keep an eye on their site as every so often they will have specials on where you can exchange your Clubcard Vouchers for more than normal. I remember when I exchanged mine it was for 3 times as much and then I opted in to automatically convert my Clubcard points into airmiles and got either 1000 or 2000 airmiles on top, not bad *smug face*
So that's 2 discounts there already, you're well on your way :)

Monday, 12 August 2013

Team Bikini Body

So as it's carnival season heres a fun Soca workout, and dancing to Soca is definately a brilliant way to sweat off the pounds and look extra hot in that cute bikini on the beach. Also I find that dancing workouts don't feel like work and if theres one thing I hate it's workouts that feel like you're working out as I find them soooo boring, at least with dance based workouts you can get into the music and just do your own thing.

Also heres a standing abs workout, just because I hate sit ups they bore me and hurt my back and I find I don't see results from them no matter how much cardio I do on top. I also add parts of this into my morning mini workout routine. Also as it's Jillian Michaels you know it works,She-is-a-monster! I have a few of her DVDs and they are sooo intense but you see results quick. I remember doing 6 week 6 pack, wow, after I felt like I could vomit and felt dizzy and faint, thats how intense it is, but it's boring so obviously I didn't complete the 6 weeks.

Lastly heres another dance based one it's only 10mins so easy to do once the kids are in bed and doesn't eat into your 'mummy time' too much. It seems easy but trust me the next day your stomach and your sides will ache... a lot! Like you will probably need to rub some deep heat on, its that painful, but then I guess it means it works.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Getting ready for the holiday

So you know after you've booked the holiday it's all about getting beach ready. This is my usual daily routine, it's not too much but it's enjoyable and not too crazy.

Bagging a cheap holiday

OK so this may sound a bit obvious but I thought I would share this tip anyways;

If you can, travel during the low season

OK so the first thing to do is obviously decide where you would like to go, once you've found a destination and if you’re not restricted by the kids being in school/not being able to miss school look at going at the most off peak time where there’s no half terms
or bank holidays. That one step alone will save you a lot of money as obviously it’s a lot cheaper to holiday in the off season and as hotels will be a lot emptier you have more chance of bagging a free room upgrade...

Saturday, 10 August 2013

The Benefits of going all inclusive..

If you can I would really recommend going all inclusive even if it means saving a year in advance (like I do) and paying off every month especially if it is just you and the kids. Yes it’s a family holiday but you need a holiday and some mummy time too, so going somewhere like self catering where you have to cook and clean and do all the things you would normally do at home isn’t really ideal, especially if you only go on holiday maybe once every couple of years.

I love all inclusive because

Flying long haul with the kids - RD

 So after taking Cali to Barbados I felt it was only right that I took RD (who was then 18months) on the next visit (which was free by the way, I will explain how I ended up with a free holiday in another blog) Just like with Cali, me and RD caught the coach to Gatwick at like 2am so obviously I didn’t sleep the night before, thinking I would get some shut eye on the coach, wow how wrong was I?! RD was VERY awake and very fidgety and didn’t wanna sit still so I had to stay awake and entertain him until we finally reached the airport. By the time we got off the coach all the passengers knew who he was and they went out of their way to say bye to him and wish him a safe journey while he blew kisses at all the ladies.

Luckily I thought to bring his reins,