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As soon as we returned home from our last Mark Warner holiday I started thinking about the next one. Having been lucky enough to be a Mark Warner ambassador last year I’d sampled both their sun and ski holidays, and as our winter went on I knew I’d do everything I could to get my family some Mark Warner sunshine come June.
On our last Mark Warner holiday one of the fellow parents knowingly told me that “once you go Mark Warner, you never go back”, and they’re absolutely right. They make holidaying so easy: their lovely resorts, exemplary childcare and roster of activities… when you’re abroad with kids you literally want for nothing else. Which is how we found ourselves holidaying for a week this year at Mark Warner Levante Beach, Rhodes.
Mark Warner Levante
We bounced into Mark Warner Levante Beach, their flagship property in Rhodes, Greece, after a 4am drive to Heathrow, 4 hour flight and quick 20 minute transfer. We’d already bumped into a family on the plane who we’d met last year; I’d made friends with the heavily pregnant mum back in Lakitira and we were so delighted to see them again with their new baby, who they’d named after my own little Huxley. Hux was delighted to meet a namesake and spent the rest of the holiday eagerly seeking out ‘Baby Huxley’, or ‘Huxley number two’.
The Levante Beach resort is bigger than Lakitira, with 4 pools plus a children’s pool, 3 restaurants, 3 bars, a tennis centre, watersports centre, cycling facilities and a big spa. Had I arrived here pre-visiting any Mark Warner properties I might have felt slightly overwhelmed and lost but instead I felt like an old pro, checking into our room and whisking the kids off to quickly unpack before a dip in the pool – the upside to such an early start was plenty of time to check out our home for the week.
Would you just check out the insanely beautiful view from our room?:
After a quick splash around we changed for the welcome meeting – a chance to have a gander at all the holidaymakers and staff we’d be spending our holiday with, and sign up for activities and classes. I took the opportunity to book two private swimming lessons for Hux at 30 euros each; after we were fired from our lessons at home (he doesn’t have the greatest attention span when there are pool toys and splashy water at his fingertips) I thought it would be a great opportunity for him to develop his skills.
As the sun set that first evening I packed the kids off to Kid’s club: each evening at Mark Warner resorts the nannies play a film, there are three depending on which age range your children fall into, before tucking the children into their camp beds (Hux’s age group) or playing games with them (Elfie’s).
One of my favourite thing about Mark Warner holidays is their provision for single travellers. Each evening there’s a ‘Social Table’ hosted by a member of staff; meeting in the bar, you enjoy a drink with anyone else who might be travelling alone, then you all sit down together for supper. I met some really wonderful people this way – there were other single parents, simply single travellers as well as some couples who were just intrigued by how raucous our table was ;)
We soon got into the swing of our holiday. Elfie was in the Junior Club, a promotion on last year’s Mini Club, so she had all-day club activities if she wanted. As Hux is slightly younger he was in the Minis and was looked after in the morning only. The deal I made with Elf was that she went into club all morning (mummy most certainly needed her full three hours of daily holiday peace) then she was able to pick and choose whether or not she wanted to spend afternoons there, too. She tended to go back into club if there were pool activities happening, otherwise she’d hang out with Hux and I.
Both kids had a whale of a time in club: they windsurfed, kayaked, played water polo, had beach olympics (inside, because temperatures were hovering around 40 degrees), and made firm friends with the other children. Neither of them were ever hesitant to tear into club in the morning and it made me so happy to know that while I was by the (adult) pool relaxing they were having so much fun.
Levante offers car rental facilities, so on the Thursday of our holiday I decided we’d go on an adventure. Elfie has always been so curious about convertible cars so I splashed out on an Audi A3 Cabriolet (120 euros for 12 hours plus 5 euros for each booster seat, plus a free marriage proposal from the car rental guy) and off we went. Not really knowing where we were going, we took off in the general direction of Rhodes – 25km away – and somehow managed to navigate there. Having only ever driven a left hand drive car on the tiny island of Paxos I was slightly terrified (there didn’t seem to be many road rules in Rhodes) but we made it and managed to find a parking space in the melée of the Old Town. Score!
It was SO worth the tricky parking and slightly sweaty palms: Rhodes Old Town was gorgeous and we had a whale of a time wandering around the shops looking for fidget spinners (natch). We had a gorgeous lunch in the shade of olive trees at a place called Golden Olympiade – highly recommended.
We meandered our way back to the hotel via Faliraki, a place I visited when I was 17, to have a good old gander. It looked just the same, and it was funny to think I was returning 14 years later with 2 kids in tow with no foam parties or nightclubs on the agenda. And stopping off for a quick dip in the sea on the way home was a must: had we more time we would have driven down the other side of the coast to Lindos, which I hear is gorgeous.
The food at Mark Warner Levante is buffet-style, with snacks, pizzas and sandwiches available at the pool bars at lunch time. The breakfasts were epic and always well-enjoyed by my two (pancakes + nutella = holiday heaven). The buffet food was switched up slightly each evenings and special diets (vegetarian, gluten free) were noticeably well-catered for. The salads were brilliant and were my favourite thing to eat on holiday, with the ice cream bar being a favourite of Elfie and Hux.
One of our favourite evenings was the night we eschewed the buffet and kids club to wander down the coast with some of our new friends: a lovely single mum who had two children around the same age as mine. We took the challenge of walking the mile on the beach to find the restaurant recommended by Levante’s manager and feasted on the freshest seafood. It was heaven (or was it two bottles of Greek rosé?! ;). With a wedding party at the next restaurant we all enjoyed celebratory fireworks and the insanely glorious views… I sat there with the kids playing, a chilled glass of wine and my new friend across the table and thought, this is what holidays are all about.
The best thing about our holiday was the people we were lucky enough to spend it with. We met so many absolutely wonderful people (I shed a tear on the way home because the whole thing had been so idyllic). From Sarah and her three gorgeous children (Cece was literally Hux in girl form and they were besties from the off) to Danni and her two to Christopher and his lovely wife Judy and the absolutely gorgeous Helen – it was a pleasure to spend my holiday with such lovely families.
We will 100% be back to Mark Warner Levante next year. It was the absolute best holiday, one none of us will ever forget, though there is one thing the children would change about it: they’ve requested two weeks next year, please!
This post is not sponsored: I paid cash money for this trip to Levante Beach and it was worth every penny :)