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Our little black book of enchanting places


They learn, you relax

Posted in HOTELS + VILLAS By Maggie O' Sullivan

Child fishing on Killeen Lake, Ballynahinch Castle HotelKid's Clubs are a great way for the whole family to enjoy a luxury break – until your children start to out-grow them. A good alternative for Kid's Club refuseniks is a sports camp or special package where they can brush up on existing skills or learn a new one. Lots of luxury hotels run them over the school holidays, which leaves you free to get on with some serious relaxation.

Fishing lessons at Ballynahinch Castle Hotel, Connemara

This summer Ballynahinch Castle Hotel will be hosting a three-day fly-fishing camp for children aged 7–12, led by the hotel’s Fishery Manager and his ghillies. Morning sessions will offer the chance to explore the riverbank, and learn from the professional team about the environmental diversity of this unique part of Connemara. Participants will also be taught about the life cycle of the fish, riverbank animals and the knots and casting techniques required to fish. They will then take to the river and practise the art of fly-fishing under the careful watch of their tutors.Ballynahinch Castle Hotel, ConnemaraAnd while they're doing that, parents can be discovering the West Atlantic Way’s fine seafood, its authentic pubs and its mountain walks or simply enjoying afternoon tea on the terrace at Ballynahinch Castle, overlooking the river. From 3-5 August; €870, including fishing lessons, b&b for two nights for two adults and two children sharing a superior room.Legend rugby coaching, Forte VillageLegend's rugby, netball and cricket camps at Forte Village, Sardinia

Legend’s week-long training academies at Forte Village aim to give children aged 5-16 not just the opportunity to secure new skills in rugby, netball and cricket, but to be coached by some of the world’s top sportsmen and women, including Austin Healey (rugby), Ben Kay (rugby) and Pamela Cookey (netball). Parent can take part in the sessions if they wish, or they can just sit back and relax while the kids are off having the time of their lives. Forte Village, SardiniaSet within 55 acres on Sardinia’s southern coast, the exclusive resort – which includes 21 restaurants and eight properties within the complex – has recently been completely refurbished to include a newly designed central pool, a new indoor sports centre and an upgraded spa. From £3,650 for a family of four, including selected sports academy but excluding flights.Child swimming with Portuguese water dogs, Conrad AlgarveSwimming with Portuguese water dogs at Conrad Algarve

This two-hour package doesn’t really fit the theme as it’s aimed at the whole family and isn’t a camp – but how could we resist telling you about an opportunity to swim with President Obama’s favourite breed of dog? Portuguese water dogs were used by the Romans to herd fish and retrieve nets and evolved webbed feet to help them power through the water. Under the care and guidance of local breeder, families will be given an educational talk on the heritage and behavioural traits of the breed, followed by a short boat ride out to sea for a wild swimming session with the dogs.Conrad Algarve, Portugal

Meanwhile, back on dry land, your poolside cabana awaits. Conrad Algarve is a lovely hotel, built in the style of an 18th-century Portuguese palace, with 154 guest rooms spread over six floors. As you would expect, it's surrounded by some of the most famous golf courses in the world, though possibly of more interest to those bent on relaxing, are the six dining experiences and an award-winning spa. The Swimming with Portuguese Water Dogs Experience costs £51 per person; children under 10 are free. B&b from £121.



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