The candles are burning, the night is heavy with jasmine, the stars reflect on the sea, and - I HATE TOMATOES. “There is nothing sexier than travelling with children,” nobody said, ever. You board a flight buoyed by excitement and expectation, but somehow the same rows and distractions pursue you to the Caribbean.
All is not lost, however. With forethought and some attention to detail, you can bring decent smoulder to your family holiday and recapture the romance of life pre-kids (and not only by breaking out the iPad).
As ever, your watchword is seduction. This begins even before you leave home. Did one of you do all the packing and remember 47 interesting things to do on the plane, while the other threw in some triathlon shorts and wonder out loud whether we should, in fact, be saving for the boiler?
The crucible of travel can amplify relationship quibbles, so be empathetic. Notice the work that’s gone into the planning. “It is fantastic the way you remember to bring 47 interesting things to do on the plane!” Or the extra hours pulled in order to leave the office on time. A report from the Council of Contemporary Families found a correlation between helping each other wash up and better sex - it’s about recognising what each of you contributes, and offering support. Perhaps, even, you might dream up a small pre-holiday gift (some alluring thing to wear, or maybe something a little X-rated? Check out coco-de-mer.com).
Seduction, of course, must continue once you’re there. The way those swimming trunks look great. That excellent bikini. Amidst remembering the goggles and fighting about sunscreen, take the moments to check in, to celebrate, to flirt - all these can and should be done while the children are still under your feet.
What about getting rid of them?
Ah, the kid’s club. A poor kid’s club is a woeful affair, and won’t sprinkle joy over anyone. But increasingly there are fantastic offerings into which children will happily vanish. The Marbella Clubfor example, boasts a huge kids space with vintage ride-on cars, a kitchen garden for cooking projects, and music lessons - or look to the Selman Hotel in Marrakech, where they can be taken on horse and carriage rides round the grounds. In Britain, Woolley Grangeand The Ickworth offer two hours of childcare to every family that stays. (For more ideas, see our expert pick of Europe's best kids' clubs. You might also try our favourite UK hotels for families, many of which have on-site childcare).
The kids are busy… now what?
If you’ve a sporting bent, you might use some of this child-free time for an adrenaline hit: a marvellous way to feel wild and alive, and to stir the libido.
In Bali, the new Como Uma Canggu has a terrific play space, with attentive staff running a range of games and activities, treasure hunts, and an enticing array of books. A short flight from Bali on a gloriously undeveloped island, resort par excellence Nihi Sumbaeven has a chocolate factory in its kid’s area: you can have a couples’ spa safari, twin massages on a daybed overlooking private beaches, and the occasional WhatsApp photo of your progeny having fun will be sent across by the nannies. Both hotels are notable for world class surfing, for all levels. Leave the waves together, high on endorphins, and head upstairs: what is a kid’s club for if not permitting parents to remember lazy, midday love?
Skiing is another marvellous way to get a mojo-boosting rush to the senses. Operators Mark Warner and Scott Dunn will both whisk children away for quality lessons, and babysit them in the evening - check out Scott Dunn’s Mini Explorers kids club at the ski in, ski out Le Portetta hotel in Courchevel, or Mark Warner’s Hotel L’Ecrin in Tignes.
The biggie when it comes to erasing holiday passion is of course the shared bedroom.
Splash out or try for an upgrade. Book your room early and charm the hotel (works best with smaller operations, and on shoulder season where possible). Send a grovelling email detailing how you’ve wanted to stay at this hotel forever, perhaps you have a special anniversary (or could create one), and wonder if there may be any possibility you might be moved to two rooms with a connecting door.
Otherwise, work with what you’ve got
Download the free Baby Monitor App to your iPad and phone: as long as the hotel has Wi-Fi, you have an instant sound or video connection to your room - which means adult dinner, aka where the foreplay can really begin. Not like that.
More importantly, use the time to embrace each other’s minds. Explore what your darling is thinking about, and hoping for in life. Then zone in. There’s no-one you’d rather be here with. Remember that time in Goa... Sit out until you can stand it no longer, until you are each tingling with desire - then run the gauntlet. With luck you’ll have a door between you; if not there’s always the bathroom. I mean, being forced not to make out lying on the bed, as you usually do it? Surely that’s rich with potential.
Original article published in Telegraph, in January, 2019