There’s been plenty of news recently about how multi-generational holidays are on the increase as people aim to save money and spend more quality time together. I’ve been on plenty of family holidays in the past but these have become less frequent as I’ve got older and look to go away with my girlfriend or groups of friends instead. I’ve also been incredibly lucky as most of my family have traditionally lived close by meaning I can see them easily on a weekend for a meal or a day out.
This all changed recently when my mother moved abroad for work with my step-dad, meaning that we get to spend far less time together as a family. So we discussed the idea of going on a multi-generational holiday this year giving us quality time together to relax and enjoy each other’s company away from the stresses and strains of day-to-day life.
One of the main issues of a large family holiday is deciding where to go especially as there were 15 of us in total (16 with baby!), all with different ideas of what they wanted from a holiday. My younger brother seeks adventure, culture and constant action whereas my girlfriend is more than happy soaking up the sun by the pool for the majority of the time. We also had my step-dad’s father who is in his 80’s so not so able to get around as easily as he previously did, several of us in our 20’s and then my three nephews. They’re eight, four and 18 months old so we had to consider their needs too. We decided we needed to head somewhere that offered us a balance of action and relaxation and after a thorough search online and pooling everyone’s opinion we agreed that Italy, and Sicily in particular, was the perfect place.
The next challenge was finding a villa that would comfortably house all of us which certainly wasn’t easy. With so many of us we thought we might have to split up in to two villas when the whole point of the holiday was that we were all together! We started by looking for villas in Sicily online and quickly came across villa experts Think Sicily who seemed to have the perfect place not far from Catania. As there were so many of us the villa was incredibly cost-effective and, on arrival, we knew we’d made the right choice. The villa, called Crossing Together, is actually a large house which can be split into two apartments, and was elegant as well as spacious. We cleverly positioned the children in the group on the top floor closest to the kitchen and pool area where, if they woke up early, they would be able to get a drink or a snack and head down to the pool to play with their parents without waking anyone up.
It was important to us that there were plenty of communal areas for us to gather as a group such as the pool area (with plenty of sunbeds for everyone!) and the main terrace where we gathered for drinks prior to dinner each evening as the sun went down. When you have such a large group and a mix of ages it’s vital that you have plenty of nooks and crannies to get lost in and find some time to yourself to read a book or admire the spectacular views. Most days I would find a spot in the sun with my girlfriend away from the main group where we could have a quiet hour or two in each other’s company, returning refreshed for some family games or a group meal.
We all quickly settled into a pleasant daily routine of having breakfast together on the terrace before making our way down to the pool where everyone who wanted to relax and sunbathe could do so, and everyone who wanted something a little more active had plenty of options to entertain themselves. Of course most of the adults there were quite happy unwinding on a sun lounger whereas the kids got bored quickly and needed constant entertaining. We tended to ‘tag team’ and take turns playing games with them!
In fact, one of my favourite memories of the entire holiday was a game I created with my nephews which became a family version of the Olympics. We got the kids doing running races around the garden which they loved (and it tired them out!) and then we created our very own Aquatics Centre. At one end of the pool there was a diving contest with points for originality and finesse and at the other there was the inflatable crocodile time trial with everyone taking a turn to do two lengths of the pool in the quickest possible time atop a large inflatable crocodile. What was great to see was that every single one of us got involved and cheered the others on – we even had a medal ceremony at the end which was particularly exciting for the kids.
Although we spent a lot of time together at the villa it was important that we had some time apart too. With 16 of us it was virtually impossible to arrange day trips involving all of us because we only had one hire car and taxis and buses were few and far between! So we went our separate ways for a few hours each day, some of us strolling into the local village to get ice creams and others driving into Catania for shopping and sightseeing. In the evenings after dinner, some of the adults would wander down to the local bar to mix with some of the friendly locals, listen to live music and sample the local tipple.
It was a fantastic experience to spend quality time together as a family, give grandchildren time with their grandparents, nephews time with their uncles and sons and daughters time with their parents. As a group we were also lucky enough to be able to afford a luxury villa in a stunning location that none of us had ever been too before. If we had all gone on holiday separately it would have cost far more and we would have spent our limited time together swapping holiday stories and sharing photo albums rather than reminiscing about the great memories we created together.
We were all totally enchanted by Sicily, a perfect place for a multi-generational holiday. There are already plans to return next year.
Feature written by Stephen Baker