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GIVE ME SUNSHINE (THE SUNDAY TIMES)

THE VILLA LIFE
There is still little to beat taking a house in Tuscany and Comporempoli, at Radda, is in the heart of Chianti Classico.  Decorated in traditional Tuscan style, it comes with a large infinity pool and housekeeper who live on site.  It sleeps up to 10. 
If the wallet recoils at threat, try the Peloponnese in Greece where Vintage Travel has a house just outside Methoni with two air-conditioned bedrooms, two bathrooms and its own private pool.  It sleeps four.  Car Hire and flights are extra but can be arranged through Vintage. 
Brand new to the market, Alabanda on an island in the Gulf of Fethiye, Turkeys is a house almost surrounded by water with a private beach and boats a rustic exterior and a minimalist interior plus an infinity pool and wild wargens.
Mallorca farmhouses is offering 30% discounts for the week beginning July 28 including car hire and a starter pack.  For instance, Cas Teuler Petit a 150-year-old restored farmhouse with four bedrooms (Sleeps up to nine) and a pool.

FAMILY LIFE
Penha Longa an estate hotel situated in Sintra 16 miles from Lisbon, has an excellent and varied pay-as-you-go programme of children’s activities with cookery classes, football coaching and horse grooming/riding as well as the usual pool games.  Evenings bring movie and dinner packages for kids (£17).  The hotel sits in 545 acres and there is a shuttle to the nearby beaches.  It costs from £135 per room, B&B; one child aged up to 12 can share a room with two adults free of charge.  Book through Ritz-Carlton (0800 234 000, www.ritzcarlton.com or www.penhalonga.com).  Flights are extra. 
One of the worst things about taking children to smart hotels is the disapproving tuts of childless adults as your kids splash them with their dive-bombing.  The cool fashionable Azia Resort & Spa in Paphos, Cyprus ensures that such conflicts are few and far between the subtle touch of apartheid.  The Azia Blue wing was built with families in mind, meaning all rooms can be interconnecting.  There is also a smart mini-club for 2 to 12 year-olds, as large children’s pool and baby-sitting.  Argo holidays (0870 066 7070, www.argoholidays.com) has late-July-packages from £880 per adult, £399 per child, B&B, with Gatwick flights and transfers.  The hotel is currently offering free child places if you book direct: see www.aziaresort.com.
For active families who take their sport seriously, few places can compete with La Manga in Spain, which offers tennis, cricket, football, rugby and even karate coaching – you must book the appropriate academy beforehand, however.  Seasons in Style (01244 202000, www.seasonsinstyle.com) has seven nights at Hyatt Regency La Manga from £925 per adult  £295 per child, B&B; kids under five eat free.
If you are not bothered about being bang on the sea, then Le Marche’s I Calanchi, an Italian country hotel build around a former agricultural estate, has a lot to offer.  There’s a clubhouse for music and games, huge grounds, an outdoor restaurant and horse-riding and quad-biking available locally.  IF you have a beach, there is one at San Benedetto, 30 minutes away.  A week in August with Real Holidays  costs £746 p.p. which includes Ryanair flights from Stansted to Ancona, a week’s hire of a family-sized car and half-board accommodation in two interconnecting double rooms (based on four sharing).
If all you’re after is a pool, a decent beach and other families around, consider Sunvil Greece which has seven nights, self-catering, at the spacious Aphrodite apartments, which have a good-sized pool, in the seaside village of Kalives on the northwest cost, from £483 per adult and £463 per child, based on four sharing including flights from Gatwick and transfers.

THE HIGH LIFE
What could be more luxurious than a skippered yacht?  Dalmatian Destinations has a 65ft boat available from July 21 to 28 and August 18 to 25, suitable for two families and children.  You embark in Split and the recommended itinerary includes the islands of Brac, Vis and Hang the Dalmatian coast as well as some lesser-known isles.  There will be snorkeling, fishing with captain, canoeing and kayaking.  The boat costs £7,920 a week on a full-board basis, including all drinks, local taxes and transfers.  This is based on four double cabins all with ensuite bathrooms and includes a 50% reduction on all the children’s food and drinks.
The vast Kempinski Bahi Estepona Spain, is one of the glitziest on the Costa del Sol, more Krizia than karaoke with a long beach and excellent pool and gardens.  There’s also a kids club, a wellness centre and three restaurants.
At the top end of family house rentals, Scott Dunn offers Quinta d Varzea in the Algarve, Portugal: a filly staffed luxury villa that sleeps 14.  Ten minutes from the beach, it has a tennis court, infinity pool and a large playroom with plasma TV.  It comes with a private chef, villa host and two nannies/activity specialists, plus all meals on five days of the week.  Its available for the weeks beginnings August 1 and 8 at £10,950 per week, a saving of £4,500.  Flights are extra: fly to Faro with TAP (0845 601 0932, wwwflytap.com), BA (0870 850 9850, www.ba.com) or Monarch (0870 040 5040, www.flymonarch.com).



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