Our Holidays 2015- Park Albatros, Tuscany, Italy
We booked our summer holiday before Christmas last year (in fact it was the year before), at that crazy busy time of year, but when the 30% off discounts were expiring. We’d had such a great holiday the last time that we were abroad in 2012 (read about the 2012 experience HERE) and we’d little time to research so we decided to go to exactly the same place, Park Albatros in Tuscany in July.
We flew with Ryanair to Pisa, thankfully their flight times this season were much better, leaving Dublin around 12.30pm and leaving Pisa on the return journey at 10am. We noticed a huge change in Ryanair in the three years since we’d last flown too, they now take two items of baby equipment per child booked FREE OF CHARGE. Better still when we checked in on both legs we were asked if we’d like to check in our hand baggage, and we were delighted to offload the bulkier items that weren’t needed inflight. We also had assigned seating, we paid a total of €35 for two adults and three children to have assigned seats on both legs of the trip, definitely worth the money.(If you’re interested in tips for flying with young kids check out this post)
We booked our holiday this time through Canvas Holidays. We paid for our trip but availed of big discounts by booking before Christmas. I was disappointed with some miscommunication with the call-centre which mislead us as to the location of our mobile in the park, since we’d been to the park before I knew just how enormous it was and has chosen my mobile type based on information I was given as to the location of the different mobile styles, which turned out to be incorrect.(I complained to Canvas on site and when we got home and was happy with the resolution). Luckily we’d
smuggled brought the kids’ scooters with us, or the holiday would have been very different with treks up and down to the pool and central areas of the site in 30 degree heat with three small people.
The quality of the mobile home itself was excellent, we booked a Two Bedroom Comfort mobile, the kids slept in one room with a bunk and two twin beds, Laoise’s had a safety rail in place of the travel cot we’d ordered, she slept brilliantly, which surprised us. We holidayed during a heatwave and were grateful that the air-conditioning worked really well, although as is usual the AC was only in the living area but we found that leaving the doors open in the bedrooms cooled everything down great. We had two bathrooms, the kids’ room had an ensuite and the main bathroom had two doors, one into the living area and one into our bedroom. The storage options for our clothes weren’t as good in the mobile that we had last time from Kelair but the kitchen was better equipped, this time we had a full sized fridge with freezer and an oven too (it didn’t get much use but was handy to have). I do despair sometimes at only getting 5 plates and 5 glasses and bowls but my top mobile home holiday tip is to buy disposable ones too, then there aren’t arguments when you need a bowl for salad etc.
Outside our mobile, we don’t seem to have taken any photos inside!
We ate at home a few evenings, we never actually used the barbecue (mostly because I hate cleaning them) but I made fresh pasta dinners a few evenings and we got takeaway pizza from the takeaway on site a couple of nights too.
There are two main restaurants on site, the all you can eat buffet at the Entertainment area and the Restaurant in the Piazza Italia area. Both are fine, neither amazing.The gelato on site is excellent though, it’s served both in the ice-cream shop and the counter in the entertainment area.
At the back gate of the park (the one you can only go out of!) turn right and drive to the next hotel – the pizza in this restaurant at Ghiacci Verdelli was excellent, but it did take quite some time to arrive. We also are fans of the beach restaurant which is in the trees to the left at the t-junction coming on to the main road, the seafood specials re great and there’s a good play area for the kids to hang out in. If you turn right towards San Vincenzo at that junction and go a little further along (we cycled) there’s a lovely very local restaurants with a small menu. Unfortunately their oven broke the night that we were there so I never got to try my chicken dish but that kids’ pasta was very good. Again, there’s a good outdoor play area with a great view from the swings.
Our reason for choosing Canvas was that we’d seen the excellent kids’ club the last time that we visiting Park Albatros and wanted to avail of it. The Canvas Kids’ Club really was excellent, there were activities most mornings and afternoons, with themes like Circus Academy or Bug Hunt. The Canvas Kids’ Club staff were very friendly and the boys were delighted to go to camp, in the eleven days they probably went to seven sessions in total. The club is now away from the Central Bar area down past the check in area, and sessions are usually an hour and a half. They have separate clubs for 4-7, 8-11 and teens and there are also family activities, usually in the pool most days. The boys really loved the club their favourite being the circus day and the bug exploring. Be warned if you’re picking the kids up to go to dinner, they often come out of camp with painted faces and filthy, but very, very happy.
If you don’t go with Canvas there’s an onsite kids’ club run by the campsite themselves, “Miniclub”. Their incredibly enthusiastic animators Camile and Anouk were just fabulous with the kids, and really had the patience of saints to be dealing with 40 kids speaking 8 or 9 different languages, but they did it. My small girl adored Anouk and we still talk about her to this day. This has really been expanded since our last visit too and have many more organised activities, not just the dance routines and colouring, but lots of activities.
The playground has been developed a lot since we were there last time, and there’s also a new crazy golf course (which the kids loved to use as a racetrack in the dark, fantastic) and a zipwire. For an additional charge you can try out the high-wire walkway, but I didn’t want too and wouldn’t let the Ciarán despite his daily begging (ditto the mechanical bull in the Piazza).
All the usual activities were still there, table tennis, giant chess, pool tables and football tables and this time we hired bikes for a couple of days which was great fun, we went out on the cycle paths near the campsite too.
The cashless system that was there in 2012 is gone, hooray, although the on site ATM broke while we were there and one of the bars is cash only which caused issues for some people.
The market is more frequent during high season there every Monday and Thursday night, canny shoppers check out the leather handbags, I still can’t believe the bargain that I got.
The bread in the supermarket is every bit as good as we remembered, but the kids complained that most of it was too hard so we had daily pano via reggianos (I wonder whether I’ve spelled that correctly) which pleased everyone as they were softer.
Park Albatros has 6 pools, (or 7 if you count the special one for dogs!) and each pool is covered in a special anti-slip surface. There are plenty of shallow safe places for young children to play in the pool. The pool areas were busier this time than when we were there in June in 2012 but we always managed to get one lounger, and most of our pool time was spent in the pool as opposed to on loungers so this worked well.
Pop in to your local euroshop before you go on holidays and get some cheap inflatable toys, our 3 from Dealz gave hours of fun for €1.49 each, although older kids will probably want a €25 Killer Whale onsite.
Singing and Dancing
One of our favourite things about our holiday (OK, one of the kids’ favourite things) was the nightly entertainment, starting with the campsite mascot Albi whose show starts at 9pm. It can be a challenge to keep the littler ones awake for this but after thirty minutes of dancing to the tunes that they all learn over the course of the holiday they conk out as soon as they get back to the mobile. The cost of this is the europop earworms though “Cowboy, cowboy…”
Day trips from Park Albatros
There are so many in driving distance that I’ve decided to do them in a separate blogpost, coming very soon! I’ll link it when I’m done. If you can’t bear the suspense check out my post on our 2012 holiday there as many are the same.
And if you’re planning a holiday with the kids remember, holidays with kids are different, but they’re a good kind of different (read all about it HERE).
Disclosure: I wasn’t asked to write this blogpost and we paid in full for our trip. All opinions are my own.