Everyone has a favourite holiday memory from their childhood; that one experience that sums up a joyous escape from school, bullies, grey clouds and all the tedium of the home routine. Adults have a much more particular idea of what they want from a holiday, and it seems the older we get the more specific this idea gets. So how do you balance out the needs of the whole family? For me, that perfect childhood holiday was 2 months spent with my mum in a tiny fishing village in Sri Lanka in the early 1980’s. I wandered freely round the village, up and down the beach, developed friendships and even went out with the fishing boats early every morning and helped chase giant crabs down on rocky atolls. I hung out with Australian surfers, ate lunch with Sri Lankan farmers in the fields, and hunted Geckos with a catapult. I discovered ruined temples on deserted beaches at dawn, far from home, and was taught how to shimmy up Coconut palms by a Sri-Lankan friend about my age.
In my bliss and freedom I could not have known the reason we spent so long there; civil war was raging in the capital Colombo, a bombed battlefield at the time, and access to the airport was impossible or unsafe. Although I could write an epic recounting this crazy adventure, the reason it came to mind is that a child’s experience of a holiday destination is always completely different from the adults; my mum was essentially stuck in a far-off country with a small child, and running out of money, with very limited contact with anyone at home. Meanwhile, I was in heaven. At the end of the day, it is up to the parents to pick a holiday destination, and to have a really good look at what the place will be like for your demanding offspring. Left up to them – and this is definitely true of my little ones – we’d be going to Disneyworld three times a year.
Visiting the Shandrani Resort and Spa took me back to my childhood Sri Lanka holidays, partly due to the relaxed Anglo-Indian culture, friendly staff and residents. Watching the kids running around, so much freer than they are in England also took me back; although the very modern presence of ice creams, paid attractions, clubs, shops and other reasons to find me and ask for money always ensured they weren’t too far away!
Shandrani’s location on a private peninsula on the south-eastern coast helps to give the resort an atmosphere close to that I experienced in the Indian Ocean of the eighties. Of course these days, in a resort rather than a fishing village you get proper toilets, luxurious facilities and plenty of organised activities to engage in. The all inclusive holidays package we chose kept the wine flowing freely at meal times, my wife was able to polish up on her Tennis skills, and the kids
Well, they had the time of their lives. If they weren’t splashing in the pools, charging their batteries at some great, varied buffet or winding up the German kids opposite – they were off having proper adventures in a really lovely, safe and friendly environment. Shandrani Resort and Spa took me back 30 years in time, took my wife back to a life when she had time to tan, read and play tennis and most importantly, it took our kids to a fun, free, safe and open space they so rarely find in this modern world. Gez Hebburn is a travel writer, musician and blogger based in southern England, dreaming of his Mauritius holidays.