FRENCH groceries, hours spent preparing a sunken lunch in minutes – and a load of dishes.
But a family Christmas doesn’t have to be like this.
Take a multigenerational vacation abroad and you will have no worries – just fun, sun and time with your loved ones.
The idea for our three-generation break came from my daughter who, after a hectic pre-Covid Christmas enslaving a hot oven, said: ‘Sorry, but we won’t do that next year. Let’s fly to a beach.
A month later, we booked to celebrate two festive weeks in Thailand – brave because it’s an 11 hour flight and the two youngest in our family of eight would be three years old – and 16 months old.
When we boarded the plane, I could see the terror in the eyes of the passengers – watching and hoping we weren’t in the row next to them.
But the fabulous Tui Dreamliner flight, from Gatwick to Phuket, was not the nightmare we feared.
It was thanks to Peppa Pig, Blaze and The Gruffalo repeatedly played Albie and Mila’s shelves, sticker books, meal and sleep times, and the most helpful cabin crew of all. time.
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Plus, there were enough of us to share the treatments and that’s the beauty of the increasingly popular multigenerational vacation – everyone gets a break.
A slow, winding road took us north from Phuket to Khao Lak on Thailand’s beautiful west coast, with stunning beaches, warm and clear waters, national parks, and rainforests.
We were among the last Brits to vacation there before Covid shut down flights and shut down hotels, causing nearly two years of heartache and hardship for locals addicted to tourism.
Fortunately, the land of smiles is once again open for business and tourism bosses hope to attract the million Britons who visit it each year.
We would definitely return to our Christmas paradise, the Tui Blue Mai Khao Lak Resort.
We swapped the turkey and roasted potatoes for Pad Thai, and sticky rice and plum pudding and trifle for the tastiest banana pancakes and pineapple ever.
Instead of collapsing on a couch after lunch, we swam and lay on deckchairs.
A dressed and booted Santa, sweltering in the 30C heat, even managed to find Albie and Mila 6,000 miles from their home.
LONG TAIL BOAT
The 4H Mai Khao Lak also goes all out for New Years, with a huge open-air gala dinner by the beach and awe-inspiring fireworks shot into the starry sky at midnight.
Thank you to the extremely friendly staff, who can’t do enough for guests at a resort with facilities for all ages – from a baby room to a gym and spa, from kids’ clubs to aquatic bar for adults only.
The restaurants serve Thai and Western dishes, and children have their own buffet, arranged on low tables they can reach.
There are a number of large pools, including a mini water park with a pirate ship and water shallow enough for the little ones to stand up.
But we made our way to the clean golden sands almost every morning, armed with rush rugs provided by the resort.
In the shade of mangroves and palm trees, we spent glorious days swimming and relaxing in the warm Andaman Sea, rowing in the resort’s canoes, making sandcastles, fishing for crab in rock pools and grab-and-go pizza and salads at the pool bar.
Both daredevils and mini adventurers Albie and Mila enjoyed the freedom and had fun on slides, swings, trampolines and push toys parked on the sand outside local restaurants.
Mr Bao, reached by crossing a rickety wooden bridge, was our favorite place to eat, with Thai food starting at just £ 2.
Along the unspoiled seafront, you can get a massage for £ 8, have your hair cut or braided, get tailor-made clothes, and shop for souvenirs at the mini market.
We all used the hotel’s free shuttle to Khao Lak town – once to visit the memorial to the victims of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami that devastated the area.
An 80-foot Navy patrol boat swept 2 km inland as a sad reminder of the tragedy.
There are few families who have not lost a loved one, yet they have rebuilt their lives and their communities.
The main street is full of cafes, restaurants and shops, and two markets sell local crafts. Is it possible to go home without Buddha? I do not think so.
Tui offers a choice of responsible sightseeing tours – jungle and temple tours, diving and cooking lessons, canoeing, snorkelling, and night market tours – and the guides are brilliant.
Escorted by Itti, a big Liverpool fan who knew as much about the Premier League as Gary Lineker, we visited James Bond Island.
The towering limestone rocks of Phang Nga Bay became a tourist attraction after Roger Moore dueled on the beach in 1974’s The Man with the Golden Gun.
We approached the bay in a long tail boat, cruising through amazingly beautiful islands and rock formations.
Another day, while we were taking care of the children, their mother and father visited us by speedboat.
After crossing caves by canoe, we returned to the mainland and ate a sumptuous hilltop lunch at Sametnangshe Boutique Restaurant overlooking breathtaking scenery.
Superb pied-à-terre for hikers, you can stay here in rooms on stilts or in tents.
Our next stop was Wat Suwan Khuha, one of Thailand’s over 40,000 Buddhist temples and home to a 150-foot reclining golden Buddha – and enough monkeys to rival Gibraltar.
The coffee outside is a real treat – a cup for just over £ 1 and a burger for £ 2.30.
Family outings near our hotel included the Royal Thai Navy Sea Turtle Conservation Center, where endangered species are protected, reared and released.
We also went to the peaceful Elephant Sanctuary at Seaside Retreat where Albie and Mila, each barely bigger than a giant’s ear, loved to feed beautiful beasts bananas.
It was one of the highlights of our first 3G vacation, but I hope not the last, incredible – full of love, laughter and a trunk full of memories.
GO / STAY: TUI is offering seven nights in B&B at 4H BLUE Mai Khao Lak, departing Gatwick on December 24th, from £ 1160 per person including transfers, based on two adults and two children sharing a deluxe room.
The departure price on January 15th is from £ 906. Half board and all inclusive available. See tui.co.uk.
OUT AND ABOUT: James Bond Island Tour from £ 48 per person and Seaside Retreat from £ 54. See tui.co.uk.
Gatwick meet and greet parking from £ 68 per week in December. See aph.com.
No1 Lounge from £ 32 per person, see no1lounges.com.
COVID: From now on, adults must be fully immunized and apply for a Thailand Pass.
Children under 18 can travel with vaccinated parents under the new Sandbox program. All travelers must undergo a PCR test within 72 hours of departure.
Children over six have two more tests, on arrival and on day 6 or 7. Under six, lateral flow tests.
For more details and attractions in Thailand, see fanclubthailand.co.uk.
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