Corfu resort is the ideal spot for a first family holiday, writes Kate Whiting
It is one thing to be called for a flight when you are footloose, fancy free and capable of moving at speed, but it is quite another with a baby in tow.
But here I am, hurtling towards our gate behind our three-wheeler buggy, while Ollie, my 1-year-old, is enjoying the whizzy ride, blissfully unaware that we are close to missing our trip to Corfu.
In terms of an introduction to taking a baby abroad for the first time, this is baptism by fire. Gone are the days of packing light, jumping on a train to the airport and strolling through security. Now it is almost a military exercise, which has taken months of careful preparation.
But all this panic is about to be washed away over the course of a seven-night stay at the sun-kissed Marbella Corfu Hotel on Greece's greenest island.
Marbella Corfu is a five-star resort at Agios Ioannis, about half an hour's drive from Corfu Town and the airport, on the Greek island's southeast coast. It has excellent family-friendly facilities, with a splash park and pool area for children, while a children's club provides a creche to give tired parents a morning or afternoon of freedom.
We are in a sleek family room, which — except for the neon-coloured travel cot — looks like something from a James Bond film, complete with a hot tub on the decking of our enormous balcony.
Although it is winter, we are blessed with a week of sunshine and temperatures in the mid-20s, so it is hot enough to sunbathe, but not too hot for delicate baby skin. We have a choice of the beach, the children's splash park and what we come to think of as "the adult pool", but none of the pools are heated and we soon learn (thanks to some high-pitched wails during a morning splash) the optimum time to swim with Ollie is towards the end of the day, once the sun has naturally warmed the water. He is scared of the sea at first, what with it being the biggest bath he has ever seen in his 13 months, but he will eventually sit in the surf, as long as it is calm.
On our second day, we book Ollie into the creche for an afternoon session. Three baby-free hours are a luxury for any parent and it is soon filled with a blissfully indulgent back and head massage in the spa for me, and a gym session for my husband, before we rendezvous on the beach to go snorkelling together. Feeling completely recharged, we collect Ollie, who has been busy hand painting and clearly having fun without us.
Midway through our stay, we are feeling rested enough to tackle the bus journey into Corfu Town. For just three euros each way, there is an air-conditioned coach that goes direct from the hotel and wends its way north along the pretty coast road. Ollie loves spotting dogs from the window.
We head off through the old town's narrow cobbled streets in search of lunch, and Ollie naps as we sit at a cafe on the famous Liston — a grand marble-paved, arcaded street that runs along one side of the Spianada square — watching the world go by.
Corfu Town bears repeated trips before we finally have to return home — all in one piece and with a stash of memories from our first family holiday.
IF YOU GO
Getting there: Qatar Airways flies from Auckland to Athens, Greece, via Doha. Connecting flights from Athens are available — Corfu is an hour's flight from Athens.