Ever since Billy Butlin opened his first holiday camp in Skegness in the Thirties, holidays have been an annual highlight for British families. Time to recharge, relax and regroup away from the routines of everyday life.
Eighty years on, the pattern of family holidays is changing, with multi-generational breaks — where the extended family comes too — on the rise. Jet2.com points to its popularity in the "What's Hot 2012" report on travel trends, and Virtuoso, a network of travel professionals, claims the multi-generational holiday is the biggest growth area in travel. All this is music to the ears of every second-home owner or anyone wanting to own a holiday home, offering them the prospect of valuable rental returns.
So where should would-be owners buy a holiday home, knowing that it will attract a healthy rental return from big families? That's not easy. While teenagers might be happy lounging on the beach all day, young parents might be keen to play sport, go to spas or find the nearest crèche for their babies. But the grandparents might quite fancy a stroll along a beach with a decent bar at the end.
Here are three suggestions to kick off the search.
Family choice: The Cornwall...in Cornwall
The fishing villages of Cornwall's south coast provide plenty of family activities. The Eden Project and the Lost Gardens of Heligan inspire awe in horticulturists and children alike, as do the coves of this gentle coast.
Party-mad teens can check out the delights of Newquay, 16 miles across country on the north coast, or ride the waves on excellent north coast surfing beaches. The south coast is the sailing coast, providing regattas and carnivals in season and a year-round home to many artists. The one drawback is the weather, which is why sensible options for second-homes provide indoor activities.
The Cornwall, two miles from the beach in St Austell, is a painstakingly restored 65-room hotel and spa with 60 two- and three-bedroom detached homes in 43 acres of grounds. There is a large leisure complex, indoor pool and gym with restaurants and bar — perfect for those rainy days.
The fully furnished Woodland Homes cost from £285,000 for two bedrooms of 970sq ft, or £237,500 for owners who buy through a stay-and-let scheme, which does not incur VAT. Property placed in the rental pool for 46 weeks annually attracts a guaranteed six per cent net return for two years. These are holiday homes where owners cannot live year-round.
Recent sales have been strong, with only one three-bedroom and seven two-bedroom homes still for sale. Contact The Cornwall on 01726 874545 or visit thecornwall.com.
The active choice: Martinhal, the Algarve
The Algarve has been a go-to hotspot for family holidays for years, with most visitors keeping close to Faro. Sagres, Europe's most south-westerly harbour town, didn't really feature until Martinhal opened in 2010.
Martinhal is a 38-room five-star hotel with three restaurants, five pool areas, spa, gym, tennis courts, a seven-a-side football pitch and clubs for tots to older teens, beside the Costa Vicentina Natural Park on a crescent sweep of Atlantic beach.
The hotel is a hit with design-savvy Londoners — the village has an outpost of Chelsea boutique Biondi Couture to help yummy-mummies feel at home — and Martinhal has a classy and comfortable vibe. Property for sale ranges from £461,600 to £571,970 for two- and three-bedroom homes, with a fixed return of four per cent for 10 years.
Away from the hotel there is plenty to do. Surfers can head to deserted beaches on the west coast, golfers have their pick of over 20 of Europe's best courses, and history buffs can explore Sagres from where the great Portuguese sailors set off to discover the New World. Visit martinhal.com or contact 00 351 282 240 254.
The elegant choice: Finca Cortesin, Costa del Sol
Head east from the Algarve and you hit the Costa del Sol, the Spanish coast loved by Brits for 40 years. This is the land of waterparks, golf and Andalucian festivals — but it's easy to make a mistake. Nobody wants a home in an overbuilt development.
Finca Cortesin, a 67-room hotel with properties, opened during the recession in 2009 to great acclaim. Built to look like an established manor house, it's a grown-up resort between Marbella and Sotogrande with great facilities: a gym and spa, Spain's only snow cave, indoor and outdoor pools, and tennis courts.
There's a Jack Nicklaus Golf Academy and glorious championship course, home to the Volvo Matchplay event every May. Three restaurants serve Spanish and Oriental cuisine.
One- to three-bedroom apartments and three- and five-bedroom villas are from £252,300 to £2.45 million, with maintenance charges from £200 a month. Visit cluttonsresorts.com or call 020 7584 3050.