Rachel O’Reilly heads off to Andriake Resort in Turkey to find out why a Neilson activity holiday is the ultimate family-pleaser.

“Fancy going kneeboarding tomorrow?” asked our enthusiastic water sports instructor. Our faces probably said it all. Keen as we were to try new things on our activity holiday in Turkey, we didn’t have a clue what we were letting ourselves in for.

With a group of new-found friends around us, and nobody wanting to look like a killjoy, we all nodded eagerly. As it turned out, being pulled along by a speedboat whilst clinging on to a surfboard and bouncing along on the waves is terrific fun. Even my seven-year old son, who usually doesn’t like getting his face wet, climbed back onto the boat with the biggest grin on his face. His verdict? “That. Was. Awesome.”

We were away for an action-packed half-term holiday in Turkey with activity specialist Neilson, who has a collection of Beachclub Resorts in Greece and Turkey. Our base for the trip was the new Andriake Resort near to the village of Demre, the tomato-growing capital of the Antalya region.

Our first impression of the resort was impressive. Big and spacious, it has a luxurious and tranquil feel despite the hive of activity within. The kids’ eyes were like saucers when they caught a first glimpse of the Olympic-sized pool, which is the central feature of this family-friendly haven.

Arriving at Cocktail O’Clock meant it was only a matter of minutes before children were jumping noisily into the pool and mums in the group had their feet up enjoying a Mojito.

The following morning, I took a stroll around the resort and found people with maps setting off on mountain bike trails, yoga classes in full swing, the quiet beach was dotted with orange sails and there was a gentle thwack of tennis balls on racquets as I passed the courts.

Yet in equal measure, I was cheered to find plenty of fellow-guests reading books by the pool, having a leisurely swim or glowing with health as they left the spa.

The well-organised children’s clubs are one of the big highlights of Neilson holidays. Divided into clubs via school year-groups, our group was ‘Sharksters’ for the week. Before I had children, I thought kids’ clubs were an odd invention. Surely you want to spend every moment with your dear offspring when time allowed? However, now I have children, I think they are wonderful concepts. Not least because mini-holidaymakers have far more fun with the young, cool, well-recruited kids’ club hosts than they could with mum and dad for seven days solid.

During the week, they bonded with their fellow Sharksters and enjoyed sea kayaking, beach Olympics, pool games, sandcastle building and some sort of paint-splat game.

Meanwhile, I was able to enjoy my first proper Turkish Hammam. If you’ve never had one, I can highly recommend it. Lying on a marble slab, the attendant gently scrubs your body all over, then covers you in what feels like a cloud, then he washes your hair and rinses off all the foam with warm water. I’ve never felt so clean.

As someone with a green ethos, all-inclusive holidays have always jarred slightly with me, although I understand they are convenient and cost effective. Yet I was really impressed with Neilson’s approach. In resort, the food was all delicious, fresh, Turkish fare made by local staff and on three nights of the week when meals aren’t included, guests are encouraged to get out and about to explore local villages and towns.

During our stay, we went on the sunset boat trip to the sunken city of Simena, which was a highlight of the trip for me. With a glass of wine in hand, the old-fashioned vessel gently makes its way past stunning coastline and historic sights, the remains of the former city in the rocks pointed out as you glide by.

The boat stops at the gorgeous hillside village, where you can walk to the cathedral at the top for stunning views and dine in one of the quaint local restaurants, where the local people seem delighted to see you.

Another evening, we jumped on the coach heading for Kas, a pretty seaside holiday spot with lots of shops, stalls, outdoor entertainment and eateries, which made for a terrific night out.

One of the great joys of our week in Turkey was fun time together as a family, yet time apart for me to chill out with my book by the pool or in the spa while they jumped, splashed, paddled and laughed with their friends and kids’ club hosts.

If there was a formula for the perfect family holiday, Neilson has definitely got the science right.

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Mediterranean 2019