After we came back from Thailand, I vowed I’d never ever go on holiday again! I just couldn’t deal with the idea of going through all the stresses of our previous holiday (if you’re a bit lost right now, maybe start with the “Thailand 2017” blog!)
But after about a week or two of being back home, I was so emotionally and physically tired that I NEEDED a break and I just couldn’t find a way to subside the feelings in me. I was angry that the ‘Big’ family holiday of the year had gone so terribly and I was angry at myself for not wanting to go again but I was also really scared. Seeing my son hurt on that first day in hospital really shook me to my core. Being in a foreign hospital with language barriers and different ways of doing things was not easy. I had to put my big girl pants on and just plan a holiday. This was the first time we had an incident and I hope it will be our last! With a positive mind in place, I broached the subject with my husband, Dee, who I think was feeling apprehensive too but started searching….
This time I wanted to do nothing (well as much of nothing as you can do with a 2 and half year old in tow) I wanted the holiday to be all about Dylan. I wanted HIM to have a good time. We put him at the centre of our thinking for EVERYTHING from the flight times to activities to meal options. My last request was that our resort was all inclusive. I really wanted to reach a place and not leave till my airport transfer back!
‘Bowling alley, arcade and cinema!’
We came across ASKA LARA in Turkey, it ticked all the boxes and more! This was a pocket friendly holiday that our son would love. The resort is huge and has its own waterpark. There was a section with a few funfair rides, an outdoor cowboy area, zip lining, a kids creche, 2 kids playgrounds, bowling alley ,an arcade, cinema and about 6 restaurants – all on the beach! We invited my parents along on this holiday, for me I think it was a mixture of wanting more hands-on deck if something did go wrong and for them to be able to enjoy this time with their grandson as he is growing so quickly. My mum, dad and brother decided to all come and looking back I am grateful they did : )
We booked through Thomson, and after landing found the Thomson staff members quickly who pointed us in the direction of our transfer bus. Once settled and feeling happy with the sun shining on my face, I suddenly realised with a jolt that we had forgotten the pushchair in the baggage reclaim! How to do you forget such a big item?? I hear you say, well…. Quite easily! Our independent little man was so happy to be on holiday that he happily held his grandad’s hand and walked everywhere. And whilst we were trying to get the bags we didn’t see the pushchair (it was actually coming off on another belt) so we all happily skipped out of the airport. I jumped off the coach and spoke to the Rep who was helping others on. She said not to worry and that tomorrow when the Rep came to the hotel to visit just to give her our details and a copy of our passport and they would collect the buggy for us – phew!
‘I could feel the last few months’ worth of tension slowly beginning to unwind.’
The transfer was a max of about half an hour- nice and quick! We arrived at Aska Lara and were greeted by the friendly lobby staff. The hotel was busy and it looked like another coach had pulled up just before us as there was a lot of people checking in. Considering this, it was still done quickly and efficiently. We had just missed the lunch buffet but were pointed in the direction of The Brassiere for sandwiches and cakes. OMG, what a way to start our break! Delicious cakes and pastry’s to be had whilst we sat on the large sweeping balcony. We left the parents to rest and went to see what the resort had to offer. Aska Lara is actually split over 2 sites. The hotel has everything you would need from an all-inclusive resort. Whilst the other part is the waterpark and activity hub. They are about a 8 minute walk from each other or a quick free shuttle ride, the shuttles are frequent all day long
Once over at the waterpark we realised the true scale of this hotel. It’s HUGE! Walking past the many pools and splash areas we made our way to the beach. Dylan had noticed the slush puppy machines so we got him small one and headed to the pier to chill on the loungers. Taking in the sea air, feeling the breeze in my hair and hearing the sea lapping below us, I finally felt relaxed. We had made the right choice by coming on holiday. I could feel the last few months’ worth of tension slowly beginning to unwind.
‘Delicious Turkish treats’
Our week at Aska Lara was blissful. I cannot fault it. We had lovely rooms which were a good size. The main buffet restaurant was of a scale I’ve never seen before. It could seat about 500 people easily and there was enough food stations and counters to make sure food was never short. After a full meal, the dessert area could always entice you for something more. The variety of delicious Turkish treats, cakes and pastries could make your mouth water just looking at it. We had most of our breakfasts/dinners here and the variety never left us bored – my mother is vegetarian and was still happy by the end of the week. They also have a kid’s corner catering to what little ones want – chicken nuggets chips, porridge and of course an ice-cream stand! The kid’s area has screens and smaller tables making it perfect for independent toddlers.
‘The tipping buckets and water guns all add to the fun’
After breakfast, we would make our way to the waterpark and spend most of our day there. Dylan just loved it here. We would mess about in the kid’s pool together or he would ask Mayur (my brother) to take him to the big pool to go (big boy) swimming. He even persuaded my 70 year old dad to play with him in the splash water zone! The splash zone is an area that has sprinklers and interactive water features with a rubber floor so the water drains easily and it’s safe to run around in to your hearts content.
The tipping buckets and water guns all add to the fun. I had come back to our seating area to see my dad and Dylan had gone for a walk so I though I’m sure he’s got my dad to get him an ice-cream. Nope, they weren’t there so I asked my mum who pointed me in the direction of the splash zone. I watched them play together for about 10 minutes before they even noticed I was there. Dylan was laughing whole heartedly and making his grandad chase him around. When he finally saw me, he dragged me into his pretend game! We laughed and played here for ages before I suggested some food. This is one of my most favourite memories.
If my parents weren’t having a cat nap on the loungers with Dylan they would take him back to the hotel to rest. This would give me Dee and Mayur a chance to chill. We would hit the large water slides, have lunch at either of the 2 restaurants at the water park or grab a quick snack from the roti hut and head to the beach. The roti’s became a firm favourite of mine as they were made fresh to order with any filling and Dylan enjoyed them too making it a quick healthy snack.
‘A trip around Antalya old town and boat ride’
Although I was happy to lounge in the resort the whole week, my parents wanted to explore the Lara area. I hesitantly agreed to a day drip to the harbour. I wasn’t stopping them visiting places but I think they wanted us all to do it together and understandably it was a family holiday.
We arranged a taxi for the round trip from the reception and had someone pick us up in the morning. We got dropped off at the old town gates and wondered through the cobbled streets, stopping in shops and admiring the glass work and brightly coloured souvenirs on offer.
We came out on the harbour side and walk down to the main area where we were approached to go on a boat ride. The boat operator started at something like 40 lira each for an hour’s cruise along the coast and to some sites. At 200 lira we kindly refused and carried on walking. He followed us up and a few minutes later offered the parents to be free and a trip for 120 lira. I’m sure more bargaining could have been done but with the boat ready to leave and still time to kill, we went for a ride.
The boat journey was nothing special and the free drinks that were supposed to have been included were charged for! The ride was nice but not what it was sold as we didn’t and we made our unhappiness clear to the Captain. They offered us a free tour for the next day but we declined and left to get our taxi back. Although the ride was pleasant the experience left an unpleasant feeling.
‘The superheroes floating around made it special’
The hotels evening entertainment was varied but to be honest we didn’t catch much of it. We saw one of the kids shows at the waterpark area which was based on Ice Age and was very interactive. We also went for the big party they had one evening. It was themed all white and had set up a whole area full of bouncy castles and inflatables for the kids and the other a large stage with live singers and disco.
The superheroes floating around and people in fancy dress really made it special for Dylan. On the last night me and Dee had a date night at an Italian restaurant, La Perla, which offer free al a carte dining. You need to booked days in advance as the al a carte restaurants book up quickly. The food and service was brilliant and the evening gave us a chance to reflect on our holiday. We were reenergised and our boy was happy, which in turn made us happy. Having my parents there made the holiday easy as Dylan spent time with everyone giving us all a chance to relax at points.
Overall the hotel was perfect for a week away. It is catered towards families and works really hard to maintain a fun, relaxed environment. Both sites are well looked after and provide ample options to keep the youngest to oldest guests happy.