Relaxing Family Vacation - A Contradiction in Terms?

11/04/2012 08:56 BST | Updated 05/06/2012 10:12 BST

Everyone says it. I've said it myself. Many times. "I really need a vacation".

This time it's different. Our baby was rushed to intensive care over the Christmas break with bronchiolitis. We had to cancel our planned short break. Then in February, a few days before our annual family sojourn to the sun, our four-year-old got chickenpox. Getaway number two was grounded before it had even begun. If the kids were any older, we'd have grounded them too for these mean spirited acts of self contagion.

And last year's attempt at a holiday (nothing too ambitious - a cottage in Wales we've stayed at many times before) was when our youngest was new born. She - and I - never slept for more than three hours at a time. Great. That was really relaxing. And the previous year's effort was memorable mainly for my morning sickness.

Notice the theme? Yep, I have succumbed to the blindingly obvious reality that being a parent means I no longer get to go on languid rejuvenating holidays.

And my kids are not the only problem. My husband is a self confessed holiday snob. Ok, that's not fair. I am too.

Years of backpacking and independent travelling mean we feel like we've stumbled upon a Hi-de-Hi reunion if we spot a single other tourist on a beach. We've always told ourselves we love self catering in splendid isolation. Which could alternatively be interpreted as enjoying 'bargaining' for the overpriced tourist catch at the local fish market, burning it on a barbeque, and of course washing up all the mess ourselves the following morning. But what the heck. It was always about escaping the rat race and living for a brief and beautiful fortnight entirely at our own rhythm.

All-you-can-eat seafood buffets, all-inclusive coloured wristbands (yes, the ones that entitle you to free booze as well as free food), and Mambo Number 5 'fun for all the family' evening cabaret just ain't for us.

But being a mum changes everything. And then some. With just one baby, it was possible (just) to self cater and relax - but with two kids, toiling in our own deserted villa just doesn't feel like fun anymore. Our four year-old would inevitably soon get bored with her geriatric parents, and we'd love to occasionally hire a baby sitter.

So that's when we hatched the plan. To find decent accommodation, that possessed all the crucial ingredients of a restful holiday. Like a villa that's on or right next to a decent beach, with enough privacy to hide if we want to. And also with the big feature we now so desperately need - distractions for the children. In fact more than distractions - exciting and memorable activities. Not fussy, are we? Which is how we came upon Cotton Bay Village in St Lucia

A private villa with self catering facilities. A Montessori Creche for our baby, and a kids club for our four year old. And there's more. Restaurants. Huge swimming pool. Maid service. Spa treatments. And, we're told, no chance of Ricky Martin looky-likies imploring us to conga round the fountain with the family in the chalet next door.

It all feels a little too good to be true. But we're not quite there yet. We leave tomorrow morning. The kids are excitable. I am delirious with anticipation. This infernal holiday has been postponed once already - surely it can't happen again? Will we actually get on the plane? Will we survive a nine hour flight with two small kids? Will I get to relax there - or will my husband bristling at the feel of being a punter in a resort ruin my fun? Watch this space...