Here is a review from my 14 y.o. daughter:
Lake Garda-family holiday
Being a big family of five we are always on the hunt for a perfect family holiday site. There is me (14 years old), my twin brother, my little brother (3 years old) and for Mum and Dad, it is not easy for us to find a place that fits all of our needy wishes, This time we tried out a place in the north of Italy, a small town called ‘Riviera de Garda’ near a lake called ‘Garda’.
Hotel du Lac et du Parc
From the first sight of the building my thoughts were ’21 century, classic, white, clean and clear’. When I went into the building everything was as I thought it would be, bright and shiny, the whole place gave of a fresh and optimistic feeling. The hotel had 7 floors with a comfy elevator. We had two separate rooms one for mum, dad and my little brother, the other for my twin and me. The rooms were spacious and just what you would expect from a 4 star hotel in Italy.
The room with its bright white walls made me refreshed and ready for our family holiday to start.
After we all settled in, we went for a walk to explore the territory of the hotel and to our surprise lots of palm trees, which were growing mixed in with other trees more normal for a medditirenian country like Italy. The air was very fresh and it made the hotel park atmosphere full of life and naturally uplifting. After discovering two crystal clear outside pools with a kids area we happily trotted off to bed.
The lake turned out to be much closer to the hotel than I thought, you just need your room card to get out and the magnificent view is already in front. The dark, bluish-green water spreads out in front of you between huge and lush mountains covered with millions of trees.
The water felt cold at first but it is actually very gentle and you get used to the temperature after a few seconds. On the second day we found a huge rental place at the hotel, this discovery explained the number of wind surfers, sailors, and bikers buzzing around the territory and the lake. After looking around we took a few booklets and leaflets explaining what there is to do with all the wonderful equipment available. Climbing, wind surfing, canyoning, sailing, mountain biking, trekking, kayaking, stand up paddling-are all things that you could get lessons and trips for, or just renting is also an option. All these choices left us in a pickle so we decided to book a few windsurfing and sailing lessons.
A main point in a family holiday is that there is something to do for everyone even if the difference between siblings is 10 years. My brother and me were happy with the wide range of activities available, and of course the little bro was comfortable with just spending time with our parents and us but the problem is mum and dad need some relax time as well from the constant hustling with a 4 year old. That’s when a colorful miniclub invitation appeared before us on our way to breakfast. When we tried it out the little guy was happy to find a lot of toys and a talkative young lady smiling nicely at him, he happily stayed there for an hour and when we came back to pick him up we found him entertaining a bunch of kids of different ages and nationalities. Even though he found it fun at the miniclub he found it hard to leave the safe kids pool near the adult pool and pretty much spent most of the day splashing around in the pool as we enjoyed the sun rays on the sunbeds. Pretty much the hotel had the facilities to entertain the small kids throughout the day.
Where to eat?
When we came to the hotel we had already booked breakfasts there for every day of our stay. I have to say I wasn’t expecting much but the breakfast buffet turned out to be quite nice with a good variety and good quality of food, this made our stomachs happy and our body ready for the rest of the day. Around 1 and 2 we already felt a bit hungry after swimming in the pool and having all sorts of watersports lessons. On the first day we decided to go out to town to see what places there are to have a quick and light lunch, but soon we ended up at an Italian ice cream store near the hotel. At first I thought an ice cream wouldn’t fill me up, but after seeing the portions given I knew I was wrong thinking English and Italian portions are the same. The one scoop of ice cream was huge nearly bigger than the cone itself, but I have to say it was delicious. Later on we discovered a pool bar, with a self-service section in it, the food was good and it was quite convenient as it was near the pool. After finding these two places we knew that lunch was sorted for the rest of the holiday, either you want something sweet or some real food both were available at a good price.
On the first evening we decided to try out a restaurant at the hotel, it was called ‘La Capanina’. I thought the atmosphere was nice and there even was some jazzy music played by a musicianist, but as we had expected everything was quite expensive while the quality didn’t exactly match its price. So reflecting on our mistake on the second evening we reserved a place in a simpler restaurant in the old part of the town, the prices were lower and the food was much nicer. Even though the atmosphere and the decorations at the place weren’t quite the same as the ones at the previous restaurant we had an excellent view of the sea and got a taste of some Italian culture, even the little one had the freedom to run around our table. The next few nights we tried out another few restaurants that the hotel recommended and the ones we found out about around the place. All of us mutually agreed that the best restaurant was ‘La Columbina’. The restaurant was near a vineyard, which created quite a comfortable and traditional Italian atmosphere, the food was very nice and the prices were normal, it was quite small but it had a homey touch to everything, the only bad thing was that my little bro had nothing to do and disturbed the table next to us which is a usual thing for him if he is bored. I personally liked all the restaurants we went to, especially I liked the pizzeria which was opposite our hotel because it was simple and relaxed not uptight about the dressing, it was close to the hotel and I didn’t have to experience the awkwardness of apologizing to the next door table as they had a kids playground. Another few good restaurants are ‘lion d’oro’, and ‘Aqua’.
Things to do around town
At the start we decided to stay in the hotel and explore and use the hotel territory, but after a few days we got a bit bored of sunbathing and swimming in the pool so we decided to ride on the bikes, as I have mentioned before there was a huge number of choice from electrical bikes to town bikes, each one of us picked the one we liked the most, but when we were ready we didn’t actually know where we were heading so we asked the rental guy to tell us where we could ride these bikes, he told us there is an easy trail around town that comes back in a loop to the hotel, we decided to try that out. I have to say by the word ‘town’ I thought he meant we would be riding past buildings but instead we were riding down a river and lots of vineyards with a beautiful view of hills and mountains spread out in front of us. The bike trail was very easy to follow with lots of signs everywhere. On the way we saw different bike trails going off somewhere else and that showed that there were lots of other trails as good as this one. The returning trail wasn’t as good as the first one because it was near a main road, which made the view worse, making us regret that we didn’t go back the same way, but overall the ride was great.
After looking around the hotel we discovered a touristic spot, which had loads of leaflets of things we could do, quickly we grabbed a few of them and set off to look at them in detail. There were loads of things ranging from climbing trails to waterparks. What took our attention was hiking trails, because it wasn’t as hard as climbing but it was still an adventure. In the end we decided to go to a place that we could see out of our hotel rooms, it was a place called ‘ St Barbara’, it looked like a small church and got our attention by lighting up in the evening, so we really wanted to get up and see the view of the town from there. Before climbing up I didn’t really imagine how hard it would be, climbing up an uneven steep path covered with rocks, and by the end of it me, my twin and mum were very happy that we didn’t bring dad and the little one along as we, ourselves barely got up there. Going down was even more dangerous than going up with all of us slipping a couple of times, by the end we were dead tired but I have to say the view at the top was worth it and we really felt like we went on an adventure. Following the hiking trail leaflet we also went on a lakeside walk, which showed great views of the lake all of the family enjoyed it.
As there were a lot of water and theme parks near us, our family decided to devote one day of the holiday to one of them. All of the parks were actually located in the same place but from the start we decided to go to a theme park called ‘Gardaland’. The theme park was fun for me, my twin, and my little brother but our parents enjoyed it less because of the heat and the queues making all of us regret that we didn’t got to a waterpark, still I thought it was quite fun and enjoyable.
Over the holiday we also did some Italian shopping which was nice because of the great sales , our parents also had some fun going on a wine tasting tour coming back happily drunk.
Overall we had great fun during the holiday and all the activities kept us busy and happy, our family would happily go there again as we still have a lot of things to explore and revisit the nice, friendly Italians that get annoyed with us every time we say something wrong in their language.