When you look for a holiday – especially one for you and your family – what ticks the boxes? Access to water, with kayak availability on tap; possibly alternative water going craft and guidance on how to pilot these vessels; a bit of land based fun such as tennis, maybe cycling; with possibly kid’s club facilities? All of the above? If this sounds familiar then you’ve probably been on a Neilson holiday before. If you haven’t then maybe it’s time to check out what they offer. For those looking at a spot of kayaking but with plenty of other stuff on tap then Neilson’s brand new Italian resort, Airone Beachclub, could be just the ticket.
Situated on Italy’s southern Calabrian coast with the Gulf of Taranto directly out front, this sun kissed part of the country is where the Italians themselves go on holiday. It’s also a place famous for chilli and liquorice. Yes, you read that right. Liquorice is a big deal here, so much so that a museum dedicated to the sweet tasting Glycyrrhiza root can be found in the medieval town of Rossano, a 30 minute drive up into the hills away from the resort. Head to Sibari (Sybaris), the closest town, and you’ll find more in the way of culture, history and archaeological sites to peruse. And there’s plenty of bars, restaurants and refreshment stops also on offer if you’re prepared to get out. You’ll need transport, however, or make use of the plentiful road/mountain bikes available to all Neilson guests. Although there’s a decent restaurant just along the beach that’s within walking distance. It’s good value as well.
Airone Beachclub hotel
Standing apart from surrounding villages Neilson’s Airone Beachclub hotel is a pretty in pink structure that boasts room types to suit all requirements. We stayed in the garden villas separate to the main hotel building. With a three year old and 9 month baby this was ideal as it meant we could arrange nap times and night feeds accordingly.
Rooms are spacious with comfy beds, nicely styled bathrooms plus tea and coffee making facilities, which aren’t always available when away on holibobs (very British I know). The villas also have a decent amount of outside space for relaxing, post-paddling, with a tipple or two in the evening.
Elsewhere within the hotel grounds you’ll find four newly erected tennis courts, football/basketball courts, cycle shed, a well facilitated kids club area, plush piazza bar and absolutely huge pool! The open plan restaurant is serviced via the enclosed buffet with a separate area for kid’s high tea.
If you have food allergies, or family members with such, as we do then have no fear as the kitchen staff can cater for this no problem. We were assigned our own waiter who looked after our littlest one and made sure he was well fed. The head chef also made frequent appearances to check all was good – we can’t praise this aspect enough.
The beach (and kayaking)
Flanking the beach is a large expanse of pine forest which offers a pleasant walk and access to the vast expanse of beach. Once on the sand you’ll find a bar, plenty of sun loungers and a large lifeguard tower.
Although Neilson staff keep watch across the sailing area there’s the added advantage of Italian lifeguards in attendance.
To the right is where you’ll locate all those water toys waiting to be played with: boats, boards and kayaks. If you fancy getting involved in sailing, windsurfing or stand up paddle boarding Neilson beach staff will be able to give guidance, instruction and tasters for all sports. Kayaks are supplied by former Perception Kayaks Europe, now Wave Sport. The Scooter and tandem Gemini is what’ll be getting you afloat. Paddles are basic but do the job fine.
In terms of what’s available for investigation the paddling area is pretty large, although there’s not a huge amount of variety in terms of touring. As the season moves forward the beach team will be putting on longer excursions for guests to make use of. What Airone is great for, however, is anyone taking their first strokes in a kayak or getting your offspring into the sport.
With offshore winds, or zero breeze, the brine remains pancake flat and perfect for a dabble with a paddle. If the breeze should pick up, however, then there are two types of scenario. Offshore winds keep things flat inside whereas venturing farther out will require a slog back into the blow, which can be great for fitness. During our stay we ended with a number of onshore days with swell picking up rapidly. This gives fun lumps/waves to play on if confident. To the left of the launch is a shallower sand bar area where sucky swell jacks up and provides the best surf. If you’ve never had any experience in waves these conditions, should you get the same, give a nice intro to the world of surf sliding/paddling.
Neilson’s Airone Beachclub is one for the multi-activist. For sure you can clock up the paddling miles but if you only stick at this then you’ll be missing out. With so much other ‘entertainment’ on offer it’d be a shame not try one of the other sports, on land or water.
For families wanting a quality location for a variety of activities Neilson’s Airone Beachclub certainly ticks all the relevant boxes. Both Neilson and local Italian staff couldn’t do enough to please and with top notch facilities we’re pretty sure you’ll enjoy Calabria as much as we did.
You can find out more about Neilson’s Airone Beachclub by visiting www.neilson.co.uk/beach/italy/airone-beachclub
Note: Thanks to CE Photo for providing some of the images that accompany this article.
If you’re looking for a way to work overseas, and have a penchant for photography, then give CE Photo a shout as they’re always looking out for talented freelance photographers.
Photo Credits: www.cephoto.uk (@JPattenPhoto, @sophieschneeberger, @alexhillman_photo) & Fi Plavenieks