Wendy Shand, founder of award-winning family holiday company Tots to Travel, launched her company after her son Barnaby fell into an unfenced swimming pool while on holiday. She realised there was a huge gap in the market for safe and comfortable holiday houses, and hasn’t looked back. We caught up with Wendy and asked her views on holidays, travel products, and life in general.
Q How much time do you spend on the road (and in the air!) every year?
Outside of family holidays I do some travelling but not an enormous amount. I’ll spend 6 weeks in France this year, a week in Cyprus and then probably one other trip.
My husband Rob does the bulk of overseas travels. He’ll do at least 10 trips this year meeting villa owners and viewing some staggeringly beautiful properties.
Q Do you get a lot of queries at the school gate? It must be hard to always get asked about your own favourite villa!
LOL! There are worse things in life! I have so many favourites, like the ultra-lux villa in Cyprus with with a bedroom looking up through the swimming pool and amazing clifftop views. However, choosing the right villa for another family is such a personal thing and it really needs a conversation to understand what each person wants, how old their children are, and so on. Once I have that information then I’m able to make some great, bespoke suggestions.
Q Is there a need for dedicated holidays to suit ‘tweens’ and teens?
This is certainly a very distinct stage in a family’s evolution complete with its own challenges. However there are lots of travel companies that are doing a pretty good job in this respect with lots of activities from sailing to camel riding to safaris being on offer.
From a parent’s perspective this stage is less stressful as older children so it’s less about getting the accommodation safe and organised and more about how you keep every member of the family well entertained!
Q Are you a pool or a beach person?
Both! If we’re lounging around then I love a pool with a view of the beach but I grew up in the Middle East where I learnt to sail, windsurfing and water ski. This is where I am at my happiest so if any of these activities are available then I am much more like to be on the water rather than sitting beside it.
Q Top tip when dealing with different ages of children? Ie. those who are still capable of toddling into swimming pools, and those who are keen on some sight-seeing, or spending time on a beach without needing a nappy changed
The beach and a pool are great places for families with children of different ages as almost all children love the water. I have diving toys for my older children and will happily score dives, handstands and synchronised swimming from the top step whilst playing with our toddler who is likely to have containers or floating toys to play with.
None of my kids are particularly keen on sightseeing so apart from the odd castle or canoe trip so we tend to stay relatively close to our villa. It’s a pretty selfless stage of life and I reckon that there will be plenty of time for sightseeing once the children are older.
Q Your most successful ever family holiday
We stayed in a beautiful villa in Mallorca with amazing views over the Bay of Formentor. I think it worked really well because as adults we loved the architect designed villa and the location whilst the kids loved the pool and the nearby beach which had big rocks for jumping off. The kids were in heaven!
We could also walk to a really funky beach bar for family cocktails before bed so it had a relaxed vibe. I have lovely memories from that holiday.
Q If you weren’t running Tots to Travel, what would you be doing?
Great question! I used to be a reception teacher but can’t see myself going back to that and neither can I see myself being an employee again. Undoubtedly I would be involved in growing a business, I see opportunity all around and the creativity and vision of being involved in projects like this is what fires me up. Quite what that would be I’m not sure!