My family and I have spent the most lovely weekend in Cornwall in May 2015. One of our favourite places to head to with beautiful coastline and stunning scenery, a relaxed way of life, and plenty to do for all, come rain or shine.
Now usually when you think of a UK family break, the first choices which spring to mind are the self-catering options of the caravan & camping parks, the purpose built chalet/ wooden hut parks, cottage breaks and a perhaps a spot of glamping.
And I must say, I’d never really thought of booking somewhere which provided a more inclusive dining option, it was always just of hotels, most of which I’d have been concerned about as you can never really tell just how ‘family-friendly’ they might be!
This said, our home for the weekend was in fact a hotel. The very brilliant Sands Hotel Resort & Spa in Newquay, which is totally geared up for families! How perfect is that! We’d actually heard of it beforehand, by way of word of mouth and good reviews, rather than from google searches, so as soon as we knew we were going, we were very excited indeed.
We only headed there for a short two-night stay, leaving home in Newbury on the Friday straight after we’d picked up Holly from school, and then unfortunately needing to leave quite early on the Sunday afternoon as Holly had a party to go to.
To be honest, we were thinking, oh gosh – what a long way to go just for a couple of nights, but in hindsight, I think I know the answer!
For the perfect mini-break!
The 5 hour journey down was pretty eventful as we found out the M4 was shut, so had to wind our way through the countyside and smaller back roads to reach the M5 further down the country, and then we finally realised that our little one does in fact suffer from travel sickness! So that was fun!
So, ultimately we arrived at the hotel rather late that evening, around 8:30/9:00pm. The receptionist though was still as bright as a button, and perfectly warm and friendly. The check in was quick and efficient and within five minutes we were settling into our room for the weekend.
There was no lift, but there are porters on hand if you require help with your luggage.
The girls were excitedly running up and down and bouncing off beds, and turning light switches on left, right and centre, whilst Mikey and I unpacked the bags and got ourselves relatively sorted.
First thing on the agenda – kids to bed!
We stayed in a very lovely Contemporary Suite with Sea view – which was just perfect for our family of four. Though if we were a family of four with a baby/toddler – this would have worked also, as the children’s room consisted of twin beds and a cot. Some rooms I believe have bunk beds too. And if you’re a larger family, there are plenty more options catered for.
In between the bedrooms was a small, but perfectly adequate bathroom with a bath and overhead shower – again just fine for bathing two kids at the same time! Also though – there was a separate basin in the hallway which was really handy too.
Then, on into our room was a double bed directly facing to the rear French door windows, which opened out onto railings and looked out over the road to the blue sea beyond.
There was no balcony, just railings, which was still fine, as because the kids were pretty self-contained in their own room, with no faffing at having to convert a sofa etc, the living/sitting areas could be used exactly for its purpose. And with the doors both opened up – it was if you were sat on a balcony anyway!
The rooms were really well kitted out too. A TV and a DVD player in the girls room, a TV and a PlayStation box in our room, (you could rent games from reception), tea making facilities, hairdryer, mini fridge, iron, clothes airer, safe, and more importantly free Wi-Fi! Yay!
The rooms also have an intercom system which is used for their baby listening service. We didn’t actually try this out, but I used to work in a hotel which ran a baby listening service and it worked really well and is a great option if you want to have a quiet evening meal once in a while.
So, after a lovely nights sleep, it was up early (as is usual with little kids!) and down to breakfast.
There was a great range of breakfast options from cereals and toast, continental options, through to the good old British fry up! We were pretty much spoilt for choice!
Freshly brewed tea and coffee is served at your table by the waiting staff who were ever so attentive and helpful. And high chairs are available and plentiful for little ones.
It was very quiet in the children’s section of the restaurant – as of course we were out of season, but the adults only area to the other side was much busier. I can imagine it being busy in peak season.
After breakfast it was on to Kids Club.
Now, this is something I felt a little daunted by, as we’ve never used a kids club before. And with Ella sometimes being a little on the clingy side at nursery, where she knows and loves the staff, we just didn’t know what to expect.
But it was brilliant! We needn’t have worried in the slightest.
It wasn’t very busy, as again it was out of season, so both girls were in the same Pirates Club, so this may well have worked in our favour and helped us out a little. But with big sister at her side, in they went with hardly a glance back in our direction at all. Off to have fun in the soft play and ball pit section with eyes bright and wide with excitement.
So with the kids happily playing under close supervision, Mikey and I went off for a stroll around the hotel before it was my turn for a little treat.
The Ocean Breeze Spa
I was booked in for an aromatherapy back, neck and shoulder massage – which was just glorious! If you’ve read my recent post about treating yourself occasionally and finding some time for yourself – this was most definitely me taking my own advice and indulging in a little more ‘me-time’!
Then I thought Mikey rather deserved a little pampering too – so we asked at reception if there were any free slots around the same time as mine. Unfortunately there weren’t, so we just left it and went back to the room. But just before I had to leave for my appointment we received a call from the receptionist who notified us that a space had become available after all. We really appreciated this as I think the receptionist really went beyond the normal day job for us. She could have easily just left it as we’d totally have been none the wiser. Very thoughtful and professional I thought.
The treatments were sublime. The therapist was lovely, and asked lots of questions beforehand to see how firm you prefer a massage or whether we had any particular areas we would like her to work on.
Our half an hour of bliss flew by, and before long it was time to go and pick up the girls from their morning of kids club, completely relaxed and with my eye make up half way down my face!
But I was too relaxed to really care!
Hotel Grounds & Activities
The girls were very excited to show us their paintings and colourings that they’d done in Pirates Club and were still buzzing with excitement, so we thought we’d take them out into the hotel grounds to do some exploring before we went in for lunch.
There was so much to do.
There was a maze, football pitch, tennis courts, large playground area, I’m sure used for ball sports etc, two play areas, a 9 holes pitch and putt golf course, an outdoor splash and fun kids pool, basketball, mini golf, croquet, a climbing wall, and a zip wire.
Mikey’s favourite was the zip wire as he is just a big kid, whereas the girls absolutely loved the maze! He also tried to teach the girls drafts on the huge outdoor board, but I don’t think ours have the attention span ready for that yet!
When our tummies started to rumble we headed in to the bar for lunch. Mikey and I had toasted Panini’s whereas the kids had chicken, chips and beans, all of which were very yummy!
It wasn’t a long leisurely lunch as there was still so much we wanted to cram in to our mini-weekend break away.
So, as soon as we’d finished it was time for a stroll.
Out and About
The hotel is located just outside of Newquay, on a cliffside above some absolutely stunning beaches.
Another fabulous thing the hotel does is to lend out all-terrain buggies, which worked perfectly for us as there was no way ours would have coped on the grassy verges, across the sand and through water!
Theirs was brilliant – and Ella was perfectly snug and warm as she slept for much of our clifftop walk.
Luckily she woke when we finally reached the beach though, and it was such a beautiful day, that we were even able to paddle in the sea!
The hotel also has kiddie carriers, body boards, wetsuits, buckets & spades and windbreaks available to borrow too! But obviously on a first come first served basis, so I’m sure you’d have to get in quick in high season.
If you have more time available to you – this really is the perfect base for lots more exploring. Exmoor Zoo is only five minutes away, with The Eden Project just s short drive away too. And then obviously on top of that are the variety of facilities and things to do and see in Newquay itself, includinf the aquarium – which would be brilliant if the weather turned sour.
Next up was swimming!
The indoor pool was lovely. Nice sloping steps down into it which I always prefer when you have small kids. It means they can play a little without having to permanently be out of their depth. It was lovely and warm in there and was the perfect activity after our long walk!
The hotel provides the towels too. Great for such a short stay if you didn’t have to pack wet towels to go home with! Though they do have a laundry service if you did want to use it.
The girls just love swimming, and it was lovely to see Holly’s confidence in the pool now that she’s been having lessons!
After that, we went back to the room for bit of a rest (I think you’d agree we needed one!) and to get bathed and showered ready for supper.
The restaurant has 3 different dining areas, an ‘adults only’ area for couples or parents who would like a quiet meal, one for families with older children and one where children of any age are welcome.
On top of this there are different dinner time options too. Plus there is the option of taking the children along to eat at the kids early meal time, and then with the baby listening this would allow you a little bit of free time to sit and have a peaceful meal without having to constantly get up and down and entertaining the kids.
As a family with two young children – both under five – often I have felt that we’re kind of pushed to the side a little when it comes to zoned eating areas – but here, the decor was so good that it really just felt as though you were sat in a contemporary restaurant. A really quite refreshing change!
If you have a baby – I loved the idea that you can choose up to 2 jars of baby food per dinner too! How cute is that!
Dinner was yummy. The girls both had a delicious cottage pie with vegetables and both Mikey and I opted for the fresh fish and chips. I even ate the peas! And if you know me you’ll know how much I detest peas! But these were cooked with garlic and chilies and slightly crushed – and I can honestly say – I absolutely loved them! Result! Mikey nearly fell off his chair in shock.
So, we sat happily with our food and chatted to each other over our wine, beer and apple juice until we were so full up we needed to roll ourselves back to our room.
That would be the cheesecake, ice cream, and chocolate fondant!
The kids both got into bed and were sparked out after only a few minutes.
They’d had such a busy and fun packed day!
Then the next morning we left soon after our second full English breakfast of the weekend. Oops again!
We had an absolutely brilliant time. Quality time with just the four of us, which is sometimes rather rare.
Although we were so busy, we felt rested, happy and content. I know it was such a short break away – but we just wouldn’t have used the time so well if we’d just had a free weekend at home. No doubt I’d have found chores to do instead of relaxing or out doing fun things. So this really did feel like a mini holiday full to the brim of fun, adventure and exploring!
Also, I thought we might have been the only ones to have such a short break away, but on speaking with many of the guests – who were so amazingly friendly and open for a chat – it came to light that others were there for the same time period as us, some who’d even come from much further away!
And I suppose, with Newquay airport within just a couple of miles, it really can be very easy to get to from everywhere!
A lovely place, full of friendly and welcoming staff who really did go out of their way for us. And as I just mentioned above too – the guests were just as lovely – it was all so friendly.
I would thoroughly recommend the Sands Resort Hotel & Spa to anyone and everyone!
So, as you can see – I’ve rambled on a bit there as we had such a teriffic time, it was hard to keep it short! But to sum up how fab this place is – here’s our best bits…..
These were fab! Perfectly big enough for all of us, and because of their design and layout, it really felt as though we were in our own separate rooms. The kids room, equipped with the TV and DVD player had them perfectly occupied while we were able to sit in the armchairs and look out onto the sea below. No sign of a put-me-up camp bed anywhere!
Brilliant staff and facilities who made our two girls feel at ease from the moment they set foot through the gate. And as parents – obviously this immediately put our minds at rest, so that we were able to go off for a relaxing couple of hours with nothing to worry about.
There really is such a great range of things to do here. The list is endless, and I’m sure if you were stuck for ideas, the staff would easily have recommendations for you.
The little things really made it special. The fact that you can hire out (mostly at no cost) things such as buggies, baby carriers, and buckets was such a brilliant idea and so handy for if you needed to travel light! And the extra family touches really did make it the most family friendly hotel you could want!
The friendly atmosphere
The staff were superb. As I mentioned above (a lot!), always polite and even going out of their way to make your stay as wonderful as it could be. And I think it had a knock on effect to the guests too – as they too were brilliant. It really did have a very relaxed family atmosphere indeed.
A fabulous choice of treatments available, which for once in the UK, were easily accessible for parents with the option of the above kids club. The therapists were skilled and professional and very lovely indeed.
This one is pretty self-explanatory! It’s position on the (almost!) edge of a cliff top overlooking the beautiful blue sea, gold sandy bay and the lights of Newquay over a couple of bays away was stunning. Far enough out of the central Newquay hub for that more laid back feel, but close enough to still enjoy all its attractions and nightlife.
It really was a perfect setting.
And a perfect weekend away!
We can’t wait to return!
NB: Steph was invited to Sands Resort in order to review the accommodation but all views and opinions are her own.
Karen Beddow founded Mini Travellers in 2014 while doing what she loves most...going on holiday!
Mini Travellers is for parents looking for holiday ideas, destination reviews, days out and things to do with the kids. We also have family travel tips, activity ideas and all other things family holiday related. Take a look at some of our latest reviews for holidays and day trips in the UK.