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Super easy holiday recommendations for this Summer in the UK please!

(18 Posts)
seafoodudon Sat 04-Jan-14 10:54:27

Hi All,

I hope people don't mind me posting here, as I'm pretty sure we wouldn't qualify for the 'larger families' club just yet (expecting DC3 shortly). However, our kids are pretty close together (DC3 due just after DC1's 3rd birthday) so I was hoping this might be a good place to ask for some insight.

As it's now January, I feel justified to be thinking about summer holidays. I'd like to do a week probably in June or early July (just before school hols) somewhere super easy but not horrible. The absolute ideal would be: swimming pool, play facilities, self catering (but with good local or even on site eating options), and some sort of childcare facilities that we could use occasionally - I'm thinking of an evening or two's babysitting so DH and I could go out for a meal, or a couple of hours on a couple of afternoons to sit and read a book. I have a nasty feeling I'm describing CentreParcs - though not sure if they have any childcare? This isn't really the sort of holiday we've done before, but I just feel that with 3 x toddlers/babies this sort of holiday might be the most relaxing.

Does anyone have any experience of this sort of holiday with kids these ages (c. 3.6, 1.10 and 0.5) and any recommendations for places? Please feel free to sell CentreParcs to me (or similar) if this really is the solution.


PurplePotato Sat 04-Jan-14 18:50:02

I think you may well be describing CentreParcs! I haven't been there, but have recently come across a few people who have recommended Bluestone in Wales, which might also fit the bill:

seafoodudon Sat 04-Jan-14 20:32:55

Thanks Purple - looks really interesting, and not one I'd come across before. Will look into it.

Ratfinkle Sat 04-Jan-14 20:50:53

We went to bluestone. It is similar to center parcs but maybe a bit less formulaic (I love C P by the way). They have a fab swimming pool, soft play area, several restaurants, a spa. Not sure if they have child care but I would imagine they do. You are more likely to spend time out and about in Pembrokeshire than just on the complex, whereas at center parcs they encourage you to stay on site.

One thing to be aware of though is that it is VERY hilly. Most people hire bikes and it is a stiff ride up the hill to the car park and pool. Not sure it would be easy to navigate with 3 small dc unless you are incredibly fit!

Last year we went to the colmer estate in devon which is a lot less commercial but we loved it. Swimming pools, lovely grounds to walk around, tennis courts. Very central for South devon beaches, dartmoor etc. it's far more rustic than bluestone though so No chance of on site child care. You need a car and there is only one restaurant in walking distance. All the houses/apartments are rented independently. One of the cottages here

So sorry I don't think I have helped much apart from to say bluestone would be tricky with 3 little uns!

seafoodudon Sat 04-Jan-14 23:11:29

Thanks ratfinkle that is really helpful input as I was very sold on it by the website... Obviously they missed out mentioning lots of steep hills! I think I will have another look at c p. Perhaps we'll give it a go for a long weekend. I've heard lots of positive things from people who've been... I guess I'm just reticent to join the club!

PurplePotato Sun 05-Jan-14 08:04:35

Hi seafood - there's another current thread about Bluestone, have you seen it?

seafoodudon Mon 06-Jan-14 09:29:56

Ooh no, I wondered if there was a more appropriate place to be looking for info re appropriate hols - will search, thanks!

leelteloo Mon 06-Jan-14 09:36:42

Strange name but Sandy Balls! It's in the new forest so lots and lots of amazing scenery, country pubs, pepper pig world, gorgeous beaches, wild ponies etc. It has indoor out door pools, lots of activities, lots of family entertainment, range of accommodation. We went for 10 days last summer, stayed in a chalet. We had a fantastic holiday with a 4 year old and 1 year old.

NAR4 Mon 06-Jan-14 12:14:40

Sandy Balls is up the road from me and I can 2nd that it is very nice.

For childcare maybe you could go with another family and babysit for each other or hire privately through an agency like Sitters.

thekitchenfairy Mon 06-Jan-14 12:24:27

How about Cornwall?

Retalack resort is wonderful and the Bedruthan steps Hotel is idyllic spot and ridiculously family friendly. Both are quite pricey but have some good deals for long weekends off season.

Or how about a lodge holiday? Lakeview near Bodmin moor is tranquil, beautiful but not so close to a beach as the others.

I know there are a couple of holiday cottage companies locally (yes, I am in Cornwall!!) who offer babysitting services from local ofsted registered childminders.

We stayed in a holiday let near Porthcurnick beach on the Roseland when DCs were both quite small, walk to the beach, fab hidden cafe and great choice of beaches, castles etc around and we used a lady local to the village to babysit which worked well.

CrispyFB Mon 06-Jan-14 15:34:42

We did Featherdown Farms (glamping) in 2012 when we had three DC aged from 1 year, 3 years and 5 years. It works well for larger (but not huge!) families as each tent has bunk beds, a "cupboard" bed (which could take two if the DC shared) and you can hire (or BYO) travelcots as well. So even though there were three DC it still felt like we had loads of room.

Each tent was private from the others and it was lovely letting the DC just run around safe in the fields outside the tent without having to worry about what they were doing whilst we cooked etc. The lack of plug sockets meant that technology was mostly not used (you can charge phones etc in the farm shop though!) so you ended up really getting a lot of quality family time without the temptation to go online or resort to iPads etc to keep them quiet.

The toilet (your own private one!) worked just fine grin

There's dozens all over the country - you basically use them as a base to explore the surrounding area, but there are also farm tours and usually nice local walks with each farm too.

Pretty sure there's a way of organising babysitting but we didn't this time. No swimming pools though - often streams to paddle in however! Although there's not an onsite restaurant, you can order in home cooked meals, or raw ingredients to cook your own and there is always a pizza night where you create your own pizza and they fire up a pizza oven! The children went to bed earlier than usual because the darkness and limited lighting encouraged them to, plus they were exhausted after running free all day.

Considering it this year after DC4 arrives!

seafoodudon Tue 07-Jan-14 13:30:29

Thanks folks, really helpful. I'll look up Sandy Balls as quite fancy the New Forest (might even take in Peppa Pig world!). Had seen the Bedruthan Steps Hotel mentioned in a few places, so will look into that too. Do like Cornwall.
Re Featherdown - yes we tried that last summer with DD1 and 2. We will definitely go back when they are bigger (perhaps school age), and there was a lot to like about it, but I didn't find it a particularly relaxing holiday. DDs wanted to explore constantly, and whilst it would have been a delight to let a 4 or 5 year old run round and get some independence, ours were too little to allow going off by themselves. We also found in pretty cold at night. For the price of a stay in a boutique hotel, I think we would rather have been in one!

seafoodudon Tue 07-Jan-14 13:43:45

leelteloo and NAR4 - the Sandy Balls website definitely looks along the lines of what I'm hoping for, but not convinced from it that there's an awful lot to do for 3s and under apart from the pool (the sports activities etc seemed aimed at school-aged kids). Am I getting the wrong impression?

I've been lusting after some really non-commercial and smalll looking sites/groups of rental properties in the South of France that have lovely little playgrounds and communal playrooms full of toys. I'd hope we'd get out and about a fair bit, but really hoping to find somewhere that has plenty of 'on site' options for lazy days, or if we just fancy going out for a half day visit somewhere.

PurplePotato Tue 07-Jan-14 13:49:06

Had another thought - this place is (just) in Cornwall. Lovely cottages, hot tubs, pool, and spa treatments for the grown ups. Little playground, farm animals, toys etc for toddlers and a bigger playground for older kids.

Really easy to visit Padstow/Tintagel/St Ives etc. if you want half-days out. There's also a really nice easy (flat!) walk along the canal into Bude.

seafoodudon Tue 07-Jan-14 14:52:53

Thanks Purple, that's very much along the lines of the sort of thing I was looking at in France. Now if we could just import some of that sunshine too!

PurplePotato Tue 07-Jan-14 16:11:10

If only! When I said St Ives I meant Port Isaac, doh. St Ives prob too far away for half a day.

NAR4 Sat 11-Jan-14 16:41:55

Sandy Balls also has soft play for little ones and bike hire with trailers to explore the New Forest. Lots nearby including a choice of beaches within 40 minute drive (Sandbanks in Poole being one of them) and some lovely big soft play centres and parks. Make sure to visit Boldre Wood for the Deer feeding an Farmer Palmers (which is fab). Not so much for little ones on site though.

Katie28 Sun 09-Mar-14 20:23:27

I know you don't sound wildly keen on Center Parcs but we have three children and we go every year, some years more than once! We love it! We do intend to start venturing abroad again in a few years once our youngest is old enough (he is currently ten months) but for now Center Parcs is easy, fun and keeps everyone busy all week. The facilities for the children are wonderful, especially the pool which is included in the price. The children's pools are excellent. The restaurants are great and although we have never used it I know they do provide a childcare service. You can hire a babysitter to come to your villa. Our three love the pool and walking through the woods/feeding the ducks etc, and at this age they don't require costly extra activities. I also always feel we have gone away from the hustle and bustle of daily life as you drive away from the road into the forest and there are no cars allowed on site so it's really peaceful. I would highly recommend it, especially if as you say you can go in term time when it is very reasonably priced. One piece of advice from our experience though go for a woodland lodge rather than a comfort as they are very old fashioned and basic. The woodland lodges (and anything up from that) are much nicer and modern. I am also very interested seeing the alternatives people are suggesting on here. I didn't know some existed!

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