If you were to ask me what’s missing from this whole ‘family-friendly’ holiday malarkey, I’d have to say it’s daytime drinking.
Not that I’m talking about an all-day Bank Holiday session (like I used to do 15 years ago) or anything. I’m thinking more along the lines of sipping a civilised glass of fizz whilst partaking in a spot of cake-sampling. That kind of thing.
Both of which are nigh-on impossible when you have a three year old and 17 month old twins on holiday with you, though. And the last time I checked it wasn’t really the done thing to leave them at home.
So what if you could find somewhere that you can leave your kids, whilst you head to the spa, and be offered a fizzy drink of the alcoholic variety, and a tray of cakes and nibbles to try?
I’d say ‘where do I book?’, that’s what if!
Luckily for all of us, I’ve discovered such a place, where it’s totally okay to not feel guilty about a spot of me-time. And it just so happens that me-time takes place in a Moroccan-inspired spa lounge where you’re actively encouraged to forget about your family, and the rest of the world. Sounds like bliss if you ask me.
And this place is called the Sands Resort Hotel and Spa, just a few miles from Newquay in north Cornwall.
The family-friendly hotel focuses not only on ensuring there’s plenty to entertain the children, but also makes sure that Mum and Dad are getting a break too.
Things to do
There’s so much for the kids to do, there’s no way they could be bored – whatever age they are. Activities include both indoor and outdoor swimming pools, soft play, a kids club and games room. Outside there is football, croquet, mini tennis, basketball, tennis court, a maze, adventure play area, zip wire, bouncy castles and a pirate ship, sand pit, junior play area and crazy golf.
As soon a you walk into reception, the staff at Sands cannot do more to help. Knowing our family comes with a three year old and 17 month old twins in tow, and therefore a very overloaded car, they immediately unloaded our bags for us and took them to the room. It was such a help when our hands are full basically herding young and wobbly walkers along hotel corridors and not falling headfirst down stairs
Bags dumped, our three year old wanted to explore. So we headed straight for the family games room and soft play. This was perfect for our little ones too as we had the place to ourselves. It’s open to the public in the mornings but then hotel guests have sole use for the rest of the time. The soft play room was great for the three year old, whilst the Twins seemed happier fighting over the ride-in cars and who could climb up the steps to the slide first. There was also a play castle they could go inside with games and toy kitchens, as well as giant Connect Four. And if all else failed, there was a giant TV on the wall for Cbeebies!
No need for hanger
My concern with staying in hotels with children is how inflexible it can be with mealtimes, because let’s face it, when they’re hungry, they are HUNGRY. But I needn’t have worried, because at Sands there is early dining for families between 5.00pm and 6.15pm which was perfect for us. We were able to eat with them, but we could have just fed them and then returned later had we wanted to take advantage of the hotel’s free baby listening service.
The food was delicious and the children’s menu was not only varied, but the meals were large. We realised we didn’t need so much by the second night – and we also then ordered the food early whilst the boys still played in the games room so there was no hanging around waiting in the restaurant. The worst part of eating out with them! The staff were only too happy to oblige.
My twins have never eaten pureed food but as part of their dinner you can choose up to two Ella’s Kitchen pouches per meal which is great for babies – and also provided an alternative dessert for them if you didn’t want too much sugar just before bed. Obviously the three year old opted for ice cream! The chef is also happy to puree any dish from the dinner menu for the little ones and there is a microwave in the restaurant should you want to heat up pouches or milk.
Back in the room there is a small fridge, so we were able to keep our twins’ milk in there and any snacks to keep them going which was helpful.
We stayed in a 2-bedroom contemporary family suite overlooking the sea. There was a cot already in the child’s bedroom as well as twin beds and the hotel then provided us with an extra travel cot which we managed to squeeze in there too. So all three boys slept in the same room together for the first time – and loved it! They even had their own TV and DVD player.
That meant that we were able to close their door and enjoy the rest of the suite without having a sleeping baby in a travel cot in the middle of our room.
The hotel offers spacious single and double rooms as well as 2 and 3-room suites for families. They’re all ensuite with either sea, country or garden view, although I felt ours could do with updating – especially the bathroom.
The next morning we made the most of what Sands has to offer – for both adults and children by booking the boys into the creche whilst we headed to the spa.
Keeping kids entertained
It was quiet during our stay so ours were the only children there, but during busier periods the Kids’ Clubs are organised around their ages. The Nippers club for babies is full of soft toys, baby gyms and a resting area for them to nap – which Toby totally took advantage of. A few days of missing his morning nap in favour of fun clearly caught up with him!
The Pirates Kids Club for 2-3 year olds is equipped with toys to play with, an arts and reading corner, a ball pool and dressing up area. Activities include storytelling, jigsaws, the maze, sandpit and bouncy castle and if it’s sunny the little pirates can enjoy the outside play areas.
There is an adventure club for 4-7 year olds where they can take part in organised activities such as crafts and painting, quizzes, and outdoor fun on the bouncy castle, sports days, and sandcastle competitions. During school holidays they also have pirate and pyjama parties, and a children’s disco.
Children aged 8-14 can attend the Ozone Club during school holidays which offers activities such as Chocolate Extravaganza and Movie nights, tennis and football coaching, rugby, and mocktail making. And all children aged over 4 are able to join in the Hobby Club during holidays for activities such as ceramic painting, art sessions or T.shirt painting.
Time for you (yes!)
So whilst your kids are happily being entertained, you’re ready for some time to yourselves and the perfect option is to head to the hotel’s Ocean Breeze Spa for a treatment, or to taste the delights of the Marrakech-inspired Moroccan lounge and heat experience – which is exactly what we did.
The 90 minute session is designed to transport you through exotic climes, with rich scents and warming tones, as you sink into the decadent and colourful surroundings – without even leaving the hotel
You can relax in the Moroccan lounge with magazines before entering the indoor garden to try out the barrel dry heat room or the cedar hot tub. Then staff invite you back into the lounge where you are treated to cake, nibbles, fresh mint tea and a glass of bubbly. It actually felt a little over-organised to be too relaxing, and there are no loungers to properly flake out (what can I say, I haven’t had a full-night’s sleep for nearly two years!) – but I was never going to turn down fizz and cake at 11am!
Out and about
There’s plenty to entertain everyone at Sands, but if you wanted to head further afield, nothing is too far away in beautiful Cornwall. Obviously the stunning beaches are right on your doorstep, and attractions such as Newquay, Screech Owl Sanctuary, Newquay Zoo, Blue Reef Aquarium or Dairyland Farmworld aren’t far at all. We had a great day at the zoo with our animal-mad tribe.
Whenever you go on holiday with young children it feels like you take everything but the kitchen sink with you, but Sands have loads of equipment for you to use. They have free hire of cots, cot linen, prams, strollers, kiddie carriers, bottle sterilisers and warmers, and even buckets and spades. So it really makes life easy!
We thought Sands from the outside was a tired-looking 70s hotel – but don’t let first impressions and looks deceive you. Inside it’s great, the staff are friendly, and there is so much for the children to do, the whole family will have a great time there.
To find out more about a family holiday at Sands Resort Hotel and Spa, and to book a stay, log onto https://www.sandsresort.co.uk/
If you’re looking for more family-friendly holidays, why not check out some of my other reviews. If Cornwall is your thing, you’ll love this review of a brand new self-catering villa at the Polurrian Bay Hotel which is ideal for a family, or if you fancy something completely different a farm stay at Tredethick Farm Cottages was amazing. Or if you’re energetic enough, take your under 5s to a Butlin’s Just for Tots break!
Or if you fancy a bit of social media madness, pop over to my Facebook page where you’ll be able to have a laugh at what ridiculousness goes on in my house with three very small boys on a daily basis. Warning – there is often sarcasm, and usually swearing. Feel free to join in though. There are also great travel reviews and some AWESOME giveaways. And if you fancy sharing your own funnies, come and join my Twins, Tantrums and Cold Coffee – Shits and Giggles Parenting Group on Facebook.
And if you want to work with me, feel free to give me a shout here, and I’ll get back to you during naptime/screentime (!)