I’ve never stayed in a ‘family friendly’ hotel before. We’ve always opted for self catering accommodation in the past – mainly because with a baby and a toddler we’ve needed the extra space offered by cottages. However, over the Easter bank holiday, we had the pleasure of staying in our first family friendly hotel – the Sands Resort in gorgeous Cornwall.
The Sands Resort is situated on the North Coast of Cornwall between Newquay and Padstow in the seaside town of Porth. It is set high up on the cliffs with stunning sea views just 5 minutes walk from a large sandy beach. Cornwall has just been voted the most Family Friendly Destination in the whole world, and we were very excited about spending our family holiday there with our 3 year old and 1 year old boys. Read our review of the Sands Resort in Cornwall below.
After a long drive, and the never ending question ‘Are we nearly there yet?’ we pulled into the Sands Resort car park. My 3 year old spotted a bouncy castle in the distance and started trying to get out of his car seat to go and play on it. My husband and I were more interested in checking in and depositing the vast amounts of luggage we seem to have brought, and managed to drag him past the bouncy castle and playground promising that we would come back and play later. It worked, and 5 minutes later we were checking into our Family Suite.
A Family Suite at the Sands Resort
Walking through the door of our Family Suite at the Sands Resort, the first thing that struck me was the view. The floor to ceiling windows accentuated the fantastic view of the Atlantic Ocean and Newquay in the distance. I knew I would enjoy watching the sunset from the comfort of our room once the boys had gone to bed. The second thing that struck me was the amount of space there was. The boys had their own bedroom with 2 twin beds and a wooden cot in it. There was a separate bathroom, another sink and my husband and I had our own self contained living area and bedroom (overlooking the sea). There was also oodles of space to put all our clothes and suitcases in too.
The Children’s Bedroom
The boys ran round excitedly exploring their room (and asking when they could go and play on the bouncy castle). Their room was a good size, and could quite comfortably fit 2 children in twin beds as well as a baby in a cot. I was pleased that the baby’s cot was a wooden cot rather than a travel cot as he sleeps a lot better in a more comfortable cot. There was a flat screen TV (with Cbeebies) and DVD player on the wall which would have been useful for older children staying there. The second bedroom also had a large window overlooking the lush green Cornish countryside with blackout curtains to ensure the children (and us!) had a good night sleep.
The whole Family Suite had a light and airy feel with high ceilings, classy wooden floors and large windows letting the natural light flood in. Our large separate bedroom / living area had a contemporary feel to it with a large King size bed forming the centrepiece of the room overlooking the sea. The furnishings had a nautical theme with classy prints of the sea, beaches and waves adorning the walls. The colour scheme was made up of matching contemporary brown, beige and green soft furnishings complementing the wooden floor with luxurious thick curtains surrounding the window. A Juliet balcony meant we could let the lovely sea air flood our room.
Lighting in hotel rooms has been a long standing pet hate of mine. There never seems to be any ceiling lights so you can see what you are doing. However, the Family Suite at the Sands had a multitude of ceiling lights and side lights which I really appreciated. There was also a fridge and a Flat Screen TV, DVD and Playstation to keep us amused. We noticed that there was a DVD and Playstation Hire service available from Reception for a £5 deposit.
The bathroom had a bath and an overhead shower and was equipped with a toddler step as well as a separate bin for nappy disposal which was emptied daily.
Outdoor Children’s Play Area
After we’d finished settling into the room, we had a wander round the hotel. First stop was obviously the bouncy castle and outdoor play area. It was a sunny, but breezy afternoon, and my husband and I were quite happy watching our 2 boys playing in the playground. Our youngest loves swings so my husband took one for the team and started a 20 minute stint of swing-pushing, whilst myself and Matthew (our 3 year old) explored the outdoor area.
As well as the adventure playground, there was a large pirate ship, mini golf, a maze, basketball and tennis courts (including a junior tennis court). There was also a gorgeous outdoor swimming pool, which wasn’t open in April, but was set in lovely grounds. As it was nice weather, the Harbour Cafe on the Terrace was open serving Cornish Cream Teas and other light refreshments. The ‘Surf Shack’ had plenty of wetsuits and body boards available for guests to borrow free of charge, and older children would love the Zip Wire.
Children’s High Tea
After an hour or so playing outside, it was time for the Boys Tea. They were having the Children’s High Tea which was served between 4.45pm and 5.45pm. Other Dining Options included Family Dining between 7pm and 7.30pm which was aimed at families with older children and then Adults Only Dining between 7pm and 8.30pm.
The restaurant where we ate High Tea was light and airy and overlooked the Hotel Gardens. There were plenty of (clean) highchairs available and there was a really nice atmosphere with parents and small children chatting about their days. There were tea and coffee making facilities available for parents supervising their children having tea which was a nice touch.
There was plenty of choice of home cooked food for the boys at High Tea including fish, meat and a vegetarian option. On the first night, they had homemade cottage pie with potatoes and vegetables which they loved, with jelly and ice cream or Easter Buns for desert. Baby Food in jars was available, and there was a microwave available to heat up food.
Adults Only Dinner
Tiredness was starting to settle in now, so we retired to our Family Suite to get the Boys ready for bed. By 7.15pm both boys were tucked up in bed, and my husband and I began looking forward to our evening meal. The Sands Hotel focuses on parents as much as children, so we had opted for dinner in the Adults Only restaurant (bliss!). I can’t remember the last time we went out on our own, so we were really looking forward to making use of the Baby Listening Service and catching up over some good food and wine.
The restaurant serves 3 course meals in the restaurant overlooking the sea for a very reasonable £15 per person if you book them in advance for the whole duration of the stay. The menu changes daily and contains a good mix of locally caught fish and regional produce along with a comprehensive wine and beer menu. I chose Mediterranean Seafood Stew for my Starter, Sea Bream and a medley of vegetables for my main course and gooey chocolate pudding for my dessert – delicious! We really enjoyed our evening after our long journey and felt like we were starting to relax and leave behind the stresses and strains of daily life.
Breakfast at the Sands Resort
After a great night’s sleep (the boys didn’t wake until 7.30am), we got up and headed down to breakfast. Again, there was a really nice atmosphere in the restaurant with a mix of really small babies asleep in their car seats, toddlers, preschoolers and older children all having breakfast. My husband’s eyes lit up when he spotted the full English along with a good selection of cereal, toast, yoghurt and fruit. After breakfast we were ready to start our day.
Going for a Dip in the Swimming Pool
The weather had taken a turn for the worse (typical bank holiday) so we abandoned our plan to head down to the beach. Matthew was itching to go swimming and that is what we did. The Sands is the kind of hotel where you can quite happily spend hours making use of all the wonderful facilities and activities without leaving the hotel if you don’t want. However, with beautiful Cornwall on your doorstep you would be missing out if you did! There is a large heated swimming pool in the hotel as well as a baby pool, and this is open from 7am to 9pm (apart from an hour for cleaning). Towels are provided and there is even a ‘playpen’ next to the pool for parents who might want to leave their babies in there whilst they have a dip. There is also a steam room for adults. Adults only swimming takes place each night if you wanted to have a relaxing swim.
After swimming the boys played in the soft play whilst my husband and I decided what to do. Luckily the weather had picked up so we decided to walk down to Porth Beach which is just a 5 / 10 minutes walk away. It was at this point I realised that I had forgotten to bring any buckets or spades or fishing nets. Before confessing my mistake to the boys I snuck off to Reception to see if they had any spares I could borrow. ‘Not a problem,’ said Martin, the Manager, as he showed me all the spare buckets, spades and fishing nets available for guests to borrow from the Surf Shack. I didn’t realise until we arrived that the Sands Resort have a comprehensive list of baby and toddler equipment guests can borrow for the duration of their stay. This includes prams, carriers, cots and cot linen, sterilisers, bottle warmers.
Off we headed to Porth beach to spend a few hours digging and playing in the sand. There is loads for families to do near to the Sands Hotel. Just a 20 minute walk from the hotel along a cliff top path (bring your baby carrier) is Watergate Bay which is the home of Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant and great views. Newquay Zoo is 10 minutes away, the Eden Project 35 minutes away and Dairyland Farm World with its tractor rides and pony rides just 10 minutes away.
Relaxing in the Spa
The next morning I headed off down to the Spa for a relaxing back massage. I had been looking forward to this for ages! The Sands Resort has a luxury spa as well as a brand new Gym equipped with all the latest cardio and resistance equipment. The Spa has a comprehensive list of treatments including facials, massages, pedicures and manicures. I had a blissful 30 minutes relaxing in a Treatment Room listening to soft music in my own little world whilst a wonderful lady gave me a back massage – such a treat.
Whilst I was having my back massage, the boys were enjoying themselves in the Kids Club. This is £8 per session and is tailored to different age groups. Children aged 1 year and under are in the Nippers Club and have a staff ratio of 1:3, children aged 2-3 are in the Pirates Club and 4 – 7 year olds go in the Adventure Club. My boys had never been to a Kids Club before so I didn’t know how they could get on, but when I went to collect them I found them having loads of fun in the Ball Pool. They had had a snack, done some painting, chased each other on the ride on toys and played with the trains. I was really pleased they had had such a good time.
After a few days of family fun it was time to leave the Sands Hotel. ‘Can we come back here?’ asked Matthew as we were packing up. ‘Do you want to?’ I asked him. ‘Yes’ he said ‘I really like this hotel’. I asked my husband the same question ‘Do you want to come back here?’ ‘Yes’ he said. ‘I think this is one of the few places where we can relax and have a holiday too’.
And, that’s what I love about the Sands Resort. It is brilliant for both children and adults. The rooms are so well thought out with the extra space and separate living and sleeping areas for parents. The flexible dining options mean that the boys have their tea at a ‘normal’ time and we can have our own Adults Only meal later on. The facilities such as the swimming pool, soft play, outdoor adventure play area and pirate ship are brilliant. The Spa and Kids Club mean that I can treat myself to a bit of ‘me time’ for an hour or so. The Staff are so welcoming and friendly and are so used to small children and their needs. Everything is easy, and everyone is happy. We will be back.
For more information about the Sands Resort please click here
My sincere thanks to the Sands Resort who hosted our stay