Where do I start this post? Sitting here, reflecting on an amazing weekend, I am not sure which of our highlights to start with! Our visit to Cornwall was our first UK mini break as a family of three and thanks to Love Newquay, we had a weekend to remember celebrating 10 years of being together!
Leaving on Friday afternoon we drove the 240 miles from our home in Birmingham to Newquay in the northwest of Cornwall. It took a little over 4 hours with a stop in Exeter for fish and (cheesy) chips. Thankfully we had timed our departure for an Annabelle nap and she slept for almost two hours meaning we only had to entertain her for part of the journey.
We arrived at the Sands Resort and Spa at 7.30pm and were checked into our two room suite quickly and efficiently, which was much appreciated as Annabelle was getting tired again. The staff could not have been more helpful. One of the staff quickly set up a travel cot in case we wanted Annabelle in the room with us then left us to settle in. Reading through the guest info we were impressed at how much the hotel offered for families, including a baby listening service!
After a great night sleep we woke up refreshed, enjoyed a full English breakfast and got ready to enjoy exploring what Newquay had to offer as a family. If you haven’t already, check out our Instagram highlight reel for photos and videos of the trip, you’ll find us at @sarahpluslaura – and so to our highlights in no particular order:
Sands Resort Moroc Spa / Creche
Onsite at the Sands Resort and Spa there is a Moroccan themed spa, details can be found here, but in summary it is a beautiful space split in two parts. One half has a cedar hot tub and barrel heat room, the other is a relaxing lounge where you get to enjoy Moroccan mint tea, cakes and a glass of bubbly! We were able to enjoy the experience while Annabelle was looked after by the OfSted approved creche upstairs. While nervous to leave her at first, we were reassured by the wall to wall toys available and the lovely ladies who greeted us, wrapped Annabelle in a hug and told us they would come to get us if we were needed.
The ladies at the Spa also reassured us that they would get us if Annabelle needed us so we should go and relax. Relax is exactly what we did, it was a 90 minute experience and leaving we felt refreshed and rejuvenated. We were fortunate that the other couple sharing the experience had a 2 year old and 9 month old, also in the creche, so we shared experiences and advice and came out feeling like we had also gained some really valuable insights.
We were so relaxed that when we got back to our room, the 3 of us had a family nap!
Blue Reef Aquarium
Located on Towan beach is Newquay’s aquarium. If it’s not quite ‘beach’ weather then the aquarium is where you should head. We weren’t sure how Annabelle would react as it was the first ‘attraction’ that we had ever taken her to but she loved it. From the moment we walked in she was mesmerised and happy chatting to the animals. At certain points she was reaching out to touch the fish and ‘swimming’ (kicking) along with them, it made our hearts happy. Our favourite part was the talk at the final tank with a giant turtle. As Laura and I listened to the talk, Annabelle was chatting to the turtle as it circled around, surfacing and occasionally waving!
The aquarium was fairly small and we were done within an hour. If Annabelle had been older we would have stopped to read more signs but we thought it best to keep moving and we left with lovely memories and counted the visit as a great success.
If you are thinking of going with young children, do it, but maybe do it on a Thursday as they do cheaper entry for an adult and toddler throughout March. Or check their website for their latest deals!
It’s always exciting getting to explore somewhere new, I (Sarah) had visited Newquay many, many, many years ago on an 18 – 30’s holiday and admittedly didn’t remember much except the beaches (and bars) but this was Laura’s first time. We had attempted to wander around on Saturday but the rain and gusty wind had us retreating into Wax, a quirky restaurant in a converted bank – complete with a safe! The food was reasonably priced and tasty although service could have been quicker, it’s something we are acutely aware of now we have Annabelle, there is only so long we can entertain her when sat in a restaurant!
After refueling we did venture down the high street and discover plenty of cake shops and pasty stores mixed in with your regular high street stores. We lost ourselves in the arcades, tourist shops and made a final stop for cakeaway before heading back to the hotel.
When the weather brightened up we strolled back and enjoyed pasties from the award winning, aptly named: The Cornish Bakery – I opted for the traditional pasty and Laura went for a leek, cheese and potato. They were super flavourful and warming. Oh, and make sure to try their white hot chocolate – so, so, so good!
Newquay has so many beaches on offer it was hard to pick which ones we wanted to check out! Our first choice was Porth Beach as it was 10 minutes walk from the hotel. We made our way along the cliff edge and the views were breathtaking! Annabelle spent the walk napping and Laura spent the walk taking SO many photos 🙂
When we arrived on the beach we made our way towards the sea to give Annabelle her first beach experience. She loved that there were so many dogs running around (next time we are taking Bisbee for sure) and we loved that even though there were plenty of people on the beach there was enough space for us to set out our blanket. We did get caught out by the tide coming in FAST though and we had to quickly grab our stuff and run up the beach – an entertaining sight I’m sure!
While down at Porth Beach make sure to check out Roos Beach Shop for cute clothes and accessories – oh and to top up your water bottle! There is also a cute cafe, perfect for getting out of the wind!
We also liked Towan beach, this is located at the bottom of town centre and a perfect spot to enjoy the haul of goodies purchased in the local shops.
Sands Hotel Facilities
As mentioned this was our first ‘family’ mini break and we had never thought about staying anywhere family friendly – usually having kids running around is not our ideal. However, what the Sands does really well is jam pack the hotel with things to do that are either kid friendly or adult only so you can still choose. For example, our anniversary meal was spent in the adult only dining area overlooking the bay and enjoying the atmosphere – we used the baby listening service for Annabelle so were able to relax and enjoy instead of entertaining her.
In the swimming pool there is a splash zone for the smaller kids and then a main pool. We used both but only moved to the main pool when it cleared out. It was amazing, we had the whole thing to ourselves and even better we could take photos with Annabelle (something that we had missed out on at our local pool).
The hotel also has plenty of outdoor space so the children that were there were well distributed. In fact, it was only at breakfast that we noticed there were quite a few children staying. Indoors, there s a games room and soft play area, not to mention the creche. Outdoors there is a basketball court, tennis court, playground, and another pool. It is so well set up!
As well as the facilities, the staff were fantastic. In terms of customer experience this has to be one of the best – think USA style hospitality! – nothing was too much trouble, they were ready to answer questions any time of the day, to reassure us and to cover things we hadn’t even thought of – including providing buckets and spades, oh and buggies should you need to borrow one. The staff definitely made the experience – we even got an anniversary card from them!
We can’t wait to visit Newquay again (check out Love Newquay Facebook page here for latest updates on the area). Not only is the location stunning, but there is so much to do. Driving back, we listed our highlights, as we always do after holidays, it was amazing how many we had to choose from as we had only been away a weekend.
As Annabelle grows we are sure she’ll love the walks and beaches as much as we do and this trip reminded us just how wonderful this country is if you just head out and explore.
Thanks again, Love Newquay!