Why A Ragdale Hall Spa Break Is Good For The Soul

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As well as blogging here (hello!) I also co-edit family travel blog Space In Your Case. One of the things I feel strongly about, with Space In Your Case, is that as well as focusing on brilliant places you can go with the kids, for fantastic family experiences, we also look at child-free breaks and date nights. Which might seem odd, considering we’re a family travel site but I truly believe that for many of us, we’re better parents to our kids if we have the odd night or weekend off. Of course, not all of us are lucky enough to have childcare available nearby, but if you do, I fully recommend doing it. You’ll come back revived, refreshed and with a desire to spend quality time with your children.

The Clarins Mum And Me Time spa day at Ragdale Hall in Leicestershire is designed for (yep, you guessed it) you and your mum. So it’s perfect for either leaving your partner at home to hold the fort for a day, or if he likes pampering too, Ragdale Hall are more than happy for couples to book the package.

I decided to take my good blogging friend Katie to Ragdale Hall – she had been twice before and loved it, whereas I was a Ragdale virgin. Of course, now I can totally see why she was keen to go back for a third time!

Ragdale Hall Spa Break

We arrived at 10am and the staff who greeted us were so friendly (in fact, everyone we met there was lovely) and they explained how the day would work. We were given locker keys and filled in a health questionnaire over a cup of tea. Then we headed to the locker room where we found a fluffy white bathrobe in our lockers, along with our schedule for the day. The attention to detail here seemed spot on – granted it’s easy enough for them to print off your schedule and pop it in a locker for you, but it just gives that welcoming air of ‘We’ve been expecting you’.

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Our Clarins Serenity Facials were booked for 4pm which meant we had lots of time to relax beforehand. We headed into the spa area which has a sports pool, a large swimming pool, an outdoor pool (complete with waterfalls – lush) and then lots of different rooms, from a Thought Zone (a dry heat and warm, ergonomic seating coupled with music, images and colours which is designed to inspire positive thinking and inspirational thoughts), a Rose Sauna and a Scented Room (natural materials, fresh aromatic herbs and a gentle hue of colours help to invigorate senses). My favourite room was the Candlelit Pool – where you walked down some steps into a warm pool in a mosaic cavern with lapping water lit by the flicker of candles and a star-lit ceiling. It was magical. Some rooms, including this one, are silent rooms… and we managed to stay quiet while other guests were in the Candlelit Pool but I admit we started having a gossip when we realised we were in there alone!

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We decided it was time for tea and cake, so we headed to the Verandah Bar and sank into one of the big sofas. After sitting there for a while, reading magazines, we realised it was soon time for lunch, which is included in the Clarins Mum And Me package. The dining room is huge and feels formal in quite an old school way (waiters and waitresses put one arm behind their back when pouring things) but still relaxed and friendly….

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Trevella Park: A Nostalgia-Packed Family Camping Holiday

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I’m not a happy camper. What I mean is, I don’t love sleeping in a tent. Growing up, I can think of two occasions when we went camping as a family and my memories are mainly of being in a tiny tent with my family, trying desperately not to touch the sides of the tent, for fear of the dampness from the rain outside coming into the tent. It was hot, stuffy and damp in there. Our bags were piled into the middle of the tent (“Don’t let anything touch the tent sides!”) and it was impossible to move around without bumping into something or someone.

Those camping trips were big group trips, with our church, and some friends had a caravan. Ah caravans… now you’re talking. They were like mini houses, with tables and chairs, space to move around and yes – you could touch the sides all you like, none of that rain water was coming in. They even had awnings attached to them, giving you a little outdoor space to sit in. Caravans I could get on board with. I have a strong childhood memory of sitting playing cards in a friend’s caravan, listening to the rain come down outside and it just felt so COSY.

So it’s probably no surprise that as a grown up, family camping trips have been strictly off the agenda. And it’s also no surprise that when we arrived at Trevella Park in Cornwall, on a grey drizzly July morning, to stay in a caravan, I had a big smile on my face.

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While Mr P was obsessively checking his weather app to find out if the whole week would be a washout, I didn’t care. It could have rained all week, and I’d have been happy.

As it turned out, we did see some sun. And we had a fantastic few days.

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Trevella Park is split up into a few different sections – holiday homes (static caravans) in one field, lakeside lodges (which looked well posh) by the lake and then a couple of fields with safari tents, geodomes and space for you to pitch up your own tent or park your camper van or caravan.

Our static caravan looked out onto a children’s play area and outdoor swimming pool, so as we sat on our decked balcony, drinking Pimm’s the sound of kids’ laughter and fun filled the air. Even after our little one had long gone to bed, kids would be on the swings and slide, running around – you could just tell they were being allowed to stay up past their bedtime and thrilled to be playing outside so late….

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Scott Dunn Villas: The Family Holiday To Top All Family Holidays

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I recently went on a trip to Mallorca. It was one of the BEST and WORST trips I’ve ever been on. Why? Because it was such a luxurious few days, where every whim was tended to, every desire was realised, every dream was made a reality…. that I don’t think I can ever go on a “normal” holiday again. Scott Dunn have officially ruined holidays for me.

Let me explain further…

The villa we stayed in was incredible. Las Palmeras is around a ten minute drive from the beautiful Pollença and only a 45 minute transfer from Palma airport.

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The decor in Las Palmeras is gorgeous – lots of white, neutral tones, with a mix of modern shapes and traditional features. Built in recent years, it could fool you into believing it’s an old finca. There are fresh flowers in every room and big windows that allow the golden light to flood in.

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Despite the pale palettes, the villa is totally geared up for families. The cream sofas have throws on them (I can just imagine how grubby they’d look after my four-year-old had put her mucky feet on them and got her sticky ice cream covered hands on the cushions) and there is an insanely well kitted out play room with toys, puzzles, books, costumes – you name it, it’s there. There are four large en-suite bedrooms (including a master bedroom which has a walk-in wardrobe and sun terrace) so the villa would be perfect for two families or a multi-generation holiday.

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The garden area of Las Palmeras has lots of grass to run around on, football goals, table tennis, trampoline, paddling pool and swing ball plus a gorgeous outdoor pool, which sits alongside two towering palm trees which the villa is named after.

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But the beautiful villa is only part of the reason that this Scott Dunn trip was out of this world. The big thing that sets their holidays apart from the rest is the level of service their customers receive. Every villa comes complete with a small team of staff who are there to ensure your holiday goes smoothly. If you’re anything like me, you don’t feel hugely comfortable with the idea of having a butler or chef – it can just feel weird to ask other people to do things you’re perfectly capable of doing ourselves. But the staff at a Scott Dunn villa somehow manage to be there, ready to help you in any way you might want, in a way that makes it OK. I can’t really even explain how they do it!…

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The Elms Hotel: The Most Peaceful Family Hotel In Britain?

Review of luxury family hotel, The Elms in Worcestershire

Family-friendly and peaceful aren’t often phrases that go hand in hand together. Usually, family-friendly can mean noisy, chaotic, buzzing, fun. But we just spent a couple of nights staying at The Elms Hotel in Worcestershire and I’m wondering if we have discovered the most peaceful family-friendly hotel in Britain.

There were plenty of families there, many with babies and toddlers and some, like us, with pre-schoolers taking advantage of being able to go away midweek outside of the school holiday period. But despite the number of little ones at The Elms, there was an incredibly quiet and chilled atmosphere, all around the hotel and grounds. Of course, there was the odd cry, babble or laugh to be heard but the majority of the time, all I could hear was birdsong, the trickle of the garden fountain and clicking of tea cups on saucers as parents relaxed in the sunshine.

Review of luxury family hotel, The Elms in Worcestershire

Review of luxury family hotel, The Elms in Worcestershire

Set in an impressive Queen Anne building, The Elms is as cosy and plush inside as it is colourful and fun outside. The lounge and bar areas have inviting sofas, huge fireplaces, grandfather clocks and endless rows of cushions for you to sink into. Our bedroom was traditionally styled with soft pink hues and beautiful period furniture.

Review of luxury family hotel, The Elms in Worcestershire

Review of luxury family hotel, The Elms in Worcestershire

Review of luxury family hotel, The Elms in Worcestershire

Review of luxury family hotel, The Elms in Worcestershire

Review of luxury family hotel, The Elms in Worcestershire

Outside on the front lawn, guests can play croquet, play football or jump on the large trampoline. Through the back, there are tables and chairs on the grass, benches by the water fountain, beautiful flower gardens, a vegetable patch (complete with scarecrow) and a path that leads to the outdoor kids’ play area….

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Switching Off From Reality at Pine Cliffs Resort with James Villa Holidays

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Going on holiday often gives you a kind of out-of-body experience. You know exactly what I mean – you’ll be sitting on the beach, or by the pool, and your mind will start to wander. You think about things and you’re somehow able to look down upon your life and see it with a bit of clarity. I reckon it’s just the change of scenery but also the fact you have time to think and that, on holiday, you’re away from your everyday routine (and possibly the things that cause you minor stress) that allows your brain enough space to be able to do this.

Right now, I’m writing this while sitting on the terrace of my villa in Pine Cliffs resort in Portugal. I’m drinking a cup of tea and the four-year-old is sitting next to me, playing games on her iPad and munching dry Cheerios. It’s so quiet – well, it’s not even 7.15am yet – and the sun is rising, hitting the golf course and trees in the distance.

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I feel like I could stay here forever, but that’s the beauty of holidays, isn’t it? They allow you to relax, get some perspective on life back home and spend precious time with your family. Even though I work from home, I work full time (actually, if truth be told, I probably work nearer 50 hours a week) and even on the four-year-old’s day off from pre-school, it’s Mr P who spends the day with her while I work. So having a whole week to hang out has been fab.

Every day, we’ve had a long drawn out breakfast in the villa, with rounds of cereal, toast and croissants plus cups of tea and coffee for the grown ups. Then the only decision we need to make is: pool or beach? There are three pool areas here – the main pool (which has waiter service to your sun lounger), a smaller pool area (with heated pool) and a tiny pool in the children’s play area. The beach is a ten minute walk away, down some beautiful paths towards the cliff edge (gorgeous views!) and then down in a lift to the sand. I have to admit, I’m definitely more of a pool girl. I love being near the sea, and I love sitting listening to the ocean, but that sand gets everywhere. Does anyone actually enjoy getting sand stuck to their suncream-smeared legs and hands?

Pine Cliffs resort Portugal review

So we have been spending most of our days by the pool. We did that classic holiday thing of spending €12 on an inflatable toy for the pool, yet the four year old still keeps eyeing up all the other kids’ inflatable toys – which seem much more desirable than hers. We’ve also spent a large proportion of our days playing with the random buckets, balls and spades, abandoned by holiday-makers gone by. We really should leave our inflatable, in pay-it-forward style for next week’s families….

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