Hayley and Giles Burden took daughters Isabelle, 3, and Olivia, 1, to experience the Winter Wonderland at the five star Retallack Resort and Spa, near Padstow, Cornwall. The Wonderland is open at Retallack from the 5 November 2013 to the 31 January 2014. Hayley gives us the lowdown on their Cornish Christmas adventure...
Just as we got to the stage of our first daughter walking and the possibility of a holiday seeming more achievable, we had our second child. We decided that although hard work, we should be able to holiday with two well behaved little girls. So we chose to venture, not too far from home, to Cornwall and the five star Retallack Resort - located six miles from Padstow and nine miles from Newquay. Perfect timing too, as the on site Winter Wonderland has recently opened for the season.
Our luxurious self-catering lodge was easy to find - meaning no arguments in the car. The resort is made up of approximately 60 large wooden lodges, three sets of apartments situated on the waters edge and a central leisure and reception complex, all very spaced out and private. The complex is built on a gentle slope with a number of small lakes at the bottom, making for a lovely and relaxed country setting. The reception and leisure complex has a restaurant, leisure facilities, reception and a great lounge area.
We checked in at reception, with very friendly faces offering help with anything that might be needed. They provided a map so we could drive straight round to our allocated lodge and park right outside. Very convenient with two little children in the back, raring to go.
Our lodge was an Eden 4, which comprised of four bedrooms, two living rooms, two bathrooms, modern kitchen diner and a hot tub out on the decking. There was generous space for at least two cars parked right outside the front door.
A number of the lodges are specifically tailored to families with many essential items provided for you by the resort to save you taking your own. These included sterilisers, baby baths, steps, baby monitors, travel cots, change mats and stair gates.
Once the car was unpacked our 14-month-old, Olivia, was investigating. Everywhere. No room or cupboard was left untouched, so it was a good job the lodge was child-safe. Our 3-year-old, Isabelle, was far more interested in watching Peppa Pig on the DVD player in one of the lodges two living rooms.
I instantly felt very at home, comfortable and settled which, being a mother of two young children, is no mean feat. My husband headed straight for the TV and selection of remotes (including a remote for the fireplace), and having discovered the Sky TV channels he was placated and soon moved on to the kitchen, also his domain! With an abundance of pots, pans, cutlery and crockery available, including some less breakable children's sets, we couldn’t fault the Lodge facilities or the quality.
Things to do
Firstly, our reason for visiting upon this chilly November, the Christmas Winter Wonderland extravaganza at Retallack is taking place from now until Christmas. It gave us the opportunity for us to take Isabelle ice skating, something I had not done for years and something our daughter was only aware of from Peppa Pig - an opportunity not to be missed. We booked a session and donned our skating boots. Isabelle was a little unsure but with my encouragement and some very helpful 3ft weighted Penguins on the ice, she did it! And it was a fantastic, magical experience. While we skated, my husband and Olivia enjoyed the 17ft sparkling Christmas tree, animated deer, Christmas scenes and yet more penguins, all while enjoying Bratwurst hot dogs and cappuccino from the bar. We also couldn’t resist buying a cuddly seal and penguin for the girls as a momento of our trip from the on-site Christmas shop.
If you’re looking for some more adrenalin pumping activity then the resorts own Flowrider wave machine is an absolute must. Imagine a simulated surfing wave that never stops. You can body board, do tricks and when confident enough, stand up and surf. A great activity in all weathers and best suited to ages 10 upwards.
If your pace is a little more relaxed then you will enjoy using the leisure and spa facilities. The indoor pool is a must; light, very warm and inviting with a small shallow children's area and both of our girls loved it. I managed to book a spa session for a massage, which was a lovely treat. A little disappointing to hear the noise from the family changing room next door, but a lovely hour's break none the less.
For the little ones, the outdoor play park was superb with a soft floor, children's swing, 'big girls' swings (as Isabelle calls them), a pirate ship with slide and climbing wall pieces, a separate climbing frame with monkey rings and the usual space to run around.
There is a small children's soft play area, which is well laid out making the most of the space available and our children thoroughly enjoyed it. Although, we couldn't find a way down to the soft play with the buggy, so we had to resort to carrying it down a flight of steps.
Other facilities we would try next time include golf, tennis, a small zip wire and electric skateboarding available in season.
What we ate
While this is a self-catering resort, there is a restaurant on site; The Green Room. Chef James Nathan was the winner of Masterchef 2008. We visited for Sunday lunch where I enjoyed roast lamb while my husband had partridge, along with starters and a good bottle of red, and the bill came to just £64.
The atmosphere in the restaurant was suitably grown up yet relaxed, and the staff were very welcoming and relaxed with our children - even when Olivia kept dropping cutlery and books to see how many times she could get someone to pick them up... Isabelle had spaghetti bolognaise from the children's menu and we've not seen her eat so much from one plate in a long time. It was delicious, fresh and well cooked.
One evening, my husband drove two miles into St.Columb Major village for a takeaway where he found Chinese, Indian, a fish and chip shop and a Co-Op supermarket. Further afield is Padstow with numerous restaurants including the famous Rick Stein outlets.
Top tip: Don’t worry if you don’t have room in your car for a week's worth of shopping, as both Tesco and Sainsbury's offer a delivery service to the resort, so you could place an order online to coincide with your arrival.
On the nights we cooked at the lodge, I relaxed in the hot-tub in the dark while my husband prepared a three-course meal at the same time as listening to the baby monitor. This demonstrates years of training, but remember, he did also have control of the TV remote.
Out and About
During the break we were able to visit Padstow, a well known typical Cornish fishing harbour which has become better known for Rick Stein’s various restaurants, cooking school and shops. It is a pretty town to walk around, has good access for all ages and isn’t too far to walk around, I would recommend it for anyone wanting to pop out of the resort for a couple of hours. Further afield is Newquay with it's famous surfing beaches and the city of Truro for all the retail therapy you may need.
Why we would go back
- We didn't have time to experience the golf, tennis or electric skateboarding.
- The location provides great access to the whole of Cornwall.
- We found it very relaxing, even with the little ones with us.
- It felt more luxurious and up market than Centre Parcs and, in our opinion, was better value.
- It is a lovely environment for children, with things to do on site. You can easily walk from all the lodges to the activity areas.
- The facilities in the lodge were child friendly and the comfort levels were very high.
For the latest prices, visit Tots To Travel. If readers book properties at the resort through Tots To Travel there is no additional charge compared to booking direct and there are additional child-friendly benefits.
The Burden family visited with Tots To Travel and stayed in the Eden 4 lodge. The Eden holiday houses sleep up to eight people. Sumptuous interiors, state of the art kitchens, beautiful views and private terrace with a hot tub. Ideally located to the leisure facilities, the Eden properties are just a short stroll to the FlowRider, The Green Room restaurant, Retreat Spa and children’s play areas.
The Winter Wonderland is open at Retallack from the 5 November 2013 to the 31 January 2014
From 17 November, Santa Claus himself will be at Retallack for Winter Wonderland’s Santa’s Grotto at the weekends.
Winter Wonderland Opening times
- 3pm-8pm Monday-Thursday. *8pm session requires booking in advance*
- 10am-8pm Friday- Sunday. *8pm session requires booking in advance*
Prices (price includes skate hire and 40 minutes of skating. Penguin aids are also available for children on a first-come-first-served basis)
Adults - £5
Children - £4
Exclusive session: £150
All prices quoted are subject to change and optional extras may be applicable at the time of booking.
Photography provided by the Burden family