Safari Tent Glamping At Crealy Meadows, Devon

Many years ago I had the idea that camping was the way to go to guarantee precious family time and bag a cheap summer school holiday break. And it was, of sorts. What I didn’t bargain on was gale force winds and rain resulting in one of the most scariest holiday experiences ever and put an end to my brief encounter to sleeping under canvas. But not one to be defeated, I thought I’d give it another go, only this time as a glamper, not a camper, staying in a safari tent at Crealy Meadows, just outside of Exeter in my home county of Devon.

I still craved the peace and tranquility which camping had to offer; no TV, reconnecting as a family and my kids getting as much fresh air and escapism from their iPads, iPhones and games consoles. Yet I didn’t fancy splashing out on all the camping paraphernalia needed for a tent holiday, just incase my second attempt became my final.

Glamping was the perfect answer.

And here’s how we got on;

safari tent glamping at Crealy Meadows

Checking into Crealy Meadows

Driving up to the main Crealy entrance you carry past the theme park on to a large, well maintained reception area, first impressions were fantastic. As we checked in, I had my first taste on the 5 star staff service which seemed to be a common theme throughout the whole park, not just in Crealy Meadows but the theme park too. You get vehicular access to Crealy Meadows via a key coded gate, both to get in a out, security felt a high priority on the site.

Accommodation

We were located in the African Experience section of the campsite, in a quiet and well placed cul d sac of safari tents. Life sized animal scattered the area giving a fun feel. There’s parking for 2 vehicles directly to the front which makes unloading a breeze and also gave you extra privacy from the tents and other guests, without being too obstructive. Each tent has a small, fenced decked area with rattan tables and chairs and french doors giving you access to the inside.

Inside you have a double futon, solid wood table and 6 chairs and a kitchen area. You’re greeted by the smell of the real wood furniture and the aroma of the wood burning stove, a real surprise as I braced myself for the waft of damp canvas!

There’s also a fully stocked kitchen complete with fridge, Belfast sink, kettle, washing up bowl, crockery and cutlery. All we needed was a tea towel, dish cloth and washing up liquid, This meant no late night shower block runs for teeth brushing and drinks, plus less packing. Bliss.

safari tent glamping at Crealy Meadows

We had 2 separate bedroom, each with a solid wood double bed and bunk beds. The kids room was huge and you could easily accommodate a travel cot. There was also a double cabin bed with doors either side making it full enclosed and separated the living room area from the bunk bed room, the space underneath was also a great spot for storing suitcases. The chest of drawers in the double bedroom was ample enough for all our clothes.

 

 

We had 2 separate bedroom, each with a solid wood double bed and bunk beds. The kids room was huge and you could easily accommodate a travel cot. There was also a double cabin bed with doors which made it full enclosed and which separated the living space from the bunk bed room, the space underneath was also a great spot for storing suitcases. The chest of drawers in the double bedroom was ample enough for all our clothes.

safari tent glamping at Crealy Meadows

There a huge leather bean bag which was perfect for chilling on outside after a busy day. We were so lucky with the weather that we made the most of being outside by bbqing our evening meals. Don’t panic if the forecast isn’t great though, there’s heating in the main living area and one of the bedrooms. Although I doubt you’ll need it as the wood burning stove kicks out some heat and the tents are insulated so we didn’t feel the cold at all!

safari tent glamping at Crealy Meadows

Facilities at Crealy Meadows

A very short walk from our tent, and still within our sight when sat on the deck, is a small enclosed play area which was perfect for the younger members (3 & 4 years) of our party. There’s also a larger one for the older kids and with plenty of space to the front and sides of our tent so they could play frisbee and set up a mini tennis area.

The shower blocks were amazing. With under floor heating, makes them toasty warm and each shower cubicle is cleverly designed so you can easily accommodate a parent and couple of children. You have 2 hooks, a bench and sectioned off shower area. There’s also a large communal mirrored area. Music is played though day and night too which was a really nice touch.

safari tent glamping at Crealy Meadows

We had complimentary tickets to the adjoining Crealy Park which was also where the evening entertainment was held. The small onsite shop stocked all the basics and we managed to buy enough from here for our impromptu bbq. Meals are also available in the main park day and night, (although being a vegetarian, I didn’t find much choice for me) this meant we didn’t end up leaving the whole Crealy resort for our long weekend. (tip, if you need to pop out for food which you can’t buy in the shop, Greendale Farm shop is 10 minutes up the road and has a much greater choice.)

The older kids loved playing in the late indoor play area in the evening while the adults sat and watched the younger kids joining in with the disco and games. After 3 nights and 2 full on park days, sleep was never an issue, quite the opposite. With the tent being so dark, it was a 9.30am wake up the first morning!

So it’s safe to say I’m a total glamping convert, especially as it only took an hour to pack up the car and no stressful tent dissembling!

safari tent glamping at Crealy Meadows

What to bring

A potty if you’ve got small children for late night toilet runs.

small lamp for the bedrooms, they get very dark at night & the main light doesn’t feed through

a torch

tea towel

dish cloth

crocs or flip flops for quick toilet / shower block runs

hairdryer or 20p’s to use the shower block hair dryers

outdoor / camping light

disposable BBQ

duvets and pillows (and covers)

shopper bag for shower trips

cards and board games (you can hire them from the shop too)

Disclaimer

We enjoyed a complementary stay in return for sharing our stay. 

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As promised, here’s part 2 of my review of our stay at Perdepera Beach Resort in Sardinia with Mark Warner. (If you missed part 1, read all about the accommodation and restaurant here )  

What sets a Mark Warner aside from other travel companies are the activities for all the family. Our break had group sailing and windsurfing lessons, mountain bike, tennis, sea kayak and paddle board hire,as well as half day childcare and evening childcare and kids club sessions all included. And there’s one word which goes above ALL those activities and that’s quality.

There are no half measures on a Mark Warner holiday, especially when it comes to the the staff, everyone we met seemed to love their job and that radiated into how friendly, helpful and happy they were. For a mum who’s never used kids clubs on holiday before, I needed to be sure that my children were in capable hands but it soon became clear, from the quality of the rooms to the manner and friendliness of the Mark Warner nannies, that I had no reason to worry.

We’d booked morning sessions for Ronnie which ran from 9.30 – 12.30 am, with a programme of organised activities including bubble play, fun pool sessions (where all kids wore float suits and sun hats) beach sessions where tried mini on-shore sailing & playing on the paddle board or in the waves, as well as crafts, play time and singing and dancing. Phew!

In the afternoons, when he wasn’t booked in but spotted Phee, his Mark Warner kids club nanny, in the pool he tried to joining in. A sure sign he loved the kids club sessions, I’d say. What I really liked though was that the childcare team would stop and talk to him even when they saw him around the complex. (watch my video below if you want to see the cutest stage performance of the Mini’s which proceeded a presentation to conclude their week)

As for Ky, my awkward and shy teenager, the kids club was the making of the holiday for him. Initially he was very reluctant to join in but I explained that everyone was in the same boat; not knowing anyone and persuaded to give it a try. His had the opportunity to join in with as many or as few sessions as he wanted throughout the day. The schedule of activities would be listed on a board outside the kids club hut so he knew exactly what was on and where to go. It took just that first one session for him to make friends and end up having his best holiday ever.

From beach rounders, group games involving water fights, pool games and sailing sessions, he was spoilt for choice. And when the kids club finished, he was off with his new co host of Mark Warner teens and tweens. The complex is compact so quite safe leaving this age group to roam free. It probably explains why he was so tired in the morning and ate more than I though humanly possible. He made new friends which he’s still in touch with and more importantly, some of the best holiday memories money couldn’t buy.

I don’t want to go home and if we do I want to come back here for every holiday from now on

were his exact words!

the stunning beach at Perdepera beach resort in Sardinia
The evening childcare was a bonus too. After taking the kids to an early dinner at 5.30, it was back to the room to change Ronnie into his pj’s then back out to watch a movie with his new friends at 7.30,   The room was kitted out with mini camping beds and sleeping bags as well as the sofa area for movie time, and when he was tired he’d settle down and go to sleep. All under the watchful eye of British trained nannies and opposite the restaurant, so we were nearby if he was upset.

This was another 1st for me, although Ronnie’s stayed at his Dads and my mum’s plenty of times, he’s never had a babysitter but I soon realised it was a much nicer way for him to spend his evening rather than sat still in a restaurant for a couple of hours!

And finally, it wasn’t all about the kids. I got to try out some activities too. Unfortunately we missed a couple of days due to the chaos of British Airways IT failures, so I didn’t get to do everything on my list. But that just gives me a reason to start saving for another Mark Warner holiday!

I did, however, get to try windsurfing under the patient guidance of Maddie, my instructor, albeit in very choppy waters which meant I spent more time in the water than on the board. Sea kayaking on a calmer day was absolute bliss and (SUP) paddle boarding was a lot harder than it looks, but just as fun. Next time I would love to make use of the mountain bikes available and see a little more of the island while learning to sail is my number 1 priority. We met a couple who were keen sailors and had stayed in other Mark Warner resorts but found that Sardinia had perfect sailing conditions. The winds were stronger in the afternoon and calmer in the morning so for a newbie like myself, that would be the best time to learn.


As well as windsurfing and sailing tuition, there were also organised group sea kayak adventures, catamaran tasters or you can pay extra for 1-1 sailing sessions. For the days when you’re feeling a little less energetic, Perdepera Beach Resort has a chic, adult only pool with jets and a tranquil decking area or you can book a treatment in the mini spa

 

And if you’re really lucky and British Airways manage to lose everyone’s luggage, you get to spend the morning in a local shop buying essentials! Joking aside, I should  say a huge thanks to Mark Warner and Colette, our resort manager, for making the best of a difficult situation and going above and beyond their duty in helping us to enjoy our holiday after being stuck at Heathrow for 2 days during the British Airways IT failure. It didn’t go un noticed and was hugely appreciated not just by myself but other guests we spoke to.

the stunning beach at Perdepera beach resort in Sardinia

And if you want to see more, here’s a whistle-stop tour of the complex;

Disclaimer

This is a collaborative post but all words and photography are my own unless otherwise stated.

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Our Mark Warner Holiday at Perdepera Beach Resort, Sardinia part 1

It’s been quite a while since I last ventured out of the country, with one thing and another family holidays have been taken on uk turf, but this year was going to be different, this year was going to be the year of the foreign holiday! There was just one problem. After an awful experience on a package holiday many moons ago, I’d been put off big time. I needed a break which guaranteed quality, offered activities for everyone and wasn’t too far to travel with a toddler. And the Mark Warner Perdepera Beach Resort  in Sardinia seemed to tick all those boxes.

With its mountain back drop and sandy shores, Perdepera Beach resort is compact and on a slightly smaller scale than other Mark Warner sites (so my fellow guests who have stayed at other resorts informed me.) Travelling from Heathrow, it’s only a 2 hour flight followed by a 2 hour transfer (with comfort stop luckily!)
Set with direct access to the beach, ‘friendly’ and ‘relaxed’ were some of the hit words which myself and fellow guests used to describe it. Full board dining was included in our package which included a buffet style breakfast, lunch and dinner all taken in the restaurant overlooking the pool.

The main pool, restaurant area at Perdepera Beach resort, Sardinia

The small nature of the site meant you quickly got to know the fellow guests which was a huge bonus, I’ve never been on such a friendly holiday! There were a few families who kept themselves to themselves, so you’re not on each other toes, but I loved the fact that you could chat and just generally have a giggle. We may have been lucky holidaying with such a friendly, like minded bunch of people. It tends to attract families looking to take advantage of the excellent sailing conditions, mountain biking and hassle free family breaks.


All meals are taken in the restaurant on a full board basis.  Breakfast consisted of fruit juice croissants, toast, fruit, cheese, cakes, cereals as well as your usual cooked breakfast. Worth noting that tea and coffee are only served in the morning although you can buy it at the bar when the restaurant is closed and there’s no facilities in the rooms. Caraffs of red, white and rose wine, sparkling and still water were also available.

The restaurant area at Perdepera Beach resort
We got to sample many Sardinian recipes during lunch and dinner, with salads, hot & cold meats, cheeses, cakes, desserts, fruit, pasta, bread and chips on the offering. While it wasn’t al la carte, it was fine. My own personal fave had to be the huge chargrilled prawns which I along with the table of new friends we dined with on our last night couldn’t get enough of, I’m talking platefulls!

As for the toddler and teenager, I don’t think I have honestly seen them eat so much. This is where buffet dining comes into it’s own! While they tended to avoid the more local dishes, pasta, fruit and salad were reloaded many times with ice-cream top ups coming from the bar, the prices were comparative to back here in England which was nice to see they weren’t taking advantage of a captive audience!

The main pool, restaurant area at Perdepera Beach resort, Sardinia

A big pat on the back went to the early dining option for kids in the resort with the restaurant opening at 5.30 until 6.15 and serving much more child friendly meals of pasta, hot dogs, chips, salad, desserts and juice. This meant we had time to go back, shower and get ready and back out again to book the younger guests into evening childcare at 7.30pm allowing the adults relaxed dining while they watched a movie before being settled into sleep pods and sleeping bags by the British qualified nannies until they were collected at 9.30pm (Mark Warner info sheets stated the evening childcare ending at 10.30pm but most were picked up before then.)

Which leads me seamlessly on to my highlight of our Mark Warner holiday to Perdepera Beach Resort , the kids clubs. I’ve never used childcare or kids clubs on holiday before but with so many activities on the offering, it gave us the perfect chance to try some out. I’ll share the kids club and activities in a separate post, there’s waaaaaaaay too much to write in one sitting!

the beach at Mark Warner Perdepera Beach resort, Sardinia

Complex wise, the accommodation is set in singular blocks of apartments looking more like a quaint Sardinian village than a holiday complex. Painted in blues and terracotta, even a stroll around is a treat for the eyes. And with it being on the smaller side, you’re only minutes from the pool, reception and beach. Each one has it’s own covered patio with seating, table and clothes drier and designed so they aren’t overlooked.

I’d describe the rooms as more traditional than modern, with dark wood furniture, a small kitchen and bathroom with shower, large sink and (well lit) mirror and bidet. I’m fussy about my showers and ours was perfect with a good, clean and maintained shower cubicle ample enough for any sized person (or an adult with a toddler sitting on the floor as my son liked to do!) I did meet another guest who had a more modern shower and TV so I guess some rooms had been upgraded recently?

We had a mezzanine style house style. The front door opened in a small kitchenette area with a stocked mini fridge, sink, small hob and cupboards which you walked through to an area with 2 single beds, which could be used as sofas due to the padded back rests, chest of drawers and TV. As well as patio doors onto the private, outside seating area.

You accessed the other room up a flight of stairs within the downstairs room up to an open area with a double bed, wardrobe and chest of drawers. With it being open plan you can hear everything downstairs so there’s no worry about not hearing younger kids waking in the night.
To be honest, we only used our room as a base and the TV was switched on once for 10 minutes. With so much to do, other than sitting out on the patio after our evening meal chatting about our day, it was purely a case of, sleep, wash, get ready and out!

As mentioned earlier, this is only part 1 of our amazing holiday with Mark Warner to the Perdepera Beach Resort in Sardinia. Part 2 is all about the facilities and kids clubs available there.

Disclaimer

We received a discount on our Mark Warner holiday in return for sharing our honest thoughts on our stay. As always all photos and words are entirely my own unless otherwise stated. 

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Why An Al Fresco Holiday In Aquitaine, France Is On My List

It’s time to get my holiday thinking hat on again. With spring in the air, I yearn for far-flung places, stunning sunsets and succumbing big time to the relaxed, holiday vibe. Living in a tourist hot spot it’s hard not to get holiday envy as you see all the families rock up in their over loaded cars ready for a week on the glorious Devon coast. Bizarrely, I’ve used the same reasoning as to why we’ve not been on many foreign holidays.

Who needs to travel to a beach when its right here on my doorstep?

But this year things are going to change.

I’m ready for sun on my skin, sand between my toes and not having to think about house chores and work schedules for a week or 2. 2017 is going to be the year of the holiday and the South of France is on my radar.

Getting there

Flying into Biarritz, a 20 mile car journey will get us to the Al Fresco toddler friendly campsite,  Yelloh! Village Le Sylvamar at Labenne Ocean Aquitaine.  I’ve scoured, pondered and analysed every inch of what would be best for my toddler, tween, teenager and I.

That was no mean feat, believe me!

But if my calculations serve me correct a week sunning it up in the south of France, close to Biarritz’s chic surf vibe should see us right.

The nearby beach at AQUITAINE - LABENNE OCÉAN, in the South of France looks the perfect location for a family holiday with toddlers, tween and teenagers

Busy Days Al Fresco

With close access to a large sandy beach my older boys can spend their days learning to surf, (I might even join them, I’ve watched Point Break so can count that as the theory test. We might even have a try at windsurfing or buzzing around on jet skis. And while the big boys are playing, a bucket and spade will be enough to keep my toddler happy.

Sand is such a novelty when you’re use to a pebbly beach.

Looking at family holidays, I like the idea of Staying Al Fresco in AQUITAINE - LABENNE OCÉAN

When mooching about on site is on the agenda, then the water-park with a heated pool, lagoon, lazy river with buoys and a three lane water slide will offer enough entertainment for us all. The toddler can make the most of the new children’s indoor play pool with water games to escape the midday sun.

Looking at family holidays, I like the idea of Staying Al Fresco in AQUITAINE - LABENNE OCÉAN

The Icing On The Cake

In an ideal world I’d take along other family, being a single parent escaping to the jacuzzi or sauna would only be possible with some clever childcare swapping as well as biding me some time at the organised workout sessions. I need to get my thinking hat on as to who’d be the perfect holiday companions. I have a few friends in mind.

They’d be welcome company for an evening at the bar, creperie, pizzeria, restaurant or nightclub. Solo holidaying is always a  little easier with other adults I’m sure even a bbq on the decking will be a welcome change for more relaxed nights too. Just to sit outside on a warm evening would be a welcome change from the chilly British ones. Crikey, I’m really in the more now!

And when the kids are all swim, sea and surfed out. We can pop along to Hossegor – Europe’s surf capital, with it’s trendy shops just 10 miles away, to absorb the relaxed laid back atmosphere.

I think it’s safe to say that  Yelloh Village le Sylvama would make the ideal family holiday for me and mine.

This is a sponsored post written in collaboration with Al Fresco Holidays and Tots 100.  

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Our Family Holiday At Trevella Park Cornwall – Part 2

As promised, here’s the second part to our family holiday to Trevella Park in Crantock, Cornwall (part 1 is here if you missed it)

Busy Family Days and Lazy Evenings in Cornwall

As well as staying in a comfortable accommodation, there’s so much to do with Trevella Park as your base. The toddler’s all time favourite thing to while we were at the park was to visit the play park. A short walk from our caravan, it was set on a large grass area taking away an worries about toddler trips or falls. With a coupe of sets of swings, 3 slides and a wooden tractor it kept our boy more than entertained during impromptu trips to stretch our legs or burn off some last flickers of energy.

There’s also a much more adventurous play park with zip wire and climbing frames which was a magnet for older kids to congregate and make new friends. The toddler’s favourite also lead to the swimming pool, accessed via a keypad entry, it was clean and with the weather granting us a full week of sun, the sun beds were in great demand.

The toddler pool was perfectly positioned to allow my boy to paddle on his own with just arm bands to keep him upright and where I could just perch on the side. Both pools were heated and accompanied by some very funky looking old style changing rooms.

the toddler swimming pool at Trevella park is great for a warm paddle while the older kids and adults play in the larger pool

Out and about in Cornwall

We mixed up our stay with a beach day just a minute drive from our caravan, hiring surf boards from the onsite hire shop which were secured with straps by the friendly owner. This meant we weren’t confined to only surfing in Crantock and the boys could check out which beach had the best waves through out the day. Crantock beach is truly stunning, when the tides out your have vast expanses of sand with the Gannel river leaving puddles of water.

checking out the swimming pool in Trevella park, crantock

High tide and it’s a different story, the river fills and the island sand bank which has formed since our last visit disappears. The boys had just as much fun playing in the sand dunes as the waves and with a lifeguard patrol, toilets, small refreshment shop and National Trust car park.

Crantock beach in Cornwall
When the surf wasn’t on our side, we took the boys into Newquay to stop up on skateboard and surf gear spent the day zip wiring, free fall jumping and ride a giant swing at Hangloose  by The Eden Project, a 35 minute drive away, and a quick visit to Holywell Bay Fun Park, just a 10 minute drive from Trevella, where the older boys (and Daz) challenged each other on the go karts, played crazy croquet and panned for gold.

They toddler had his first experience of a bouncy castle here too. Bad move! That was literally all he wanted to do, even with a huge sandpit equipped with diggers wasn’t enough lure him away but with the park closing at 5pm he was dragged screaming for the ‘bouncey” with the promise to find some back in Devon.

With so much on offer, we headed home and planned our next day using the App for Cornwall, A day out at Flambards, sedgeway, another day of adrenalin adventure at Adrenalin Quarry as well as the FlowRider to practice their surfing skills were some of the ideas thrown into the mix. It’s definately worth downloading this app before you go and planning your break.

After busy days, we were more than happy to spend evenings at the park. We did pop out for an early tea to The Bowgie Inn one evening for typical teenage favourite pub food. It’s no frills family friendly sports bar with amazing views of Crantock bay but out ultimate recommendation  for somewhere to dine out is The Smugglers Den near Cubert for a top notch meal. We nearly always pay to a visit when we stay in Crantock but sadly we didn’t get to dine there on this occasion due to the boys being wiped out from their busy days.

Our caravan was a stones throw from the picturesque fishing lakes and a quiet stroll around early evening, or any time in fact, gives you the most amazing sounds of nature. With the ducks waddling around in search of friendly tourist nibbles to watching the swallows skim the lake for bugs, I took myself off for a few moments peace a couple of times and could’ve easily sat and watched the world go by for an hour if I had;t had the pull of wanting to spend time with my boys without the distraction of chores and work wasn’t beckoning.

Trevella Parks boats some amazing fishing lakes, perfect for a family holiday where we all get something to do
The lakes are also home to to resident swan, a number of wild birds and various fish which I won’t attempt to name! as well as the fishing decks, there are picnic benches and an onsite wild life ranger offering activities for the older children.

On our final day and after a last breakfast on the deck, we packed up our car and with heavy hearts (and a pair of sunburnt ankles, don’t ask, I had a packing malfunction) we began the journey home, stopping off for mid morning coffee in Padstow. Our memories of Trevella Park firmly embedded in our hearts with a lasting memory of a happy family holiday.

As ever, Crantock, you have been amazing!

our holiday to Crantock in cornwall where we reconnect as a family and enjoy busy days and lazy evenings

Disclaimer 

We were invited down to Trevella Park for the purpose of this review, all words and photos are entirely my own. 

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