Finding a family holiday in the UK to suit everyone can be a tough call, and all-too-often Mum and Dad find themselves taking a back seat so that the kids can get the most out of their break. After all – happy kids equals happy parents. Or at least not at-their-wits-end, stressed out, on the verge of a nervous breakdown parents. But why should we compromise? Surely us grown-ups are entitled to a bit of fun too? Of course we are. And Shorefield Country Park in the New Forest has come up with just the thing – Hot Tub Holidays for the whole family.
Booking into a Superior Lodge at the Hampshire venue not only gets you a spacious three-bedroom lodge fully equipped with all mod cons, but also a giant hot tub on your own private terrace. The huge jacuzzi is filled up the day you arrive and kept beautifully warm for the duration of your stay. Such is the way that the lodges are spaced you are unlikely to have anyone overlooking you, so come rain or shine there’s a private pool for the family right on your doorstep. The beauty is that once the kids are in bed, you can submerge yourself in the bubbly waters, maybe enjoying a bubbly drink or two while you’re at it, and you’re still within walking distance of the kids bedrooms should they (God forbid) happen to wake up!
Shorefield is set in luscious grounds just a shingle stone’s throw from the beach at Milford-on-Sea. Located within the sprawling New Forest National Park, there is no shortage of sights to take in and fun to be had in the historic local area. From an open top bus tour taking you through the heart of the forest, to Beaulieu House and Motor Museum, the stunning Exbury Gardens and steam railway, and of course the Paulton’s Park theme park – home to Peppa Pig world, tourist attractions are aplenty. Horses, donkeys and cows roam the villages and towns freely, and the forest also boasts more than 40 miles of coastline. But while Shorefield is great as a base to explore the forest from, it also has enough on offer to keep the family on site for days at a time.
We went for a long weekend and found ourselves occupied the whole time. There is a large indoor pool as well as a heated outdoor one for the summer months, both with shallow ends for toddlers, and adult-only times for grown-ups wanting a more relaxing swim without the screams and splashes that come with family swim time. There’s a sizable gym with an array of high standard equipment and also a crazy golf course – the highlight of the whole holiday for my two-year-old son. There are several playgrounds dotted around the site, each with different equipment and geared towards different ages. There are tennis courts and football pitches, and a true holiday-style arcade with rides, games and snooker tables, and a separate sections with fruit machines for fans of the one-armed bandits. So plenty of high octane entertainment to keep everyone buzzing, but what if you’re looking for a calmer, quieter way to relax and unwind? Well that’s when the on-site day spa comes in.
Reflections Spa is located in the main entertainment building, but as soon as you step through the doors you could be a million miles away from the flashing lights of the arcade and the hubbub of noisy children. Much as we love our kids, we also love to be away from them sometimes. Kids on holiday are hard work. Over-excitement, late nights and oh-so-many ice creams can exhaust everyone, so the opportunity to slip away for a few hours was too tempting to miss. Fully stocked with Elemis products, there are more than 30 treatments on offer for men and women, ranging from massages to luxury facials. Having enjoyed a heavenly Indian Head massage I then treated myself to a pampering pedicure. The therapists are friendly and welcoming, and give you that sense of special treatment as you lay back and let the stresses of the day drift away. And once the treatments are over there is a relaxation room for you to enjoy for as long as you like, giving you just a few more minutes of me time before heading back to the helm.
Shorefield is a family-oriented venue with the emphasis on fun. Staff offer a full programme of entertainment for kids, from giant Jenga in the afternoon to singing and dancing with resident rodent Cyril the Squirrel in the evenings. There are three bars, including an adults-only one for those wanting to avoid yet another rendition of the Hokey Cokey, and a restaurant section in the main Cheers bar. Don’t come in search of haute cuisine and culture – it’s all about value – but portions are huge, the grub tastes good, and the atmosphere is great.
Be it a short break or a full-on family holiday, Shorefield seems to be able to cater for everyone without mum and dad having to compromise on their enjoyment too. Now, I’ll be in my hot tub if anyone needs me….