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Articles tagged with: Reviews

Our Stay At The Grove: A Luxury Family Friendly Hotel, Hertfordshire.

on Tuesday, 17 March 2015.

A couple of weekends ago we headed an hour down the M1 to a beautiful country hotel just outside of Watford in Hertfordshire.  It's pretty famous as hotels go, hosting all number of celebrities, sports stars, important public figures and even royalty over the years, so it doesn't need a huge introduction, but in case you haven't heard of it I am talking about The Grove Hotel.  

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On arrival you head down the longest, most rambling drive way I have ever seen, with golfers on one side of you (The Grove is famous for golf) and wildlife on the other.  Every car you pass makes you look twice- we spotted Ferrari's, Rolls Royce's and the odd Fiesta thrown in for good measure!

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When you first catch sight of The Grove in the distance it really does take your breath away- a beautiful country house set up on the hill.  You can just imagine being on the set of Downton Abbey if you pause for long enough to think.

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But when you get inside the hotel has done perfectly in mixing the traditional with modern touches.  This is the reception area you are greeted to when the concierge holds the door open for you.

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We headed off to our rooms and were greeted with beautiful views of the gardens- The Grove is set in 300 acres of sprawling English countryside.  And what a treat- interconnecting rooms.   This was the girls room. 

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And this was ours.  The bed was big, sumptiously soft and was just begging to be jumped on. (which we did if you watch this video!)

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Any hotel that greets you with macaroons is a winner in my eyes.  Although we had to share with the girls which I wasn't too impressed with.

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Especially when their room had some cookies waiting for them.

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The room was so bright and let in the most gorgeous light.

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I loved this bedside table and of course you can't beat a good coffee table book.

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We loved the roll top bath in both the rooms- once the girls were in bed we cracked open a bottle of prosecco to toast to my birthday the next day and relaxed in the bubbles.

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I loved the way the hotel was funished- if I could have picked this sofa up and put it in my handbag, I definitely would have tried.  I love the mustard yellow and retro vibe.

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Mini bar heaven.

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And you definitely can't beat a bit of indoor foliage.

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While Mr E and LL went off in search of a local shop to get forgotten supplies, Mads took the opportunity to walk hand in hand around the gardens.  She loved these little rabbits, each holding a different bit of sporting apparatus, including a cricket bat, golf club and tennis racket. 

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But our favourite was the secret walled garden that you could only get in to with your room keycard.  We told Mads it was magic and would only open with the words 'Open Sesame.'

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The secret garden was beautiful, with a vegetable patch, a gorgeous outdoor pool and a man made beach.  These daffodils made me feel very Spring like.

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Playing on the beach.  I can only imagine how gorgeous The Grove is in the summer when you can sit outside in your own bit of Miami style heaven in the English countryside.  Although that said I bet it is stunning in every season.  I want to visit at Christmas too!

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We played sandcastles in woolly hats while the sun began to set.

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Before heading home to freshen up for dinner.

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We had a meal booked at The Stables, which was supposed to be the most family friendly of the restaurants, although we were promised all would be happy for our little people to dine.  Over three restaurants, The Grove employs 70 chefs who are passionate about creating the most delicious food.   There is also Colettes, a more fine dining experience and The Glasshouse, where chef's prepare the food in the background while you watch on.

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We were really impressed with the childrens menu, there was lots of choice for our little people, plus as soon we sat down they bought crayons and pictures for them.

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I had the wild rocket and parmesan salad with balsamic-basil dressing to start- it was simple yet delicious.

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While Mr E had the Stilton fritters, green apple, celery, watercress and sour honey.  I may have had a few nibbles of his- just to report back of course!  

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 My main was the sugar baked ham hock, served with pickled red cabbage, creamed potatoes and charcuterie sauce- it was soft, tender, practically melted in your mouth and was one of the most delicious things I have eaten in ages.

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While Mr E had his usual staple- a good old burger.  (So predictable!)  The girls were busy devouring their pizzas too quite happily- they didn't pause for long enough for me to be able to get a photo of them.

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Even though I was so full I had to sample a pudding, I had the dark and stormy creme brulee with ginger snap biscuits, I could have eaten it twice.  Mr E had the hot chocolate fondant with salted caramel sauce, but it was gone before I could manage to take photographic evidence.  Our meal was perfect and it was made even better by the fact that our girls were so well behaved throughout the whole meal (as any parent knows eating out can go one of two ways!)  I asked for our waitresses name at the end because she was incredible and so friendly and lovely with the girls, but I have forgotten it.  She really went the extra mile and I even made sure I wrote that in the feedback form provided.

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Feeling full and fat we wandered back to our rooms to find a sweet surprise for LL- there were some friends joining her in her cot.

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And the turn down service had been.  Our two ladies fell fast asleep and we relaxed next door- no sitting in the bathroom all evening, it was a luxury having a room to ourselves. 

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We woke the next day feeling refreshed after a long sleep, although with slightly fuzzy heads.  I was also a year older.  We headed off to The Glasshouse for a birthday breakfast.  Of course it being my birthday I had to have a cooked breakfast.

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And a sweet treat.  Oops.  I can never resist the waffles or pancakes.  Breakfast was great, and as a family it's our favourite meal to out for, so we chatted about our plans for the day while people watching as well.  We spotted a few famous faces over the pastry table.

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There is a kids club at the hotel called Anoushka's and we decided to put the girls in there for an hour, just so we could have a chance to check out some of the other parts of the hotel.  The check in process was great and they put our girls at ease.  It cost us £8 per child per hour, which is pretty reasonable if you wanted to go and check out the spa for a few hours or go for a peaceful lunch.  As we only wanted to put them in for an hour, we decided to just go for a little wander around.  There are loads of little nooks and crannies where you can have afternoon tea or a quiet drink.  I loved this little library area.

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We walked hand in hand around the grounds, relishing just being the two of us for a few minutes.  The grounds are so beautiful and if we had time we would have hired bikes (free of charge) and gone on a family bike ride.

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We headed to the Sequoia spa to have a look- it looked absolutely amazing and we only wish we had time to visit.  The black mosaic tile pool looked blissful as did the quiet relaxation rooms.

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We did have time to chill out and have a quick juice and smoothie from the spa's juice bar though, which were both delicious.

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Before it was time to pick up two excited little girls who came running to greet us with some balloons.  We headed back to The Stables for a spot of lunch.  While we were there Mads burst her balloon and one of the members of staff headed all the way back to the Kids Club (a 20 minute walk there and back) to get her another balloon- the staff were so great with our girls.

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After lunch we went for a quick dip in the kiddies pool- it's completely separate from the spa pool, and we practically had it to ourselves which was lovely.  Young children aren't allowed in the spa pool understandably.

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Before it was time for one last walk around the grounds and a quick ride on a golf buggy from a kind member of staff (the girls so badly wanted to go on one!)  Then it was time to head home, feeling happy, relaxed and full of fond memories of our stay at The Grove.

Overall we couldn't fault our stay.  As a family who loves to travel, we don't want to leave the children at home, of course that's nice every now and again, but we want to make memories and enjoy these adventures with our girls.  We were so impressed with The Grove's family friendly policies- even though the hotel is definitely high end and luxury, we never once felt uncomfortable having Mads and LL there.  The staff really do go the extra mile to accomodate children and all the little touches for them definitely made our stay.

We loved our stay at The Grove and will definitely need to go back to try it in all the seasons- I bet it is beautiful in Summer and at Christmas time.  Oh and in Autumn too!

 

 

 

NB: Thanks to The Grove for inviting us to stay at their wonderful property- we are so grateful and had such a lovely time.  All words and opinions are completely my own.

 

A Review of Beaches Resort Turks & Caicos.

on Thursday, 19 February 2015.

My tan has officially faded but I have finally got round to writing my thoughts about our time at Beaches Turks and Caicos.  I wanted to do one last thorough review of our experience in the hope that it will help anyone out there who is thinking about booking a trip to this beautiful place.


Getting There.

 

There's no denying it, Turks and Caicos isn't just 'down the road'.  In fact at over 7000 miles away from the UK, it is a long journey to consider, especially with young children.  I must admit I was a little apprehensive before our flight, but I can honestly say it was fine and I would do it again in a heart beat.  You can get to Beaches in a number of ways- you can fly 'direct' with British Airways (direct means you stop down in Nassau in the Bahamas to let passengers off first) or via American Airlines from London to Miami (9.5 hours) and then take a connecting flight from Miami to Providenciales. (1.5 hours)  Luckily on the way back though you fly in a jet stream so the journey is a little quicker- around 7.5 hours back to London.  

We booked a hotel package and Heathrow Parking with APH before we went and this helped us no end, as we got transfers to Terminal Three included.  On arrival in Providenciales, Beaches organise all transfers and if you are lucky you will get a friendly and informative driver like we did.  A few people have asked me about how I coped flying long haul with small children, but I can honestly say it's a lot better than you would think- all major transatlantic airlines will have in flight entertainment with movies, tv shows and games, and I pack 'plane goody bags' for my girls on each flight we go on, plus of course we have the iPad and snacks too.  The flight is long but worth it for the paradise you will find at the end of your journey.

 

First Impressions.

 

It was dark when we arrived at Beaches and at this point we had been up nearly 23 hours, so we didn't get much of an impression of the place until the morning, although we did enjoy the frozen rum punch given to us on check in- that went down a treat.  There was an initial mix up with our rooms, but by the morning time the resort manager had sorted it out for us quickly and efficiently, and we got the wow factor on arrival at our room in the Italian Village-  an Italian Oceanview Concierge Family Suite With Kids’ Room.  

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The room was spotlessy clean, big, and really nicely furnished.  However there were two things that sold it to us.  Firstly this...

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The view from our balcony was absolutely out of this world.

 

And secondly this...

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As a family with two young children, we often like to try and stick to routine as much as we can.  Of course, we are on holiday, we have late bedtimes or missed naps, but for the most part as any parent with toddlers will know, if they are over tired then it's not much fun for anyone.  So we really value having an extra space in the accomodation we stay in, as it means if we have to stay in the room from 8pm, we can at least have the television on or chat without worrying about waking the girls.  Our room at Beaches had a separate room for Mads and LL, and Mads loved the bunk bed set up.  (We had a cot for LL) There was even an X Box and little TV in there for older children.

Our suite wasn't the best room type at Beaches, there are some absolutely extravagant out of this world room types, but it also wasn't the most basic- it was perfect for us and the view really was so special.  That is the beauty of Beaches, with four villages and forty four room categories- you are bound to find the perfect room type for whatever your budget.  You can go and eat anywhere, sunbathe anywhere or use each of the village's facilities, but they have done a very clever job of making each of them feel quite different and unique in style.  There's the Caribbean Village, where you will find the most afforable room types (but also villas too), the French Village, the Italian Village and the Key West Village.  Each village has it's own pools, facilities and restaurants, and definitely their own 'vibe' too- the Key West village I would say is more suited to adults and has that beachy, chilled out vibe, the Italian village is more lively and more suited to family fun, the Caribbean is a bit of both and so is the French.  Their are plus points to all and that's what makes it so fun to explore.

Our first impressions when we first went around the grounds on our first morning were 'Wow'.  Set in 75 acres, Beaches is large, beautiful but yet somehow retains a friendly and intimate feel.  Quite simply, you feel like you are part of a special and exclusive club, even though the resort is large.  The resort was busy while we were staying, but it never felt overcrowded and that's what made it special.  On walking around the first morning, we marvelled at all the different villages and their pools, the manicured gardens with their little secret nooks of hammocks and comfy cabanas- and just the way that every single staff member who walked past you said hello and asked you how you were.

And how can I describe Grace Bay, the beautiful beach that Beaches Resort sits on?  It was absolutely breathtaking, with crystal blue waters and the softest sand I have ever set foot on. I have been lucky enough to travel to many places, but I was in awe of the beach here.  All the villages, bar the French one are situated on the beach (obviously they go back so not all rooms or villas have an ocean view) but even with the French you are only a few minutes walk away.

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Facilities.

 

I think a testament to any resort or hotel is the fact that after a few days you don't get an itch to leave and explore other places.  And we didn't with Beaches.  We stayed in the resort the whole week and I didn't feel like I was missing out on exploring other parts of the island.  We came for a relaxing family holiday and to spend time together, and that's exactly what we did.  In abundance.  There is so much for the whole family to do, that I don't think I will be able to do it justice by talking about it.  First things first the main thing to mention is that Beaches is 'luxury included'.  This basically means all inclusive, but it's a bit different to the 'bogstandard wine' and 'all you can eat buffet' concept that some people think of.  Beaches pull out the stops to make sure that there are no hidden costs, there are premium wines and spirits, and lots of different dining options.  Oh and did I say there are nineteen restaurants?   But more about that later as that is important!  

Everything is included, even down to the Watersports.  There are all sorts of things going on, including Kayaks, Paddleboards, Aqua Trikes, Hobie Cats and Snorkelling.  We tried the Snorkelling and it was great fun. There are ten pools, a couple in each village, and Beaches very own Pirates Island Waterpark (complete with lazy river, numerous slides, a swim up kids bar and a surf simulator) which is just the best thing ever for children and adults alike.  You soon figure out your preference with the pools- we loved going to the Waterpark pools for family fun, the Caribbean Village pools for a mixture of fun and a bit of relaxing, and I loved having a afternoon siesta at the Key West Village pools, which I would say are slightly more suited to a bit of adult only time- although kids are allowed there if you want.  Each pool has a swim up bar which is just so cool and fun for the little ones- and for the adults.  Mojitos in the pool?  Go on then.

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The Italian Village pool- we found this to be the liveliest and also the busiest, it was quite hard to find a sunbed here, but it had great atmosphere with lots of music and fun.

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One of Caribbean Village pools (there are two of them) was a sort of inbetween- a mixture of cabanas and a bit of luxury, but with fun, music and family friendly fun.

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The Key West pool was quieter, more laid back and more suited to a snatched moment without the little ones.  When the girls were napping in the afternoons with Mr E who also likes a siesta, I would come down and read my book and it was bliss.

 

Aside from the water based facilities, there are all sorts of things of things going on.  There is a rather incredible X Box Lounge, full of, you guessed it, X Boxes with all sorts of games.  Obviously I have very small people, but I can absolutely guarantee that Beaches would be out of this world for tweens or teens.  They have all sorts of activities going on for them and I can imagine they would have had an absolute blast.  There is also pool tables, a games rooms and even a nightclub for goodness sake.  We didn't go to the nightclub.  I'm too old.

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 Entertainment and Activities.

 

As mentioned above, there were just so many activities that both adults and children could enjoy and we soon got into a little routine of what worked for us.  We loved going to the waterpark- it was so much fun having something like this in the resort.  The girls loved the slides and the kids swim up bar, and Alison and I even had a go on the surf simulator. (We were both terrible at it but I was worse!)  We also did some snorkelling, and the team down on the waterfront directed us to an amazing spot about twenty minutes walk up the beach.  There are all sorts of activities at Beaches, including exercise and fitness ones, games, and different things that you could do during the day- like tie die t-shirt fun, volleyball and games.

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About to go on a slide. (Note- LL didn't go on the slide on her own- I am not that bad a parent, she just wanted to hold a ring for the photo!)

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Looking so cool on the surf simulator.

 

The beauty of Beaches is you could do as little or as much as you want.  If you wanted an active, fun, action packed holiday then it had that in abundance.  If you wanted to chill, read your book and reflect from the comfort of your sun lounger, then you could do it without being interrupted. (except by one of the staff offering to get you a cocktail!)  There really is something for everyone.  I had the perfect mixture of fun with my family and making memories to last a life time, to a bit of time to myself to relax and reflect.  

Entertainment wise Beaches delivered yet again.  What they do so well is create an atmosphere that means you can quite happily dance along with Elmo and friends one minute, then walk less than five minutes away and be in a relaxing spot having a drink looking out at the waves.  They manage to balance this perfectly and it therefore means you get the best of both worlds.  There was entertainment on every evening, from regular Sesame Street stage shows, (my girls absolutely loved them!) dance parties where we all danced along to Gangham Style, to cocktails in front of a band while snuggling in front of a fire.  And if you dug even deeper there were quizzes, chocolate fountains and open air movies, all included in the cost of course.  There was also a weekly Sesame Street parade where all the characters put on a show down the resort's driveway- that was amazing too.

Entertainment wise there are two particular evenings that stood out for me.  The first was on the first evening when we went to the weekly family Beach Party.  This was like a mini festival wiht lots of twinkling lights, a laid back atmosphere, and was truly amazing- there were lots of different food stands serving the tastiest BBQ food, face painting, a bonfire with marshmallows, limbo, ice sculptures and a stage show while sat on the sand.  I only wish it had been a bit later in the week as my girls were still so tired from our journey the day before, but it really was great.

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The beach festival.

My other favourite thing to do was to go to something child friendly, like a disco or a Sesame Street show, then go to have dinner in one of the restaurants and then head to Bayside.  Bayside was in the Key West Village and overlooked the ocean.  In the evening it had a much more laid back atmopshere than the other villages and they had live music in front of the fire pit.  I loved going down there when the girls were a bit sleepy and quieter and sitting in front of the fire listening to music and having a drink- on a couple of occasions I had tears in my eyes because there literally was no where else in the world I would have rather have been.  It can be a bit daunting when you arrive at Beaches- you wonder if you will ever find your way around and get the most out of your holiday, but you soon find your way, and there are entertainment boards dotted about so you can see what's on.  They also leave a piece of paper on your bed each evening in their turn down service so you can see what's on the following day.

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Watching the sun set at Bayside bar.

 

Food and Drink.

 

I am not sure really where to start on the food at Beaches.  Firstly I put on at least a few pounds while I was there and haven't lost it yet. (thanks Beaches!)  As I mentioned there are nineteen restaurants and you will want to try them all, but you soon find your favourites.  As I previously said, Beaches is Luxury Included, meaning that you can basically leave your purse at home (unless you want to purchase stuff from the gift shop or do an excursion)  It is a strange concept going into all the different restaurants and not paying.  Each village has a few different restaurants in it and there are a mixture of buffet style and a la carte. 

For breakfast my favourite restaurant was definitely Sky Bar, which is above Bayside in the Key West Village.  It was a menu based breakfast dining option rather than a buffet and they made the most delicious pancake stacks- chocolate chip, mandarin and blueberry.  It's making me hungry just thinking about them.  If you prefer a buffet option, there's loads of them- we ate breakfast at Marios in the Italian Village a few times- Mads loved the waffles, cereal choices and of course the pastries!   You can't be healthy on holiday, but if you wanted to there were healthy options like fruit and continental, or cooked breakfasts too.

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Yum.

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Sky Bar restaurant.

 

For lunch, we all really loved Bella Napoli, an open air pizza restaurant in the Caribbean village.  It had a laid back vibe and the wood burnt pizzas were delicious.  They also do take aways and you can take them over to eat them by the pool or back in your room.  We also all loved Bobby D's- an American style diner in the Waterpark, they did typical things like hot dogs, burgers and the tastiest pulled pork sandwich which I had on a couple of occasions!  It's here where you can also sample the ice cream parlour- the girls loved this and unlike many resorts you could tell it wasn't 'cheap' ice cream- the cookie dough flavour was delicious, and we loved going there for an afternoon treat.  On the last day we tried Arizonas Tex Mex restaurant in the Caribbean village and we all loved it- there was a great choice of things like jerk chicken, grilled meats and other things, we wish we had gone earlier in our stay.

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Enjoying an ice cream in Bobby D's ice cream parlour.

 

Dinner again, we were spoilt for choice.  We tried Kimonos, the teppanyaki restaurant where they cook the food in front of you.  I would definitely recommend trying this once as it was a great, fun experience, although for my fussy children there wasn't much they would eat.  Barefoot by the Sea in the Italian village was an amazing seafood restaurant, this was Mr E's favourite, there was a great choice of fish, and yes it is on sand so you go barefoot if you want too.  My favourite restaurant for dinner was Bayside in the Key West area- this was a buffet style restaurant but it was a great quality buffet and we were spoilt for choice each time we ate there.  I loved the open air setting looking out on to the beach and it just had such a laid back style- I really felt so peaceful and happy there, there was live music playing each evening.

Drinks wise, you again are spoilt for choice.  Beaches does premium branded wine and spirits rather than the rather untasty drinks you can get in some all inclusive properties.  There are lots of bars dotted about, including lots of swim up ones which we all loved, and the frozen cocktails especially are delicious.  We loved getting ready and coming down for a couple of drinks while the sun was setting.  I am actually getting sentimental over a frozen daiquiri- oh to be back there sipping on one of them now.  Our girls especially loved the Octopus Bar in the waterpark which was a swim up bar more geared towards children, while again I couldn't rave more about Bayside, with it's big love seats and hammocks over looking the ocean and a cosy fire pit with live music in the evenings.

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Hammock- check.  Mojito- check.

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The swim up bar in the waterpark- my girls loved this!

 

 For the Kids.

 

What isn't there to do for children?  Beaches caters for babies right through to teenagers.  Obviously I have little ones so I am talking from my experiences with them, but as mentioned above there are a wealth of activities for older kids and tweens- including the X Box lounge, waterpark, night club, and dj scratch academy to name just a few.  For my little people, there was just so much to do.  There is obviously the Sesame Street element, which quite frankly made our holiday that little bit extra.  Beaches are affiliated to Sesame Street and there are a huge number of Sesame Street activities on throughout the resort.  There are things which are included in the price, like the Sesame Street stage shows a few times a week and the Sesame Street parade once a week. (a must see, it was like a scaled down version of a full on Disney parade)

There are also things that cost a little more- like the Sesame Street Tuck in, the Character breakfast and the Sesame Street Sail Away, the latter of which can be booked through Island Routes Caribbean Adventures which is Beaches excursion partner.  The tuck in is where your favourite character (you specify when you book) comes in to your room to read your child a bedtime story and give them a little toy.  This was incredibly special and it actually made me cry to see my children have such a special experience- they were in awe of Elmo and were hugging him.  It was very sweet to watch.  The Character breakfast is where you have a normal buffet breakfast but with a Sesame Street theme- it's bright, colourful, with loud music and Sesame Street plates and bowls, and of course all the characters are there.  It's a great atmosphere and there's dancing and lots of fun, and we actually thought this was the best value for money as all the characters came round to see you.  Then finally the Sesame Street Sail Away is a trip on a catamaran with a few of the Sesame Street characters- this was also incredibly good fun and I loved watching my girls dancing around and having fun with them all.  

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On the Sesame Street Sail Away catamaran cruise.

 

The beauty of Beaches is that if Sesame Street isn't your thing, you can easily avoid it, it isn't everywhere or shoved in your face.  There are loads of other things you can do - there's discos for the little ones, a really great playground, daily activities and of course the waterpark too.  I don't think my writing will do justice as to how much there is there to do for kids, but if you head over to Space In Your Case Alison and I wrote down 50 things for kids to do at Beaches Turks and Caicos.  A couple of little things to mention- there is a train that goes round the resort every half an hour, the girls loved this, it was so cute!  They also loved the mini table and chairs in the Italian Village lobby- there was a television there showing cartoons on loop and also a jar of cookies- we loved going there for half an hour to get out of the sun- it's small things like this that make a holiday more fun- Beaches really has thought of everything!

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Mini chairs and table for mini people!

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The playground. 

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Loving the choo choo train!

 

Childcare.

 

Beaches offers childcare in the form of Camp Sesame for the little ones and then other programmes for tweens and teenagers.  I am very new to the world of childcare on holiday, something that we only tried when we went to Rhodes last year, and which actually made that holiday for us.  I was thinking that we would put our girls into childcare a few times when we went to Beaches, again perhaps for morning sessions.  We actually only ended up putting them in twice and there are a number of reasons for this.  

The first one is quite simply, we didn't want to because we were having too much fun.  Had we been there for two weeks, or if they were a bit older and wanting to hang out and make new friends then we may have felt differently, but there is just so much to do at Beaches for families, that we wanted to be with them and spend time with them.  We felt we were missing out by putting them in there!  We did put them in twice, just so we could have a couple of hours sunbathing and quiet time, and we found the process to feel quite safe and efficient- you signed your child in and out, with a password, and they also gave you a mobile phone so you could contact them or they could contact you while you were around the resort.

The girls seemed to have a good time while they were there, but I must admit I didn't feel as comfortable with the childcare as I did the previous time we used it on our holiday to Rhodes.  I can't put my finger on exactly why, the staff were friendly and seemed efficient, and there was a huge range of things for them to do, (including their own little pool in the childcare area) but I just didn't like the process quite as much.  I think it was mainly things like on our previous holiday, each child got a key worker and they really got to know them over the course of the week, they were quite affectionate and friendly with them, whereas with Beaches I felt like the staff weren't quite as welcoming or forthcoming in putting the girls (or us) at ease.  That said, like I mentioned my girls really enjoyed going and came back with some lovely tales of the fun they had- including baking cookies with Cookie Monster and other fun things.  Had we been there for longer, I would have taken more advantage of it, but just for a week we were happy with the time they spent there.  

 

Overall.

 

Without a doubt Beaches Resort Turks and Caicos is one of the best places we have visited as a family.  The resort is out of this world, the faciilities are incredible and there is so much you can do as a family. The Turks and Caicos islands are just absolutely stunning, and so many times I had to pinch myself that we were there enjoying such a memorable experience.  Beaches has a great knack of making you feel incredibly special, especially considering it was such a large resort.  There really isn't anything negative I can say about it, which is a testament to the place.  I think if we were to go back, I would stay for at least ten dayes next time, only because it is such a long way to go for a week, although we all said that it felt like that we had been there a lot longer than seven days- we packed a lot in and made a huge amount of memories in that time, and it felt like we had really experienced a lot in a short space of time.

I think it's the type of place that you can't really explain or do justice when you are writing about it- it needs to be experienced in order to fully appreciate just exactly what makes it so special.  We had an incredible time and I hope one day we will be able to go back there- it makes me feel sentimental just thinking about it.  It was such a special trip and I couldn't recommmend it more.

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Check out our other Beaches posts here-

A Trip to Beaches Resort Turks and Caicos- Part One

A Trip to Beaches Resort Turks and Caicos- Part Two

A Trip to Beaches Resort Turks and Caicos- Part Three

 

Massive thanks to Beaches for inviting myself and my little family to stay for the week. All photos, words and opinions are entirely my own, we really do think that Beaches Turks and Caicos is the most incredible place for families.

Our holiday to Beaches Resort Turks and Caicos - Part Three.

on Wednesday, 28 January 2015.

By now we were in the swing of things and fully settled in to our holiday at Beaches Turks and Caicos...

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I absolutely love these photos of them sitting on the pier- the sun was setting and the light was gorgeous.  We went down there and it seemed that it was the perfect wedding time, there were a couple of brides on the pier having photos in their beautiful dresses.  A great spot to people watch.

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The beach, Grace Bay, was so gorgeous and it never felt overcrowded, even during the day.  Damn that photo bomber in the background though!

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What is it with small people and sand?  My girls don't try to eat it but they do get it EVERYWHERE.  At one point on our trip LL managed to fall flat on her face in the sand- it was everywhere, even in her eyelashes.  She was ok, but was less impressed with the cold beach shower she had to have afterwards.

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Happy smiles.  I think I need to move by the sea, it just makes us all happy and calm.

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Caught red handed putting sand in places sand should not go.

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After receiving a gift from Big Elmo of a little Elmo of her very own, she proceeded to carry it around the whole entire holiday and it is now the one she cuddles at night alongside her favourite Baa.  At least it matches her outfit.

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They got on so well on holiday and their relationship makes me so proud- although they do fight like cat and dog- it's mainly LL who isn't as tolerant as her big sister!

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The sand was the softest I have ever felt- utter perfection.  We normally are pool people during the day, but Grace Bay changed our minds and we loved spending time down there.  

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One last photo as the sun began to set, before heading off to start our evening together.

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The pool at the Italian Village where we were staying- it was such a great pool and you are allowed to swim after dark, which obviously was lots of fun for children.  It definitely had the most atmosphere, with lots of music, fun and games, and was the busiest pool during the day.

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There was so much entertainment for the adults and children alike- including a Sesame Street Stage show a few times a week, little dance parties which Mads and LL loved. (Gangham Style and What Does The Fox Say are the soundtracks of our holiday) bonfires with roasting marshmallows, and much more.  This photo was taken when we were at the 'open air cinema' watching Madagascar 3- they even had a little popcorn machine which you got in an old fashioned bag.  The girls loved it.

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Watching one of the Sesame Street stage shows.  I used to love Sesame Street as a child but my girl's didn't know much about it previously- although of course they knew who Elmo and the main characters were and my lovely Mum got them some Elmo PJ's and a book before we went.  However they are complete converts now and we have been watching it non stop on You Tube since we got home.  The Sesame Street element of our holiday was so special and we loved every minute of it.

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The drink of choice on our holiday- I think we would all unanimously agree that the alcoholic and non alcoholic frozen Strawberry daquiri's were delicious and refreshing.  Although having said that so were the Mojitos.  Oh and the Pina Coladas. 

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Some sea fun with Daddy.  She is a daredevil at the moment after going through a period of being a little unsure.

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I love the girl's matching cossies from Heidi Klein.  The little cross backs and the frills are so cute.  Definite beach belles.

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When you have frizzy hair like myself and my girls do- the sea makes it go even more awol!

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No filter needed.  The water was shockingly blue.

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On the last morning of our holiday as a special treat we attended a Sesame Street character breakfast. (you pay extra for it but not much)  It was the usual breakfast buffet but there were balloons everywhere, special Sesame Street plates and cutlery, and of course the Sesame Street characters.  It was a great atmosphere, with lots of dancing and fun, and it again was one of the highlights of my holiday as the girls were just in awe.  Here they are with Elmo and Alison's little lady too.

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Mads favourite character is The Count and she was so excited to meet her idol as he hadn't been about the rest of the holiday.  She literally gasped in excitement and had to show him her own Count toy, to which he proceeded to give it a cuddle.  I will never forget her face as she saw him come up to her.  

 

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Mr E met his idol too- apparently according to his facebook comments after he posted this photo, a lot of men like Cookie Monster?  Who would have thought it. ;)

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LL is getting far too grown up- where did my baby go?

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We all lead busy lives- full of ordinary times, routine, structure and occasional mundanity.  But these happy smiles are what make holidays or work free time so special- the chance to spend time with the people you love most.  I feel so genuinely lucky to have been given the opportunity to make these memories with my family.

 

Check out the rest of my posts on our holiday to Beaches below- 

Our Holiday to Beaches Resort Turks and Caicos- Part Two.

Our Holiday to Beaches Resort Turks and Caicos- Part One.

 

Special Offer 

 For a limited time only, anyone reading this and fancying a trip to this beautiful place are eligible for an exclusive £100 off per Beaches booking. The offer is valid for holidays booked by 28th February 2015 and valid for selected travel dates up to 5th December 2016. To book, visit Beaches Resorts or call 0800 597 0002 and quote BEACHES. Terms and Conditions: Book by 28th February 2015. For the extra £100 discount per booking, please quote ‘BEACHES’ when booking. Valid for selected travel dates up to 5th December 2016. Available to air inclusive packages only. Min stay 7 nights. Not combinable with any other promo code offer. Blackout dates and terms and conditions apply.

A Year of Adventures with Subaru- #XVAdventure.

on Monday, 26 January 2015.

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You can probably tell from this blog that we are a family who love to have adventures.  Whether that's close to home or far away, like any parent I absolutely love to make memories with my girls and to give them new experiences and help them see new places.  For someone who actually thrives on routine and being at home, I also love to get out and have impromptu trips and fun- those kind of memories are often the best ones.

Back in the Summer we got contacted by Subaru to work with them on a very special project.  The Subaru XV is their family car.  It's an adventure car.  It's made for families exactly like ours- families who like to go out, have fun, and make memories.  Whether those are big or small, ordinary or not so ordinary.  Subaru challenged us to go on an adventure, that adventure was entirely up to us, and they lent us an XV to test out for the weekend.  We decided to go to Pembrokeshire in South Wales, and experience camping for the first time, albeit we may have cheated slightly and gone down the glamping route.  We had so much fun as a family on our little adventure and Mads still talks about the time we 'went in a tent' to this day.

And that's the thing.  That's why we do these things.  For our children to have fun experiences and to remember the family times.  They don't have to be expensive or elaborate.  Some of our favourite family times are just popping down the road to the local country park to feed the ducks and splash in muddy puddles.  Or to head into town, have a cake and wander round the shops.  We invent our own adventures and the ordinary moments can be an adventure too when you have small children with very big imaginations.

That is what the Subaru XV is all about- it's about having family time.  Exploring off the beaten track.  Handling the roughest rural terrain. Even nipping to the local shops. Compact when you need it for winding country tracks, but hugely spacious inside, to take whoever and whatever you care to bring. Umpteen pairs of shoes, the kids, the bikes. On journeys only you can invent.  We loved the car back in the Summer and were so sad to give it back at the end of our adventure- it suited us perfectly as a family and was similar (but SO much nicer) to the car we already drove.

So when Subaru asked us if we wanted to have a 'year of adventures' we couldn't actually believe our luck.  In fact we have had to pinch ourselves a few times- it couldn't be a more perfect partnership for us as a family who love to make memories.  Subaru have loaned us a beautiful white XV (they are going to have to come and physically wrench the keys out of my hands at the end of the year) and have challenged us to have twelve adventures as a family.  They don't have to be big, they don't have to be expensive, or they can be something exciting we have never done before- it's just about how we see life.  It's about having fun and enjoying these moments together, and that's exactly what we intend to do.  And of course they want us to film it and take lots of photos along the way.

I don't do a huge amount of brand partnerships on my blog, this blog has first and foremost always been about documenting our memories and our family life.  But to work with a brand who completely sum up and share our ethos on what family life is all about is really exciting and I am honoured to be working with them.  I can't wait to drive the XV around in our every day life, our ordinary moments and our fun adventures.  I couldn't be more excited to have this car as another member of our family, albeit just a temporary one.

Just after Christmas, Subaru asked to come along and film one of our family adventures.  Being that it was absolutely FREEZING and with two small children, there isn't much we could do just three days after New Year.  So we decided to do something that's entirely normal to us as a family- we went on a bike ride.  We love to go out on our bikes and in the Summer we are out on them most weekends, but in the Winter it's a little bit harder.  However once the girls are bundled up in hats, gloves and under a blanket, it's actually great fun to go out, even if it is cold.  It was a little surreal to be followed round by a film crew, certainly something that has never happened to me before, but we all had a really good time.   The result is this rather lovely little introductory film to our year of adventure's with our XV.  I find myself a little bit cringey in parts, (I don't think any casting directors are going to be knocking on my door anytime soon) but it really does show the kind of stuff we get up to as a family- and it just shows you that you don't need to do anything massively exciting to have fun and have adventures together.  About how when you are four and one, getting snuggled under a blanket on a family bike ride and eating ice creams outside when everyone else is indoors is the perfect kind of day.

The film guys also took some still photos of our day, and I took a few on my phone too.  We are really looking forward to a year of adventures with our XV and we will be sharing them on here once a month or more if we have them. You can also follow our adventures over on twitter or instagram by using the hashtag #XVAdventure, and of course can follow Subaru on twitter, facebook or instagram.

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Being followed by a film crew is a total every day occurance for me.  Not.  Now we know what Kanye and Kim feel like.  Except we aren't rich, famous, or even the slightest bit interesting. Oh and we could probably fit our whole house in their downstairs toilet. ;) 

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Standard Mummy photographer.

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NB: We are working in partnership with Subaru for twelve months and they have loaned us a Subaru XV for this time period. All words, opinions and adventures are entirely up to us.

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