Guest blogger, Jill Turner, has visited us with her little son and shares her experience of spending a single parent holiday in Cornwall.
Children can be noisy, impatient and need a lot of entertaining on holiday. Parents, on the other hand, go on vacation to relax. When you’re holidaying as a single parent with a child it is even harder for both of you to get what you want and need.
I travelled to Sands with my five–year old son and from the start the understanding towards the needs of both parent and child was evident. As a single mother, going on holiday is hard – the logistics of having just one adult can be tough and a single parent on holidays is often more on red alert to make sure their child is not ‘being a bother’ as well as feeling the odd one out among happy families. But the hotel seemed to cater for all.
Our room, overlooking the pool, was a studio apartment – one room with bathroom – but had been cleverly designed so that the sitting area (with the children’s beds) was almost closed off at night time from the adult bedroom space, so I could watch TV in the evening without disturbing my son, but at the same time could hear him and check on him as he slept. I noted that the balcony door – unlike many in hotels – had a removable key which could be kept away from tempting fingers.
There was plenty for him to do even on an often drizzly weekend. While the outdoor climbing frames and balancing apparatus were appealing, it was heartening in this day of iPad gaming to see the most fun he had was trying to lose himself in the traditional maze – especially when he discovered there were little model animals hidden in the dead ends. The hotel has thoughtfully supplied a viewing platform for parents to guide a child out again should he or she become lost!
Indoors, my son enjoyed the soft play room and also the party session where all the children in the hotel can join in traditional favourites like pass the parcel, musical chairs and Simon Says. A fellow parent looking on was a regular visitor and told me the hotel put a real effort into organising activities for the children and the kids’ club wasn’t just a babysitting service.
And for parents, secreted away and amazingly quiet considering it is under the kids’ club is the spa complete with relaxation room. Staff are so clued into parents that my masseuse pointed out the sore muscles in my back were not due to sitting at a computer but from twisting to picking up my son. They were also sensitive enough to think of calling the kids’ club to let them know they were overrunning in case my son started to worry where I was. He, however, was quite happy and in the half hour had made a glorious fire engine out of cardboard boxes and coloured paper.
The hotel offers an early kids’ supper from 4.45pm and later a choice of eating in an adult only area or with your child in the family restaurant. The food was good and my son loved the fact that he had an (age appropriate) starter while I was impressed by the speedy service – any parent knows how tortuous it is when children have to wait too long to be fed.
One returning parent said she liked the hotel because: “They recognise that parents need a holiday too.” I found the atmosphere relaxed and very sympathetic to our being just a pair as staff stepped in when one pair of adult hands was not enough. Elsewhere, my son pitched in happily to play with younger members of the families while their parents took me in as one of their own.
Top Tip: Try lunch at the child-friendly Mermaid Inn, a pub at Porth beach – a few hundred yards walk down the hill. Child menus – or share adult portions – and sip a glass a drink on the terrace while your child plays in the sand or paddles within grabbing distance.
Jill Turner Is a journalist based in Cornwall. A former Fleet Street editor she gave up her career to bring up her young son by the sea and now works with children and as a copywriter, communications specialist (web and print) and freelance journalist.