We have recently come back from a week's holiday in Brean, we stayed in a lodge with a hot tub at the John Fowler Sandy Meadows park, the sister park of Sandy Glade. We booked this holiday last year after visiting my sister and her family when they were staying there, we liked the park and the price so much that we booked it there and then, taking advantage of the offer to book for 2016 and pay 2015 prices.
Although we had been there the year before we weren't quite sure what to expect on our return as the park is in it's very early stages, last year there weren't many lodges there at all and we knew that there would be a lot more this year, we hoped that the development hadn't ruined the look and feel of the park. We needn't have worried, despite there being quite a few more lodges the park is still quiet and peaceful, without being too overcrowded. The new lodges meant that there wasn't as much clear grass space for the kids to round around on, but there was still plenty of space in between each lodge. The lodge that we stayed in this year wasn't there last year, I'm not sure exactly how old it is but it is definitely less than one year old.
When walking into the lodge you are greeted with a modern open plan living, dining and kitchen area. The area is light, bright and modern. I did have a slight panic when I saw the cream furniture and cream carpet that we had to attempt to keep clean and stain free while staying there for a week with a one year old. The kitchen contains everything that you need for a self catering holiday, and more, it even has a dishwasher and a washer/dryer.
Our three bed lodge had a master bedroom with walk in wardrobe and ensuite, two twin bedrooms and a separate bathroom. All of the bedrooms had a wardrobe, under bed storage and drawers. The bedrooms were small but big enough for what we needed, it was a very tight squeeze to fit the travel cot into the twin room but we managed, it just meant keeping the wardrobe door open all week as the handle was in the way. There was plenty of room in the master bedroom for the cot so if it came to it Aria would have gone in there and Spence & me would have had one of the twin rooms instead.
The patio doors in the dining area opened up to reveal a decked area with a six seater outdoor dining set and a private area which was home to our hot tub. The hot tub is secured away behind a child proof gate and hidden away from prying eyes.
The hot tub is spacious and kept at a consistent temperature of 38.4 meaning that you can turn the bubbles on and dive straight in whenever it takes your fancy. It is cleaned and maintained twice daily and oh so relaxing. The perfect nap time retreat.
As mentioned above Sandy Meadows is a sister site to Sandy Glade, Sandy Meadows is a private community containing only lodges, you need a code to open the gates and drive in, though the pedestrian gate is left unlocked. Sandy Glade is where the entertainment happens. Sandy Glade is just across the road from Sandy Meadow, during the day there is an open gate so you literally just cross over the road, the gate is locked at 5pm meaning you have to walk along the road for a little while longer, there is no pavement and a sharp bend which isn't ideal, but it is a quiet road. There is plenty to do in the Sandy Glade park, there is a swimming pool, park, kids club to name but a few. We didn't go to the swimming pool, opting to use our hot tub instead, but we went to the clubhouse most evenings and Aria loved it. They have a mini disco, a character meet & greet and bingo for both the adults and children. There is usually entertainment later on but we would always leave by then to put Aria to bed.
Aria loved it at the clubhouse. Going in May meant that is was quiet enough that we could leave her shuffle off on the dance floor, and that the stripeys could get the baby toys out for her (the stripeys are basically John Fowler's version of the Butlin's red coats). Aria surprised us by shuffling up to the characters herself, we expected her to be scared of them. The stripeys were friendly and took a great interest in the children. Every time we went in they same people were working which was great as Aria knew them and they knew her. I'm not sure when the poor sods get a break though!
As with most things it wasn't all perfect. Upon arrival I excitedly opened and closed all of the cupboards to see what was behind them (is it just me that does this?) and opened the dishwasher to reveal a nasty stench and the fact that it was full of dirty crockery and cutlery. The dishwasher had been filled and not switched on. I rang reception about this and they sent someone over quite quickly. The lady who came was apologetic and explained that she had checked the lodge over when the cleaners finished and had to send the cleaner back as she had missed one of the bathrooms, but she hadn't realised that there was a dishwasher so hadn't checked that. The lodge is new as is she, she started the week prior to our holiday. She gave me one dishwasher tablet and apologised.
While we were waiting for the lady to come out about the dishwasher I opened the drawer in the bedroom and the front of it fell off. At this point I was not happy and felt down about the whole holiday. I didn't ring anyone as we already had someone on the way to resolve the dishwasher issue. When the lady came to deal with the dishwasher problem I mentioned the drawer, she placed it back on and explained that it would be fine as long as we didn't open it too hard, I explained that I had a one year old and I wasn't happy for it to be left like that as it could fall off onto her feet if she pulled it open, maintenance were then called, who, in fairness, arrived within about ten minutes.
The maintenance guy was great, he explained that the lodge was less than a year old and that unfortunately things like this often happen during the 'settling' phase. He fixed the drawer straight away, checked the other drawers and couldn't apologise enough.
I personally don't think that the dishwasher situation was handled as well as it should have been. We were left to put the tablet in, switch the machine on and empty the dishwasher contents back into the cupboards. I would have at least expected a few complimentary dishwasher tablets as an apology.
The lodges aren't very child friendly but they aren't sold as child friendly, if you are staying in one of these lodges you have to be prepared to watch your child like a hawk. Aria got her thumb stuck in a door stopper, closed the bathroom door behind herself and couldn't get out, we couldn't open the door because she was in the way, she scratched her leg on the carpet gripper and we struggled to fit the travel cot in the room. If you want to stay somewhere that is perfectly kitted out for children this probably isn't for you.
Other downsides were that the lodge got very hot with the heating on and cold without, there was a lack of plug sockets in the living room, there is no wifi available in the lodges but we were able to connect to 3G on EE and use the free wifi while in the clubhouse.
The positives most definitely outweighed the negatives. Despite getting off to a rocky start we had a fantastic week away and would definitely return and recommend. The lodge was beautiful, the hot tub was a real treat, there is a lot to do in and around the local area, fantastic entertainment and an on-site cafe/takeaway. The staff are friendly, though some maybe a little inexperienced. There were rabbits hopping around the lodges and we often had ducks come up to our decking to visit us. The prices are very reasonable in comparison to most lodges with a private hot tub, we paid just under £500 for seven nights at the beginning of May, obviously this does go up a lot during peak season.
The lodges are self catering which means that there isn't much provided - look out for a post coming soon about what you will need to pack!
Visit the John Fowler website for more information or to book.