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UK holidays saw a surge in popularity over the summer months as hotels and resorts reopened their doors. However, as new cases of Covid begin to dominate the headlines once again, it is understandable why some people may be growing wary of embarking on a staycation in the coming months. Despite these concerns though, one holiday resort proves that you do not need to scrimp on luxury in order to ensure safety.
That resort is the beautiful five-star Landal Gwel an Mor; a coastal retreat set near the quaint seaside village of Portreath in Cornwall.
It takes its name from the Cornish local dialect, meaning “view of the sea”, and promises just that.
Made up of four different styles of lodge, expect to pull back the curtains each morning to idyllic vistas of stunning aquamarine waters and rolling hills of emerald.
There is a lodge for everyone on offer; whether it’s one of the traditional Scandanavian lodges ideal for a cosy self-catered retreat, or one of the accessible eco-lodges, fully equipped with ramps, wet rooms and hoists, ensuring a comfortable stay for all.
During our stay at Gwel an Mor, we were lucky enough to experience one of the chic Residence eco-lodges.
A contemporary twist on a traditional holiday cottage, the open plan accommodation offers all of the comforts of home alongside some extra special elements including a toasty log burner, surround sound speakers in every room and a bathroom complete with its own television.
Perhaps the most notable feature, though, is the spacious deck complete with bubbling hot tub, perfect for submerging yourself in at dusk and watching the stars appear one by one. The lodge also came equipped with some goodies to kick start the holiday, including coffee and tea, milk and even a bottle of chilled wine awaiting us in the fridge.
Every element of the experience is carefully considered, even despite the fact that check-in is now completely contact-free – a move which Landal Gwel an Mor made in a bid to ensure customer confidence amid the pandemic. What’s more, each lodge is cleaned top to bottom with specialist equipment designed to sanitise and kill bacteria and viruses.
To add an extra layer of confidence, a swab is taken from the inside of your lodge and left on display, allowing guests to relax in the knowledge they are in for a safe stay.
And though the pandemic has changed the way in which the park operates, it still boasts an array of incredible activities on offer for all ages.
Sports enthusiasts can spend a day putting on the green, hire out one of the tennis courts, or enjoy some quintessentially British grass sports including croquet and boules. In the warmer months, watersports are also an option – with the local area a popular hotspot for surfing.
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Looking to try something new, we opted for an archery lesson, led by a trained instructor.
Though the ongoing pandemic has changed the way in which these sports lessons are conducted, Gwel an Mor’s staff are still able to provide a fun and insightful hour of learning and competing. Though current safety restrictions were followed to a T, including social distancing and increased cleaning of equipment, it certainly does not take away from the fun.
Alongside organised sporting activities, it’s also an idea to consider renting bikes if you want to explore off the beaten path without the need for a car.
Gwel an Mor works in partnership with nearby Coastal Train Cycling Hire, who will deliver bikes for groups of all sizes directly to your lodge door.
And while bikes offer an eco-friendly way to get from A to B, a good mountain bike will also ensure you are well equipped to explore the hidden leafy trails which loop their way through the nearby woodlands.
Of course, visitors can also amble around the area on foot, with plenty to discover along the way.
Just a short walk from Gwel an Mor is the quaint seaside town of Portreath, home to several locally run shops and cafés, as well as its stunning beach.
The port town was once famous for importing coal and exporting copper, and small nods to its rich history can still be spotted while exploring. For those looking to really stretch their legs, clamber up the south-west coastal path for some truly magnificent views of the aquamarine below.
After all of that activity, visitors will likely be looking to relax and unwind.
That’s where The Wellbeing Spa comes in. From a full-body massage down to a pretty pedicure, there’s a procedure to suit all needs; all in line with what is described as “the five-element theory”.
The theory is the belief that all life is comprised of and ruled by the “five elements of nature”; and in an extra personalised twist, upon arrival the spa’s trained professionals will consult a consultation to determine which element best suits you.
“Together we’ll peruse the treatment menu for your matching element and create a personalised spa experience that will work in perfect harmony with you,” explains the spa.
No visit to the spa is complete without a dip in Gwel an Mor’s indoor swimming pool, which also features a toasty, bubbling hot tub. Perhaps one of the unexpected perks of the new rules is that pool sessions can only be hired out, meaning there is even more space to enjoy a peaceful swim.
Even as night draws in, Gwel an Mor doesn’t fall short of things to do.
Though the lodges themselves are self-catered, providing a cosy set up for a homey family dinner or romantic meal without having to leave the front door, there is also an on-site restaurant for those nights when you feel like treating yourself.
The Terrace Bar and Restaurant may have had to make some changes in line with the new coronavirus regulations, such as pre-booked tables and the requirement to wear face masks when walking around, but that certainly hasn’t impacted the service.
The restaurant offers an array of locally-sourced seasonal dishes, including vegetarian options, and staff go out of their way to help with any queries you may have about specific menu items.
Even if you aren’t quite up to eating in a restaurant yet, the good news is that The Terrace also offers a take-away service for you to enjoy from the comfort of your lodge.
The pièce de résistance of our stay, however, came in the form of a magical meeting with some of Cornwall’s local residents – but not the human kind.
Feadon Farm Wildlife Centre is a non-profit business supported by Landal Gwel an Mor.
Sitting just minutes from the guest lodges is the small farm, home to an assemblage of rescued and, sadly, some often rare British wildlife. Feadon’s animal expert Gary, who heads up the wildlife centre, hosts a number of animal experiences, both day and night, perfect for all ages.
From Pygmy goats to hedgehogs, bats to ostriches, the experiences allow guests a unique opportunity to learn about the stunning British Wildlife the UK has to offer.
During our stay, we headed out on one of the Night Walks, giving us not only the chance to fly Sly the Barn Owl, but a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hand feed two of Feadon’s sweetest residents: Meadow and Todd the foxes.
Jetting off on a winter sun holiday might not feel like the right thing for everyone this year, but it is UK resorts like Landal Gwel an Mor that show there are plenty of incredible holiday opportunities right here in the UK where luxury and safety need not be a trade-off for the other.
Landal Gwel an Mor have a number of festive and winter breaks on sale with activities for the whole family; including a Christmas Fayre, Christmas wreath making workshops and a magical meeting with Santa and his reindeers.
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