With short journey times, UK currency and no need to travel with a passport, the islands off the southern coast of England have all the right ingredients for a hassle-free family getaway. At Prestige we make sure that your holiday experience is anything but ordinary – discover the luxury suites, fine-dining restaurants and five-star facilities that our island hotels have to offer.
Castles and Cows in Scilly
If a speedy journey time is high on your list of priorities, just fifteen minutes in a Skybus from Land’s End could see you touch down in the Isles of Scilly. As the most south-westerly location in England, just off the coast of Cornwall, its five inhabited islands offer beautiful beaches and rugged beauty just a stone’s throw from home.
Alternatively, one-hour flights take off regularly from Exeter airport during holiday season, or a ferry service from Penzance to St Mary’s will get you to the island in 2 hours and 45 minutes.
Where to Stay
If you’re looking for somewhere with the wow factor for kids and parents alike, I have to recommend the Star Castle Hotel on St Mary’s. What child wouldn’t want to stay in a fortified Elizabethan castle, and what adult wouldn’t be delighted by its opulent bedrooms, two award-winning restaurants and spectacular panoramic views of the archipelago?
Exploring the Islands
One of the great things about staying on a small island is the chance to explore every inch of it during your stay – and what better way to acquaint yourself with Scilly than to travel by golf buggy! The Scilly Cart Co provides easy-to-drive electric carts for a fun and unique way of travelling around St Mary’s. With seating for 2-8 people and child/booster seats available at no extra charge, there will be room for all the family.
Tim, the hotel’s own boatman, will be more than happy to plan an island hopping itinerary with you over breakfast at the Star Castle. Little ones will love a visit to see the cows of Troytown Farm on St Agnes, the only dairy farm in the Isles of Scilly – I have it on good authority that their homemade ice cream is excellent!
If your children are over the age of eight, I would highly recommend a sojourn to nearby St Martins to snorkel with Scilly’s famous seals. With all equipment provided and no prior snorkelling experience needed, Scilly Seal Snorkelling offer an incredible experience for wildlife lovers of all ages to learn more about these inquisitive animals – and swim alongside them, of course!
Beaches and Boat Cruises in Guernsey
Situated just 35km from the coast of Northern France, Guernsey is an island retreat with a trans-Channel feel all of its own. With flights from a number of UK airports – including London Gatwick, Birmingham, Southampton and Manchester – it is easy to reach the island from wherever you are based on the mainland.
If you want to take your car with you, a year-round ferry departs from Poole with a journey time of around 3 hours.
Where to Stay
When it comes to family luxury, it is hard to beat the Duke of Richmond in St Peter Port. This extremely elegant four-star hotel – with its stylish black-and-white lobby complete with chequerboard floor – prides itself on its family-friendly outlook. For example, a recent client told me that her children went to their own check-in desk on arrival, where they were given a special welcome pack complete with a disposable camera and secret mission to carry out during their holiday!
Exploring the Island
In my opinion, one of the biggest draws of a family holiday in Guernsey is its excellent beaches. Vazon Bay on the west coast was recently named one of Britain’s cleanest beaches; it’s a haven for watersports enthusiasts, so make sure to take any budding surfers to the Guernsey Surf School to learn the ropes. Little paddlers will love Rocquaine Bay’s sand and shingle beach, as well as the nearby Fort Grey Shipwreck Museum.
Bumblebee Boat Cruises are a great way of exploring the wildlife, history and geography of Guernsey’s beautiful coastline. With themed cruises such as a Puffin Patrol, Seal Safari or World War II Cruise, the whole family can enjoy being out in the fresh sea air together.
Coasteering and Stargazing in Sark
This tiny island – just over 2 square miles in size – offers a truly unique holiday destination for the nostalgic and the adventurous in equal measure. The entirety of Sark is car-free, so expect to see only bicycles, trailers pulled by tractors and horse-drawn carriages on the roads. Its romantic remoteness is so appealing, and yet it’s still only two hours away from the UK’s bustling capital city.
A 55-minute ferry ride from Guernsey, which operates several times a day in peak season, will see you safe on Sark’s peaceful shores.
Where to Stay
The Stocks Hotel is a Victorian country house in the Dixcart valley that oozes traditional charm. The kids will love the ride from the ferry by horse and cart, but don’t expect the hotel to be equally as rustic – recently renovated rooms, a heated outdoor pool, a fine-dining restaurant and massage parlour make it one of Sark’s most luxurious getaways.
Exploring the Island
Again and again clients have raved about Adventure Sark as the perfect family entertainment. They provide activities pitched at the age and capabilities of the group, such as coasteering, sea kayaking and the intriguingly named activiquiz, which is described as an island-wide treasure hunt where teams have to gain points against the clock by completing tasks and answering questions.
When, after all that excitement and exertion, you collapse at the end of the evening, make sure to indulge in a spot of stargazing from Stocks Hotel’s cobbled terrace. Sark was recently given ‘dark skies’ status, a testament to the island’s exceptionally low levels of light pollution.