There is no disputing that the staycation is here to, well, stay. But whatever your reasons for holidaying at home, it doesn’t mean compromising on that all-important holiday feeling. Kate Hamilton reports.
There are numerous motives for spending your summer holidays at home – ranging from financial, to saving the hours otherwise spent travelling abroad. But whatever your reasons for not getting on a plane, North Wales certainly has the resources to ensure that you still enjoy that well-earned break.
If you live in North Wales but still intend to holiday in the region, then the best way to get that vital change of scene is to get out in the great outdoors. Yes, I mean camping.
Shell Island (http://www.shellisland.co.uk), near Llanbedr, is a beautiful coastal campsite which has been a much-loved holiday destination for generations. Accessed via a causeway, the island, also known as Mochras, is cut off from the mainland twice a day by the high tide – so you can still feel as though you have escaped from it all.
There’s no two ways about it – Shell Island is a breathtaking location. The views to the north are of Snowdon and Snowdonia, with Cader Idris and the Cambrian mountains seen to the south. The majestic backdrop includes a great view of the UNESCO World Heritage listed Harlech Castle, standing proud just a couple of miles up the coast.
The coastal resorts of Porthmadog, Portmeirion and Barmouth are a short distance away, and there is plenty to do right on the doorstep from steam trains to cycling, hiking and exploring the region’s medieval castles and other attractions. And, after a busy day sightseeing, the sunsets looking out to sea over the Llŷn Peninsula are legendary.
Shell Island is one of the largest camping sites in Europe, and with over 300 acres available for camping you’re guaranteed to find your idea pitch. It appeals to those who love unspoilt countryside, mountain landscapes and peace and quiet, and the site attracts families from all over the UK and Europe for camping holidays and day visits.
On site you’ll find shops, a launderette, bar, restaurant and newly refurbished showers and toilets. There is a children’s play area and a games room, and responsible barbecuing and beach fires are permitted, meaning that all members of the family will enjoy their stay.
And, if entertaining the kids is your main priority, then you can’t beat a caravan park. Facilities and amenities abound at caravan sites up and down the North Wales coast, and inland for that matter, meaning that there is always something for the little darlings to do.
Haven is perhaps the best-known caravan park provider in the region, and its flagship Hafan y Môr (https://www.haven.com/parks/north-wales/hafan-y-mor/) site near Pwllheli recently underwent a £3million redevelopment of its indoor swimming pool complex. The new complex, which was officially opened by Olympic swimmer Jazz Carlin, includes three exciting new flumes, a multi lane slide to race your friends (or the kids), an exciting wave pool, a lazy river and a fully kitted out children’s pool for younger visitors with fun water features including a tipping bucket and water sprays, along with a laned pool for more serious swimmers.
Once you’re finished in the pool you can try out Hafan’s Aerial Adventure course, which offers stunning views of the Llŷn Peninsula, or have a trip out on the boating lake for some relaxation. The indoor SportsDrome is perfect for those rainy days, or you could have a go on the adventure golf course and take in the sea air at the nearby beach.
Hafan y Môr also offers theatre company style entertainment. The theatre company cast is a select group of handpicked performers including specialist dancers, vocalists and event hosts. Guests can enjoy an exclusive selection of shows including the rock spectacular Evolution Rock, pop tribute show MJ Legend, MusiKids, The Great British Summertime and more.
Talacre Beach Holiday Home Park (https://www.darwinescapes.co.uk/parks/talacre-beach-holiday-home-park/) is another ideal destination for fun family holidays in North Wales. Situated just a stone’s throw away from the sand dunes of Talacre and the North Wales coast, you can enjoy the nostalgia of a traditional seaside holiday while taking advantage of the high modern standards Talacre Beach has to offer.
With its ancient sand dune system, nature reserve and 17th Century lighthouse, Talacre’s 5 Star rating makes it one of the best caravan holiday parks in North Wales. With a vast range of facilities, including an air-conditioned gym, newly refurbished indoor swimming pool and relaxing restaurant, it is the perfect family retreat.
So much so, in fact, that a week’s holiday may not be enough. Holiday homes here start from just £16,995, and owners get to enjoy a range of facilities and amenities, including the Go-Active activity programme, restaurant, entertainment, swimming pool, gym and spa.
And, if you love luxury, you’ll love Aberconwy Resort & Spa (https://www.darwinescapes.co.uk/parks/aberconwy-resort-spa/). Nestled in the stunning Conwy valley, with the majestic mountains of Snowdonia as the backdrop and the Conwy Morfa Beach just on the doorstep, the keyword here is relaxation. This private and secure resort, with its world-class service, lets you immerse yourself in the total pleasure of your own holiday home.
There is a wide range of holiday homes and static caravans available currently for sale at Aberconwy Resort & Spa. In addition, there are a range of elements here that, when combined, create the ‘Aberconwy experience’. Langley’s country club, Mali’s hair salon, the Aberconwy Spa and the on site restaurant, all add to the luxury and draw of owning your very own handpicked holiday home. (Oh, and it’s worth noting that Signature’s isn’t your average ‘on site restaurant’. In fact, it has just been nominated for Restaurant of the Year in the 2017 British Restaurant Awards, alongside offerings from Gordon Ramsay and Marco Pierre White.)
But, if you already live in North Wales and so think holiday home ownership here isn’t for you, then it might be time to think again.
“People usually buy here as a springboard into North Wales,” explains Samantha Lambert of Darwin Escapes (https://www.darwinescapes.co.uk). “All of the beauty that it has to offer is suddenly on their doorsteps – I guess that’s why people who live in Wales still buy here. There are still some built up areas in the region and it’s a way to be on the coast, or escape somewhere more remote, every weekend without a long drive. North Wales offers everything from coastal to country, sea and mountains.”
Of course if you aren’t local, then it might be a good idea to ‘try before you buy’. In this instance, a holiday cottage is the perfect platform to discover the region and see if it is somewhere that you can truly envisage spending plenty of time.
Menai Holiday Cottages (https://www.menaiholidays.co.uk/home/) was established on Anglesey 34 years ago and has gone from strength to strength to become the largest independent UK holiday cottage company specialising in quality accommodation across Snowdonia, Anglesey and the Llŷn Peninsula. With a superb selection of over 370 self-catering holiday cottages it offers a wide choice of quality accommodation across North Wales.
The philosophy of the company is simple: they only choose cottages that they would holiday in themselves. It also offers bespoke holiday packages including adventure or activity itineraries, ‘book a cook’ and chef services, cottage meals, weddings and private events. It even has homes with hot tubs and over 200 dog-friendly cottages to choose from.
So what are you waiting for? Cancel that flight and swap your air miles for fresh air in order to holiday right here in North Wales. Why would you want to go anywhere else?