Near Portreath, on the north Cornish coast, you’ll find Gwel an Mor, a leisure resort that’s more high-end than Hi-de-Hi! It’s already won multiple awards for its Alpine-style holiday chalets, and this year it introduced a new addition – The Residence, a collection of luxury holiday cottages.
These stylish, contemporary homes from home offer self-catering breaks with every conceivable modern convenience. Each comes with either two or three bedrooms plus a private hot tub, wood-burning stove and underfloor heating. The launch was well-timed to benefit from Cornwall’s rebranding as “Poldark Country”. The glorious coastline and tin-mining heritage served as backdrops to the recent television drama, attracting a new wave of visitors.
Gwel an Mor means “View of the Sea” in Cornish. True to form, each single-storey, pine-clad Residence overlooks a valley sweeping down to the coast. It’s a view best enjoyed from the loungers or hot tub on each unit’s expansive front deck.
Inside, a light-filled, open-plan living space combines dining and lounging areas with a kitchen bearing enough equipment to whip up a family feast. The modern decor has a chic Scandinavian feel, with wooden floors, splashes of primary colour and fold-back floor-to-ceiling windows. A corridor leads past two bedrooms (each with two single beds) and a family bathroom to a large master suite, all equipped with quality bedding and fluffy, white bathrobes and towels.
Everything is designed to be child friendly. Curve-edged furniture reduces the injury risk of sharp corners, while parental paraphernalia such as high chairs and cots can be borrowed from reception. Each lodge has a DVD player, two TVs and board games for family fun, with novels inspired by (or set in) Cornwall for more grown-up distraction.
Out and about
The family friendly vibe is everywhere at Gwel an Mor. A clubhouse features a heated pool (plus gym, spa and sauna for grown-ups), but the real USP is the wonderful Feadon Farm Wildlife Centre. Here, youngsters can feed the hens, goats and ducks and come face-to-face with hand-reared foxes or rescued hedgehogs and owls. There are wildlife walks and badger-watching, all priced at £12 per adult (£7 child).
A series of traffic-free cycle paths on the doorstep offers adventures through woodland and rolling countryside. Bikes can be hired on site from £15 per day (£12 child), with surfing, kayaking and coasteering also available locally.
The South West Coast Path and Mineral Tramways are both easily accessible. Portreath’s sandy beach is a 15-minute walk away, while St Agnes, a few miles further, presents Poldark fans with scenery from the show. St Ives (a nine-mile drive or bus ride away) is handy for a cultural fix. Here, Tate St Ives (01736 796226; tate.org.uk/stives) and affiliated Barbara Hepworth Sculpture Garden showcase modern art in a seafront setting; joint admission costs £10 per person.
The food and drink
Lodges come stocked with coffee, tea and a bottle of house wine. Further supplies can be picked up (or delivered from) supermarkets in Redruth, and topped up at Portreath’s local store and bakery. Alternatively, pre-order a Gwel an Mor breakfast pack of locally sourced sausages, bacon, muesli, eggs, apple juice, bread and butter (£30 for two people).
Beyond breakfast, there’s really no need to self-cater. The resort’s Terrace Restaurant serves lunch, cream teas and dinner using mostly Cornish ingredients. The quality of food here is excellent; expect bistro classics such as steaks, Thai green curry, and fish and chips alongside tapas and daily specials. The restaurant also provides take-away service and excellent picnic hampers.
For a change of scene, the Basset Arms (01209 842077; bassetarms.com) serves Portreath’s best pub grub. Better yet, hike the three-mile cliff path to Porthtowan for burgers, calamari and surfing action at beachfront Blue Bar (01209 890329; blue-bar.co.uk). After Cornish ice cream at the adjacent Moomaid (moomaidofzennor.com), the bus back to Portreath is a godsend for those too full to walk.
Gwel an Mor, Portreath, Cornwall, TR16 4PE (01209 842 354; gwelanmor.com). Three-night weekend or four-night midweek stays at The Residence this summer cost from £1,055 (cottages sleep up to six). Dogs are welcome at Gwel an Mor’s other lodges, but not The Residence.
The nearest station is Redruth, with direct trains from a wide range of stations on CrossCountry (0844 811 0124, crosscountrytrains.co.uk) and First Great Western (03457 000125, fgw.co.uk). First Great Western has Advance one-way fares from London from £23. Taxis from the station cost £15.