Every pregnant woman deserves a pampering break. But what if the family wants to come too? Isn't it a bit selfish to nip off and leave them twiddling their thumbs in the hotel room? It's a problem solved at Gleneagles - the Scottish hotel famed for golf championships and political summits - which offers a Babymooner package for expectant parents, with a choice of spa treatments for her and outdoor activities for him. And the kids can come too.
Gleneagles is a sprawling, swanky monster of a hotel. An imposing grey-stone building surrounded by rolling hills and glens, it's not the first place that springs to mind for a family holiday. Yet, despite the world-class golf courses, whisky and cashmere shops and hushed restaurants, it's incredibly, genuinely, child-friendly.
From the moment we arrived, my son, Max, was made to feel like an honoured guest. A packet of shortbread kept him happy while we checked in, child-sized Gleneagles cap, robe and slippers awaited him in our room and wherever we went he was greeted with smiles and a wee chat.
I got stuck into my pregnancy-pampering programme on the first morning, after a nausea-busting breakfast of porridge and full cooked Scottish breakfast (haggis and all). I was looking forward to snoozing my way through a relaxing pregnancy massage. But Margaret, my glamorous therapist, had other ideas and proceeded to scrub and knead my sadly neglected pregnant body back into a human (and super-soft) state. Her enthusiastic massaging of my "glutes" even managed to blitz my lower back pain.
Next I was slathered in volcanic mud and trussed up like a Christmas turkey in foil and blankets, before being left to doze in a darkened room. Then a quick shower before transferring to another "relaxation room", where I lay about nibbling dried fruit, sipping herbal tea and flicking through magazines.
If this is the life of the rich golf widow, I could get used to it. In fact, I could happily have spent the rest of the day indulging in the spa's other pregnancy-friendly treatments, including a manicure, pedicure (it's tricky reaching those feet, you know), facial and massage. But after two hours of me-time, the mother guilt kicked in and I ventured out to find my boys.
Joe's golf lesson had been called off because of frost, so he'd taken Max off to try falconry. ("Excitin'" said Max, although the birds were "quite big and scary".) But had golf and spa interests coincided, Max would have been well catered for. Children aged two to 10 can be cared for in the "Playroom" for up to two hours a day for free (after that its £15 an hour). The crèche is impressive, with its wooden toys, arts and crafts area, dressing-up rack and DVD corner. Max skipped off with barely a backward glance.
But the Playroom is only a temporary arrangement. A new kids' area is due to open in July and promises a larger space, with sand pit, water play and soft play. Teenagers can lounge in the Games Room, with interactive TV, PlayStations, pool, tennis and table football.
You'd need at least a week (and a fat wallet) to do justice to all Gleneagles has to offer. As well as the three golf courses, spa and falconry school, there's shooting, riding, archery, biking, tennis, fishing and off-road driving. Small children can learn to drive a mini Land Rover around a forest obstacle course - a big hit with Max. There's also The Club, a small leisure complex, with gym, lap pool, lagoon, and a massive outdoor hot tub.
Convinced by now of the hotel's child-friendly credentials, we braved dinner in the elegant Strathearn restaurant with Max. Even when he catapulted a knife across the table and broke a water glass it barely raised an eyebrow. And one of the waiters whisked him off for a tour of the kitchens when he began to flag between courses. A more relaxed option is The Club's Italian-style restaurant. Here, kids can "design" their own pizzas, assembling the ingredients at the table while wearing a chef's hat.
After two days of delicious food, Highland air and a healthy mixture of activity and indolence, I felt ready to face the next five months, backache and all. Any hotel that can keep a nauseous pregnant lady, a three-year-old and a hard-to-please husband happy gets my vote, but the final verdict on Gleneagles came from Max: "It's like a palace, only with more to do."
HOW TO GET THERE
Gleneagles Hotel (between Perth and Stirling, Perthsire; 0800 704705; gleneagles. com) offers a one-night Babymooners package from £410 for two. This includes breakfast, access to The Club's facilities, and one of the following activities or treatments per person: up to 75 minutes of health and beauty treatments at The Spa; a round of golf or an hour's lesson. Children aged 6-14 sharing their parents' room are charged £50 a night, under sixes stay free.Reuse content