Stay The Night: Watermark, Cotswolds
Escape to the country, US-style: You can pretend you're in New England in these Cotswold holiday homes
Sunday 23 August 2009
Should I stay or should I go now? If your budget won't stretch beyond a staycation this summer, book a lakeside lodge at Watermark in the Cotswolds and pretend you're holidaying in New England. For there's something of the American east coast about these clapboard homes, not least their names – Hampton, Maine, Connecticut. It's a pleasant conceit, enhanced by the setting, a serene 540-acre complex on the shores of six lakes in the Cotswold Water Park, a 40 square mile lakeland in Gloucestershire. Some may find this version of the countryside a little too staged, but beyond the manicured edges of the communal gardens, real nature is all around. And it's hard not to be seduced by the scene from your deck when flocks of geese put on a fly-by and the resident community of swans and black-headed gulls bob past on the lake beyond.
The lodges on offer for holiday rental come in a variety of sizes and configurations because this is a community of "self-builds" (to save the stamp duty): Watermark's properties are second homes managed for their owners by the resort. Our bright and spacious four-bedroom, three-bathroom house had a large living room with raised kitchen diner, leading to a decked terrace for al fresco dining. According to the owners' tastes, furnishings differ – ours played to the clean lines of the house with contemporary styling, though dressed rather in the fashion of a showhome. A welcome pack and towels and bed linen are provided.
The food and drink
Keep a tight rein on the budget by self-catering in the well-equipped kitchen. For a night away from the stove, try The Lakeside Brasserie on Spring Lake, which has a family-pleasing menu of pizza and pasta, salads and grills from around £20 per head for three courses without drinks. The Cotswolds Lakeside Restaurant at the nearby Four Pillars Hotel, offers fancier fare, with a three-course meal without wine costing from £25 per head. Break out of the complex for fine dining at nearby gastro pub The Wild Duck (thewildduckinn.co.uk).
The point of a holiday at Watermark is to get active. Fishing, water- and cable-skiing, sailing, riding, golf and tennis are among a variety of activities laid on, though some must be paid for on top and it's advisable to book ahead of your stay. A free family pass allows access to Keynes Country Park for the duration of your visit, which has a bathing beach, high ropes course, and other facilities. Guests also get access to Spa 6 at the Four Pillars Hotel and the Hoburne Cotswold Fun Pool, which has fountains, geysers, a waterslide, and a soft play area. You're in the heart of the Cotswolds, with Cirencester just five miles away and all the other pretty honey-stone towns and villages in easy reach.
Children welcome. Inquire about whether dogs are allowed and what facilities there are for guests with disabilities in specific properties.
A short break, Monday to Friday or Friday to Monday, starts from £383. A full week, Monday to Monday or Friday to Friday, starts from £510.
Watermark, Isis Lake, South Cerney, Cirencester, Gloucestershire GL7 5TL (01285 869031; watermarkclub.co.uk).
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