Away with the Kids took a mini break at Easter to the Manor House and Ashbury golf hotel complex in Devon where we were blessed with a sunny few days for our planned, action-packed break. The Manor House Hotel was fully booked so we stayed at the sister hotel, the Ashbury Golf Hotel just a five-minute drive down a country lane. Read our review to see how we got on.
Reception was fairly busy but we were welcomed swiftly and once armed with multiple itineraries and maps we set off to find our room. The accommodation is spread across numerous wings and we were in the Moorview wing. We were on the third floor and as there are no lifts managing bags up and down the stairs was a bit tricky. If you have many it would be a good idea to ask for help. Our room slept our family of 5 in a double, a single and a bunk bed with an en-suite shower room and toilet. The space was limited and the decor dated - we mused over the artex décor of our youth - but all was clean and we knew we would not be spending much time in our room - importantly our beds were extremely comfortable and thus our room was perfect as a crash pad.
The Ashbury Golf Hotel
The views across the Devonshire countryside were extremely relaxing and I can see the attraction for golf fans here - the hotel although supremely child friendly, specialises in golf breaks offering seven different golf course options on site. However, we don’t play golf and we set to busying ourselves selecting and signing up for various activities on offer. We found that difficult - trying to cram everything we wanted to do within a two day stay was pushed and probably not the best way to experience the place. I would suggest a 4 day break would be a more relaxed time frame.
On day one we started off playing a family game of badminton. Rackets are available to loan from reception for a deposit of £5. Adjacent to reception is a games room or multi sports simulator where we spent 15 minutes playing on the interactive rifle range. That was a great warm up to our booked air pistol shooting session in the brand new facility next to the indoor tennis courts. During the hour we were instructed how to load, make safe and aim an air pistol. Alfie, aged 9, was allowed to join in as long as he was supervised by an adult. We didn’t realise we had two sharp shooters in the family who both managed to top the leaderboard in their appropriate age categories. This meant we could choose a prize or receive a reduction in price on merchandise available - an excellent incentive to get yourself signed up to the many different competitions, across a variety of sports, that occur daily. We purchased a prize hoodie for around £5.
At lunch you get to sit at a table that is allocated to you and this remained our table for the whole time we were there. The food was fantastic, buffet style, and very child friendly. There was a selection dedicated to children where even the fussiest would have plenty of choice, including a deli area and salad bar; more adventurous children could select from the adult buffet. There was also a selection of puddings and cakes or a tub of ice cream on offer. You do have to buy your drinks from the adjacent bar or you help yourself to jugs of water.
The Manor House Hotel
We decided to check out the Manor House Hotel site as I had signed up to a tennis coaching lesson. The facilities for tennis was mind blowing. All the courts were in top notch condition with 6 indoor courts and 5 outdoor courts. The tennis coach had been coaching a class of little ones before my lesson and I could see he had a lovely banter with the kids. My lesson should have been cancelled as there was not the minimum people required but he was kind enough to forgo his coffee break and he gave me some useful tips in a compact 40 minutes one on one. My husband meanwhile had taken the kids swimming. The Manor House Hotel is more geared up for families, especially younger ones as there is so much more to do on site, such as roller skating, ice skating, adventure golf and a large indoor soft play area. This did mean that the restaurant was extremely busy at peak times and we decided with our older children we preferred the Ashbury Golf Hotel as it had more lounge facilities and calmer dining areas - and we always had the option to hop in the car if we wanted to switch sites.
Next stop was a Zumba class in the dance studio and then back to the Asbury site as we had booked candle making in the craft centre. Again I was impresses at the variety of art and craft facilities and all we had to pay was a £1 per candle to cover the cost of the raw materials used. The hour went pretty quick and it was good to learn of a new skill that we wouldn’t normally have chosen.
The Spa Facilities and a spot of pampering
After our dinner we had a few hours to kill. My husband decided to go and check out the hydro spa with my eldest daughter and we all signed up for a game of tenpin bowling although there was some confusion at which lane we should have played on as it was not clearly marked. There was evening entertainment in full swing but we decide to plump for a game of snooker instead. The snooker room has rows upon rows of different sized snooker tables, I have never seen so many. Finally the kids started to get tetchy and it was time for bed.
Our night’s sleep was a comfortable one and not surprisingly, after our previous day’s activities, we all managed to have more of a lie in than normal.
The first activity we had signed up for was roller skating at the Manor House. This was the one activity that we had to quit after 10 minutes as my youngest child decided it was not for him. After watching him sit out in the corner for 5 minutes we decided to all quit and go and see if we could get on the adventure golf course. This was the best decision we made as the weather was glorious and the mini golf course was highly entertaining and challenging, set in stunning surroundings. I had booked my teenage girls in for a treat back at the Ashbury - an aromatherapy massage in the treatment rooms next door to the spa. Be sure to ascertain which room you have been allocated and remember to pay at reception first so as to save time. While they were being pampered I managed to have another tennis lesson this time in the new tennis wing at the Ashbury. There are just 2 indoor courts at the Ashbury compared the the numerous courts at the Manor house but they were never busy.
And Finally ...
There was just time to have a quick dip and easy the aching limbs in the spa pool. The kids enjoyed a quick swim and play in the adjacent water slide room. There are specific times for families and adults only to use the spa facilities which could be used by parents to take a quick break and enjoy their own space.
We would have liked to have gone on one of the guided walks across Dartmoor National Park but because it took up the whole afternoon we would have run out of time. We should also have liked to experience the fantastic bowling and curling facilities which looked great fun as well as the bike hire with specific graded routes on offer. We decided we would love to return as once you have paid for your holiday all food and activities are free. On certain nights’ parents are also offered a bottle of complimentary wine with their meal.
The variety of sports and craft activity on offer are fantastic for all ages and certainly kept my brood happy; it was good to try new things. We were initially a bit bamboozled by the numerous sign-up sheets pinned up on a large board and the activities split between the two sites but we soon got the hang of it. The hard part was trying to agree on which to choose. The weather was amazing while we were there but this is the sort of place that would be brilliant whatever the British weather throws at you and regardless of the season you decide to visit. As an active family it was a perfect mini break in Devon for us and one we would definitely like to visit again.
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