Jayne Freer
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Calcot Manor

October 18, 2017

It’s been a long-standing tradition for as long as I can remember that the Freer sisters treat themselves to a spa weekend at least once a year.

The condition has always been ‘girls only’, but this year, for the first time, we had an honorary male guest in the shape of my two-and-a-half year old nephew, Harvey.

If anyone had said to me that ‘toddler’ and ‘relaxing spa weekend’ could fuse together comfortably, I would have laughed in their face. But I can safely say that we discovered a venue that’s not only luxurious and relaxing, but had ‘family escape’ nailed to perfection.

Calcot Manor is a stunning boutique hotel and spa set in 220 acres of Cotswolds’ countryside, surrounded by picture-postcard villages renowned for their honey-coloured stone buildings.

The Manor itself dates back to the 14th century and is equipped with everything needed to ensure the perfect break; whether you’re a couple on a romantic escape, or parents in need of the ultimate getaway – even with the kids in tow.

Calcot Manor exudes luxury, charm and comfort in equal measure, but welcomes children with open arms. With its Ofsted-registered crèche, Playzone packed with activities, The Mez with its gaming equipment and consoles, two outdoor playgrounds, a Saturday morning baking workshop, bike rides, Segways and a disc golf course, there’s enough entertainment to tire out even the most hyperactive young guest.

Not only that, but the 16-metre indoor pool has allotted child swim times so that adult guests wanting to avoid the risk of being dive-bombed and bathing among frog-shaped floats, can do so in peace. In summer months the heated outdoor pool is also available.

With so much to do, and only a weekend to cram it all in, we checked in to our spacious family suite and within seconds were wrapped in fluffy white bathrobes and flip-flopping around in our Calcot slippers.

The ‘Woodchester suite’ had a modern, country-theme and was decked with all the mod-cons, as well as essential safety gadgets such as wooden stair-gates to prevent tumbles.

A welcome pack included a freshly baked cookie for Harvey and a delicious bowl of shiny fresh fruit that looked as though it had just been painted.

Adjoining the sumptuous main bedroom was a downstairs toilet as well as a snug child’s room with bunk beds and a cot.

The piece-de-resistance however, was up the spiral staircase. With two free standing bathtubs, ‘hers’ and ‘hers’ sinks, a TV for teeth-cleaning entertainment, and large walk-in shower, the master bathroom became the unexpected place to ‘hang out’.

It was a good job we were staying two nights so Harvey could try out both baths, complete with his Calcot rubber duck, bag of bath toys and baby shampoo, kindly left for us to use during our stay.

When it comes to feeding time, the hotel provides a daily kids’ high tea in the pub-style Gumstool Inn, and for those wanting a fine dining experience, there’s the candlelit conservatory.

The three of us wanted to eat together both evenings, but for those wanting child-free dining, the bedroom’s inbuilt listening monitor ensures parents can relax safe in the knowledge that should anyone waken, they’ll be alerted via a portable paging device.

Breakfast was a feast fit for a king, no matter what their size. A cold buffet included a selection of juices, cereals, fresh fruit, yoghurts, pastries and bread. For round two there’s a separate special children’s breakfast menu with the likes of Gloucestershire sausage sandwich, pancakes with maple syrup, and free range eggs and bacon. The adults get to fuel up on everything from a full English breakfast or smoked haddock with free-range eggs, through to Granola porridge and ‘choose your own omelete’. I can recommend the smoked haddock, while Harvey took a particular liking to the individual fruit yoghurts.

After breakfast it was time to spend some quality Aunty/nephew time in the playground while Kath headed off for her spa treatment.

Then it was my turn. Lured by its promises of brightening dull skin, I booked in for the Elemis Superfoods Pro-Radiance facial. Therapist Jemma explained how the goodness of nine superfoods and essential minerals, including Magnesium, Potassium, Zinc, Vitamins A and E, would be pumped into my skin, providing the kind of nutritional boost that blueberries and broccoli can only dream of.

And so I surrendered to an hour of gentle cleansing, exfoliation and moisturising, with careful attention paid to the eye and décolletage areas. After applying the amino mask, Jemma turned up the relaxation dial with a deep scalp massage, leaving that mineral army to crack on with its detoxing and nourishing work. She finished with a hand massage which left me wishing I had at least four arms.

Afterwards my skin felt smoother and was visibly plumper. Jemma provided an analysis of my skin (dry with patches of milia) with some recommendations around exfoliation products, but without the pushy sell. Devine.

Calcot’s Spa has several treatment rooms but if you’re looking for a pampering, make sure you book well in advance of your stay as slots get snapped up fast.

The spa area also has a sauna, steam room and a relaxation area with loungers, glossy magazines and fresh cucumber or lemon and lime water – and is free from little ones for those wanting to escape.
The courtyard provides the perfect spot for cracking open a bottle of Prosecco and unwinding in the romantic outdoor hot tub in front of a giant open fire.

For those looking for a more energising break there’s the Trim Trail. The 2.3 mile running track includes eight exercise stations so you can add circuits into a cardio workout. And of course, there’s the well-equipped gym – but we never saw that!

For me, the weekend was all about creating memories. Whether it was playing ‘ticket inspector’ in the children’s playground as Harvey wheeled around on his play motorbike, or playing ‘choo-choo trains passing under the bridge’ with the swimming pool floats, that was more than enough exercise for me thank you very much, all before curling up for an early night watching a DVD in bed.
Whoever said you can’t relax with a two-year-old?

PANEL:
Jayne Freer was hosted by Calcot & Spa, a member of Pride of Britain Hotels collection (never more than 50 hotels, to guarantee quality and exclusivity). Set in 220 acres of grounds near Tetbury in Gloucestershire, the Cotswold manor house has a spa, crèche, tennis courts, trim trail and a range of activities on offer. Family suites cost from £234 per night (four sharing) with a supplement of £40 per child, per night. Inter-connecting rooms and two-bedroom cottage suites are also available. Call Pride of Britain Hotels (0800 089 3929, www.prideofbritainhotels.com) to book.

Picture: Feeding time at Calcot Manor