What is it? Bovey Castle, once the home of WH Smith, now beautifully restored to its former art deco beauty. This luxury hotel offers the ultimate combination of bygone glamour mixed with modern-day luxury.

Where? Just 20 minutes from the Devon end of the M5.

Description: [COUNTRY_FASHION_SHOW.jpg]Caroline and Matt Rush took their nine-year-old daughter Lana for a luxury two-day break at Bovey Castle. Set amid sprawling grounds against the stunning backdrop of Dartmoor National Park in Devon, it certainly was a real rural retreat

I can’t think of one reason why not! Breathtaking surroundings, wonderful service, fresh gourmet food and extremely child-friendly.

The estate offers golf, boating, fishing, tennis, croquet, shooting and archery, trampolining, quad biking, mountain biking, riding, cricket, Sloe Gin and Cider making, wine tasting, country walks and spa.

Evening entertainment is centred around food and drink. The Piano Bar has relaxed live music every evening, the restaurant is exquisite and the cigar and brandy room proved popular with the guys after dinner.

All catered for. Our rooms were adjoining, allowing a bit of privacy for us and some independence for Lana. Daily entertainment was fastidiously planned courtesy of the Bovey Rangers. Children are invited to go and collect eggs from the chickens on the estate for breakfast and from 10.30am onwards different daily activities are on offer. Lana toasted marshmallows in the woods and participated in a scavenger hunt. Had it rained, there is a dedicated play barn with arts and crafts, DVDs, Game Boys, Play Stations, table footballs, chess, marbles and an indoor cinema. For the younger children there are day-care facilities, as well as babysitting and listening devices.

The spa is the newest part of the Castle, built sympathetically to tie in with the rest of the building. The lower ground floor contains the gym, pool, Jacuzzi, steam room and sauna. Above the pool are five treatment rooms and a hair salon.

Local activities: Ballooning, kiting, 4 x 4 adventure rides, miniature pony centre.

Wish we had known: …that we could have brought our dogs. There are kennels for large dogs and some rooms allow small dogs.

Our top tip: Make sure your wardrobe fits, day time outdoors, laid back anything goes. Evening time jeans are discouraged, you can wear them but are asked not to – take some other trousers, it will make you and the management more comfortable.

Kids say: Lana says: ‘I tried lots of new things this holiday, but my favourite was camp building and gooey marshmallows – yummy!’

Getting There: Visit www.boveycastle.com. Rooms start from L195 through to L1,750 per night. Food is reasonably priced, with a three-course dinner setting you back around L40 per head plus wine.

About our stay: ‘Which junction is it off the M5?’ was the first time my sleep was disturbed on our journey from Manchester to Bovey Castle. My husband had insisted that we got up early to miss the Bank Holiday traffic and within just three hours of our departure I was woken up just before Exit 31. We were in Devon. It was 9am. Twenty minutes later we were driving up Bovey Castle’s grand sweeping entrance, through the immaculate golf course. We were greeted by porters dressed as if they are about to go shooting and immediately felt part of the country gentry. Check-in wasn’t until the afternoon but the friendly manager invited us to relax and have a coffee while our room was prepared. A guided tour of the estate by golf buggy followed. The castle’s current impeccable appearance is relatively new. Peter de Savery (PDS), the new owner, has ploughed several millions into restoring the hotel to its former glory, maintaining the once famous golf course and nurturing the landscaped gardens.[DIVINE_AFTERNOON_TEA.jpg] With an overview of all activities we were able to plan our few days whilst taking afternoon tea in the Cathedral Room. Freshly baked scones, clotted cream, a selection of cakes and tea in front of a roaring fire saw us through the afternoon. Our two (extremely comfortable double) bedrooms were connected by a small hallway. Lana’s bed had a children’s book about PDS and the castle. We were booked in for dinner at 8pm in the restaurant, where we tried all sorts of different dishes. I definitely hit the jackpot with the fillet steak, my husband and daughter were so envious they ordered my dish the following day. Marco the sommelier suggested some wines to complement the meal, and they did, perfectly. Our first full day began with Lana bouncing out of bed to go egg collecting. Matt and I enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and a falconry display followed on the terrace Lana then began her Bovey Ranger adventure; she was presented with a ranger’s pack, which included a bear, t-shirt, colouring books and pencils. Decked out in hunter’s wellies, available for the use of all guests, she and four others of similar age headed out to the woods to make a camp and get dirty. Matt and I had a fly-fishing lesson and were both surprised at how much we enjoyed it. A lunchtime rendezvous with Lana reassured us that she was enjoying her time as much as we were. In fact, impatient to get back to her newfound friends, Lana promptly disappeared to the play barn while we tried out archery and golf. Our afternoon ended watching her play against Marco the sommelier-cum-tennis coach on the all-weather courts, followed by another afternoon tea – too good to resist – a back massage for me and pool for the others. [MATT_AND_CAROLINE_ENJOYING_A_SPOT_OF_ARCHERY.jpg] Our last evening was spent between the Piano Bar, where the live music and open fire created a relaxed atmosphere to enjoy and sample some of the wines, and the restaurant where we enjoyed another delectable dinner. I had forgotten how great holidays in the UK can be. ‘Imagine how chilled you would be if we had stayed longer,’ my husband said but unfortunately work called. So we headed back to sunny Manchester, through some of the most beautiful countryside England has to offer. *Caroline Rush lives in Manchester with her husband and 9 year old daughter. She is the Managing Director of Crush Communications PR agency. www.crushcommunications.co.uk

Created: 2006-04-28 17:00:05.860

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