You may have thought that active holidays full of hiking, watersports, swimming and other outdoor sports, were best enjoyed overseas, hitting the Mediterranean, Mark Warner style, but think again! The UK has seen a huge rise of active holiday resorts based at beachfront hotels and in acres of glorious British countryside. So, find yourself a good pair of trainers and look forward to some fitness, fun and relaxation in our pick of active holiday resorts.
Best for Watersports
Three Mile Beach, near St Ives, Cornwall
Wow! We can’t wait to live the Cornish dream staying in one of the fifteen new luxury self-catering beach houses opening this Easter. Tucked away on Gwithian Towans an unspoilt part of the stunning Cornish coastline, with never-ending Atlantic Ocean views – this is a surfer’s paradise. Think sand dunes, log-burner lounging, watersports, more watersports and starlit feasting. From bodyboarding, stand-up-paddle, kitesurfing to surfing, you will not only master your skills on the water, but you will also enjoy going off-grid, hunkering down and switching off from the everyday world. This is tranquillity at its best, with three miles of stunning beach and views over Godrevy lighthouse and the lights of St Ives. Each beach house has its own private deck, sunken hot tub, and barrel sauna- take some surf lessons and hire a private chef to make your time away even more memorable.
Best for Small Groups
Una St Ives Resort, Cornwall
One of the most exciting new launches in the active holiday resorts has to be this £25 million development of a former caravan park above Carbis Bay. This world-class resort with iconic architecture, which has already opened around 30 self-catering eco-houses and Una Kitchen, well known for its Mediterranean and wood-fired cooking, boasts a further 55-bedroom apartment hotel with around 100 villas and luxurious lodges. From clifftop ambles and wild sea swimming, to night-sky sessions around the fire pit. Join a morning yoga class, paddle out to surf on Porthminster Beach, stroll through the winding streets of St Ives before unwinding in the spa. When hunger sets in head to St Ives Bay for sea-to-fork fresh fish, soaking up the sunset with a cocktail in hand. Feeling creative? St Ives is an area world-famous for its artists’ light, so book ‘The Art Break’ package, to include a cocktail upon arrival and tickets to the nearby Tate St Ives and the Barbara Hepworth Museum.
Best For Families
Adventure Parc Snowdonia, Conwy, North Wales
Launching in tandem with the brand new Wave Garden Spa, the Hilton Garden Inn Snowdonia, surrounded by mountains, forests, and beautiful natural landscape, makes a family holiday to Adventure Parc even more enticing than ever before. The 106-bedroom hotel is the perfect place to check in and enjoy the surf lagoon and parc activities, including an outdoor adventure climbing centre, zip lines and freefalls, gorge walking, mountain biking, water sports and more. The floor-to-ceiling windows in the stylish bedrooms and Zephyr’s bar & grill make the most of the unique backdrop, and offer big views across the lagoon, where you can enjoy watching surfers catch rolling waves. Home to some of the biggest peaks in Wales, as well as a population of wild ponies there will never be a dull moment to be had here – and when you need some space to relax, indulge in solitude at the adjoining Wave Garden Spa. Think warm vitality waterfall pool, an iconic oversized Himalayan salt sauna, outdoor hot whirlpool, relaxation pods and fire pits. Bliss!
Best for Variety
fforest, West Wales
A labour of love, this Welsh family farm, come luxury forest camp, has been impressively created by owners James and Sian, art school graduates who met and set up their first business together during the height of London’s trendy Shoreditch scene. With four boys in tow, they moved to Wales (the village where Sian’s parents lived) to pursue their dreams – combining their idyllic way of life, woods, wildlife and wonder, into a magical setting they could share with others. But don’t be mistaken, fforest is so much more than a simple farm conversion to accommodate a few guests. Think 200 acres of rural beauty sandwiched between the river Teifi gorge and the Teifi marshes nature reserve, adjoining a 300 acre nature reserve with activities to rival any bustling activity resort in the British Isles. There are barns, lodges, geodesic domes, quarries, gardens, firepits and courtyards spread across three different sites, fforest farm, fforest coast and fforest town. Stay in ‘Farm’ to be closest to the cedar barrel sauna tucked into the woods – the perfect après-sea treatment, after a session of coasteering or kayaking. This is also where you will find their tiny 200 year old pub – probably the best tiny 200 year old pub in the world! Stay in ‘Coast’ if, you’ve guessed it, you want to be closest to the beach. Home to Ty Manorafon – a beautifully restored 18th century Georgian farmhouse (sleeping 8). In the heart of Cardigan on the banks of the Teifi ‘Town’ is ideal for those who would like to be closest to their infamous woodfired pizza restaurant, the Pizzatipi. Whichever base you choose to stay, there are places to eat, run, swim, relax and enjoy, an abundance of wildlife, varied landscape, rugged coastline and beautiful sandy beaches to explore.
Best for Couples
Fritton Lake, North Norfolk
Fritton Lake, set in 250 acres of mature woodland with stunning views of the open countryside and one of the most beautiful lakes in East Anglia, has recently completed its luxury refurbishment to include a new outdoor heated swimming pool, tennis courts, children’s adventure trail and other outdoor games. Since the coronavirus pandemic has left us all searching for ways to live a healthier lifestyle, thinking more about our happiness and wellbeing, the timing of this, along with the launch of their new luxury holiday lodges, couldn’t be better. This simple peaceful retreat offers the perfect setting in which to reconnect with nature and de-stress from the modern world. It’s a members club, with 100% self-owned lodges located in fields and woods around the tranquil grounds, all within a few minute’s reach of the lake. Some of the property owners rent out their properties for holiday-goers while others enjoy the facilities around their second-home, retreating to them whenever they get the chance (and are not in a lockdown!). In the centre there’s a charming pub, The Fritton Arms, with eight beautiful guest rooms, serving also as the resort club house exclusively for members and guests. Think locally sourced seasonal menus, roaring fires, wooden beams, deep sofas and pretty fairy lights in the courtyard garden – a beautiful setting to dine alfresco and enjoy as the sun is setting. Adventures can be found in the nature and on the lake, to include wild swimming, trail running, yoga, canoeing, rowing and even Croquet – but most of all Fritton Lake is a place to relax, to enjoy the peace and quiet and great local food – to sit and read a book or take a gentle stroll along the lake and replenish your sense of wellbeing.
Best for Ski Enthusiasts
Valley Ridge Resort, Suffolk
If you love both shreddin’ the slopes and gliding the water, then this one is for you! A 284-acre site in Suffolk, destined to become the UK’s next premium staycation resort for all year-round winter and water sports is scheduled to open in 2023/24. The Valley Ridge Resort will boast stylish eco-friendly wooden lodges, a snow dome to include one of the largest indoor ski slopes in the UK, and a state-of-the-art water park, spa and cinema! Not to mention a luxury 350-bedroom hotel with bars, restaurants, cafes and a country club.
Jessica Way is an award-winning travel journalist, Editor of British Travel Journal and Dream Escape Magazine. She spends most of her time visiting extraordinary cityscapes, countryside and coastlines across the British Isles