A NEWLY completed self-catering resort on the wild west coast of the Isle of Wight has all the ingredients for a nourishing family break.
Fine dining isn’t something you usually associate with a self-catering holiday, particularly when there’s an excited toddler rampaging around.
So the sight of the Savoy’s chefs strolling towards our cottage armed with plates of freshly cooked sea bass and rump steak was as close to parenting holiday bliss as it gets.
Not only did the food smell and look fantastic, the bistro staff waited for our two-year-old daughter to nod off before they delivered. We simply phoned the kitchen when Dulcie looked like zonking out and five minutes later our feast arrived.
As first impressions go, it was just about perfect and the ideal antidote to a long journey from London to the Isle of Wight, enlivened by the ferry crossing from Southampton.
Each vessel that passed was met with an excited yelp from Dulcie. It is a strange visual conundrum but while the Isle of Wight looks swimmable from the mainland, the journey to Cowes takes just over an hour, giving you plenty of time to recharge and take in the reviving sea air.
Our first morning at the Savoy saw us eager to explore. Leaving our two-storey New England-style cottage, one of 150 on the site, we were happy to discover the “Country Club” was little more than a minute’s stroll away.
This gave us easy access to its indoor swimming pool, spa, outdoor paddling pool and sports centre, plus the nearby bistro.
While the resort opened last summer, it was only fully completed this month. Everything was bright and fresh, with tightly cropped lawns, clematis-adorned seating areas and beach-inspired ornamental gardens.
The effect was one of luxurious relaxation and, vitally for parents, child safety, as the layout cleverly keeps cars away from the main holiday areas and it is pet-free. There is also a £2-an-hour Ofsted-registered crèche.
First stop on our tour was the children’s pool and its rainbow-coloured slide which, for a two-year-old, is akin to the greatest adrenaline ride on Earth.
Then it was time to inspect the field of horses and rabbits. Cue loud cries of “I want one”, some from Dulcie. A rapid toddle later and we were at the sports hall, with facilities for five-a-side football, indoor cricket, basketball and snooker.
For children aged five to 15 there are early evening events including fun swims and “quick cricket”, while adults can enjoy paragliding or a speedboat trip but with Dulcie happily sliding headfirst into the pool at all hours, we opted for the far less energetic option of the intimate on-site spa.
I was soon grinning nervously as a cigar-sized ear candle sizzled its way towards my eardrum, like a reckless investment bank, sucking away any deposits. Afterwards, I could have heard a pin drop in Southampton.
While my wife had a pedicure, I watched Dulcie. For both of us it was a priceless 30 minutes of relaxation that came in at around £70 for the pair of treatments.
With the Savoy situated on the less-developed west side of the island, there is some wonderfully pretty countryside and coast just beyond the resort’s wooden perimeter.
The genteel surroundings of Yarmouth and pretty thatched cottages and twinkling streams of Calbourne’s Winkle Street are nearby, as was Dulcie’s clear favourite, Colemans Farm and its goats, donkeys, ducks, pigs and play barn with another slide. Both were within a 20 minutes’ drive.
After busy days entertaining ourselves it was great to return to our “Delaware” cottage furnished with chunky oak tables, suede sofas and deep, colourful rugs.
Three upstairs rooms and the open-plan living area featured intriguing touches, such as an ornamental sailing boat beside the bath and African gourds in the living room, making it feel more like a home than a holiday rental. At our request, a cot, stairgate and highchair were fitted and there was a decked area for outdoor dining.
My only gripe with the Savoy is that the cottages are grouped slightly too close together. Despite being clad in pastel-coloured wood and based on a New England style, the smaller cottages are slightly reminiscent of Butlins chalets.
Yet in many ways it is simply a modern take on the traditional holiday camp. The huge difference is the standard of the facilities and attention to detail.
I’m sure Billy Butlin never hand-delivered sea bass to anyone’s patio door.GETTING THERE:The Savoy (01983 760355/www.savoyholidays.co.uk) offers seven nights’ self-catering in a one-bedroom cottage from £210 (two sharing); three-bedroom cottages start from £400 (five/six sharing).Main meals, which can be delivered to your cottage, start from £8 per head. All activities free.Red Funnel (0844 844 9988/www.redfunnel.co.uk) offers return ferry crossings (for breaks of up to five nights) from Southampton to Cowes from £37 for a car and up to six passengers. Day returns cost from £32.Isle of Wight tourism: 01983 813813/www.islandbreaks.co.uk