Sometimes, no matter how trenchant the planning, events don’t live up to their billing. Usually it is that first match of the season at the New York stadium or, more annoyingly, that long awaited Caribbean holiday that is tainted by a pesky hurricane or maybe just every joke that Russell Kane has ever tried to tell. It is with these kinds of memories in the back of my mind, that when an impulsive booking turns out to be the find of the year, it is all the sweeter.
Last year we did just that. A week long holiday in beautiful Weymouth with the extended family led us to want to explore more and stay another week. As a result, after stumbling upon Waterside Holiday Park & Spa during a reconnaissance of Bowleaze Cove, a beautiful little secluded area on the eastern edge the Weymouth Bay – the immediate Hangry family, minus the Grandparents, booked a second week. And what a week it was!
Fast forward a year and after months of constant pestering from the kids, we booked to visit Waterside again.
First of all though a little about Weymouth itself; a seaside town in Dorset centrally located along the historic Jurassic Coast. The town holds a number of great childhood memories for me personally which, although obviously opening up a gateway to possible destinations with your own children, can be somewhat rose tinted by halcyon memories and full of false promises. Happily this was not the case with Weymouth.
An esplanade that spreads for miles along a sweeping crescent reaches the Jurassic Skyline at one end, at the point that was once a Ferry port to the Channel Islands, and follows the fine, sandy beach all the way along the front towards Bowleaze Cove. Adjacent to this quintessential British seafront (complete with Punch & Judy show!) run a number of colourful terraced guest houses, cafes and ice-cream parlours, all with sun-filled outdoor terraces and thankfully minus the usual gordy amusement arcades.
As you move past these quaint abodes eastwards, past the Sealife Centre, Skate Park & Country Park (definitely plenty to do in Weymouth!) you move up the hill over to Bowleaze Cove – past the Splyglass Inn and its recommended beer garden views. At the other side of the hill lies Waterside, set back from the cove and nestled in a quiet area of mainly residential buildings.
Waterside Resort in its simplest form is a 5 star holiday resort that does everything that you would expect – clean, friendly and stacked with extras. However the rows and rows of static caravans that usually fill me with dread are new, well spaced and the grounds so well maintained, you almost can’t recall some of those sheet metal caravan graveyards remembered well from childhood (I’m thinking of you Ingoldmells!).
What further sets Waterside apart however are the children’s activities that are run throughout the day. A soccer school held throughout the week is somewhat surprisingly run in association with Arsenal FC, talent show auditions and circus performing being other highlights. The entertainment kicks up a notch in the evening with kids fun time – major trauma ensued for our two when we had to miss it on Tuesday! Run by Josh, Chloe & Becky, kids Funtime is silly, stupid, messy & rude (children rude anyway) – all the things that kids love! Josh (or Joshy Woshy as he is affectionately known during kids time) is the lead entertainer and despite his enjoyable stupidity on stage , he is obviously very passionate and professional about the entertainment on site.
Dancing competitions, balloon aliens, embarrassing the parents, boys vs girls, sing-alongs & pulling faces at the diners in the adjoining restaurant are all on the menu at kids Funtime. Our son especially enjoyed getting up on stage and trying to save the princess from the castle – by beating off the crocodile (her dad) with an inflatable hand! I told you it was silly!
With 2p machines, pool tables and a reasonably priced bar – there is something for everyone at kids fun time. For the more committed of you, after kids club there is horse racing/music quiz followed by a show every night – tackle it with a toddler or two, if you dare. If you manage, grab a kebab from the adjoining chippy on the way home.
Elsewhere, the main complex which houses a bar, soft-play area, Spar and gym also houses the swimming pool which is also brilliantly built and perfect for the kids. An indoor collection of two swimming pools are joined nicely by child friendly slides – with a couple of additional childrens pools and a jacuzzi for good measure. As with everything at Waterside, it is all very clean, new and impressive – with something for everything. Almost an added extra, there is also an outside pool which is perfect for learning to swim…no, not me thank you very much. the kids got on well though!
I can’t praise the Waterside highly enough. It is as far removed from those childhood static nightmares as I would care to remember – and has more in common with a Center Parcs complex than any other holiday park I can recall. There is so much for the kids to do, they will do well to get bored – just don’t let them bring home the Joshy Woshy talk and start calling their sister ‘smelly’!
As a bit of an aside, it must be said that Weymouth beach is absolutely ideal for families with small children. As we arrived with the sun baking down and the extra fine sand at it’s brightest, we set up camp and the kids were soon in the sea – which alongside the beach, is absolutely perfect – a stroll out about 200 meters still only bringing the water up just above the knee (ideal for little ones). With the donkey rides, Punch & Judy and sand that is ideal for building castles – the quintessential British seaside is definitely alive and well!