Multi-generational holidays. Are you a lover, or a hater? Since having our kids, we’ve been on two breaks where grandparents, sprogs and we of the sandwich generation, all congregated in a choice destination. Thankfully, neither of these trips descended into bother and strife. In fact they were both a load of fun. The first was with my family, at Yelloh Villages Parc du Val de Loire. And then, last Easter, the in-laws treated us to a break at Forest Holidays Sherwood.
D’s two brothers also brought their families, so there were sixteen of us in total, with children ranging in age from four to twelve. So, a lot of different age groups to keep happy.
Did I win daughter-in-law Brownie points for suggesting the place to D’s Mum and Dad? Readers, I think I might have done. Here’s why.
As soon as we arrived at Sherwood Pines, there were squeals of excitement – and not just from the kids. D’s Mum and Dad had booked one Golden Oak cabin, and one Golden Oak treehouse. The Golden Oaks all had their own hot-tubs with thick, snuggly dressing gowns, a heap of towels (honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many in self-catering accommodation), spacious bathrooms, a log burner with a small stack of wood to keep us going, and a decent kitchen, with gas hobs and an enormous dishwasher. The kitchen tables in both cabins were big enough to seat all sixteen of us, so we were able to eat together every night. There wasn’t a washing machine – instead there was a laundry service.
Did I mention the hot tubs?
These were a huge hit, with all three generations. The older children were the most excited. It turns out that sitting in a hot tub, sipping fizzy elderflower from a (plastic) glass is the height of tweenage style. Funny, that. The little ones enjoyed careering round in the bubbles, and the tubs were big enough for Granny and Grandad to cram in with all six children.
The hot tub in the smaller Golden Oak cabin turned into the ‘getaway’ tub. While the rest of the family were eating a rowdy dinner, couples or singles would slip away to have some quiet adult time, under the stars.
This one’s probably seasonal. It was Easter when we stayed, and Forest Holidays had left an enormous chocolate egg at each cabin. When I say enormous, I mean it: two baby Annabel Dolls could have hatched out of our egg. A little bit of chocolate makes for cross-generational conviviality. A large amount….well, a large amount makes for a feast. Which is pretty much what we had.
Of course, with so many people staying together in one place, it’s good to have a place to retreat to when you want some quiet time. The Forest Holidays site was full of these hidey holes. D’s Mum and Dad slept in the treehouse of their Golden Oak cabin. This one-bedroom nook was set away from the main house, along a little walkway. It was a real Hobbit hole of a place. Instead of high, bare walls like the main cabin, the treehouse had cosy chintz wallpaper, and higgledy-piggledy pictures.
There were other places to hide. The Forestry Commission’s Sherwood Pines Forest Park was just next door to the Forest Holidays site. It was quite easy to get lost in the woods, with marked trails to help you find your way back. And the forest was peppered with play areas, tree houses and huts.
Time spent in the wilds of nature has been linked with lowered stress levels and a more relaxed state of mind, which always helps with multi-generational holidays. It was particularly nice to see the older children visibly unwind, away from the pressures of school. Our cabins were set in a cluster, but with a decent distance – and trees – between them. Strategically placed floor-to-ceiling windows meant that you could see trees from almost anywhere in the cabin. From the decking you could hear nothing except birds singing, small creatures rustling in the undergrowth, and the occasional happy squeal from a hot tub. Bliss.
Cycling and other outdoor fun
It wasn’t all hot tubs and relaxation. The older children and some of the adults tried Go Ape at Sherwood Pines visitor centre. We hired a few bikes, and took it in turns to go on expeditions along the marked cycle trails, which ranged from the gentle to an extremely challenging red route, which almost finished off my brother-in-law. Some of us went horse-riding, and a few others tried archery.
You had to pay more for these activities. There were plenty of ways to have fun without spending more money, like the den-building area in Forest Pines, where our family bonded over the construction of a wooden wig-wam.
The main downside to Forest Holidays is that their breaks are rather pricey, especially in the school holidays. But they’re still less money than, say, Center Parcs. Although I’ve never experienced a UK Center Parcs break, we had such a good time with Forest Holidays that we’d probably choose to re-visit one of their sites rather than pay for a Center Parcs stay.
If you’re interested in finding out about other Forest Holidays locations (there are nine locations), I came across these blog posts written by friends:
The Scottish Trossachs – and a winter paddling adventure, by the Family Adventure Project
A treehouse lodge in Thorpe Forest, by Mini Travellers
24 fab things to do at Forest Holidays Strathyre by A Modern Mother
A weekend break at Blackwood Forest by My Travel Monkey
Forest Holidays in the Forest of Dean by Munchies & Munchkins
Pin for later: