AS we watched the bow of the ferry open and cars roll off, my two-year-old son’s jaw dropped in astonishment.
This was to be his first time on a boat and he was insanely excited. Not in his wildest dreams had he imagined that we could actually drive on to the ferry. We were at Ardrossan, bound for Arran on our first holiday as a family of four since the birth of our baby girl Sarah. Even though the ferry crossing is less than an hour long, our holiday already felt full of adventure.
We arrived at Auchrannie Resort in Brodick five minutes after disembarking. It felt like a world away from our usual city life and we couldn’t wait to explore the current Hotel of the Year (Scottish Hotel Awards).
Budget or boutique?
Auchrannie comprises a four-star country house hotel with two restaurants and leisure centre plus a newly-built, four-star spa hotel with a family restaurant, children’s entertainment, games hall, two pools, gym and spa. There are also 30 five-star luxury lodges for up to eight people.
We were booked into an executive suite in the spa hotel, and what a treat it was. The spacious living room with views over Goat Fell was uber modern with its faux fur chaise-longue built into the wall and a cosy wall-mounted fire, out of the little ones’ reach. The bunk beds in the children’s room had built-in lights and TVs (the suite had four in total) and the huge bathroom had everything a family could need. Boutique to a new level.
The executive floor houses lots of extras, including use of an exclusive lounge with complimentary snack bar and refreshments and a terrace with designer furniture and a hot tub. There are also “resource rooms” with washing machines, tumble dryers, microwaves and ice makers. Within the room itself there is a Nespresso machine with complimentary pods, tea making facilities and fridge stocked with fresh milk and mineral water.
Worth getting out of bed for
The second we were unpacked, we headed to the on-site leisure centre for a swim. The children’s pool has water features including a waterfall and colour changing fountains.
Arran’s soft play centre, the Play Barn, is within the grounds of the resort and guests are given free access. My son loved the well-designed equipment and giant slide. My baby even found lots to entertain her.
For the more intrepid, the resort offers adventure activities including mountain biking, Segway excursions, kayaking and gorge walking. To recover from the exertion, the spa has all sorts of luxurious treatments.
Wining and dining
The resort has three restaurants. Cruize, the family-friendly brasserie, was ideal for our first meal, but the following night we decided to spoil ourselves at Brambles, Auchrannie’s upmarket seafood and grill restaurant. Children are welcome, and the staff are attentive and friendly. For our starters it was a toss-up between the deep-fried breaded Arran Camembert or the award-winning hot smoked salmon and haddock cake with tartare sauce, so we got one of each. Both were sublime and I really didn’t want to share either with my wife. Luckily the portions were generous. For main course, we eventually decided on the delicious grilled fillet of sea bass with west coast crab and coriander fritters.
For pudding we were intrigued by the deep fried apple pie, apple crumble shot and Granny Smith sorbet. Wow! The pie was insanely sweet but balanced beautifully by the tart and tangy sorbet, all washed down with a creamy, crumbly drink. It was certainly the most original dessert I’ve had. Meanwhile my son Reuben polished off his fish and chips with an enormous bowl of locally made ice cream. Happy faces all round.
Our suite came with fluffy robes, slippers and beach towels, which were perfect for pootling to and from the hot tub. The resort runs a free bus service between Auchrannie and the ferry terminals for every sailing.
Guest book comments
Auchrannie Resort feels like home, but much better. It is wonderfully luxurious and totally family friendly. I can’t wait to return.
• Prices for an executive suite at Auchrannie start from £219 (2 adults, bed and breakfast) during June/July. Standard rooms from £119 (2 adults, bed and breakfast) Auchrannie Resort, Auchrannie Road, Brodick, Isle of Arran KA27 8BZ (01770 302 234), auchrannie.co.uk