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Nights in Niagara Falls – Family travel review

Our Niagara Falls Family Trip

Its taken me far too long to write this post in reality because I just didn’t know where to start.  We arrived to Niagara Falls after a few wonderful few days spent in Toronto (trip report here).  There was no snow in Toronto but as we pulled up outside the Sheraton on the Falls a light dusting began to fall gently, there was mega excitement from the kids.  I don’t think they had ever seen snow before other than in films!!

Where we stayed

Sheraton on the Falls

Sheraton on the Falls

We stayed at the Sheraton on the Falls which is as its name suggests quite literally on the falls.  We were allocated a gorgeous room with a Juliette balcony when we opened the door we could feel the spray of the falls.  I am not exaggerating when I say the view was breath-taking and to hear the roar of the falls – magic.  Each evening the falls are lit up and we were able to enjoy the illuminations from the comfort of our room.  The kids were fast asleep and we sat and enjoyed some lovely local wine and watched the falls change into beautiful array of colours. In recent years a huge amount of investment has gone into these illuminations and it certainly shows.

 

The room itself has 2 doubles and a sofa bed.  Starbucks coffee was provided in the room and in keeping with the hotels Green Policy you could receive a $5 gift card in return for not required complete bedding changes each day.

View from our room at the Sheraton on the Falls

View from our room at the Sheraton on the Falls

We were more than happy to avail of this. Thee room isn’t big but then you don’t come to Niagara Falls to spend your time in the room.  The hotel is huge, I mean huge.  Coming from Ireland where we don’t have hotels of this scale its quite overwhelming and you do need to be prepared to queue for everything, check-in/out, concierge and lifts.  We were fortunate enough to have club access which really is great when you are travelling with kids. We ate our breakfast here each morning and popped in each evening for some snacks and drinks.

There are a number of restaurants in the hotel complex, we tried the Rainforest Café one of the evenings and the Hard Rock Café another, mainly because they were kid friendly! The adults could have a few drinks with  dinner and the kids enjoyed the entertainment.  The kids really enjoyed the Rainforest Café however like the hotel it was huge but service was good and the kids enjoyed the display of animals and the thunder storms!

There also is a floor with amusements in the hotel too which if im honest takes away a bit from the hotel, its manic!  There is an indoor waterpark attached to the hotel also however we didn’t avail of it on this visit. Despite the hotel being full  (all 22 story’s!) the staff did their best to move things along, they were efficient but not over friendly which  was fine as they were run off their feet.  The location and view here are unrivalled.

What we did

Aside from seeing the spectacular Falls which for me was a bucket list item ticked off. There is plenty to do in the vicinity.

  • Journey behind the falls – I was really excited about this.
    Journey behind the Falls

    Journey behind the Falls

    Because of the time of year the boat trips weren’t operating therefore this was my only chance to get up close and personal to this wonder of nature. It didn’t disappoint, despite the heavy snow we made our way down which was about 15 minutes walk from the hotel. You get a lift down (150 feet) and suddenly there you are standing in a 130 year old tunnel looking out from behind the falls, yes you do get wet, yes its cold and damp but is it so incredible. The roar!! Its quite remarkable to thing one fifth of the worlds fresh water is cascading in front of your eyes.

  • Niagara Fury – I sent the oldest and his dad to do this one as I  was afraid the youngest would be a little scared with the simulated thunder.  This is 4d, 360 degrees experience which takes you on a journey to experience the creation of the falls and to experience its sheer power.  You get a souvenir poncho  when you arrive and you do need it!!!! Ill say no more! Great fund, oldest really enjoyed and was able to share with me loads of fun facts on his return.
  • Butterfly Conservatory – all these attraction  are located in very close proximity to each other so its an ideal day out with limited travelling especially important with young kids. This is a lovely attraction 180 meters of pathway through a conservatory where you can observe many different species of butterfly.  They are such beautiful gentle creatures.
  • Clifton Hill – no visit would be complete with our doing the “sights” of Clifton Hill. Its typical touristy with slot machines, crazy golf and fast foot eateries. A summary of our highlights:
    • Wizard Golf – kids loved this.  Its all neon golf balls and painted inside. It was a welcome distraction from the cold and snow outside.
    • Guinness World Records Museum – Great fun, small but well worth the visit. Lots of cool facts and fun interactive parts
    • Captain Jacks Amusement – no more words needed, lots of amusements, games and slot machine, why are kids drawn to these places!!!!

 

Top tips:

This is Niagara Falls one of the words top  tourist attractions so be prepared to pay top dollar for everything. It is expensive however some tips from our experience:

  • Niagara Parks Activity Packages: If you are looking to do a number of the key attractions this is your cheapest option especially travelling with children.  There are a range of option depending on how many activities you wish to include. You can save up to 48% when compared to  booking individually.  A no brainer in my book – for FYI a lot of the attractions are free for kids under 5 which was ideal for us! For more information see here
  • Clifton Hill Pass – its going to be hard to avoid Clifton Hill when in Niagara Falls so my  advice is to buy the Fun Pass. It cover  5 attractions including the Sky Wheel (which was closed during our visit for maintenance much to the kids disappointment) which saves you about $25 per person. What I like about these passes are, we know what attractions we are going on, the price is paid in advance and it saves the inevitable arguments about what to go on. See here for more.
  • WeGo – wego is the transport system around Niagara Falls and its really efficient and easy to use. Our hotel provided us with 48 hour passes, so do ask your hotel most hotel do give them out I think. Its saves worrying about taxis and from my experience it arrives on time and no issues. Its state of the art and connects all major attractions.

Similarly accommodation can be very expensive particularly for a Fallsview room, however when you are going all that way I think it’s a must.  We got a great rate via booking.com

However there are a number of free attractions obviously the Falls itself, the fireworks, the illuminations, Niagara Parkway and Botanic Gardens. The above is only a tiny snap shot of what is available there were many other wonderful attractions which we didn’t get to but you never know we may return some day.  I don’t think I will ever get tired of looking at that incredible view.

Note: Massive thanks to Niagara Falls Tourism for all the advice and help with our trip and for providing us with the attraction passes. The help and guidance shown helped ensure we had a wonderful trip particular thanks to Jennifer whose is an absolute credit to Niagara Falls Tourism who truly knows and loves what she does.
Suitcases and Sandcastles
Fairy Travels

Tales from Toronto – Family travel review

Our recent family trip to Toronto

We have finally settled back to normality after what I can only describe as the trip of a life time. I’ll admit I was pretty nervous about flying long haul with two young kids but it turned out to be totally fine (some tips here and here). ‘We landed into a cold (-8!!) Toronto on a Thursday afternoon in March. We had pre booked our taxi via Aeroport as I wanted to prebook car seats plus paying in advance saves any surprises!

The driver was prompt and efficient and provided some lovely commentary as we made our way to the Grand Hotel & Suites.  He left us with the comment that “The only thing that will hurt you in Toronto is the cold” and he wasnt wrong  there!

Where we stayed – The Hotel

Grand Hotel Toronto

View from balcony

First impressions of the hotel was wow, the beautiful entrance and reception is very welcoming. I booked a double room via booking.com and was delighted upon check in to be upgraded to a 2 bedroom suite.  The suite was just beautiful, full kitchen, 2 big bedrooms and a sitting room with a sofa bed. There was a huge balcony with outdoor seating that would have been amazing in the summer time (see view opposite).  Breakfast was included in the room rate and it was fantastic, kept us going for the day.

Grand Hotel Toronto

Rooftop pool at the Grand Hotel Toronto

The location of this hotel is very central, we walked everywhere something which was a key requirement for me when booking a hotel when travelling with kids.  In terms of facilities this hotel has everything we needed for a really enjoyable trip. There are hot tubs on the roof of this hotel – see picture  opposite of the view from them. I wasnt brave enough in -10 weather to try them but hopefully we visit again in summer time and ill have to give them ago. We popped up one evening to see the view and there was music on the big TV and a few brave souls in the hot tubs!!!

Without question the highlight of our stay here was customer service. My youngest son takes goats milk and I emailed in advance to see if there was somewhere local I could get it when we arrived late. Nicole who was a pleasure to deal with all along sent me the details of local places however when I got the room there was a note on the table saying check the fridge and in it was a litre of goats milk.  For me this gesture epitomises what the hotel is about the attention to detail was just fantastic.

We ate in the onsite resturant one of the days and it was very tasty.  Service was attentive but not instrusive and very child friendly.  We had a fire alarm one of nights which ended up in us making our way to reception at 2am which seems to be the kids highlight of the holiday, not sure I agree!! While a little chaotic at the start, the night porter did his best to reassure everybody it was a false alarm and we made our way back to bed. Thankfully the kids went back to sleep!

 

What we did – the activities

We were very fourtunate to be provided with media passes to Torontos top attractions.  We had decided before going which attractions we really wanted to see, the kids had spent weeks pouring over YouTube clips and the short list was drawn up.  Short summary below of our favourites:

  • Ripleys Acquarium for me this is top of the list,  an absolute must do in Toronto,
    Ripley Aquarium

    Ripleys Aquarium

    huge place with fun interative exhibits and so much to keep the kids entertained we surprised ourselves and spent almost 3 hours here. Do go early it is popular and gets very busy. We arrived at opening time but by the time we left the queues were forming.  What I liked about this place was it really is fun for all ages.  Next door is to the Aquarium is….

 

  • CN Tower this is an iconic Toronto landmark and no trip to Toronto would be complete without a
    CN Tower

    CN Tower

    visit. We took the high speed lift to the top.  There is a small glass floor area, an outdoor viewing area and an indoor area with lots of vantage points. You can also eat and drink at the revolving restaurant  here but we didnt get the chance this visit.  Its a fun way to pass an hour the adults really enjoyed the kids were a bit meh however they had just left the aquarium so expectations were high.

 

  • Hockey Hall of Fame this ended up being a surprise hit.  We didnt know anything much about ice hockey before we visited.  However the kids thoroughly enjoyed the interactive exhibits here. There are 2 main ones, one where you take shots on a goal the second where you are the goal keeper.  So much fun and so unexpected.  Locationwise these three attractions are located within a short walking distance from each other.

 

  • Medieval Times This was a really fun evenings entertainment.  It’s set up as a banquet where you eat as they did in medieval times i.e with their hands!! Kids loved this! A three course meal is served while you watch knights dual on horse back. Each area has a colour and you cheer on your knight.  Depsite the fact our knight didnt win we thoroughly enjoyed the experience.  Food was plentiful, staff were friendly and so efficient. There was a falcon display which really has to be seen to be believed. Its was incredible, there wasnt a sound when it was going on.  This is the type of event all ages will enjoy and the food was suprisingly good too. We did the afternoon show so it was busy but not packed.

Hints and Tips

  • Like any city rush hour traffic can be unpredictable so give yourself plenty time especially if like us you have an evening flight home
  • Plan ahead for the weather!
  • Toronto CityPass works out great value for family visits when doing the main attractions like we did above
  • Attractions can be busy so plan ahead – keep an eye on their websites for updates etc
  • Its a very safe city
  • The locals are really friendly and helpful
  • Its really child friendly, kids were welcomes in resturants no issues at all

For more information on Grand Hotels & Suites see here.

Note: Special thanks to Nicole at the Grand Hotel and Suites for her assistance and to Michele at Tourism Toronto for organising the passes for us. 

 

 

WANDERLUST KIDS

Fairy Travels

4 items I wouldnt fly long haul with kids without!

We are not long back from the trip of a lifetime to Canada.  We spent time in both Toronto and Niagara Falls and it was incredible.  Niagara Falls had been on my bucket list and it did not disappoint.  The kids absolutely loved it.  To be honest I wasn’t sure how the long haul flight would be with kids ages 4 and 1 (almost 2). I shouldn’t have spent so many sleepless nights over it.  It was totally fine.  However there are a number of things that without a doubt made the trip a lot (an awful lot!!) more manageable with my busy boys.

1 Keep Em Quiet Packs

Such a simple concept but oh so effective.  We received two boys long haul pack to try out for the trip.  I didnt let the boys see them until were were 30+ thousand feet in the air. About 2 hours into the flight when the novelty of being on an aeroplane had worn off Mamma produced these.  There was great excitment about the cool bag which was used for the entire trip actually.  We received a pack for the relevant age groups for each of the boys.  They were really well received by the boys and contained a lovely selection of age appropriate items.  The big hits were the little tubs of play doh and for the oldest was a kit with which you could make cardboard models which he thoroughly enjoyed.  The littlest loved the Peppa stickers.  Im sure Aer Lingus are still peeling them off the seats! (sorry!!).

Check out Keep Em Quiet for more information.  Boys thoroughly enjoyed and the packs contained a selection of items which were age appropriate and also appropriate for the confined space on the aircraft.  Im always running around at the last minute so these are ideal, the work is done and you are ready to go and all for a very reaonable price.

2 Jet Kids Bed Box 

I bought this literally days before the flight praying that it would arrive on time and it did thankfully. I had seen it on Twitter and loved the concept.  Its a ride on suitcase that opens out on the flight to transform the seat into a bed. Its really easy to use and very comfortable according to the 4 year old.  We got most use out of the ride on ability of it as my 4 year old (can be lazy) isnt so keen on walking!!! Despite the fact it contains the matress it holds quite a bit of stuff or in my little mans case, his teddy, his collection of transformers and his treats.  It is a little pricey at €159 however given how much we like travel and with the pair of them I really think I will get my moneys worth on this one.  For more information see Jetkids.

(Image Credit Jet Kids)

3 Netflix

The Dada Fairy and I were frantically searching to see what films were listed on Aer Lingus for transatlantic to see if they would keep our pair suitably entertained for 7.5 hours.  It was then the revelation came!!! I recalled an email about downloadable Netflix, queue frantic searching and yes….it was not a dream you can infact download Netflix. 15 mins later and we were fully equiped with Team Umizoomi, Peppa Pig, Horrid Henry and The Smurfs.  When it comes to travel I am in the school of thought whatever works and makes the joruney easier for the kids, and me and the other 200 odd passengers. If 7 hours of Peppa Pig was going to be the thing well then I wasnt going to object! See 1 and 4 it thankfully didnt happen!

4 Food/ Snacks

Back to when boys were teeny, everywhere we went I was armed with packets of raisins, ligas etc.  The flight was no different.  I was laden down with snacks of every description from the healthy to the not so healthy.  There were no kids meals available on the flight and the boys had zero interest in a mushy looking mushroom and rice meal so the snacks were invaluable.  Also very handy when waiting around before and after the flight.  I always take lollipops for take off and landing to help the ears. They seem to work as we have had no complaints from the little men about sore ears, ears popping etc.

 

Next up we will be sharing our trip report.  Spoiler – we loved it and really hope to return some day.

 

Fairy Travels

24 hours in Belfast with kids!

We ended up making a flying visit to Belfast last November and while we set off with little expectations of seeing much of this lovely city in 24 hours we ended up thoroughly enjoying our stay. The dada Fairy was on business so we were tagging along to keep him company.

Way back before kids I worked in Belfast for a time so know the city pretty well, always enjoy my visits there, this one being the first with kids in tow!

Where we stayed

We booked last minute on booking.com.  There was very little choice so last minute so we took the only suitable place we could find! The Clayton Hotel it was.

Pros:

  • Location was central
  • Child friendly
  • Good breakfast included in rate

Cons

  • Could have been how late in the day we booked but the room was tiny for the 4 of us.
  • The parking situation – appreciate you are in a city but the parking is a huge public multi story behind the hotel which I wouldn’t fancy having to go back to my car in the dark to get something its quite eerie!

Overall, stay was fine, would stay there again, kids also enjoyed and location as very convenient for us.

Where we ate

This was absolute highlight of the trip! We ate at a restaurant called Fratellis across from the Europa hotel.  The kids are still talking about this place.  Its is quite possibly the most kid friendly place we have ever eaten.  The kids menu was set price Stg£7.99 and included a starter – Garlic bread or dough balls and mains was either pasta or make your own pizza. There was no contest! It was make your own pizza.  The little men were given aprons and chefs hat and their selection of topping to make their own pizza at the table.  Following this they were served ice cream and a babycinno! The adults had an equally enjoyable dinner, with the kids so excited and preoccupied, there might have been wine and cocktails and 3 courses for us too. No mean feat with 2 busy kids in tow! If you are ever in Belfast with the kids a visit is a must, do bear in mind it does get very very busy.  We were there on a Saturday and had a bit of a wait for a dinner not a issue for us as it gave us time to sample some of the delicious cocktails on offer!

What we did

No trip to Belfast is complete with a trip to the Titanic museum.  The boys are probably a little young to fully appreciate this fabulous attraction. The tour itself was an hour long taking you on a journey to follow in the footsteps of those who took the fateful trip.  The experience itself really draws you in from the moment you begin.

It is really interactive and engaging. You do it as your own pace which is ideal with kids, its also very buggy friendly. Price wise its pricey enough for adults at Stg£17.50 however kids under 5 are free.  They have lots of different events on like afternoon tea for Mothers Day or Valentines which I can imagine would be very enjoyable in this setting.  We didn’t get to sample the on site eateries this time, maybe next time!

 

 

 

Fairy Travels

Donegal 3 nights – 3 hotels – Our thoughts

As I have shared previously on the blog having family in Donegal means we travel up that part of the world quite a bit for family events etc. Over the last 3 months we stayed a night in three different hotels in Donegal. As the stay was quite short I though the easiest thing to do would be some short snippet reviews of our key thoughts as really one night isn’t enough to write a comprehensive review therefore below you will find our initial thoughts and observations. Two of the below trips we had the kids, the third it was the grown ups only.

 

Clanree Hotel – Letterkenny

First up is the Clanree Hotel in Letterkenny, we stayed here the October bank holiday as the Dada Fairy was attending an event in Letterkenny. We arrived quite late thanks to bank holiday traffic and we were greeted so warmly by the incredibly friendly staff.

Pros:

  • Staff were excellent couldn’t do enough to help
  • Child friendly
  • Great breakfast
  • Great food in the pub on site and very welcoming for kids
  • Rooms were spotlessly clean
  • Lots of parking on site

Cons:

  • It is a little out of the town, you could walk but it’s a bit far if like me you have kids in tow!

We booked last minute via booking.com see here for hotel website.

 

Mill Park Hotel – Donegal Town

I have stayed many times in the Mill Park Hotel and it never disappoints. This time we were here for a family function. We arrived midday on a Friday and were able to avail of early check in.

Pros:

  • Location – easy walk to the town
  • Rooms were fab – the one we had was newly renovated and had the most amazing shower
  • Great breakfast
  • Lots of parking
  • Apparently a great pool and leisure centre on site however we didn’t get a chance to use it

Cons:

  • No food available at the bar when we arrived only sandwiches which was only minor inconvenience being so close to the town

 

We booked quite a bit in advance  via  booking.com see here for hotel website.

 

Ballyliffin Lodge & Spa – Ballyliffin

We wrapped up 2016 with a stay (minus the kids) in Ballyliffin Lodge & Spa, its only when we drove up did we realise the vastness of the county of Donegal, the drive up with so beautiful, the scenery along the way really must be seen.  We arrived on a cold Saturday afternoon to a really warm welcome.  The hotel was decorated beautifully for Christmas.

Pros:

  • Lovely room
  • Spotlessly clean
  • Breakfast was amazing – best pancakes I have ever tasted!
  • Lovely setting
  • Very friendly and helpful staff

Cons:

  • Our room must have been over the wedding room which meant we could hear hum of the music, the hotel do supply earplugs not that we needed them. Not a problem for us however if you were travelling with young kids who went to bed early this might  be worth considering if you are staying a night where there is a wedding on.

We booked this stay direct with the hotel on their website.

 

Note: This isn’t a sponsored post all trips were paid for by ourselves
Fairy Travels

Prainha Village, Alvor review

At the beginning of October we took our first family holiday as a family of 4! I was a bit apprehensive to begin wondering was I crazy taking two smallies on holidays abroad, however thankfully I was wrong. We had an amazing time at Prainha Village.

The Resort

Prainha Village is situated just outside the picturesque town of Alvor on the Algarve, about 1 hour drive from Faro. It comprise 35 hectares of grounds with direct access to a stunning private beach and a cliff top salt water pool. The views are incredible.alovr2

Also in the resort is another pool with kids section as well as three restaurants:

  • Canico which is accessed via a left down through the cliff  which has the most breath taking views over the sea
  • Miss Pasta, the kids absolutely loves this place. Tasty pizza, relaxed atmosphere but best of all, brilliant staff who the kids just adored.
  • There is also restaurant in the hotel itself which we didn’t get a chance to sample – there is always next time!

alvor3There is also a small supermarket on site with the essentials (milk and wine!!!) and fresh pastries in the morning. For the kids in addition to the kids pool, there is a playground and tennis courts. We didn’t use the tennis courts but did make use of the playground.

The Villa

We went with our extended family and friends so we took a 4 bed villa with pool. The villas are located close to the main resort which was really handy to pop over for a drink or snack.  There are plenty accommodation options from apartments, 2/3/4 bed villas with gardens with or without pool.  The Villa was spacious and spotlessly clean.  All appliances were high end and worked perfectly, plenty delph, cutlery etc.  Housekeeping came twice during out stay to clean and replenished towels.

There was a beautiful bbq patio out the back where we enjoyed relaxing when the kids went to bed. My only gripe about the villa was there was no option to fence or cover the pool.  My heart was in my mouth when the 18 month old was out the back.

Pros:

  • Caters for all, from young to golden years, with a variety of eating options. Our party ranged from 18 months to 60 and all enjoyed
  • Relaxed atmosphere, helpful staff
  • Clean, spacious and well equipped, what more could you want when travelling with kidsprainha
  • The view from Canico Restaurant, no words can do this justice. Its stunning
  • The staff at Miss Pasta, we enjoyed many lunches and dinners in peace while the staff made my smallies feel like VIPs
  • You actually don’t have to leave the resort during your stay, contains everything you need for a great stay.

Cons:

  • Distance from Alvor – its actually not much over 1km to the town but difficult terrain to navigate with a buggy. Not a big deal and certainly would but me off going again
  • Would love the option to fence or cover the pool – again not a deal breaker rather a nice to have

Insider tips:

  • The supermarket in Alvor is very reasonable, we did a big shop the first day as the shop in the resort is a lot more expensive particularly for drinks
  • Book your dinner in advance at Canico, totally worth it and it can get busy during peak months
  • Eating out in Alvor is also cheaper than the resort.
  • The sunbeds at the Atlantic pool need to be paid for, thrown down a towel inside they wont move you and the kids love the novelty of this.
  • Miss Pasta does take away, ideal after a long day out and about
  • When booking Prainha look at the location map before you book a villa/ apartment consider if sea view or close to hotel facilities are whats most important to your stay, at 35 hectares the resort is vast.
  • Use Yellow Fish taxis! The provided a service to us which went above and beyond

Packing essentials:

  • UV suits for the kids – a must in my view. They were in and out of the pool and it saved me constantly running after them with sun cream.  I bought them in my local Dunnes at their end of summer sale, less than €10 from memory.

 

  • aden + anais sleep suit adenanaisthe  little man loves his gro bag so rather then worry about him being too hot we took this and it was fantastic, muslin type material so its breathable, cosy and avoids the stress of blankets or being too warm. Plus it washes great. High recommend for anybody with babas who love being cosy but not warm! From https://www.adenandanais.co.uk/.

 

  • Sun creams – travelling with young kids with delicate skin, having a sun cream I could trust was a given.  As a blog ambassador for Childs Farm I was delighted to be able use their sun cream and after sun.  Its factor 50+, water resistant and suitable for sensitive skin.  Keeps skin lovely and moisturisered and smells great.

 

  • babymoovBabymoov #stresslessweaning essentials – We are part of the Babymoov #stresslessweaning team so I packed my trusty snack pots and muslin squares which were in daily use.  The Babymoov muslins come in a lovely packaged set of 3 of different sizes. They are super soft and doubled up as a light blanket for when the little man napped out and about.

 

 

Note: This is not a sponsored post, we paid for our trip and thoroughly enjoyed it. We booked via www.privatevillas.ie Brian was fantastic in accommodating my last minute changes and my millions of queries! I have already emailed him about next years trip!!

 

Oregon Girl Around the World
Fairy Travels

Harveys Point Anniversary Trip

We got married in the stunning Harveys Point 5 years ago and make a point of returning each year.  This was the first year we took the kids!! I have such a grá for this hotel, our wedding day was spent here, we celebrated here the weekend I found out I was pregnant with my first little man.  We spent our first weekend without him here too!!

If you have ever visited you will know why – in a word its pure luxury but even more so its its staff.  There aren’t enough words I could use to describe the staff at this hotel. Its a testament to the hotel when my husband muttered to me over dinner that all hotel staff should be sent her to train! I’ll admit I was a tad apprehensive about taking the kids to the hotel, I was so wrong. The staff particularly at dinner and breakfast treated my kids like they were VIP paying guests.  They played with them, treated them and best of all Mamma and Dada had dinner out with 2 kids in tow with no stress! That doesn’t happen much!

The rooms

The rooms here are wow, they are huge! We booked a delux room with 2 doubles and it was huge! More than enough room for the Mamma Fairy family.  Most notably the room was spotless, fresh and so welcoming.  There is also a 2 person jacuzzi!! 😉

The Food

We had dinner and breakfast at the hotel and both are simply amazing (the pancakes!!! Yum – seriously yum).   At dinner time I spotted the owner Deirdre meeting and greeting guests.  Something which the tour group from the US who were seated next to us (and played with my youngest for the entire dinner – thank you for that!) really appreciated. With Harveys Point its the little things that combined make a top class service offering.  The same group were down for breakfast the same time as us (this time a lovely couple who visit twice a year from Galway entertained my youngest! – again thank you!).  The charismatic Noel Cunningham greeted his guests at breakfast who loved his infectious good mood first thing in the morning.

We also met the lovely Sarah who was our wedding planner five years ago at breakfast that morning too, again another staff member who went above and beyond to make us feel like we were valued guests.

This isn’t a free stay or a review – I paid for my stay. I am just a really satisfied customer who will continue to return year after year.  I was thrilled to see Harveys Point win Georgina Campbell Hotel of the Year 2017 – a very well deserved accolade.

For best rates I always book direct.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fairy Travels

Fairy Travels – Airfield Estate Dundrum

airfield3Last Sunday we were visited Airfield Estate in Dundrum.  We received a complimentary family pass which we were only delighted to accept.  As it happened for the bank holiday weekend there was a sheep festival creatively called Woolapalooza.  I’m sure I mentioned it before, I am married to a sheep farmer and my 3 year old is very interested in farming spending many days with his dad out with the sheep. I won’t lie – expectations were high!

 The Estate

Airfield Estate, comprising of 38 acres of farmland is Dublin’s only working farm which is open to the public. The farm itself is a charitable trust, a legacy of its owners the Overend Family.  The farm itself keeps a number of types of animal from hens, to cows, to sheep, to goats. The farm  supplies the restaurant with everything from meat to milk to eggs. The ultimate in fresh, “farm to fork”.

The original house is still there and open to the public and also quite remarkably the vintage cars owned by the family which are immaculate. The 1920s Rolls Royce is just wow!

Our Experience

We arrived around 11 and it was busy enough even though it hadn’t been open long, we headed straight for the sheep dog trials (The Dada Fairys request) however we were distracted along the way be the lovely little kids maze and the toddler play area which is located in one of the sheds. The Mamma Fairy had a lovely coffee while the big man played.

The sheep dog trials were a big hit all around with the crowds gathering for each display.  They were performed by Denis Birchall, who has represented Ireland many times.  airfield From there we headed towards the “green barn” for the barn dance or in the words of the 3 years “the disco”! The barn was decked out with straw couches and three young lads played some traditional tunes.  Very entertaining, there was also a small craft fair at the back where I fell in love with a sheep wool duvet!!

Next stop was the milking, the boys really enjoyed this, the highlight for them being able to taste the milk (its pasteurised on site). The three year old got up close to the new calves and was so excited.  airfield2Just beside this was the sheep shearing demonstration.  This was very popular with a large crowd looking on.

After another coffee pit stop we headed to the field near the house itself for the farm games. We loved the old school farm games – sack races, egg and spoon race, toss the wellies, wheelbarrow race.

Overall

We spent a thoroughly enjoyable 3 hours here. I know there were extra activities on with Woolapalooza however irrespective of this we would have still enjoyed as much.  Some huge positives for me – it’s really well laid out, immaculately kept, lots of well-kept toilets spread out amongst the estate, including baby changing facilities! (essential with a potty trained toddler and a baby!), plenty coffee stations (yep im a total addict!) and tonnes of parking.

See  www.airfield.ie for information on family ticket prices and directions.

 

Note: We received a complimentary family pass, however all opinions are mine and/or the kids!
Fairy Travels

Our weekend stay at The Connacht Hotel, Galway

We decided on a whim to book our first weekend break as a foursome.  Being honest I didn’t put a massive amount of research into picking the hotel.  I had heard from some of my friends that The Connacht Hotel in Galway was great and really child friendly so we booked in for the last weekend in August.

I had originally booked a regular room but my sister and her husband decided they would come with us and would babysit to let us enjoy the Galway night life!! Naturally we jumped at the chance.  I sent the hotel a message via Twitter to organise a change in room to the 2 bedroom apartment with the small kitchen (very handy with young kids!) and Emma organised it for us. (By the way she is a total credit to the hotel extremely helpful, no request was too much hassle)

We arrived on the Friday around 3 o’clock to a busy lobby, despite how busy it was reception was so attentive and welcoming. The lovely gentleman on reception talked through the facilities for us as well as those for kids (more on this below).

The Room/ apartment

Unusually the apartment was in the actual hotel, its actually more like adjoining rooms with a kitchenette.  It was spotlessly clean, and a great size and the kitchenette even though it was compact had everything you would need.  I loved the layout as it suited our needs perfectly.  The second bedroom had its own exit which was perfect for 2 couples on holidays. We had a lovely surprise when we entered the room.  Fruit and chocolates, both gratefully devoured by my 3 year old!

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The child friendly facilities

The hotel was busy with families and I could really see why.  There was a kids club (Friendly Fellows) running during our stay, split into 2 groups 3 -5 and 6 -15 years.  In the evenings there was a film on which allowed the parents to enjoy dinner or drinks.  The kids club is fully supervised and located in the hotel itself which is great peace of mind for parents.

There is also a fantastic leisure centre on site (ill be honest I looked at it but didn’t use!) and a large pool. My son had his first experience of a swimming pool at The Connacht Hotel.  His uncle took him both mornings and he loved every minute.  The pool is  a great size – 20  meters and also includes a Jacuzzi. Check out some additional pictures here

 

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The Food

We sampled the food in the restaurant on Friday night.  The Dada Fairy had the duck and I had the chicken pasta.  He is incredibly picky about his food being a farmer himself and he gave the hotel food a huge thumbs up in terms of quality.  The service was impeccable. I wish I knew the name of the gentleman who served us as he was fantastic.  The right balance of service and chat.

Everything else

During the day we brought the little men to Salthill where we enjoyed the aquarium and the amusements.  The rain was terrible but it didn’t dampen the spirits.

We sampled the sister bar An Pucan on the Saturday night, this place is a must when in Galway city.  The garden (outdoor area) is just fantastic.  It was as expected busy on the Saturday night but very enjoyable.

We have already decided we will be back next year as it is so family friendly having facilities for both adults and children.

The Details

We booked direct via the hotel website – had the best value when I was shopping around.

Take care

~ Mamma F