REVIEW: Family fun at Fairmont St Andrews

Morag Bootland visits the Fairmont Hotel near St Andrews.

IF, LIKE me, you’ve only just survived the October school holidays, and the thought of trying to amuse the children over the next break that the school year throws at you is giving you a headache, then I’m going to give you a valuable piece of advice. Book yourself a break. And as tempting as it might sound, I’m not encouraging you to book a one-way ticket for one to somewhere warm and sunny (as tempting as that might sound).

There wasn’t scope to take too much time off work for The Bootland family’s October break, but we decided that a couple of nights away as a family would do us the world of good, and as it turned out we were right.

The Fairmont St Andrews is a 1.5-hour drive for us, not so much time in the car that we’re all ready to kill one another by the time we arrive. And although relaxation is the plan, the hotel had put on a schedule of family-friendly activities for us to enjoy together.

We arrive in the evening and my daughter is impressed by the lobby and the incredible atrium space at Fairmont. Now, for anyone else with a teenage daughter, you will know that impressing them is no mean feat. So, we’ve started really well.

We’re warmly welcomed and shown to our adjoining rooms. There is much excitement from the children about the double double room that allows them both the luxury of sleeping in a big bed. And we’re delighted to have the peace and quiet that our king size room affords us. The rooms are both huge with spacious marble ensuite bathrooms, and as we discovered in the morning, amazing views across the golf course to the sea.

Breakfast in the Squire restaurant is nothing short of awesome. I’m eggstatic (sorry I couldn’t help it) about the omelette station, Dad is tucking into some fabulous local bacon on a proper Scottish morning roll, the teen appears to be having one of everything and my sweet-toothed son is happy as Larry with his pancakes and Nutella.

Ready for a fun-filled day we don our jackets and hats and head outside for some Axe Throwing. I’ve never done this before, but I’m really looking forward to it. I feel like this might just be the sport for me. I like nothing more than chopping kindling for the fire, so am practised with an axe. The teen has thrown axes before so has a distinct advantage. The axes are smaller, lighter and sharper than I’m used to, but after a few shots to get my eye in they’re at least hitting the target, if not sticking in it. By the end of the session Dad and I are able to stick the axe a few times each and the teen has developed a distinctly Vikingesque two-handed throwing technique that seems to work for her. My son makes a valiant effort and when allowed to stand much closer to the target has some success.

Dad and the teen head off to learn how to ride segways and we watch them zipping around, at first on the grass as they get used to them and then further afield as they zoom around the paths that wind around the Torrance golf course. They both return having absolutely loved the experience. The grounds of Fairmont make the perfect segway track and the views are awesome too.

Teen and I are also lucky enough to be heading to the greenhouse to meet John Mitchell, the Head Gardener and Beekeeper at Fairmont St Andrews. John tells us all about the kitchen garden and greenhouse that is supplying the hotel kitchen with some veggies and micro-herbs and the three bee hives that are now onsite in order to produce a Fairmont St Andrews honey. John teaches us to make real beeswax candles and we leave with one hand-poured candle and one rolled wax candle.

The rest of the day is given over to a snack lunch, which is all we have room for after a whopping breakfast, and a trip to the hotel pool. My son is delighted to finally get the chance to swim and we spend the afternoon playing in the pool, chilling out on the comfy loungers and I even had the chance to experience the steam room, sauna and spa pool while the children were contentedly bobbing around.

A quick cocktail for Mum and Dad in Kittock’s Den bar and then dinner is in Cucina, Fairmont’s Italian restaurant. There’s lots on offer for children and grown-ups on the menu. The children are delighted with their pizza and there are the usual staples of spag bol, fish and chips or chicken and chips available too. Ice cream rounds off a happy dinner and we head back to our rooms to enjoy lounging around in the comfy robes and slippers provided.

I made plans to rise early and swim before breakfast, but the relaxation got the better of me and a long lie won. Another epic breakfast set us up for some exploration around St Andrews and the journey home. As we checked-out I realised that we hadn’t had a cross word since we arrived. Now that must surely be the sign of a great family break?

For more info on a family break at Fairmont St Andrews visit www.fairmont.com/st-andrews-scotland