Melanie Harper from Oasis Travel Bangor is like a cat with the Jersey Cream as she relaxes in the soft climate of the Channel Islands as a pampered guest of Travel Solutions.
Independent, English-speaking and boasting a vibrant mix of British and French cultures, Jersey offers holiday-makers the perfect balance of at home and away. The largest of the Channel Islands, Jersey is famous for its beaches, fine food and wines, family atmosphere and for a relaxed and easy-going lifestyle.
It’s an easy to reach destination: I travelled from Belfast International with Easyjet via Liverpool on the way out and flew back on a direct flight. Both options proved fast and efficient, making Jersey a convenient choice for a short break as well as longer stays. As I was to discover, Jersey is also an inspired choice for anyone who enjoys the finer things in life!
The tax benefits of The Channel Islands have long made this part of the world a favourite with the rich and famous so there is no shortage of high living and luxury, but there is also value for money and my research into hotels on Jersey showed high standards coupled with manageable prices.
My first stop was the three star Mayfair Hotel which is a pleasant ten minute stroll from the town centre and main shopping area of the capital St Helier and 15-20 minutes’ away from a charming seafront. Although the hotel is about to launch into a major refurbishment in 2016/17, I found it well maintained with good service and excellent facilities which indoor swimming pool, Jacuzzi and gym (open for local membership). The roof top terrace is lovely on a sunny day with some sun loungers and seating areas so you can kick back and enjoy cocktails.
The nearby DE Normandie Hotel (three stars) completed its refurbishment in 2014, creating an elegant, light and airy ambience. Here again you’ll find an indoor pool, Jacuzzi, sauna and games room plus a chic 24 hour snack bar. The hotel also has its own pub which is as popular with locals as it is with visitors to the island. The hotel has 8 disabled rooms with walk in showers (1 step); family rooms with double bed and bunk beds for 4 people and larger rooms sleeping up to 5 or 6 people. Lifts go to all floors.
The Hampshire Hotel (3 stars) rang the culinary changes with a barbeque for lunch, served poolside: the perfect spot to enjoy the combination of Pimms and sunbathing. The hotel has two super family rooms, each with a double bed and bunk beds. Some rooms have showers but the majority have simply a shower over bath. I’d recommend upgrading to one of its Premier Rooms which are larger and really nicely furnished. Lifts go to all floors but If you aren’t too mobile, be aware that there are a few steps here and there to cope with – not uncommon in Jersey as most hotels are old conversions, rather than modern, purpose-built. That gives great character but may create a few issues for disabled clients so it’s wise to check in advance.
The Pomme D’or Hotel – a touch of four star luxury – has a great location, within easy reach of shops and the seafront. It doesn’t have a swimming pool or leisure facilities but its guests are welcomed at its sister hotel, The Merton about 12 minutes’ walk away. Before you dismiss that as a tad inconvenient, let me tell you that The Merton is more of a resort than a hotel, jam-packed with amenities, attractions and entertainment. I rather liked the idea of staying at the slightly quieter and very stylish Pomme D’or while having access to all that razzamatazz. The Pomme D’Or rooms are spacious and they also have family rooms, a convivial café/bar and a great restaurant.
If you love to be at the heart of things, The Merton Hotel, with its fantastic facilities for families and adults, is the place to be with entertainment to suit every taste and age group. They have a gym, large outdoor swimming pool, Flowrider and Aquadome. Within the hotel they have a sumptuous main dining room, an American Diner and a Italian Restaurant … I can vouch for that Italian restaurant for the meal I had there was fabulous! Bedrooms are spacious, with lifts to some floors – do check on access if you have limited mobility. The Merton Hotel accepts large groups, but it is big enough to cope with that type of business without individual or family guests feeling overwhelmed.
The three star Norfolk Lodge Hotel has an indoor pool with patio area and sunbeds, entertainment 5 days a week and wifi in all areas of the hotel … no surprises, then, that this is a hugely popular family choice. There is even a family/kids area, although unsupervised and they have large family rooms in an annex building which consists of 2 bedrooms with shower. Food is served all day in the snack bar. It’s a bit of a warren with steps and stairs so do check about your exact room location if you have particular access requirements.
The island of Jersey has an area of 119 square kilometres, with 70 kilometres of coastline … small, but, as they say, perfectly formed! It packs a lot into a very small area! I’d recommend starting your Jersey experience with an island tour which will allow you to get your bearings and introduce you to the stunning beaches, fabulous scenery and marvellous defensive castles. There are plenty of tours to join, but you may think about hiring a car and heading off independently because driving here is so easy.
If you are feeling active, this is a wonderful spot for adventure and water sports and it is definitely a sailor’s paradise. The Jersey War Tunnel complex, in a former hospital excavated by slave labour, documents the island’s 5-year German occupation during WWII and is well worth a visit.
One of the most wonderful Jersey past-times is fine dining, but the island also takes the humble ice cream to new heights. This is the original home of the Jersey Cow after all, and its rich cream provides us ice cream lovers with an awful lot of sweet temptation!
If you fancy a trip to Jersey, please free to give me a call at the Bangor branch on 028 9145 0931.