Aviemore is the perfect location for a weekend break, writes Keith Findlay
Not only is Macdonald Aviemore Hotel within reasonable striking distance of our Aberdeenshire home, but it offers the twin appeal of being somewhere to relax and unwind at the same time as having a wealth of activities should we want them.
It’s recently seen a big investment in room refurbishments and further work on the public areas was well under way during our visit. Our accommodation was ideal for families, thanks to a connecting room with bunk beds for our older two children and lots of space in our room for a cot for baby.
The elder ones were quick to spot the list of activities available during our stay, and were soon telling us exactly what they wanted to do. Arts and crafts-loving Keira, 10, had her eye on the Let’s Get Creative session, while eight-year-old Patrick insisted we could not possibly leave Aviemore without seeing a movie in the resort’s impressive Spey Valley cinema.
The lagoon-shaped swimming pool and its flume and wave machine was a must, of course, and Craigellachie reserve – right behind the resort – was always going to be a draw for our nature-loving youngsters.
Archery, quad bikes, fishing, quizzes and cabaret nights were among a host of other activities on the daily What’s On sheets, available from the hotel’s reception. So it soon became clear there was plenty to keep us all occupied during our stay – and beyond if we wanted a few extra nights – both onsite and in the surrounding area.
The resort’s own activity centre offers fully supervised sessions for younger children – which must be booked in advance – and a “chill room” for teenagers, giving parents some time to themselves. There’s also a three-storey soft play area with climbing tunnels, slides and a ball machine to keep young ones busy for a while.
Dining options at the resort include Giovanni’s Ristorante, which we tried on our first night. Decent children’s menus and a good range of traditional Italian favourites for the grown-ups filled us up nicely before we headed back to our rooms. Also onsite or just a short distance away are the Spey Valley Carvery, Scottish Steakhouse, Spey Burger Aviemore and the Osprey Alehouse and Kitchen.
Spey Valley Sport Bar, Laggan Whisky Bar and two Costa Coffee outlets complete the ample food and drink offering at Macdonald Aviemore Resort.
About £5million was invested in the resort last winter as it approached its 50th year in 2016, bringing new facilities, major refurbishments and a pioneering training academy. There are now two four-star hotels; the Macdonald Aviemore, where we stayed, and the Macdonald Morlich. The refurbishments have produced a smart, welcoming new look for 108 bedrooms at the Macdonald Aviemore Hotel, 98 at the Macdonald Highland Hotel and 65 at the Macdonald Morlich Hotel.
These developments are on top of substantial recent investment in the Aviemore Activity Centre, with its fully supervised play centre spanning more than 16,000sq ft, and a brand new clubhouse at the Macdonald Spey Valley Championship Golf Course nearby.
More cash is being splashed on Macdonald Aviemore Resort’s restaurant offering, while there are also big plans for Spey Valley Shopping – home to a wide range of exclusive gifts, homewares, luxury brand clothing and accessories since 2005.
The resort is a popular choice for weddings and also boasts a large conference centre, capable of holding up to 1,000 people.
Short-break packages include Santa weekends, Hogmanay breaks, school half-term holiday deals and “we time” romantic escapes.
Highland Wildlife Park, Loch Morlich, the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre and Cairngorm Mountain, with all its winters sports opportunities, are almost on the doorstep. Other options for getting out and about include castles, distilleries and outdoor activities galore, as well as Landmark Forest Adventure park at Carrbridge.
Whether it’s relaxation or exertion you’re after, or perhaps a bit of both, Macdonald Aviemore Resort is all about giving you a break from your normal routine.
Packages currently include three-night Santa weekends, from £559 for a family of four.
Included in the dinner, bed and breakfast deal is a “magical” walk to Santa’s Highland Home, a visit from his reindeer, pantomime tickets, supervised play sessions and full use of the resort’s swimming pool, water slide and wave machine.
Three-night Christmas celebration breaks, from £999 for a family of four, also feature a Christmas Eve parade, fireworks display and Boxing Day party.
Hogmanay breaks start at £1,099 for three nights, again for a family of four. Strathspey Pipe Band will be there to help make sure the year ends in style, with fireworks at midnight heralding the start of 2016.
Two -night festive escapes between Christmas and New Year or just after Hogmanay are on offer for £499 for a family of four.
As a rough guide for what to expect in 2016, this year’s school summer and half-term holiday offers came in at £199 per night for a family of four, which included dinner bed and breakfast as well as supervised play.
Woodland Lodges sleeping up to six adults are also available.
For the latest prices for these and all other accommodation/ package options, visit www.macdonaldhotels.co.uk/aviemore or call 0344 879 9152.