Our stunning Hawkchurch Resort & Spa in Devon recently had a unique and totally unexpected surprise!

You will find that almost everyone has a funny holiday story to tell; whether that’s missing luggage, ending up somewhere unexpected or even getting lost. But for one family from Somerset, an unexpected arrival has given them a memory far more rewarding than that.

The family were staying in Devon at our Hawkchurch Resort and heavily pregnant Katie Fortt, 30, was seeking some much-needed R&R. They planned this trip two weeks before her due date for the birth of her second child, only to awake in shock on the second morning of the holiday to find herself having contractions.

A rushed phone call to emergency services confirmed that the ambulance would be arriving too late, so Katie’s mother, Lisa, jumped into action, with the 999-operative talking her through the incredible process of delivering the baby.

And just a couple of hours later and her new daughter – Indigo – was born, the ambulance reaching the site shortly after and were pleased to find mother and baby both well and healthy in their holiday lodge.

our first Hawkchurch baby

As the family are annual regulars to the Hawkchurch resort, Katie, her husband, her first daughter and her parents, Lisa and Rob Vaughn, will now have an even stronger connection to the area, hoping to return next year on the anniversary of Indigo’s exciting, if nerve-racking, birth.

“The staff were excellent,” said Rob, Katie’s father, who also helped with the delivery.

“The second we realised we would not be able to get Katie to Dorchester hospital, we phoned 999 and the operator talked my wife, Lisa through the process. We have been visiting Hawkchurch for more than six years so this just makes the place even more memorable!”

“It’s certainly been an experience!”

Carla Guppy, general manager of Hawkchurch Resort and Spa, said: “When we heard about the new arrival, we were absolutely thrilled, not least because it is the very first Hawkchurch baby!”

“The staff all did a fantastic job, and we were delighted to hear that both mother and baby are doing well and that the whole family will be continuing to visit us for their yearly holiday – we look forward to welcoming them again!”


Are you looking to book an escape in Devon? We have 2 amazing resorts for you to choose from:

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As soon as the clock strikes 12 and its January 1st again we are ready to be the best version of ourselves right?

We have our list of resolutions for the New Year and we are ready (once the hangover has gone) to kick start the year and stick to all our resolutions. But it is never that easy, according to research you can find in many articles, only around 8% of people actually succeed in sticking to their resolutions. If you struggle to stick to your resolutions each year why not start 2022 a little different and use these 7 effective ways to stick to your 2022 resolutions.


1. be specific with your resolutions

When it comes to deciding what your resolutions for the year should be you want to make sure you are as specific as possible. For example if you are wanting to take more steps in a day don’t just use that as your resolution. Be more specific by saying something like take 10,000 steps a day. That way you have an exact figure in your head every day that you know you want to try to reach.

2. make small changes daily

Starting a new resolution can be challenging so there is no point jumping straight into the deep end with this. Slow and steady wins the race so start my making small changes daily or even weekly whatever works for you. If your resolution is that you want to go the gym everyday Mon-Fri then start by going twice or three times a week first and slowly build it up to 5 times a week. You are more likely to keep it going if you slowly introduce it to your lifestyle.

3. give yourself small achievable goals to reach

Although your resolution is the end goal you want to achieve, to get there you will want to give yourself some smaller more achievable goals that are easier to reach. All of these smaller goals will eventually lead you to successfully achieving your New Year’s resolution. This way you will find it much easier to stick to it and not get overwhelmed by the end goal when you have just started. A good example for this is if you are wanting to eat healthier, instead of cutting out everything that is ‘bad’ start slowly incorporating more fruit and veg into your diet.

4. remember that it takes time to form new habits and make them stick

Don’t beat yourself up about things, the most important thing to remember is that it takes time to form new habits. Studies show it actually takes over 2 months (66 days to be exact) to form a habit and make it a natural part of your routine. So the most important thing to take from this is make sure you give it a real go and remember that it can take over 2 months before it starts to feel natural.

5. make yourself accountable and review monthly

Although you want your New Year’s resolution to feel natural it won’t be like that when you first start out. So from our 3rd tip of giving yourself small achievable goals to reach you will also want to make sure you are keeping yourself accountable and reviewing your progress monthly. This way you can really think about your goals, are they too much? Are you not putting the effort in that you know you can? Do you need to reconsider them for the following month? By doing this it will give you a chance to reassess the situation and re-evaluate what you want to come out of your New Year’s resolutions.

6. even if you fail, reassess and move on

That puts us onto our next point, even if you fail, reassess and move on. You will probably find that over 90% of peoples New Year’s resolution journeys aren’t as smooth as you think. Which is why you don’t want to be so hard on yourself if you find you’ve reached a bump in the road. Instead accept what has happened and move on from it. You can still get to your goal and stick to your resolution.

7. remember it’s never too late to start

Yes, we are talking about New Year’s resolutions and they are usually created at the start of the year. But it is never too late to start a new resolution, you could start it at the beginning of a new month or week. Or just start it tomorrow, it doesn’t matter when all that matters is that you start. And hopefully by you remembering all our effective ways to stick to your resolutions for 2022 you will be able to enjoy the process.


At Darwin Escapes we pride ourselves in offering incredible resorts where anyone can escape to and enjoy a holiday or even own a holiday home!

 

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Now that 2021 is over, it’s a great time to look back at the fantastic year we have had here at Darwin Escapes.

Although 2021 was still affected massively by the pandemic it hasn’t held us back at Darwin Escapes, below you will find all the things we have achieved from opening new resorts to sponsoring theatre shows and keeping you up to date throughout the year through our social media and blog posts.


new resorts

Stratford-upon-Avon Lodge Retreat

Our Stratford-upon-Avon Lodge Retreat was the first to open in 2021 and is the perfect escape for any occasion. With lodges to suit couples, groups of up to 10 guests and anything in between; you will be able to enjoy the views of the English countryside, a walk along the canal or just some time relaxing in your lodge.

  • Warwickshire
  • Pet friendly
  • Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
  • Perfect for theatre stays
  • Historic sites
  • Perfect for small or large groups

explore Stratford-upon-Avon Lodge Retreat

Dundonald Links

We then opened Dundonald Links which is the perfect escape for golf lovers from around the world. The golf course has hosted a number of major golfing events throughout the years and we are hosting the 2022 Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open. There are also luxurious lodges here so that you can stay and play.

  • Ayrshire, Scotland
  • Par 72 course
  • Canny Crow Restaurant
  • Luxury lodges clustered around putting greens
  • Hosting the 2022 Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open
  • Gym facilities, whisky tasting lounge etc.

explore Dundonald Links

The Springs Resort & Golf Club

The Springs Resort & Golf Club

Opening shortly after Dundonald Links was The Springs Resort & Golf Club. At The Springs you will find hotel rooms, a hotel lodge and lodges. Along with a golf course, a spa, a restaurant and a gym! It’s the perfect escape if you want to relax or if you are wanting to explore Oxfordshire and the surrounding areas!

  • Oxfordshire
  • Quirky hotel rooms
  • 1893 Spa
  • 133 acre golf course
  • The Ridgeway Restaurant
  • Fully equipped gym

explore The Springs Resort & Golf Club

We also have a brand new ‘our resorts’ section which you will see at the top of the page to help all our lovely customers see all the resorts we have in one place!


events, partnerships & sponsors

DogFest

Since most of our resorts are pet friendly it makes sense to have a partnership with DogFest! Since being set up in 2013 this annual event has provided its visitors with amazing dog displays, advice from experts and stalls from various businesses. This year we attended DogFest with our own stall showcasing all the amazing pet friendly resorts we have! We also had a caricaturist doing free portraits and a win a holiday competition.

find out more about DogFest

Derby Book Festival

The Derby Book Festival is a 9 day event that is held every year and you will find around 70 different events across 10 different venues. This year we sponsored (and attended) the annual Festival Lunch with Anna Pasternak on Wallis Simpson.

find out more about the Derby Book Festival

Royal Shakespeare Company

We have a 3 year partnership with the Royal Shakespeare Company and throughout the years we have sponsored various events and shows. This year we sponsored Comedy of Errors in the newly built Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre. Some of the team even got the chance to watch it in the summer.

find out more about the RSC

Birmingham Hippodrome

Known for being one of the busiest theatres in the UK welcoming around half a million visitors every year. Birmingham Hippodrome has various events and shows on throughout the year and at the end of this year and going into 2022 we are sponsoring the Goldilocks and the Three Bears pantomime!

find out more about Birmingham Hippodrome

Chester Zoo

For the past 5 years we have been partners with Chester Zoo and in September this year we sponsored their Wildlife Connections Festival. This weekend event was a chance for visitors to get closer to nature and learn some amazing things about nature and the nature reserve at Chester Zoo.

find out more about Chester Zoo

Find out more about our partnerships that we have with some amazing business’ and attractions


Hoseasons Awards 2021

Hoseasons Awards 2021

This year we attended the virtual Hoseasons Awards and it was another great year for Darwin Escapes. See the full list of awards we are proud to say that we won this year…

Rivendale Lodge Retreat:
  • Best in Britain Food Awards
  • Customer Choice Food Awards – Lodge Escape
  • Best Lodge Escape Large Park in the Heart of England
Piran Meadows Resort:
  • Relax & Explore Large Park in Cornwall
Cheddar Woods Resort & Spa:
  • Relax & Explore Large Park in Somerset
Talacre Beach Resort:
  • Relax & Explore Large Park in North Wales
Woodside Bay Lodge Retreat:
  • Best Lodge Escape Large Park in the Isle of Wight
Wareham Forest Lodge Retreat:
  • Best Lodge Escape Large Park in Devon, Somerset & Dorset
Mullion Cove Coastal Retreat:
  • Best Lodge Escape Large Park in Cornwall

find out more about the Hoseasons Awards 2021


social media & blogs

We like to keep you up to date with all things Darwin Escapes and we do this mainly through our blogs and social media posts.

This year we have posted:

89 blogs and 387 social media posts


what to expect in 2022?

We plan to continue providing you all with amazing family holidays, couples escapes and group getaways across the UK. And help new holiday home owners find their dream holiday home in one of our resorts.

 

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The Springs Resort & Spa has been open for a few weeks now and we wanted to catch up with the interior guru behind the interior design.

We have worked with Harriet Lazzeri from Lazzeri Creative Interiors before when we were opening our stunning Rivendale Lodge Retreat. And earlier this year Rivendale was nominated in the Restaurant & Bar Design Awards 2021. So when we were designing The Springs we knew Harriet would be the perfect match for creating the most stunning rooms and bringing the stunning Tudor-style house back to life. Now that The Springs is open we have caught up with Harriet and asked some questions about all things interior design.


1. Who are you and what do you do?

I am Harriet Lazzeri; Interior Designer and Owner of Lazzeri Creative Interiors, Part-Time Interior Design Lecturer at De Montfort University, and Professional cocktail drinker😊

I live near Nottingham with my partner, stepdaughter and Border Terrier puppy Chewi.

The Springs Bar & Restaurant Designs by Harriet Lazzeri

2. When did you start to have an interest in interior design?

Initially it was all about Architecture for me – from about aged 12 I used to spend hours designing houses for myself and family. I went to uni in Liverpool to study Architecture, but after graduating I worked in a few Architecture practises and realised I was more interested in what was going on inside the buildings; how people used and moved through the spaces and how they made them feel.

So from that point on I redirected slightly to Interiors and joined a small company in Birmingham who specialised in office interiors, and have never looked back. I think the faster pace also appealed to me – some Architecture projects can take years just to get through planning whereas most Interior projects are finished much more quickly.

3. When did you start your company?

It was back in February 2018. I had moved from Birmingham to Nottingham about 6 months previously and was hating the commute back to Birmingham each day, which was taking me about 2 hours each way with all of the traffic. I had moved to Nottingham to move in with my partner and I felt like I saw him less! The company I worked for then made some redundancies in the wake of the Brexit vote and it just made sense for me to go – I worked freelance for them for a few months while I got the business up and running and it has gone from strength to strength.

The Springs Bedroom Designs by Harriet Lazzeri 1

4. What was your first impression of The Springs when you visited?

My first impression was that it had so much potential to be a really stunning space and how forlorn it looked all empty and fenced off.

It had such great bones with the ornate panelling, the high ceilings, the sweeping staircase and that amazing view over the millpond, but it was covered in mould and graffiti and unfortunately had damage from people breaking in. There was no electricity so walking around the basement using our phone lights and stepping over dead pigeons was an interesting experience!!

As soon as I walked around I was so excited to get back to the office and start designing, to bring the building back to its former glory.

5. Did you learn anything interesting about The Springs or the local area when researching?

So many things! And we have tried to feature or mention as many references as we could throughout the Reception building and the Clubhouse. The now Spa Reception features the only known replica of the ceiling in the Scottish hunting lodge of King James 1.

The first owner who commission the construction of the building was a diplomat called Sir Alexander Condie Stephen – he was feature in Vanity Fair magazine (you can see the portrait up on the First Floor landing). The second owner, Sir John Wormald, owned the company that invented the sprinkler system. He was hugely philanthropic within the nearby village of North Stoke and is held in high regard.

It was bought and converted into a hotel in 1973 by Ian Gillan the lead singer of Deep Purple, who also commissioned the guitar shaped swimming pool (unfortunately this had to be filled in!) The famous contralto Opera singer Dame Clara Butt lived nearby – the Willow Warbler suite is themed around her. Agatha Christie lived and wrote in nearby Wallingford. Rowse Honey are also based in nearby Wallingford.

The Springs Reception Designs by Harriet Lazzeri

6. What was the main inspiration for The Springs décor?

The design intent for the Springs encompassed a few things – it needed to celebrate the history and features of the building and feel like a country house again, but with a modern and quirky twist and some eclectic features.

I wanted the Bedroom Suites to all have their own identity – as they all have different sizes, shapes, windows and ceilings etc. it made sense that they weren’t all based on the same scheme, that some are more airy and others more cosy. I also thought it was important that whilst some elements were traditional, other areas were a bit of a surprise like the black basement corridor to the treatment rooms.

7. How did you incorporate golf into the designs?

Although there are some references to golf in the artwork in the building, the main golf items are in the Clubhouse. We felt it was important that the building be slightly separate in style from the golf theme as there may be suite or lodge guests who were more interested in other things such as walking, the countryside, the spa, nearby attractions etc. who we didn’t want to alienated by it being overly golf themed.

The Clubhouse has the Spike Bar which is very much designed around golf with lots of golf themed artwork, balls and clubs on display, with the rest of the building having more subtle nods to golf – a repeated texture is perforated panels used on the feature staircase chandelier and the counter front of the pro shop which references the pattern on a golf ball, and many of the other lighting pieces feature illuminated globes to emulate golf balls. Also look out for the feature golf ball display coffee table.

The Springs Spa & Pool Designs by Harriet Lazzeri

8. What was your inspiration for the pool décor specifically? It’s very outdoor/indoor type feel with the wallpaper

The theme behind the pool interior scheme is “ethereal nature”- with the misty tree mural, the view of the woods through the beautiful bay window and the timber slatted wall cladding I wanted guests to feel like they could be swimming in a clearing in a forest somewhere. We wanted to blur the lines between outside and inside, and create a feeling of being surrounded by nature.

9. What was your inspiration for the 1893 Spa?

For the Spa I was keen that we didn’t go down the route of Buddha’s and Lotus flowers as the spa is in an English country house and it didn’t feel very authentic. With the stunning Chiltern Hills and The Ridgeway as inspiration the design is centred around nature, combined with accentuating the existing beautiful period features such as the panelling and ceiling of the Spa Reception and Lounge, and using subtle references to period design with the Regency style teal paint and traditional crystal chandelier.

There are references to local flora and fauna throughout, with woodland scenes and natural timber finishes. Utilising the panelling in the Spa Lounge with feature wallpaper inserts creates a feeling of a traditional Victorian orangery, with beautiful views over the Millpond where the Springs got its name!

The Springs Bedroom Designs by Harriet Lazzeri 2

10. How much did the size of the bedrooms influence your bold colour choices?

Very much so! With some of them being quite small rooms we knew they needed to have a big impact and be full of quirky features. Some of the best hotels in cities around the world that have smaller bedrooms are so successful because they are bold with their designs. By using feature wallpapers and bold paintwork combined with stunning tiles in the bathrooms creates a luxurious feel, full of talking points.

11. How does it feel to see your designs come to life?

It’s one of my favourite parts of a project! There is always a slightly nerve wracking period where you question decisions but seeing it all come together in real life is worth the stress!

The Springs Bedroom Designs by Harriet Lazzeri 3

12. If you could only choose one of the rooms you designed which would you choose?

Ooh that’s a tough one. Surprisingly one of my favourite rooms is the basement Relaxation Room – with timber slats on the walls, monochromatic tree wallpaper, draped curtains for privacy between the loungers and the warming fireplace it feels cosy and intimate and the perfect place for a snooze after a relaxing massage.


Why not come to The Springs Resort & Golf Club and see how Harriet designed all of the rooms. Relax and unwind in the spa or enjoy a bite to eat at The Ridgeway Restaurant.

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We had interior designer Harriet from Lazzeri Creative Interiors come to The Springs and work her magic on designing the resort interiors.

To give us an idea of what to expect we were presented with some incredible artist impressions that helped us picture what The Springs Resort & Golf Club was going to look like. And now that the resort is open for business we thought it would be a great time to reflect and look back at the designs and actual images of some of the rooms before. Check out the before, after and artist impression shots of various rooms around The Springs to see how they compare.


exterior

before…

The Springs Before - Exterior

…after

The Springs - Exterior


reception

before…

The Springs Before - Reception

artist impression…

The Springs Artist Impressions - Reception

…after


bar & restaurant

artist impression…

 

…after


spa & pool

pool

before…

The Springs Before - Pool

artist impression…

The Springs Artist Impressions - Spa & Pool

…after

The Springs - Spa & Pool

spa reception

before…

The Springs Before - Spa

…after

The Springs - Spa

spa lounge

before…

The Springs Before - Spa Lounge

after…

The Springs - Spa Lounge


bedrooms

Thames Suite

before…

The Springs Artist Impressions - Bedroom 01

…after

The Springs - Bedroom 01

Orange Balsam Suite

before…

The Springs - Bedroom 01

…after

The Willow Warbler Suite

before…

…after

The Springs - Bedroom 03


Come and have a look for yourself and stay at The Springs for a night or two. It’s the perfect escape for all and can be a place that you can relax, unwind, play golf and enjoy some food.

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We are proud to say that our stunning Rivendale Lodge Retreat is a finalist in the Mixology North21 Project of the Year.

Mix Interiors is the leading magazine for UK commercial interior design and each year they have various different awards for things like flooring, loose furniture etc. And this year we are one of the finalists for the Mixology North21 Project of the Year – Bar & Leisure Interiors. The winners are revealed at the Mixology North21 Awards on 9th December 2021.

To create and design what Rivendale is known for today we partnered with NBDA Architects and Lazzeri Creative Interiors. Together they created a welcoming, relaxing and beautiful space where people can enjoy a bite to eat, something to drink or just a place to sit and chat. From the living green wall behind reception to the most beautiful toilets we think we have ever saw! Have a scroll through the images below to see why we are finalists in the Mixology North21 Awards.


Rivendale Lodge Retreat - Reception

Rivendale Lodge Retreat - The Corner Shop

Rivendale Lodge Retreat - Bar Area

Rivendale Lodge Retreat - Bar

Rivendale Lodge Retreat - Pool Table

Rivendale Lodge Retreat - Toilets

Rivendale Lodge Retreat - Bar & Restuarant

Rivendale Lodge Retreat - Restuarant

Rivendale Lodge Retreat - Restaurant Area


Why not come and see the beautiful Rivendale Lodge Retreat yourself and book an escape away?

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Enjoy the festive period this year and head over to Woodside Bay Lodge Retreat where you can enjoy our Christmas markets.

where?

Woodside Bay Lodge Retreat

Lower Woodside Rd

Wooton Bridge

PO33 4JT

when?

8th & 15th December 2021

what time?

11am till 3pm

what’s there?

A variety of Christmas market stalls including Christmas gifts, knitted toys, vegan sweets and fudge, wax melts, candles, handmade crafts, Wight Bakes and many more.

extras

  • Very special visitor from the Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary
  • Treat yourself to a tea or coffee and a mince pie for just £2!

Woodside Bay Christmas Markets-min

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Darwin Escapes is celebrating the unveiling of its Springs Resort and Golf Club in Oxfordshire, following years of investment, culminating in the loving restoration of its 19th century Manor House into a boutique hotel and spa.

The resort – including hotel, spa and four new lakeside lodges – is located only 30 minutes from Oxford city centre, benefitting from easy access to major road networks but surrounded by rolling countryside.

The eight bedroom suites in the Manor House have each been individually designed to offer guests an intimate, chic and relaxing stay in the heart of Oxfordshire. A range of suite types are available and come with impressive bathrooms and all modern amenities.

Also new to the site is the 1893 Spa, named after the year the Manor House was originally built, and provides a wide range of treatments delivered by fully-trained therapists, plus a stunning spa lounge and a hydrotherapy pool with underwater ceramic beds.

Springs Resort has also unveiled four new two-bedroom Millpond lodges, all of which come with a hot tub and landscaped decking area with beautiful views across the millpond. A further 15 one-bedroom lodges and 27 hotel lodge rooms will be opening in spring 2022 to offer a wide variety of accommodation to guests.

For foodies, the newly renovated Springs clubhouse is home to The Ridgeway Restaurant, serving a selection of food with intimate lounge and bar areas, and a large terrace overlooking the golf course.

The Spa Pool at The Springs Resort & Golf Club The Ridgeway Restaurant at The Springs Resort & Golf Club

The Springs golf course provides an excellent experience with an 18-hole, par-72 course that tracks the River Thames through 133 acres of stunning Oxfordshire countryside. The opening of the new accommodation provides golfer travellers with the opportunity to stay and play from this winter.

Lindsey Esse, managing director of Darwin Escapes, said: “We are delighted to be unveiling the latest enhancements to Springs Resort and Golf Club, including the loving restoration of the historic Manor House.

“We look forward to welcoming guests for a truly unique experience in our intimate suites and luxury lodges.”

Golf Pro Shop at The Springs Resort & Golf Club Golf Course at The Springs Resort & Golf Club

Prices start from £169 for a 1 night stay in a boutique hotel suite and from £809 for a 7 night break in a Mill Pond Premier lodge.

Darwin Escapes currently operates 24 holiday resorts and three golf courses across the UK offering holiday breaks, holiday home ownership and golf breaks.

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