Surf’s up for a seaside holiday

Surfers at Carbis Bay, Cornwall. See PA Feature TRAVEL Cornwall. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Handout. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature TRAVEL Cornwall.

Surfers at Carbis Bay, Cornwall. See PA Feature TRAVEL Cornwall. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Handout. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature TRAVEL Cornwall.

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There it is, that shimmering light, that jewel stretching down from the cliff-top to the glorious sandy beach below.

The resplendent Carbis Bay Hotel, the base for our week-long family holiday in Cornwall - and it’s just come into view from our boat.

That introduction may seem a little over the top for a hotel, but the Carbis Bay Hotel is rather special. Unlike the fool’s gold so prevalent in this part of the world - a remnant of the region’s famous mining industry - this is the real thing.

We’re out on a Hawaiian canoe, discovering the hidden coves of this beautiful area, just a mile or so from St Ives.

Our guide is Ocean Sports Centre owner Glenn, a man with genuine insight and passion for the region’s craggy coastline and varied marine life - some of which we spotted through the glass panels on the base of our canoe.

Glenn wowed the kids with talk of pirates, shipwrecks and treasure islands and, as we paddle back to Carbis Bay beach, the only Blue Flag beach to be privately owned by a hotel in the UK, I think there cannot be a more glorious destination in the country.

After reaching the sand, we disembark then say our goodbyes to Glenn - whose beachfront-based company also offers activities like kayaking and stand-up paddle board lessons. A two-minute climb up the hill takes us up to the hotel, which boasts fantastic views of the beach and brilliant blue sea beyond.

Lucky visitors have been enjoying this view since the hotel was built in 1894 by celebrated architect Silvanus Trevail. The hotel was the inspiration for former guest Virginia Woolf’s 1927 novel To The Lighthouse, her ode to the nearby Godrevy Lighthouse.

The hotel suffered in the post-war period, largely due to lack of investment, but began a revival when it was taken over in the early 1980s.

Years of continuous development have created a fabulous fusion of old and new. Wonderfully spacious marble interiors in the main reception areas and luxurious furniture and intricate timberwork in the charming conservatory are a nod to antiquity, while the outdoor swimming pool and new terrace with breathtaking views of the shore are signs that the owners’ continuing efforts to keep standards up are working.

A £6m-£7m development plan for the next decade includes ideas for new leisure facilities that will make the resort a destination for all seasons, not just summer.

Not that there’s much missing at the moment, with 47 guest rooms and seven apartments that each offer their own individual delights. Our apartment featured two double bedrooms, two plush marble bathrooms, a cosy living room and dining area and a well-presented kitchen.

While beach lovers may simply fancy a week on the Carbis Bay sands, those after a bit more action are just around the corner from St Ives.

Fish and chips, cream teas, ice cream, quaint art and winding streets have helped make St Ives one of Cornwall’s most popular resorts.

You also can’t miss the opportunity for a boat trip to Seal Island where dozens of seals play in the water, bask in the sun and make for a brilliant holiday.