Want a quiet, relaxing weekend break? Get yourself a lodge
- Credit: Hoseasons
In a world ever more digitally connected, organic and honest friendships have taken on a new level of significance.
When my childhood friend Amie and I met Kate and Jess as fresh-faced sixth form students in 2008, none of us had Facebook or a smartphone.
Ten years later and, like many people with busy and independent lives, we do a lot of our talking online – but this makes us appreciate our face-to-face meetings all the more.
We felt a decade of friendship – or a 'friendversary', as Facebook would have it – was an occasion worth celebrating.
So we arranged a short trip (the favoured holiday length of our age group), with Suffolk-based holiday provider Hoseasons – which is marking the 10th anniversary of a different phenomenon, the 'staycation'.
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It is a term which came into the public consciousness amid the financial crash of 2007/08. With thousands of families left ravaged by the credit crunch, a holiday in the UK, avoiding the expenses of travelling abroad, became more appealing to many.
And in the years that have followed – with the economy stunted and many people still worse, or barely better, off than they were before – holidaying at home has retained its popularity.
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Investment in luxury lodge accommodation over the past decade has helped Hoseasons and others capitalise on the staycation trend, with demand for 'hot tub breaks' soaring as people look to pimp their UK getaways.
As home breaks got more popular, so too did short breaks. In 2010 the average duration of a Hoseasons holiday was seven nights; it's now four, and one- and two-night breaks are increasingly in demand.
The shift has been so profound that short breaks now make up 70pc of Hoseasons' business, while other local holiday agencies have seen a similar trend.
The location for our short break was Hoseasons The Manor Resort in Lincolnshire, a 116-acre estate and golf course nestled on the edge of the Lincolnshire Wolds, which is home to lodges in the company's Autograph collection (the collection, which includes 44 hot tub lodge sites across the UK, is also marking its 10th anniversary this year).
In-keeping with the location, all the lodges at the resort are named after famous golfers.
Our lodge, Trevino, was ideal for a short girly break – two inviting and comfortable en-suite bedrooms, a well-equipped kitchen, two gigantic sofas for lounging in (and Sky TV to watch while doing so) plus a lovely hot tub to sit and sip Prosecco in on a Saturday evening.
After a three-and-a-half hour journey the four of us arrived in our luxury weekend hideaway – and immediately set about the important business of relaxing.
People our age are a growing market for companies like Hoseasons, which has seen bookings from millennials – those born in the rough period of 1980 to 1995 – increase by more than a third (37pc) in the past three years.
Managing director Simon Altham puts this down to the fact that many will have missed out on UK breaks when they were younger as parents took advantage of cheaper holidays abroad (Mr Altham can speak for himself – almost all of my childhood holidays took place within the confines of Great Britain).
Since Kate, Jess, Amie and I met as teenagers 10 years ago our social life has primarily revolved around eating and drinking: snacks in front of our parents' TVs turned into dinners in the restaurants of Bury St Edmunds, eventually replaced by dinners parties in our own homes.
Our trip to Hoseasons The Manor Resort was little different. While there we indulged in an afternoon tea (a novel affair which involved cheeseburgers and the biggest finger sandwiches we'd ever come across) and a hearty cooked breakfast (kindly offered as compensation for some trouble with our lodge's heating), as well as a dinner of Chinese food from a highly-recommended takeaway in Laceby which delivered straight to our door – perfect on a cold, dreary November evening.
We all agreed we hadn't had such a relaxing time together in years. For four busy adults, it was the perfect escape from life's hubbub.
• A three-night break at The Manor Resort for up to four people costs from £344 off-peak, peak costs from £485. Visit hoseasons.co.uk or call 0345 498 6130.