I like to think I’m a bit of a water baby; I guess being a Cancerian (the crab water sign), I’m naturally drawn to the water and anything activity related.
In fact, I always say to VIP that if we ever won the lotto I’d buy a house with an indoor pool and swim every single day.
And because I’ve always been such a huge fan of the water – and being able to swim is a hugely important life skill – I’ve raised my kids to love the water and be strong swimmers.
So when I was invited to stay at Mark Warner’s San Lucianu Resort in Corsica to check out its family-friendly activities – including its great variety of watersports, I just had to pull out all the stops to make the trip.
Mark Warner is well known for offering ski, family sun and activity holidays – and the company is highlighting its newly introduced all-inclusive offering at its Corsican resort – ideal of course for families.
So what’s included?
Everyone who books a Mark Warner holiday is automatically booked on a full board basis which offers three meals a day – breakfast, lunch and dinner with soft drinks and wine with dinner.
As an example of prices, a week’s getaway at San Lucianu this month costs from £679 per person (off peak) for seven nights or £1,059 in peak season.
And if you’re lucky to be able to avoid the peak season then prices in September are from a very affordable £649 for adults and £599 for kids.
Prices are based on two sharing and including flights and transfers.
However, for an extra £120 per adult and £65 per child, per week you can upgrade to all-inclusive, which offers all meals, selected soft drinks and ice-cream plus selected beers, wine, spirits and cocktails for the adults as well as beach towels.
It’s a great idea for families; if your kids are anything like mine, they‘ll be asking for drinks and ice-cream on the hour, every hour.
When I visited the resort just three flavours of ice-cream were offered for those on all-inclusive – strawberry, chocolate and vanilla, but one of the bar staff told me that they were changing suppliers which would mean that all flavours would be included.
Top tip: try pistachio – it’s divine!
Are you getting your Vitamin Sea?
All non-motorised watersport activities are also included in the price of a Mark Warner holiday.
At the San Lucianu resort these range from sailing and windsurfing to kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding.
Let’s take a closer look at each of them…
This was one of my favourite activities as it was nice to enjoy a spot of calm paddling while soaking up the stunning scenery.
You can get two people in the kayak and the fully qualified instructors will help you carry the kayak to the water and offer tips and tricks if you’re a beginner.
There’s no time limit on how long you can spend on the water and what’s great is that the kids’ clubs offer kayaking sessions included in their programme.
Personally I found the Stand-up Paddleboarding (SUP) the most challenging; you have to have good balance – which I thought I had, but clearly not as I was quick to fall off, face first going into the water.
However, it’s relatively easy to learn – it’s simply a case of being able to stand up and paddle.
A few people paddle on their knees (including me!) and our instructor also told us we could paddle sitting down if we wanted, which was reassuring to hear when my knees started to get sore.
Now this activity is a bit harder than it initially looks (the instructors make it look so easy), but I’m proud to say that I was one of few who didn’t end up wet from falling in.
Mind you, my partner (the host) was a bit of a pro at sailing and I insisted she take the helm to keep the both of us (and my iPhone) dry!
Having said that, when the wind catches the sail and you’re whizzing along, there’s something very carefree about it all and you feel like you don’t have a care in the world.
I’d definitely like to give this activity another go if I get the opportunity – and perhaps next time I’ll leave the mobile shore-side.
Expert tuition in resort is offered for free and there’s a range of equipment on offer – for children right up to those used by the pros.
For those looking to perfect their skills then a range of Royal Yachting Association (RYA) courses are also available.
The windsurfing was the only activity I didn’t try on my adventure – not through lack of wanting to, but because I took a mini break and just didn’t have the time.
It certainly looked great fun though – and free tuition is included at the resort, along with clinics, private lessons and RYA courses.
If you’re going to give it a go, you might want to opt for a morning session when the waters are typically a lot calmer, which will give you a better advantage of getting to grips with the sport.
Kids can also learn to windsurf as a club activity as part of the kids’ club option and there are a wide range of boards to suit all abilities.
It’s worth noting that the waters off Corsica are crystal clear, so it’s definitely worth bringing the snorkelling gear for the family.
Peering down from my Paddle board into the water below (when the water was calm), not only did I spot the sandy sea bed some 15ft below, but I also saw the most striking jellyfish – a vivid blue colour- effortlessly gliding along.
Back on land and there’s a whole range of activities and adventures to try.
The resort provides an LTA endorsed tennis coaching programme and you can also opt to hire a bike (for free) or choose a guided bike tour, with both hybrid and road bikes to choose from.
We went on one of the easier cycling tours – about 5km – and stopped off at a wonderful ice-cream parlour on the way back as a special treat.
If you’re interested in doing the same, the shop is called Abri des Flots and I can definitely vouch for the coconut flavour!
Aside from tennis and cycling, you can also try your hand at volleyball, aerobics and fitness, water polo, table tennis and pool.
Out and about
Simply put, Corsica is an island of beauty – and because of its stunning scenery (an aqua-coloured sea or soaring mountains as a backdrop and various fruit farms and groves) – it’s a good idea to get out and about.
You can do this by foot, bike, moped or car hire; the latter possibly being the best option if you have younger kids.
My two tweens would be up for hiring a bike from the resort, but kids have to be aged 13 and up to do so – and any child between 13 and 18 years old has to be accompanied by an adult.
One activity well worth a go (and this was one of the highlights of my trip) is a walk to the nearby waterfall.
Only attempt this if your kids are a bit older as although I say ‘nearby’, it’s a good 40-minute walk and the paths are quite rugged, particularly as you get closer to the waterfall.
I’d also recommend a morning walk when the heat of the sun won’t affect you too much.
The hotel reception keeps a detailed description of how to get to the waterfall, so don’t attempt to find it alone otherwise you may find yourselves lost – and disappointed.
But if you do venture ‘off-the-beaten-path’ for this mini adventure you will be in for a great surprise; the crystal clear waters of the lagoon are certainly a sight for sore eyes.
I ended up spending a good hour-and-a-half swimming, jumping off rocks and watching some Corsicans somersault into the water from crazy heights; as a mother I almost had a mini heart attack every time they jumped in.
It’s all about the kids
Kids are exceptionally well catered for at the resort – not only by a dedicated childcare centre and its plethora of daytime activities, but also in terms of a great selection of watersports and evening entertainment – dependent on the age of the kids.
In fact, the kids’ clubs are split into three age group sections, catering for up to 17 years old in the summer months of July and August.
With a myriad of activities for kids to try, there’s no chance of boredom – and the kids’ clubs and courses also ensure kids are burning off their energy throughout the day.
The San Lucianu Resort
Interestingly, half of the guestrooms at the San Lucianu resort have been refurbished and the other half have been left untouched.
On further investigation it appears that there has been no hurry to upgrade all of the 95 rooms, simply because those seeking even cheaper accommodation have the option of doing so by staying in one of the old-style rooms.
The concept seems to work well and there’s an equal balance of guests staying in both halves.
On our trip, we stayed in the refurbished rooms that overlooked the sea, and they were clean, spacious and comfortable.
I liked the little touches to the room – namely the very ‘on-trend’ bedside reading lights, the free Wi-Fi, bottled water and the full length mirror with a plug point (for the hairdryer!) right next to it – I did say in my video that the rooms must have been designed by a woman!
There were a couple of minor things I’d change – things like offering hairdryers in the rooms and having a magnifying mirror in the bathroom – but they weren’t major.
The other thing I’d suggest to the hotel is to use silk paint on the walls in the guestrooms – as any marks are quickly wiped away.
If you’ve got matt paint on walls at a family-friendly hotel, you’re going to get scuffmarks – and lots of them. But maybe that’s just ‘The Hotel Inspector’ in me!
The refurbished rooms offered:
- Satellite TV
- Complimentary Wi-Fi (throughout the hotel)
- Complimentary toiletries
- Mini fridge (superior rooms that do not interconnect)
- Safe deposit box (superior rooms only)
If there’s one thing I was mighty impressed with at the San Lucianu Resort, it was the food, particularly the a la carte menu, which is served a few times a week.
For a three-star hotel I would have said it offered four-and-a-half star food. Meals were beautifully presented and tasted as good as they looked.
And when it came to the buffet meals there was always plenty of choice – and very often some show cooking going on, with things like fresh pasta and homemade pizzas.
Local specialities are also offered to satisfy adventurous palates or those seeking something a bit different.
The setting of the terrace restaurant was pleasant – and it overlooked the gardens below. It was also undercover, so if it did rain there was little chance of getting wet.
A quick overview
So, the big question is…would I recommend a family stay at the San Lucianu Resort?
Well, I think I answered my own question many times on my return back home.
When asked if I had a good time by friends and family, I always found myself telling them that I wasn’t ready to return home.
Anyone that really knows me, knows what a home-girl I am. Always have been; always will be.
So for me to want to stay a few more days to enjoy the activities and explore my surroundings speaks volumes.
If you’re seeking an active family getaway at affordable prices, then you wouldn’t go far wrong with choosing Mark Warner’s San Lucianu Resort.
I’ve got to mention the staff at the resort; as a Mark Warner resort all staff were English – and most of them were young workers, making the most of their mortgage-free and kid-free lifestyles.
But don’t let this put you off. Service was ALWAYS with a smile and staff went the extra mile to ensure you were happy.
They also seemed very relaxed and keen to chat with guests, asking what they had been up to. And all of them were clearly huge activity and adventure fans, keen to offer their advice on what to do, where to visit and point out the highlights of the island.
Moving on to the activities and the three best words to describe them are: free, fun and plentiful.
The free childcare and clubs also seemed entertaining and engaging (for all ages), while the resort’s surroundings are peaceful and quite stunning. It really seems to tick all the boxes.
If, however, you’re seeking a ‘fly, flop and a week on the sunbed without moving’ kind of holiday, then that’s also possible – as long as you’re okay to put up with screams of delight as guests try their hand at various activities during their stay.
As a passive observer, I guess you do get the added advantage of watching others potentially making fools out of themselves as they fall in the water etc., which all makes for an ideal people-watching spot as you enjoy a cold one on your lounger.