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Sick of Center Parcs? Devon's new playground for all-inclusive family fun

Sick of Center Parcs?  Devon's new playground for all-inclusive family fun
Sick of Center Parcs?  Devon's new playground for all-inclusive family fun


Buried deep in the picturesque North Devon countryside, the former Highbullen Hotel (a former manor house) has recently undergone something of a gloss to become the luxurious, dog and family friendly Mole Resort.

The Mole (as it is affectionately known) is set in 125 hectares of grounds and is now home to 58 lodges, two swimming pools, a playground, tennis courts, pottery studio, bar and restaurant and an activity center with a regular free bouncy castle. arcade and table games.

In total, there are more than 40 on-site activities to choose from, sure to keep everyone from tearful toddlers to hard-to-please teens happy. And the best thing about The Mole is that most activities are included in the price of your stay.

The Mole Resort, Devon, for a weekend online review only.  Image via
Many activities are included in the price of your stay, but some are charged separately (Photo: Supplied)

The location

In the small village of Chittlehamholt in North Devon, in Umberleigh. Located far from the main road and deep within the estate, the resort resembles Narnia as if it came out of nowhere.

Chittlehamholt, although small, is very pretty and you can even see a strange thatched roof, including on top the 16th century Exeter Innwhich was recently voted North Devon Camra pub of the year.

Umberleigh, approximately 10 minutes' drive from the resort, has a railway station, with regular GWR services on the Tarka line between Barnstaple and Exeter. The Mole is approximately 45 minutes' drive from Saunton Sands and Westward Ho! beaches.

The accommodation

The Mole Resort, Devon, for a weekend online review only.  Image via
The lodges offer open plan living with large outdoor spaces and impressive views (Photo: Supplied)

The Mole is home to 58 lodges, each with between two and four bedrooms, the largest of which has a grass-covered living roof. Double doors open onto large private terraces with garden furniture and your own hot tub. The larger lodges also have barbecues on the deck.

Inside you will find a spacious open living room with rural views and high-quality equipment. The huge American-style fridge freezer with built-in ice dispenser was a highlight for us. Many holiday homes claim to be set up for self-catering only, so you can squeeze your family shop into a caravan-sized fridge.

We stayed in a two bedroom lodge, spread over two floors and with two bathrooms (one en-suite) so we could all spread out a bit. The hallway is also huge, with plenty of room for wet coats and mud-covered boots (of which there were a few during our visit). There is a warm hose at the front for any dogs that have suffered the same fate as our boots and each lodge has parking right outside.

The Mole has one fully accessible lodge with a lift for the hot tub, but the hotel restaurant is not wheelchair accessible. The terrain is naturally quite hilly, but cars are allowed on the site. The staff gets around in golf carts and if you're lucky (which I was once in the rain), they might even offer you a lift.

More traditional hotel-style rooms are available in the Manor House and you can also book the Estate Rooms and Stables Cottage, found in buildings across the resort. All lodges are dog friendly, as are The Estate Rooms and Stables Cottage, but not the Manor House rooms.

The activities

The Mole Resort, Devon, for a weekend online review only.  Image via
Access to the pool, jacuzzi, sauna and steam room is included in your stay (Photo: Supplied)

We parked on Friday evening and didn't get back in our car until Monday morning, such is the range of activities on offer on site. Although the majority of activities swimming, tennis, pickleball, gym access and classes, arcade games, board games, the adventure playground and croquet are included in your stay, some activities (such as archery, Nerf gun wars and bushcraft skills) are an additional cost.

You will receive a list of what is happening during your stay and I recommend booking pre-paid activities as they may sell out. Upon arrival, download the Mole app for maps, info and up-to-date details of available activities and bookings.

You can also purchase Hero Activity Passes which give you access to the paid activities at a fixed price. The passes cost £49 per stay and give you unlimited foot golf and disc golf and a choice of three activities from Nerf Wars, Remote Control Car Racing, Bushcraft Skills and Mini Archery.

We tried pottery painting (pay per piece) and Nerf Gun Wars (pre-booking recommended) from the optional extras. Among the free activities we tried were the indoor pool, playground, tennis courts, bouncy castle, Jenga, Ptanque, indoor arcade games and table tennis.

Having stayed at a number of family resorts including Center Parcs, Bluestone and Forest Holidays, it was nice to see so many activities included in the price and to be able to say yes so often to our seven year old daughters' requests to join in do it with pleasure.

There is also a spa on site, but I couldn't get an appointment when checking in, so again I would recommend booking treatments such as a massage or manicure in advance. The indoor pool has a jacuzzi, sauna and steam room for guests over 16 years old, all of which guests can use free of charge.

The food and the beverages

The Mole Resort, Devon, for a weekend online review only.  Image via
The Mole Resort's on-site restaurant is located in the mansion (Photo: Supplied)

We dined in the Manor House restaurant and were impressed by the menu featuring locally sourced ingredients with quality cooking techniques and affordable prices. Dishes included a spicy Devon crab rarebit (10) and a rich cauliflower soup with curry (7). A main course of roast Cornish cod with mussel velout (24) was sublime, while the smoked cheddar and truffle risotto (14) was full of flavor and bite. A two-course children's menu is available for €12.50.

Our lodge's giant fridge freezer was perfect as we chose to eat all our breakfasts and lunches there. The kitchen is well equipped for dining, with all the pots and utensils you need and a decent-sized table to sit around. And a nice little addition was a full set of plastic wine glasses, champagne flutes and goblets, should you get thirsty while in the hot tub.

We also used the Mole Delivery service and ordered burgers, nachos and nuggets straight to our door via WhatsApp. A super efficient service.

You'll love it

After check-in, guests will have access to a WhatsApp number to contact on-site customer service. This was so helpful because we had a few questions at random times during the day about hot tub cleaning times, meeting points for activities, access codes and so on. Response times were extremely fast and saved a trip to the hub. The meal delivery service also has a WhatsApp number and here too the staff responded quickly.

In addition to the living roofs, the indoor pool is heated by a biomass power plant and the rooms are equipped with plastic-free shampoo, conditioner and bars of soap instead of bottles. Waste is also carefully sorted with recycling bins in all lodges.

For those traveling with dogs, your pet is welcome throughout the resort and there is a dedicated, secure dog park where you can let them off leash. You can even sign up for some dog painting sessions.

The Mole Resort, Devon, for a weekend online review only.  Image via
Living roofs are among the green features of The Mole Resort (Photo: supplied)


Two bedroom lodges start from 500 for a two night weekend getaway. To book, visit




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