A ferry nice way to get to Jersey

Condor Liberation
Condor Liberation

I never appreciated how popular Jersey was until I mentioned to friends we were off to spend a few days on the island.

To a man they were quick to point out that they they had been there, and that it was great and we would love it.

The Merton Hotel

The Merton Hotel

And on both counts they were absolutely right.

We were booked on Condor Ferries’ Monday morning sailing from Poole, but the adventure started the previous day when we travelled down to Bournemouth (six miles from the port) and spent an albeit rainy, windswept day seeing what the resort had to offer before dinner at the BH2 mall and bed at a nearby hotel.

We thought the ferry trip would add something to the holiday - particularly for our young girls - and once we had found our sealegs, it did.

We had comfortable Ocean Plus seats in the spacious Horizon lounge at the front of the boat which offered a superb panoramic view. It had its own bar and you could order food from the Casquets Bistro.

The pool complex at The Merton Hotel

The pool complex at The Merton Hotel

The girls made the most of the five hours on board (there were films in the Kids Zone) and got really excited when we first started moving, when dolphins came alongside as we approached Guernsey (what a beautiful looking place!) and again as we left. The excitement was fever pitch when we reached Jersey, knowing that our destination - the island’s biggest resort hotel The Merton - was just a five -minute drive away.

The view from our sixth floor room was more than enough to convince the girls all the travelling had been worth it - there in all its glory was the Aquadome: indoor and outdoor pool, which by this time was sparkling in the afternoon sunshine, a sauna, steam room and hot tub, not to mention a surf machine, gym and tennis court.

And it wasn’t long before we were making the most of the afternoon sunshine in the pool which had lots of gradual entry points for little ones, as well as two little, slides and a huge one for the braver poolgoers.

Looking through the brochure in the hotel room there are some fantastic restaurants nearby for serious foodies, but the hotel itself isn’t badly served.

The land train

The land train

Bonetti’s Italian Brasserie has a good reputation, and we certainly weren’t disappointed on the two evenings we dined there. The girls enjoyed local ice creams from the Jersey Joe’s American diner and we enjoyed post-dinner drinks in the lounge listening to a pianist.

Breakfast was served in the Belvedere Restaurant and catered for all our tastes.

A sports bar was showing the international football and the Star Room had live entertainment.

We made good use of the leisure facilities but still had plenty of time to get out and about in the car - along typically British tree-lined avenues, and others owing a little more to French architecture.

Jersery Zoo was an absolute delight - arriving at just the right time to enjoy feeding time for the bears and the gorrilas - the keepers’ talks only adding to the enjoyment.

St Helier, a busy little town centre with a skyline dominated by glass-fronted financial institutions leading from the harbour, was only a 10-minute walk through a very English park with pretty flower beds, a statue of George V and a bandstand.

We took a land train from Liberation Square, home to a stunning statue depicting the moment the Union Flag replaced the Swastika in 1945. It took us along the coast - rugged but with stretches of beautiful golden sand - to the delightful little harbour town of St Aubin, where TV’s Bergerac was filmed.

The accompanying audio was as moving as it was interesting, a fascinating insight into the island’s history and a great way to sign off from our all-too-short trip.

Condor Ferries operates a year-round service to the Channel Islands from Poole with its fast ferry Condor Liberation, alongside a conventional ferry service from Portsmouth. Prices start from £69pp each way with a car. To book, visit condorferries.com or call 0345 609 1024.