Like a scene in a painting, the Mere Golf Resort and Spa stands majestically on the edge of a lake, one side of the building covered in ivy and the other dominated by golf caddies.
Entering through a red-brick Victorian archway, The Mere resort is spread over acres of countryside, with an 18-hole championship golf course and spa. The simple lake must be the most dominant feature of the place, attracting wildlife and sparkling reflections on a summer’s day, creating the picture-perfect view in one of the 81 rooms.
Mere himself can be dated to 1086 and even appears in The Domesday Book. The hotel overcame many hardships including a horrific fire in 1973, despite this the building was saved and purchased by the late Stephen Boler in 1984.
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Mark Boler, took over the property from his father in 1998, and was joined by Gary Corbett, who jointly transformed The Mere from a country club into a health club and spa. Accommodation was not added to the site until 2010, then the health club and spa was unveiled in 2011 by Sir Alex Ferguson, with a final opening in 2012.
Many changes have occurred over the years, but many of its historic features and charm of the country club’s earlier days remain. The Victorian arch entrance accentuates grandeur, affluence and privacy while the grounds themselves offer a taste of the peaceful lifestyle.
Just 40 minutes’ drive from Manchester and Chester city centers, The Mere complex is close to the popular tourist site of Tatton Park and five minutes from the M6 motorway, while Knutsford town center can be reached by 10 minutes by car. I found the estate easy to find from the highway and was impressed walking through the archway and along the short road to the entrance and parking lot.
The layout is a little confusing at first as the spa/health club is on the left side of the parking lot, while the entrance and main building are on the right. The car park is placed in the middle of the two and also loops around the back of the main building. For first-time visitors, the entrance may be a bit hidden from cars parked near the front of the building.
Nonetheless, I found my way to the entrance and was greeted by a friendly member of staff who offered to take my bag. At this point my friend had joined me and we checked in together at reception, which was large and centered around a glass ceiling, which let in fantastic light on this particularly sunny day.
The reception and lounge also house Browns restaurant where we would eat later in the day. We arrived at 3pm to check in to our room and were given our key cards, along with information on access to our rooms and the spa.
The receptionist asked if we would be using the spa facilities, which of course we were looking forward to! She informed us that there would be swim time for the kids from 4-6pm and we were a little surprised by that.
Usually spas are adults only and with the standard check in time of 3pm I would have thought if children had access it would have been earlier in the day when the majority of guests would not check in and wouldn’t want to use the spa right away? We had dinner reservations for 7pm so had no choice but to use it while the kids were swimming.
The receptionist was kind enough to call the spa to check how busy it was, but the whole situation made me feel a bit uneasy. I didn’t want to feel like kids couldn’t enjoy these things because of course they can, but when you come to a spa you expect to be in an adult-only environment that aims to be relax, especially for parents who want to get away from the kids for a weekend.
Saying the spa is a good size and we were able to find a seating area that wasn’t dominated by excitable kids. The spa warns customers that they welcome children at certain times of the day on its website, but does not go into detail about these hours, and if they are at peak times, this may put many people off. . .
We enjoyed the Jacuzzi and the spa’s thermal rooms. Their luxury spa area including hammam, caldarium, aroma and hammam were my favorite facilities. I particularly enjoyed the salt room and found the Caldarium room peaceful too, the soothing music helped. The spa also featured a heated pool and an outdoor deck with more lounge chairs.
As for our accommodation, we were given the Harold Cluff Queen Suite for our stay which was a pleasant surprise. The room was absolutely stunning and had one of the best views in the entire resort.
The room overlooked Lake Mere and the large balcony had a bistro dining set which we used later that evening for a glass of wine and a look at the lake. It was breathtaking.
The balcony was the main attraction of the room for me, simply because of the view it offered. Honestly, I felt like I was overseas at some point, helped by the sun that day.
The only thing that disappointed him slightly, but didn’t bother me too much, was the occasional plane in the sky which was quite low due to the area in the Manchester Airport flight path. This might put some people off, but it didn’t bother me, and it didn’t seem to bother the golfers concentrating as they drove off.
Inside the Queen Suite was a large living room, with a velvet corner sofa, TV, teapot and chest of drawers. Adjoining was a large bedroom which had a super king size bed, wardrobe with bathrobes and slippers, another TV and a Nespresso machine.
Joining this was a bathroom which was almost the same size as the living room and featured a large bath, walk-in shower as well as complimentary Molton Brown bath products. The suite also included a free movie package which kept us entertained after our meal.
Dinner at Browns Restaurant was an experience. We had a £35 dinner allowance and I chose three courses. Browns Restaurant sits in the heart of The Mere and is named after Max Brown, who became legendary at The Mere for his magnetic charm and innate passion for exemplary service.
Also open to non-residents, the atmosphere is calm and serene. There is also a hint of aromatherapy oils in the air when you have your skillet. The whole atmosphere is very clean and soothing.
The restaurant has two AA Rosettes and has a ‘Nature to plate’ philosophy ensuring they only use the freshest seasonal ingredients, prepared simply and without too much hassle. The staff was exceptional.
As a starter I chose the terrine of smoked salmon, mashed avocado, lemon and Devonshire crab salad for £12, as recommended by our waiter. The smoked salmon was wonderfully fresh and I loved the little lemon slivers from the mash balls, the avocado also gave it that earthy edge you needed with the lemon sweetness.
The only thing that let it down was the salmon style mouse between the fish pieces, it had a margarine texture that didn’t sit well in your mouth after a few bites.
I stuck to the fish theme for my main course and chose sea bass, creamy potato and celeriac, samphire, sea lettuce, bouillabaisse reduction, shellfish and fresh dill. It costs £24. The sea bass was well cooked and the skin was just the right amount of “crispy” without being too burnt.
The fish was meaty and flaky, and the reduction it all sat in was rich in flavor. A winner on the starter. To follow for dessert, I opted for a lighter choice, the berry Eton mess. The fresh fruit was the right amount of flavor when paired with the creamy meringue. It didn’t fill me up too much either, which is what I was looking for.
All in all, my stay at Mere Golf Resort & Spa was a well-deserved restful break. The food really raised the standards of the stay. The spa facilities were good, but I felt let down by the timings of the children’s swim. If I were to come back, I would make sure to use the spa during a time when it’s a little quieter, and I would definitely stay in the Queen suite again.