Away with Macdonald Hotels and Resorts, Aviemore | AD Gifted Stay

Are you looking for some Aviemore inspiration? Well you’ve come to the right place!

A few weeks ago I was by Macdonald Hotels and Resorts spend three nights at one of their resorts in Aviemore to show that there’s More in Aviemore - catchy right?

The best part of a holiday is a chance to reconnect as a family right? To be relaxed enough to be able to enjoy bedtime rather than it being a part of the day you get through before getting them to sleep. To be able to have adventures without thinking of the pile of dishes that awaits your return. That is exactly what this trip meant to us. We’re very lucky to enjoy many weekends away at our caravan but in reality we don’t use it to its FULL potential.


Let me tell you a little about the Macdonald Resort. This large 4 star resort is nestled amongst the beautiful countryside and cairngorms, it’s very central location makes it an excellent hub for exploring Aviemore with just a short walk reaching the main street. The resort is made up with 3, 4 star hotels, 4 restaurants providing fresh and delicious food promising to have something for everyone (we visited Giovanni’s on the Saturday evening) There’s an a cinema, leisure centre and an outdoor activity centre.

Macdonald Aviemore Hotel and Resort

Our large bed within the room

Our large bed within the room

We were staying in the Aviemore Hotel & Resort in an executive family room, when we were organising this trip I wanted to make sure we had a room that would suit us. We don’t tend to stay in hotels as I find there’s very little separation, I mean what do you do when the kids go to sleep at 8pm but you’re all in one room?! Maybe for families with just younger children that would be fine but Eilidh is 8 so finding this room within the resort made me feel instantly comfortable knowing we’d have a little separation.

The room was very comfortable with a large bed, a table and chair area under the window with a spectacular view over onto the hill range. It was traditionally decorated which suited the surroundings with plaid carpet and matching bedding covers. A large wardrobe filled with the normal hotel-y pieces (a safe, tea + coffee and the tiniest mugs known to man)

There was a small (but perfectly formed) bathroom with all the essentials including some mini Elemis, thanks.

A door led to a room with a large double wardrobe, a single bed and bunk beds. Which FYI was perfect for us as a family of five. There was space with a plump armchair and a tv in this area too. This area was just perfect for the kids. We could shut the door after they had went to sleep and fully enjoy a hotel experience, we sometimes forgot they were even there!

I thought I’d share what we would look for in a hotel, so you know if you vibe with our interests, yeh? For us whenever we go on holiday we see the place we’re staying as a BASE. A place you go back to after a day of exploring the wider area so for us it’s not incredibly important how big or lush the room or house is. We would much rather prioritise money spending on the days out while we are there. Don’t get me wrong if we can have a bit of both that would be perfect!

If you’ve been around for a while you’ll know we are a very active, outdoorsy type family and our holidays are no different. Truth be told, I find it very hard to relax. Give me a spa day any day BUT when I’m with G and the kids it’s very much about exploring, seeing new places, experiencing our surroundings and enjoying that qUaLiTy time.

Firstly, know that if you book a holiday in Scotland expect ALL weather at ANY time of the year. We literally had four seasons in a day so it’s good to know that Macdonald Aviemore Hotel & Resort has plenty to do inside, safe from SNOW (yes, snow in May) we visited their soft play, which was over four levels, a few times even just for twenty minutes while we enjoyed a Costa (on site) the soft play was free for guests. We also visited the pool twice which was amazing. It had a water slide (although check opening times as it’s not open all the time) a pool to do lengths and a shallow end perfect for non swimmers. They also have a jacuzzi, sauna and steam room here although we never got to use it, hashtag KiDz.

They have an excellent looking activity/games room across from the swimming pool. We didn’t get the chance to visit because we were so busy enjoying other things. I’m sure they run activities for kids in this area too.

On-site Extras

They have an onsite Cinema and shopping centre to which guests receive a 10% discount on what they buy.

An onsite spa for you to indulge in a little me time. I love Macdonald spas! When I was pregnant with Oscar I visited the Macdonald Marine spa in North Berwick and had the best time.

The fantastic, child pleasing, swimming pool

Aviemore Activity Zone - perfect for wee ones

Ski Norwest - grass sledging, archery and in colder months they run a ski school amongst other great activities.

Golf

Outdoor play area - this park had great selection of equipment for kids of all ages.


Ok, so you’re in Aviemore what can you explore? There’s so much to see and do around Aviemore, its a real hub for hillwalking and outdoorsy pursuits but if you have little ones don’t be put off as many days out are perfect for families!

Things to do in Aviemore

Landmark Adventure Park - I’ll be writing a full blog post about our day here

Treasure Trails - leaving from Macdonald Aviemore (the sister resort)

Zip Trek park - exhilarating aerial rides through the forest high in the air

Strathspey Railway

Highland Wildlife park

Loch Morlich - stunning place to visit to spend the day having a picnic on the beach or in the woods. There’s also a waterspouts centre where families can enjoy canoeing among other activities

Highland Folk Museum

Cairngorm Mountain railway

Cairngorm reindeer

Glenmore visitor centre

The Green loch - I wrote a blog post about how to fin this mysterious green loch here

This is certainly not a comprehensive list but merely the places we fancy or did visit!


DAY ONE - Friday, 3rd May - Landmark

if you know us, you know we like to cram a lot in with our days out so we decided to do one of our bigger days out on the journey up. In hindsight as wish we had left home earlier so we couldn’t been here from around 11 ish as there is SO much to do and the kids had such a blast. You can find the full review of Landmark here.

After we spent the day at Landmark it was time to make the short journey to check into the hotel.

The check in was so easy and very informative as we were given a little pamphlet with lots of information about the resort, where to find things and opening times of the 4 onsite restaurants.

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We found our room, of course if you have kids you’ll know you’re never the first one in to do anything! They bulldozed their way into the room and we heard squeals of delight as they discovered the bunk beds {something Oscar is desperate for} we were left a lovely card and two boxes from the hotel manager which I thought was a lovely touch.

For dinner on the Friday night we were all pretty tired so we opted for good old fish and chips. My guilty pleasure is fish, chips, pea and curry sauce - you MUST try it!

After dinner we played connect four in the kids room before getting them bathed and into bed. It’s one of my favourite times of day as they’re really relaxed. I love spending this time asking what their favourite part of the day was or what they’re most excited to do the next day.

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DAY TWO

Day two started the way I would love to start every day, with a buffet breakfast. There’s something just so lovely about not having to get ready while the kids are hangry waiting for you to hurry up and make breakfast isn’t there?

The breakfast was a real treat, it was very well organised and the staff were very friendly and so accommodating.

There were plenty of options to choose from whatever it is you prefer from croissants to cereals or a full breakfast!


After breakfast we headed over to soft play until 10am as we were booked into grass sledging.

Grass sledging was SO much fun and definitely not just for the kids. Matilda was too little to join in (its 3 +) so G took her to the play park which was still within viewing distance for the grass sledging. The weather wasn’t great so we were actually the only ones there, it even began to snow!

Oscar was the first to go down, I think he was a little apprehensive as it was very high and we weren’t sure just how fast he would go.

He gave a little rock back and forth to get it down the ramp and WHoOoSH!! he shot down the hill at some speed.

G has so many videos of us hurtling down here! We could’ve spent much longer here but we only stayed about half an hour as the snow was really bad an the kids were already soaked through.


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After a quick change we headed to Cairngorm Reindeer near the Glenmore visitor centre. Matilda adores reindeer so we knew it was somewhere we wanted to visit.

It a very small, family run centre, the reindeer are more their pets rather than an ‘attraction’ if that makes sense? They opened the centre so that people could come see the reindeer and learn more about them. There’s lots of information and things we didn’t know about reindeer and actually how much climate change has affected the species.

It was a really cold day when we visited. The lady at the reception desk was very helpful and spoke to us for a while about the work they do. I love coming to places like this where I hear about how much they care about the animals they have. This area is just the paddock where the reindeer are swapped from the main reserve in up the hill every few weeks. There’s a little arts and craft area and this activity booklet encouraging kids to learn more about these beautiful animals.


After that we were all suitably hungry. We decided to travel to Carrbridge a beautiful village just North of Aviemore. We’ve been here before as we stayed in the area 2 or 3 years ago.

We had a delicious lunch at Carrbridge Kitchen after finding really positive reviews on Trip Advisor. We were not disappointed!!

This country style, large cafe makes all its own delicious food and source it locally. It was gorgeous inside with exposed brickwork, eclectic tiling and lots of natural light flooding in.

The menu was varied and there was plenty of choice for the kids. Their cakes looked outstanding, I went home with the cheesecake - it didn’t make the journey back ha!

After lunch we needed a little time to walk off our food babies so we took the short walk (like 2 minutes) along to the famous bridge at Carrbridge.

This bridge was known locally as ‘the coffin bridge’ as it was originally built to allow funeral processions access to Duthil Church. It is known as the oldest bridge in the Highlands built by stonemason John Niccelsone built in 1717.

It makes for a really surreal, mystical looking bridge which on a calm day reflects beautifully in the river creating a full loop - its stunning!


After this we decided to get back to the hotel for a little while as the weather was beginning to turn again and we really didn’t fancy getting wet!

We arrived back to be greeted by the lovely receptionist who asked the kids about their morning - all the staff we met throughout the resort were just so lovely!

The kids were desperately needing some down time so we allowed them to go into their part of the room, Eilidh played on her tablet for a while and O and M sat on the floor watching the TV which was in their room.

It was kinda BlisSfUl being able to shut the door knowing they were happy and have a cup of tea just us two (or at least it felt that way).

The sun started to make a reappearance, so adventure once more we did! We had a meal booked at one the the four onsite restaurants Giovanni’s at 6:30pm therefore we didn’t have a long time to be out and get back to have showers and get dressed up to have our meal.

Never the less we headed to Loch Morlich, a place we’ve never been to before. I absolutely loved it. The scenery was breathtaking and reminded me of places I've seen in Switzerland with its yellow sandy beach, stunning clear water and surrounded by giant hills. We had loads of fun messing around (G and Eilidh were wrestling on the beach) while Oscar, Matilda and I paddled barefoot along the water edge. YES, it was freezing!


The kids were desperate to check out the swimming pool as we hadn’t been yet and we ridiculously promised them that we would be able to visit at some point everyday. We left Loch Morlich to pack for going swimming, we figured we were all going to have a shower before dinner anyway so we would just go swimming first. The pool was great, its free to use being a guest of the hotel, you’re also provided with towels for visiting here which is SO handy.

The pool is super child friendly! There’s a waterslide, wave machine, floats for the kids to use. The pool is great for under 5’s or non swimmers like Matilda as the entrance is very shallow and gradually gets deeper but still not above waist height until you’re right at the end. It meant that we could be a bit more free with Matilda - she has no fear when it comes to water!!

Alas it was when we looked at the clock we realised just how much of a push it was going to be getting the five of us dried, dressed over to the hotel to have showers and ready to go out for dinner!


Dinner at Giovanni’s - The onsite restaurant for relaxing dining at Macdonald Aviemore

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Admittedly, on arrival we were a bit shaken and fried.

We did that thing where you have so much time that you decide to squeeze something else in and the end up being late or PUSHING it.

Matilda arrived to the restaurant wearing no shoes because she refused to put them on. I think the waitress could see it on our faces and very kindly asked if she could take the kids over to collect some colouring in bits and stickers for them to do during the meal. It was the 2 minutes relief that we needed!

The restaurant was relaxed and inviting with lovely authentic music softly playing.

The menu had lots of variety for both us and the kids. Unfortunately though, we’re all plain Jane’s and opted for pizzas.

I spoke to the waitress about the pasta for Matilda after I was mistaken on the type of pasta it was she was very accommodating in asking the chef to make her a special portion of macaroni cheese.

Eilidh and Matilda had garlic dough balls to start, Matilda loved them and wouldnt let anyone else near them, Eilidh wasn’t keen so we had one each from hers.

The kids meal was three courses for ten pounds which I thought was very reasonable for an evening meal.

I had the most delicious, refreshing Chardonnay with my meal. I really wish I had gotten the name of it!! G enjoyed a draught Peroni. It was lovely to be able to both have a drink as neither of us had to drive - just a little perk!

We shared some delicious hand cut chips which were topped with parmesan and truffle oil - MY FAVE COMBO right now.

How bloody cute is Matilda’s dress? It was Eilidh’s from all those years ago.

The kids enjoyed a pudding but in all honestly between lunch earlier and then all the pizza we were absolutely stuffed. However I did enjoy a teeny taste of brownie from Eilidh and it was out of this world!!


DAY THREE - Highland Wildlife Park

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We spent the entire day a the Highland Wildlife park, I’ll write a full blog post on this day but in short its such a great day out.

We had dinner at La Taverna located in Aviemore. We had a brief look on Trip Advisor and the reviews looked pretty good. The views from the front window were fantastic.

We all had the buffet, it was OK, not great, I loved the pasta dishes but the pizza wasn’t handmade dough. Perhaps the menu pizza would be better? I don’t know. It was fine but I wouldn’t be in a hurry to return.


Once we had had dinner I really fancied having a walk along the main street in Aviemore as it had been so busy we hadn’t done that yet. We found a nice little path way that led down to the river and it was exactly what we needed, just a little run through woodland paths. I caught these cute pictures of her and Graeme, her hair is exceptionally cute with her ringlets.


DAY FOUR - heading home

We were lucky enough to have a late check out of 11am which made for a very relaxed and leisurely morning. We took our swimming stuff down to breakfast and went there straight afterwards.

We packed up all our bits and Oscar in particular was very sad to be leaving our holiday place!

One of the places I really wanted to find was Loch Uaine or the green loch - you can read how to find it here! We probably spent about 3 hours walking there and back.

We had lunch at Glenmore visitor centre. G really enjoyed it, he had a venison burger with red onion chutney and said it was really good. I didn’t rate my burger to be honest!!

We popped into Killiecrankie on the route home, we even picked up some Crystal’s shortbread (if you haven’t tried this, you’re missing out)


As always I hope you know this will be my honest review so for honesties sake I’ll be straight as a line with what we were gifted.

I know how extremely lucky we are to be in this position where we get opportunities like this for the kids and us to experience.

We were gifted 3 nights in an executive family room with a complimentary meal at Giovanni’s (their onsite restaurant). We were able to experience their onsite outdoor activities free of charge. We were also gifted family tickets to Landmark and The Highland Wildlife Park.

Everything else we paid for.

A huge thank you to Macdonald Hotel & Resorts and everyone involved in arranging and organising our trip. We had an amazing time.

Karen x