By Hannah Tapping
A place of peace for the discerning traveller where stylish self-catering meets laid-back luxury.
Located a mile from the golden sand beaches of Carbis Bavy, Una St Ives is the kind of resort that feels relaxed and tranquil even in the height of summer. The collection of luxury self-catering lodges is surrounded by countryside and feels a world away from the bustling, nearby streets of St Ives. What strikes you immediately is the calming sense of space and light; from the airy atrium reception area on arrival to the convivial restaurant and sun-lit swimming pool in the spa. While the eyes of the world were on Carbis Bay during the G7 summit, this high-end haven went largely unnoticed; save for savvy guests, including members of the French delegation, who were enjoying the resort’s approach to world-class, Cornish laidback luxury away from the media glare.
Dedicated to exceeding expectations, the Una St Ives team are there to pay attention to all the fine details, offering extra-mile service from the get-go. Given this and the resort’s setting close to the artistic hub of St Ives, it’s easy to see why the owners have recently introduced the ‘art of hospitality’ mantra as part of a refresh of the branding. From the original Cornish paintings on the walls and the quality of the design, build and fit-out of the stylish self-catering lodges, restaurant, and spa, art is integral to the Una St Ives experience.
Original and commissioned pieces by the likes of Nina Brooke and London-based Falmouth University graduate Jordan Amy Lee adorn the walls. Recognisable for her bold colours, stripped-back compositions and delicate textures, Jordan’s work has now become synonymous with the resort, which commissioned her to work on the new branding.
Artists have long been drawn to this picturesque corner of Cornwall for its inspiring coastline, harbour and cobbled streets along with the unique quality of light which has cemented the town’s legacy. Visitors flock to this creative enclave for the Tate St Ives, Barbara Hepworth Museum and Leach Pottery to admire the work of renowned artists, but there are also countless opportunities to get creative with an array of studios and workshops. The St Ives School of Painting has operated out of the Grade II listed Porthmeor Studios since 1938, when it was established by Leonard Fuller. Here, against the backdrop of Porthmeor beach, professional artists offer year-round courses for all levels. Or choose Barnoon Arts in the Harbour Galleries at the wharf, where you can take part in a range of art classes including outdoor tutored sketching sessions.
Art aside, there are plenty of reasons to make a beeline for this charming seaside town. Particularly at this time of year once the summer holiday crowds have abated and the town settles into a more relaxed rhythm. As locals will tell you, there’s much to be said for coming outside of the peak months. Gone are the days when the end of the season meant the shutters coming down at eateries and attractions around Cornwall. The food offering in St Ives is another of the main attractions and you could easily spend your entire time here hopping from café, to bar, to cosy pub. Start with brunch at Porthmeor Beach Café just below the Tate, watch the world go by over burgers made from Philip Warren 21-day dry-aged beef at the Hub Box or stop at the harbourside Searoom Bar for delicious tapas and cocktails.
And there’s the wild west landscape to be enjoyed, from surfing to cold water swimming and hiking. One of the most scenic options, which runs right past Una St Ives, is the walk to local landmark, Knill’s Monument. As well as boasting fabulous views over St Ives Bay from the monument, you will pass through Steeple Woodland Nature Reserve. The route forms part of the ancient St Michael’s Way that crosses the county from Lelant and culminates at St Michael’s Mount on the south coast.
After a day’s exploration, retreat to one of the stylish self-catering holiday homes at Una St Ives. Accommodation is provided in 29 timber-framed lodges, ranging from a one-bed to an expansive four-bedroomed home with hot tub and woodburner. With all the home comforts, interiors include fully equipped kitchens with spacious dining and living areas, and each lodge enjoys its own private outdoor space for al fresco socialising, relaxing, and dining. Sustainability is high on the agenda, with solar panels, sedum roofs and cedar cladding as standard, as well as lamb’s wool insulation and triple glazed windows. Una St Ives is a perfect base for holidays with a dog too, with a range of pet-friendly accommodation options available.
You’d be forgiven for checking in and not leaving Una even once during your stay thanks to the excellent facilities. Located at the heart of the resort, the Spa at Una provides an excuse to visit whatever time of year, whether for a day spa or mini-break. As well as a magnificent, 15-metre indoor infinity pool there’s a kid’s pool, jacuzzi, sauna, and steam room. The spa itself offers an extensive range of pampering and holistic treatments and there’s the Life Fitness Gym for those who want to work up a sweat during their stay, including flexible Leisure Club memberships for locals too.
Then there’s the food being dished up at the restaurant, Una Kitchen, by multiple AA Rosette-winning Cornish chef Glenn Gatland, which draws locals and visitors alike. His fresh, honest, woodfired cooking showcases his love for contemporary Mediterranean-inspired dishes, made with the finest locally sourced ingredients. Spacious and flooded with natural light, the restaurant offers a casual dining space, the walls filled with original pieces of contemporary artwork (dogs are welcome here too). The woodfired oven takes prime position in the theatre-style kitchen, adding to the ambience.
Expect a mouth-watering selection of pizzas alongside plates of wood-roasted cod and wild mushroom risotto. At weekends, the beef for Sunday roasts is lightly smoked over the wood fire before being finished in the conventional oven. Seasonal highlights include a wood-roasted Cornish hake, butterbean and tomato stew and a venison haunch steak with rosemary crushed potatoes. Sweet-toothed diners won’t be disappointed either, with decadent Belgian waffles featuring on the dessert menu, served with banana, butterscotch sauce, toasted nuts and vanilla ice cream and excellent options for vegans too.
Glenn’s focus is on championing local suppliers based within Cornwall wherever possible, not only to support the region’s producers but to also make the most of the stunning produce. The mackerel is caught in St Ives Bay, with other fish varieties caught and landed at nearby Newlyn fish market. Fruit and vegetables are courtesy of WestCountry, who have their own farm producing throughout the year.
While the current appeal of Una St Ives would be enough to recommend it, there are exciting plans ahead. The next phase will see ten, high-end two- and three-bedroom villas with private hot tubs join the collection in 2022. Built with iconic Cornish stone, giving the sense of rising from the land, expect an understated style: airy Scandi-influenced interiors utilising traditional materials in a contemporary way. Each villa’s design and positioning is planned to embrace the area’s world-famous artists’ light. The open-plan living on the first floor, encompassing a high-spec kitchen, dining and living area plus private terrace with outside dining, is made for socialising. With access to the outdoors on both levels of the villas, spacious bedrooms will be found on the ground floor, opening to the distinctly Cornish landscaped grounds, private hot tub, and plentiful views.
An outdoor pool will be unveiled in time for summer 2022 and there are plans for further a 55-unit apartment-hotel, a total of 93 holiday villas, and enhanced leisure facilities to follow. This will make it the largest luxury resort in the south west, helping to cement Una St Ives as the flagship destination in Cornwall. Una St Ives is not just about delivering exceptional holidays, the stunning new villas are available to own on a ‘Live & Let’ basis too. Fully managed by the resort, this is hassle-free holiday homeownership at its best.
In the meantime, with easy access to the cultural and culinary delights of bustling St Ives; the coastal pull of Godrevy and Gwithian; surfing, sunbathing, nature-watching, or searching out Cornwall’s hidden coves or must-see attractions, Una St Ives is an idyllic, peaceful base to return to after a busy day exploring this appealing pocket of Cornwall. Or indeed, a lovely place for locals to have up their sleeves for a swim, gym, touch of pampering, Sunday roast or evening feast.