By James Gray
Jersey has a reputation as an island harbouring only those wishing to keep HRMC at arms length. The odd Ferrari isn’t uncommon but this beautiful island has so much more to offer for all travellers.
We hoped our method of transport was going to be far more relaxed than the usual airport experience often faced when travelling with a child. Today we wouldn’t need Sherpa like qualities to get from the car to the departure gate; the car would be coming with us.
As we drove down to Poole harbour we could see the Condor Liberation arriving and within five minutes we were ushered into position and ready to board. Ten minutes later we were onboard and as we picked up one bag and locked the car we certainly felt this was the way to travel.
Arriving at the private area of the Ocean Plus lounge we settled in to our reclining seats with a fresh coffee and the complementary morning papers, the only decision now was whether we would prefer a cooked or continental breakfast. As I arrived back to the seats with breakfast in hand my wife commented on how smooth the departure had been, I hadn’t realised we had left.
This tranquil departure was partly down to the calm waters but also the ability of the recent addition to the Condor fleet. The Liberation is certainly a modern ferry and although it can carry over two hundred and twenty cars and eight hundred and fifty people, it never felt crowded. We were in the Ocean Plus area but found it equally as relaxing walking through the ship to the on-board children’s playroom. The children’s area might have lacked tranquility but certainly had a lot of happy little travellers.
With a worn out child ready to drop off in his seat we sat back to enjoy the rest of journey ahead with a glass of wine, the perfect accompaniment to an incredible view of the open sea.
For those looking to travel on to St Malo, Guernsey is the first port of call and the only stop off for those on-board heading to Jersey. Rather than this stop off being a hindrance there’s something about arriving into a port that adds to the sense of adventure.
Four and a half hours later we were remarkably relaxed and back in the car ready to disembark to the island that boasts the UK’s hottest weather. The beauty of Jersey is it’s size and at forty-five square miles it not only offers expansive golden beaches but also open green fields and intriguing small ports.
St Helier is the largest town in Jersey and with a long history it has a wonderful mix of narrow streets and modern buildings. In the centre of the town you will find Liberation Square celebrating the end of Nazi occupation in 1945. One influence that has certainly stayed is that of the French and St Helier certainly does have that relaxed feel of a French town with an array of excellent places to eat.
Our base for the weekend was St Ouen’s Bay on the west coast and standing tall over the long sandy beach, our home, the Atlantic Hotel. With fifty rooms the Atlantic is large enough to have your privacy while being small enough to have that personal touch. We were greeted on arrival by the hotel manager and quickly whisked off to our garden studio room that was positioned perfectly to enjoy a view out over the golf course and sea. For those braver souls the outdoor swimming pool could be reached easily from the room terrace, ourselves we thought we would get down to business and prepare for dinner out.
Mark Jordan is the Executive Chef at the hotel and his Michelin starred food is simply sublime and recognised far beyond the shores of Jersey. As we were traveling with a small child we didn’t feel it was right to spoil such a special treat for the guests of the restaurant so we opted for Mark Jordan at the Beach. This is a more relaxed dining experience and was perfect for an early evening meal looking out over the sea.
Although Mark Jordan at the Beach may not carry the Michelin stars of his signature restaurant it is still honoured with two Michelin Rosettes and this is certainly deserved as the service and attention to detail is immediately apparent. The sommelier recommended a crisp rose that was perfect as we watched the sunset over the Jersey shores.
On leaving the hotel we had decided to have a light evening meal, main course only. Immediately we were tempted by the thought of locally caught crab risotto that was creamy and delicate in equal measure. The main courses certainly had a tough act to follow but didn’t disappoint. The seabass was incredibly fresh and wonderfully cooked; the short rib was full of flavour and fell off the bone after being slow braised.
We left Mark Jordan at the Beach after tasting three different wines and enjoying three courses, coffee and petit fours. If you love food and atmosphere, this is the restaurant for you.
Our gastronomic journey continued with a hearty cooked breakfast at the Atlantic served in colonial dining space of the Mark Jordan restaurant. Although the room is a formal space the staff quickly put you at ease and were more than happy to help with all our requests to keep an 18 month old happy.
We had a few calories to burn and spent our day cycling from beach to beach, of course a couple of stops had to made to taste the famous Jersey ice cream. After our adventures across the length and breadth of Jersey we couldn’t be tempted out of the room that evening and decided to enjoy the soft sea breeze on the terrace.
Driving back to the port the following afternoon we commented on how we would certainly like to spend more time in Jersey, we may not have millions in the bank but we will certainly be back and rather than travelling by Learjet, we would be travelling by ferry.
Condor Ferries operates a year-round service to the Channel Islands from Poole with its new state-of-the-art trimaran fast ferry Condor Liberation, alongside a conventional ferry service from Portsmouth. Prices start from under £50pp for a car and two passengers each way. For reservations visit Condorferries.com or call 0845 609 1024.