Everyone knows that The Sun’s £9.50 holidays don’t actually cost £9.50. First you have to buy the papers (unless you have a priority booking form to do it online with the codes, then it is £9.50 per person – with a minimum of 4 people – then added costs will be based on when and where you are going.
To be fair I think it is quiet clear in the pull out section how much it will end up costing you if you take the time to read it properly.
I feel we were very lucky to get our second choice of Devon Cliffs – which I was aware had higher entertainment pass prices (£9.50 per person, under 5s free). It actually turned out that if you had taken the passes off your holiday price, but then changed your mind when you arrived, you could add them back on for the same price.
We had to pay £20.85 for power (we went Friday-Monday), and removed the linen charge (think about £14) and took our own.
The camp was relatively easy to find and pretty much straight down the M5 for us. The site is right next to the beach and our caravan had a lovely view of the sea.
Access to the beach is straight from the camp but via quiet a steep drop.
The beach itself was lovely. Sand that was slightly wet so didn’t blow everywhere, but not too wet that it stuck to everything. With beautiful views of the cliffs and the added advantage of rock pools too.
This campsite is not, however, I feel very suitable for those who have problems with mobility (although possible) as there are some very steep hills (we saw an electric wheelchair needing a helping hand up the hill). And although accessibility for pushchairs and wheelchairs is made possible into the clubs it didn’t seem (at least obviously) how to get about in them after inside, as there were lots of stairs.
Luckily, we were there when it was very sunny (beginning of October 2011), I feel that this may have been a very different story had it of rained, as the caravan was raised up on some grass, and then there was more of a slight hilly verge to get down to reach the road. Not practical if you are wearing high heels, or have very small children – particularly if there is more than one of them.
As well there was a lot of road and grass but little pavements – again made even worse in wet weather, and we were constantly having to get the children to look out for cars.
The caravan itself was reasonably well maintained (especially for the price we paid and as it was the end of the season), clean and well stocked (it stated clearly that you would need to bring things yourself such as tea-towels, toilet paper etc). It had 3 bedrooms – one with a double bed, and 2 rooms with 2 single beds. Under one of the beds was also like a soft block so that if my toddler were to fall out of bed he would land on that. The beds were slightly narrow but we all got on fine with them.
There was a television with plenty of channels – although we had to go through a fair few “adult” channels before finding the kids programs but luckily the only thing we saw were the titles of the channels.
There was plenty of room for the 6 of us around the table, and I am pleased to say that self-catering was made easy in the accommodation – and there was a 24 hour Tescos just down the road (as well as a Lidil’s).
On first glance of the entertainment program it did appear that a lot of the activities had a further cost involved, except those for the under 5s – who we hadn’t had to pay for an entertainment pass. Again I had received something in the post about this, but, did think there would be more provided for my older children under the entertainment pass. The pass did, however, cover the swimming pool – which had 5 different slides.
Small children ideally need 2 parents per child though as we were not allowed on the slides with the children – and I don’t know about you but I find it hard to be at the top and bottom of the slide at the same time!
There were free water confidence classes – but they didn’t seem very organised and the class we went to was for 0-4 years and I think there was too much of an age range. It also said that they were meant to be booked 24 hrs in advanced – which really wasn’t possible because we didn’t receive the program until we arrived (Friday at 4pm) and the activity was for 9:30am Saturday morning. This wasn’t a problem as it was end of season (and not many people participating) so they let us join in – but not quiet sure how this works in high season.
The swimming session also clashed with the kids clubs meeting – so we missed out on what exactly was happening. The next day we did attend a session on imagination with anxious – which appealed to my youngest 2 (possibly 3) (aged 2, 4 and 8), which involved pretending to go on a coach to the seaside.
Then the groups broke up by age – each needing a parent with them. They allowed children of mixed ages in the groups which made it easier for us – but again I think this was just because it was the end of the season.
Our youngest did crafting stuff – there were paints but also sticky tape for those who didn’t want to get as messy.
The middle two children went on a nature trail.
They had great fun. Whilst the Funstars (entertainment team) were surprisingly enthusiastic for the end of the season, there were comments made that I felt were not appropriate – such as making out that all teenagers were bad!
At the end they got to stick in the things they found (leaves etc) and received a certificate with their name on.
The entertainment pass did give you access to a free soft play area. Not really that large but good for the very small children, and useful if you’ve arrived a bit early to the clubs. However, this is in the middle of an arcade – with lots of enticing flashing lights and sounds. You have to go through this arcade to get to the clubs – so this could be very expensive depending on your children. Luckily mine are grateful for a handful of 2ps for the falls, and the younger ones a few £1 a go rides. There are some rides for the smaller ones that take 2 or 3 children at a time – also saving money.
There is also opportunity for the children to have their photos taken with one of the characters – a photographer also took a photo –
never ones to miss an opportunity to try and make money out of you perfect if you want to go up on stage with them and haven’t got anyone to take the photo for you.
The night time entertainment appears to be just as I remember it as a child, in that really, to get a half decent seat you need to get there very early and possibly sit through the bingo. Not at all practical with small children, and we were so busy trying to pack it all in that we ended up having dinner late (however, there are plenty of places to eat on site, including freshly cooked food and a Burger King – which seemed rather expensive).
The vending machines kept jamming – but staff were friendly and helpful to rectify the problems.
As well as machines everywhere there were also shops with all manner of things for the children to buy – but again they came at a price with a light saber costing £7!
And of course not forgetting they had slush puppy machines to appeal to the children also.
Tables were not quick to be cleaned and cleared.
And there was a small hole in one of the ceilings.
Apart from that, the entertainment in the clubs were what you would expect, and had a variety of entertainment.
Not keen that the show about Psychology was called “it’s not rocket science” but nice that children were learning things such as the Stroop effect.
We were lucky in that it was the regional finals of some talent show with exceptional talent and got to see Girl Force (who supported Peter Andre at Crealy Rocks).
All in all we had a very good long weekend and well worth the money. We would definitely do it again but I think my family would have been happy without the entertainment passes and just stayed on the beach and had an early night.