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Haven Holidays – MNers feedback thread – non testers – add your top tips for family holidays with toddlers for a chance to win a £100 voucher. NOW CLOSED

(124 Posts)
AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 28-Mar-14 11:03:54

This thread is for the three lucky MN families who are going on a Haven Holiday across the Easter period.

Haven say "At Haven you'll find plenty to keep all the family happy and some things we think you might not expect including climbing walls, fencing and archery. We also have some exciting new activities with professional players from the BBL Basketball team teaching ball skills during the school holidays. But when the big kids are at school our parks are just great to take your tots.

This year we have some lovely new interactive sessions with the Seaside Squad, our very own fun loving characters. All parks have heated pools many with flumes, water slides, lazy rivers and space bowls and plenty of additional fun like Aquajet Racers and Water Walkerz.

At Haven it's not just about activities... there's plenty of green space to run around and many parks have beautiful nature walks and trails to explore and access to some stunning coastal walks."

For more information: check out the new Haven pages on Mumsnet

Testers are visiting Seton Sands, East Lothian during w/c 31 March, Hopton, nr Great Yarmouth during w/c 4 April and finally to Kiln Park, Tenby during w/c 21 April – check back to this thread to find out how they are getting on.

We have asked testers to add feedback at least three times - before they go, when they are there and when they get back home.

Non testers: Haven would love to know your top tips for holidaying with a toddler in tow – add your tip to the thread and you'll be entered into a prize draw where one lucky MNer will win a £100 Love2Shop voucher.

Please note tips and comments may well be used by Haven on their pages on Mumsnet as well as possibly elsewhere (including on social media, in the press etc). Your MN name will not be used.

Testers – please share on this thread your overall opinion and experience plus your responses to the following questions.

Before you go

Where are you going? How far it is from your home? Who is in your group? Have you ever been on a Haven holiday before?
What are you looking forward to most? What are the DC looking forward to?
How was the booking process?

On holiday

How is it? What's the weather like?!
Describe your accommodation
What else are you doing outside of the park?
Have you been to the pool?
Have you done any of the activities?
What's the food like?
What activities have the kids enjoyed?

When you are back

Overall opinions from you and others in the family

How would you rate/ describe...

Food
Accommodation
Activities
Things to do for adults
Things to do for children
Would you return/ try out another Haven park?
What did you think about the value for money – especially compared to other family holidays?
Any other comments?

Please also do add a review on Mumsnet to the Self Catering pages

Thanks
MNHQ

PS prize draw for the £100 Love2Shop vouchers: Monday 29th April 2014
PPS have 'highlighted' the testers posts on this thread so we can see them!

nerysw Sun 04-May-14 09:03:49

Non-tester here. I now put a lot more thought into packing than I used to with a 2 and 5 year old in tow. We have a stock of Calpol and plasters and always have an emergency pad and crayons and sticker books. I've found that if we just enjoy ourselves and don't worry too much about getting a massive amount done or a tight schedule we all have a lot more fun!

SantasLittleMonkeyButler Tue 29-Apr-14 12:34:37

TheFabulousIdiot - you stayed in a Salsa model caravan wink. Am so sad, I can identify these things - that's actually a really nice, well proportioned model. Not luxury obviously, but pretty nice nonetheless.

Glad you had a lovely holiday smile.

AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 28-Apr-14 10:39:08

Hello - thanks for all the tips and for the feedback from the Haven free-stayers - looks like they had a fab time!

Winner of the £100 Love2Shop voucher for non testers is lottietiger - well done!

MegBusset Sun 27-Apr-14 11:45:55

We were converted to static caravan holidays when the DC were tiny and still do them now they're older. It's so convenient, cheap and feels a bit like camping (which we also love) but much better when it rains smile

We used to go to Park Resorts at Camber Sands, though have since found that independent sites like Sandy Balls and Kelling Heath tend to be nicer. (At Camber Sands it was a common site to see parents drunk in the middle of the afternoon, plus we heard more than one unpleasant domestic).

My tips are use a spreadsheet, and take blackout blinds (even with older kids) unless you want to be up at 5am, as caravan curtains don't block the light at all! Check that there are no extra charges for using the pool (I'm looking at you, Kelling Heath angry). And choose a location with places to go nearby, especially some wet weather activities!

TheFabulousIdiot Fri 25-Apr-14 19:33:19

More photos.

TheFabulousIdiot Fri 25-Apr-14 18:44:07

Just looking at some of the other testers caravan photos and it looks like we lost out a bit because we had to be downgraded from a prestige caravan to a deluxe plus. We ended up with an extra bedroom but a bit less luxury. It would have been nice to have the decking/sofas etc.

However the extra bedrooms suited us as we really did need them.

TheFabulousIdiot Fri 25-Apr-14 18:33:57

Kiln Park

Overall opinions from you and others in the family

We all had a really great time. My mum was impressed with how clean and tidy everything was on site and also said you could tell that customer service was important to Haven. We thought the staff in the Mash and Barrell were really helpful. When we arrived the reception people were great and booking in was quick given that it was clearly a very busy time. My sister and her husband had a fabulous time too.

The site was much quieter than we expected and close to Tenby town and a really lovely beach. It would have been nice to have wifi across the site, though it was available in the entertainment complex.

More swings in the park please said my son, I think there were just two. Overall though the park was great with lots of climbing frames, slide, a cool train. As mentioned earlier the playpark fencing could be better.

I think as a complete newbie to what haven holidays offer it would be nice if we were given more information on how it all works when we booked in We were given a booklet with all the activities listed etc but had to go and ask how the passes worked. For example we saw people riding around on big pedal powered trikes but I can't remember seeing anything anywhere telling us how to hire them.

Overall I thought it was really friendly, relaxing, quiet, clean and entertaining.

How would you rate/ describe...

Food

We ate out twice. Once for the character breakfast which was a typical fry up with a veggie option. My son had yoghurt and strawberries/ banana which were lovely. We had one evening meal which was basic pub grub and none of us were that adventurous. The sausage and mash was ok, but could have been a better quality sausage. Food arrived quickly but my mum commented afterwards that it would have been nice if the plates were hot. My BIL Loved the chips in the mash and Barrell and thinks it would be a nice idea if they were available to take away.

I couldn't see and fresh veg or fruit in the on-site Spar.

Accommodation

Loved the caravan, my first static caravan experience. Plenty of room to co-exist without annoying each other too much and a good base to return to after days out. I pushed two narrow beds together so my son and I could sleep together as I was worried about him rolling out and had given the bed guard to my sister for her two year old. The kitchen was plenty big enough and we had two toilets and a nice shower. I was a bit cold at night but only to be expected in April. It was clean and tidy, I was expecting worse given some of the comments I have read online but it really was very clean. Probably a bit of an ask but is there a way they could make the caravans a bit more homely?

If I go again I Will definitely take a lamp for the bedroom as it was hard to read books to my son and try to get him off to sleep with the main light on. I'd also take an oven glove, some wooden spoons, a waste paper bin for the bathroom, bin liners and some books.

Things to do for adults

When you have toddlers it's really hard to do anything but child-centred activities so we didn't make it to any of the evening shows; we did all go swimming and to the restaurant which was pleasant and there seemed to be stuff on for adults in the evening like bingo and shows.

Things to do for children

Unfortunately there aren't many organised activities on offer for a 2 and 3 year old but I did book my son in for a cycling session which was really interesting and encouraging. The man running it was lovely and didn't mind that my son lost interest for a bit. He gave us a certificate and joined in with my son's batman craze. I wish I had put him down for the archery too.

My son enjoyed seeing the holiday park characters but was disappointed only two turned up for the character breakfast, particularly as his favourite wasn't there. Swimming was a big plus and I wish we'd done it more. We also spent loads of money on the amusement arcade but it was fun and some of the games guaranteed a prize. I think my son will enjoy it more when he's a bit older as there was loads on offer for 4+.

Overall my son was just so impressed with the space, the caravan and the proximity to the beach.

Would you return/ try out another Haven park?

Yes. Most definitely. I am a complete convert to static caravaning and holiday parks and already looking into where and when we can go with my husband. My son really loved it. Lots of friends of mine have commented on my Facebook saying the are regulars to kiln park, up until now I wasn't even aware it existed.

*What did you think about the value for money – especially compared to
other family holidays?*

I think having stuff on site is really great when it's a rainy day (we had a couple) because you can take the kids swimming or book them into an activity session. Tenby has some great places to visit and we did trips to Caldey Island and Folly Farm and then came back to the park to wind down, eat in the caravan and sleep. With a older child it will definitely be great to do more activities but I think there's more they could do for very young ones, particularly in the afternoons. Still, I think it's great value over-all and had we more time we would have taken more advantage of all the on-site stuff.

Much better value than a holiday cottage would have been.

Thank you so much for picking me, it was lovely.

ILoveCoreyHaim Thu 24-Apr-14 08:40:08

I have been to Berwick twice and Cala Gran 3 times. Cala Gran in Blackpool is fantastic. (by far my fave park and i have also been to Park resorts parks) Its a really small park with a splash zone (amuses the kids for hours if you get good weather), a park and the usual clubhouse, restaurant and arcade. You are about 7 miles i think from blackpool seafront so if you have a car its easier and it worked out cheaper to pay for a weeks parking, that way you could park right on the front of blackpool. Most days we drove into blackpool then came back got changed and went to the clubhouse. There is a farm outside the park and public transport into blackpool. The staff are fab. Been 3 times in August and the weather was fantastic every tiime. Locally theres is a shopping centre, fish and chip shop etc, takeaways who deliver to the caravan. Before you go save all the kids free and half price tokens, i found a load on the back of tesco products, also make sure you get a discount on the Zoo, Blackpool Tower/ircus (my fave part of my stay) and the pleasure beach. With a bit of planning it makes for a fab fun filled holiday for the kids. You can also dive to the next town which is not as full on as Blackpool.

Berwick is also a nice, outdoor pool, large club house and you can walk into berwick and onto the beach. Weather is a bit hit or miss. Ususal clubhouse, arcades and restaurant.

All the vans i have stayed in have been clean but maybe not to some peoples standards, dont think the cleaners have long to turn the vans around so take some strong kitchen roll and some cleaning spray if you want to give the van the once over when you arrive. All the times i have been i have checked in earlier than advised and have never had any complaints or problems with the staff. They have been lovely on both parks. It seems Blackpool attracts guests from all over as more central whereas Berwick had a lot of Scots and Geordies (im Geordie)

My tips for any caravan holiday would be to go to a local supermarket as soon as you arrive and stock up on food and drinks. Kids clubs on both parks were great, kids enjoyed them. Depends when you go though as to whats on in my experience.

The holidays as expensive as you make it, i have gone bought no shopping and spent a fortune and ate uot for every meal or i have planned, cooked and saved money, depends what you want out of your holiday

Ratbagcatbag Thu 24-Apr-14 08:14:04

We're seasoned haven visitors, but never book direct through them, we book caravans off sites like owners direct etc, a lot cheaper than haven and you get a far more luxurious caravan. Only thing to remember is that you need to buy passes on top.

If caravan has DVD player (a lot do now) take a couple of new films that you want to watch and have an evening or two just relaxing. Means little one can catch up on well needed sleep and you can just relax.

Take extra changes of clothes out with you, so no need to traipse back miles if an accident happens.

Pick a park with a good play park, but also good indoor activities in the event of the great British weather scuppering plans.

WhoAteAllTheEasterEggs Tue 22-Apr-14 20:15:03

I'm a non tester (not for want of trying, ah well better luck next time!) but go to Haven every year and again this year, so we're seasoned pro's at going there now! grin
- Make sure you squeeze kitchen essentials into your luggage before you go. No, I don't mean the kitchen sink - just make sure you take a tea towel, some washing up liquid and a couple of washing up sponges as it works out expensive on site if you find out you've forgotten them! OH, and a few loo rolls as well!

- If you want to be out dancing at the on-site club until late and you've got small toddlers/children, try and get them to have a nap for a bit in the middle of the day so they're wide awake and not whining their heads off because they're over-tired and stimulated by 7pm! yes, yes I know that's easier said than done, lol!

- Choose a park that's got plenty to do on-site as well as plenty of activities and things to see and do round and about in the area as well.
We like the big parks with plenty of activities on site, but close to beaches/seaside towns and family attractions as well for example.

TheFabulousIdiot Tue 22-Apr-14 19:32:15

Some photos

SantasLittleMonkeyButler Tue 22-Apr-14 14:22:00

Non-Tester (but Haven Owner)

They have given you (the Testers) some really top-notch caravans by the looks of it grin. You can get some fabulous models now - but they are extremely expensive & most caravans on Haven parks will not look like that (although all still nice, although more basic).

For those of you recommending an online shop to be delivered when you arrive - please only do this once you have checked whether the park you are going to will allow the delivery van through the gates! Some parks won't (Devon Cliffs included), and traipsing across a huge caravan park lugging 18 bags of shopping is not so relaxing smile.

TheFabulousIdiot Tue 22-Apr-14 14:06:08

Tester here, at kiln park in Tenby.

On holiday

How is it? What's the weather like

This is our second day and I'm snuggling up with three year old DS in our room after a busy morning which included swimming and soft play. It's a bit drizzly but seems to be brightening up. Yesterday was glorious when we arrived at 3pm.

Describe your accommodation

The caravan is spacious and clean with a fairly well equipped kitchen. We have three bedrooms - one double and two twin. I'm in a twin with DS so we pushed the beds together and slept well. Lots of room for four adults and two active toddlers. The decoration is very beige.

What else are you doing outside of the park?

We haven't been out of the park yet but have two trips planned - Calder Island and Folly farm. I'm heading off to the beach in a bit as DS wants to walk on the sand. The park leads right onto the beach via a short walkway.

Have you been to the pool?

Yes. A short wait to get in as the changing rooms were full but not busy once in there. A lovely warm clean pool. I will try to go every day.

Have you done any of the activities?

Not yet but DS is booked in for a bike riding session and we want to go to the messy play session tomorrow.

What's the food like?
We haven't eaten in the cafe/pub/restaurants yet but the menu looks good and we plan to go later today.

*What activities have the kids enjoyed?
DS really loved the swimming and the characters he saw in reception when we arrived. He liked the park too and the soft play.

When you are back

Back on Friday - today is Tuesday.

overall opinions from you and others in the family

My mum is really impressed by how clean they keep the park and I love the closeness to the beach. All the staff have been really helpful and sorted out our passes and vouchers really quickly. It's great having a pool and all the other activities so nearby. DS has found it really exciting. Would be nice to have a wifi connection of some kind and we feel the kids playground could have a bit more secure fencing as it's close to the road. Over all I am loving my first haven experience.

Uzma01 Tue 22-Apr-14 12:27:20

Non-tester:
My tip is to plan the packing in advance - write a list & then pack a few days ahead of the trip. My list headings are: our clothes, kids' clothes (ensuring to pack extra), snacks, reading material, checking the car, toys/activities to do in the car.

HeartStarCircleSquare Mon 21-Apr-14 21:00:32

non tester here!

On flights I purchased a special seatbelt harness for the kids as it keeps them from trying to squeeze out of their seatbelt (it's also much safer in case of turbulence). We took a 9 hour flight with toddlers when we moved and it was a god-send

Don't forget the first aid kit!

DO download every child friendly app you can to your phone/computer/tablet. You will not regret this! Do download some new movies for them to get in to on the trip.

Have a bag of brand new crayons/stickers/colouring books to keep their attention. DO stick some lollys in there for them to suck on during take off in the plane

I save plastic peanut butter jars to use as snack jars as they don't spill when the kids are popping the tops on and off

SpiderRoaster Mon 21-Apr-14 08:07:47

Non tester

Having a list is good to remind you to pack certain things, but mostly I remember to 'go with the flow' and be prepared for things coming out of your normal routine or pattern.

Don't put too high expectations on your toddler to have fun or "do" things. It's a new environment for them being on holiday and it will take time for them to adjust.

I pack toddler clothes as a whole outfit rather than x number of tops. So: tshirt, legging and socks/vest =one outfit; Dress, tights, cardigan, vest = one outfit. I take 2 spare "outfits" if there is a washing machine, perhaps more spare if there isn't.

We limit toiletries and buy as part of on line shop - ie nappies, wipes, shower gel etc

We leave first thing in the morning so toddler goes back to sleep then when she wakes, we eat the cold bacon sandwiches and cereal in the car. Dd loves sitting in the passenger front seat to eat breakfast as its a novelty to sit in the front and breaks the journey up (as well as saving ££ by not eating at the service station)

Fizzyplonk Fri 18-Apr-14 23:28:04

Non tester

Pay for bedding to be made up so that when you arrive you can explore straight away.

If in a caravan/chalet buy little electric heaters to help take the chill off in the evening- Argos value are fine.

Buy diggers/tractors from charity shops to keep little builders entertained on the beach for longer.

Roseformeplease Fri 18-Apr-14 22:23:41

Do an internet shop and get it delivered on arrival to save trailing round the supermarket on arrival.

CheeseTMouse Wed 16-Apr-14 12:53:28

I am learning that we need to travel by car whilst my daughter sleeps - so we will be going to the lake district driving in the evening. I have also discovered the joys of self catering and serviced apartments, which is something I would not have used prior to children. Really useful when you need to stay in in the evening and have all the amenities you have at home.

Wjjkl Wed 16-Apr-14 10:22:01

Non tester

Be organized - write lists of things to take so nothing vital is forgotten

Don't plan to do too much - rushing around trying to tick the boxes becomes no fun and stressful, just relax and enjoy the time

BornOfFrustration Wed 16-Apr-14 08:04:43

Non Tester

Take your own pillows and duvets, if you order a supermarket shop to be delivered you can easily fit them in. We order everything from food to razors and deodorant, it means I don't have to think about that side of things. We add the cost of all that into the holiday.

If you think it's going to be hot, take a jumper and boots anyway. If you think it's going to be cold, take some t-shirts and sandals. I've een caught out by unexpected heat waves twice now.

Iamnotanugget Wed 16-Apr-14 07:06:44

Try and travel during nap time.

I find it's better to have 2 3/4 night mini breaks than 1 full week. Small children end up staying up late and getting up early no matter what you do. Nap times can also be erratic so it's best to end on a high before everyone is just battling to get through the day.

Non tester (tho you'll know that, 'cause I'm not highlighted - nice touch MNHQ)

Slings are wonderful if your LO is light enough to carry still - I carried 2 yr old DS2 very happily, having not carried for 18 months. $ yr old DS1 was a little more channelling.....

If possible, don't travel there late afternoon / early evening - give everyone time to adjust to new surroundings before going to bed.

Calpol comes in 5ml sachets. Buy a box for your wash bag. No measuring when you can't find the spoon at silly o'clock, and no glass bottles.

Driveway Mon 14-Apr-14 20:28:29

Also, maybe dig out your sling if you'll be doing a bit more walking than usual. It's easier than the buggy sometimes if your toddler fits still.

Driveway Mon 14-Apr-14 20:27:27

Non tester.
I really like those reuseable little water paint books and an aqua doodle style pen for trips with toddlers. Not messy, ideal for a rainy morning or on a train journey if you get a table.
Also, little toys they haven't seen for a while. Pack them away for a few weeks before you go.

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