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AIBU?

To warn people not to book with a certain well known caravan park in Devon

109 replies

dontbookit · 06/10/2022 20:45

I'm not the kind of person that would normally write something like this. I completely understand that I will get some commenters saying I shouldn't post this. However if I can stop people making the same mistakes we did then I really want to warn people about it. I haven't named the company exactly but can say it is a very well known caravan company who may or may not start with 'ha*', and the one we visited was in Devon. If anybody wants more details I can happily pm you.

We have had holidays at this park many times. I've been visiting for many years, not just since I've had my own kids but for years before that with family members and their children. Never had issues.

We went in the summer holidays just gone, although it had been booked for about11 months before that. We did get an email after Christmas to say that they had put their prices up, so where we had booked a platinum caravan it would now only be the same as a bronze. However, in their defence they did say they would honour our caravan type because we had already booked and paid.

I rang a week in advance to check that we still had the type of caravan we were promised and this was confirmed. I then got assigned a caravan the day before arrival and it was a bronze. I spent an hour or so on the phone trying to sort it out, they were very helpful on the phone and changed it for us.

When we arrived the caravan was absolutely beautiful, we were really impressed. The issues started from that evening. We went to dinner with the other group we were on holiday with. At least half of the menu was unavailable (obviously not saying this is their fault as I know there are supply issues at the moment) but we eventually managed to order what everybody wanted. Service wasn't great considering it wasn't very busy. After waiting 40 mins for drink and 55 mins for food , we realised most of it was cold. Me and my husband had ordered the chicken Caesar salad, but when we started eating we realised we had actually been given the French dressing instead of Caesar. Again not a big issue but the fact that we weren't told could have been a worry if one of us had an allergy.

Second issue was when we went swimming the next day, the pool was literally full with hundreds of dead flying ants. We got the kids out of the pool (most people had jumped out by this point) and were told it was an issue they have every day because of the drains. The poor lifeguards were being tasked with walking round the pool with tiny nets trying to catch them all constantly.

Third issue, we went to the sea front cafe on site for lunch the next day. Me and my husband shared the seafood platter which at the time was lovely. Then after a few hours of being back in the caravan we were both violently sick, couldn't get off the toilet, hot sweats.. the works. Called 111 as I felt so poorly. They said it sounded like food poisoning so to keep drinking lots of fluids and if we didn't feel better to contact them again and they would get us seen asap. Luckily it only lasted about 24 hours otherwise we would have had to have come home and missed the rest of the holiday which wouldn't have been fair on the kids.

Have tried to raise this all with them but they have got their head office team to 'investigate' and as predicted have denied all knowledge of everything.

I just think for the prices they are now charging people should be aware of what they are booking. I never thought I wouldn't return there but now I would never book with them again. For approx £1000 for 4 days I can not justify the price for such a low quality anymore. Especially because we can only afford to do this type of holiday every so often. I hope this just makes people double check reviews etc and hopefully book with one of the other companies who seem less well known but have much better reviews.

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Helendee · 06/10/2022 22:53

That sounds awful! So sorry you had that experience.
Does the outside of this site happen to be painted white and is there a railway line at the back of the camp?

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runningthroughthefield · 06/10/2022 22:55

It doesn’t sound amazing but the issues were by the sound of it unavoidable

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Skinnermarink · 06/10/2022 22:59

But those flying ants only come out 1-2 days in an entire year. Must have been a different bug for it to be happening daily.

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BrokenRainbow22 · 06/10/2022 23:01

Haven has gone absolutely extortionate, not good value for money at all anymore! They must make billions a year but don't put money into their parks, its been shocking the last 2 times I've visited.

Hope you enjoyed at least some of your holiday OP

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Badger1970 · 06/10/2022 23:01

We had the holiday from hell from this company in the Lakes. Our caravan was filthy, had mould on walls, mattresses and it hadn't been hoovered for years. The showers were full of black mould, and the whole caravan smelt like a fousty dog bed. We had paid a small fortune for the best quality van, and the only other one that was available was no better. The pool was filthy and huge slots of time given to owners. All the kids ended up with d & v and I'm sure it was from the pool.... It was so bad that we left after 4 days and not the 7 we'd paid for. DH wanted to set a match to it as we left to avoid others suffering the same fate as we had.

We spent nearly a year battling them with Trading Standards, social media, the works.... never got a penny back from them or any offer of compensation.

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Skinnermarink · 06/10/2022 23:02

The restaurant thing is happening all over the place.

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Ladylalaboo1 · 06/10/2022 23:22

Similar experience to yourself but ours was Cornwall location. Second before last day went swimming - noticed the drains around the side of pool to drain excess water didn't exist and somebody was walking and sweeping all the dregs and water that had come off everyone back into the open pool - cue that evening middle child being violently sick - all night, had to stay in and not enjoy the last day. Journey home which is about 8 hours luckily nobody was I'll, then Saturday day after we got home our youngest who was only one was again violently sick and bad stomach - Sunday evening I get it and it was horrendous sick and bad stomach all light never experienced cramps or sickness like it, over and over and over - then my eldest got it and then my partner. We were told by the doctors it was most likely norovirus or gaestroentritis from the pool ( we hardly went off site the whole
Time, and even when we did we returned to eat at the caravan or on site - plus we are veggie so didnt eat any uncooked or dodgy meat etc). Fortunately for us it was the end and after holiday, but it wiped me and my partner out for a whole week and my kids each for the day they were Ill. I did email them with a complaint and explained what I'd seen at the pool and asked if this was normal practice and if it's something they did in all over their pools as it didn't seem hygienic and I also asked if there were reports of others being ill? I got no reply - I emailed again 30 days later again no reply it's been nearly 6 months now and apart from me tweeting them to reply to my email which they said they would do but then never did I've not heard anything from them. It's sad cause my family love it there with the kids it's so fun for them but because of this we definitely wouldn't return to that particular sight in Cornwall ( Perran sands site) and you are right about the cost ours they did exactly the same phoned us told us if we wanted the platinum to upgrade etc and then we got there and it was fine but the key didn't work 🤣.I think for the money now, ours was about £1400 for 7 days in June ( whit Sunday half term not everyone gets it off) it's not worth it especially if you come home I'll / spend your holiday I'll and can't use the facilities. They also lost my children's porcelain models they made and painted - said they had given them to another child most likely and then offered US another child's work?! I was like what no? A why would I want some random child's work and B it just continues the cycle another family comes in upset cause theirs isn't here ?! Yeah let down a lot overall! Looking at eurocamp for in the next couple of years, which doesn't actually seem that much more expensive for summer holidays!

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Calmdown14 · 06/10/2022 23:46

Why are you posting this now if it was the summer?

They changed the way in which their caravans are rated last year so things were given more standard brackets.

I've only booked the most basic but they've always been excellent. Things in peak times are always going to be busy and this summer was exceptional for staff shortages.

There's no way to know if you had food poisoning or from where. Fair enough you had some issues but telling people never to book is ridiculous based on a busy restaurant and flying ants which are hardly of their making

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HighlandPony · 06/10/2022 23:51

I book haven holidays three times a year. £44 for two kids two adults and two dogs (though next week will be the first time away with the new baby) for five days. We have our own caravan though and tend to only do the free stuff on site. We cook in the caravan or get a takeaway in and go out in the local areas too. For less than fifty quid can’t say I mind

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Hymnulop · 06/10/2022 23:52

Exactly the same in Weymouth, no restaurant food available, no staff, absolutely appalling. I complained when we got home and they refunded a third of our holiday which I was actually really impressed with. And we had no sickness etc just no access to food at all, papa johns was saying 2 hour wait, the fish and chip van was closed and the spar shop was sold out so we had to go off site to eat for the whole holiday. (We don't do cooking on holidays and couldn't buy anything on site to cook anyway)

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DorritLittle · 06/10/2022 23:56

Staff shortages in hospitality are due to Brexit and covid, and supply issues, same reason. Flying ants was very unfortunate as they only come out one day a year. It sounds awful though, especially the food poisoning. I am not suggesting the company wasn't at fault at all.

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Nat6999 · 07/10/2022 00:45

I prefer Parkdean Resorts, stayed on several sites & always had good service, the only Haven site I would go to is Primrose Valley & only because I know someone who rent out their caravans privately.

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dontbookit · 07/10/2022 06:33

Calmdown14 · 06/10/2022 23:46

Why are you posting this now if it was the summer?

They changed the way in which their caravans are rated last year so things were given more standard brackets.

I've only booked the most basic but they've always been excellent. Things in peak times are always going to be busy and this summer was exceptional for staff shortages.

There's no way to know if you had food poisoning or from where. Fair enough you had some issues but telling people never to book is ridiculous based on a busy restaurant and flying ants which are hardly of their making

Because we've only just received their reply stating that they accept no fault at all. Also because this is normally the time of year that people look at booking holidays for next year.

Re the food poisoning the seafood platter and the Caesar salad were the only things that me and my husband both ate the same thing of and we were both violently sick. In the 72 hours before that we hadn't eaten any of the same food (DH works away) so the likelihood that it was anything else is extremely low.

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dontbookit · 07/10/2022 06:39

Sorry to hear so many other people have had awful holidays here too!

To the poster asking about the train track at the back I don't think that is the same park. This one was Devon Cliffs.

Also regarding the flying ants, that's what my DH said they were but we could have been mistaken. Whatever they were they were disgusting.

To be honest I'm just so disappointed with their reply to our complaint. We weren't looking for any of our money back (apart from the cost of the meal that made us so poorly) but the refused to even apologise for any of the other issues. They just said they accept no responsibility for any of it.

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DarkForces · 07/10/2022 06:42

Im not sure what else they could do about ants that fly. Bug spray the fresh air?

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dontbookit · 07/10/2022 06:44

DarkForces · 07/10/2022 06:42

Im not sure what else they could do about ants that fly. Bug spray the fresh air?

Surely the best option would have been to have closed the pool for a few hours whilst they sorted out the blocked drains rather than just let people swim surrounded by them. They were literally flowing out of the drain in their hundreds. I can't imagine that would pass any type of health and safety regulations

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catinboots123 · 07/10/2022 06:45

Yeah the one in Hastings is a dump

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RubyJack · 07/10/2022 06:47

Have I read it wrong or did you eat the sea food off site?

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RubyJack · 07/10/2022 06:49

RubyJack · 07/10/2022 06:47

Have I read it wrong or did you eat the sea food off site?

I did read it wrong

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Wednesdaywobbles · 07/10/2022 06:51

We used to go to one of their caravan sites every year near Edinburgh, but the costs were just outrageous. We instead booked in at a independent site in Dunbar, that was about £600 less per caravan. The site was amazing and right on Belhaven Beach. Absolutely no way would we book anywhere else now

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Tuilpmouse · 07/10/2022 06:52

I clicked on this expecting to hear some real horror stories, but although what happened wasn't great, I think your reaction here is a bit extreme.

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Ilikewinter · 07/10/2022 06:55

Weve also stopped using Haven, we take the dog now and we found they have really limited the caravans available, plus we dont require the facilities anymore, we found alternative caravans sites much cheaper than the Haven stay only package.

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rocketfromthecrypt · 07/10/2022 06:56

I mean none of it is great but the only thing that would cause genuine concern is the food poisoning.

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Tuilpmouse · 07/10/2022 06:58

Because we've only just received their reply stating that they accept no fault at all. Also because this is normally the time of year that people look at booking holidays for next year. Re the food poisoning the seafood platter and the Caesar salad were the only things that me and my husband both ate the same thing of and we were both violently sick. In the 72 hours before that we hadn't eaten any of the same food (DH works away) so the likelihood that it was anything else is extremely low.

Based on what you wrote; I accept there's a strong chance that it was the food, but equally norovirus causes similar symptoms, so without more evidence the park isn't going to admit liability.

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Crappydoo · 07/10/2022 07:05

I'm so sorry you had such a horrible experience. I went in July to their North Wales site and had an absolutely lovely time. Maybe this site is less busy though. It must have been so disappointing for you all.

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