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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.

OP posts:

5foot5 · 07/10/2022 09:27

RosesAndHellebores · 07/10/2022 08:10

You can book a really nice cottage in the UK to sleep 4 or 6 for a shade over £1000 in the school holidays. Possibly not Devon/Cornwall. Surely a house with a garden in a pretty location has to be better than caravan site. Admittedly there won't be a pool, but there'll be a leisure centre nearby.

What is the difference between a bronze and platinum caravan? I am intrigued. Is it something like the star system?

I am with you on that.

We have just had 3 nights in a really lovely cottage for £900. There were 6 of us, all adults but it could have accommodated 8 in 4 bedrooms. Very clean and comfortable. Extremely well equipped. Sea view in some rooms. Log burning stove.

OK, no pool but that is not a priority for us on holiday in the UK anyway.

Caravan site sounds like my idea of hell


ShandaLear · 07/10/2022 09:35

Haven has always been a bit of a dump. Better than Pontins or Butlins, but the restaurants have always been terrible - little more than a glorified Wetherspoons. We’ve stayed for the beaches and the entertainment when the kids were little but always cooked in the caravan or went out into the surrounding towns.


ShandaLear · 07/10/2022 09:36

Hymnulop · 07/10/2022 09:15

Judgey much? Only 4 nights and we planned a combination of the restaurant which sells a massive range like a beefeater even salad!! And fish and chips and papa johns. For 4 nights I don't think this is odd. You must be one of those mumsnet chicken people.

What’s a Mumsnet chicken people?


musingsinmidlife · 07/10/2022 09:41

I always find it interesting what level of discomfort ruins people's holidays. Here we have getting the wrong salad dressing and insects in the pool as being so over the line that they have to comment and warn people away when they normally never do.

It is why trip and company rating and review sites are always such a mixed bag. One person's dream vacation is another person's nightmare.


Leeeeeeeeeeeeeee · 07/10/2022 09:44

I have had the same with Haven this year, I always book one year in advance for March & September. Reassured both times I would be in prestige both times put in a bronze. I got changed in March but couldn't be bothered to do it in September, as was a large bronze so just left it (my own laziness really). Booked for silver next year & it was extortionate. Have actually booked September in Park Dean now in a luxury lodge for £300 more. However have stuck with the silver for March. However had a quick look while there & I'm dreading it as they are tiny!


QuestionableMouse · 07/10/2022 09:44

alwayscrashinginthesamecar1 · 07/10/2022 07:15

Ok, I'm not in the Uk, but is it really a thousand quid for four nights in a caravan park? Is that normal these days?

It's not, unless you book the highest grade van and maybe not even then.

I've booked for seven nights in a silver van next spring - it's costing me under £400!!!


bridgetreilly · 07/10/2022 09:44

It’s not much of a warning without the name of the place, OP.


Malbecfan · 07/10/2022 09:46

I live near there. Sorry OP but it is a bit of a dump. They have had major problems in getting staff as other posters have said due to Brexit and Covid. There have been many instances this summer of untreated sewage discharges which have been reported on local news outlets and on the public beaches.

With Haven and those type of resorts, you pay a premium for things being on site. Less than 5 miles away, but slightly inland, you could book holiday cottages for just over half that amount. What you save on accommodation, you could buy a weekly car park permit and use it on the various different beaches of East Devon: Exmouth, Budleigh Salterton, Sidmouth, Beer, Seaton... You could use the local swimming pools in Exmouth, Sidmouth or even the outdoor one at Topsham. There are loads of good places to eat, or you could take picnics with you. I think that would be worth considering for next year.


Giggorata · 07/10/2022 09:49

No one seems to remember the rule of only eating shellfish if there is an R in the month.
Sorry for you horrid holiday.


PineappleWilson · 07/10/2022 09:52

@Wednesdaywobbles we love that coast - what's the independent site at Dunbar? Could you PM me the details please?


Hymnulop · 07/10/2022 09:54

NCFT0922 · 07/10/2022 09:20

@Hymnulop hardly. Just someone who wouldn’t expect to go away for 4 days and eat shit pizza. Why wouldn’t you eat out?

Do you know why? Because different people like to do different things to you! Shock horror!


slashlover · 07/10/2022 09:59

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

Completely off topic, but I can never understand why people post things like this.

"It's a supermarket starting with T and ending with O" Why not just say Haven or Tesco?


Dagnabit · 07/10/2022 10:03

Skinnermarink · 07/10/2022 08:01

Are you this nasty in real life?

No, she’s probably too scared in real life and doesn’t say boo to a goose. She gets all her frustrations out by being a keyboard warrior.


HoppingPavlova · 07/10/2022 10:09

I understand the issues listed, except the flying ants. Our (backyard) pool occasionally has lots of insects in, would take an age to scoop them all out in between when the filter runs. As long as we do a funnel web check (as they can survive in the pool in air bubbles) then ‘so what’, the others don’t hurt so we just crack on and when filter next runs they get filtered out and then a fresh batch rolls in😁, no biggie. Just keep teeth closed to ‘filter’ them out yourself🤣.


goldfinchonthelawn · 07/10/2022 10:25

Use Park Resorts. I've been hearing terrible thinsg about Haven for decades. My parents took my DBros children there once for a holiday and said it was the most dismal place they'd ever stayed.

Park Resorts in all the places I have used them are sparkling clean, very well kept, pool open all hours, in gorgeous areas and incredibly reasonable. Cheaper than Haven on every occasion I have looked.

I don't work for Park resorts btw, I've just had a few really gorgeous holidays there when DC were small and we had little money.


TheOrigRights · 07/10/2022 10:30

Why do posters not just come out and say the name of the company? It is a legal thing? And surely if you've said enough that everyone knows who you're talking about, any potential libel claim would stand anyway.


bluebell34567 · 07/10/2022 10:34

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.

thats horrible.
so sorry for your experience.


DuvetHugger · 07/10/2022 10:41

We went to Rockley Park Haven in Dorset a few weeks ago and it was fantastic. Spotlessly clean.

Some meals weren't available but meh.

I am going to one in New Quay next week so will let you know lol


Roselilly36 · 07/10/2022 10:49

We stopped booking these type of hols many years ago, due to poor hygiene & cleaning of accommodation, disappointing facilities etc. Why not try Airbnb or booking a private cottage.


Roselilly36 · 07/10/2022 10:51

Forest Holidays too was filthy the second time we booked, wouldn’t book again with them either, I should have taken a photo of the en-suite bathroom, you honestly wouldn’t believe the mould on the shower head 🤮


Thenightwemet16 · 07/10/2022 10:55

RosesAndHellebores · 07/10/2022 08:10

You can book a really nice cottage in the UK to sleep 4 or 6 for a shade over £1000 in the school holidays. Possibly not Devon/Cornwall. Surely a house with a garden in a pretty location has to be better than caravan site. Admittedly there won't be a pool, but there'll be a leisure centre nearby.

What is the difference between a bronze and platinum caravan? I am intrigued. Is it something like the star system?

We stayed in a gorgeous 18th century thatched cottage air bnb with huge garden in a picturesque village location at the end of August. £500 for four of us for four nights 🤷‍♀️


HangOnToYourself · 07/10/2022 10:58

Has mumsnet turned into TripAdvisor?


QuizzlyBears · 07/10/2022 10:59

BigSandyBalls2015 · 07/10/2022 07:16

When we were at the Hastings one there were lads at the bar with tags on.

Loved the Chichester site.

I would never touch sea food at a caravan site 🤮

I don’t get your point. Tags don’t necessarily put a person on house arrest. People on bail or licence can still have holidays if the conditions are in place to allow it - court/police/solicitors/probation all in agreement. Or are you pearl clutching at the sight of the tag? I guarantee there will be plenty of people there without visible labels of their offending who have done things you’d be concerned about!


Jenn3112 · 07/10/2022 11:24

The onsite restaurants are well known to be awful - if you had checked reviews you would have known this, they are generally expensive, dirty and poorly staffed by teenagers who don't want to be there. (We have stayed at 3 different parks and all the same!) I don't know why anyone would pay £1000 to stay in a caravan on a Haven park anyway, they aren't particularly nice places. For a cheap and cheerful stay with young kids absolutely great, but for £1k there are many nicer places to go.


oakleaffy · 07/10/2022 11:25

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.

Norovirus hits hard and fast...It's impossible to tell where one caught it from, it's a tough virus that is fiendishly catching.
Sweats, aches and D&V, difficult to tell apart from food poisoning.
Tests would need doing on the food.

Mussels and oysters are meant to be bad for Norovirus transmission, as the sewage flows out to sea.

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