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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:

Buggersticks · 07/10/2022 11:25

I've been to this particular site for many years, including earlier this year. Admittedly we rented a private 'van. We've never had any problems other than the M&B restaurant being barely average food, slow service (at the bar especially) and too expensive. Always loved it there but it is getting overpriced. The seafront restaurant is extortionate. Suggest looking at private vans, they are much cheaper and in best locations on site, and nipping down to Exmouth front for your evening meal!


Nowisthesummerofourdiscontent · 07/10/2022 11:31

Green acres was lovely this year but we avoided the restaurants, swimming pool and entertainment. Over the last few years the prices have increased exponentially with no obvious investment. Bourne Leisure sold a stake to some hedge fund when COVID hit. I don't see how they can justify £2300 for a week into September when some schools have gone back (Gold caravan). We won't be returning.


FrownedUpon · 07/10/2022 11:33

Haven parks are pretty grim in my experience. I might go for a cheap break, but wouldn’t pay that kind of money to go there.


Nineeuros · 07/10/2022 11:57

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.

This. Two accidentally incorrect dinners (yes should have been mentioned), some insects in the pool (I’ve been abroad and had this before, not a big deal) and an unfortunate case of food poisoning. Weirdly if you went abroad to say, Egypt or India, you’d expect to get sick, get sick and that would be that. Not an amazing holiday but hardly worth posting about I don’t feel!

sorry if that sounds rude, but these things sound quite inconsequential if the rest of the holiday was fine/good? Maybe I have low standards, but this just wouldn’t bother me!


TheSheerCheekOfSomePeople · 07/10/2022 12:00

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

I think Environmental Health and any sane person would beg to differ! Raise your standards for goodness sake!! (The PP who wrote this not the OP.)

You should be getting a big chunk of refund for this OP. Hard to prove concretely without photos recordings and tested stool samples but any company worth their salt would be making sure you got compensated ASAP.


Discovereads · 07/10/2022 12:11

I think you’re overreacting a bit here.

  • You got a platinum caravan for the price of a bronze, which you’ve said was great and had no accommodation issues
  • First day the cafe was busy at lunch and your salad had the wrong dressing. Mistakes happen, why didn’t you send it back? You ate it anyway so I think it’s a bit silly to complain now.
  • Second day flying ants in the pool- this happens every year for a few days when these things literally constantly boil out of their nests and swarm. The flying ants in the U.K. also do not bite, carry no diseases and are perfectly safe around people. So it may look disgusting, but not something to close a pool down over imho. People can swim safely while staff are scooping them up.
  • Second day seafood platter and food poisoning- this is a risk with any seafood because it most often comes out the ocean already contaminated and our cooking methods can’t really decontaminate seafood unless it’s a baked fish pie or well boiled fish chowder. Any sort of steamed mussels, oysters, fried crab legs….you have to know you’re risking food poisoning every time to eat it and it’s largely out of the control of the restaurant.

So the first two things are minor annoyances. The third is one of those unavoidable going to eventually get you now and then if you eat seafood (and why I always get travel insurance even when travelling within the U.K.- so I can claim for any days of sickness during a holiday).

So I get it was not as nice a holiday as expected, but to “warn people not to book with a certain well known caravan park in Devon” seems an over reaction to me and think perhaps you’re upset at their refusal to refund you any money, which I don’t think was unreasonable of them tbh.

Ori1 · 07/10/2022 12:15

Eating seafood out though is a real game of Russian Roulette. There are serious vomming risks involved eating shellfish and the like, particularly in certain coastal areas where the water quality is not as good as one might hope for - bleugh.

You had an unfortunate experience there; I do feel for you. Sounds like a real nasty case of norovirus. And the problem is that once one of you has it, you can pretty much guarantee everyone else in the family is coming down with it too. Yuk.

Personally, I always steer clear of on-site restaurants - never have seafood because I worry this might be me!


Discovereads · 07/10/2022 12:18

This I don’t much understand
For approx £1000 for 4 days I can not justify the price for such a low quality anymore. but you also said When we arrived the caravan was absolutely beautiful, we were really impressed.

The £1k you pay a caravan park is literally for the caravan accommodation. It’s not for the food at any on site cafes. And an annual case of flying ants at the pool don’t really scream “low quality” to me.

You have to also be a bit more realistic when you’re on a budget holiday. It’s not going to be four or five stars, it’s going to be two or three stars. And unfortunately with Brexit, the pound crashing and so on, money is worth a lot less than it was even five years ago. £1k doesn’t get what it used to get.


justasking111 · 07/10/2022 13:43

1k for four days and indifferent food. I'd be booking an Airbnb

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