Poo on my daughters duvet- need I say more... except there was more. We were sent to the wrong chalet, the staff were surly and unhelpful and when we finally went to bed we got bitten. We finally bailed at quarter to midnight and went to a hotel instead!!
A dear friend of mine booked Pontins in brean as a treat for me and a load of our mates to go over the last week end I was so excited my Folks looked after the cat and the dog so off we went to Brean
Pontins has been going for a very long time as it's rival Butlins. It has swimming pools childrens play area amusement arcades Food outlets, Nisa shop Pub and various club houses. There is no need to leave site if you don't want to! There is the blue coats too to keep both you and the kids entertained.
We had opted for the best grade possible at the site and thought it would be amazing as my mate paid way over two hundred pound for us all to go. At arrival to the bungalow we were horrified. It was absolutely filthy the bedding had not been changed the sheets were soiled. Cutlery draw was dirty with dirty cutlery the whole place was filthy.
So off we trotted to reception to complain they said they were very sorry and presented us with meal vochures for the entire stay. They said they would send a maid a to clean it, few minutes later a maid came and sorted it.
Evening came and we desided to go for a few drinks as we are all in our thirties we are not a noisy lot.
We first of all went into a pub calle the Queen Victoria it was dead there was only one bar staff on. My mate asked what it got like later on. He said ever more quiet. There was only about twenty people in there including ourselves.
We desided to go in the club house where they had Kung Foo act on that came from Britain's got tallent, that was quite good. The decore of the whole place is very 1980's and dirty. I will not be returning. It was awful.
Pontins is aimed for people with children there is hardly any entertainment for adults.
We visited Pontins, Prestatyn for a family weekend break, Friday to Monday during mid August 2011, the height of the school Summer holidays.
We had holidayed at Pontins before but not for sometime, approximately four years ago. Our first visit was to Southport, after reading some very bad reviews we were pleasantly surprised, I don't know if we just struck lucky with the accommodation or we had been expecting the worst.
Pontins offer three standards of accommodation Popular (formerly budget), Classic & Club. One and two bedroom apartments are available, with ground floor accommodation subject to a £5.00 surcharge.
During our previous visit we stayed in a two bedroom classic apartment, we certainly wouldn't have considered budget and all Club apartments were fully booked.
On the whole our accommodation was clean but definitely required updating as did most areas of the site. Our experience was pretty positive due to the activities available for children.
Based on this we booked a late weekend break at Prestatyn at a cost of £209. This was for a 1 bedroom Club apartment, our party was made up of myself, my partner and two sons aged 7years and 8 months.
My eldest was to sleep in the twin bedded bedroom, whilst the adults were to sleep on a pull out sofa bed in the lounge (we live the high life!).
Pontins charge £10.00 to hire a travel cot, we took our own as we have recently acquired a large roof box for the car and can pile loads in!
We found the site with not too much difficulty although our sat nav did take us to the back gate thus allowing us to get a good view of the rows of army style accommodation - we had forgotten just how bad they looked, particularly as Pontins in Blackpool, where we live is currently being demolished (I wonder why?!).
After driving the perimeter of the whole site we eventually arrived at the front gate. The fences adjacent were festooned with adverts stating the site was open to the public for meals, swimming, shopping etc. I'm thinking that there must be a lack of facilities in Prestatyn!
The man at the gate was quite friendly, he gave us a sticker to place in our car window and explained how to reach reception and where to park. That was a pretty straight forward process, the site isn't that big so it was easy to find.
Check in for Club apartments is from 2pm, one of the perks as check in for the masses is 3pm. We arrived a little later at around 2.30pm.
The reception area is somewhat underwhelming, there are three shops on the left as you go in - Nisa (quite well stocked but obviously over priced, Pontins character shop - selling soft toys, key rings other Pontins memorabilia and The Pontins Pound Shop (this closed on our day of departure!).
Reception itself is a series of three or four cubby holes in which sit one or two receptionists flitting between them. I was given an envelope containing our keys and directions to our apartment. I picked up a leaflet from the counter detailing activities for the weekend although did assume that there would be something in the welcome pack - there wasn't! It merely contained keys and the do's and don'ts at Pontins as well as a health and safety leaflet.
A short drive past the barracks (some of which were protected by fencing, improving the look further! I'm not sure if refurbishment was taking place or they were being knocked down!) and we arrived at our apartment, passing on the way the designated Club apartments check in office - it was closed.
We were able to park directly opposite our block, we could have improved upon our parking space had we arrived earlier.
The apartments are set out in blocks with a central grassy area, ours was at the very edge of the site, so we were fenced in. We discovered later that the coastal road was beyond this.
Pathways at the edge of the grass link the apartments and we dragged our many belongings to apartment 53.
Unlike Classic & Popular apartments, Club apartments have sliding glass doors and don't look too bad from the outside.
Getting into the apartments is a little fiddly at first, the key system requires a lever to be moved when locking and unlocking the door - after a couple of goes we had got the hang of of it.
Once inside we were greeted by a very strange odour - I don't think people had been smoking inside but I do think they had been smoking in the doorway, this combined with whatever had been cooked in the apartment over the last few days wasn't pleasing to the old nostrils!
The apartment comprised of a lounge/kitchen. Within the lounge area was a two seater sofa bed, a round dining table and chairs. A tv cabinet, fixed to the wall with an old style tv on top, it was slightly larger that a portable and provided minimal freeview channels along with Pontins TV (supposed to keep the guest up to date with information but didn't actually provide anything worthwhile).
A wardrobe in the lounge housed an ironing board complete with large iron burn.
The simple kitchen was to the rear of the apartment. The sink was by the window with an unpleasant view of other people in other apartments also washing up!
The bathroom had the tiniest bath I have ever seen, it had a seat at one end and an overhead shower.
The shower did not run constantly - a button had to be pressed to reactivate the water supply - like the showers in a camping block. Thankfully it was nice and warm.
Although clean, there were cob webs on the ceiling and the extractor fan was clogged up with what looked like years of dust.
The cleaners obviously didn't clean above head height!
After bringing in our luggage it became more evident that the lounge area was quite dirty and grubby. When I pulled out a plastic dining chair to sit down, there were crisps sticking out of the cushioned area - I'm not talking crumbs, I'm talking a third of a packet crushed in!
After this I took all the chairs outside and gave them a clean, I also swept the lounge floor as it looked like it needed it.
Wiping up various spillages during the week it was obvious that the cushioned vinyl type flooring hadn't seen a mop and bucket in years as my cloth was marked black after only a gentle wipe!
Cleaning the chairs led me to discover the numerous cigarette ends by the front door, so I had to clean those up too. Not nice.
I was certainly getting some strange looks from other guests who watched my cleaning activities whilst sitting on benches outside, having a cup of tea and also a few cigs (I have never seen so many smokers confined in to one area, Pontins is a smokers heaven. I'm an ex smoker so maybe I notice it more).
I would recommend that the sofa bed is not slept on when opened out. It was like lying on wire covered by a sheet, the worst sleeping experience of my life. After the first night we rearranged the twin room and pushed the beds together which was no mean feat as there was a central shelf dividing the two beds that could not be removed. It can be done however by putting both beds under the length of the window.
My son then slept on the sofa bed in it's sofa form, he was quite comfortable so we were all kind of happy!
Understandably I was in a bit of a bad mood following the cleaning episode so we went for a walk to investigate the rest of the site.
Club apartments in theory are supposed to be close to all the action - ours wasn't it was probably the furthest away! It didn't really matter because the site isn't that large.
We felt safe enough to let my 7 year old go a wandering - with his mobile phone, once he had found a few friends.
I'll list as many of the facilities as I can remember and a a little information/opinion.
Captain Crocs Play Area - Similar in style to a Wacky Warehouse. Children must be signed in an out and parents must remain with their child. The least said about this the better. My son doesn't want me cramping his playing style and I don't want to be sat in a hot noisy room!
Fortunately there is an area for under 4's so I was able to let our youngest roam around whilst supervising.
The area needed updating and a good clean but the kids seem to enjoy it.
Outdoor Play Area - The usual slides, swings, climbing equipment. Quite safe and modern looking - or as modern looking as anything in Pontins can look!
Swimming pool - Accessed by a long ramp for those in wheelchairs or with prams or via steps. I felt quite unsafe after leaving the pool with my pram as the steps are immediately in front of the door. Opening the door and manoeuvring out backwards is an accident waiting to happen.
The pool iteself is quite large - old style, atthe half way mark there is a steep drop and the deep end begins. There are two slides on the edge of the pool to keep the children amused but nothing like the water park atmosphere of Butlins! The pool is also quite cold but not as cold as the learner pool which was FREEZING! Both pools were too cold for the baby, he tried them both once to shrieks of horror, so that cut short my aquatic life span!
The showers and changing area were ok, showers hot and powerful, once again push button to operate.
Hire Zone - Bikes, go Karts etc available for hire. The Kart we hired was £6 per hour. My son enjoyed it but got bored before the full hour.
There are other payable activities such as crazy golf, a zip wire, climbing wall and bungee trampoline. We didn't try any of these.
The Fun Factory - this housed the main stream evening entertainment. The biggest crowd puller during our stay was Gareth Gates who was obliged to stay in the chalet opposite, hard times I suppose! We also watched a circus and The Blue Coat Show.
Beware, seats are few and far between, people obviously arrive very early to get seats.
We're not like that, we arrived late, sat at the side of the stage and then grabbed the odd seat throughout the night!
Lunars Bar next door stays open longer and also has it's own entertainment. Families can party the night away together until 1am. Some may think this is a little late but I don't think once or twice a year does any harm and it certainly allowed my son to practice his street dance moves!
The Queen Vic pub is accessed via Lunars. Basic pub food is served here. There is also a pool table which became the focus of most of our evenings. My son is now all but obsessed with playing!
Drinks are reasonably priced throughout the site, just under £6.50 for two pints.
Happy hour is held between 5-7pm when selected draughts are £2 or under per pint. The Queen Vic is the only place to get a drink before 7pm, therefore happy hour involved much queueing, so it's best to get a few rounds in once you have been served. I did feel sorry for the bar staff, they were unable to cope with the demand - undoubtedly poor management.
Karoake took place nightly in the pub, my son had a go when Gareth Gates was on stage, the pub was all but empty that night!
A tip for those with children - buy a refillable coke holder. A large one costs £3 and can be refilled for £1.49 - it doesn't have to be filled with coke there are a few options available. It can then be filled up prior to leaving your chalet and throughout the day with your own drinks.
The idea is so good, I'm surprised that some adults don't also but their own and fill it with the alcohol of their choice and possible pop back to their chalet during the evening for a cheeky top up, ahem.....
Captain Cod's Chippy - Had a massive menu, unfortunately they had always 'just run out' of everything and I mean everything - fish, jumbo sausages, battered sausages, curry sauce, mushy peas, gravy, pies....The family in the queue in front of me actually left the site to find elsewhere to eat. The only thing available was chips, nuggets and the last two remaining sausages!
Nisa Local - Well stocked for things that you may have neglected to pack, above corner shop prices due to their captive audience.
Arcade - houses all the usual machines to rob your children of their hard earned spending money and the extra you are more inclined to give them after sipping from your re-fillable coke container. Children wander about the place clutching handfuls of tickets they have 'won' at a cost of goodness knows what to discover that with their 500 tickets they can exchange them for a 2p sweet or similar!
There are also a few pool tables if you can't get on the one in the pub.
Activities are ongoing during the day - football coaching, family basketball, line dancing, lovely legs, glamorous gran, bonny baby - all things that I thought had gone out with the arc or with the emergence of political correctness. Ponting is anything but pc and it doesn't seem to care!
Our son won the bonny baby competition, we entered as part of structuring our day. I felt so guilty when he won I wished we hadn't bothered.
Pontins is a love it or hate it place. I had hope that paying more for the Club apartments would have guaranteed cleanliness, this clearly wasn't the case. The main plus point of this type of holiday is the grassy communal areas, children can spend the day meeting and making new friends, playing football and generally havinig a good time in a safe environment under the watchful eye of their parents.
However, our watchful eyes were somewhat dulled by the introduction of a few beers daily.
Without alcohol I certainly could not have coped at Pontins - if you don't drink, don't take the risk - I would be a miracle for you to last more than one night!
Having used Butlins and some Haven sites on numerous occasions, my wife and I decided that we would take our daughter and her friend away using the vouchers in "The Sun" newspaper for a week away with Pontins. When we rang to book, the guy on the other end of the phone said out of the four that we could choose, Brean Sands was the best one to go for. The cost of the holiday was £60, plus a further £10 for the linen.
After a 6 hour drive we arrived at about 5pm on the Monday, and were met by a very friendly team of Blue Coats. From there I'm affraid it was downhill most of the way. The accomodation was a "Budget" shallet. This consisted of 1 bedroom with a single bed and a set of bunk beds that looked as if they had been used for National Service Soldiers in the 1950s. The curtains in the bedroom were mouldy, and the wardrobe shelf was broken as if someone had sat on it. The Bathroom, with bath and shower (not all had both!) was a good size, but the shower curtain again was mouldy, the rail was rusty, the curtain in the bathroom was a piece of wipe clean material. In the kitchen, the cooker was rusty, there was mould in the fridge, and on the floor under the fridge. The taps were loose. To use the cooker, you had to turn a switch off that would turn the water heater off. You couldn't have both on at the same time.
In the living room the sofa bed, was old, broken and the cushion didn't sit on the base properly. The mattress was ripped and in some place the springs were actually coming through the mattress base. It appeared that Pontins had bought a job lot of cheap PVCu doors from housing estates that were being pulled down. They were battered, didn't fit the frames properly, and there were gaps between door and frame, which let in an awful draught. The buildings looked in a poor state, infact many looked as if they were being ready to be demolished. There is a number on your key ring to get things done if you need them, I'm still waiting!
The only decent place to get anything to eat on the site, was the fish & chip shop (Think this is privatley owned, and has nothing to do with Pontins). The burger bar inside was open during the night. The food was something that you would have to get used to - McDonalds or KFC it certainly was not. There is a Nisa shop that has some bits and pieces, and is generally well priced.
The restaurant in "The Queen Vic" was diabolical. The food was cold, the tables were not set, and trying to find knife, fork & spoon was like trying to find a needle in a haystack. There was no menue for the children. Whilst talking to a few people, it came to light that one mans wife had been bad all week since eating there, two families who were all inclusive actually got the cost of their weeks food refunded.
The entertainment, after the stupidity at the beginning of the evening was probably the highlight of the day. But why oh why, would anyone want to enter a competition there to win a free holiday!
Things to do during the day, not a lot. A swimming pool that was open for a few hours a day, the slide that looked as if it hadn't had a drop of water down it for months. Infact it had started to turn green. Paying £4.50 for 4 minutes of quad bikes, the "Adventure Park" or swings and slides as it was, a climbing frame, that cost £15 for the kids to go on, no thank you.
If this is the best that Pontins has got to offer then next year I think we will be going back to Butlins. Yes it may be more expensive but a least you get better choice.
The best part of the holiday - 10am Friday morning when the key was handed in, and the M5 came into site.
Total Rating: one star, and thats only so this review can be posted!
We booked a last minute deal and took our three children there. Apon arrival we were not informed that we need to get a card for our electric, when we went to our room and realised, we went to the machine to do it, but it was out of order. We had to go back to the main gate and use the one they had in their small office. I am not sure why they didnt say that when we arrived.
We found our room and it was awful. It was in the middle of a run down block and had mould and spider webs all over the doors and windows. Our door had a punched hole in it which was not repaired. The carpets were dirty and the fold out bed was old and rusty.
Wen we looked out of our kitchen window all we could see was a mountain of old tires to the front and a massive old brick wall to the right, blocking any chance of a sea view. We were so upset.
The last straw for us was the fact that the 'rides' werent open and the restaurant was closed. It was more like a pub anyway, they didnt even set the tables. For dinner that night, my children had cold burgers from the burger bar, we didnt eat because they didnt accept cards and we had been told that we could use our card.
We didn't even want to stay that night but had to. We left the following day.
I have pictures of the state of our room and the area around it. I will never trust pontins again, my poor children were so upset.
We arent snobby people who went on a first time cheap holiday and were dissapointed, we are a normal family who go on these types of holidays often.
Pontins (In General)
Over the past few years, we have gone to a few Pontins holiday parks, mainly via The Sun newspaper holiday deals which save us so much money and end up spending a couple of hundred pound for a five day break instead of eight hundred plus! We have stayed in both caravans and chalets and have had mixed experiences.
On the television I often see Pontins adverts full of fun and entertainment. They make it look like a fantastic place to holiday, though they forget to mention that everything shown on the advert is not all at one place, instead strewn across all their parks so in some cases you find perhaps only one fun entertainment feature. For example, we went to a Pontins holiday camp in the South of Kent and it did not have hardly anything there. We did see a mini-golf course though it was always shut and this was in the height of summer! On the other hand, we have spent a holiday in a Pontins over the other side of the country in the South East of England and we found much more here, though again, not nearly as much advertised on the television. Here, there were go-carts, mini-golf, wall climbing and so forth. Each had a price to pay for using them and these are not cheap so we tend not to use them much.
At all the Pontins we have been to there is at least one swimming pool. Many have both an indoor and outdoor pool which is good for Britain's weather! These pools are always free as far as I have experienced.
Night time entertainment varies from park to park. On the whole, the entertainment is above average, though certainly not something to shout out about. The childrens entertainment at most parks is well structured and fun for younger ones, though we have also experienced terrible childrens entertainment where the characters never turn up and the staff never know what they are doing. This happened to be at that same Kent park which had no other entertainment. The adult entertainment is usually pretty good with some small stars coming in later on, quizzes, music and so forth. This can go on well into the early hours of the morning so best not to have your caravan too close to the main centre!
The accommodation has always been very nice, though not without its flaws. The caravans are generally in much better condition and very comfortable, and although the chalets are generally a nice size, both times we have spent time in a chalet in Pontins we have come across problems such as an ant infestation, mould in the bathroom, and broken beds. We had to complain once about a broken bed and we were moved straight away into an empty apartment which was fast work and very pleasing.
Food on the Pontins site also vary. I have been to a separate Pontins where nothing was open in the day even though there were fish and chips, burger bars and a few more which I found annoying. Also in one park, the restaurant was hardly more than a greasy spoon café with terrible service and cold food with hardly anything to choose from. Suffice to say, we only ate there the once. On the other end of the scale, another restaurant in another Pontins was great and completely different with plenty of lovely food to choose from, children's menus, and great service.
Something to remember: Do not expect everything you see on the adverts and do check individual parks before booking, as well as reading some individual reviews as Pontins Parks vary a lot.
We have had some good times in Pontins which have out shone the bad times though I certainly would not give Pontins as a whole 5 stars.
I collected the Sun tokens and went to Pontins Prestatyn Sands in April this year (2010). All in all, it cost (for 2 adults) £9.50 each, plus £15 each for the entertainment pass, £10 for the linen (thats £59). This was for a midweek stay of Monday to Friday in the school holidays.
Although we'd booked Monday to Friday, we arrived on the Tuesday. Initially the process was smooth: we were given a map to the apartment, the keys and a booklet with everything that was on for the duration of our stay.
What we found was that the room was clean but so old. From the outside it looked like an army barracks: all very dull and old and the same - very depressing. But none-the-less, it was just a cheapo quick break and we decided to make the most of it.
We went to the Queen Vic on site (it's a sports bar). Had a handful of people in there. The entertainment had been cancelled as there wasnt enough to join in and it closed early (about 10pm) as a result.
We went the the main arena place. It was moderately busy. In fact we went there each night. It was good in the sense that we never had to queue for drinks but for 2 adults in their mid 20s, it was pretty boring after night 2. All very the same. Also, I am a bit of a child at heart and when I found that Eoghen Quigg was going to be there, things looked up, however, he cancelled and never showed.
In the day we went to the town. Was nice for a little walk but there's not much there apart from acades. We played in these for an hour or 2, but there's only so much of this any one person can take. We also had fish and chips.
On-site there is bike hire. We thought it fun to hire a tandum but when we went to hire, they were all broken so we had to have a normal bike.
We ended up leaving on the Thursday. For us, 2 nights and 2 days was enough. I can imagine that if you had children maybe it may be a little better and if the weather is good then the children can play outside and you can sit on the beach.
Also, probably better to visit in the summer, the rooms are very VERY cold. Even with the heaters on. There are large single-glazed windows making it cold. Also, in the room we had there was only a bath and no shower, however there was only enough hot water to half fill one bath. We had to share the water. We dont mind, I spose, but its not for everyone.
We often camp and are used to "roughing it", however I would much rather camp. It was an experience, but I wouldnt go back.
My daughter and 3 grandchildren came to stay with me last August 2009 and I thought they would get rather bored over the ten days. So I decided to book a 4 night stay at Pontins Pakefield, fairly near to where we live in Suffolk. The package at Pakefield includes half-board which few other Pontins offer. I paid £315 for two adults, two children and one 9 month old baby..
We had a two bedroom Classic Class Chalet. This consisted of a large bedsitter room with a double sofa bed, a large wardrobe space, a digital television, plus a kettle and drink making tray
The small room had two bunk beds, a bedside cupboard and a wardrobe.
We managed to fit the travel cot into the large wardrobe space in the larger room (we took our own though you can rent one) There was quite a large bathroom with shower, bath and washbasin and hairdryer.
The bunks were really comfortable but the sofa bed wasn't alll that good and I would have preferred nicer flooring. You can book Club Class Chalets with a higher specification at a higher price - but there were none left when I booked.
However, Pontins informed us that the chalets were to be refurbished for 2010. Can anyone report if this has been done??
My grandchildren were aged 6, and 4 and they really enjoyed what Pontins had to offer.
They loved the outside play area and met quite a few friends playing on the climbing frames.
The 6 year old enjoyed the Play Station area and they both enjoyed the indoor soft play area.
There is a good Nursery area with toys for baby and toddler age - though this could have been kept much cleaner in my opinion. In the same building there was art and craft equipment and tables. However they enjoyed the Indoor Swimming Pool best of all. This has a corkscrew slide which opens when there are enough staff to supervise it properly. I could not fault the supervision in the Pool area - in so many places this area is lax.
There is a Mini Golf Range and Quad Bike Enclosure. Older children can sign up for ta whole range of activities including a Climbing Wall, Zip Wire, Abseiling and Trampolining though you pay extra for these.
Possibly the worst area at Pakefield. The Children's Clubs are held in what looked like a 1950's Church Hall. Very dark, dull and featureless. It holds tennis tables and a craft table area where the poor Blue Coats try to interest multiple age children in various crafts.
Pakefield assured us that this would soon be totally refurbished. We didn't leave the children in any of the listed Clubs as there was not adequate supervision for their age. The Blue Coats do try their best though and our children fondly remember Heidi.
This was excellent as the children enjoyed it so much. It started at 6.30pm and each night there was an entertainer - magicians, clowns etc., which lasted for about an hour. At the end the Blue Coat in charge, normally Heidi holding a big coloured umbrella, would line the children up and they would follow her - all singing the children's Club song - up and round the grounds to the Adult Entertainment Hall. Here they would process down an aisle up to the foot of the stage and they could watch the first part of the Adult Show where all the Blue Coats dressed as different animals and led by Captain Croc. entertain them.
By the time this was finished - our two fell asleep the moment their heads touched the pillow.
I cannot make a comment on this as we could not leave the children. We took a few bottles of wine and enjoyed a nice end to the day sipping this outside the chalet. However there is the rest of the stage show and bars for the adults and the room appeared to be packed and lively.
Absolutely excellent. I think the Dining Hall had been refurbished for last year on a boat theme and, although it did not sport white tablecloths etc, the variety and quality of the food was excellent.
You could have a full English Breakfast, even kippers! or cereals, fruit, rolls etc. served buffet style with as much to eat and drink as you required.
There is a little cafe for lunch (or a Morrisons just up the road at the next roundabout.)
Evening Meals started at 5pm, which was ideal for us with young children.; they could eat and then get ready for the Children's Show at 6.30pm Again this was served buffet style with a variety of different menu's: a Salad and Fruit Bar, a fresh omelette or pancake bar, a meal of the day section a children's menu area and a choice of puddings. Our two enjoyed going for a bit of each - all by themselves - and there was always something to feed the baby with; we took most of the baby jars we had taken back home with us.
Because the children enjoyed Pontins so much (or Pontipines as they called it after the CBeebies programme) and got so much out of it we found this short stay a great success. It is really a holiday camp for families with children or grandparents taking their grandchildrern. I don't think I would choose it as an adult holiday - though they do have some good themed week-ends throughout the year which I think I might enjoy. I would certainly go again and the children are already asking if we are going to 'Pontipines' this year.
The staff are very friendly, there are lots of places to visit outside the camp eg Africa Live, Pleasurewood Hills and The Norfolk Broads. There is also a little trail leading down to a quiet beach which provides the seaside aspect.
Children active and happy, food plentiful and good. What more could you want for well under £400.
I have just recently returned (or should I say survived) from a holiday a one of the few remaining Pontins holiday centres left in the UK with the help of The Sun and their £9.50 holiday deal. This review then is of my experience in Brean Sands near the town of Burnham on Sea in Somerset. Amazingly enough, Brean Sands was also the very first Pontins opened by then owner Fred Pontin in 1946.
Pontins is primarily a family holiday destination with the emphasis on children. For adults it seems to be a place where you can let your children run feral and free while you get absolutely plastered. For many, this happens every day in every tower block in every run down city suburb - here that activity it transposed from urban centre to sunny seaside resort.
Our 'chalet' was as flimsy as a cardboard shoe box, and almost the same size. Unfortunately we had to squeeze four adults and two children into this tight chamber which was no bigger than a box on Deal or No Deal. Added to that the place was quite disgusting, everything everywhere seemed to be found under a thin film of grime which caked everything from the plates, to the bed sheets and every fruit machine within a hundred metre radius of the central building.
There were literally hundreds of these dorms spread out in lines like a Del Boy's flats fallen over. It seemed everyone else was as stunned as we were with the lack of enthusiasm and general dilapidated appearance of Brean Sands Pontins. For some it might be great, but for me I want to go somewhere and enjoy a bit of luxury (exactly what was I was doing at Pontins then you might ask!) - if not luxury, then at least a bit of cleanliness!
-----------The Main Complex---------------
The main building houses all of the food and evening entertainment that Pontins has to offer. I have never known a lobby like the one at Brean Sands. It was chocka full of fruit machines and gambling opportunities. This is Pontins' cash cow. However, rather than winning money the machines spew out 'vouchers'. Collect enough vouchers and you can cash them on for 'prizes'. For example 8000 tokens will get you a Spongebob Squarepants novelty spoon.
There is also a main ballroom where the Bluecoats entertain in the evenings. To be honest, the Bluecoats are hardworking kids who have boundless energy and do their best to entertain the wild feral children that populate the camp.
While this can be entertaining for five year olds, the adults are free to sit and scoff their watery hot dogs and glug 8 pint pitchers of Strongbow.
There is also a pub and a restaurant attached to the main complex. I had a cup of tea in the cafe for 95p, but we never had the stomach to get any food here.
Toilets were gross. One woman when we got there was audibly shouting at reception about the fact that there was faeces on the floor next to the toilet entrance- as well as being urine all over the floor. Not good!
As well as drinking yourself into oblivion there are also things to do at Pontins. I saw a small crazy golf course and a high ropes course. There is a pool and a soft play area - again mainly aimed at kids. When we were there the Bluecoats put on a pretty good show based on the music of Michael Jackson. This could only be described as a better than average tribute to a dead paedophile.
I wasn't expecting much from a Pontins holiday, but I was expecting a certain level of cleanliness which Brean Sands was sorely lacking. If the UK is serious in 'staycationing' then we need to seriously look at places like this as sad remnants of our past.
I'm glad we were there for three evenings, as I think I may have gone insane after any longer. There are some interesting places to visit around Somerset - for instance Glastonbury and Weston Super Mare. I urge you to spend as little time at Pontins as possible and enjoy the beautiful Mendip landscape - go to Wookey Hole, see Cheddar Gorge - just don't live your life as a Bluecoat!
Not bad but you get what you pay for. we stayed there April 2010 and my main complaint would be that the Chalets are cold. I will say that ours was spotlessly clean and thank God didn't smell. Having read some of the reviews online I took my own bedding and thank God I did because it was that cold that I used theirs and mine (yep double duvets in April) I will balance it out a bit by saying that it was an exceptionally cold April though but still I didn't expect the Chalet to be quite that cold (and I have stayed in Chalets elsewhere before). Again, not Pontins fault, but it rained nearly the whole time we were there and I don't think there has been enough thought into indoor things to do, the indoor playarea did keep the kids entertained for a good 2 hours a day but other than the arcade this was about it. There was entertainment every night however there was too much emphasis on the adults, adult competitions etc. as a parent i would rather sit back and watch my kids have a good time. I can understand that there may be people there without kids who might enjoy different things I just don't feel that 8pm is the right time to be doing adult stuff, perhaps later when a majority of kids have been taken "home". The only other real negative I can say is that the entertainment was very samey, the Bluecoats do try really hard and are certainly friendly, but they are unfortunately a poor mans redcoat and most of the entertainment was provided by them. On the evenings when they had hired in entertainment it was very quirky and on so late that the kids didn't get to see it (the ventriloquist the Thurs night still hadn't started at 10.30pm). We did leave a day early mainly because we had a 5 month old baby with us and she was just getting cold in the chalet and has unfortunatly got a bad chest now from the experience. I won't say that we didn't have a good time, but I will say that to keep the kids amused we ended up spending a lot more money than we have at other holiday parks because the entertainment etc provided grew old very quick due to lack of variety. One tip if you think the Lunar Bar entertainment sounds interesting don't bother. We ventured across once to find a hall with no bar open and two bluecoats doing a sorta weird party game, think of the worst birthday party for kids you've ever been to and this is probably along the same lines. In summary perhaps I could just say that my 4 year old got so bored of the entertainment one night that we decided to have a quiet coke in the Queen Vic which had kareoke on, this was I can easily say the best evening and my 4 year old enjoyed watching that more than any of the online acts.
I have been going to Pontin's Pakefield, holiday centre, near Lowestoft, Suffolk for over 28 years. When, as an extended family there were three generations to cater for we went, very often, as a large group to Pakefield in Suffolk. It used to be great holiday centre in the 80's and 90's, but now I would go as far as to say that it is a dump and I will have to find somewhere else for a family get together.
There used to much more to do here, both inside and out. The Crocodile Express mini train could be seen regularly taking children and parents around the grounds. There were trampolines and a great adventure playground which even boasted a small boating lake for the children. Now all that remains is a small adventure playground, smaller every time I've visited in the last few years. Pontin's really have allowed this place to become run down. What was once an inviting, entertaining place to go, now has an air of desolation and neglect hanging over it. Such a shame.
I find the food almost inedible and I'm really not fussy. Also the dinner time is too, early ending around six to six thirty, depending on the season. I like to start my dinner around seven. If you don't get to the dining hall early- ish there will be very little choice. You'll be lucky to find cutlery or a tray to put your meal on. The queues for the jacket potatoes isn't worth waiting in.The food is served on a self service basis and it really is like a large canteen. no tablecloths! It's usually half board but it's hard to get anything reasonable to eat for lunch at the centre so be prepared to go out and spend. There are no cooking facilities in the chalets, only a kettle. When I first went to Pakefield for their new year break they made an effort. When you arrived at reception you were offered a glass of sherry and there was an air of celebration. The dinner hall was decorated with tablecloths, crackers and candles on the table. Now there is none of that. In fact you'll be lucky to find sherry served in the bar.
The drink is expensive and often they only open one bar out of three.
The entertainment has been the same for years. In our family we now have children watching the 'Dayglo' puppets doing exactly the same thing that their parents watched when they were children!
The Bluecoats used to be good but now seem to just show off! They aren't often very good. While people are singing in karaoke some bluecoats can be found rolling around on the floor playing with the children and talking. Not very polite for those on stage. I don't think they can be very well trained.
Accommodation isn't too bad, if you get a good price for your holiday, but it's far from perfect. The sheets and duvets are not large enough for the beds. Also the chalets are not very clean. I've yet to find one with a bathroom door that locks.The showers aren't much to right home about, and the bath is a shower tub. I don't mind this but many people complain. They are well heated though.
The camp overall seems run down and dreary. there isn't much to do during the day.
As I have said, I used to go here for New Year (and other times of the year) with a family group but they won't take children now at New Year, which, I think is terrible, as this place made it's money from families with children for many years and now they are picky as to when children can be welcomed.
I can't see Pakefield staying open for very much longer as it really does seem as if it is being run down on purpose. I think in this day and age people expect much more from a holiday.
This review may be read on Ciao by AnneLorraine1
I took my family to pontins 2 years ago. I sort of knew what to expect having holidayed at these type of holiday camps when I was younger. Due to finances this was our first ever family holiday and to say the kids were excited is an understatement. I should probably say that at this point my son was 7 and my daughter 15 so we wanted something to appeal to both of them.
We opted from Brean sands as this was the closest to us and we didnt want to travel for hours and hours.
What can I say about pontins? Hmmm well for a start I would not recommend it to anyone. Our chalet was dirty looking and while the childrens bedroom was a good size we had a bed setee in the front room (if you can call it that). The bed setee was one of the most uncomfortable things I have ever slept on. While myself and hubby didnt expect it to be great we didnt expect it to be as uncomfortable as it was.
The kitchen area was tiny, and considering this is meant for families self catering I found it far to small to cook anything and we ended up eating out mostly. The bathroom was okay but the shower itself was ridiculous. On a timer the water would only last for as long as it took for the button to work its way back out after being pressed in. While I dont need 30 minute showers it would be nice not to have to press the button just as your washing your hair with soap in your eyes.
The entertainment was passable, though I wouldnt go mad over it. I cant even remember what we saw in the evenings as my holiday was just plagued with dissapointment that the good things are difficult to remember. I do remember however that my son enjoyed the childrens entertainment except for the childrens club in the evenings.
The music is astonishingly loud for a childrens club, and my son doesnt like loud music so spent much of his time with his hands over his years before we gave up and left the club.
The bluecoats I found to be quite ignorant. My son at one point was on the dance floor along with loads of other kids sat on chairs in a line for a game. The blue coat was going from child to child asking name and where they travelled from. When he got to my son who has learning difficulties and speech problems he kept asking my son his name because he couldnt understand him. Before we could get to the dance floor to tell the bluecoat he gave up but not before making it obvious to the other adults in gestures and tone that he couldnt be bothered and found our son a bit strange. While my son looks like your average child once you watch him or talk to him it's obvious he has learning difficulties and I would have expected pontins staff to be a bit more aware of how to deal with children with a disability.
The shops are as expected overpriced (though this applys to most holiday camps so no surprises there as it was expected) and the fish and chip shop shut at some ridiculous time like 9pm.
The whole camp looked shabby and there were even signs for ballrooms which didnt even exist. Not that I wanted to go to a ballroom but im sure you get my point.
The only good things I can say is that they did a deal on childrens coke where you could buy a large plastic cup thing and get it refilled (i cant remeber if it was cheap or free but do remember it was a good deal none the less). The arcade wasnt so bad either. We spent a lot of time on the 2p machines as there wasnt much else to do, and at least we only ever came out about £1 down each time as it actually paid out well.
The holiday was so appalling and we felt so bad for our daughter for whom it was her first holiday that when we came back we immediately booked 4 days at Butlins even though we couldnt really afford it.
I personally think Pontins has had it's day and either needs pulling down or at least modernising with staff training thrown in.
OOOh Ive just remembered one more thing which at the time really annoyed me. On our last day we treated ourselves to breakfast in the camps restaraunt/cafe. My son had a bowl of cereal and we had to pay extra or the milk to go on his cereal. I have never heard such a stupid thing that cereal is sold (not cheap either it was around £1 + ) without milk.
Pontins at Brean Sands Somerset
No longer a hi-di-hi experience with heavy tents that falls down in the midnight rainstorm, or the dirty dancing encounter where your parents assume that you love to sit huddled in the corner whilst some drab old man stands on the stage telling ridiculous and un-funny jokes that make you wish you had stayed at the bottom of the pool and never emerged. These days holiday camps have had a vast improvement and whilst I can not comment on all of them around the country, or all of this particular camp, though let me take you to Brean Sands in Somerset to the campsite of Pontins where we recently stayed for a week.
***Location : Brean, Somerset***
Brean is situated on the coast of Somerset between Burnham-on-sea and Weston Super-Mare. Brean itself is a very quaint and quiet village size place with sandy beaches running right next to the Pontins campsite right through to Berrow which is another small village size area just down the road. It is about 15 minutes away from Burnam and about 25 minutes from Weston which is the bigger seaside resort area and possibly the best place to go into for the beach and amusements.
There are many places you can visit around the area, though you will need a car or be open to traveling on public transport and a lot of the area within an hour drive either way is centered around children. Yes, there are places to go and see, such as Cheddar caves and gorge, though a lot of places you will feel out of place if just visiting without any children. Great for family holidays, though.
I don't want to go into too much detail about the surrounding area as this is a review mainly upon the Pontins here, though I will attempt to write a more in depth review of Brean, Burrow, Weston and surrounding areas at a later date if my 5 month old daughter allows me!
One thing I will mention, though, is about the beaches in this area. Whilst sandy with many places to park with varying prices, the area has the second greatest rise and fall of tides causing dangerous sinking mud/sand in various points. All these are sign posted, though it must be something to be aware of. Also due to this are very strong currents. On our recent holiday it was too cold to go into the sea so I can't say from personal experience what it was exactly like, though this is also something to be aware of.
***Pontins, Brean Sands***
And now onto what this review is centered around. Pontins site of Brean Sands situated a few minutes walk from Brean and Berrow beach.
After our four hour journey, we were eager to step out of the car and stretch our legs. Check-in wasn't until 3pm unless you were a club member, though you were free to go to the site pub (The Queen Victoria!) or restaurant or wander around the amusements in the main reception area. We went into the pub area and sat and had a quiet drink, though unfortunately some drunk decided to cause some trouble and crashed into some glasses knocking them onto a poor little girl and started coming our way - the staff acted quickly here and one great staff member came and stood by us and even when his boss asked him to go do something, he replied that her didn't want to until the drunk had been sorted out because of the baby. It made me feel really safe and a few other staff members came up to ask if we were alright afterwards. Not a great start to the holiday, though it did get better!
Some advice: If not a club member, start queuing at check in desk early as the ine went on for ages!
Finally we had our keys and the chalets (the camp site only had chalets) were well positioned in both being able to find them and also near by somewhere you can park your car. After a couple of return journeys to unpack our things, we finally began our holiday!
There are three types of chalets at this Pontins; Budget, Classic and Club - the later being the most expensive, though I will discuss costs further down.
We stayed in the budget chalet which was quaint though perfect for myself, my husband and baby daughter. The slide glass door opens into a small living area with a sofa double bed (which was average comfort, though putting duvets from unused single beds under sheet helped!), a portable television (without scart sockets so no use taking a freeview box!) on a chest of draws. There is a small round table and four chairs further back near a dressing mirror and the kitchen is off to the right all in one open room. The kitchen has a decent storage with a cooker, sink and worktops. The usual pans and plates etc are included, though if you want a decent size cup of coffee - take your own cup!
The bathroom is perhaps the best part of the chalet. It is just off of the kitchen area and is a decent size with shower and mini bath, sink, toilet, large mirror on wall with sideboard, radiator and towel rails. The shower was slightly annoying, though, as you had to keep pressing the button otherwise the water would turn off automatically and you would be standing there freezing! There is also one single room off of the living area with cupboard space in the middle and a singe bed either end. Our baby slept in her travel cot between the two beds with plenty of room either side which shows the length of the room.
Clean and folded bed linen was waiting for us when we arrived and there were adequate plug sockets around the chalet. The one gripe we had with this chalet was the ants!
Sound wise, each chalet is in a long block and occasionally we heard our neighbors but we were lucky enough to have decent neighbors. All chalets are well lit outside to aid with late night return, though it was slightly annoying having a bright light on all night right outside the room you are sleeping and the curtains were not exactly thick.
I'll include some main photos of the chalet though here is a budget chalet diagram
Although we didn't sleep in the other two types of chalet I thought its best to describe what I know - please note, though, the following two are not personal experience accounts.
The classic chalets are three bedroom apartments with all the same things as the budget though from what I understand, in a slightly larger capacity. Here couples can actually have a private room with double bed rather than living area sofa bed and there are two other single rooms, one with two single beds and the other with one, as well as the double sofa bed. Bathroom and kitchen area looks the same size as budget though slightly different layout.
Classic apartment diagram:
From what I understand it to be, club apartments are for members, though please correct me if I am wrong. The club apartments are two bedrooms; a double bed room and a single room with one bed, as well as double sofa bed. Bathroom seems same size though bigger living area with more room around table. I believe that you also get digital television included in this package as well as a microwave oven which we missed for our babys food, and also apparently complementary tea and coffee, though how much I don't know.
Diagram of Club apartment:
For more information please ring Pontins, Brean Sands
***Discovering Brean Sands***
Brean Sands is quite a small site from others I have been to, though was quite a busy site with lots going on around, though I must warn adults without children - if you are the sort of people who prefer staying on the campsite in the day rather than going out and about, this site is mainly aimed for youngsters between the age of 3-17 in the day. There are a selection of adult only activities, though, but many of these were not open as they did not seem to have enough people for them at time we went.
*PGL Go Active*
Many of these activities for under 17's are subject to a cost which may vary. To find out more, call 0844 576 5930Included in this section are:
* Abseiling and Climbing Wall - We saw this going on one day we were there at the back of the site with two staff members present. The climbing and absailing wall is reasonably high.
* Zip wire and high ropes - We only saw this briefly near out chalet. The line is reasonably high.
* Karting - A very small area for karting
* Snorkeling - Unsure of where this occurs. Wasn't in day planner we received.
* Trapeze - Another activity which I did not see in the day planner.
* Archery - I didn't see any archery targets around, though these could have been brought out when needed.
* Quads - The hire of quads is available though I a unsure of what area you are allowed to ride and on-site I couldn't see a whole lot of space for them.
All the family can participate in certain activities as follows, though still most are aimed for youngsters. Included are;
* Various sport days - Soccer, Rugby, Table tennis, basketball, volleyball
* Crazy golf - A tiny area set aside for this. Not really worth it.
* Circus skills
* Cabarets (please see clubhouse section of review for more information)
* Snooker and pool
As with most sites like Pontins and Bultins there are always some great entertainment for children. The children's gang of friends include Captain Croc (A large crocodile) a duck lady and an action man person (sorry names have gone from my mind). We saw these a few times in early evening at clubhouse and were quite good.
Childrens shows were going on in early evening into the night until 9.00/10.00 depending upon what else was happening. At the time we went, they were doing High School Musical shows which were actually really good.
There are also a section for 'Ponteenies' where your young children can take part in the following;
* Face painting
* Play area
* Nursery pool (see H2O section below for more information)
* More live entertainment
* Slides and childrens fun cars
For me, the clubhouse at a site like this is perhaps one of the most important parts of night time holiday. If the clubhouse is rubbish then the campsite generally is, though I can safely say that this clubhouse was great.
The clubhouse is very large in size with stage and dancefloor at front with section for photographer to take photos of you and your family, Many tables and chairs around the whole hall including in the bar area at the back which is also very large, though as usual, quite expensive. Also at the back end is a fast food area and a hot dog stall. We didn't eat anything from fast food area, but you must try one of the hotdogs. They are quite expensive, but they are huge and absolutely delicious!
Early evening in the clubhouse centers around young children with above activities. Bingo sales open at 6.00pm and bingo starts at 7pm for about 1 hour. We took part in a couple of games but unfortunately won nothing. There are about 8 games, some one line games and other full house games and depending upon how many are playing, could mean a pay out of over £100 for a winning full house.
At 8.00pm there was usually music and then a show of some kind for the family, High School Musical was playing which was great.
At around 9pm ish adult competitions occurred which was anything from silly games to group competitions - very funny and entertaining.
At approximately 10pm live cabaret came on and this was brilliant each night. Two which stood out for us were who I call the monkey man who was a stand up comic with puppets - trust me, he was brilliant. On the last night we had a trio of comics called the madhatters which were hilarious - pure adult comedy and unforgetful.
Clubhouse stayed open until way after midnight each night.
The bluecoats of Pontins, Brean Sands, were very helpful and kind. As mentioned at the beginning of this review, a problem was sorted out and bluecoats aided in the care of out little baby girl - something I am very grateful for. Most were really brilliant with the children and a lot of fun with the adults. Most were young, possibly between the ages of 18 and 27, so had bundles of energy.
*Baby Changing and Disabled Access*
The facilities at this site were quite good. As a new mum, baby changing areas are a lifesaver as well as easy access areas for pushchairs (and of course disabled people) and this was all available. There was no where which had limited access and baby changing was available in main womens toilets in main reception area. Mens toilets did not have this which I always feel is wrong as there are some single dads out there with babies but I guess this is normal.
*Food and Drink*
There were many options for eating out at this site. Of course, all chalets are self catering and we ate in a couple of nights, though eating out was a good choice too.
The main restaurant was next to the Queen Victoria pub in the main part of the site with adequate seating and high chair availability. Food the first night was really lovely. I had a chicken and bacon dish and was served hot and very quickly. The second night eating out, though, we both had a 6oz burger and chips and were very disappointed as the burgers were burned and the chips were cold. Prices were average, though more on that below.
Captain Cods fish and chips shop was also on the site though opened very late on the days we were there so suffice to say, too late for us to eat and therefore we didn't get our fish and chips on the beach (there is an off-site fish and chip shop just down the road).
As mentioned in clubhouse section, you also have fast food place and hotdog area which opens in evenings.
The on site pub, The Queen Vic, is very small though outside seating is available. Karaoke and quizzes run in the evenings here
Luna's Bar - another pub area where competitions and more cabaret goes on only for older teens and adults. We didn't go here, though, so unfortunately I cant comment on this area more that I have done.
The main shop is near the main reception and sells and range of food for cooking in your chalet as well as souvenirs, magazines, cigarettes, alcohol and much more - a mini supermarket with slightly corner shop prices!
There is a character store and trick or treat store for all the children activity souvenirs, Halloween type things and cuddly toys which is in the clubhouse area.
There is also a launderette which is coin operated.
I would like to mention here that we got this holiday via the Sun newspaper deals which was about £9.50 per person and so a real bargain and we couldn't have been happier!
For chalet prices without this you are looking at between £100-£200 for three to four nights so I would definitely recommend the Sun deal.
Costs around the site are average for these sites, a little more than you would find at home perhaps. For example, our food cost approximately £6-10 in the restaurant (a main meal) and alcohol prices were possibly up to 50p more than in a usual pub which isn't too bad.
Did we enjoy our holiday?
Most definitely! The site was brilliant, though we did spend all of the days off site as there were only myself, my husband and 5 month old daughter so not a lot to do in the day, but evenings and nights were great.
Would I recommend this site?
For certain, especially for family holidays. Perhaps too much is aimed for youngsters than some adults would like, though Im hoping to write a review on Brean and surrounding area at a later date so you can see more of what is available around the area.
i booked with pontins in brean sands 8th aug to 15 thinkin it would be great for me and my family for entertainment i checked out the accomadation onlile which looked lovely so i could wait to arrive how disapointed was i the place was dirty the sofa bed was broken the bath leaked everywhere there was a bad smell in bedroom which my daughter had to sleep in the cot was no good and the blankets they gave me were horrible i wouldnt give a dog to sleep on the entertainment was rubbish the staff couldnt crack a smilie how disapointin esp it our first holiday as a family
have been going to pontins for years with my 4 sons, they are now grown up and i decided to take my grandaughter what a MISTAKE , we went to Blackpool from the 13th to the 17th of july, we booked half board classic,the room was filthy in great need of refurbishment, the meals were disgusting hardly any choice for children we were supposed to get £75 pounds of vouchers ( false advertising) they said they had run out of them lot of RUBBISH they know in advance how many apartments they are hiring out we had booked 5 apartments between my family that was £375 pounds worth of vouchers they had saved of our family, how MUCH did they save from the rest of the apartments that had rented out? As for entertainment!!!!!!!!!! what a joke there was none of the entertainment ADVERTISED on, it was the holiday makers who did the entertainment get pulled up to participate in competitions, the blue coats did nothing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i will never go back to pontins again it used to be a really good holiday especially for children not now, what a disappointing time we had!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Pontin's provides fun-filled family holidays in different locations in the UK.