recommended family holidays blog

summer 2014: why not try a holiday park? part one: holiday lodges

Previously I often wondered why so many families chose to go on holiday to a caravan park in the summer, naively assuming their decisions were solely based on cost (sorry!) That was until I started my own holiday business and discovered that actually in peak summer, they are not necessarily the cheapest holiday around – so why go there?
I thought I would give it a try to see what I was missing, so in both October half term 2012 and 2013, we packed up the car, the kids, the bikes and what felt like the kitchen sink and headed off to try two different holiday parks in the UK. In 2012 we went to Darwin Forest near Matlock in the Peak District – the luxury version of a holiday park with accommodation in log cabins or lodges as they are more popularly known. In 2013, we headed south to Camber Sands near Hastings in East Sussex for the traditional caravan holiday, staying in a static caravan virtually on the beach with a family entertainment programme pretty much all day every day. So what did we think?

Darwin Forest, near Matlock, Peak District

We arrived in the dark in thick fog (what do you expect, it is England in late October) so we couldn't appreciate the stunning setting of this park which I can only describe as breath-taking or "awesome" as my kids would say. The park isn't huge, which suited us parents perfectly, but it really is set within a wood hence the name. Reception was busy yet very polite and efficient and sent us on our way to find our cabin with the keys. You could drive around and park right outside which was particularly useful given the amount of kit we seemed to have. Each of the holiday lodges were really well spaced apart between the pines, so it didn't feel like you were staying on top of your neighbour (who, by the way, had a tempting private hot tub on their verandah). Someone had thoughtfully put the heating on and the gas effect fire creating a really welcoming effect. The kids dashed off to check out their bedroom whilst I had a more leisurely look around. I had booked us a 2 bedroom lodge and was surprised how big it actually was – there was an open plan lounge, diner, kitchen with that all essential dishwasher, a double & a twin bedroom which although not huge were perfectly adequate and a small yet fully functional bathroom. If I am honest, I actually felt relief – it was much better than I had imagined and was really, really cosy.
The next morning the boys and my husband went out to investigate (as you may know, I am disabled so I stayed in bed enjoying my holiday reading!) All I can say is they came back completely plastered in mud, beaming! They had been around the adventure assault course, taken their bikes around the very muddy woodland track and tried out the playground. They had also checked out the indoor play barn (which cost extra) and the indoor pool so of course they now wanted to go for a swim! So, having made them change out of their dirty gear (I just chucked it outside), we went off to play games in the pool. On the walk back, we grabbed a few things from the onsite shop for lunch – we could pop down the local supermarket tomorrow. That afternoon, the kids were back out on their own exploring the woods with the strict instructions to stay together and remain in shouting distance from our log cabin. When evening came, we couldn't be bothered to cook so headed to the onsite pub/restaurant for a beer and dinner – it was lovely and my husband was thrilled to see real ale on tap! We also found out that they were happy to do take-away so several evenings during our stay, James would take the kids to play in the games room and have a beer whilst he waited for food and then we would sit around the own table in the comfort of our holiday lodge.
We didn't spend every day onsite during our short break, spending several days exploring the local tourist attractions and countryside. The rest of my family are keen cyclists so often I would be detailed to drop them off at one end of a cycle track and pick them up at the other where we would enjoy hot chocolate and cakes. What I can say is that we all thoroughly enjoyed our holiday – there was something for everyone and the park offered good value accommodation and facilities. I was impressed and would certainly go back there again. Holiday lodges can come in all shapes and sizes:
We booked via the agent, Hoseasons, who I have a partnership with and the online booking process was easy, secure & efficient. Actually they are the biggest providers of self catering holidays in the UK, offering parks, lodges & cottages but they are only agents, the parks themselves are either privately owned or run by a smaller chain. Hoseasons also offer a range of activity holiday locations, called their "Go Active breaks" which are designed to keep the kids busy whilst you relax (or join in of course). Locations include:

Whatever you choose, I can certainly recommend staying in a holiday lodge.
Article By Lucilla Paull 14 January 2014

comments on book your holiday now

Please click contact me if you would like to leave some comments on my article and I will add them here