My husband and I decided that we would like to have a break in the first half of the year (we’re going to Tenerife in September with my parents) with our 2 year old girl – our first “proper” holiday that we’ve done alone without other family! Usually we rent holiday homes, but as there was only the 3 of us and we wouldn’t have in-built baby sitters we decided to try a Haven where everything we could need would be available on our doorstep. This was a very different type of holiday for us, so we weren’t sure if we were going to like it, but hey, you have to try everything once right?
We chose Haven Devon Cliffs, mainly because we thought Cornwall would be that little bit too far to drive, but also because there seemed to be a lot to do in the surrounding area. While I could happily lay on a sun-lounger all day, our daughter (and my husband for that matter) need to be almost constantly entertained so we always like to have a variety of day trips nearby.
My husband had sent a message to Haven a week before to ask for a caravan near to the main building as he had read that the park was massive and with a little one in toe walks to the main building could take a very long time, plus there is no “street” lighting for late walks home. We were literally right opposite, you could hear the noise until everything shut down at midnight, but it didn’t bother any of us and I am usually quite disrupted by even the faintest sounds.
We had also asked for the twin room to be emptied of beds so that we could put a travel cot up, this hadn’t been done, but we had been given a 3 bed caravan so we emptied the furniture from one room into the other and having a “junk” room was actually very helpful for dumping suitcase etc. We had a couple of other queries while we there with lack of hot water and windows not shutting properly, but these were all resolved within hours of us reporting them.
The caravan itself was very clean and the living quarters were actually quite spacious with a reasonable amount of storage (although a tiny fridge and even smaller freezer which would not be very practical if you were planning to cook most of your own meals). The basic kitchen appliances were supplied, which considering you’re probably not going to be cooking a 3 course dinner was more than adequate. The bedrooms were small, but big enough to get around in and we were only sleeping in them so it didn’t really matter. The curtains were all thin and let a lot of light in, so we did have to buy some pegs to put our towels up over them so we didn’t have to wake up with the 4am sunrise! The door did lock internally but was quite easy for our daughter to undo and open so we had to be very stern with her not to open it, I can imagine this could be a problem for younger inquisitive children, because once open it’s a bit of stumble down the steps!
The actual Haven site is what made the holiday worth the money. The main building had lots of arcade games (luckily our little girl was too young to make that too expensive for us) and a 2 storey soft play area which can be viewed on both levels, so you can always keep an eye on your little one. There were Papa Johns and Burger King outlets as well as a Haven pub akin to Whetherspoons and a smaller bar, on top of this there were 2 big venue rooms, with tons of seating, that hosted quizzes and shows. In one venue the entertainment until 9pm was focused around the children and even our 2 year old joined in dancing and cheering. It is VERY family friendly, there were people with children in buggies, boogying on the dance floor or asleep on laps, as well as those who left early to get the kids into bed – whatever you wanted to do. 10pm was the latest our little girl stayed up, so we didn’t make any of the main shows, except one night when we thought we’d give the comedy a go, but it was pretty much the least funny thing I have ever seen so we didn’t stay too long for that, but we did catch the end of a show before that and it was a similar standard to what we’ve previously seen in a Thomson Gold hotel – so watchable and enjoyable, but not west end standard.
The park also has a giant indoor swimming pool with a massive shallow/ walking area as well as big swimming end, a few slides and lots of water jets – our little girl loved it in here, she normally happily lasts 30 minutes at a swimming lesson, but the 2 times we used the pool we were dragging her out after 2 hours. There is also a nice outdoor pool, as well as a quieter outdoor pool that looked to be affiliated with the spa. Outside there are tennis and basketball courts, a high wire/ adventure trail and trampolines, which we didn’t use and a 9 hole adventure golf course that we did use . From the brochures it looked like all sorts of activities were organised each day, but our daughter was too young to participate in these and we enjoyed going off-site to explore.
The nicest surprise of the park was down at the beach, a lovely restaurant/ bar on the top of the cliffs over looking the bay and next to it a giant sand-pit play area, as well as the lovely beach cove, which is only accessible from the park.
We had lovely days out at Paignton Zoo, which is just gorgeous and probably the nicest zoo I’ve ever been to, as well as Crealy Adventure Park (you can use Tesco vouchers) which had rides, play areas, animals, shows and a water splash park. I would highly recommend Crealy to anyone in the area with children aged 2 -12, after that the rides and attractions possibly get a bit too small/ young for them. We also enjoyed a day trip to Torquay and an afternoon at Becky Falls in Dartmoor, but weren’t so enamoured with Sidmouth which didn’t have much to see/ do.
Food wise we had breakfast in our caravan as well as a couple of other meals if we had eaten while out and about, but I would recommend searching your Sat Nav for a local supermarket if you need to buy a large amount of food as the Spar on site was very expensive, albeit handy. We ate at the site pub once the food was OK but overpriced for what you got, the beach restaurant was lovely and we also ate in each of the pubs at the entrance to the park, both of which offer nice pub food. The other very expensive thing was laundry – I hadn’t intended to do any so didn’t have any detergent with me, but my daughter had other ideas and it cost me £7.50 for a wash and 2 tumble drying cycles – ouch!
All in all we had a lovely holiday, the site was lovely, with all the amenities you could possibly need. Items that you had to pay for were a bit over-priced, but I would definitely recommend Haven Devon Cliffs to a family who were looking to go to a location where there is lots to see and do in the surrounding area, but all the entertainment and facilities you may need on site too.
by Suzanne Trapp