This review is by Karen Whitlock who writes a wonderful blog over at Stopping at Two. Karen travelled to White Acres Holiday Park for a family holiday with her husband and two girls. Click here to see more from Karen. You can also follow Karen on twitter @karenjwhitlock.
During the Whitson Bank Holiday weekend we were invited to go on a Parkdean Holiday. Parkdean were Bronze winners in the 2014 British Travel Awards in the “Best UK Holiday Park Operator” category and have 24 family holiday parks across the UK. We chose to visit White Acres Holiday Park near Newquay.
The accommodation at White Acres is a choice between lodges and caravans. We stayed in a Tregone caravan which sleeps 6-8, having a double bedroom, two twin rooms and additional sleeping space in the living room area which was ample for our family of four. The caravan had double glazing and central heating and was plenty warm enough for us when we arrived after 10pm on the Friday evening.
I haven’t stayed in a caravan since I was a child, so it was really interesting to stay in one as an adult with kids of my own. I was expecting it to be fairly cramped and “basic” but it was far from that, with a decent living space area inside and decking with seating outside, and was clean and comfortable. The kitchen was well equipped with gas cooker, grill, microwave, fridge/freezer and all the utensils you would need for a self-catering holiday.
Unsurprisingly we hit traffic on the M5 as we travelled down to Cornwall from Gloucester and didn’t arrive until after 10pm, by which time the reception was closed. However, I very quickly found a member of the security team who was expecting us, sorted out the key to the caravan and a map of how to get to it. With it being dark at this point he insisted on driving over to our caravan so we could follow behind him without getting lost. He also checked that all was OK with our central heating and that we were happy with the caravan before he went.
The girls were fast asleep when we arrived, but there was a fantastic surprise waiting for them – some lovely goodies from the Parkdean mascots Sid and Lizzie. They quickly found these in the morning, got their Parkdean caps on (always on back-to-front for Emily) and very surprisingly decided who was having which toy without any argument.
We were all keen to get out and explore the park. Our caravan looked out over one of the 13 lakes on the site and there were already keen anglers out around the lake fishing when we set out. What I really loved about the park itself was there was plenty of indoor and outdoor activities to keep the girls entertained. There is an indoor swimming pool, with a separate toddler pool (and also a sauna and Jacuzzi for adults) which was heated so was a really pleasant temperature.
There was also a large indoor playroom with soft play. The girls were in heaven when they saw this. There was a small ball pit and play area for younger children, a huge blackboard space and tables and chairs for drawing, a little lending library and a much larger soft play area with ball pit and slide. There were also sofas for parents “watching” their kids play.
It was always going to be a battle getting them out of the soft play, but thankfully it was turning out to be a lovely sunny day so we suggested that we find the Galleon Adventure Playground. One thing I really liked about the site was that there were lots of small play areas dotted around, so that regardless of where your accommodation was, there was somewhere close to keep the kids busy. The Galleon play area was the largest. The Galleon itself was surrounded by sand and with areas to climb on, explore and slide down could keep the kids well entertained. There was also another climbing frame for smaller children (although Emily was far more interested in playing on the big ship), a dinosaur slide and a small crazy golf course.
Aside from the indoor and outdoor play areas, there was also plenty more to entertain the whole family at White Acres. For children there were two kids clubs: Star Landers for pre-school to age 10 and Freestyle for ages 10 to 15. In the evening, the Lakeside Club has live entertainment from the Parkdean Troupers as well as live music, comedy, talent shows and bingo. There is also an amusement arcade. In the time it took me to go to the toilet, Rich had a tub of £1 of 2 pence pieces and he and both the girls were feeding coins into the 2p machines. They were very proud of the fact that they then won two “Frozen” key rings, although I am not sure what a 4 and 1 year old are going to do with a key ring each!
As I mentioned previously, the kitchens in the accommodation are well equipped for self-catering and there is a small supermarket (with bakery and off-licence) on site as well as larger ones within a few miles. However, if you don’t fancy cooking, there are plenty of other options available at White Acres. There is the Polkerris Bar, Pizzeria and Grill, and a Lounge with a Bar and Costa Coffee. You can get a takeaway from the “Catch of The Day Fish ‘n’ Chip shop” and all day breakfast and snacks at the “First Bite Café” by the lakes.
On Saturday evening we enjoyed a family meal in the Polkerris Bar, Pizzeria and Grill. There was a range of different foods to cater to all tastes and diets – including a choice of several vegetarian meals. The children’s menu was split into one for younger children and one for older ones. The girls were able to create their own meal with mix and match options to please fussy eaters.
At the end of the meal one of the Parkdean mascots – Lizzie – paid a visit to the restaurant to say “Hello” to the children. I think it made Freyja’s day – she had a hug from Lizzie and a huge grin on her face as I took their photo together.
We had breakfast at the “First Bite Café” one morning. With its close proximity to the lakes, the Fishing Lodge and serving All Day Breakfast, it is predominantly used by the anglers, but with high chairs available and child-friendly breakfasts it is more than suitable for families too.
Days Out Near White Acres
We spent our first day staying on White Acres site all day as there was so much to keep us busy, however, White Acres provides a perfect base for exploring some brilliant attractions in Cornwall. Obviously there are the beaches of the North Cornish coast – Newquay being about 5 miles away, but there are lots of other family friendly attractions close by. For animal lovers, there is Newquay Zoo, The Screech Owl Santuary, Blue Reef Aquarium and Dairyland Farm World. If you prefer flora to fauna, there are the amazing Lost Gardens of Heligan and the Eden Project with its iconic huge biomes. Having visited some of these previously, we decided to try Crealy Adventure Park. Here they had rides (suitable for small kids, bigger kids and dads who are still kids at heart), a huge soft play area, outdoor play areas and a variety of animals to see and pet.
What we really enjoyed about White Acres
The variety of entertainment and activities available on site and its proximity to a wide range of other attractions make it a fantastic base for a holiday in North Cornwall
The standard of the accommodation on site
Friendly, helpful staff
What we didn’t like as much
Despite being a large site, the various amenities could be accessed on foot, however there were no separate footpaths. There is a 10mph speed limit on site, but I would have felt happier walking around with two young children on a separate path.
Would we visit again?
Definitely. We were really pleased with our holiday at White Acres and there is so much to do in the local area that there is no question as to whether we would stay there again. We would also look at a holiday at any of the other Parkdean sites based on our experience at White Acres.
Disclaimer: We were invited to stay at White Acres in exchange for an honest review, but all opinions are our own and would holiday with Parkdean again and would thoroughly recommend a family holiday at White Acres.