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Five things to love about holiday parks

La Garangeoire

If you read this blog regularly, you’ll know we’re big fans of holiday parks (also known as cabin holidays, if you’re from the US). Over the years we’ve stayed in a few: in the Netherlands, by a beach close to Hook of Holland; and in France, in the Vendée, Brittany and the Loire Valley.

We had a great time at our holiday parks. I’ve heard of people staying in places that haven’t been up to scratch, but if you pick a decent holiday park, you can have a brilliant family holiday. Here’s why.

Getting close to nature

Strandpark Vlugtenburg

Our holiday park cabin in the Netherlands overlooked a small lake.

Some holiday parks are based on the outskirts of cities, so that guests can do a bit of sightseeing. But most are set in countryside: in the mountains or fields, by a beach, a lake or a river. If you choose a cabin with a verandah, you can eat dinner, or take breakfast al fresco. Waking up in a cabin feels very different to being in a holiday cottage. There’s only a thin wall between you and the birdsong, sunshine and – sometimes – the raindrops.

More comfortable than camping

And that’s the thing: when it rains you get the same pitter-patter cosy feel as you do in a tent, except that there’s a heater to keep you warm. And a kitchen with at least a hob, and sometimes an oven and even a dishwasher. You can’t expect luxury linen (unless you bring your own), but the beds are real beds, and you usually have separate rooms for the kids to sleep in. Depending on whether or not you want to really get away from things, you can even pay a bit extra for a TV.

Siblu

Our holiday park kitchen in Brittany, France

Safe for children to roam

Holiday parks are safe places, where it’s easier to give your children more freedom than they have at home. Cars have to drive dead slow, and speed limits are strictly enforced. When we were in Brittany we let our son cross the road by our cabin on his own, so he could go to the playground unaccompanied – something we’d never be able to do at home in London. And in the Vendée, there were children roaming round on bicycles in packs, having a whale of a time without the grown-ups.

Staff and amenities on-site

Most holiday parks have staff on site 24/7, so you can always get help if you need it. In our experience, staff have been a discreet but visible presence. You’ll see them travelling around on bikes or in motorised buggies, delivering welcome packs and (in some parks) pastries for breakfast, or meat for a barbeque. But they won’t bother you unless you want them to. Most holiday parks have at least one small shop, where you can buy provisions, and a launderette; some also have restaurants, bars, and health spas.

Fun family activities

La Garangeoire

Lots of holiday parks run kids’ clubs in the school holidays, with sessions in the morning or afternoon, or all day. You can usually sign up for as many or as few of these sessions as you want, and they’ll include activities like painting and crafting, outdoor games like treasure hunts or football, and possibly even trips to an on-site pool or lake. Some holiday parks run evening activities, like music or comedy gigs, karaoke or foam parties. We’ve found the entertainment varies wildly from park to park, so do investigate further to make sure you get the sort of park that suits you and your family. Also worth checking, is whether your park has a pool with slides (many do), horseriding, tennis, mini golf, bike hire and anything else that your family likes to do.

La Garangeoire

Go-karting in the Vendée

Have you been to a holiday park? What did you think?

Read about some of our visits to holiday parks in Europe:

  • La Garangeoire
    A family holiday at La Garangeoire, Vendée, France

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8 Comments

  • Tracey Williams
    February 28, 2017 at 8:48 pm

    We have stayed at many holiday parks over the years in the UK, but would love to try one in Europe one time. Our favourite accommodation is staying in lodges. I think some we have stayed in have been better than our house. Pure luxury, especially if they have hot tubs too x

    Reply
    • Nell
      March 22, 2017 at 10:13 pm

      Ah yes, we did a hot tub stay in Sherwood forest. Pure bliss!

      Reply
  • Annabel
    March 1, 2017 at 2:35 pm

    Great post, we’re definitely going to be visiting holiday parks over the next few years. Your kitchen in France looked really luxurious! I’m keen to try Corsica or Sardinia as villas tend to be a bit pricey so a holiday park would be a more affordable alternative.

    Reply
    • Nell
      March 22, 2017 at 10:10 pm

      Yes, I think they’re such good value.

      Reply
  • Plutonium Sox
    March 2, 2017 at 10:41 pm

    Oh gosh, this is something I’m seriously considering this year as a lot of them take dogs. I’m finding it quite difficult to find nice pet-friendly places and some of the holiday parks seem to be ideal.
    Nat.x

    Reply
    • Nell
      March 22, 2017 at 9:50 pm

      Hmmm, you’ve got me thinking – I wonder if they take rabbits? Now we have our two, we need to try and factor them into some of our travel plans!

      Reply
  • Steve | Big Stevie Cool Food Blog
    March 13, 2017 at 12:09 pm

    We love holiday parks – always lots for the kids to do and you get spacious accommodation.

    Reply
    • Nell
      March 22, 2017 at 8:47 pm

      Yes, and they always feel very safe, so kids can have a bit more of a free rein….

      Reply

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