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
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.
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
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.
Have you been to a holiday park? What did you think?
Read about some of our visits to holiday parks in Europe:
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