I’ve been going to Haven with my family since I was four. For some people the great British “staycation” is their idea of hell, but for us, it’s tradition. No planes, no tropical sands, no extortionate luggage fees – just a car and a roofbox, miles of motorway and a good old Haven site.
We’ve been to many over the years, all across the UK – but for the last couple of years, we’ve been to parks owned by a different company instead. Haven was getting a bit tired – everything seemed to cost extra; the entertainment lost its zing; the customer service was really falling apart.
This year, my parents decided to take a chance on Haven again, and they asked SB and I to join them. I’ve got to admit, I was apprehensive about trying Haven again, but the park we were going to was one we’d visited in the past, and I knew it was a fairly good one. We had nothing to lose by trying it, so off we went.
Thorpe Park is in Cleethorpes in Lincolnshire. Cleethorpes has a reputation as one of those run-down, faded British seaside towns, but it’s actually very nice. The park is beautiful – it’s close to a gorgeous sandy beach where ships and tankers can be seen arriving in nearby Grimsby, with beautiful landscaping and fishing lakes surrounded by families of ducks and geese (with ducklings and goslings!). It’s great for walking dogs, or tiring out your toddler with a trek around the lakes.
We stayed in a nice caravan in the Lakeside area, which was lovely and close to all of the facilities. When we arrived the caravan was spotless – the beds were made up; the table was laid out for us and the feedback card even gave us the names of the staff who cleaned our caravan with room for feedback, which shows that they put a lot of effort into it. The caravan was spacious, with parking right outside and plenty of grassy space for the dogs to enjoy. Every morning we were able to watch the ducks waddling about, but we weren’t right on the waterfront – I don’t think a toddler plus unrestricted access to open water is a good idea.
We ate on-site on the first night, from the fish & chip shop. All of the restaurants and eateries seemed to be good value for money, and they knew their stuff when it came to allergies too, which had been a major stress for me in the run-up to the holiday. I didn’t want to spend the weekend having a reaction, after all! We ate at The Wellow, which is owned by the Hungry Horse chain, in Cleethorpes, and at The Pear Tree, a Marstons in Humberston. Both of these were fantastic – the service was quick and friendly, and The Pear Tree were great in helping us deal with a very noisy tantrum from a tired, hungry SB. On top of that, they were reliable with their allergen information, and the Hungry Horse even had a dedicated gluten-free menu.
The last few times we’ve been to Haven, we’ve been pretty disappointed with the entertainment. I first went to the Tiger Club when I was five, and I’ve collected loyalty awards, t-shirts, pin badges, all the way up until I was too old to go to it anymore. The evening entertainment was always fun, but there was always pressure to buy things – glow sticks for the disco, balloons for no discernible reason other than to make the journey home an absolute nightmare and so on. There was none of that here – instead, we went along to Ned and Polly’s Sing and Sign, an activity for under-4s where two of the characters taught sign language. If you’re familiar with the blog, you’ll know that SB loves her sign language, and she had a fantastic time learning “I Can Sing A Rainbow” and other songs, and she was a little bit awestruck by Polly herself! (I, on the other hand, suddenly felt very old when the characters referred to The Tiger Club Song as “so last century” – I can still do all of the moves… “We’re looking for tigers, we’re chasing the cheetahs…”). The evening entertainment was great too – we were all a little bit bemused by hearing Greedy the Gorilla rapping about the importance of four servings of fibre a day, but I think that’s just because I miss the days of Cocoavomango.
The last few times we went to Haven, we’ve come away thinking “I couldn’t have stayed any longer, there wasn’t enough to do”. There was none of that this time – I could gladly have extended that weekend break into a two week holiday had it not been for work (and missing Daf). The pool is fantastic – SB had the time of her life on the slide, even if it terrified me. She was the smallest coming down it by far, with kids twice her age clinging to the side and edging down slowly. Not my little daredevil – the excitement on her face as she hurled herself down this slide into the pool was infectious.
There was also a land train, which took us all around the park and was a lovely 50-minute trip. The driver was… a character, to say the least, but it was a lovely ride around and a chance to see all corners of the park, including the 9-hole golf course. There’s coarse fishing, climbing walls, sports courts, a small fairground, crazy golf, bungee trampolines, inflatable water walker balls, an outdoor pool with a lazy river, flume and space bowl ride, a splash area, lots of adventure playgrounds, an amusements arcade… the list goes on and on. Couple that with a jam-packed programme of scheduled activities for all ages from tiny tots to the young at heart; we could have easily filled every day of a week-long holiday at Thorpe Park.
Constructive criticism? There could do with being more changing areas; especially changing tables. It was quite a cramped space to change in for such a big pool, so a revamp of their changing area definitely wouldn’t go amiss, but it was still nowhere near as bad as Butlins Minehead, where we really struggled to get SB changed for swimming.
Although the people at check-in had been lovely, we were worried that we’d been given a taste of what was to come on our first afternoon. We took the dogs for a walk, and a lady who owned a caravan on the site had a go at us for daring to walk the dogs past her caravan. Was this what all of the people here were like?
It couldn’t be further from the truth. Every single member of staff, and every other holidaymaker that we encountered, was polite and friendly. The staff were more than happy to help and made a fuss of SB; the Funstars (are they still called Funstars? Again, I remember the days of the Havenmates!) were great, the other visitors were always happy to stop and say hello. Thorpe Park is definitely the friendliest holiday park we’ve visited so far!
We’d go back to Thorpe Park in a heartbeat. In fact, Daf and I are looking at a Haven holiday for September, and Thorpe Park is definitely on our list to consider. From the people to the facilities to the location, everything was spot-on. If you’re looking for a staycation this year, and want whatever-the-weather fun for the entire family, Thorpe Park should definitely be on your shortlist.
Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored/paid-for/commissioned review. We stayed at Haven Thorpe Park on a family holiday, and I wanted to review the holiday park for the benefit of others considering a stay at a Haven Park.