Monday, 18 May 2015

Pontin’s – My Bargain Break

A few weeks back, I found myself packing my bag and heading off to Pontin’s at Camber Sands. Not something I thought I would find myself doing, as I’d heard some none too favourable reviews in the past, but my daughter had booked a cheap break, and I’d agreed to accompany her and my toddler grandson on the trip.

My expectations had not been particularly high, partly due to what I’d heard, but also because I knew that my daughter had only paid in the region of £60 for a Monday to Friday stay. The paperwork had stated that our accommodation would be available from 4pm, but as we were relying on a lift there, ended up arriving before midday.

My plan on arrival was to ask if there was somewhere comfortable that we could wait with our luggage, but when I approached reception I was met with a cheery, “Hold on, I’ll see if your accommodation is ready,” – and it was! So by noon we were in our holiday apartment settling in, which gave us, in effect, a bonus afternoon.

Our ground floor ‘apartment’ (requested to make it easier with a pushchair) was basic, but adequate for a short stay. There was one bedroom with a double bed and a sofa bed in the main area, a small kitchen area with new-looking fridge and tired-looking cooker, which actually worked very well. The bathroom consisted of toilet, washbasin and shower that were OK, but we discovered the shower cubicle was broken. However, when we reported this to reception a maintenance man was despatched and a repair made within about half hour, so that was good service

Our main gripe was the bedding. Having paid for the privilege of having bedding provided, it was thin and ‘shiny’ and tended to slip off the beds every night, leaving us a bit chilly. I’m unsure as to whether this was the regular bedding however, as towards the end of our stay, we saw ‘proper sheets’ being placed in the neighbouring empty apartments.

Site facilities are good. There are a number of outdoor play areas for children of varying ages, a pirate crazy golf and a swimming pool, featuring a main pool with slide and a lovely warm toddler pool with assorted floats. Of course, there was also the inevitable arcade and a children’s club, large clubroom, pub and restaurant. Being off-season, evening entertainment took place in the pub as opposed to the larger club, as there didn’t appear to be that many of us staying there. Despite that, every evening there was a quiz (which I actually won one night and was presented with a bottle of wine) a children’s dance session and other entertainment.

My grandson loved the dressed-up characters that appeared at 10 each morning and again at the evening session and made use of the soft play area and toys in the children’s club.

As were we fortunate to have such lovely weather during our stay, we were also able to visit the beach, which just involved crossing the road outside and walking down a short lane.

We went for the self-catering option and, although there was a Nisa at the site entrance, found the shop opposite and the post office/village store further down the road cheaper options for shopping. Although, in its favour, the Nisa did have a £1 section selling useful things such as children’s arm bands.

There is actually a half-board option available, whereby breakfast and evening meal are provided at the Sands restaurant, but even if you do not select this deal, you can buy a three-course evening meal for £8.95, which is worth remembering.

Overall I enjoyed our Pontin’s stay, some of the accommodation is a little tired, but a little sprucing up could make all the difference. The facilities were good, but with over 700 apartments on site, could get a bit packed during high season. We were fortunate that as much of the accommodation was empty during our stay, we had easy access to everything that we wanted to do.

Although we didn’t meet huge numbers of fellow guests, we did see quite a few rabbits (lovely) and a huge number of seagulls, with regards to which I must issue a warning. On our first morning there, we heard a rap on the door. When I opened it there was no one to be seen, however when I glanced down towards the ground I was greeted by the sight of a cheeky gull. It was funny the first time, but wore thin as the week progressed, with this happening several times a day. At no point did we feed the gulls, indeed the site requests that you don’t, but did return one afternoon to find our ‘neighbour’ feeding them – not good!

I’m not sure that I would have wanted to spend a long holiday at Pontin’s Camber Sands, but would certainly consider another short break in the future.

Fancy a trip to Pontin’s at Camber Sands?

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