Last April, we had our first holiday as a family of five. The twins very first holiday (aged 11 months). We went to Haven Devon Cliffs. I have fond memories of Haven, as my parents used to own a caravan, when I was a little girl – firstly at Weymouth Bay, and a few years later at Devon Cliffs. I have so many fond memories of weekends with my parents in the caravan and I wanted my own children to have fond memories of Haven too. We booked a Sun £9.50 holiday to Devon Cliffs for April 2013.
We had booked a luxury plus caravan, but after being picky, we were moved to an owners exclusive and were completely wowed by it! I’d love to own one of these myself and can see why my parents did for so many years.
We opted for a two bedroom 12ft wide caravan, which comprised of a twin bedroom and double bedroom, large enough for us to fit in two full size travel cots, and still have plenty of room to walk around the bed!
The lounge area was spacious, and so was the dining area and kitchen – all very shiny and new looking, as the caravan we were in, was only a year old! It was fully kitted out, with all the mod cons, equipment and facilities you could want!
I’d definitely recommend paying the extra to have linen provided and beds made up on arrival – it was SO nice, to walk in, dump our suitcases and not have to worry about making beds. It saved a LOT of space in the car too – which is important when you have three children (and two of which are babies!).
The balcony really made it perfect for us, because the twins had just learnt to sit-up, roll around and were almost crawling. It was good to know we could open the door, without fear of them escaping or falling anywhere.
Cafes, Restaurants, Clubs and Shops
We got really lucky… we picked a week where the sun shone and the air was warm – bizarre for Britain in April right? It wasn’t quite beach weather, but it was lovely sitting on the cliff top, outside the South Beach Cafe, overlooking the sea.
Bunny also loves that there are several play parks at Devon Cliffs. She loved the one next to South Beach Café.
To start off our holiday, we popped to the big nearby Tesco, which was only a 5 minute drive away. I remember walking this as a teenager too – I think it was about 20 minutes on foot. However, once stocked up, we pretty much stayed on site for the rest of the holiday. The Spar convenience store on site, has pretty much EVERYTHING you could need during your holiday. Like, when you NEED to cook a nice greasy breakfast in your caravan!
There are also other shops on site – for everything from souvenirs and gifts to buckets & spades.
There’s a hire shop on site too, for any of the important things that you forget to take with you (like linen or travel cots). Typically, as there was a hire shop, it was probably the first holiday where we didn’t forget anything!
We got well and truly stuck in to our holiday and on the hottest day of our stay, we played crazy golf, which was a lot of fun. Unfortunately, we hadn’t counted on the sun being so strong in April, and even with the buggy hoods up, our poor little babies got sunburnt cheeks. Luckily we managed to buy sunscreen and aftersun at the spar shop.
One day, we popped into The Mash and Barrel for a quick drink (and a sharing platter – which was delicious) and Jonny left me there using the free WiFi, while he took the kids back to the caravan to cook dinner. I hadn’t realised that the combination of sunshine, fresh air and a pint of cider would have a rather woozy effect on me. Added to the uphill walk to our caravan, Jonny was very amused to see me stagger in somewhat tipsy. This made us both laugh, to the extent that I cried off all my eyeliner, and had to redo my makeup, before we went down to the club!
The clubs are exactly how I remember, with the exception that the whole complex is now indoors. Where the arcade is, used to be a road, when I was little! Now that you no longer have to go outside and cross a road, to get the other club, makes it safer for children and more British-weather-friendly.
The clubs, Bugsy’s and Capone’s, still have the same name, but have obviously had refurbishments over the years. It’s sad that there is no longer a “Tiger Club”, though there are 4 kids clubs with activities that meet regularly in Bugsy’s. Bunny particularly enjoyed the kids club and we took her to several of the day time events, as well as going into the club every evening, so she could join in with games and dancing. Her favourite club activity was the picnic tea party with Rory the Tiger.
I love that both clubs still do bingo every night (yes – I like bingo!) and hear that there is a lot more live music in peak season. The FunStars are keeping up with the times, keeping the music up to date, and you can even tweet in song requests! We also booked a photo shoot and had a whole family photo taken. We bought two of them from the photo shop and they sit on top of our TV at home!
We got somewhat addicted to the arcade games and refused to leave Haven until we had earnt over a thousand tickets to spend in the ticket shop! We even played in the arcade (and Bunny in the soft play) whilst waiting for our Papa Johns pizza.
Papa Johns, was our favourite of the fast food outlets at Devon Cliffs. It was really good value and the pizza and wedges tasted amazing! There was also a traditional fish and chip shop, a Burger King and a Starbucks (I LOVE Starbucks)!
However, I would only second Papa John’s, to the food at the Mash and Barrel, which had a really nice calm and family friendly atmosphere, as well as outstanding food and drink. The service (my specialty as a hospitality graduate) was also brilliant in the Mash and Barrel. Fast and friendly, without being rushed. This, and Starbucks, are the only places that you can access free WiFi, although you can purchase WiFi to use around the site.
Sports, Swimming and the Spa
The swimming pools. These were THE place I always talked about most as a child. They have the most fantastic swimming pools at Devon Cliffs. There are three outdoors, which, the higher up the hill you go, the hotter the pools get (Well this used to be the case when I was a child)! Unfortunately, as we went out of season this time, they weren’t open. That’s why this year, we will be going in the summer, when all the pools are open.
The indoor pool, is HUGE and has a sea-like gradual depth. This was fantastic for me to sit in with the twins, whilst Jonny and Bunny went down the water slides! There was also a large water activity play area in the shallow end, with funnels and fountains, which Bunny enjoyed playing with!
I regret not testing out the spa, as it looked very tranquil, although I did have a beauty treatment (of the hot wax variety) in a very cosy treatment room.
There were two large adventure playgrounds, which Bunny thoroughly tested out, and approved of! She also had fun on the trampolines and there were water walkers and bumper boats there too. As well as playgrounds, there are numerous sports courts too – although we are not particularly sporty, so we didn’t test these out.
So to summarise… It’s DEFINITELY worth every penny, of paying to upgrade. The standard caravans are nice, but the higher graded caravans are a great deal nicer. It’s also worth having the linen hire and beds made up on arrival – it makes the holiday hassle free. Make full use of the swimming pools, sports facilities, parks and kids clubs – they are great fun and leave lasting memories for the children. The pubs and restaurants sell good quality food and drink and you get genuinely good customer service. I have stayed at three different Haven sites over the years, and Devon Cliffs remains my ultimate favourite.
On our next holiday to Devon Cliffs (we’ve already booked one for June), we are hoping to test out even more of the park. Bunny would like to sign up for some water activities and sports activities. We’d like to have dinner at the South Beach Café and I also plan to thoroughly test out the Spa! Watch this space, as I will be blogging it all!