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Pontins - The Key To A Good Holiday - Alcohol!
Member Name: Samm0
Date: 24/08/11, updated on 10/02/12 (376 review reads)
Advantages: Kids Don't Care Too Much About Cleanliness
Disadvantages: Old, Outdated and Needs a Good Clean
We visited Pontins, Prestatyn for a family weekend break, Friday to Monday during mid August 2011, the height of the school Summer holidays.
We had holidayed at Pontins before but not for sometime, approximately four years ago. Our first visit was to Southport, after reading some very bad reviews we were pleasantly surprised, I don't know if we just struck lucky with the accommodation or we had been expecting the worst.
Pontins offer three standards of accommodation Popular (formerly budget), Classic & Club. One and two bedroom apartments are available, with ground floor accommodation subject to a £5.00 surcharge.
During our previous visit we stayed in a two bedroom classic apartment, we certainly wouldn't have considered budget and all Club apartments were fully booked.
On the whole our accommodation was clean but definitely required updating as did most areas of the site. Our experience was pretty positive due to the activities available for children.
Based on this we booked a late weekend break at Prestatyn at a cost of £209. This was for a 1 bedroom Club apartment, our party was made up of myself, my partner and two sons aged 7years and 8 months.
My eldest was to sleep in the twin bedded bedroom, whilst the adults were to sleep on a pull out sofa bed in the lounge (we live the high life!).
Pontins charge £10.00 to hire a travel cot, we took our own as we have recently acquired a large roof box for the car and can pile loads in!
We found the site with not too much difficulty although our sat nav did take us to the back gate thus allowing us to get a good view of the rows of army style accommodation - we had forgotten just how bad they looked, particularly as Pontins in Blackpool, where we live is currently being demolished (I wonder why?!).
After driving the perimeter of the whole site we eventually arrived at the front gate. The fences adjacent were festooned with adverts stating the site was open to the public for meals, swimming, shopping etc. I'm thinking that there must be a lack of facilities in Prestatyn!
The man at the gate was quite friendly, he gave us a sticker to place in our car window and explained how to reach reception and where to park. That was a pretty straight forward process, the site isn't that big so it was easy to find.
Check in for Club apartments is from 2pm, one of the perks as check in for the masses is 3pm. We arrived a little later at around 2.30pm.
The reception area is somewhat underwhelming, there are three shops on the left as you go in - Nisa (quite well stocked but obviously over priced, Pontins character shop - selling soft toys, key rings other Pontins memorabilia and The Pontins Pound Shop (this closed on our day of departure!).
Reception itself is a series of three or four cubby holes in which sit one or two receptionists flitting between them. I was given an envelope containing our keys and directions to our apartment. I picked up a leaflet from the counter detailing activities for the weekend although did assume that there would be something in the welcome pack - there wasn't! It merely contained keys and the do's and don'ts at Pontins as well as a health and safety leaflet.
A short drive past the barracks (some of which were protected by fencing, improving the look further! I'm not sure if refurbishment was taking place or they were being knocked down!) and we arrived at our apartment, passing on the way the designated Club apartments check in office - it was closed.
We were able to park directly opposite our block, we could have improved upon our parking space had we arrived earlier.
The apartments are set out in blocks with a central grassy area, ours was at the very edge of the site, so we were fenced in. We discovered later that the coastal road was beyond this.
Pathways at the edge of the grass link the apartments and we dragged our many belongings to apartment 53.
Unlike Classic & Popular apartments, Club apartments have sliding glass doors and don't look too bad from the outside.
Getting into the apartments is a little fiddly at first, the key system requires a lever to be moved when locking and unlocking the door - after a couple of goes we had got the hang of of it.
Once inside we were greeted by a very strange odour - I don't think people had been smoking inside but I do think they had been smoking in the doorway, this combined with whatever had been cooked in the apartment over the last few days wasn't pleasing to the old nostrils!
The apartment comprised of a lounge/kitchen. Within the lounge area was a two seater sofa bed, a round dining table and chairs. A tv cabinet, fixed to the wall with an old style tv on top, it was slightly larger that a portable and provided minimal freeview channels along with Pontins TV (supposed to keep the guest up to date with information but didn't actually provide anything worthwhile).
A wardrobe in the lounge housed an ironing board complete with large iron burn.
The simple kitchen was to the rear of the apartment. The sink was by the window with an unpleasant view of other people in other apartments also washing up!
The bathroom had the tiniest bath I have ever seen, it had a seat at one end and an overhead shower.
The shower did not run constantly - a button had to be pressed to reactivate the water supply - like the showers in a camping block. Thankfully it was nice and warm.
Although clean, there were cob webs on the ceiling and the extractor fan was clogged up with what looked like years of dust.
The cleaners obviously didn't clean above head height!
After bringing in our luggage it became more evident that the lounge area was quite dirty and grubby. When I pulled out a plastic dining chair to sit down, there were crisps sticking out of the cushioned area - I'm not talking crumbs, I'm talking a third of a packet crushed in!
After this I took all the chairs outside and gave them a clean, I also swept the lounge floor as it looked like it needed it.
Wiping up various spillages during the week it was obvious that the cushioned vinyl type flooring hadn't seen a mop and bucket in years as my cloth was marked black after only a gentle wipe!
Cleaning the chairs led me to discover the numerous cigarette ends by the front door, so I had to clean those up too. Not nice.
I was certainly getting some strange looks from other guests who watched my cleaning activities whilst sitting on benches outside, having a cup of tea and also a few cigs (I have never seen so many smokers confined in to one area, Pontins is a smokers heaven. I'm an ex smoker so maybe I notice it more).
I would recommend that the sofa bed is not slept on when opened out. It was like lying on wire covered by a sheet, the worst sleeping experience of my life. After the first night we rearranged the twin room and pushed the beds together which was no mean feat as there was a central shelf dividing the two beds that could not be removed. It can be done however by putting both beds under the length of the window.
My son then slept on the sofa bed in it's sofa form, he was quite comfortable so we were all kind of happy!
Understandably I was in a bit of a bad mood following the cleaning episode so we went for a walk to investigate the rest of the site.
Club apartments in theory are supposed to be close to all the action - ours wasn't it was probably the furthest away! It didn't really matter because the site isn't that large.
We felt safe enough to let my 7 year old go a wandering - with his mobile phone, once he had found a few friends.
I'll list as many of the facilities as I can remember and a a little information/opinion.
Captain Crocs Play Area - Similar in style to a Wacky Warehouse. Children must be signed in an out and parents must remain with their child. The least said about this the better. My son doesn't want me cramping his playing style and I don't want to be sat in a hot noisy room!
Fortunately there is an area for under 4's so I was able to let our youngest roam around whilst supervising.
The area needed updating and a good clean but the kids seem to enjoy it.
Outdoor Play Area - The usual slides, swings, climbing equipment. Quite safe and modern looking - or as modern looking as anything in Pontins can look!
Swimming pool - Accessed by a long ramp for those in wheelchairs or with prams or via steps. I felt quite unsafe after leaving the pool with my pram as the steps are immediately in front of the door. Opening the door and manoeuvring out backwards is an accident waiting to happen.
The pool iteself is quite large - old style, atthe half way mark there is a steep drop and the deep end begins. There are two slides on the edge of the pool to keep the children amused but nothing like the water park atmosphere of Butlins! The pool is also quite cold but not as cold as the learner pool which was FREEZING! Both pools were too cold for the baby, he tried them both once to shrieks of horror, so that cut short my aquatic life span!
The showers and changing area were ok, showers hot and powerful, once again push button to operate.
Hire Zone - Bikes, go Karts etc available for hire. The Kart we hired was £6 per hour. My son enjoyed it but got bored before the full hour.
There are other payable activities such as crazy golf, a zip wire, climbing wall and bungee trampoline. We didn't try any of these.
The Fun Factory - this housed the main stream evening entertainment. The biggest crowd puller during our stay was Gareth Gates who was obliged to stay in the chalet opposite, hard times I suppose! We also watched a circus and The Blue Coat Show.
Beware, seats are few and far between, people obviously arrive very early to get seats.
We're not like that, we arrived late, sat at the side of the stage and then grabbed the odd seat throughout the night!
Lunars Bar next door stays open longer and also has it's own entertainment. Families can party the night away together until 1am. Some may think this is a little late but I don't think once or twice a year does any harm and it certainly allowed my son to practice his street dance moves!
The Queen Vic pub is accessed via Lunars. Basic pub food is served here. There is also a pool table which became the focus of most of our evenings. My son is now all but obsessed with playing!
Drinks are reasonably priced throughout the site, just under £6.50 for two pints.
Happy hour is held between 5-7pm when selected draughts are £2 or under per pint. The Queen Vic is the only place to get a drink before 7pm, therefore happy hour involved much queueing, so it's best to get a few rounds in once you have been served. I did feel sorry for the bar staff, they were unable to cope with the demand - undoubtedly poor management.
Karoake took place nightly in the pub, my son had a go when Gareth Gates was on stage, the pub was all but empty that night!
A tip for those with children - buy a refillable coke holder. A large one costs £3 and can be refilled for £1.49 - it doesn't have to be filled with coke there are a few options available. It can then be filled up prior to leaving your chalet and throughout the day with your own drinks.
The idea is so good, I'm surprised that some adults don't also but their own and fill it with the alcohol of their choice and possible pop back to their chalet during the evening for a cheeky top up, ahem.....
Captain Cod's Chippy - Had a massive menu, unfortunately they had always 'just run out' of everything and I mean everything - fish, jumbo sausages, battered sausages, curry sauce, mushy peas, gravy, pies....The family in the queue in front of me actually left the site to find elsewhere to eat. The only thing available was chips, nuggets and the last two remaining sausages!
Nisa Local - Well stocked for things that you may have neglected to pack, above corner shop prices due to their captive audience.
Arcade - houses all the usual machines to rob your children of their hard earned spending money and the extra you are more inclined to give them after sipping from your re-fillable coke container. Children wander about the place clutching handfuls of tickets they have 'won' at a cost of goodness knows what to discover that with their 500 tickets they can exchange them for a 2p sweet or similar!
There are also a few pool tables if you can't get on the one in the pub.
Activities are ongoing during the day - football coaching, family basketball, line dancing, lovely legs, glamorous gran, bonny baby - all things that I thought had gone out with the arc or with the emergence of political correctness. Ponting is anything but pc and it doesn't seem to care!
Our son won the bonny baby competition, we entered as part of structuring our day. I felt so guilty when he won I wished we hadn't bothered.
Pontins is a love it or hate it place. I had hope that paying more for the Club apartments would have guaranteed cleanliness, this clearly wasn't the case. The main plus point of this type of holiday is the grassy communal areas, children can spend the day meeting and making new friends, playing football and generally havinig a good time in a safe environment under the watchful eye of their parents.
However, our watchful eyes were somewhat dulled by the introduction of a few beers daily.
Without alcohol I certainly could not have coped at Pontins - if you don't drink, don't take the risk - I would be a miracle for you to last more than one night!
Summary: It's What You Make It But Take Some Anti Bac Spray!!
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