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Hafan y Mor Holiday Park (Gwynedd, Wales)
Member Name: Samm0
Hafan y Mor Holiday Park (Gwynedd, Wales)
Date: 17/04/10, updated on 10/02/12 (1001 review reads)
Advantages: Location, price
Disadvantages: Diners Choice
When we eventually found the park after following traditional instructions also provided on the form. Upon arrival, we were greeted by a friendly security man at the gate. He directed us to park outside the reception so that we could collect our keys. There was a short queue at reception, this allowed my son time to practice his Star Wars moves as he had been confined to the car for three hours! Unfortunately, the receptionist advised that our key had not yet reached reception, although it was on its way. Check in time is from 16.00 onwards, we did not arrive until 16.50. Good job we took the scenic route! Ten minutes later our key arrived and we were given directions to our caravan.
Our caravan, Hafan 2 was situated in a 'close' a short distance away. There were around 10 static caravans in the close, each with its own parking space and some form of outdoor space - patio, grassed or decked area. There was a communal garden in the middle.
My greatest fear was that the caravan would be outdated and dirty, I had read other reviews, so had my fingers crossed! To my surprise, the caravan was very clean and although we did not opt to pay an additional £20 for a 2010 model, the caravan was very modern.
The caravan comprised of 3 bedrooms, one double and two twins (beds can be pushed together if required), open plan living/dining/kitchen area and shower room with toilet. The lounge area also had a sofa bed, we didn't try this as there were only three of us - myself, partner and six year old son. The caravan could sleep up to 8 people although I wouldn't like to try it, I imagine it would be quite cramped.
The kitchen was quite serviceable and compact. All cutlery, dinner service, tin opener, casserole dishes, glasses etc are provided. There is an under the counter fridge, this has a small ice box type freezer, and a gas cooker. The caravan had a microwave, although we did not pay the extra £15 to hire one and a gas hob and oven. We had taken enough food for lunch/snacks as we had decided at the last minute to book the half board option.
When checking the optional extras online the day before out holiday, the total cost for half board for two adults and one child was £97 for a four night stay. This seemed quite reasonable, particularly as I had also read that meals purchased at other venues on the park were quire expensive.
On the basis that a good breakfast stands you in good stead for the rest of the day, we went ahead and booked.
Our first experience of the Afon Gardens Restaurant was for dinner on our first evening. We were greeted by a bored looking hostess who was able to exchange our paperwork for meal tokens for the remainder of the week (they were then clipped daily at breakfast and dinner). Once through the door we were faced with a vast expanse of tables as far as the eye could see, children screaming, running around and adults speaking at the top of their voices to make themselves heard.
Once you have found a clean table (this was no mean feat - when I asked if my table could be wiped over, a depressed staff member sauntered over and wiped the table with a cloth rinsed in a bucket of water she was carrying around, I assume for this purpose - no anti-bacterial spray here!!), it's time to grab a tray and pick whichever queue is the shortest. As evening meal comprises of three courses, there is A LOT of queuing. You can collect all three courses at once but then your main course is cold and your ice cream has melted - at least you can manage hot soup (although maybe not a bread roll, unless you go hunting, like wise a plate to put it on!).
The menu was adequate, a choice of three main courses, one being vegetarian - we checked this prior to booking as my partner is a vege.
During our four night stay, battered fish, chips and mushy peas was served twice and chicken breast featured nightly in the form of a chicken dinner, folllowed by bbq chicken and finally curry (this was surprisingly tasty!). I did suspect that the main courses were 're-cycled' the next day.
The serve yourself policy proved quite difficult and time consuming, mainly because the queuing system was very dis-organised - you could find yourself wandering for ten minutes or so to find cutlery, condiments etc. This is worsened if you also have a child to cater for (children have their own menu eg turkey dinosaurs, mini pizza etc - their queue is separate although they can opt for a smaller portion from the adult menu).
When you finally sit down and breathe a sigh of relief, you realize that you have forgotten a drink! Soft drinks (very weak orange squash), tea, coffee (Nescafe), cappuccino are also self service. There is always a 'danger wet floor' sign visible as the drinks area is quite hazardous.
I'll quickly mention the breakfast menu and then move on. Typical breakfast fayre. A selection of cereals, yogurt and I did hear talk of fresh fruit juice but try as I might I couldn't find any! This could be followed by Hash browns, sausages (I was not too keen but they were a favourite with my son, bacon (usually ok but on occasion quite charred), tinned tomatoes, beans, fried bread and some form of egg. Poached - these were technically poached eggs although the resulting taste was that of a hard boiled egg without the shell (as they had been stood for such a long time). Omelette - very small, bland and tasteless and finally scrambled egg. It is the first time I have experienced sliced scrambled egg before, it would have been more appropriate to serve as creme brulee! Yuk!
Or visits to the Afon Gardens became the bain of our holiday.
Entertainment on the park was plentiful. Each morning and afternoon the kid clubs would hold some type of activity. Little Cubs caters for ages 1-4 yrs whilst Club R & B concentrates on ages 5-11 years. My son is six, therefore he fell into the latter. He took part in Annabel's Creative Kitchen. This was his first and last kids club experience, he wasn't too keen and I felt like I was pushing him into joining! Both the Little Cubs & Club R & B were held together on that particular day. The creative kitchen activity was nothing more than a plug for an Annabel Karmel cookery book which was proudly displayed on stage. The children played healthy bingo, marking off vegetables and fruit on a bingo card. This is all very well but they then went off to decorate a biscuit with smarties, marsh mellows and other sugar laden sweets!
After giving up on the kids clubs, we all enjoyed the indoor pool. This was open all day, closing for lunch (??) at 12.45 until 2pm and then remaining open until 5.45pm.
Upon arrival, we were told that the pool was 2 degrees colder than usual due to a fault. An engineer had been called and the problem was temporary - the pool was indeed quite cold and the temperature did not improve for the remainder of the holiday!!
The pool has two flumes (20 minute queue), a very large slide, rapids and a smaller enclosed area for toddlers - beware, the pirates ship is not to be stood on!!??? In a children's area, why put it there in the first place? And why put the 'do not stand on this feature' at the top of a very high pole only visible from one side?
In the main swimming area, waves appear every 20 minutes or so and the pool becomes quite busy. During our visit the pool and it's facilities were comfortably busy. I would not like to imagine it during the Summer months.
The communal changing facilities aren't that great, there is no where to sit down in the cubicles, this proves quite problematic when trying to help a six year old dry and change. We did manage to grab a family cubicle by accident on one occasion, this had baby changing facilities. The showers at the side of the pool are warm and save time if there are a few of you fighting for the shower in the caravan!
Lockers are available, a £1 coin is required and refunded.
Although the pool is 'free', that is, included in the price of your holiday - other activities require additional payment - Aquajets £6, Aqua Inflatables £5, Turbo Paddlers £3 and Aquagliders £5. The pool also hosts Learn2swim for children 4+, this is free of charge but takes place at 8.30am each morning, unfortunately clashing with our breakfast extravaganza!
My son spent most of his time during the evening in the indoor play area (Fun Palace), this very small - nothing in comparison to any Wacky Warehouse. It is situated next to The Mash & Barrel, Bar, Lounge & Grill. A plastic screen allows you to watch your little angels playing - but with the added bonus of silence!! The Mash Barrel is also quite upmarket compared to the other bars. A place to have an almost quiet drink. The food looked far superior to out half board choice, with table service. I noted that a full English breakfast cost £2.95, curry night was £8.95 and a carvery £7.95. Therefore a comparable cost to that of Diners Choice!!
Drinks were reasonably priced £5.80 for two pints of cider and black - the bar did tend to get quite busy at times, when eager drinkers took it upon themselves to actually form a queue! If this happens, 4 pint pitchers are the only way to go!
Situated next to The Mash & Barrel is the Bonga Wonga Bar. The Bonga Wonga is a very strange place - most of the letters have fallen off, we mistakenly went in and thought it was an arcade. Further investigation revealed pool tables, air hockey, bandits etc. It is SO depressing, it appears to be a throw back from the Butlins Era, previously an entertainments room with a stage. All it has now is a large tv screen showing Sky Sports and lots of plastic chairs. If you want a drink, alcoholic or otherwise, you need to make your way to The Mash & Barrel. I did not see the Bonga Wonga Bar open at all.
I'm sure that during The World Cup, this will no doubt be the busiest venue as the adventure playground is just outside.
I was a bit disappointed with the playground, it isn't any better than you would find at your local park and could do with a lick of paint.
My son became a 6 year old hooded gangsta for a couple of nights, running in the pack and brandishing his Power Ranger weapon (quite scary really).
He didn't seem too keen on the all weather sports pitches - probably as it's more difficult to go and join in a game of football with strangers, particularly as each pitch is fenced.
If you wander back over the bridge to the main entertainment area, children are entertained in The Boardwalk until approx 9.30pm. If you don't have children - don't go in! The noise is unbearable! We bought drinks and settled, without ear plugs expecting our son to join in the games - how wrong were we??
Unfortunately there is an arcade directly behind the entertainment area. There is also a gift shop selling light sabers!!! £6!! On Blackpool prom, where we live (in Blackpool but not on the prom!), they are £1.99!
His total spending on such weapons, over two nights was £11.
We would not have seen him from one hour to the next had we not sought him out! The Complex is enclosed with two exits, I made sure that they were in sight. Each door also had a doorman (checking Funworks Entertainment Passes), so it was highly unlikely a six year old jedi could make his escape!
On our final night we tried The Showbar. This also had it's own arcade and gave access to Burger King. We sat down at around 10.15pm when the final act was coming on (female, rock type vocalist). The queue at the bar was quite bad, so my partner went back over to The Boardwalk opposite and returned with drinks!!
The atmosphere in the bar was much more relaxed and adult, there were still lots of children but they seemed to be acting more sensibly. It's a shame we discovered this bar so late on!
This park is a great base to discover the surrounding country side which is beautiful. Try the Copper or Slate Mines, great for the kids!
We paid £199 for a four night stay during the Easter Holidays (with an additional £97 Diners Choice). The park itself is what you make it, the kids will have fun whatever. It's not 5 star, far from it. It's clean and there is plenty to do (I haven't mentioned the numerous other payable activities as we did not make use of them).
I would recommend a visit but DO NOT book Diners Choice! I was overjoyed on the last morning to be getting up for my last breakfast but only because it was the last!!!
Summary: Great Base but Skip Half Board!
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