Wales Other UK / Ireland topics
Presthaven Sands Holiday Park (Prestatyn, Wales)
We have just returned from a short weekend break at Presthaven Sands and so I feel it is a perfect time to write a review on it whilst everything is till fresh in my mind. Presthaven Sands is situated in Prestatyn, North Wales and is owned by the Haven holiday group. ***Why did I choose Haven?*** My son is ... five years old and I wanted somewhere that would offer entertainment and activities on site plus somewhere with a beach nearby. Haven holiday parks are great for offering lots of things to do as a rule and Presthaven actually has direct beach access throughout the park.
I was also given a discount code by my friend who didn't need it which made the cost of a Friday to Monday break £300. I realise this is still expensive, especially as I am a single mother but I wanted to be able to treat my son to a holiday. As he is at school now it had to be the summer holidays though in the future I may consider taking him out of school a few days early to get a better deal.
***What did I book?***
As I mentioned earlier I booked a Friday to Monday break at the cost of £300.00. This was for a superior caravan for myself, my son and my sister however when we arrived we learned that the caravan could have slept three more people. I also paid an extra £20.00 to have a 2010 model caravan. I felt that if I did this I would be offered a caravan which was barely used, modern and perhaps closer to the main centre. In hindsight this was wasted money as the caravan I stayed in was no different to any other I have stayed in to be honest.
The caravan was of an average size which was 10ft I believe. In fact, the cheaper "standard plus" caravans are bigger at 12ft which seems a little odd that you get more space for less money in some cases!
It consisted of an open plan lounge and kitchen, bedrooms and a bathroom.
In the lounge was a corner sofa type thing, a table and stools and a tiny television. The television was equipped with free view but that was temperamental most of the time we tried to watch anything! There was also a gas fire in the lounge but we couldn't work out how to get this to light and so left it alone for fear of gassing ourselves!
In the kitchen you are provided with a gas cooker, a kettle, a small fridge/ freezer and your cooking utensils, cutlery, pans etc. We found that the kitchen was usable but could have done with a little more space. Please note that whilst washing up the water that comes out of the hot tap is literally scalding so it is best to run the cold tap as well.
The bathroom in the caravan consisted of a toilet, sink and a shower. It was small but clean and totally functional. Remember to take your own toilet roll when you go!
There were two single rooms with twin beds in them and a double room. For some absurd reason despite paying for all of the holiday I decided to be kind and allow my sister the use of the double room and so I shared a room with my son. We used the spare room to store our cases as there was literally nowhere else we could have stored them. The rooms were literally tiny-you could barely get through the gap between the two beds to get in at night! The beds were tiny and uncomfortable and I have returned home with my already dodgy back feeling a little more dodgy than usual! Pillows and bed linen are provided for you to make your beds when you arrive and these are all sealed so at least you know you are getting fresh ones.
***How easy is it to find Presthaven?***
I would suggest that if you go to Presthaven sands it would be much easier if you drove. None of us drive and as such we had to use National Express coaches which meant long waits and an extended journey time. The coaches did not go directly to Presthaven (despite going directly to the nearby Pontins holiday site!). If you were driving I am sure you could put the post code in to a sat nav and get there quite easily.
We were dropped off at a crossroads which had a sign which pointed towards Presthaven so we set off walking. We had around a ten minute walk with heavy cases and a five year old before we came to the main Haven sign. We were then told by a gentleman there that we would have another fifteen minute walk to go to reception and check in. I felt this was a bit ridiculous and it would be handy if they had those little golf buggies which they use for ferrying potential owners around the site. I guess they don't really cater so well for non-drivers however.
***Check in and Check out***
Check in was from 4pm and in The Showbar. This is through reception and the main arcade. The process was simple and we were given our key and a map of where our caravan was...yep you guessed it...we had another long walk to get there!
Check out is by 10am and you can simply hand in your key at the main reception.
***Things to do on site***
There are lots of things which you can do whilst at Presthaven sands-the majority of the sports type activities and things do incur extra charges though.
*Rent a bike*
You can rent normal bikes or those large funny family bikes. We rented a family bike which has space for two adults and two children. The children sit in the front and enjoy the ride whilst the adults have the hard work pedalling! We rented one for an hour and this cost £10.00 plus a £10.00 deposit which was returned when you brought the bike back. This is a fun way to explore the park, but obviously not cheap. It may be an idea to book in advance as they are often pre booked. My son loved being at the front of this bike as we rode around but my god did my bum kill afterwards! The seats are not comfy!
We didn't actually play this but it did seem to be quite popular. The cost was £3 per child, £4 per adult or £12 for a family consisting of 2 adults and 2 children.
The swimming pool is free in the mornings until 1pm and then other activities start which are aimed at certain ages and carry an additional charge.
We went for a swim and found the pool to be basic but clean and we really enjoyed it. There was a slide which some of the bigger children seemed to be going on. The changing rooms are unisex but with cubicles in there. The lockers cost £1.00 but you do get this back when you return to your locker with your key. The pool is open from 9am-1pm and then from 2pm-6pm. There is also an outdoor pool which is open Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday which I believe is also weather permitting.
This is a large outdoor climbing frame with slides and things. In many ways this was too big for my son to play on properly which is a shame.
You could do things like archery, fencing and climb the climbing wall at certain times of the day for an additional charge. This was usually £5.00 per person so we didn't do any of these things and chose to try and find cheaper alternatives.
As with any holiday park there is an arcade in which you can lose lots of money! In this arcade it was quite popular to collect tickets from the machines to exchange for a prize later. I have to say the prizes were pretty rubbish for the most part and you needed at least 100 tickets to get anything at all. We somehow ended up with 1200 tickets so my son got a couple of things.
There are all the usual things in this arcade such as 2p machines, slots, air hockey and a few rides too.
*Entertainment in The Showbar*
The Showbar was the main area for the children's cabaret entertainment. Most of this was covered by the Funstars who are the equivalent of the Butlin's redcoats! In The Showbar you have the opportunity to have your picture taken with the Haven mascots such as Rory the Tiger and Bradley the Bear. My son loved this and apparently it was one of his favourite parts of the holiday!
You could also watch character shows each night at 6.30pm, followed by family prize bingo and such like. We tended to stay here until 9pm ish before my son would become tired and we would have to go. I would advise getting to The Showbar early if you can so that you can get a table as it goes get very busy.
There is a bar in The Showbar where you can purchase drinks. We bought my son a large drink cup for £3.95 and then that meant that drinks were cheaper for the rest of the holiday so long as we brought the cup with us.
There is also The Carousel bar but we didn't spend any time in here as I think that was more centred towards the adults there.
***Places to shop/eat***
This is your main shop on site for your day to day products that you need for your caravan such as bread, milk and newspapers. Prices aren't cheap but this is the norm for holiday park shops. Also within this shop is a gift shop where you can buy teddies, rock, sweets and t shirts etc. My son cost me a fortune in there despite taking his own spending money too!
This is a small gift shop within The Showbar and sells teddies and toys. A medium teddy will set you back £9.99
Again situated in The Showbar this shop sells sweets and drinks that you can get for watching the shows.
*The Fish and Chip shop*
This is situated around the back of the mini golf course and is easily missed if you don't know where to go. A large chips (which I suspect would be a regular chips to us when we are at home!) costs £2.25. We found the chip shop to be quite handy as a supper to take back to the caravan. They were ok, nothing to rave about but nice enough.
*Papa Johns Pizza*
We didn't sample this but they do actually have a delivery service to your caravan which is a good idea! A XL pizza would set you back around £12.00 but I have no idea how large the actual pizza is! This is situated within the main arcade.
This is also situated in the main arcade. You can expect similar prices to those at any other Burger King but with your welcome pack you do get a few discount vouchers to use here. We used a "buy one adult meal and get a kids meal free" which was handy!
*The Mash and Barrel*
This is situated just as you enter the arcade and offers you traditional pub type foods. We stayed here for a few hours before we had to set off for our coach home and it was pleasant enough with leather style comfy couches around the sides to use.
The hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows here was £2.15 and totally delicious!
We also had a five item breakfast for a reasonable £2.95 which wasn't great, but was a good price.
All in all we did enjoy our little break away from home. My son says he had fun and that is all that really matters to me from a holiday like this.
The park was clean and there were always things going on but if you wanted to you could take a walk through the sand dunes directly from the park to the beach. We did this a couple of times but it wasn't warm enough to stay there for long! The view from the top of the sand dunes was really lovely though.
I am not sure that we will visit this park again but this is purely down to me not driving. A journey that would take two hours if I drove took closer to five hours with having to use coaches and buses! I also feel it would have been nice to visit the neighbouring Rhyl but a taxi there and back would have cost around £25.00 and this was too expensive for us to do. I never noticed any buses coming into the park either but this is not to say there weren't any.
I think I would award Presthaven sands 3 stars having dropped one for the length of walk from the main entrance to the reception and one for the extra cost to many of the activities you could do.
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Vue Cinema (Merthyr Tydfil)
When I was a little girl, I used to look forward to visiting the conema in Merthyr Tydfil. Looking back it was a bit of a dive. Half the time you would have to wait while they fixed the tape. But I loved that intimate cinema, with the ice cream break in the middle of the film. Sadly for a number of years, Merthyr Tydfil ... didn't have a cinema. People didn't use the facility and it fell into disrepair. The grand cinema building became an eyesore.
Over the last few years, Merthyr Tydfil has had a major revamp. It now boasts a retail park that hosts a number of excellent stores. But more recently, it has developed a leisure village. The old leisure centre has been knocked down and a state of the art leisure building has been erected, complete with a huge swimming complex. Next door to this leisure centre is the very impressive vue cinema.
Vue cinema Merthyr is very state of the art. From the time you walk in you know you are in for a great experience. It offers both comfort and excellent entertainment. It's 8 screens showing all the latest movies.
The first time I went to this cinema, I was suprised at it's vastness. It is also kept in the highest standard with all areas cleaned and monitored. The staff are all turned out in a smart uniform which somehow adds to the professional ambiance. I have been to this cinema a number of times, I have always noticed that the staff are very accomodating and helpful. They are also very efficient and manage to work very fast in order to keep the queing time to a minimum.
The prices for the cinema viewings differ from £7 at peak times to a great £5.40 on off peak times. You can also take advantage of a family discount ticket which I believe is just over £24. It is worth visiting the website before visiting, as they occasionally have special rates. Also they have Orange Wednesdays where people can take advantage of the buy one get one free offer.
Not only have you the great choice of films on offer, You also get to choose which type of seating you would like. For a small extra fee you can sit in the vip seats, these seats are leather and offer the utmost in comfort. However I have to admit, after seeing these seats I don't think they are very different to the normal seating apart from the leather material.
If you are after a more informal evening, you may wish to choose the bean bag seating. This seating is right at the front of the cinema. Black leather bean bags which look cool and contemporary. I think this seating is aimed more for the teenage age bracket. I wouldn't fancy sitting on these bean bags for long.
Another important factor, is that there is excellent disabled access. All cinemas are easily accesable. Every where in the cinema is wide and flat. The front of the cinema offers ample room for wheelchairs. I also love the way that the wheelchairs are not pushed into a corner, but incorporated onto the end of the first row. Which must make it a far more pleasurable experience for the wheelchair user.
Not only does the cinema offer the customers the chance to see the latest films. There is also a kids club which runs on weekend mornings. It also runs every morning throughout school holidays. On these mornings, the cinema offers children and accompanying adults the chance to visit the cinema and watch a fairly recent film for 95p. The film shown are a few months old, but still new and modern. Ususally a film that was screened in the main cinema a couple of months previous.
My daughter loves the kids club. Both her and her friends meet there and get to watch a movie and have a bit of independence all for 95p what a bargain!! What I would advise is that you book in advance for these films as it does become fully booked very quickly due to it's popularity.
You can also pre book all other cinema tickets via the internet site. Or if you prefer you can book your tickets via the computerised machines in the cinemas foyer. This will save you the queing. However there are plenty of till area open if you wish to pay a cashier.
One thing that lets this cinema down is the cost of the refreshments. I think that it is a complete rip off. I understand that in cinemas the prices of sweets and popcorn are inflated, but I think that the prices in Vue are crazy. I will not pay £5 for a small bucket of popcorn when I know I can get a huge bagfrom the local supermarket for a £1. Also I will not pay £3 for a bag of maltesers when I can again get these for a £1. So I always take a great big handbag with me and smuggle in enough provisions to keep the kids happy. I know this is not what your supposed to do but unless they lower their prices to a more acceptable level, this is what I will continue to do.
Apart from the popcorn, Nachos, hotdogs,sweets and pop. They also have a Ben and Jerry's stall which again is very expensive. However well worth the parting of your cash as the icecream is divine.
I have noted that there is a no nonsense approach in this cinema. I witnessed teens being asked to leave once for being rowdy, which I thought was very efficient as it didn't reproach on our viewing pleasure.
All in all I am very impressed with Merthyr Tydfil's vue cinema. There are a couple of issues which could be improved. The cost of provisions for one. Another bug bear of mine is that it is always really cold within the cinema. I take a big cardigan with me as I am often freezing!! But apart from them little problems I am very pleased with our state of the art cinema.
They have also just introduced a 3d cinema screen which is excellent and offers a whole new viewing experience. Well worth a try.
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Adventureland Indoor Play Centre (Merthyr Tydfil)
Adventureland is a indoor soft play centre. Situated in Merthyr Tydfil, on an industrial estate. Adventureland is very decieving from the outside. It looks quite small, with a tiny entrance which leads to a cold and unimpressive welcome. However, as soon as you open the door at the end of the corridor, you will be shocked at the vast ... amount of floor space which awaits you.
Adventureland has been a popular choice of an afternoon out in Merthyr Tydfil for over a decade. It's popularity declined a couple of years back with the opening of a rival indoor play centre. But adventureland held it's own and eventually clawed back it's popularity which rose dramatically when the rival play centre closed down.
It is safe to say, that adventureland has improved greatly over the last 18 months. It has new owners, they have really turned the place around offering the introduction of new apparatus. The decor has also had a facelift and this has dramatically improved the appeal of the place. There are leather tub chairs and setee's placed throughout the area, which not only offers comfortable seating for adults but also helps to make the play centre appear proffesional and well designed.
The play apparatus for the children is very impressive. Many new items such as a new bouncy castle have been incorporated into an already extensive amount of equipment.
Great consideration has been taken in ensuring that all children's age groups have been catered for. This is evident when viewing the very popular toddler area, where every effort has been taken to provide soft and stimulating features for the smaller child. This includes a small inflatable slide which is accessed by soft steps. This is great for encouraging small childrens large motor movements. There is also a wonderful toddler ball pool, which is filled with brightly coloured soft plastic balls. I often find myself smiling at the faces of pure joy mixed with a small element of bewilderment of these toddlers when being placed in this ball pool.
The older children have great big frameworks on which to play. This also includes one large red enclosed flume like slide. This is rather popular with the more adventurous, thrill seeking child. Throughout these large frameworks are various sections which will catch the child's attention and promote balancing, climbing and hand eye co ordination skills. All the equipment is brightly coloured and eyecatching.
There has been a vast improvement in the quality of the equipment over the last year. Quite a lot of the equipment began to look out dated and indeed rather shabby. There was a distinct lack of items such as bikes and prams. The whole area began to loose it's appeal with me as I felt it was quite grubby and cold and damp. However since it's revamp it really has improved greatly. It is now much more attractive and I am really impressed with it's continuing commitment in striving to constantly improve.
Apart from the leather furniture, there is also a rather large cafe seating area. This comprises of a number of small bistro tables and chairs. Even with all this seating, the play centre still has trouble accomodating the amount of people who use the facility during school holidays. It does become crazily busy, particularly on rainy days.
Based along the back wall of the playcentre is a large shop counter. This is where beverages such as tea and coffee can be ordered. There is also a basic supply of sweets, chocolate bars and crisps. The prices for these goods I would say are very reasonable. They do not exploit there monopolising position in providing beverages. I can also state that the staff here make a really good cup of tea. It is not at all sophisticated. There is no fine bone china or crust removed sarnies. However the large bright coloured mugs used are adequate enough and offer a homely down to earth element which I love.
On the tables in the cafe area, there are small menus. These menus compise of the food you would expect in this kind of establishment. There are chips and nuggets, fish fingers, sausage and burgers. Also there are a choice of jacket potatoes. It is worth noting, that while the food is freshly made to order and therefore piping hot. The quality is not the best. I have eaten here in the past and was far from impressed with the cheapness of the food. Also on busy periods, you will expect to wait a very long period of time before your food arrives. Due to the high volume of custom.
I must point out though that although the food is not fantastic. The children seem to love it. I find that having a meal here makes the outing seem more of a treat. Also the food is very reasonable and certainly on a par with fast food restaraunts. Children's meals which include a drink will set you back about three pounds.
Apart from everyday opening. There are also extra activities that are available for certain groups. There is a very popular mother and toddler group which allows parents to meet for a coffee while the children play and interact with one another. There is also a new art club which takes place a couple of mornings. Where the children are invited to take part in craft activities. The cost of these activities are very reasonable and provide excellent value for money. I have attended mother and toddler groups here in the past and there is alot of activities to occupy and stimulate the children.
Apart from the toddler groups there are two birthday party options to chose from. Firstly you can pay £6.50 per guest and this allows your child to have full access of the facilities for their party. This includes party games, a seperate room for eating, a choice per child from the children's menu and a booty bag. I have used this party plan on more than one occasion and I have always been pleased with the service. All the hassle is taken out of your hands and apart from greeting guests all the hard work is carried out by the very competent staff. Who work really hard in order to ensure all children are well entertained.
The other party option, is a fairly new concept within this play centre. Basically you can have sole exclusive hire of the entire play centre for two hours. This means that you can invite atleast 50 guests. You have to supply the buffet type food and there are two members of staff to assist. All this is offered for £90. I think this is exceptional value. The only drawback is that this option is only available from 7 till 9 in the evening. I find this to be quite late for young children. However as a treat, I think this party option is excellent.
If there are any negative comments regarding adventureland I would have to pass remark on the toilet facilities. They do need updating and are quite shabby. This is a shame as it really lets the ambience of the environment down. Also on busy periods the toilets do become a bit untidy. This is also the case regarding the table area in the cafe. I do think more staff should be availabe in order to ensure areas are kept clean and tidy.
All in all though I would say that this indoor play area, offers a fun packed few hours. My children love it and I find it allows them to let off energy and have good exercise. I personally love to find a quiet corner of a sofa. Take my book and allow them to play to their hearts content.
The price of admission for adults who accompany children is free.
children 0-3 £1
chilldren 3 upwards £3
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Wales Other UK / Ireland topic
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Other UK / Ireland topic / Money raising event for Leukemia Research Fund.
Wern Road, Llandulas Nr Colwyn Bay, Clwyd, LL22 8HG.
tel = 01492 512903
Other UK / Ireland topic / Location Swansea. Costs £4 per night, 20p showers. Caravans and tents allowed.
Eyton, Wrexham, Clwyd, Wales, LL13 0SP. Tel. +44(0)1978 780277
Fax. +44(0)1978 780019. Check the website below for more information.
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