Longniddry, East Lothian EH32 OQF. Tel: (01875) 813333
Fax: (01875) 813531. Grading: 3 Star. „
I've enjoyed many caravan holidays as a kid and so was keen to try one out again when I went to Craig Tara last September. My boyfriend and I enjoyed that so much that we booked another one at another Haven site, that of Seton Sands, for the end of March. Seton Sands is just outside of Edinburgh and is fairly large with space for both static caravans and tents and mobile vans.
We booked our breaks through The Sun newspaper's holiday promotion which meant we got the whole thing for under £100 (including entertainment passes, linen charges and electricity charges). We could have opted out of the entertainment pass and linen charges and got it for even less but for 4 nights even £100 is a bargain.
Ordinary prices vary, obviously, by site and by time of year travelling with school holidays being the dearest time to travel. Haven advertises various special offers on their website, though, with some being quite reasonable (eg. £79.99 for a family for four nights).
It is a great location as it is just across the road from the sea which is a lovely view, particularly on a nice day. It is also conveniently close to Musselburgh, Portabello and Edinburgh. Unfortunately, Seton Sands itself is really just a small village and only have some eating places, pubs, a Co-Op and a church bric-a-brac shop in it. It is nice for a walk around on a nice day, though.
It is also easy to access on public transport with Lothian buses No. 26 travelling there frequently (every 10-15 minutes). Be aware, though, that only every second 26 travels to Seton Sands, with the other bus travelling to Tranent so make sure the bus states Seton Sands on the front before hopping on. Lothian buses have the advantage of an easy pricing system: £1.40 for a single any distance and £3.50 for an all day ticket. The journey from Edinburgh to Seton Sands can be lengthy, especially at busy times of day and especially with the tram line roadworks going on (expect a little over an hour for the journey time at quiet times and about an hour and a half at busier periods). This bus also travels through Musselburgh and Portabello, too, though, so is handy for day trips out.
Check in was after 4pm for us and we arrived just before 6. I think check-in shuts at 6, so we made it in the nick of time. Staff were well-presented, polite and helpful. They gave us our keys and directions to our van and it was a change from what we'd experienced at Craig Tara where staff and visitors seemed very confused and the whole system seemed disorganised.
The van was tricky to find but we made it in the end and although there were small bits of litter outside our van, it was clean inside with the exception of some dirty pots and pans. I know that for many people this would be a major bone of contention but I didn't mind giving them a clean considering how little we'd paid for the holiday.
We had only paid for a standard van and at Craig Tara the van we'd had was 2 bedrooms and fairly small. This van, however, had three bedrooms (a double and two twins), a fairly spacious bathroom (for a caravan), the galley kitchen and a fairly large living room area with a small flat screen TV. The caravan, both here and at Craig Tara, had small fires in the living area but no heating elsewhere which leads to freezing bedrooms. We went to Seton Sands during a warm snap but at night the bedroom was still so cold that I had to sleep in a jumper and also we had to borrow duvets from the single beds to put on top of ourselves in the double bed!
Facilities and Entertainment
This park seems to have less on offer than Craig Tara had in terms of size of FunWorks and also activities on offer. This was no major problem for us as we were two adults but if we had had kids with us, it may have been problematic.
We had phoned in advance to ask if they had a tennis court and had been told that they had so had brought tennis stuff but we couldn't seem to find one. They did have a concrete area with goal posts and this was on the map as a multi-sports court so I can only guess that this was the tennis court but there were no tennis markings and no net so we ended up giving it a miss.
The swimming pool at Seton Sands is also tiny. There are water activities available such as Turbo Jets but I'm not sure how much fun they would be for kids in such a tiny space. We didn't use the pool due to how small it seemed to be.
The amusements arcade had a range of machines but was smaller than the one at Craig Tara. Tickets could be collected from some machines but the ticket exchange always seemed to be closed and when it was open, the items offered for exchange seemed rather low quality considering the amount of money that would be pumped into machines in order to get enough tickets to exchange.
The FunWorks Showbar had entertainment every night and as with all Haven sites, this entertainment was aimed towards the families that are expected to attend Haven. We went a couple of times for something to do and as two adults without kids, it was alright for something to pass the time. One night there was a singer performing and another night we took part in Rock And Roll Bingo where songs feature on your card rather than numbers (which we won!) and then watched the FunStars battle it out to be top performer followed by Gunge Roulette (which involved some audience participation and was quite fun to watch).
There is a fairly large play park and it seems well looked after.
Activities run, like at all Haven parks, but here there seemed to be a more limited choice than at Craig Tara. Activities have to be paid for separately either individually or with the purchase of an Activity pass. At Seton Sands they included archery, water walkers, bike hire and cart hire. There was also a small mini golf but if was cheap and plastic and would probably have not impressed older kids although little ones would have had fun. For only £2.50 for 2 rounds, it probably was fairly priced for what it was.
On site there is a Spar shop (which is hugely overpriced.....I spotted a tin of Heinz spaghetti for £1.89)! This also stocks Haven souvenirs such as cuddly toys of the Haven characters. Next door there is a chip shop which is expensive but not as expensive as I'd anticipated considering the location of it. There is also a bar/restaurant area but the menu seemed quite limited and over-priced.
The Surrounding Area
However, fear not if you don't want to spend a fortune in the site Spar or chippy. Within walking distance of the site in Seton Sands itself there is a small Co-Op where you can buy groceries and there is also a Chinese restaurant and takeaway called the Dragon Way. There are a few other eating places including a pub across from the Co-Op. Further away in Prestonpans there is a Lidl supermarket and some more eating places including a pub called The Goth which has friendly service and also returns 95% of its profits into the Prestonpans community.
The staff here seemed much friendlier than at Craig Tara. Even on the last day before leaving when I went to the loo a FunStar shouted a cheerfully hello across the hall to me even though she could have easily have snuck away without bothering. We did, however, visit Craig Tara at the end of the season in September and Seton Sands at the start of the season in March so perhaps the staff at Seton Sands were still full of enthusiasm where the staff at Craig Tara were tired out.
The park seemed to have a pleasant overall atmosphere. It was clean with no litter or over-flowing bins and seemed to have a lot of private owners (many of whom seemed to be a bit older). It was a quiet time of year that we visited, too, so we didn't have too much hustle and bustle and enjoyed our stay. Kids might find it a tad boring after a few days but there are plenty of nearby attractions to entertain them, particularly if you have a car with you.
Overall, we had a good holiday. It was cheap and cheerful and for the price we paid, we got great value for money and would come here again.
I took my family here on holiday in June this year. The correspondence beforehand with them was great, and as i explained to them i was 7 months pregnant, they made sure i had a caravan that was right at the front of the park so i didnt have far to walk. I was well chuffed with the service, we had a lovely detailed information pack sent through so we could see what we were going to.
However, our experience there was far from satisfactory. On our frist night there, we got the kids all dressed up and headed to the site restuarant, but on reaching the door, there was a small sign to say that it was closed for a private party for the Caravan Owners only. So we had to take the kids to the chip shop that was closeby. The prices there were beyond belief, but we had no choice but to pay it.
The next morning we took the Kid for "Breakfast with the Characters". This consisted of a giant bear walking through the room and sneaking up behind my 2 year old and scaring the life out of her, and she didnt want to go back in the breakfast part again. The bear was in the room for all of 2 minutes before it disappeared.
The pool was inside but it was so tiny, and there were no changing facilities so you had to dress in your bathing suit and walk down to the pool with your towel. There was no way i was parading through the site in a swimming costume with the size of me lol. So that was out the question and the kids werent interested in going in the pool as it was so small.
The worst part of the holiday was the staff, they were so rude. One very young gril who worked in the gift shop watched me stuggling along with my kids and shouted to me "Waddle along there hen". I can tell you, if i hadnt been pregnant, she might have been waddling herself lol. And one evening in the restuarant we went up to oirder our desserts and the barman told my husband, "Oh can you no just wait 10 minutes cos im going for my break and if i serve you i have to bring your desserts to you too and i dont want to". So we ended up so fed up that we left the very next day. We only stayed 4 out of a 7 day holiday. It was such a disapointment.
I know some other folk have probably had a fantastic time here, but in my experience, it just wasnt for us at all.
This holiday park is about 12 miles to the East of Edinburgh in Scotland. The site is run by the company British Holidays and has approximately 700 static caravan holiday homes, plus room for about 200 touring caravans or mobile homes, so it is a big site. The whole holiday booking procedure seemed very efficient, although the paperwork we were sent through the post was a bit confusing. A large amount of the correspondence sent to us was concerned with trying to get us to spend more money on upgrades, booking further holidays, or hiring items during the holiday, personally I find this a bit annoying as I prefer to deal with one holiday at a time, not to start booking the next one before even finishing the booking of the first one. One thing I really did like was that a few days before the start of the holiday we received another letter confirming all of the holiday details and giving us a telephone number to call if we needed detailed directions to find the site. On arrival the whole place seemed to be in utter chaos with buses, cars, caravans and people everywhere. We couldn’t park the car, get into the site or anything. They say that first impressions are important and this was not a good one. However, we soon realised what had happened. One car with a large caravan in tow, had parked in the middle of the bus bay and the driver had walked off to the reception office leaving the chaos behind him. Eventually he returned to his car and after much arm waving everything was sorted out. Perhaps the site does need to look at having a bigger car park near the reception area, or train the caravan owners on how to park! The issuing of keys was very efficient, with staff directing us to the right place and then further staff handing out the keys, the whole process taking less than five minutes. The site is very big, but we were given a detailed map of the site with the route to our caravan highlighted. We were also given a pack with
all sorts of information in it. The pack was personalised with our name and caravan number on it. The information we were given was very varied, but as with the initial packs we were sent, there was a lot of promotional material, particularly regarding buying caravans or booking another holiday. There were details about the site and the facilities and information about the daytime/evening entertainment and clubs. The caravan itself was absolutely spotlessly clean, with all of the crockery set out ready for a meal. All of the gas and electric was switched on and ready to use. (Sometimes when we have arrived at a caravan we have spent ages looking for gas taps or switch boxes.) When we have a caravan holiday we don’t spend a lot of time in the caravan (apart from sleeping) and normally eat out most of the time. For that reason we normally only book a basic caravan. On this site the basic caravan that we had was one of the largest caravans we have ever been in, and one of the best. There were three bedrooms (one double and two twins), a toilet and shower, and a very large living area. The hot water was endless and included in the caravan were a colour television, a fridge, gas cooker, gas heating and all the usual kitchen appliances you would expect. Also, there were cupboards everywhere so storage space was definitely not a problem. (Sorry, you get a bit excited about cupboards on a caravan holiday.) There was not a space next to the caravan to park our car, so we had to leave it in a parking bay about 200 metres from the caravan. By the time I had carried everything from the car to the caravan I was sure my arms had grown a few inches longer. Returning everything back to the car at the end of the holiday was not something to look forward to. Also I was not very keen on having the car out of my sight for a week. The map is essential for the first day as finding your way around this big site can be a bit tricky, but ev
eryone on the site is very friendly and if you do get lost then somebody will always point you in the right direction. I am not a great dog lover, but it did appear that almost everybody else on the site was a dog owner, which was a pity for me, but if you like dogs this may well be a bonus for you. This was also the case on the beach, where there was a large number of dogs, nearly all of which were running free, not on a lead. The beach is just across the road from the site and stretches for as far as you can see in either direction. There are a few rocks, but apart from those the beach has beautiful fine white sand and the water is crystal clear. With all this space there is always going to be loads of room for everyone. The daytime entertainment facilities on the site include a very inviting swimming pool, a children’s play park, an amusement arcade, a tennis court, a cycle hire centre and a children’s activity club. These facilities were good, but where the site was disappointing was with food and evening entertainment. The food outlets on the site were a Fish and Chip shop and a food bar called The Oasis. Unfortunately neither of these were very inviting and certainly were not cheap for the food they were selling. For the Oasis there was no proper area to eat the food and you had to carry it either into the Showbar or sit at some tables next to the swimming pool. It is a real shame that this site did not have a decent restaurant, as I am sure it would have been very well supported. The shop was a typical camp site shop. Very expensive, a poor selection of food and cheap tacky toys and souvenirs. The evening entertainment in the Showbar was about the same level as the food, poorly presented and failing in quality. I know the room was full every night, but at a guess I would say that the room probably could hold about 300 hundred people. As there could have easily been about 3000 people on the sit
e it means that a lot of people were not there. I assume that it must be the company policy to aim the food, shop and evening entertainment at a down market audience. I suppose that in the past caravan holidays were a cheap type of holiday and the families taking these holidays had little cash to spend. However, you only have to look around a current caravan site to see the number of new cars that are there and realise that some of the caravan homes cost more than a small home, to know that this is no longer a poor man’s holiday. The holiday company needs to provide decent catering facilities, a decent shop and more professional evening entertainment, otherwise in my opinion their customers will start looking elsewhere. For us the site was very satisfactory because we really only used the caravan as a base for a holiday around Edinburgh. For us the clean, spacious caravan met all of our requirements. However, if the on-site facilities would have been better then I am sure we would have been tempted to use these facilities more. All of the staff on the site were extremely helpful and friendly and this has certainly encouraged us to consider taking another holiday with British Holidays.