Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Flambards Theme Park

One of my favourite memories from my childhood is a day out at Flambards.  The first time I went I had my best friend Lisa with me, the second time I took my oldest daughter Shannon who is 25 now, went on my honeymoon
Libby with the Flambards Egg
 so it was lovely to go with my husband Jonathan and youngest daughter Libby.

The park is in a bit of a time warp but that's what makes it so lovely. 

None of the rides were busy and we had lots of fun on the log flume.  We went on it lots of times getting wetter and wetter which was great as it was a very sunny day.  We seemed to follow the same group of people round which culminated in a battle on the go karts.  Libby went on with her dad and they had a battle with the OTHER family.  It was very amusing and everyone spectating was getting in to it as well.  Lots of cheers when overtaking took place and booing at any questionable behaviour.  I'm very proud to say my team won and yes, it is important.  All in good fun though.

Next we went to the Victorian village with the chemist shop and the blitz experience.  So well done and so much information and still exactly how it was on my previous 2 visits.  I remember walking round the war time exhibit with my lovely dad and him reading everything on every board.  He sadly passed away a few years ago so was a lovely memory to have.
Flambards Theme Park
Lots of ice creams and a lovely lunch.  Every member of staff that we came in contact with were so sweet and kind. 

A really fantastic trip.  I look forward to taking the next generation.

Monday, 9 July 2018

Luxury Lodges - Clowance Estate, Cornwall

After our Butlins experience we were very relieved to arrive at our original accommodation the stunning Clowance Estate in Cornwall.

The luxury lodges are beautiful and have everything you need and more.  A bit of a hiccup at reception meant our lodge wasn't ready but they sorted it and we were eternally grateful to be somewhere clean.  There was a lovely welcome hamper full of goodies that was a nice touch.
Welcome hamper at Clowance Estate
We were situated at the top so had a lovely view down over the grounds and they were stunning.  We went for walks round the extensive lakes and played the giant garden games.  We played tennis, swam and Libby drove the car on the private land.  There are extra activities you can book such as Segway and archery.

Our only niggle was the hot tub was faulty and we spent most of the week unable to use it.  When we did it was gorgeous.

We had a lovely meal in the restaurant and the staff there were very accommodating.

What a difference to our previous choice.

Friday, 6 July 2018

Butlins - Minehead

I debated whether or not to include this but decided to. Here goes.........

We had a mid week break booked in Cornwall and decided last minute that we wanted to make it a full week.  Due to being so late we ended up at Butlins in Minehead.  It was quite simply the worst decision I've made.  It was awful.

Our first impression when we arrived wasn't great.  Security and large groups of rowdy people booking in.  We did our check in and went to our 'room' or more aptly bomb shelter.  The carpets were so dirty and sticky we never took our shoes off, the bedding was stained, the bathroom was unusable and the whole place smelt of sick.  We let reception know but nothing happened. 
We then went to the restaurant for dinner.  We had paid extra for the 'nicer' restaurant but it was awful.  A canteen with people barging each other out the way.  Undercooked food and dirty plates.

After this experience we were getting very disheartened so went for a walk to have a look round.  The main complex is like nothing I've experienced before.  The facilities themselves aren't bad but there were drunk adults (and in some cases teenagers) everywhere you went.  The main green outside by the high ropes was littered with people drinking, smoking and rubbish everywhere - it was only 6.30pm. 

We took ourselves of for a walk along the beach.  This was lovely and there were other families clearly doing the same.

The next day we thought it might be a good idea to do as many paid activities as possible as these seemed to be empty.  We spent a large section of the day on the high ropes, crazy golf etc but you could not escape the dinking, smoking, foul swearing and general rowdiness.  There's something quite disturbing about an adult screaming obscenities at their young children and the children shouting them back. I went back to our bomb shelter and cried.  We looked at finding some other hotel but decided to stick it out. 

That night Libby was violently sick.  I suspect the food.  It really added to stench.

The next day we downloaded a treasure trail and spent the day in Minehead which was absolutely lovely.  We found lots of old fashioned streets, churches etc and sat at the top of the hill having an ice cream. 

When we returned to the holiday park Libby tripped at the gate and the security guard laughed at her and made fun of her.  Really sums up the whole experience.  Needless to say we left at about 5am the next morning and went on our way.

I'm sure Butlins has it's place but in my opinion after what we experienced I'd say it's somewhere back in the 1950s.  Awful awful experience

Monday, 2 July 2018

Clowance Luxury Estate - Cornwall

Clowance Welcome Hamper
This one is a bit tricky.  We went for a mid week Monday to Friday break with our 9 year old daughter and we were underwhelmed with the experience.

Things didn't start well.  Several weeks before arrival we received confirmation from Clowance Estates that our booking in time was 2pm so we went shopping and arrived at 2.25pm to be told quite bluntly that the lodge wasn’t ready and wouldn’t be available until 4pm as per their policy. We politely pointed out our email confirmation and we were pretty much told we were lying. After some discussion back and forth we drove to the lodge. The lodge was still being cleaned so we again waited with a car load of shopping on a very hot day. 

When we got in to the lodge we were very pleasantly surprised. It was a beautiful lodge with lots of rooms and some really nice touches such as a utility room.  The master bedroom had a lovely dressing area and the bathroom was really stunning.  There was a lovely welcome hamper which although a nice touch wasn't in the lodge when we arrived but was delivered  later as it had been forgotten.  Ooops.

One of the main reasons we booked this lodge was it’s own hot tub. We always book them and use them extensively. The hot tub was cold. We tried to correct the temperature but there was clearly something wrong. My husband phoned reception and reported the fault and he was told someone would be straight up. They never arrived so we phoned again. Again no one arrived so my husband went back to reception and reported it in person. This was all done over several hours.  Again a very blunt, unfriendly member of staff. When the maintenance arrived they said it was because the hot tubs are never ready on the day of arrival (in my experience they are always ready) but it would be hot in a couple of hours. Again in our experience it takes a lot longer than a couple of hours to go from room temp to hot tub temp. So by 10pm it was still tepid we again called maintenance who this time honestly, laughed at the prospect of it being ready that quickly. To cut a very long boring tale short we had problems with the hot tub everyday and were told that there was something wrong with it. No apologies or compensation were offered on site. 

The leisure facilities were at best dated and smelly to say the least. Much below the standard one would expect in luxury accommodation.  The changing rooms were pretty unpleasant and although we went several times we only ever saw 2 other people there.

When we booked our stay through their website we were promised a Segway experience for each person. This was never offered and the staff were so frosty we never had the chance to query about it. This is surely false advertising?!

Every time we encountered staff they were rude and very blunt. They could do with some customer service training. If you are advertising yourself as luxury and charging luxury prices then you need to offer luxury service. 

Every day someone entered our accommodation without any prior notice, request or approval. Although I’m not sure of the legal requirements I’m fairly sure when you rent accommodation for any period of time that residence becomes your property so just turning up whenever you want is completely unacceptable. Several times I was in my underwear when they wandered past or through which made us very uncomfortable.

On the plus side the grounds are beautiful and well kept and vast.  There are lots of lovely walks through the trees and wooded area and the lake is very pretty. There are some garden games which are good fun and the tennis courts were a great addition.

When we got home we contacted their customer service and after a lot of badgering from my husband and an excessive amount of emails we were offered a very small compensation that I feel does not compensate for our experience and this was done in a very aggressive manner. I am truly shocked that somewhere selling itself as luxury treats people in this manner. We won’t be returning or recommending which is a shame as the ground are quite spectacular for a resort break and the lodge itself was probably the nicest I've experienced.