IF you’re looking to book a UK staycay next year, it can be tricky to work out which of the big holiday park players to pick.
We are all avid swimmers and some have been a better fit for us than others – here’s what we’ve learned along the way.
Butlins: best for busy bees
A free vintage funfair and a large swimming pool complete with flumes are two of the highlights at Butlins. We visited the Bognor resort and loved the new funfair-themed pool, with its outdoor rapids and range of slides and splash areas. If your family loves swimming, this could be the place for you.
The evening entertainment is all included and there’s generally a choice of several different venues and shows over the course of each day. Butlins is a winner if you want to be busy from breakfast until after dinner without having to spend any extra cash.
A family of four starting in a standard room (no kitchen) at Minehead midweek at Easter would cost £379 up to £1228 for a Bayside apartment overlooking the beach.
Haven: good for outdoor activities
In recent years, Haven has been upping its game when it comes to adventurous outdoor activities, with most sites now boasting high ropes courses, climbing walls and nature ranger sessions.
The activity costs are reasonable and there’s still plenty of free entertainment as well.
We visited the Orchards in Essex and were impressed by how Haven has teamed up with the RNLI to highlight water and seaside safety, including a musical show for little ones, a workshop with the nature ranger and an interactive quiz around the park.
Midweek prices for a family of four over the Easter holidays cost from £259 at Berwick in Northumberland up to £2431 at Perran Sands, Cornwall.
Parkdean: best for people on a budget
While both Haven and Butlins have invested in equipping their sites with branded activities and equipment to make each site uniform, Parkdean is generally more diverse in terms of what each park offers.
We visited Breydon Water in Norfolk and found the indoor pool small and a bit tired, but the outdoor pool had been updated with cute beach hut changing rooms.
Parkdean prices are generally lower for both stays and the activities on offer, which reflects in the standard of accommodation and the site facilities.
A midweek break for a family of four in the Easter holidays would cost from £219 at Breydon Water up to £829 at Warmwell in Dorset.
Away Resorts: lovely if you love a touch of luxury
Think Center Parcs but without the huge indoor swimming dome. Our visit to Away Resorts’ Tattersall Lakes left us wowed by the upmarket facilities set around the water.
But beware, there are far fewer free activities than we’ve found with other holiday companies.
We loved the indoor splash pad for small children, with its glass walls overlooking the lake.
The outdoor lido looked divine as well. And there’s not many places where the fish and chip shop sells prosecco! Many of the caravans and lodges boast their own hot tubs too.
Another bonus is that you can choose which night of the week to start your break and how many nights to stay for, unlike other operators, which have set changeover days for a fixed number of nights.
A midweek break for a family of four at Tattershall Lakes in the Easter holiday costs from £477 for a superior caravan without a hot tub up to £1232 for a lakeside lodge with a private fishing peg.
Independents: fantastic for unique experiences
The beauty of sites that aren’t part of a larger chain is that they can go off-piste and offer something a little bit special to make themselves stand out from the crowd.
If your family is wild about animals, Ribby Hall Village near Blackpool could be the perfect place.
Its onsite Wild Discovery zoo is home to mammals, birds and reptiles and it even offers reindeer feeding sessions in the run-up to Christmas.
When we visited, we loved the fact that the small but perfectly formed family swimming zone had a pool, slides, hot tubs and a splash pad, but there was also a separate adults-only pool with sauna and steam room, tucked away off the main leisure pool.
Each adult could take a bit of time to be child-free while the other kept the kids entertained.
An Easter midweek break for four costs from £919 for a three-bed cottage up to £1,211 for a three-bed lodge with fishing pass.
So if you’re looking to put the way-hay into your UK vacay, take your time and have a good look at what the different operators and parks have to offer, so you can make sure you have the best break for your buck.
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