I have been to Pontins at Camber Sands & Pakefield more times than I’ve been abroad as a child and since coming of age and turning the legal age to drink I have LOVED the 48 hour parties held at Camber Sands, cheap weekends full of tribute acts from the 80’s and 90’s, dressing up as Batman and Snow White and sinking a whole load of wine with my friends!
However, me and my best friend always said when we have children of our own we would take them to Pontins and re-create our childhood with them as we can remember the best summer breaks were staying in a caravan or a holiday park!
So last week me, my best friend, Frankie and her little girl went to Pontins for a mid-week stay. I booked through Groupon £39 for a mid-week stay for ALL OF US! I was honestly more excited than if we had booked Marbs (bit of an exaggeration but still!)
We stayed in a one bedroom club chalet, one bedroom & a sofabed in the living area, we could of upgraded but as the kids are only 2.5 & 1.5 we put them in the bedroom and we had the sofabed. The chalets are shit, there is no way of sugar coating that one, they’re an eyesore and haven’t been done up in years BUT, it is clear that they are going round the site re-vamping them, there were vans and men in and out painting and banging about in sections while we were there. There is parking all around the centre of the chalets, we parked and found ours easily, it was clean-ish, we gave the sides a wipe over & took our own bedding and voila our home for the weekend! Although I did love the cyan blue bathroom suite..
We unloaded our shopping (super noodles, pasta n sauces, cheese, crisps, sweets – all organic obvs). Cooking in the chalet was fine, hob was electric and I do prefer gas as it took a while to heat up but it was fine, my noodles were fabulous! Ha ha. Going on the cheap we decided to save our money for activities for the kids and not bother eating out, I’ve only ate in the resturaunt there on the adult weekends and it is your usual nuggets, full english breakfasts etc. so we decided to cook ourselves. We took cereal for the kids, made sandwiches for lunch, snacks, crisps, babybels & made them both good dinners with veg and we just snacked!
Frankie absolutely loved the chalet, he thought his new home was so cool, especially because he could kick a ball out the front while we kept an eye on him and other children from their chalets could play with him!
The Bluecoats are always really good, whenever I have been, they really make an effort to learn the kids names and sing and dance to get them involved! The Wednesday we arrived fell on the England Semi-Final game which of course went into extra time which obviously was no fault of their own but they still put on the mini-disco & brought Zena the Zebra out in the Lunars Bar downstairs. Frankie loves a mini disco, he big fish little fished, baby sharked & supermaned all night long!
Bingo is bingo, if you go to a cheap holiday park you expect to play bingo, but I do think as a first timer going with my little one that it goes on far too long and keeping a 2.5 year old quiet for an hour who wants to dance on stage with Chuckles the Monkey is near on impossible! We played, didn’t win but it was fine!
We didn’t stay up for the main entertainment, we went back to the chalet as between potty training Frankie, running around after him too we were exhausted, but in my experience, the shows are good humoured, fairly well run and typical of what you would expect! If you don’t like cheesy shows, karaoke, late night dancing then make tracks after the mini disco!
The arcades were really good, Frankie absolutely loves a £1 ride so I am pretty sure I spent the best part of our money funding him riding on the fire engine and lady and the tramp ride!
They have parks dotted around the whole of the site, Frankie’s favourite was of course the sandpit covered one next to the Queen Victoria & Clubhouse which has a huge pirate ship and he got covered in sand, eyelashes, ears, galore! (handy that this particular park is also next to the pub.. tip for you Mummies!) Captain Croc’s playpark by the front gates is new too!
Now there is also a ‘bouncy castle park’, with an obstacle course, massive football and bouncing balls & next to that are trampolines, a climbing wall and a basketball aero thing! They run on a token system, the trampolines and bouncy castles were both 2 tokens (£2) each which I thought was great and Frankie was entertained while we sat in the sun! You get the tokens from a machine at reception.
There is a new Dinosaur Park there with different species, two slides and rocking dinos and there are facts on each dinosaur about their origin, what they eat etc. which I thought was a really good idea! We spent the best part of an hour in there and Frankie thought it was so cool!
Next to the Dinosaur Park there are petrol cars, which we didn’t actually get to go on as we didnt realise you needed tokens, so walking back to the clubhouse to get the tokens to come back was a bit of a ballache! Frankie broke down obviously that he couldn’t go on the cars but we bought an ice cream at the shop and all was forgiven! But remember to get tokens next time!
In the reception clubhouse area there was a ‘kids club’, they were making england flags and doing facepaints the day we got there, there is a small softplay & they also play films! They do painting etc too!
We love the milkshake hut in reception, we enjoyed a Milky Bar milkshake both days & the pizza in the fast food diner next to the Queen Vic is good too!
You can hire out golf clubs free of charge and play mini golf with the kids & they also have the pedal bikes that you can ride round the park on! (proper british!)
They have a pretty good kids line up for the Summer, Rastamouse, Theo The Mouse, ‘Little Chix’, ex BGT & X Factor performers & lots of other entertainers – see for yourself – Pontins Entertainment
We went swimming on the Thursday afternoon, they had pool noodles, inflatables and boards in the pool at no extra cost and they have 4 mini slides which Frankie whizzed down! The lifeguards were really vigilant which was good to see and stopped some of the other children from splashing and kicking around the smaller tots! The far left of the pool is deeper for older children which made a difference especially as Frankie is at the age where he thinks he’s a fish and if I dare to help him i get a foot to the face!
The baby pool was really warm & the main pool was a bit cold but it was bearable. The changing rooms are fine, although more baby pull down changing facilities would be appreciated but we had a good experience and was in the pool for a good hour! They do ‘fun activities’ in the pool at 4pm, I think, which costs tokens but they have the zorbing balls and other bits, we didn’t go as the kids were too young but the pictures looked fun!
It wouldn’t be right if I didn’t do a segment on the bastard seagulls, they are honestly so big, Frankie kept calling them eagles! One flew down onto our table whilst we were sharing a share bag of crisps, we were watching Frankie in the park and it swooped our crisps, they give no fucks and do not get scared, if anything I was more scared! There are signs absolutely everywhere saying not to feed them but we still saw people throwing food for them!
I’ve been going Pontins for years and I will continue going every year too, if you want a cheap break to make the kids happy, Pontins ticks most of those boxes. I’ve been there on New Years, I went for Eurovision & I love the 48 hour parties (over 18’s only) and now I can enjoy going to make the most of being away with Frankie without spending the earth!
I am not going to exaggerate, it isn’t a ‘home from home’ but compared to other breaks in the UK, there is something nice about not having to rush around and just enjoy being by the sea with the kids & exploring the parks, entertainment & attractions at your own pace without being on a schedule like other places & the improvements they’re making are great!
We can’t wait to go back again!
Top Tips to ‘make the most of it’
- Take your own bedding – they don’t provide it, you can buy it in their shop but why would you bother when you can take the quilt off your own bed and travel it with you!
- Antibacterial wipes – take a pack and wipe down the sides, don’t go & moan to reception, you’ve booked a cheap holiday break, wipe it down & move on
- Save your change up – take a glass/cup and leave it on the side and start saving your pennies and pounds for the arcades
- Take your own food – snacks, toast for the morning & squash. They have cutlery there, save yourself some money and spend it in the arcades!
- Ignore the reviews – it really isn’t that bad anymore, yes there’s a bit of mould and condensation on the windows & the TV wouldn’t even fetch 50p at a bootsale but it is what you MAKE OF IT!
- Embrace it , enjoy it & try the jug cocktails when the kids finally fall asleep!