Thursday, 15 January 2015

Booking a holiday for a large family - recommendations please!

I have been sucked in by all of the adverts and am feeling slightly left out that we have not booked a holiday yet. And with an enormous choice at my fingers thanks to the wonderful www it's taking all my willpower not to click "book now".

cyprus beach

 So what's stopping me? Well a very tight budget, my children's age range which spans 6-20 with varying entertainment needs and an overwhelming compulsion to check online reviews which on the whole initially delight then terrify me as I scroll down.

How can one person love a place and describe it as clean, friendly and facility-rich whilst another having stayed at the same place at the same time spit venom about dirty and broken facilities, gloomy and lacking atmosphere?

I suppose expectation comes into it. I stayed at a well known holiday park once (over 10 years ago) and was horrified at the low standards. To be fair I had paid very little for the holiday and had planned to use the accommodation just as a base but I had not expected the accommodation to be quite so grim.

Monarch aeroplane at airport
I trotted off to find a rep who confided that the standards were low because most of their customers came from homes which were in worse conditions!

Last year I was chosen as a Butlin's Ambassador and went off for our all inclusive holiday at The Wave Hotel in Bognor with a degree of skepticism which was soon blown away by fab facilities, accommodation, staff and food. The experience has spoiled me somewhat!

In previous years we have booked ready-erected tents or caravans on European campsites and loved each and every holiday. I'd love to do that again but my family numbers seem to prevent that - it seems hard to find accommodation for 8 at a reasonable price. And I'm not even looking at peak season.

Shame, as one of the best holidays we ever had were at sites near or even in European theme parks - I would so love to take my little ones to Disney!

A couple of times we have been able to visit my mum in Cyprus but usually if I want to see her in her home country I have to go alone. Again so expensive with the accommodation for 8 or 10 if you include eldest son and his GF.

Amazingly when I was looking this week I could get away in the Easter holidays in April in the UK in a caravan for 8 for under £300 if I go the last weekend for a three night break and lose a night (two of the kids have to go back to school on the 20th).

But reviews are mixed, the weather is unpredictable and I worry I will have wasted my precious pennies.....
Simply Coastal -pics of beach in Bacton Norfolk
pics from Simply Coastal
who own holiday properties in Norfolk

I'm tempted to visit my friend in her beachfront house in Wales  - but it wouldn't be the first time and I'm wondering how much longer she'll put up with being a free B&B.

Another option is renting a couple of cottages owned by friends in Bacton in Norfolk . Their properties are a stone's throw from a gorgeous sandy beach. Very tempting!

One of the best UK holidays I had was housesitting for a friend's mum in a lovely village just outside Portsmouth. Back then we never dreamed my eldest child would move there to live and work!


Anyway,  I'm wondering - where would you recommend given my low budget, number of children and general fussiness? I'd be interested to hear your recommendations. Feel free to name brands and individual parks.

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I'd love feedback- but keep it clean and kind.