I’m going to admit this is about the third time I’ve rewritten this introduction; the perfectionist in me just struggled with the flow, and as I was about to hit publish, nope, I couldn’t do it. This will be our 11th year visiting Perran Sands Holiday Park near Perranporth, Cornwall. Our little family adventure began when our youngest was ten months old, and our eldest was turning four. It was the first birthday she spent building sandcastles on the beach, dodging all the jellyfish and loving her little life. That first year would shape the next 11 years of family holidays to Cornwall. Even Covid wasn’t going to stop us from experiencing that Cornwall life; however, we probably have limited years left with our eldest, who this year turned 15, is about to embark on her GCSE’S and has her first boyfriend, as well as our youngest moving on to his next school (so lots of firsts in this house). It wasn’t easy this year, money was tight, and while we’ve previously used Family Fund for financial support, a new fridge-freezer was more in need. So, a holiday wasn’t a priority until much later in the spring, but we made it.
This year we opted for a long weekend (Cornwall got expensive) in Haven Perran Sands Holiday Park at the end of July. This is our 2022 review.
Haven Perran Sands – A Post Covid Experience
After a few complicated years, we were a little unsure of spending money on a trip that would possibly be awful. In 2020, we were forced into a Haven Hideaway stay, and it was precisely that; it was boring, and we could have saved ourselves thousands of pounds and not booked it at all. Unfortunately, we didn’t have much movement with Haven at the time. 2021 was initially booked in as a Haven Hideaway, but when restrictions were eased, Haven allowed us to upgrade to the Stay & Play experience, which was one of our worst trips (not necessary Haven’s fault).
In 2022, there were two stay options, ‘Haven’ and ‘Haven Hideaway’; we opted for the Haven stay, which meant we had access to all the facilities and the swimming; not sure why Haven even offer the Hideaway experience. I have included a summary below of what it currently offers.
In a nutshell, a Haven Hideaway break is a basic package if you are looking for a relaxing break but want to be able to eat at the on-site restaurants. It is the perfect option for explorers and those who don’t use the park facilities.
- Self-catering accommodation
- Entry to arcades
- Restaurants & Takeaways
- Swimming pools
- Entertainment venues
If you are an adult who loves beach life, it’s definitely something to consider. However, you can’t upgrade or book extra activities at a later date.
Arrival and Check-In
Like 2021, arrival is controlled by the MyHaven app. This is where you manage your whole holiday, from activity to restaurant bookings, check accommodation allocation, confirm your number plate, and receive your arrival time. There are a few mixed messages regarding the allocation of arrival time. You can arrive after noon and use the on-site facilities; however, if your check-in time isn’t until 6 pm, you won’t have access to your accommodation. There is no contacting the park and asking; unfortunately, it’s not something they have been able to accommodate yet.
Arrival and check-in are very well organised; we did advise that we wouldn’t be arriving at our allocated time of 1 pm but be aware it never changes; it just tells them. We never heard anything confirming that a late arrival was okay. We arrived at 4 pm and queued, so this is something to be aware of.
We were greeted by a lovely security person who pointed us in the right direction of our caravan. Once you find your accommodation, a door seal should still be intact with the guest’s name. To enter, you break the seal, and your arrival pack, passes, and keys are inside with a hygiene pack. Once inside, you use the app to confirm that you have inside your accommodation, and that’s the check-in process complete.
It did take us a little while to locate our caravan, but it didn’t take too long. The only weird thing to mention is that sometimes the parking can be slightly off. We parked beside our caravan, but it wasn’t easy getting in and out on a slope with luggage and kids, especially if you have a roof box.
Accommodation & The View
This year Haven Holidays rebranded their accommodation categories again (it appears to be a regular thing); we used to book prestige or prestige with decking (if we had the money). The new categories include:
It’s hard to compare them to the old accommodation styles. However, we stayed Silver this year with decking included; it comes with a higher price tag, but it was worth it for the view alone. Usually, we take the risk and see where we are given, but one random morning I decided to upgrade (that’s what they call it) and request a specific caravan, that way, we would know where we would be and no nasty surprises like last year.
What’s Included in a Silver Caravan
We were pleasantly surprised with our standard of the caravan; due to the categories changing, I think we were convinced we’d end up in what used to be their ‘comfort’ range but at a Silver price tag. We were also told we would no longer have an ensuite toilet that was Gold and above, and we’re pleased to have not only an ensuite shower but a full shower room!
It was one of the best caravans we’ve ever had, and the balcony was a nice extra. One of the best things to come out of the regrading is the towels. Packing beach towels, bath towels etc., takes up so much room in our luggage that the new addition in towels (not included with Saver or Bronze) is excellent.
- 22-inch Freeview TV in the master bedroom
- 40-inch Freeview TV with DVD player in lounge
- Bluetooth speakers
- Towels provided
- Double glazing
- Fridge freezer
- Gas, water and electricity
- Kitchen utensils and cutlery
- Beds made up
- Bed linen
We had the additional surprise of a dishwasher. We only had a few issues with our accommodation: the hairdryer didn’t work (we take our own anyway, as my daughter won’t use them). The toilet seat was broken in the main bathroom, and we couldn’t get the fridge to get cold enough, but they are only minor issues and didn’t spoil our weekend break.
What is not included:
If you like to pack the kitchen sink like me, it can be hard to know what you need to pack for a self-catering caravan holiday. Never fear, though; with a handy supermarket on-site, Co-Op’s within a few minute’s drive or a Morrison’s Supermarket on the outskirts of Newquay, you are never too far from those all-important essentials.
- Towels (not available in our Saver or Bronze models)
- Tea and coffee
- A tipple or two
- Tasty treats
- A board game
- Phone chargers
However, this year Haven is offering family grocery packs, which can be delivered to your caravan, ready for your arrival. There are two to choose from the family breakfast or the grocery starter pack; both are offered at reasonable prices should you want a few essentials to tie you over until the morning. Orders can be placed at the time of booking or anytime through the Haven booking system.
Entertainment, Activities & Swimming
Perran Sands Holiday Park is learning to adapt to this new normal, and it was nice to see it appear to be back to normal. We were only on-site for a short while, so I can’t comment on the outdoor areas but what we used was usual Haven standards.
Restaurants & Takeaways
Haven Perran Sands Holiday Park has a large Surf Bay Cafe, which I would describe as a cross between a Beefeater and a Harvester, and there is a Funky Fish restaurant. We didn’t eat there again this year, but you can now use the Haven App to book a table. If takeaways are more your thing, there is Papa John, Cook’s Fish & Chips and a supermarket stocked with Costa coffee and quick pick-up treats.
Papa Johns is the only takeaway currently available on the Haven app; Cook’s Fish & Chips is now back to ordering inside rather than the windows; however, the restaurants are expensive, so you could find your budget stretched, but local Perranporth has some great options.
The Live Lounge & Arcade
The Live Lounge is a large dome-like arena with a bar, wonder store (to buy those Rory the Tiger gifts or collect photos), and a large part of the main entertainment space. During our visit, we no longer were required to book; we managed one evening in the Live Lounge. The other evenings were so far out the door we didn’t even bother; I did hear from other guests that they were queuing from 5.30 pm to get a seat. If you need your little bit of Rory or Bradley magic, you might want to get there early or send a family member ahead to wait in line.
They are back to full shows now, including meet and greets, and we did notice they added more family-originated entertainment to their running order. Rather than young ones, straight to bingo and then the later entertainment and bingo were first during our visit. Once inside, you can use the Haven Serve App to order your drinks from the bar, I did this a couple of times, but I wouldn’t recommend it unless it’s swamped; just go up to the bar as it was quite a wait.
The arcade is located inside the main entertainment complex, but there aren’t many restrictions before 6 pm, and even then, it was busy most of the day. The little play zone area has reopened this year, but many of the younger children’s rides have been removed for more arcade machines.
One of the positives was that it has a contactless card system called ‘Play Pass’; you need a minimum of £5 to get the card, and then it’s rechargeable, and you can add points to it on some of the machines. It is a bonus if you don’t have to keep getting cash out to change money. I know this has caused some controversy, with some guests saying it ruined their experience, so it’s just something you may have to experience. Nick and Alana had no problem topping it up and accessing it during our visit.
There is still a lot of confusion surrounding swimming sessions. Unfortunately, you are still required to book your sessions. We received an email four weeks before our booking reminding us we could book our swimming slots using the app. You can choose a day and time and confirm guests attending. We booked three sessions during our visit, and it was very smooth.
We arrived at our allocated time and were greeted by team members who asked for our names and play passes, and we were assigned a coloured wrist band. The changing rooms are open for full use, and the showers and lockers. To access the outdoor pool, I don’t think there was any way of booking access; it’s still first come, first served.
We had three sessions, including the slide, indoor pool and lazy river. Thomas loved the lazy river this year, and as the weather was so lovely, it was great to be outside. It was busier this year than on our previous visits. You are still allocated an hour which was more than enough, and we left the pool ten minutes before the end so we’d get the use of the disabled changing room.
There were still, however, a lot of frustrated guests who weren’t made aware of the booking process.
Things to do in and around Perranporth
According to Let’s Go With The Children, Perranporth and its surrounding areas have a lot to offer families of all ages. Our top family choices are:
- Blue Reef Aquarium Newquay
- Camel Creek Family Adventure Park
- Dairyland Farm Park
- Lappa Valley Railway
If attractions aren’t on the top of your day-out list, there are many beaches and swimming complexes to visit. Perranporth definitely has one of the best beaches in the area.
I can’t believe I’m writing another Perran Sands Holiday Park review; it seems only last year I was writing about our 2021 trip. We had a fantastic trip this year, wish we’d stayed for longer but were put off by last year; if you are interested in booking your own self-catering holiday with Haven. Haven still has offers for 2022 or if you want to get in early spring 2023.
I read all the TripAdvisor reviews both before and after our visits, and honestly, it just depends on what week you are there and how unlucky you are. You don’t necessarily get what you pay for, but Haven does exactly what it implies. It’s a family-orientated park, so there will be lots of little ones running around and teenagers kicking a football around. Unfortunately, you can’t please everyone all of the time, but please do your research.
If you’ve booked a trip or are thinking about it, we were delighted with our stay this year. All the staff were supportive, approachable and easy-going and happy to help. Couldn’t fault Perran Sands Holiday Park this year! Excellent stay.
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