Sunday, 11 September 2011

Finlake Holiday Park

We've been back from our holiday a week now and I still haven't told you about where we actually stayed!

Finlake Holiday Park is in Devon, very close to the A38 so very accessible for most people. Its location made it very easy to travel around; we were close to Dartmoor, Torbay (although that has its own issues with traffic), and also to the Eden Project in Cornwall, which I blogged about last week.

We discovered Finlake purely by chance. My sister got married last year and was meant to have her wedding reception at their sister holiday park on the edge of Paignton. However, three weeks before her wedding, the roof fell in during refurbishment there meaning the venue was not going to be ready in time so the company moved everything to Finlake. I really had no idea what it would be like, but having stayed in holiday parks as a child, I didn't really expect much.

We were however very pleasantly surprised when we turned up at our accommodation last year. So much so that we booked before we left to come back for our week just gone. We booked the same lodge, so we knew what we were getting.

The park is mostly full of lodges, some owned by the park owners, some privately owned and sublet, which ours turned out to be. There are the traditional Scandinavian A frame lodges but also lodges that look a bit like wooden huts from the outside. There are also some static caravans in a different part of the park. Some of the lodges have hot tubs too but we decided against that because of the extra cost.

Our lodge had everything - a kitchen with cooker, microwave, dishwasher, and washer dryer, flat screen TV, DVD player etc etc. There was when we first went a PS2 for playing games but this had gone when we returned, cue disappointment from Monkey's part. Everything was clean and tidy and comfortable and the open plan living area was light and airy thanks to the copious windows.

It was located in a position with a lovely view as you can see above and where only a couple of cars drove past, meaning it was safe for the children. We were also pretty close to the main complex where there were bars, a restaurant, indoor and outdoor pools, a gym, a shop and a children's playground. There was also a fishing lake, tennis courts, a 9 hole golf course, walks and picnic areas.

The park is huge and even though it's a couple of minutes from a major road, it's peaceful - largely because it was nearly a mile from the road up to reception and another half a mile or so to our lodge. Yet it was only a 15 minute drive to supermarkets and shops in Newton Abbot, meaning you could stock up and not have to rely on the site shop, which was nice but a little bit expensive - although handy for buying things like one bin liner rather than a whole pack of them.

With everything to hand, it is easy to keep the children amused even before you go exploring the area. We could have stayed on site for a week and the children wouldn't have complained, I think. In fact, I'm pretty sure they think they didn't get to do enough swimming/golf/playing in the playground whilst we were there! None of it was intrusive and although there were children around, it didn't feel like it was crowded. Everything is designed so you can choose whether to keep yourselves to yourselves or get more involved with what's going on. My kind of place.

What we liked:
  • the space, standard of equipment and facilities at our lodge
  • the range of facilities available
  • the entertainment (tho there wasn't enough for the children, see below)
  • the peace and quiet - and all the animals we saw near our lodge (rabbits, squirrels and deer)
  • the walk in wardrobe so we had lots of storage
  • the Sunday roast carvery; my sister had roast dinner at her wedding reception so we knew it would be good!
  • the speed of service - we had a minor issue which was resolved by maintenance within an hour of reporting it.
What we didn't like:

  • the onsite Wifi service. I paid £20 for a week's usage but it was awful, kept cutting out even when I was using it. I am sure I was in sight of one of the Wifi routers too. For a paid service, it was dreadful. I did complain and they got a refund, but I wouldn't like to have to rely on it. 
  • the "family" entertainment was only on every other day, starting at 6pm, which is a really odd time. It didn't actually start until gone 7pm once and then was very short. 
  • the lack of pavement by the road near the main complex, especially as it looked like it wouldn't take much to add one. It was quite unsafe walking along that part, especially as that's the busiest part of the whole park. 
  • the placement of our lodge meant that we needed to keep the blinds down at all times in our bedroom as it looked right into the lounge next door. 
  • the thin curtains/blinds - do people not realise that small children wake when it's light?! It was also really bright in our room too quite early although I did manage to sleep in.
  • there was an activities programme but we thought it was expensive. Not only that, parents had to stay with their children for the length of an activity, which was odd. We didn't make use of it, which was a shame. 
We could easily have stayed for a fortnight. Sadly, it was not to be, and now I want to go back. Looking through the photos I took of our lodge before we left, I miss it. We were truly blessed with the weather last week as we had a few spots of rain on Saturday waiting for our lodge to be ready, and the next rain we saw were coming up the M5 out of Devon the following Saturday morning. It would have still been great had it been wetter but that really helped to allow the children to play outside freely. It was a lovely relaxed family holiday and I'm pretty sure we'll be back again at some point.

(I have not been paid to write this post. We paid for our own accommodation, and I'm only blogging about it because we enjoyed it so much!)
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