Amy Hopkins travels to Parkdean Resorts in north Cornwall – the kind of holiday she loved as a child – with three generations of her family
When I was a kid, the sight of Dad securing the roof box to the Volvo estate signalled the start of our summer holiday. We’d pile in the car and set off on the long drive from our home in Kent to the west country, where we’d spend a week or two at a holiday park.
I loved the unfettered freedom of these holidays. My sister Lucy and I spent long summer days riding our bikes, climbing trees and playing with other kids in the youth club.
Now, for the first time in 20 years, my parents, my sister and I are going back to a holiday park, but this time, Lucy and I have husbands of our own, and Lucy has a seven-month old daughter, Ivy.
Multigenerational family holidays are becoming more and more popular with UK families, so the seven of us are spending a long weekend at Parkdean Resorts in St Minver, north Cornwall, to see if a ‘3G’ break works for us.
As we join the sluggish bank holiday weekend traffic heading west, I wonder what it’ll be like, returning to the kind of place I adored as a child. I have such happy memories – will going back break the spell? A vision of a Hi-de-Hi world of knobbly knees and Red Coats flashes through my mind.
I needn’t have worried. Parkdean Resorts are beautifully maintained and far more tasteful than the stereotypical holiday park. The lawns and bright and trimmed and the honey-coloured lodges are well-spaced out among trees.
Our three-bedroom lodge is spacious and immaculate, albeit with paper-thin walls. A cot and a highchair are waiting for us when we arrive, along with a comprehensive welcome pack and plenty of leaflets for nearby attractions.
The truth about family holidays is you can’t please everyone all the time, especially when three-generations are involved. This is where somewhere like Parkdean Resorts comes in.
These resorts have clearly been designed with the goal of entertaining families. There’s such a variety of adult and kid-friendly things to do, a family could spend a week at the resort without any complaints of boredom.
Adults can enjoy nature trails or relax in the sauna, while kids burn off energy on the wooden adventure playground and basketball court. For little ones, there’s a soft play area and ball pit. The three kids clubs cater for children from four-years up to hard-to-please teens.
The large indoor pool is a big draw for all ages. There are timetabled slots for adult-only swimming, snorkelling and even kayaking. At 8pm every evening, Wet ‘n’ Wild kicks off and kids (and big kids) race and leap across a giant, floating inflatable obstacle course.
In honour of baby Ivy’s first holiday, her grandma has bought her a swimsuit. My sister manages to pull it up over the baby’s squirming arms and legs and we head to the pool en masse. Ivy isn’t fazed by the loud children having fun with floats – she bobs in her mum’s arms and smacks her hands happily on the water.
One of the obvious advantages of going on holiday with your parents is the option to call on trusted babysitters. After a pub-grub lunch at the resort’s Pizza and Steakhouse restaurant, my parents take baby Ivy back to the lodge for her nap and the rest of us head for a game of crazy golf. Under the warm afternoon sun we make our way round the eight-hole course, Lucy and I giggling like little girls. A lot has changed since the early days of our holiday park adventures, but suddenly we are kids again – the familiar, carefree holiday happiness is just the same.
That evening we pick up a disposable BBQ and sausages from the site’s handy Nisa shop. With Ivy sleeping in her cot, we tuck into hot dogs on the veranda and watch blue dragonflies drift lazily between the lodges.
Evening entertainment is laid on every night in the resort’s Showbar. Enthusiastic entertainers present talent shows, bingo, live music, comedy and game shows. Sunday night is Western night and Ivy and her dad stay at the lodge, while the rest of us watch a haphazard line-dancing lesson, not quite brave enough to join in.
It wouldn’t be a summer holiday without the feel of sand between your toes, and the joy of Parkdean Resorts St Minver park is its proximity to north Cornish’s famous beaches. Popular Padstow, Port Issac, Polzeath and Daymer Bay are a short drive away and Rock is a pleasant two-and-a-half mile walk from the resort.
The path to Rock is not suitable for buggies, so we drive. Despite it being a bank holiday weekend, we have no trouble parking, thanks to a tip-off from a local about parking in a housing estate.
In Rock, we have lunch at Blue Tomato, slurping delicious gloopy milkshakes and sharing huge platters of fresh squid with aioli. On the beach, Ivy dips her toes in the ocean for the first time. The sea is cold but this little water baby loves it, squealing with delight and kicking her little legs.
Parkdean Resorts are designed to bring families together and, for three generations of my family, it’s worked. This is a place where families come to reconnect and enjoy life’s simple pleasures. As we strap sleeping Ivy into her car seat and pile in to start the long journey home, my sister turns to me, ‘can we do this every year?
Location: Parkdean Resorts St Minver Holiday Park, Wadebridge, Cornwall, PL27 6RR
Nearby: Tintagel Castle, the Eden Project, Camel Creek Adventure Park, Newquay Zoo
October half-term: Arrive 27 Oct 2017 for 3 nights, in 2-bedroom chalet which sleeps 4, from £129
Spring 2018: Arrive 19 March for 4 nights, in 2-bedroom chalet, which sleeps 4, from £89
Or, call 0330 123 4850