Hannah Canavan takes a trip to the Isle of Wight and discovers Parkdean Resorts are changing the face of caravan holidays
Childhood caravan holidays in the UK hold some of my most vivid childhood memories. Sipping blue Slush Puppies in the clubhouse, posting 2p coins into the penny arcade and meeting a crowd of new friends at the mini disco is what we looked forward to when we weren’t going abroad. Holiday parks have come a long way since then, and none more so than those of Parkdean Resorts.
With sites across the UK, Parkdean Resorts have created an extended family of parks in ideal locations for multi-generational holidays. From Scottish forests to Cornish coasts, the destinations selected for the caravans are all within a stone’s throw of family-friendly attractions and activities, as well as the best of British nature.
Starting with just 12 original holiday parks, Parkdean Resorts has grown to become one of the most beloved and trusted brands in the UK, with 73 caravan sites to its name. Each site is unique but carries the DNA of the fun and family-focused spirit that Parkdean Resorts prides itself on. From tots to teens (and grandparents too!) there is something to make everyone’s holiday memorable. We decided to try out one of the two parks on the lovely Isle of Wight with our three girls to see if a Parkdean Resort could keep a six, four and two-year old entertained for a whole week.
Booking the lodge for the week is straightforward; simply hop onto the Parkdean Resorts website, pop in your preferred dates, location and number of nights, and book in a click from the options available. We chose the Lower Hyde park due to the indoor swimming pool, adventure playground and the fact that guests are welcome to use the facilities of its sister park nearby.
The journey to the Isle of Wight is a real treat; from London the ferry port is barely a couple of hours away, and hopping on a boat to the island gives the whole thing an exciting holiday-abroad feel.
The girls played happily in the little soft-play on board before watching the waves spray up onto the deck, and Patrick was very happy to find an X-box room complete with miniature cinema (great for teens to pass the time!) The crossing only takes around 45 minutes and is a great opportunity for the family to stretch their legs and have a break from sitting in the car.
A pleasant 20-minute drive from the port on the other side, and we found Lower Hyde. On arrival we were greeted by the manager who informed us that although we were hours early for check-in (we were a little too enthusiastic to catch the first ferry of the day!) our accommodation was nearly ready. Set at the back of the park, we were thrilled to find our lodge had a view of green fields with families of wild rabbits hopping about.
Stepping inside, we had to check that we had found the right place – this was unlike any mobile home we had experienced before. The light and airy lodge had a spacious living area, immaculate kitchen and white curtains leading out to a double-door veranda, giving the whole place an outside-in kind of feel. The master bedroom was as clean and well-decorated as any decent hotel, and the bathrooms were immaculate with a proper blast-the-dirt-away shower (is there anything worse than spending your holiday dreading the daily dribbly excuse for a shower?).
The staff at Parkdean Resorts had kindly left goodie bags for our girls with age-specific gifts; playdough, puzzles and new books, as well as a hamper of treats for Patrick and I. After demolishing the chocolates (we were on holiday, after all) we headed out to explore the park and see what it had to offer for the kids. We weren’t disappointed. A few hours later and we were tired out from an overly-competitive game of basketball on the multi-sports court, team races around the obstacle course at the adventure playground (it’s harder than it looks!) and an enthusiastic game of zombie fighting in the arcade, despite my protests.
It was time for dinner, and we headed to the on-site restaurant to sample the offerings of the Barnhouse Restaurant and Bar. I was surprised at how much effort had been put into making the decor contemporary and welcoming; it felt like we were walking into a gastropub in London.
We had worked up an appetite and enjoyed the huge portions; we could hardly tell the difference between the kids’ menu and the adult meals.
There was a good selection including traditional pub grub, spicy options and some of the most sumptuous desserts we’d seen (salted caramel chocolate cream pie, anyone?) It was quiet and relaxed in the restaurant and there was a more private area at the back where the kids had space to roam around in between courses.
The dining area was also right next to the Showtime club, where the evening entertainment is hosted. A mini-disco with competitions and games kicked off for the little ones at 6pm, so guests of all ages could enjoy the evening fun before bed. Our girls were in their element boogeying with the Parkdean Resorts characters (we couldn’t quite figure out if one was a dragon, lizard or dog, but the kids loved it all the same) and our eldest daughter’s holiday was made when she won the singing competition.
Later in the evening there were singing acts and bingo for the adults, but we headed back to the lodge with the kids for hot chocolate and bedtime stories. Is anyone else this wild on holiday?
The Isle of Wight is often hailed as the perfect holiday destination for families, and after this trip I would have to agree. Over the week that we spent at Lower Hyde we visited some of the island’s most loved attractions. Blackgang Chine adventure park with its life-size animatronic dinosaurs was a hit with our girls, although the spitting dinosaurs and roaring T-Rex proved a bit too lifelike for our toddler! Robin Hill Country Park was a gorgeous relaxing day out in the sun (check out the birds of prey display), and Tapnell Farm proved to be utterly magical with wallaby-feeding and an unexpected encounter with a wallaby joey leaping from its mother’s pouch. The whole island is beautiful, with rolling fields and scenic coastline so driving around it is a joy.
We had a fantastic break at Parkdean Resorts and this taste of high-quality caravan parks has made us eager to explore more of their locations. With child-friendly facilities and entertainment at every park and located in some of the UK’s most loved holiday spots, Parkdean Resorts is a home away from home and we cannot wait to go back.