My Mum plopped back in to the chair beside me whilst I watched Mike weave his way through the crowd in front of the stage pursuing Lily whose little legs weren’t keeping still. “You won’t believe what they’re going on about out there!” (she means outside in the smoking area) “They’re actually complaining about the place! Dissing this, that and the other, saying it’s not good enough! What more do they want?”
For £15 each for a 4 night/5 day stay in North Wales I’m inclined to agree, what more do they want? That works out at just £3.50 per person, per night for a warm chalet to cosy up in, all of your amenities and a free pass to use all of the facilities and watch the nightly entertainment. Less than the price of a signature hot chocolate at a coffee shop (with all of the bells and whistles) and people were complaining about this? Of course, we booked using codes we found online in conjunction with a well-known but bloody awful newspaper (you know the one….!) but most people were also benefitting from the same discounted prices.
Pontins Prestatyn Sands is a kid-friendly holiday park in Prestatyn, North Wales. It’s cheap and cheerful but it makes for a very enjoyable break with everything you need for the basis of a self-catering holiday. Yes the beds are old and a bit ‘campbed’ stylee but pack some extra bedding to pad it out and you’ll be right as rain. Some of the arcade machines had signs on saying ‘Sorry, I’m having a breakdown right now‘ but 95% of them were working just fine and there was a claw machine for 10p a go, 10 bloody pence (you know where to shove that 30p a go now don’t you?) I walked away with two plushy dogs under my arms for Lily and became her personal hero, I felt like a queen!
Our apartment was super clean (aside from the floor which I admit was clear but left your socks looking a little discoloured, I must pack some floor wipes next time!) and benefitted from a bath/shower, toilet, two sinks, oven, toaster, kettle, TV (with just your normal few channels), table and chairs, mirrors and basic furniture.
There’s a NISA shop on site (which isn’t too bad price-wise but if you’ve got any sense you’ll stock up at the local Tesco beforehand), shops for Pontins merchandise and light-up accessories for the evenings and a £ shop for toys. There’s a restaurant for breakfast and dinner but I’ve not been as we either cook back at the chalet or go out instead. Even the bar is reasonably priced with most drinks under £4 per pint (winner!) and if you do get peckish there’s a fish and chip shop and a takeaway-style counter selling pizzas, chicken meals and burgers. Yes, that’s all fast food but, again, we packed our own healthy alternatives to save on costs anyway.
If you want to enjoy the night’s entertainment then put a tenner aside for some bingo tickets. The prizes are pretty good ranging from £20-ish to a couple of hundreds pounds and even a few grand for the linked bingo (played against other Pontins parks) if you win within a certain amount of numbers. There’s even the chance to win a free holiday as well. I didn’t win (despite being SO close various times) but what I did win is free alcohol in the competition hour (several times!) This is where the bluecoats (entertainers) get people up to take part in games for the chance to win some bottles of wine. It’s all good fun with games like strictly can’t dance (basically a cheesy dancing competition for couples), music intros (think Nevermind The Buzzcocks) and, my personal favourite, go fetch (where you have to go and get items from the audience and when you get back they’ve taken a chair away, arghhh!)
They have a separate stage to visit with your kids earlier on in the evening with various activities to get involved in and there’s an hour before the competitions on the main stage for dancing and games with the Pontins characters for the little’uns as well. The main room is attached to the amusements where most games give out tickets for you to collect and cash in return for toys/sweets at the end of the week.
Every night around 10pm the entertainment starts which can be a singer, a show or some other sort of performance. It’s all very professional with lights, smoke – you name it! It’s hard to believe that it’s included within the price of the holiday to be honest with you!
If you don’t want to stray too far afield during the day, Pontins has two swimming pools (a kid’s pool and the main pool), a soft play area not to be sniffed at (with a quieter toddler area which even boasts comfy seats and CBeebies), go carts, a massive outdoor playpark and small fairground rides. A 2-minute walk outside of the complex will lead you to the beach with clean, soft sand and plenty of space for your kiddos to run off some energy.
The very best thing about Pontins Prestatyn Sands, however, is definitely the people who work there. The bluecoats are genuine, they’re funny, they are approachable and full of smiles. They know how to work a crowd, to make you feel at home, to help you enjoy yourself. The bar staff and other employees are happy, everybody wants to help and get involved and it just creates a really lovely atmosphere, it’s absolutely perfect for a budget family holiday.
So, what more do people want? Well, I don’t really know. The holiday is what you make it and yes, there’s a few things you could moan about if you wanted to be picky but I’ll hold my hands up and say that I adore Pontins, warts, flaws and all.
It’s charming, it’s friendly, it’s not pretentious in the slightest, it’s a place to let your hair down, to have fun with your kids, to let them stay up late and run around dressed up as a fairy until they’re ready to drop. It’s nostalgic — how many of you grew up going to these sorts of holiday parks with your family? We used to go to Devon when I was a kid but Mike? Well, he went here, this very place, how special is that?
Pack up your Yorkshire Tea, your instant coffee and your sugar in tuppaware boxes. Shove your bedding in a bin liner, find your best glad rags and keep your negativity to yourself because Pontins Prestatyn Sands? Well, that’s one heck of a good holiday.
Sorry for my terrible photographs, I was too busy having fun to get my camera out and take lots of photos!
Say hello? Have a question? Get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org