Devon Cliffs has been our holiday destination two years in a row – so I decided we should do a review. It’s long!
Devon Cliffs is Haven’s Flagship park, and somewhere we’re familiar with. We booked way up front with a deal via a newspaper as we had done the previous year and chose to go back to – we knew there was a lot more to go and see. The break came in at around £120 total, for accommodation, linen and passes for a Monday to Friday break.
An added bonus is that the excellent Rachel and family live up the road in Exeter, so we extended our stay by a couple of days – more of which to follow as we did a LOT!
So, we returned to Devon Cliffs. I phoned in a request with them to stay in a similar area to last year as we found it quiet – when we stayed at Hafan-y-mor in North Wales we were next to the entertainment complex and its horrendous soundproofing (I can’t use earplugs as I have tinnitus so had to make do with the noise and the people leaving afterwards). We were pleased as we ended up being allocated the same ‘little house’ as last year, in Rowan Meadow. You’re about three caravans length-wise from the cliffs and the sea and on a sunny day you’re facing the sun in the mornings which makes the cold start much more bearable.
On getting back to our caravan nothing had changed – other than this year you have to take your own towels (bedding is supplied as an extra, made up on arrival) – that was fine, though I’m now looking for microfibre towels to take should we go again as they dry quicker than regular ones – drying space is a bit lacking! (you get a rack and there is a laundrette in the main area)
This wasn’t a major issue as our caravan was our base for getting around the area, however the weather had other ideas – we knew the Tuesday would be pretty bad with rain, so decided to try out the facilities at Devon Cliffs – so went swimming. We didn’t try anything else as it was outdoors although you can pay up-front to use them. In the pool H wasn’t keen on the big slide though loved the smaller pool play area. It isn’t deep and H wasn’t out of her depth. There are no floatables to borrow so we bought H a float for about £7 at the pool reception. There’s plenty of staff cleaning the floors and keeping them as clean as possible, and as far as the swimming goes we had fun – it was too cold for us to go to the outdoor pools.
Afterwards we had lunch at the Mash & Barrel – the main pub area (think along the lines of Wetherspoons) – where our waiter asked Shaun if he’d like ‘crisps or chips’ with our sandwiches. Shaun opted for chips… and this is where things got a bit confusing. When the food arrived we had crisps AND chips. As I’d asked Shaun to get a portion for us to share we didn’t complain, but it’s worth making sure the person serving you knows exactly what you want. The vegetarian burger there is great and I was happy with it.
Unlike previous times, we only ate at Devon Cliffs twice – once on our first evening there and once on the rainy day. One plus with the food area is a soft play section, though I spotted a piece of string/rope across the lower area which worried me. I mentioned it to a member of staff as I felt it could be dangerous, and nobody had been to check when we left. This could be me being overcautious, and they do recommend your child is supervised at all times. There wasn’t anyone policing the entrance and a lot of older kids were on there which was a bit annoying as they were well over the maximum height.
We did what any parent who wants to keep their child entertained does, and headed upstairs for the disco – the one for toddlers and young kids. H was shy about it the first night (as I stood there singing along to ‘Hands Up’ by Justin Fletcher and ‘Big Red Car’ by The Wiggles, oh indie cred, I’ve let you down horribly), but the second night in her sparkly Moshi Monsters t-shirt and she was ready to dance. She didn’t win any prizes (which were sweets) but had fun. The kids were led from the dancefloor a few times to ‘Follow the leader’ (as in, have your photo taken with one of the characters for £5ish) but we opted out – it was popular and the queues were big. This meant H had the dancefloor to herself for a bit anyway. The staff were all really enthusiastic and had fun – though a character was introduced on the stage and sung songs nobody knew which kind of lost the kids a bit (I thought). They all seemed to have fun, and there was a sweet shop to the side with illuminated toys and sugar for sale – which we managed to avoid.
On our second to last night at Devon Cliffs we went to the beach, building sandcastles and flying our kite. We had the whole beach to ourselves pretty much. Afterwards we headed up to the seafront bar for some food – bear in mind vegetarians, this place is big on fish! There’s decent veggie options and I settled for a large salad which was really filling. H tried her first prawn and enjoyed it, and Shaun found them tasty – so if you like your seafood skip the Mash & Barrel. This is also the bar which features on the ‘Echo Beach’ advert!
There’s one BIG thing which never happened last time we stayed at Devon Cliffs – the Royal Marines shooting range was used daily, next to the campsite. At first I thought there was some outdoor fireworks display, then it hit home. I then had to explain to H why they were firing things and making the noise as best I could… not a big problem, but one I didn’t realise existed before – so if you want to avoid that, request to be away from the cliffs.
So, going back to Devon Cliffs – was it a good idea? I’m happy with our stay – we all had a good sleep thanks to it being quiet – and we got to see more of the area. Would we go back again? Probably not – but only because we’ve probably exhausted the area close by – we’re thinking about Cornwall next year and going a bit further south (so will look at Haven sites as we know what we’re getting). We took minimal food and stocked up in the Spar which came in around £10 which I thought was very reasonable. I know we’re the kind of family who will use the on-site facilities but do leave the site for most of the day to do other things.
Could anything be improved? Possibly – I liked not having to take our own towels last year! The kids entertainment was good, and given H was confident enough to head down the front and dance with the other kids I was happy with that, though found the character entertainment songs quite loud (with my ears I’m sensitive to it) – I’m sure it’s well within limits but thought it’s worth mentioning. Some lower calorie options with meals would have been nice, although I put my blinkers on and just ate what I fancied (and only put on 1lb in the process – phew). We couldn’t find a check-out time for Devon Cliffs so I tweeted Haven for confirmation – it’s 10am, should anyone else find themselves googling it. It doesn’t say anywhere (the Haven Website wouldn’t work on my iPad, weirdly). Someone came to clean our caravan at 9.30, so they’re keen.
What was good? I love that Devon Cliffs has child cutlery in the food areas and make sure your child has something to colour in (hats this year!). I love their kids food menu has choice at the heart of it, so you give your child more of a chance to pick what they want (even if it isn’t necessarily the most healthy…). I really liked how the pool was the right size, and older kids didn’t get in the way or barge the little ones out of the way. I loved we were in a quiet area at night, although it was freezing – we had three duvets on our bed! We would have ordered from Papa John’s again this year as I like the convenience of having it delivered to your caravan, but didn’t have the time. I bought three days of internet for £12 which meant back at the caravan I could look up things for the following day, buy tickets and so on – we didn’t have that as an option last year, so that was a HUGE thumbs up from me as it helped a lot – especially as my phone didn’t work (never has Everything Everywhere been such an inaccurate name for a service…!)
So yes, that’s us and Devon Cliffs 2013. We enjoyed our time there, wish the weather could have been a bit warmer but managed fine – AND H now likes having showers – result!