Pontins has finished bottom of a Which? survey of the UK’s best holiday parks, while family favourite Center Parcs faced criticism over its prices.
The survey of more than 2,200 stays saw Potters Resorts coming out on top with an impressive customer score of 88 per cent, with Waterside Holiday Group a close second with 87 per cent. Both scored an incredible five out of five stars in every category.
With a 72 per cent customer score Center Parcs emerged just one per cent ahead of Butlin’s. It scored just two stars for value for money as guests reported paying £71 per night on average with extra activities on top, finding it was almost the same price as first-place Potters – an all-inclusive. One guest said it was “second mortgage” expensive.
However, visitors were delighted with the accommodation at Center Parcs, rating it five out of five stars after they enjoyed “luxuries” such as a sauna, hot tub and ensuite rooms. They awarded the group four-star ratings for cleanliness, customer service and facilities.
Budget brand Pontins – owned by Britannia, the hotel chain rated as the UK’s worst nine years in a row in Which? surveys – propped up the table after scoring just 59 per cent overall. One guest described it as a “dull, dingy campsite”, while others complained of cobwebs, musty smells, sticky furniture and stained mattresses.
Pontins scraped just two stars out of five for accommodation – the worst in the survey. It got the same rating for its entertainment and kids’ facilities, its signature attraction. But others had an “amazing” time and said the trip brought back childhood memories.
Consistent Butlin’s scored three or four stars in every category to propel it to a 71 per cent customer score. The company has just three sites – Bognor, Minehead and Skegness – and has spent millions smartening up its accommodation and pool complexes in recent years.
And the investment paid off as it outclassed its rival Pontins in almost all categories while charging customers less, on average, too. But the makeover failed to impress everyone and one guest said: “It’s good for families but could do with a lot of TLC.”
Towards the top end of the table, John Fowler Holiday Parks offered guests a classic holiday park experience on a budget. It proved cheaper than Pontins and a similar price to Butlin’s, and scored 78 per cent overall, including four stars for value. With themed weekends, kids’ club and static caravans at 11 coastal locations across Devon, Cornwall and Somerset, it could be the bargain of the summer.
Potters has two locations, in Norfolk and Essex, and everything is included in the price – that means free food and alcoholic drinks. It promises “first-class” entertainment with West End-inspired shows and facilities such as a boating lake and rifle shooting range.
One guest said: “They believe in giving good customer service from when you book until you leave. Entertainment is fantastic with shows that could just as easily be in the West End. Food is good and if you have dietary issues the chef speaks to you and comes up with solutions.”
Waterside visitors appreciated the choice of a classy caravan complete with widescreen televisions and central heating or glamping in a safari lodge with their own private hot tub. Its parks in Dorset and Cornwall also boast beachfront bars and restaurants.
Guy Hobbs, Editor of Which? Travel, said:
“The UK has an incredible variety of holiday parks and resorts. Holidaymakers can choose from those bursting with slides, swimming pools and activities for kids, or opt for a luxury stay in a safari lodge with hot tub.
“Our survey saw smaller, family-run resorts triumph over the biggest names, so there is no need to go for the most expensive option to have a great experience.”
Notes to editors
- In April 2022, we asked 1,355 Which? members and the general public about their recent stays at UK holiday parks and resorts. In the table, entertainment includes kids’ facilities. Aria Resorts is now owned by Away Resorts.
- Guy Hobbs is acting editor of Which? Travel while Rory Boland is on leave.
Right of replies
Center Parcs declined to comment. Pontins did not respond to a request for comment.
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