I am fuming! Ok. So we are frugal minded people….that’s a given.
It does not mean cheap! If you have read previous posts from us before you would see what I mean. In fact, you can read this one to see what we actually mean about being frugal.
We just don’t believe you should spend in excess when you don’t need to. So we love going on holidays and we like all inclusive holidays because we feel it offers so much. So we have been saving for our next holiday which is to Jamaica in Summer 2018…..but kids, being kids wanted to go on holiday as well this year so we made a compromise.
- It had to be in Britain so we could save by not having to fork out for airfares.
- It could not be all inclusive as that would be too expensive (remember we are saving for the Jamaican all-inclusive holiday).
So this summer when we set off to find a British holiday I wanted to be sure that we would not be spending over the top, the kids would have enough to entertain them and we could self-cater. That’s not too much to ask, is it?
Well since I usually prefer overseas holidays, we have not had many British holidays before. In fact, we have only ever been to Billing Aquadrome in Northampton. (I know, I should have stuck with the evil that we knew). Our holiday at Billing Aquadrome was mostly good except for the last day which I wrote about here. Anyway, after I have told her about our specific requirements the travel agent I went to suggested Pontins in Wales. I was sure to ask the lady if she had been before and was pleased when she said she had and it was ok. Well, the accommodation they offered were in three categories: Popular, Classic and Club. Of course, we chose classic.
I told the kids about the holiday and they were (mostly) looking forward to it except for the oldest girl who said she had an inkling it was not going to be good. Oh my! I waited with bated breath and just kept everything crossed!
I thought to myself that if by some miracle, there was no wifi so they could keep up with their social life, I would make sure to get a GifGaf card. It was such a relief that I did!
Well as the time neared, the kids (especially the younger ones) kept asking about the rooms and the facilities and what they should pack and so on. So they were really excited for the trip. As the time neared, I received their welcome pack letter that sounded really positive. Here is a gist: ‘We are looking forward to entertaining you and your party at Prestatyn Sands on Friday, 18 August 2017.’
It was beginning to sound promising. Read on…
In time, we packed up on the supplies we would need for the holiday and boarded the coach that would take us to the location. We were in for a shock! To start off with, you would expect that the reception area would be close to the entrance of the property, right? Wrong! We had to haul those suitcases a good way into the property before we came across ‘reception’!
It was the worst looking reception area I had ever seen! I mean sometimes you come across some accommodations with impressive looking reception area and then slum looking rooms, but it seems Prestatyn Sands was not about to give us any false sense that the accommodation was anything but slum-like. There was a long queue there too but that was not so much of a bother.
Checking in and First sights
As we checked in, we came across a young team of receptionists. There were about four or so of them all rustling against each other in what was quite a small cubicle filled with cardboard boxes containing toilet supplies and bedding, among other stuff.
We collected the bedding and keys and then inquired of the young attendant about finding our particular two apartments. He turned to ask another similarly young attendant. That is when I got the idea to ask him if there was anyone available who could accompany us to the apartments. He accompanied us.
OMG! What greeted us at the grubby apartment complex was unbelievable. There was a pile of broken bottles to the left of the stairs that we would ascend to get to the apartment! The area where our apartments were, was set in a large quadrangle which was reminiscent of our primary school in Jamaica. It was spacious and grassy, quite fit for families who wanted to play games, I thought. But there was litter everywhere! It was obvious that this was not just one day’s worth of litter either.
As we got to our apartment, a wave of emotion came over me. I felt really sad to think that I had spent over £500 to stay here! The money was one issue but I was really sorry too for being the one who chose this for the kids. I felt so defeated and deflated! I was quite tired from the long journey and knew that I couldn’t wait for this holiday to be over even though it was just beginning.
The young chap opened the door to the first apartment we had rented. On the outside of the window was a big splatter of bird poo! I thought, well that might have happened after the last occupants checked out that morning and the site maintenance team just hadn’t got to it yet. The very large mirror in the sitting area though was extremely grubby and the inside of the window was in need of just as much cleaning as the outside. On close inspection of the rooms, we found that there were two soda pop bottles in one of the bedrooms with pop still in! We knew then not to trust that these rooms were cleaned after the last occupants had checked out.
One of the first thing I noticed however as he opened the door was one of those ancient, big back televisions that I think dinosaurs used to watch! I expressed alarm as I did not even think those still existed and could work! The attendant tried to figure it out and couldn’t! He said he would let the maintenance team know and they would come to sort it out. Well throughout our stay, they did not come to check! (Customer service went out that grubby window if you ask me!)
Not Enough Basic Supplies
In the bathroom, there were some little squares of tissue. After a day of being there, we had run out so we went back to reception to request some more. The attendant there was not sure whether or not they supplied tissue! Shocking! Another of the attendants overheard and said yes they did so then she decided to let us have some. Whilst I waited there for that to be sorted, I listened as person after person made complaint after complaint. I took the opportunity to remind them to come check on the tv. The attendant took our apartment number, wrote it on a random piece of paper and put it on the desk. So there was not even a system to log things and follow up on them! Never again!
There were positives
Okay, I don’t want to be all negative. There was some saving grace. There is an indoor games arcade that the children could access, and they did, against my better judgment. The place was in need of a deep clean! Everything there just looked really grimy and greasy. The carpeted floor was matted and I could just almost see germs having a field day.
I found it horrible too that the little office which stored the ‘prizes’ for those who won reels of tickets only opened at certain times, so some people missed out on collecting their prize because they had to leave to return home whilst the shop was shut. I think that is a dishonest and manipulative ploy!
There are also some other outdoor play areas for kids (some of which are unattended). For older kids or adventurous dads, there were some kinds of pedal bikes which could be rented. This afforded those who were so inclined, the opportunity to ride around the property for hours on end. Those of us who were pedestrians, however, found that we had to be dodging these pedal bikes quite often! Surely, they could have designated certain areas for these rides!
One day we tried accessing the swimming pool! We could not, as there was a long spiraling queue waiting to go in. So on that day, we decided to find the nearby beach instead. It was not too long a walk. We could imagine it being beautiful sometimes but unfortunately, on that particular day, there was a strong tide so we made our way back to the property.
Close to the entrance of Pontins is an outdoor play area for kids. That was quite good. It did what it says on the tin. We spent a good deal of time there with the younger children whilst the older two used their electronic devices in their rooms, thanks to Internet service by GifGaff. To be honest, that’s what they did for most of the holiday.
Maybe Pontins is concerned about our environment. We say this because we did notice that the apartments were fitted with pay as you go meters for electricity supply. So the onus is on the occupants of the room to monitor and be careful with their energy usage with things like the cooker, kettle, heating, and microwave etc. This, we thought, was a good move, so good on them.
Next to the apartment where our older teenagers stayed is another apartment which is used to store old fridges, cookers, and broken furniture. It was such an eyesore to have to pass this back and forth when going to or leaving from the apartment.
Low Rating From me
We have been to about 12 countries so far and have never ever come across anything like what we experienced at Pontins Prestatyn Sands in Wales! Calling itself a holiday destination!
Checking out time could not have come any sooner! By the way, ‘check out’ meant that you went to reception and dropped your keys in a bucket that was there on the counter. No opportunity to ask how was our stay or encouragement to come again soon.
I think this is such a bad situation. Anyone could have access to the keys, steal property from any room, and then those who booked those rooms could potentially be charged for the stolen property!
Amongst the few pleasant experiences, was that we met up with a long time acquaintance Mark Peters who by the way is doing amazing work for young people who are homeless. You can see some of his work on his site StartAgainProjects.co.uk. We reminisced about old times but most of our chance encounter was spent bemoaning the fact that we had made a big mistake in choosing to visit this facility. He had the same problems we had encountered and had decided to leave a day earlier than they had planned to (and paid for!)
So would I go back to Pontins Prestatyn Sands in Wales? Definitely not!
Advice For Them
But perhaps they might want some ideas from me as to how things could be improved. So I will offer some free advice for what it’s worth.
- Employ enough staff who are good at cleaning. This might mean retraining some staff they already have. Perhaps offer an incentive scheme to its workers too.
- Include some system of accountability for the cleaners.
- Implement a system of logging complaints so these can be followed up and dealt with appropriately.
- Keep the ‘prize shop’ open during the opening hours for the arcade.
- Move reception area nearer to the entrance to the property and drastically improve the look of the place.
- Have more confined designated areas where the pedal bikes could be ridden out of the path of pedestrians.
- Modernize the decor of the apartments
So for now, we count our blessings that we were able to leave there without being physically harmed (some emotional scars, yes, but at least we are ok physically). We are so looking forward to our holiday to Jamaica next year! If you decide to visit Prestatyn Sands in Wales, you do so at your own risk! Happy holidays.
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Have you experienced a holiday disaster? Share with our readers so we know what to look out for and what to avoid. Afterall, we are frugal, but we do want to get value for our money.