We are a big lover of Haven, every year we return to Hopton or Wild Duck (depending on whether we want to stay in a Caravan or go camping), this year we took a trip to The Orchards in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex. As a family with young children, we need a Holiday that will have plenty for the whole family to do and Haven really has that covered.
Check In to The Orchards
A few days before our trip I received a courtesy call to remind me to bring sheets, tea towels, washing up liquid etc. During the call we were also offered to pay £30 to guarantee central heating in the bedrooms, to be hones, we were a little disappointed with this, we had already paid for our holiday, park passes, site fees and declined the extra cost for bed sheets, so having to pay for guaranteed heating was a bit of a kick in the teeth.
We arrived at the park for 4pm which was right on time for checking in. We were greeted by the very friendly check in staff who handed us our welcome pack and gave us all the information we needed to know about the park. We asked a quick question about where to go to get shopping (onsite/5 mins away or if you need a supermarket, Tesco is about a 15/20 min drive) and then we headed off to find the caravan.
The great thing about The Orchards is that they put instructions on the backs of all the keys telling you which left and right turns to take to get back to your caravan! (Fantastic touch for those who hate reading maps).
Our caravan was really far away from everything, I mean seriously, it took 15 minutes to walk back to reception – so be aware of this when booking, if you are likely to walk with little ones like us.
The caravan its self was lovely, it had a very small parking spot but we found it much better to just park along side the Van as there was much more space there.
Inside the van was very spacious, 3 bedrooms including 1 double and 2 twins, with a wardrobe each. 1 huge (the most spacious i’ve ever seen!) bathroom including toilet, shelves, mirror, shower and sink and a separate toilet and sink down the hall.
Then of course the main living area with a decent cooking/kitchen space, plenty of storage and a very large lounge, inc pull out bed, table, TV and gas heater (our only heater!!)
The van was very clean and full equipped with everything we would need (except enough heat!), the only disappointment when it came to presentation was that the curtains were all hanging off and we needed to hang them back up. Not a massive issue, but was slightly disappointing.
On our last full day we had to call reception as we couldn’t get the heater or cooker working, apparently this was just us but the guy that came out was really helpful and friendly.
The Orchards Site
The site was lovely, there was a really well looked after touring and pitching area, many different play parks spread throughout and well marked paths, roads and signs.
All the places to go were situated in a central hub which made navigating the site very easy. Even if there were no signs, things like the teepee were really easy to find.
On site there is a shop, swimming pool (indoor and outdoor), multiple play parks, restaurant, show bar, Papa Johns take away, kids club style room, arcade, plenty of outdoor seating areas and a owners area.
We popped into the shop to take a quick look, the pricing was pretty good for a holiday park with shop brand ketchup at around £1.40 and one type of ice lolly for 30p! Alcohol wasn’t too bad either (as long as you had a really good look first), the same went for the ‘souvenir’ section too.
We are big lovers of holiday entertainment, so we headed out every evening. The Fun Stars were full of enthusiasm and the kids had a great time, even the adult singers were pretty spot on too. The show bar was a nice size, but there really wasn’t enough places to sit, on the Saturday (opening of season, very quiet) there were no seats in the bar! I’d hate to see what peak season is like.
The toilets for the entertainment centre were outside of the bar and in the arcade instead, this wasn’t an issue for us, but could be for people with older children who don’t want to send them out of the room.
We used the shop in the show bar to grab some slush we brought our reusable cups with us and got 3 refills for around about £5 (which was pretty good). We then popped to the bar to get the adults a drink, 2 double Archers and Lemonade cost £11.50! It’s safe to say thats the only drink we brought from that bar.
Papa Johns was also in the show bar area and wasn’t too badly priced, for £8 you could grab a individual Pizza but for only £5 more you could grab an XXL (which was big enough for the whole family and then some!) Once you pay, they hand you a pager so you can go off and enjoy your drinks while it’s cooking. They also deliver to caravans too which sounded very appealing! Check out dealsplanet to see if you can find any great deals too.
The only downside I found was that there was no photo booth (which is something we really enjoy at Hopton)
We used the daytime entertainment on Sunday, the girls took park in ‘Mini Fun Star Training’, we saw messy play happy and we had a great breakfast with the characters. I was particularly impressed at how many characters came out at breakfast, at other parks we’ve only seen one, but The Orchards seam to go above and beyond when it came to making sure there was enough staff.
We also took time to visit the play parks, which were wonderful, there were different parks for different ages and the girls particularly enjoyed playing in the sand.
Then off to swimming. The outdoor pool with its big ship and fountains looked fab, but was of course shut as it was cold. The indoor pool was nice, pretty basic with just a huge tap at the end pouring water out (which of course everyone wanted to crowd around). The temperature was cool, not cold but not as warm as we would have liked either, but the showers and changing facilities were pretty close which was great.
We also ate at the on site Restaurant where we had a cooked breakfast, the food was served quickly and hot and also included a cup of tea (though they had no de-cafe on site, so bring your own if you need it!) The girls had waffles, fruit and yogurt which was also very nicely presented. The prices were pretty good with breakfast being around about £6 for a fry up and drink.
Overall, we loved The Orchards, its a great park and I would defiantly love to go back. With Colchester Zoo pretty close by and what looks like plenty around to explore, this would be a great park to spend a week at.
Check out of quick walkthrough of the Caravan and Park below.
*This is a collaborative post*