It has been two weeks since we returned from Cresswell Towers, and work commitments have prevented me from writing this review. However, I thought it important to do so as previously I had read slating reviews on Trip Advisor. Had I believed them or accepted them at face value, I would have missed out on a fantastic family holiday, so here goes. A few basics before I begin: It is the first time we have had this type of holiday, we are 50/50% foreign family who have only recently returned to live in England so are not used to UK type self-catering holidays, and we have absolutely no connection with the resort, staff or this company.
Reception. We booked a week's stay over half-term, in a Bronze standard caravan. We have two Jack Russells so this was the maximum grading we were allowed. To start with, the booking agent was very flexible and allowed me a 50% discount for the dogs as they are small and old. As is customary, and myself working in the service sector, I was polite when I asked the booking agent, and she was very helpful (more on the theme of politeness later). We arrived 3 hours early (the weather was good and I thought I would take the kids to the beach). On our arrival the manager (Mark) was extremely courteous and showed us where the caravan was, explaining a few rules. To my surprise he told me that the cleaners had finished and we could move in straight away.
Caravan. We approached with some trepidation having read some of the previous reviews, but our worries were completely unfounded. I had all manner of pre-rehearsed arguments ready if the caravan was not up to standard, having formed an opinion and pre-judged the situation (to my discredit) from the poor reviews I have seen. The van was actually great, and a credit to the cleaners. The kids (14 years, 5 tears and 1 year old) loved it. Yes, there were signs that it had been in use; yes, there were some scuff marks and the windows could have done with a little clean; yes the TV was the old-fashioned type, etc etc. However, I really think some people live in cloud cuckoo land when it comes to their expectations vs what they have paid. You are not going to a 5* boutique resort, you are not paying 200-300 pounds a night for your accommodation. Yes you should expect cleanliness, serviceability and functionality, but this is a caravan holiday on the Northumberland coast! We try to be a family who recognises and appreciates good work and in common with almost everything at Cresswell, the staff really try hard for you, including the cleaning ladies and the maintenance gentleman who came and explained the gas system to us (within 5 mins of arriving !). In the first hour, we took a cloth and some soapy water and ‘tweaked’ the caravan, to our satisfaction, the same as we would do at home. Caravan = no complaints at all.
Resort. The end of October in Northern England is not going to produce great weather but we were lucky and had 4 sunny days, 2 when it absolutely lashed down and one when it was grey and overcast. On one of the very wet days, a drain in the resort, near to the clubhouse, overflowed with sewage (purely due the amount of rainwater). However, within an hour 2 guys were on the job and it was cleaned. The resort was otherwise clean, dog owners all seemed to ‘poop-scoop’ (we didn’t see one example of lazy dim-wits not picking it up but the beach was a different story – more later), and the kids play area was a good meeting place for our youngsters to get to know others. On the subject of kids, I’ve read people moaning about groups of youths milling around etc. What is wrong with people? Where they never young themselves? Yes there were quite a few teenagers looking slightly bored and just sitting around. What is there to complain about? That’s what teenagers do! If you expect to come on holiday at half-term and not see kids and not be pleased to see your own children running around causing mayhem and having fun then go somewhere else or go at a different time of the year. I really do not understand people’s intolerance to children. Yes, I did see the odd occasions when they were a little bit out of hand (especially in the clubhouse) but I have to say that the security staff were first-rate at dealing with them. I’ve also read comments about these staff being ‘heavy-handed’. What rot! What actually appears to happen is that one or two kids get out of hand, the staff deal with it in a really professional manner (my hat off to them) and then an irate, half-drunk, ‘chavster parent’ takes offence at someone speaking to their offspring and ‘goes off it’. Personally I have no problem with professionals taking charge of a situation with my kids when I am not in attendance (Eg. Teachers, or in this case, the security staff at the resort). The fact that some people take offence at this and by default believe that their kids should be allowed to run amok, unchallenged, spoiling things for those who are just having fun on their holidays, whilst they pour vodka/Red Bull down their necks says more about them than I ever could.
Entertainment/Clubhouse/Swimming Pool. Mentioned the security staff already – good job done. I know some people are not happy that they patrol in the dancehall looking for those who bring their own drinks in, and this does afford a bit of a ‘big-brother’ feel to things when people are constantly looking under your table for illicit bottles of vodka etc. It has to be said that the drinks are expensive (3.20 for a pint). On the other hand, and to be fair, the entertainment provided on Friday & Saturday nights was superb and cannot have been cheap. So these costs have to come from somewhere. Put simply, you get what you pay for. I would think that if they reduced the drinks prices the problem of people sneaking in their own drinks would go away, but then there would not be sufficient revenue to pay for the acts that performed.
In terms of adult entertainment, the ‘krew’ were excellent. OK, so it is not Las Vegas, but they worked hard, sang well and the kids absolutely loved it. I was the ‘Worst Parent’ in the Madness & Mayhem dance 2 nights running which the kids loved, and overall I have to say the staff were super. That also goes for the bar-staff. Again, I’ve read that some people found them to be impolite, surly or aggressive. I come back to the point of politeness and mutual respect. I’m afraid that I saw a number of people just barge in at the bar, shout their orders then proceed in loud, half-cut voices to slag-off the resort, bar, entertainment or whatever was their particular gripe that day. What then did they expect in the way of service? People respond in the manner that they themselves are treated, and by-and-large you get back what you put in in life. For my part, the staff were fine. Over the first couple of days I bought them a drink and took time to get to know their names etc. A little bit of courtesy goes a hell of a long way folks. All I can say is that the people who behaved in a drunken, ignorant manner towards the staff got what they deserved. Mutual respect costs nothing.
The swimming pool was a strange one. Great, warm, clean pool with lots of play things for the kids (and me!): Weird changing arrangements! Double-door cubicles that no matter how I tried, I could not work out. It was like some sort of Brian Rix sketch trying to get the clothes from the miniscule cages provided, into the cubicles, then out to the showers, then back to the cubicles, then out of the other side to put your shoes on, like some sort of poor-man’s magician’s box!!!! Why they do not simply re-design this area I don’t know as it really is a pain trying to get 3 kids showered and changed in the current set-up. Also, the life-guards seem to spend their time listening to not so good, very loud hip-hop and grunge, which I don’t mind, but some found galling. However, sitting there for six hours at a time must be a little boring for them. On the subject of life-guards, the only occasion I felt spoken to in a derogatory manner was by one of them. However, as always, I did not get angry, but simply asked him to consider what he had said and whether he could have done it differently. Actually the lad apologised to me which I thought was testament to the resort’s training program and management. They did a good job though, keeping a close watch on the kids and blowing-up whenever anyone got a little over-exuberant in the pool (including me by the way – well we’re all big kids really aren’t we!) Again, all in all a good job done.
The kids club was just great. An hour’s activities in the morning and then dancing & games after the Bingo. The team worked hard and my kids really appreciated it. To repeat, it is not Las Vegas or some 5* hotel where you can banish your kids for the whole holiday while you ‘relax’, but for what we paid the warmth, variety and fun the kids had and received was great.
Amusement Arcade. Some might find the location of the ‘amusements’ a little irritating (at the entrance to the clubhouse). My kids could not walk past without asking for some money to play them, and as it was their holidays I almost always obliged. They are a huge ‘cash-cow’ for the resort, but my advice would be save up all of your 2ps and take them with you!
Local Area. The area is lovely, with the start of Druridge Bay only a couple of hundred metres away, Amble within easy driving range and many other attractions less than an hour away. On the 2 stormy days we went to Amble and Newbiggin and watched the huge waves crashing over the rocks – spectacular. On the sunny days we walked for miles and played on the beach. I am originally from the North-East so appreciate it anyway. My major gripe is with lazy, inconsiderate dog-owners who just allow their animals to foul the grass land and sands and never bother to scoop. The beach and approach to it near the ice-cream shop was terrible and we had to be really careful with the kids. Sure, it washes away when the tide comes in, but that only then contaminates the water. Over the week, I saw at least 15 people dig a hole in the sand, push the dog-dirt in and then cover it as if this is somehow hygienic. As previously said, we have 2 dogs so feel qualified to speak. Obviously, and without wishing to generalise, the types that do this are also the types that you would feel uncomfortable approaching and offering them a ‘poop-scoop’ bag (which we carry) as normally you are open to a mouthful of abuse (which I don’t want my kids witnessing). All of this is of course outside of Park Resorts control although they may wish to approach the local authority and suggest that some wardens are employed. It really does spoil what is a lovely beach, and we resorted to walking a mile or so along Druridge Bay to avoid the mess, before we let the kids play in the sand.
Asda, Ashington is only 4 miles away so shopping is not a problem. There is a shop on site for the kids ice-creams, papers and milk etc. We had a couple of meals in some local pubs which were really good and not expensive. Actually the food in the clubhouse was not too bad - bought the kids some chips and a burger one day and it was surprisingly good).
Conclusion. Look, I know that some might read this and think we have glossed-over failings or as a family we are prepared to accept second best and are too easy going, or even that I have a vested interest in this resort. None of this is true. I have high standards for my family and have no connection with this company. I do believe that a little humility, courtesy and friendliness goes a long way in life and when I see ignorant people shouting at staff, getting too drunk in front of their kids and mouthing off at anyone who passes or just acting in an inconsiderate manner I wonder why they cannot work out why they are receiving poor service and not enjoying themselves. I’m not condoning staff reciprocating this behaviour but it is simply human nature to respond aggressively if someone is aggressive towards you. I honestly found the whole team to be first rate, the resort to be clean and pleasant and the whole entertainment package to be better than I could have expected given what we paid. I feel sure that had our caravan not been up to standard I could have approached the staff and asked for it to be corrected or in the final analysis, asked for a move. I also feel sure that the team actually really do want you to enjoy your holiday, so providing you treat them with deserved respect, they go out of their way to oblige. I thank them very much on behalf of my wife and three children. We are not sure what to do next year at half term, but we will certainly consider going back to Cresswell Towers at some point. Thanks again to the management and team for giving us a true British holiday to remember.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Located at the southern end of a beautiful six-mile stretch of the sweeping sand that is Druridge Bay, Cresswell Towers is perfect for family holidays. Start the day with a dip in the pool or maybe you fancy going for a walk in the Cheviot Hills or the woods nearby. Later on get ready for some great family evening Entertainment. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Cresswell Towers Holiday Park - Park Hotel Cresswell
- Cresswell Towers Holiday Park - Park Resorts Northumberland