Neither of the two owners have any of the wonderful charm, elegance or beauty of this incredible pretty, vast camp site on the edge of Houlgate, Normandy. We found them insulting and unpleasant toward guests including us. We met the female of this grim duo on arrival when she turned us away about 9pm having arrived a day earlier than we'd booked through Yelloh for. We met the male noon the next day. They seem blissfully unaware that they are in the hospitality industry, supposedly. Yelloh boasts that it provides guests with 'open air hotels' giving great experiences. Perhaps it's a revelation for them as Yelloh ambassadors to know that it's not spelt 'hostility'. We didn't get off to a good start having arrived an evening early. Seemingly neither owner can cope well with such unplanned events, so if you've a crisis they won't be of much help to you, unless you can phone your crisis ahead for them in advance. Despite this being a really vast site, a multi million euro investment, populated with tents & mobile homes by the hundred, with many empty tents & mobile homes and two very tired customers, very happy to pay, these 'business' people in the hospitality industry couldn't help us; just a shrug of her sloping shoulders with the palms of her open hands gesturing upward. So off we drove to a wonderful Ibis budget hotel in the countryside in nearby Dives, courtesy of our Garmin sat nav, to find graceful and gracious owners who understand hospitality and we certainly paid them far less for the night than we would have paid in La Vallee. We highly recommend this Ibis at a mere £52 a night with free wifi and a beautiful Japanese garden next to a Lidl and 5 minutes drive to a supermarket and a Mc Donald's. We were told by the female owner in La Vallee to come back at 11am next morning, but we arrived at noon to find it was closed for a two hour lunch; now I've never experienced any other hotel experience open air or otherwise that effectively shuts its guests out for 2 hours at midday. Yet here we found a big business in the hospitality industry shut up tighter than a prison for two hours in the middle of the day on the premise that's it's not yet the 7 weeks out of 52 that's high season - only 9% of the year when it is open and it's completely closed for about 5 months. We fell into the other 91%. 21st century hospitality in the first world, apparently in a recession apparently an open air hotel that patently can't manage a staffed staggered lunch time as hotels do to suit sophisticated and discernible customers who make pay days. Yelloh's comparison with hotel experiences just evaporated here. The many guests arriving here having to plan round 2 owners. You couldn't make it up. This place is not a sideline in some farmer's field it's big business. We were about to leave again at about 12:15 when the female owner appeared before us only to chastise us for not arriving at 11am, telling us to come back later, this time at 2pm. Her charmless partner then joined to assist her. We had seen him loitering about near reception but we did not know who he was at first, as he had just ignored us for several minutes as he idly loitered until a few minutes after she appeared to begin grumbling. Eventually she said she would give us a key to get into the mobile and a security pass to enter through the barriers into the site by car. Truth is this could have been offered much more quickly, with grace and courtesy instead of offensive grumbling by two very unhappy people. When we'd had enough of their animated whinging we challenged their appallingly poor customer attitude. They didn't like it. There came a threat from him to send us away keyless until 3pm. Never had this with any other 'hotel experience'. So it was put to him directly, which time is it, he stared; he went quiet, she repeated 2pm so then we got the keys and they went off site briskly. We had to return for the wrist security tags to be able to open various heavy metal gates to access the pedestrian part of the site and to access pool areas. If you are weak or disabled you will have great difficulty pushing these gates and surprisingly there's no disabled hoist at the swimming pools either. As I said we had booked a 4 night stay here with Yelloh, had we booked through Canvas instead we would have met their very pleasant young and incredibly friendly representatives we met on this site. Yelloh don't seem to have their own staff on the ground here. We also booked a cottage for three nights with Yelloh on a campsite east of Paris/lle - de - France, and the differences between the two sites is stark. We got to the Paris site a day early too, about 8pm and it wasn't a crisis instead they joked with me that I drove too fast. No insults and no whinging. While they were pretty full up with many hundreds of guests and this was obvious, they cheerfully made an effort for us (la vallee owners take note and go take a holiday here to see how it should be done) and we were accommodated. With a place arranged the young man then logged onto the computer to charge us the cost of one more night, so the customer focussed young staff in the Paris site grasp that customers deserve respect as they make pay days, and happy customers will spend money with you and they will be minded to return. The Paris staff were attentive to us and ever courteous to us right through our stay - an open air hotel experience, which we enjoyed. We may have misunderstood in La Vallee at the lunch time encounter but we thought the male implied that our reason for turning up the previous night was to get a free night, and as it's obvious that by asking us at 3pm check - in if we wanted croissants in the morning and, if so, how many we wanted, cents are important to them, so maybe he did think (wrongly) that we were trying for a free extra night. In fact when talking money they do muster some false charm with thin - lipped smiles. It must be so tiring for them to be pleasant for nano seconds. When we confirmed check out was 10am she offered that we could stay until 10:30 am but it turned out this was for her convenience as we left at 10am to be told we were too early. Then we had to accompany a cleaner whom we paid 65 euro to clean the place and she expected us to clear away that morning's rubbish!! No chance. At Paris, after handing in the key, we were invited to stay and use the facilities all day. Now the Paris & La Vallee Yelloh sites each have huge swimming pools. Paris has a gentle, welcoming management. We found Paris staff willing and available for guests all through lunch time and even after 10pm at night. Unlike La Vallee they don't say things like 'don't come to France if you can't follow our rules' which was the less than helpful suggestion to us by the male La Vallee owner as we walked about the swimming pool area for the first time to see it, with him behind us. We were on site about 2 hours by this point. We laughed out loud when he (and we) saw a middle aged French couple breaching the very rules he so charmlessly mis applies and it happened as he was saying to us, as he walked behind us 'You are in France now, not your own country' as if we'd travelled forward through time from the Stone Age to some Gallic nirvana. Ha. I hadn't the language to tell him our country's water is far purer & cleaner, most of our motorways are free, our whiskey the best in the world, far better tasting beer, stout and real ale, our beef, pork, lamb and all our fish all superior, our milk, cream, eggs & butter better tasting and at less than 9% the population of France we've more Nobel prize winners in literature, the worlds greatest rock band and our land is known for a hundred thousand welcomes to visitors. I could go on and on. To our relief his finding these regulatory breaches set this obnoxious pillock off policing the area about the swimming pool where we watched and laughed as he found still more French offenders who had the temerity to break French rules by wearing flip flops and sandals inside the pool area. He also berated them in a style which we had quickly come to know, with no respect for his guests regardless of age, but he couldn't tell French rule breakers not to come of France unlike us they were in their country. He was really aggressively insistent, up close and finger-pointing with these holidaying families, who paid hard earned money to be here. Again I hadn't the language to point out that aside from his being unshaven and in dirty clothes he had emetic body odour. Yeuch. His demented claim is that footwear cannot be worn in the pool area as it risked contamination of the pool water and if this catastrophe happened he said his site could then be closed by crazy stupid officialdom. Yet the irony lost on him was that he was the only one wearing filthy dirty walking boots and dirty clothing inside this area allegedly to be kept free of all contamination risk. He didn't remove his filthy muddy boots. Next time he finds pool side contamination he should look in the mirror as this will assist him to see and quickly find the culprit. We'll certainly be taking his advice in so far as not to trouble him again in future though. In fact, had it been easy to leave this place we'd have done so in a heartbeat. You see we paid through the nose for this place and we demand good service and not a crap bad attitude. We've been holidaying in France 42 years now and being told not to come if we can't follow rules by someone breaking his own rules and surrounded by French people also breaking his rules and no doubt continuing to break them once he left them alone is just preposterous. The Paris site - as many others we've been to over the years - gave us a wonderful sense of freedom, of welcome and we will try to return there, we found it was welcoming as many others have been but La Vallee with its overbearing nasty owners contemptible of those who pay for their lifestyle, their numerous, petty sometimes silly rules, small minds with a rule booklet detailing the many must not do, cannot do, and those many things forbidden, all rudely misapplied, and with locks and chains on everything felt to us like how we imagine an open prison certainly not an open air hotel; albeit in a beautiful setting. As I read the book of rules with its can't, mustn't and do not do's it struck me if this was a hotel reception you simply wouldn't stay. If I understand them right the swimming pool is closed between noon and 2 pm. One of the rules is if one has a visitor there's a 6 euro charge (the camping municipal site 3 minutes away is €1) and under another part if a visitor stays 2 hours they must also pay a tax. In fact the more I read, the more attractive holidaying in Spain and Portugal was becoming. The Normans have a reputation for being mean; the owners here reinforce that with fervour and their meanness is unpleasantly palpable. If you don't collect your pre ordered pre paid croissants by your allotted time they'll try to sell them and you'll do without. There's a shop and restaurant here but we went into town to eat, drink and buy provisions as our response to mean and mean spirited people. We took our additional business outside even though it cost more to do so and though it was more inconvenient for us; it was the right way to avoid any further contact with the unpleasant owners as there's no pleasure for either party in meeting. As far as the accommodation goes it is quite good. One deal breaker we didn't know about that Yelloh shall note and wasn't in the brochure was we could not park beside our Yelloh mobile home, instead we had to park 85 metres away; the male owner said 50 metres and he was wrong here too. Good that it didn't rain until our last morning but at our ages pulling cases around a campsite isn't our idea of a holiday. Worse still we had to park and get in and out of the car on a slope and we paid a euro a night for the inconvenient parking privilege. Yelloh seem to have been allocated the cheap end of the site, requiring a very steep and lengthy uphill walk all the way from the reception, which remember is closed 15.5 hours in every 24 hours. The entrance near our mobile has been deliberately blocked with a huge 2 or 3 tonne rock with a chain bolted to it and hammered into a tree at the other end (see photos) to squeeze in one more Yelloh cottage into an already tight area, so when it comes to guest convenience and comfort or extra profit we as the 'guests' lose out and walk. The mobile itself is mostly comfortable. We had a comfortable two double bedroom mobile about £75 a night including sheet hire and an additional rip of £65 end of stay cleaning fee, making it near £100 a night. Our room has a queen size bed with a 6/7 inch deep mattress nearly as comfy as the Disneyland hotel bed we'd just spent a week in at over €500 a night but unlike Disney the pillows here are terrible, small sized with cheap insubstantial fillings: the useless sort you wouldn't put in your home. There's a full size fridge freezer, 4 ring gas hob with one loose gas knob, a cheap microwave oven and a dishwasher. Plenty of storage space too, powerful showers to blast sleep away. We also had a broken toilet seat, but we had 2 toilets. We had 2 dirty bowls, which we washed ourselves so as to avoid further contact with the owners about it. Most kitchen stuff, but no potato masher and no desire to ask the owners why not, as we'd had enough of them even before we entered their locked down site. The teacups & dinner plates are ridiculously small, and the useless coffee cups thimble sized, the tin opener is a cheap & nasty thing, but the kettle stood out as a very real health & safety nightmare. Yelloh take note. The risk of real burn and scald injury here is much greater than the risk of a contaminated pool. Chlorine in the pool is pH 7.4 ~ kills most bug things even nasty stuff on very dirty boots - good for body odour too. But when you boil water on the stove you then have to remove the very hot whistle cap with your hand, unless you have a cloth, even with a cloth it's still hot and then the hard plastic handle you have to hold is arched to be angled just over the rising hot steam as you tilt the kettle to pour boiling water, thus the steam rises, scorching your hand. I used it briefly once. We went out and bought an electric kettle, once again as we didn't want to have to deal with either rule infatuated owner. One of their open air hotel rules says a tourist can be evicted in case of offence, but their rules do not deal with what to do with deeply offensive management. Another rule is that a day before departure one must go to reception to book an appointment for an 'inventory check' - not a chance we're on holiday. Can you imagine a hotel requiring this and yes Yelloh if your business model is an open air hotel experience and it's a unique selling point then whet you provide accommodation you either act like a hotel or just become another campsite provider, you can't have it both ways and this place is a 20th century campsite with a 1970's mentality. Another rule is in case of fire one must notify reception but doesn't say what one does if the reception is not open and at 15. 5 hours shut in 24 hours it's closed many more hours a day than its open by a 2:1 ratio. I'd thought in case of fire one should get out, stay out and call out the fire brigade. In fact in case of fire calling reception wouldn't be on my mind at all anyway I suppose by the time they got through security the place would be burnt to the ground (would the firemen be charged €6 apiece?). Outside the mobile there are good furnishings on the decking: two sun beds (4 sun beds would make this a very cramped space), a table, 4 chairs, a sun umbrella and a ready to use charcoal barbecue. Oh there was a bottle of brut cider awaiting us and it was tasty. The starter pack included the cheapest toilet paper I have ever seen and a piece of J cloth that when folded in four was about the size of one of the tea bags we brought with us. As I said, the site itself is huge with great views. It's beautifully manicured & maintained. It's on the edge of town (Houlgate) and the very good news is if you arrive with a tent, caravan or self driving camper and you don't want to stay here, there's a Camping Municipal about 3 minutes drive away. During our stay daytime temperatures were low 20's centigrade. We found almost the whole area expensive (Houlgate, Cabourg, Deauville & Trouville) offering poor value rather than expensive offering fair value. The exception is Villers sur Mer. Try the Creperie de France on the Main Street. As far as most places went, I won't pay €4.30 for a small cup of low quality robusta coffee made with acrid tasting water, a cup of tea also averaged €4.20 with a unit cost about 5 cents and I certainly won't pay the €4.40 demanded in most places for a 330ml can of diet coke, at these prices the least expected is free wifi but for the most part no wifi is offered: so small wonder the restaurants around were quite empty and the out of town Mc Donald's all fairly full. We bought two pastry in a local Houlgate patassiere to try at €7.20 for the two (see photos) again high price just ok tasting so poor value. I mean something's really out of kilter around here when one can buy a Big Mac meal with fries or salad and 400ml soft drink, clean toilets, easy free parking and free wifi for less than the price of a sugar crepe and a cup of poor tasting coffee in a wifi less Creperie and Mc D staff are friendly too. Finally we did stay at this camp site once before, it was about 20/25 years ago. We always took our children when they were young. We had a tent then and mostly pleasant memories of this place and the surrounding area; we experienced Moroccan food for the first time in a restaurant in nearby Cabourg. The then owner had recently retired from the oil industry. His Moroccan wife cooked the meals. We ate there so often he gave us a clay tagine cooking pot as a gift on our last night. It's why we chose this campsite this time round, we had good memories. We certainly won't be back here again nor would we recommend it to anyone, and we leave with bad memories. But reality always bites as all that I've said it is still here after all those years; so it's clear to me that being obnoxious, as unhelpful as is possible, insulting the children & grandchildren of your liberators and treating your guests as an inconvenience who must always work round you clearly remains no barrier to this pair having a great and thriving business and only working 7 months a year. What a pity they both can't be hospitable and gracious and in his case also clean shaven and washed; it would be so welcome but won't matter to us anymore. Next time we are close by, if we bother, we'll go elsewhere and to a Euro camp or Canvas even the pleasant Ibis hotel in nearby Dives.
- Also Known As:
- Camping La Vallee Hotel Houlgate