Pontins, United Kingdom

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Pontins, United Kingdom

Amusement Centre/Theme Park

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Review of "Pontins, United Kingdom"

published 18/07/2009 | hollywoodmum
Member since : 24/09/2006
Reviews : 126
Members who trust : 37
About me :
Pro kids had a good time anyway, kids entertainment
Cons Not as much free stuff as promised, a total dive, staff, service, etc ,etc
very helpful
Is it worth visiting?
Transport links
Family Friendly

"More Of a Prison Than A Holiday Camp"

Just got back from a short Break at Pontins Southport with myself, boyfriend and my three kiddies so here is my review.

What Is Pontins?
Pontin's is a British holiday company founded in 1946 by Fred Pontin. It specialises in offering half-board and self-catering holidays with regular entertainment on offer. Accommodation is usually in the form of chalets. The company once grew to be a major operator of seaside holiday accommodation, but has now shrunk considerably. Pontins at one time had 25 resorts throughout the Uk and ireland but now only has six: Camber Sands, East Sussex
Southport, Merseyside
Prestatyn Sands, Denbighshire, North Wales
Brean Sands, Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset
Blackpool, Lancashire
Pakefield, Lowestoft (near Kessingland), Suffolk

Pontin's promises great family holidays at outstanding value with up to 70 free family activities (these vary from site to site).
Pontin's headquartes are located in Southport and holidays can be booked, online, by telephone, through a travel agent or through the promotional offers in Tthe Sun and Daily Star newspapers.

Pontin's accomodation is all chalets for both self catering and half board guests. half Borad guests get breakfast and an evening meal in the site's main eaterie. But there are also three different types of Chalets available these are Club, Classic and Budget. Half Board guests must be staying in Club or Classic Chalets. Club guest benefit from a 2pm check in, free towels, free digital TV, free bed linen and a chalet in a landscaped area. Classic guests just get a colour TV and free ben linen. Budget guests get a colour TV.
We collected the vouchers out of the Sun Newspaper (shame but it was the only way I could give the kids a holiday this year), so we were Budget guests. All the Chalets looked the same and to me it didn't look like Club or Classic guests were getting much for more for their money. I did enquire into an upgrade but they wanted and extra £90 for 3 nights to upgrade to Classic and I really didn't see why it was worth it.
We'd been allocated an upstairs Chalet which I found a bit of a ball ache with 3 kids and a pushchair but I just assumed that there would be many guests in the same boat. our chalet had two bed rooms a bathroom with a shower and a small kitchen with a cooker, fridge and basic cooking equipment. To be honest although the actual chalet was clean I was a little worried to the state of the upholstery and furniture. The sofa bed in the living area looked n need or a good clean and in one of the bedrooms both of the single beds seemed to be falling apart from underneath. The decor was very plain but really needed updating.
In most of the areas the chalets were built in blocks of four, in a squres with a lawned (I used the term losely) area in the middle.

Southport Holiday Centre
The Southport Pontin's is actually loated outside Southport on Ainsdale Beach.
On entering the center the main complex is to the left , the park and other activites to the right with the building that houses the swimming pool just behind that. The centre is just a huge circle after getting passed the main complex it's just a huge circle of Chalets and a one way road that takes you all the way around.
Inside the main complex there is a Nisa shop,a cash machine (which charges £1.75 for withdrawals), a Pontin's holiday shop (if you really wish to rebook) a fish and chip outlet, a fast food chicken outlet, the arcade, Lunar's Bar, the fun factory, some toilets, Captain Croc's, The Queen Victoria Pub (which is the main restaurant) and The Fun Factory.
Outside there is a small fun fair, Treetops (the kids outdoor play area), the rock climbing wall (run by PGL), the mini and main go kart tracks, crazy golf and a concrete sports area which is used for five a side football, basket ball, and tennis.
Behind here we have the H2O Zone (swimming pool), Laundrette, Hire Shop and Leisure Zone (where you or the kids would arrange to do any of the activities on site run by PGL).

Check In
Checking into the resort is quite simple if you can find a parking space first. Club guests take their booking confirmation to the reception anytime from 2pm on their day of check in to collect their key and welcome pack. Classic and Budget guests cannot check in until 4pm, as the majority of guests are Classic and budget they are sent to the Fun Factory, there are different queues depending on the first letter of your surname your given your key and directions to your chalet with a little map. The welcome pack includes a map of the site and is supposed include a book of discount vouchers to the value of £75 and a copy of the entertainment programme. I had to ask at reception for the entertainment programme the next morning and didn't get the discount vouchers until the last day, when I'd already spent nearly £400 and had £20 left.

Eating And Drinking
Half Board guests get their breakfast and evening meal included but can only get their meals from the main restaurant which is the Queen Victoria.
The Quen Victoria is open most of the day and welcomes kids until 8pm. I have no idea why it's named The Queen Victoria as the decor inside is supposed to resemble a Mississipi River Boat. Breakfast (excluding the All Day Breakfast) is served until midday after that it's the usual pub grub you can find in any kind of pub that serves food like Steak, Curry, Cod in Batter, mixed grill. It's not an extensive menu and the only lighter meals they offer are Baguettes and there isn't a great deal of choice on the fillings. The portion sizes are quite generous though but the quality is crap. The kids menu is quite good most kids meals cost £1.75 and include a soft drink but they do have some kids meals that are £3.75. What I found was that the kids portions are quite large and could easily satisfy me but again the quality isn't great.
The Queen Victoria also does different themed nights curry night, pizza night, chinese night and the Carvery at these times though you can still order from the main menu.
Other food options are Casey's Whistle Stop, which is a fast food chicken outlet, the chippy and the shop. Both the chippy and chicken place are over priced and the quality are rubbish. The shop has a good selection of both food and drink but it's well overpriced and availabilty seems to be a problem.
Apart from the pub the other bars are Lunar's and The Fun Factory, these are also the venues for the entertainment. The good thing is that alcoholic drinks aren't that overpriced but spoft drinks are.
There are also various chocolate and drinks vending machines on site.

The brochure and the entertainment programme make the place sound great but a lot of the things are for children over a certain age and a lot of the stuff isn't suitable for younger children. PGL run various activites from the site like trampolining, climbing, bungee bounce and abseiling these are all £5 per head.
The H2O zone consitst of a large pool and a very shallow kids pool, the pools are free but they aren't heated and look like they need some updating, the changing rooms are filthy and there are a limited number of lockers. But it's FREE.
Treetops is the outdoor play area and is recommended for over 5's but I let both my younger sone play on it as the ground underneath seemed quite safe, they were under supervision and also they know there limits, plus there wasn't a lot else for their age groups to do there.
Captain Croc's is the indoor soft play area but is only open from 10am til 1pm amd 2pm til 4pm. It has loads of soft play equipment but kids under 4 can't use it, it has a baby play area for the under fours with hardly any toys and the ones that aren't there either need new batteries or have just stopped working, there aren't many toys in there that a 3 year old wouldn't get bored of quickly they are more for 6 to 18 months toys. In captain cros there is also a ew tables with a cup of couloured pencils on each one and paper, there is also and X Box and Playstation 2 for the kids to use but no choice of games.
The amusement arcade ha a great choice of games some for just wasting and others that you can win tickets on, these are actually also a waste of money as 100 tickets will only get you a pack of playing cards or if you're luckya coluring book.
The Fun fair as I said before this is only a mini fair consisting of dodgems, tea cups, twister an a bouncy castle slide. Tickets are £2.00 no matter how old or how tall the customer.

Pontins and it's Blue Coats do offer a great range of both day and evening entertainment, but if you get good weather during the day the kids don't really want to be indoors watching shows, great if it's raining though. For kids they do magic shows, junior Karaoke, junior talent quest, dance school, disco's, various sporting events and even offer the opportunity to meet scooby Doo. quite a few of these are age group specific though and won't interest all kids. There is much the same for adults they are just on later and you don't get to meet Scooby Doo. The problem is rather than having both Lunar's and The Fun Factory in use at the same time with 2 differnet activites there was just oone thing on at one time, the only time both venues were in operation was early evening when the Fun Factory had Bingo on for adults Lunar's would host something for the kids.

My Experience
This wasn't actually my first trip to Southport Ponitns I first went there 2 years ago for a short break, I came home early and swore I'd never go back. But like I said before I collected the tokens from the Sun. All the choices of Park's I picked were actuallt Haven but I made the mistake of ticking the box that said if they weren't available I'd be allocated any park and hey presto, Pontins Southport AGAIN. It's not a bad deal as after collecting the 9 tokens we paid £75 for the 5 of us and that included our electric (this isn't usually included when you book a budget holiday from Ponitns itself) plus we got the dates we wanted.
As I don't drive myself and the kids were driven there by my mum, and because of work my bloke wasn't joining us until the next day. Checking in was simple and easy but I was really dissapointed that in the 2 years I hadn't been there I could tell that absolutely no money had been spent on the place. There was nothing new and the chalets had been updated at all.
After getting settled I checked the welcome pack to see if I could get inspiration about what we'd do for tea, I just assumed that with it being an arrival day and the park seemed full all the food outlets would be open. I didn't really fancy a big meal so we headed for the chicken place it wasn't open and there was no signed advertising the opening times, so we headed to the chippy, the queue was massive and seemingly full of pissed of people after queing for a while with 3 moaning , hungry kids I headed to the shop and bought some over priced frozen pizzas. The kids were tired so we stayed in rather than sampling the nightlife. but then I discovered another problem no signal on my mobile so I couldn't get in touch with my boyfriend to find out what time he would be arriving the next day
The next day we decided to explore and we're really chuffed to see loads of wild rabbits running round the kidsloved it as there isn't much nature in my area, we headed to Captain Croc's Hope aged 7 loved it and so did Keane aged 4 but Toby aged 2 was confined to the baby room and wasn't impressed at all, it was the same equipment as 2 years ago, it hadn't even been decorated, just a shambles, he soon got bored an wanted to leave so we headed off to Ainsdale Beach in my search for a signal.
Ainsdale Beach was the highlight of my holiday, the sea is miles away but the sand is lovely and soft and it's really picturesque. The kids felt free and were burying eachother in the sand and running about the dunes.
by the time we got back Martin was at Pontins but hadn't been able to ring me cos he couldn't get a signal on his phone either.
We ate in the Queen Victoria that night and was very disapointed. The night in question was Chinese night but before we'd sat down at a table we'd already heard people eating the Chinese food complaining. We decided to go for main menu meals, unfortunately the place was hammered, there was only one food service till on so the queue was massive, the service staff were complaing that the kitchen had already ran out of some meals and it wasn't even 6pm, the kids meals came but the only cutley was adult sized, which are no good for Toby but the couldn't even find me a teaspoon for him he ended up eating his chicken dinner with his fingers.
We then headed off for Lunar's and Mr Stick's magic show, got to say this was fab and kept the kids and us entertained for a good hour. The arcade is a killer though you can't avoid it no matter how hard you try, it sucks the kids in with all it's music and flashing lights and I hate to say this where most of money went.
Pontins was 15 minutes walk from Ainsdale Train station from here you can easily get into Southport or Liverpool so te next day we decided to leave the site on head to Southport as the trains were only every 12 minutes and pretty cheap. Southport though really didn't have a lot on offer for the kids wither it seemed to be shopping and amsument arcades, we had a ride on the river boat, a ride on Silcock's carosel, grabbed a McDonald's and headed back to Pontin's. We tried to avoid eating on site again but the pub over the road from the site only served dinner not evening meals so we got stuck ith Queen Victoria again, Carvery night. This time we opted for the carvery but by 6pm most of the meat had gon Beef and Gammon were the only options, the beef was tough as old boots but the gammon was lovely, the veg was overcooked and bland and the gravy watery, not recommended.
Again the early evening kids show was great but after that we were stuck for something to do whule trying to avoid the arcade, we headed off to the funfair, eventhough keane got in the ddgem Martin was drivig and Toby in the one I was driving we still had to pat £2 each for them so one ride on the dodgems cost the family £10. Back to the Chalet again where at about half past midnight a couple started screaming and shouting at eachother, him threaning to hit her and her threatening to smash up his car, quite entertaining but it's a family resort at the end of the day and security didn't bother turning up until 10am the next day (possibly due to the fact that there are no phones in the chalets and nobodt can get a bloody signal on there mobile).
The next day was our last full day, after breakfast we headed down tot he cash machine to find there was nothing left in the machine. I ened up gwetting cash back in he Nisa shop but the limit is £50 cashback, I'd had enough then so contacted my mum and asked her to come and get us, we had to be out my 10am the next day anyhow so it meant I wouldn't have to spend more moneythat evening.

Good Points
The kids enterainment

Bad Poiints
Nothing for under fours, loads of hidden costs, unhappy staff, terrible service, badly needs updating, not even a carpet sweeper in Chalet (not good with 3 youngsters), if I'm honest this place is a total shit hole, Pontins will take all your cash and not give you much in return.

Southport Holiday Centre
Ainsdale Beach
Shore Road

Tel: 08706010470

web: www.pontins.com

Haven for us next year!

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Comments on this review

  • callancool published 05/12/2011
    I live in Southport, and my stepson met his Fiancee working at the camp. Her family go there every year (past 25 years and nowhere else.... Ouch), so we've been a lot. hat you say is all true. Food has improved with new owners..... Still looks uneatable but is very tasty. As you say, best thing is the entertainment. You never mentioned the roof in the fun factory (which has been covered over and looks a lot better). Cheers, Colin.
  • arnoldhenryrufus published 01/08/2009
    I have never been to a pontins holiday, don't think I would like it here - lyn x
  • paulpry118 published 26/07/2009
    Last time I went to a Pontins was with my grandmother about 30 years ago and the rooms never had toilets in. You had to walk about 1 mile to spend a penny.
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Product Information : Pontins, United Kingdom

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Amusement Centre/Theme Park

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Type: Amusement Centre/Theme Park


Listed on Ciao since: 26/09/2000