A few weeks back, we received an e-mail kindly inviting us to try out a family break at a Park Resorts caravan site - we are huge fans of traditional British caravan holidays so we jumped at the chance!
Park Resorts have 49 sites across the UK so we were spoiled for choice when it came to deciding on a destination.
With two very young children we are always tempted to opt for holidays close to home just to make travel easier, and with living in Devon we are pretty spoiled for great beaches and so tend to stick to Cornwall as it's so close by...but we thought we'd use this opportunity to go a little further afield.
We noticed that Park Resorts had sites in the North East - as Jon is originally from Gateshead near Newcastle we intend every year to make time to head there for a visit so that he can catch up with his older brother and friends, but we just never get around to it - so with this opportunity presented to us we finally decided to go for it and chose Whitley Bay holiday park, which was just a short drive from Gateshead and Newcastle.
The journey itself was going to be a difficult one - from where we live in Devon to Whitley Bay is an 8 hour drive which is a lot for ANYONE to handle but with a 2 year old and 2 month old in tow it seemed impossible!
So we planned it all out carefully, and decided to stop overnight halfway both on the way there and on the way home - this worked out pretty well, and meant that the children both slept for all four of the 3 and a half hour journeys on our way there and home so it never got too stressful.
We arrived at Whitley Bay later than we had originally intended on our first day so we wanted to just get checked in to our caravan, and get the children fed and settled for the night.
We were worried that as we were arriving at 9.30 pm reception may be shut but it wasn't - we were greeted by a friendly lady who quickly went through the check in process and gave us clear directions to our caravan which was easy to find.
We had been allocated a Gold level caravan - Cedar Walk 5 - which slept up to 6 people.
The caravan was very clean and well presented, and clearly well loved and looked after by its owners - it had every amenity we needed for the duration of our stay, the decor was as you would expect from a caravan but there were also some lovely little decorative touches added here and there to make it more homey.
There was a decent sized living area with a nice flat screen TV, and a good amount of clear floor space for Tyne to play which is always important as I hate tripping over toys in tiny spaces! The kitchen was modern and very clean, there was a little dining table with 4 chairs, a bathroom with a surprisingly good shower (I always expect caravan showers to be little more than a drizzle but this was pretty powerful and spacious too!), and 2 bedrooms - 1 double bed and 1 bedroom with two singles.
Bedding was provided and the beds were made up when we arrived.
We had a bit of trouble figuring out how to turn on the heating (and despite it being June it was FREEZING....the North East is C-O-L-D!) so we had to phone reception to ask - again we worried that due to the time of night nobody would be able to help but they were very helpful and promised to send a maintenance worker right away.
The maintenance guy arrived within moments and helped us to get the heating on (we simply hadn't been pressing the right buttons!), he was very friendly and didn't make us feel silly for not knowing what to do.
We all felt very comfortable with our little home for the week, had plenty of space and wanted for nothing...ideal!
One thing I was most looking forward to about our trip was the entertainment - Tyne absolutely loves getting stuck in with holiday park entertainment and particularly loves the mascots they tend to have, any character in dress up is an instant winner for him! So imagine his delight to discover that Park Resorts have not one mascot - but 5!
Each evening the entertainment in the show bar began with childrens time - the staff there got out lots of toys such as puzzles, ring toss games, crawl through tunnels etc for the children to play with and engaged with them as they played - as soon as we walked in each night Zoe (the staff member who worked with the children) came over to greet Tyne and took him off to play meaning we could sit back and relax with a drink which was lovely! He was right there in our view but was kept thoroughly occupied and entertained.
Zoe asked his name on the first evening and for the rest of the holiday each staff member addressed him by name without having to be reminded of it, and I noticed that they did with each child there - I always think this is a great touch and certainly helps the kids to feel more at ease too.
After an hour or so's free play each evening, there was entertainment for the children - on some nights this would be a story read by Pipsqueak the mouse puppet and on other nights it would be an acted out show with singing & dancing with the three main mascots.
Tyne loved watching the shows but of course his main desire was always to cuddle the characters - so he always most looked forward to getting the chance for a cuddle and a photo at the end!
After the shows, there would usually be some party dancing where the entertainment team would lead the children (and the adults they encouraged to stand up too...including myself one night!) in some well known party dances, which Tyne really enjoyed!
After the childrens entertainment, there would be a game of Bingo for the adults - I know it's seen as cheesy but I love nothing more than a game of Bingo on holiday! It's such a traditional part of a british seaside holiday like this and something I just love taking part in - what I loved about Park Resorts way of playing Bingo is that they do it as a linked game between all of their parks, so instead of the prize pot being made up of the money from whomever is joining in within the room which would only be around £100 or so - it ends up being much higher! In fact the games were worth between £600 - £1300 each!!
I had quite a sweat on when I was 1 number away from winning for that amount, let me tell you....sadly it wasn't to be but I had so much fun playing anyway!
The entertainment team also put on a few shows for the grown ups during our stay too, we watched their Glitz Of Gatsby show which was a Chicago-style jazz singing and dancing show performed by just 3 of the Teamstar staff members - considering only 3 people were involved I was blown away by the sheer energy and enthusiasm they put into the performance!
They were fantastic dancers and singers, and really went all out - they performed as if they were on a west end stage rather than a holiday park in Whitley Bay and clearly had a lot of passion for what they were doing which made it all the more entertaining to watch and their enthusiasm for it was so infectious - I was thoroughly impressed!
There was also some childrens activities on during the day but we didn't get chance to try any of this as we were busy during most of the daytimes doing some sightseeing and catching up with people....
There was a really good park on site which Tyne really enjoyed, and asked to visit every single morning - he loved playing hide & seek in the teepee and playing noughts & crosses.
There was also a swimming pool, a small shop and an arcade. I did see mention of a takeaway in the park information but I didn't actually ever manage to find this so I'm not too sure if its still there.
We didn't use the site restaurant other than for coffees but it seemed clean, and the menu was good - other customers there always seemed happy.
As for the nearby area, the park is ideally located just minutes walk from Whitley Bay seafront and a short stroll or a few moments drive from Whitley Bay Centre itself.
I found the area to be really pleasant and would have liked more free time to explore it - we did have a day spent in the arcades which Tyne loves (We were most excited to find one with his name...who knew SO many things in the area are named after the river Tyne!), and afterwards we got a fish & chips lunch followed by the worlds most AMAZING ice cream from award winning Di Meos - if you live nearby or ever visit you HAVE to try it!! it is like nothing you've ever tasted before....try the Ferrero Rocher flavour...it is TO DIE FOR!
The rest of our time in the North East was spent visiting with Jons brother and nephew - because he now lives so far away they don't see each other very often and Jon hadn't seen his nephew for around 6 years so it was lovely for him to have the chance to catch up.
It was also really nice for Tyne and Noah to meet their uncle & cousin as they are the only members of Jon's family alive, and so it was a lovely opportunity - I am gutted that Tyne had been playing with my camera and I hadn't noticed he'd switched it to Manual Focus so the only photos I have are extremely blurred!
We went to Gateshead one evening and met up with Jon's best friend Mike & his lovely wife Lucy and two children Jessica & Scarlett - we had a really lovely meal at an Italian restaurant, and the evening spent with them was just lovely.
Mike is Tyne's Godfather but we hadn't seen them since his Christening 2 years ago, so again it was really nice for him to have to the chance to put faces to the names he hears us talk about and actually get to know them - he absolutely adored Jessica & Scarlett, and his godfather decided it was absolutely necessary to give him "Naughty lessons" involving rubbing ice cream in his hair and writing on his arms with pen - hence the state of him in these photos!!
All in all we had such a wonderful time visiting the North East and we can't wait to go back again - if only it wasn't quite so far away!!! Jon & I fully intend to visit again without the kids so we can enjoy the great shops, restaurants and bars more and we hope to make it at least a yearly family holiday so that the kids can keep in touch with their family & friends there too.
We really enjoyed our stay with Park Resorts and would absolutely visit again, I always think a sign of a good holiday is when you are sad to leave...both Jon & I felt sad to lock up the caravan on the last day and Tyne cried for a good half an hour on the way home because he wanted to go back to the caravan and to see Sparky (the main park mascot) again - so it's safe to say we all very much enjoyed it!
To find out more about Park Resorts holidays, please visit www.Park-Resorts.com
We also filmed a little video of our holiday, if you'd like to take a look:
*We were kindly given our stay at Park Resorts free of charge in return for an honest review, all words and opinions are my own
If you enjoy my blog, please consider following me on Bloglovin'