The year of 2020 has been a very strange one and has meant that holidaying abroad has generally not been allowed. Fortunately in a way for us we had not planned any holidays to foreign shores, instead we had already planned holidays for the UK as 2020 was to be the year of us getting a puppy. In June we should have gone to Butlins in Bognor Regis but alas due to the national lockdown in the UK this was cancelled and as we were due the imminent arrival of our puppy, sadly we could not rebook as only assistance dogs are allowed at Butlins. However, we did manage to book a new holiday for September as restrictions eased.
We decided to book a holiday with Haven (also owned by the same parent company as Butlins). This was to be our first ever experience with Haven and it didn’t disappoint. In this blog I give my opinion of the particular holiday park we visited which was Church Farm in Pagham (near Bognor Regis).
We decided to select Church Farm as we’d been so disappointed that our Butlins break had been cancelled and we love the area very much. Due to continued virus related restrictions, the break we booked was the “Haven Hideaway”. This suited us absolutely fine as we knew we didn’t need access to the entertainment venues or the swimming pool as we would have our puppy with us. We needed a dog friendly caravan and at the time of booking only Prestige models were available, so in a way we were spoilt straight away as I probably would have just booked the Deluxe grade. I booked directly via the Haven website and it was all very straight forward. Price wise, it was all very reasonable (although just to be clear I did get a small discount through a workplace scheme). And so we looked forward to our seven night break.
Now according to the booking instructions I was supposed to get a series of emails to notify me of various items such as the location of the caravan and what our arrival time slot would be and then through the app I was meant to be able to confirm that I was happy with the arrival slot and add in my car registration details. This communication was quite lacking, not happening when it was supposed to and in reality the app was in fact just a website and not the app available through the App Store or Play Store. Although I should point out that this may now have changed since we visited.
On the day of arrival we got significantly delayed in traffic and we knew we would miss our arrival time slot. However, with one quick phone call to the park we were reassured not to worry and rush as we could arrive when we were able. From this I can only assume that in reality the time slots were really for busy arrival days, we were travelling outside of the main school holiday season and so it was probably a bit quieter.
So once we got to the park we socially distanced checked in. Via the app, you hold up your phone to show your time slot letter so that Security staff can see you have a booking and they wave you on to the site. You then make your way straight to the caravan without getting out of your vehicle. On arrival at your van it is “sealed” with a sticker with your booking details on it. If the seal is intact you can enter the van, where on the table (or kitchen countertop) will be the key to the caravan along with some other bits and pieces to help with your stay. Once inside and you are satisfied, through the app you “check in” and then a few minutes later a member of the Reception team will phone you to confirm the check in. So the top tip here is to make sure you have the phone number of the park saved in your phone and keep it on your person until you’ve received the call. We really liked this way of checking in and actually hope that for future breaks even when things get back to normal, this check in process is continued, however they need to make it clear that it’s not an app you use, its a website, unless they do actually develop a proper app.
Onwards now to the caravan itself. Alas, I didn’t really take any photos of the van I’m afraid. The Prestige dog friendly caravan we had was a two bedroom, one showeroom, with an extra toilet in the master bedroom. The flooring in the main lounge and kitchen was laminate/ vinyl, which was great for us with a puppy who although was 100% toilet trained, being a new environment for him, he could have had accidents (fortunately he didn’t). The lounge area was brilliant, with a huge sofa, which allowed for some great playtime for the puppy. There was a good sized telly and a bluetooth speaker system. The kitchen area is spacious and provides enough equipment to cook for a couple or a family of up to four (although the caravan can sleep up to six). Through a doorway were the sleeping quarters and shower room. Both bedrooms had ample storage and were good sized, although as usual with caravans, the beds are tiny i.e. small double, so if you are used to a king size bed be warned. The shower room was well appointed with plenty of storage, however we did have to be careful with our towels as the hooks were over the toilet. The shower was plenty powerful and provided a good amount of heat.
Overall, we were very impressed with the caravan. On this particular holiday park and as far as I’m aware each caravan also had its own dedicated parking space either immediately next to the caravan or very nearby. This was great for us for loading and unloading all our holiday items. Overall, we were very impressed with the caravan itself, however, as I said earlier we were spoiled having a Prestige grade. The section of the park our caravan was located in was nice and spacious, with not too many units squashed into one area and we had a decent bit of green space behind us which was very useful for exercising and toileting the puppy. But walking around some sections of the park, we did notice that some areas were tightly packed with vans.
Now onto the holiday park itself. As I pointed out earlier we were booked into a “Haven Hideaway” break and so didn’t have use of the entertainment facilities or the swimming pool. At the time of our visit we could have paid for passes as the facilities had been able to open as restrictions at the time had eased, but with the puppy with us, we couldn’t do that. On the park is a local convenience store selling all the essential items, slightly more expensive than you’d usually pay. There is a chippy and a pub/ restaurant. We did use the chippy, ordering through the food app (which did work well) but we didn’t use the pub/ restaurant as we couldn’t take the puppy in with us. From the outside looking in, the swimming pool looked to be a good size. Also on the site is the caravan sales area with viewings by appointment and the owners lounge.
The park is located next to a lagoon which we walked around on the first day, it was very nice and peaceful. And then there is also a short path in which we walked the dog down each morning before going on our daily adventures. On the other side of the park is also a golf course.
On the whole, we really liked the park. It was a good size and being booked on the “Haven Hideaway” suited us. The only downside we really came across was that when my husband did go into the entertainment, just to have a look, the security staff on duty were a little over zealous and were not very friendly.
The park is well located for Bognor Regis itself and surrounding areas. We covered a lot of activities and places during our time with visits to Petworth House, Brighton, Worthing and Arundel.
We enjoyed the break so much that we have rebooked to visit Church Farm for a week again next year (although only in a Deluxe grade). We have also booked for a long weekend at Hafan Y Mor (although we are not hopeful of this break going ahead) and then for two weeks at Primrose Valley later in the year.
I hoped you liked reading this review. I will write reviews about our further visits in the future. If you’d like to view the vlogs of our holiday, please check them out over on my YouTube channel.