Palins Holiday Park – Disgusting, Misleading & Nothing To Do! – I would have given no stars only the location of the park was pretty good for our needs. Booking a holiday as a disabled person is a major task all in itself. Accessible holidays are far too often missing or already booked up. So when you find the holiday that seems to offer exactly what you need. The last thing you want is to be made feel that you have been purposefully misled into that booking.
We visit Wales as often as possible, to visit family. So we checked out several different holiday parks online that were in North Wales. We found all accessible caravans were booked up or owner-only parks. When we visited Palins Holiday Park they advertised a silver-accessible caravan available for the week we wanted to go.
Being a full-time wheelchair user, I wanted to contact the park directly. I wanted to have some of my questions answered before making a booking. In this conversation, both myself and my husband were informed their show bar would only be open at weekends. (Conversation was on speaker). We were told not to worry as their pub Magpie & Stump has entertainment every night!
When visiting Palins website, you are greeted with a lovely sunset and family on the beach. Their website says:
Enjoy a FUN PACKED family holiday in a quality caravan at a SUPERIOR HOLIDAY PARK situated on the beautiful NORTH WALES COAST where the mountains meet the sea.Palins Holiday Park
Perfectly located 1 mile from Rhyl in the holiday resort of Towyn, Palins is a family owned caravan holiday park which has been operating for over 80 years. Whether you’re looking for an action packed or relaxing break our warm and welcoming staff will ensure you have an enjoyable stay.
I can assure you, most of that is untrue! Our (and others) experience was the complete opposite.
When we arrived at the park, our first impression was oh my god what have we done! The park looked excruciatingly outdated, run-down, and not very clean. Of course, we know first impressions can be somewhat misleading and even forgiven if you end up having a good holiday. Therefore, we tried to stay positive but unfortunately, this was not to last very much longer.
Hubby went and got the key to our caravan from reception. Our caravan was situated literally around the corner from the main complex. We could physically look into the smoking area at the back of their pub from our caravan windows. This was unfortunate, as they were having karaoke our first night there. (The only bit of entertainment supplied the whole week we were there). The loud singing, shouting and all sorts went on past 1 a.m.
We found out the pub doesn’t have entertainment every night. Just Karaoke on a Saturday when they are not showing football! If you enjoy football and crappy music on the TV, then this pub is for you.
Palins advertise on their website, the following:
Childrens Play Area and Amusements – For the children we have the Alamo Fort where there are a selection of swings, slides, climbing frames and the exciting tube & pod. Our all weather penalty shoot out area or Amusement Arcade.
Palins Indoor heated fun pool –
If the sun refuses to shine, for a nominal charge, you can while away a few hours in the relaxed atmosphere of our heated indoor funpool with its water chute and toddlers area. I can’t comment as they had no hoist, so couldn’t use it. By the way, Palins charge you to use the pool!
Fun for the kids – For the children we have the Alamo Fort where there are a selection of swings, slides, climbing frames and the exciting tube & pod, Our all weather penalty shoot out area and Amusement Arcade with a large selection of childrens rides and games.
For your evening entertainment we have Palins Cabaret Club
- Live Entertainment For The WHOLE FAMILY
- Children’s Competitions
- Cash Bingo
- Cyril The Seahorse
The cash bingo was played on the Saturday we arrived, no other night. Palins never checked anyone’s age. Hubby saw one child who looked around 11 years old with bingo tickets in front of them. (They are supposed to check no one under 18 plays as it’s a form of gambling!)
To play bingo again, we had to visit another holiday park for this which incidentally did check players’ age! As for any other entertainment, NONE whatsoever was supplied! I felt for the kids, not even Cyril the seahorse made an appearance!
Notice how the Children’s play area and amusements section and the Fun for the kid’s section are pretty much identical. A great way to make your web page look fuller & to look like you offer a great number of facilities.
The park had a chip shop, convenience store and launderette. The launderette seemed to be the only thing open all week. The on-site chip shop closed from Monday and never reopened until the following Friday. The on-site shop also closed every day from 1 pm on the Monday.
We booked a silver-accessible caravan for one week (Sat-Sat). Well, what can I say? It was the most basic, dirty, rundown budget caravan you could imagine. We paid for the caravan, bedding and making up of the beds. Yes, you are charged to have linen on your bed and have the beds made for your arrival. Oh, by the way, we were told they don’t have double beds in the accessible van so you have to pay for two single beds to be made rather than one double?
The caravan had old and dated curtains that looked filthy, in ALL the rooms. The curtain rails were so rusty they were difficult to open & close. No nets, so privacy is an issue. All of the laminate edging on the table & units in the lounge were peeling, making them very sharp. The TV looked more like a portable than a full-size TV. The decor was very grubby looking like something out of the 70’s and definitely in need of major upgrading.
Again, Palins website states: Silver units offer a high standard and comfortable accommodation at an affordable price. In all fairness, there was nothing comfortable or of a high standard in our caravan.
The mattresses used were of such poor quality you could feel every single spring, plus it had a label saying, Haven? I really wouldn’t be surprised if these were 2nd hand mattressed from Haven. The bed caused me so much pain, I am still 2 weeks on in a lot of pain.
- Access Ramp as Standard – It’s not an accessible caravan without one!
- Sliding Doors
- Wheelchair access
- Fully accessible bathroom with appropriate facilities. – That’s if you can get into it. I could not enter/exit the bathroom and go directly into the bedroom. I had to go down into the lounge to be able to turn around to then be able to get into the bedroom. As nets are not provided, privacy is an issue after showering. The park is aware this is an accessible caravan, so nets would make all the difference. (I know not necessarily the park’s fault but the van doesn’t allow enough space for an electric wheelchair without foot plates to turn directly into the bedroom and my chair is on the smaller side too).
- Gas and electric
- Beds made up for a nominal charge
- TV in the lounge with freeview
- Microwave, kettle, toaster, cutlery and crockery – Grubby, dirty and all in need of a good scrub before using and in need of upgrading.
Beds made up for a nominal charge? Then why is it in the “what’s included” section? My understanding is if something is “included”, there is no extra charge? Right? What we got were extremely thin sheets, with some stains which was lazily put on the bed. The quilt was left folded up on top (image below)
- Dvd player £10 deposit & £10 week
- Double Bed Made Up £4
- Single Bed Made Up £3
- Iron £5 deposit & £5 week
- Travel cot £20 deposit & £20 week
- Wheelchair £20 deposit & £20 week
- Pushchair £10 deposit & £10 week
Beds made up is included and for hire? Which is it Palins?
So if you want to hire a DVD player, an iron and have one double bed and two single beds made up, this is going to set you back £40…..REALLY? Who’s got that kind of money when holidaying with their partner, kids and maybe parents? For a silver-grade caravan, you should not be expected to pay for beds to be made up.
Both my husband and I visited all the holiday parks along the same stretch of road (approx 2 miles long, 8-10 holiday parks in total) and NOT one of them charged for linen or for beds to be made up, this was always included in the price. A few were very shocked at this cost.
Palins Silver Caravan Gallery
I was horrified at finding the piece of wood with 2 large nails, in fact, this was the breaking point. My granddaughter who is only 1 could have had a very nasty accident. When we did finally complain, the manager brushed it off like it was an everyday occurrence (prob is) and this made matters worse and made me angrier.
It was at this point I’d had enough. Thursday I went to reception to complain! The manager was arrogant, flippant, dismissive and downright rude! Customer service just doesn’t exist at this park. At least not with the so-called park manager!!
In complete contrast though, the holiday park situated right next door (Lyons Oakfield) allowed us to take look at their accessible caravan which is also a silver grade. It is worlds apart from what we were given by Palins.
We couldn’t stay too long as guests were arriving that day but with what pictures I managed to get, you can immediately see the big difference in decor, style, comfort and cleanliness. THIS is what you expect from a silver-grade caravan! It feels homely with all the pictures, lovely curtains that have curtain rails that are not rusted, proper chairs at the table and most importantly, clean!
Dishes, cups, cutlery etc felt greasy. We had to wash everything before using them. The beds were so uncomfortable and I was in so much pain, we decided to try the pull-out double bed in the lounge. This was dirty with crumbs/food still on the mattress. Worse still, when we lifted the sofa cushion to get to the pull-out bed, we found a piece of wood with two large nails sticking out of it (pictured above).
As well as kids, this was a pet-friendly caravan, can you imagine if a little tot or dog found that? Doesn’t bear thinking about it!!
With Covid still present, (actually, at any and all times) the least you expect from a “professional company” is to be able to stay in a clean caravan!! It was clearly obvious the bare minimum of cleaning (if any) had been done!
I suffer from Anxiety and IBS, I really didn’t want to have to complain as I knew this would set off my anxiety which would then cause a massive flare-up of my IBS, leaving me stuck in the caravan for the rest of my holiday. Unfortunately, things got so bad that I had to complain in the end!
- Very briefly, the manager claimed the wood with two large nails fell off the surrounding wood of the pull-out bed – But when maintenance came out, he couldn’t find anywhere it may have come from.
- When I complained about the lack of entertainment – His response was the pool is open. I asked him, “how was that any good to me”? He responded, “but the pool is open”. When asked if they had a pool hoist, he bluntly replied no! He then went on to say he could open the show bar but I would be the only one in there!
- I explained how we were told over the phone the show bar would only be opened at weekends but there is entertainment every night in the Magpie & Stump. He said no, I shouldn’t have been told that. Well, mister, that is exactly what we were told, which is why we continued to book at your park.
When complaints have been made regarding the closure of the chippy/shop, Palins are very quick to inform customers who complain (especially about the quality/opening times of the chippy, shop & pub/restaurant) that they are franchised out so NOT the responsibility of Palins. Palins seem to not take responsibility for anything. That is their blanket attitude…..They absolve themselves from any wrongdoing! Frankly, I have no idea how they are still operating.
I am completely gutted I didn’t read Tripadvisor comments or their Facebook page reviews. They very accurately describe just how bad this holiday park really is and the terrible way it’s run. It has many complaints spanning over 5 years about cleanliness, and how the park looks manky and run down. No entertainment, the list is endless really. Yeah, of course, you expect a few complaints. I mean, you can’t please everyone all of the time. But….These complaints include H&S issues as well as taking customers for mugs!
When booking a holiday, you have a level of expectation of how that holiday will be and this is normally due to previous similar holiday experiences and/or the company’s website (if booking directly) or a brochure from a holiday agent, right? I mean, you don’t expect to have to wear formal evening attire in a holiday park where you would expect to dress this way on a formal night when cruising. You probably would expect a high standard of food and waiter service on a cruise but again not when holidaying at a holiday park, you expect that to be a much more casual affair.
You get my point, so as we’re no strangers to holiday parks or staying in caravans, we were under no illusion as to what to expect. Or so we thought! Holiday parks are well known for their family entertainment, so when you stay at a park that claims to have entertainment every night but you receive none at all, you are wondering what the hell went wrong! When that same park has a food outlet and a shop, you expect to be able to use them.
What you don’t expect, is to holiday at a holiday park that closes all amenities but one (the pub) and be made feel you are staying at a holiday park that is closed for the season!!
We contacted our credit card company to put in a Section 75 claim: “Section 75 is an important UK consumer protection law made in the 1970s that means your credit provider must take the same responsibility as the retailer if things go wrong with a purchase. Yet it doesn’t work on all purchases – just those costing a certain amount”: Source: Money Saving Expert – Section 75
We are hoping to get our money back under the claim of “Misrepresentation and Breach of Contract”. We hope we don’t have to go to the Small Claims Court by taking this route first. (“The small claims court is the low-hassle way to take legal action for up to £10,000 against a firm or individual in the UK. But be confident you’ve got a case before you start as new fees mean you’ll now pay twice as much if you lose”). Source: Money Saving Expert – Small Claims Court
WE WON!!! We have been given a full refund of what we paid to Palins Holiday Park. That has lifted such a weight off my mind. I can finally put this fight to bed now. I do wonder though, does the company get told that section 75 has been taken and do they get informed of the result? Would be interesting to know if anyone can answer that for me.
All images are original and untouched. Two images have been placed side by side so you can see the lounge as a whole.
Cazbarr is a full-time wheelchair user, who was born with a disability called Arthrogryposis. Primarily she blogs about her disability, her experiences holidaying as a full-time wheelchair user, along with honest products & service reviews.
If you would like to work with Cazbarr, just drop her line on the Contact page.