Review: Haven Seashore in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk
As a family we have become veterans of the Haven holiday scene, having been countless times over the last decade and twice a year for the past 4 years. Saying that, we have only ever stayed at one resort, Combe Haven in Hastings. We are creatures of habit, and liking both the resort and the location, we never saw any need to change. On the one hand we might find something better, or at least equally as good. But on the other, it could be worse, much worse, and then we’d spend the whole week wishing we were back at Combe. That’s me to a tee, though I am trying to change, and my if it ain’t broke don’t fix it mentality needs to veer more towards an Adventure is out there one. 10 points for your house if you can place that latter reference.
Back on track and it was our friend Kelvin who made us choose Seashore over our beloved Combe Haven, as it was he who moved resorts. To cut a long story short, we met him at Combe Haven a few years ago where he was the entertainments manager. After 2 years he moved to Seashore, and so we decided to follow him, such was our faith in his ability. Oh go on then, add in the soppy bit about wanting to see a friend too if I must. Thanks to consecutive Friday and Monday inset and occasional days (no, me neither) at my son Lucas’ school, we were afforded our annual long weekend break in June, so on Friday 23rd off we trundled off to Norfolk.
Haven Seashore – The Caravan
We booked a basic caravan for a number of reasons, money being one, and the expectation that as it’s summer we’d not be in it much, being another. When we arrived the caravan did say basic on the front door, but on further investigation it seemed to offer much more than we were expecting. From a third bedroom, to the unused central heating, and plush decor to extra width. Whatever the level of the caravan, it was really nice, so clean and very comfortable. But don’t just take these written words as testament, take a look at this video tour and photos, which I insisted on doing before anyone could enter and unpack. The people of YouTube needed to see this caravan more than the ham and cider needed to go in the fridge, maybe.
Haven Seashore – The Site
Proximity to the beach couldn’t be better, as you walk out of the back entrance of the Mash and Barrel bar straight down some stairs and onto a sandy and stony beach. The beach is all sand when you walk along the coastline towards the town / pier areas of Great Yarmouth, but the stones aren’t big near Haven Seashore and there are little patches of just sand, so very manageable. Between the back entrance to the bar and the beach is an outside seating area, which at night is lit up by some overhead fairy lights and looks quite magical.
The aforementioned Mash and Barrel is a big bar set out in a big L shape, with more than enough tables and chairs for even the busiest days. It houses a soft play area for kids, a small selection of amusement machines and even 2 pool tables. The Mash Barrel is home to karaoke a few nights a week, which of course partook in, or practically took over in my case. I blame that last Gin! It also has access to the pool area which consists of 2 indoor pools, one 4 lane slide into it’s own runoff area and an outdoor splash area. It was never busy when we were there and the water was warm, as were the changing rooms. The slides were great fun, and unlike at Combe Haven where the slide is outside, these can be used all year round, and by children of a younger age too.
The Live Lounge complex is where the main entertainments take place and also has a bar and a shop selling Haven branded goods. This seemed a lot more modern than at Combe Haven ad the TV screens certainly helped when it came to the various bingo games. The stage can be seen from all over the room thanks too the incline from front to back, and we saw a variety of live acts including 4 chaps from Britain’s Got Talent, apparently. Between the entrance to the Live Lounge and the actual entertainment room are a big variety of amusements, plus a Burger King and Papa John’s Pizza bar.
That’s not all, as there are several parks, a climbing wall, mini golf, go karts, a well stocked shop and laundry facilities. There’s even a bike hire centre which we did actually make use of when Lucas and I took a two seated 4 wheeled peddle powered vehicle out for a 30 minute tour of the site – great fun, and only £4 for 30 minutes. Everything is set out along the beach, and while walking from one end to the other may take a little time, it makes things far easier to locate when it’s basically in a straight line.
Haven Seashore – The Staff
Having this plethora pf facilities is all well and good, but manned by staff who don’t enjoy their job and don’t make customers a priority would be a disaster. Thankfully there was no such thing at Haven Seashore, in fact quite the opposite. As I said earlier, I had faith in Kelvin as an entertainments manager, and that was rewarded with a great team of Funstars (think of a modern more energetic version of the yellow coats from Hi De Hi) who worked exceptionally well as a team and had everyone entertained each evening. Lucas even managed to get pulled up on stage for one game, and won, but this is the first time in years he didn’t get the chance to take me up too, and embarrass me in some way. I’m fooling nobody with the I’m just too act cool there, of course I love going up on stage and partaking in whatever silly antics are thrown my way – next time! If I have spelled names wrong then I apologise, but thank you to Kelvin, Karla, Amber, Rafe, Joel and Lou for making us feel very welcome and doing the Funstar name proud.
Though the Funstars tend to be the face of the company, the rest of the staff play just as vital a role, and did so with just us much pride. From the poor girl who had lost her voice on the pool reception, to the lady on the shop who made sure I had the correct coins to fit in the parking meter on the seafront. From the bar staff in the Live Lounge who humoured my attempts to remember the correct name for Rekorderlig each night, to their counterparts in the Mash and Barrel who had to put up with my singing, which even went as far as me fetching a bar stool to perform Extreme’s More Than Words. Yes, I am that embarrassing Dad/husband/friend, but it’s all in the name of having fun. I’m trying to recall and I can’t think of one single occasion when we weren’t treated with smiles and the appropriate help, and on most occasions aid that went above and beyond.
Haven Seashore – Great Yarmouth
I intend to go into more detail in a separate article, but suffice to say that as long as you stay away from the shopping centre part of Great Yarmouth, then you’ll find a seaside resort with lots of old fashioned charm and the entertainment to match. Sticking our heads through wooden pictures for photos and trying to shoot a bullseye with an air rifle were just 2 such things we enjoyed on the pier. There were even donkey rides on the beach, and while Lucas recoiled at the idea I am 50% over the weight limit (and 10 times the age limit?) for such an experience, fortunately for the donkey. There are amusement arcades as far as the eye can see, but don’t go thinking you’ll come out with buckets full of plunder, these are tough machines where winning is but a pipe dream for most. It’s still fun trying, and we took our 6 month supply of 2p coins which Lucas used to win enough tickets for a small packet of wine gums and a football magnet that has since been left in the bottom of his bag.
One expert tip I will impart on you is to not eat at the first fish and chip shop you see, which in our case was on the pier. My wife Denise theorised that the quality may not be as good as they didn’t have to try as hard and boy was she right. The next day we did some exploring and found the Lion & Herring Fish & Chips Shop off the main strip and were rewarded with cheaper prices, friendlier service and far superior food. I’d go back for their Scampi alone.
The main action is only a short drive, longer walk or fun train ride away. Train you say? Yes indeed, as there is a land train that runs every half an hour between Haven Seashore and Great Yarmouth Pier. It takes about 5 minutes and costs £2.00 for adults and £1.50 for adults…one way. So it’s not cheap if there are a few of you and you use it both ways, every day. We did the return journey on one day and the drove the next, as parking on the seafront was cheaper. The train is fun though, but be sure to hold on to your hat, as it goes faster than I expected. Speaking of faster, Joyland is a the charming jewel of Great Yarmouth, and one that I will be talking about a lot in that future article I referenced earlier.
Haven Seashore – The Verdict
We were back only a few days before we booked to return at the end of August. I think that gives you an idea of how much we enjoyed our stay at Haven Seashore. As much as we liked many visits to Combe Haven, we all feel that Seashore takes it to another level in almost every way possible. It’s also set in the most wonderful surroundings and whilst we like Hastings, Great Yarmouth is a far easier location to have a proper getaway and escape the normality of everyday life. We had a wonderful 4 days away, spent time with some precious friends, and fell in love with Haven Seashore and Great Yarmouth…and that delicious scampi!
Official Website: Haven Seahore