During the October half term in 2021, my Dad asked if we wanted to go on a short break during October half term 2022 to Blackpool to see the Illuminations staying at Haven Marton Mere. I didn’t hesitate to say yes, as a child virtually all my holidays were at various Haven sites so I had fond memories and my parents had taken me to Blackpool Illuminations numerous times so it felt like a rite of passage to take my own children there. He booked a Monday to Friday break for October 2022 so we had a whole year to look forward to it.
The accommodation that we booked was a Saver caravan with 3 bedrooms (2 twin rooms and a double room) it had space for 2 cars to park next to it and was relatively close to the main building where all the facilities were. As the Dinosaur is registered disabled as well as my Mum, this was very important to us. Sadly the parking was on the grass so because of the rain it quickly became muddy and slippery.
When we arrived at Haven Marton Mere, the accommodation that had been allocated was in a good location but there were a couple of initial issues. The windows had all been left open and as it had been raining most of the day, the van felt cold inside. We also discovered that the table was broken, the top had completely come away from the legs and was just balanced on top, there was even a screw on the floor. We called guest services who came and temporarily fixed the table but said that it would get replaced.
The next morning we woke up to find that both the children’s pillows were wet as were the pillows in the double bedroom. The double bedroom had some small mould patches on the wall and one of the mattresses in the children’s room smelled damp. This time I went to the guest services office to report this. Initially, the lady I spoke to took my telephone number and said she would arrange to have someone come round to have a look. I insisted that due to the Dinosaur’s health, we needed to be moved to alternative accommodation. She went to speak to someone else for a couple of moments and then came back with a key for different accommodation.
The new accommodation was an upgrade, this time it was a Bronze caravan with central heating and a tarmac parking space for one car next to it and just enough space to squeeze the other car in front. The only downside to this accommodation was the location, it was much further away from the main building which meant my Mum couldn’t walk there with her mobility aids.
If the location of your accommodation on the resort is a factor that is important to you, at some Haven sites you can select exactly which caravan you have before you even arrive. Travel with the O’Halloran’s has all the details on how to do this.
On-site at Haven Marton Mere there were 3 options for those who didn’t want to cook for themselves: Burger King, The Boathouse, and Cook’s Fish & Chips. We booked a table at The Boathouse for the evening we arrived so that we wouldn’t need to worry about finding a shop and cooking after a long journey to the site.
The menu was the usual pub grub type of thing and prices were quite reasonable. When we went there were a few items that were not available which was a bit of a shame but there was still plenty of choice for all of us.
Prior to our arrival, I downloaded the Haven Serve app which is advertised as giving you the opportunity to order food and drink to your table when you are in one of the venues, to order food to collect and even to order food to be delivered to your accommodation. We were particularly pleased about being able to order things to collect or be delivered but when we arrived at the resort we quickly discovered that wifi was only available when you were in the main building. Having to walk to the main building to order food to be delivered is a complete waste of time so I have no idea why they even bothered advertising this, it certainly wasn’t a possibility.
When we tried to use the app to have food or drinks delivered to our table when we were seated in the main building, we were unable to do that either as it said that it was unavailable at the time.
One thing that we found particularly surprising about the food outlets was that none of them was open when the evening entertainment finished. Having been used to Butlin’s holidays (both Haven and Butlin’s are owned by Bourne Leisure) where the last thing to close is the chip shop, this was a little disappointing. It also wasn’t a good idea to rely on the food outlets for impromptu meals as the opening times were not what you would expect and were not particularly well advertised.
Entertainment & Activities
Well, I’m not sure where to start with the activities and entertainment, to be honest. We found it all a bit of a letdown. Let me start with the other Haven app which is called My Haven Experience, the idea of this app is that you can see what activities and entertainment are on during your break, you can book the sessions that need booking and you can use it as a planner for your break. It sounds brilliant however there is no wifi on site unless you are in the main building. This means you can’t see what is coming up, you can’t check what times your booked activities are, you can’t book new activities and as we discovered, if you plan it all out before you get there, they add more after you’ve arrived which you can’t see either.
If you do have a look at the app when you’re in the main building to see what times the shows are that you want to watch, you’re out of luck. It just tells you what time the blocks of entertainment start and then there are 3 or 4 things within that block. You also can’t find out when the venues close, we decided to go for a drink one evening and headed to The Boathouse but were surprised to find that it closed at 9 pm, we then headed to The Showbar (the main entertainment venue) but it was crammed so we couldn’t find anywhere to sit.
All in all, if you are staying at Haven Marton Mere, don’t waste your time with the apps.
Prior to our arrival, we had a look at what was on offer and decided to book our swimming sessions and some activities. I had a look the morning they were meant to be available and all of the free children’s activities had already been booked. I then had a look at booking the swimming sessions. For a midweek break, guests are allowed to book a maximum of 14 sessions. This sounds like a lot but each person counts as one session, as we were a party of 6, that meant we could go swimming as a group twice as just one visit to the pool used 6 of our allocated sessions. Add to that the fact that each swimming session is for an hour it was disappointing that our entire group could only do 2 hours of swimming during our entire stay.
One of the activities that we fancied doing was archery. The Dinosaur was too young to do the main archery session but there was a tots archery session on the same day so I booked him onto that and Daddy Dino, the Unicorn and my Dad on the main session. The venue for the archery was next to the main building but it was behind a fence. There was one gate but that was chained and padlocked shut, the map didn’t show how to access the area, there were absolutely no signs telling you how to get in there and even the booking information didn’t tell you where to go. As a consequence, the Dinosaur and I spent half an hour walking around the fence trying to find the way in or looking for a staff member to point us in the right direction. Eventually, we went to the swimming pool entrance and asked there to be told that you have to go through the restaurant and out the back. By the time we discovered this, not only was the Dinosaur tired from walking around everywhere but he’d also missed his session.
Thankfully as Blackpool promenade was only a short drive from Marton Mere and the sole reason for our trip was to see the Illuminations, we didn’t get too upset about the poor access to activities on the site. The children enjoyed visiting the arcades, seeing the lights, going to the funfair on one of the piers, riding the trams, flying kites on the seafront and then there are things like the Sealife Centre, The Tower. the Pleasure Beach and the Zoo to keep you busy.
I would try another Haven again as I feel we were just unlucky to have a bad experience but next time I’ll try one of the slightly larger sites such as Blackpool Cala Gran. For more advice on booking your activities from a regular Haven visitor, read this article from Lyndsey.