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29/06/2018

Haven Craig Tara review – what did we think?

Haven Craig Tara Review

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Please find below my Haven Craig Tara review – hopefully it will help you make your mind up if you are considering going on holiday there. We, a family of four, travelled to the Haven Craig Tara resort in April 2018. The resort is located just south of the town of Ayr, on the west coast of Scotland. It’s around a 1 hour drive from Glasgow, 2 hours from Edinburgh. The resort consists of several hundred static caravans (plus some apartments) which surround a central entertainment/dining complex. There are also several play parks, an amusement park, a golf course, an indoor swimming pool and a sandy beach. The site overlooks the island of Arran.

Our last few holidays have all been overseas and have included a week in a private villa in Spain and a week in an all inclusive resort in Gran Canaria. Once kids come along, holiday prices skyrocket for numerous reasons – not only do you need much larger accommodation than you did when it was just the two of you, but once they turn two, they have their own seat on the plane as well (which bumps the flight costs up significantly). Plus, once the kids are crawling or even worse, walking, those relaxing foreign holidays in the sunshine of days gone past are anything but relaxing!

So when planning our main family holiday for 2018, now that we have two kids (who were 2.5 and almost 1 at the time of the holiday in April) we decided to do something totally different. We wanted to go somewhere not only in the UK, but within a short drive from our home in Edinburgh. My husband had booked his week off work ages ago, not realising that it was in the school Easter holidays – oops. As such, a lot of accommodation was already sold out and what was left was very expensive. We had a look at Center Parcs who had one lodge remaining for rent for our dates… for £2,500. Um, no thanks. This lead us to thinking outside the box in terms of the type of holiday we were looking for… and we eventually decided to try a week in a caravan at the Haven Craig Tara resort. We haven’t done this type of holiday before, but it seemed to tick a lot of boxes in terms of cost, location and things to do to keep our toddler happy.

We paid £391 for 4 nights (Monday – Friday) in a Deluxe 3 Bedroom caravan during the school Easter holidays. Note: this trip was entirely paid for by ourselves. We earned £23 in cashback just by going through Topcashback – enough for a meal out one evening on our holiday. Read more about Topcashback here.

I am ashamed to admit this, but on our two hour drive to Craig Tara, I turned to my husband and whispered “if it’s awful, we can always just go home early”. I just didn’t know what to expect – caravan resorts at the British seaside sometimes have a bit of a run down, down-market reputation, and I’m embarrassed to admit that I was a little nervous that this reputation would be well-deserved. If you’d told me then that I would end up writing a rave Haven Craig Tara review, I’d be astonished.

Upon arrival, we parked at reception, my husband took the kids for a wander whilst I queued at the check in desk. The queue was enormous, but actually it was probably less than half an hour before I made it to the front and got my keys. The staff were upbeat and friendly which made what could be a painful experience as pleasant as possible. What awaited us at the caravan upon unlocking it was quite unexpected:

Deluxe 3 bedroom caravan at Haven Craig Tara resort

Wow! It was immaculately clean and beautifully furnished – very grey which is exactly our taste. The living area and kitchen were remarkably spacious. I couldn’t believe that not only was there a shower room with a toilet in it, but also a separate WC too. I’ve lived in flats less well equipped than our caravan! The 3 bedrooms were small but perfectly adequate, each with plenty of space to hang enough clothes for a few days. The kitchen was well equipped, with a large fridge, freezer, microwave, oven with hob, kettle, toaster and all the utensils we needed. You need to bring your own towels, tea towels, washing up liquid and toiletries. We forgot to bring kitchen roll, washing up liquid and a dish sponge but all these were available at the Nisa shop onsite, which I was surprised to find was reasonably priced given that they have a captive audience.

To save money on our trip, we collected a click and collect grocery order from Asda en route (the ASDA is about 15 minutes in the car from the resort) – apparently they will also deliver directly to your caravan which is amazing – will have to test this out in the future. As we are on a budget (hence the blog title) we only used the dining facilities twice, borth times at the Briggs of Ayr restaurant which was perfectly fine -it was reminiscent of a Wetherspoons pub which suited us perfectly in terms of budget and variety. There is also a Papa Johns, a Burger King, a fish and chip restaurant and a Chinese food van on site.

There are so many activities for kids, but most of them were for kids slightly older than ours, so we didn’t get involved – we look forward to signing up in the future. Instead, we spent our days at the beautiful beach and at the indoor swimming pool. I couldn’t believe how quiet the beach was – at several points over our trip we had the whole beach to ourselves. I would love in the future to stay in a caravan with a sea view, but even though we were in a far flung corner of the resort, the beach was still no more than a five minute walk away.

The beach at Haven Craig Tara resort

One of the highlights for us was the Seaside Squad’s kids show each evening. Our daughter, Lauren, took a special shining to Rory the tiger – over two months later, he still crops up in conversation almost every day. She can’t wait to go back to see him again. Until then, she has a stuffed Rory toy to cuddle in bed each night. The below picture is of her meeting her idol and it brings tears to my eyes thinking about how happy she was – such a magical moment. We could have spent thousands of pounds going somewhere exotic and she wouldn’t have had as much fun as she did at Craig Tara.

Seaside Squad at Haven Craig Tara resort

Given that it was the Easter holidays and the resort was fully booked, I was expecting the site to be really busy, with queues everywhere. There were only two times I was really aware of it being busy: one was at the start of the kids show at night, where there was a mad dash by everybody to get the best tables up near the stage. The other time was the kids section of the pool, which was understandably busy, but never overwhelmingly so. With having small kids, we didn’t have a chance to check out the entertainment later on in the evening… maybe next time we will have to go back with the grandparents who might be so kind as to babysit one night.

I must mention one of the other things we did – twice, because it was so good. We travelled down the coast to Culzean Castle, which is a National Trust for Scotland property. It has an absolutely amazing outdoor kids play area which Lauren loved.  As we are NTS members, we got free entry. Also, next door to Craig Tara is Heads of Ayr farm which we ran out of time to do, but we will definitely visit next time.

I hope you enjoyed my Haven Craig Tara review. Have you been there before? Are there any other Haven resorts you recommend? I’d love to check out Haggerston Castle in the future.

haven craig tara review - our first uk caravan holiday

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3 Comments

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    […] were lucky enough to head back to the Haven Craig Tara resort last weekend (see my review of our last trip) to celebrate Lauren’s 3rd birthday. Whilst we were there, we once again travelled down the […]

    05/09/2018 at 11:02 am Reply
  • Lauren is 3! // Mum on a Budget

    […] week after her party, we headed back to Haven’s Craig Tara resort, where we were for her actual day of her birthday – this was a very magical place for Lauren […]

    06/09/2018 at 1:32 pm Reply
  • Money Saving Monday: 3 ways I saved money last week - Mum on a Budget

    […] are going to the Craig Tara holiday resort again this weekend to celebrate my daughter’s actual 3rd birthday. Instead of being tempted to eat […]

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