With national travel restrictions due to ease next month, it’s time to plan your summer staycation. You may quaff at the naff-sounding terminology, but British people embraced staycations last year. And will likely do the same this year with international travel grounded until at least May 17th.
Thankfully, as the UK slowly comes out of lockdown, from April 12th, people in England can enjoy stays on home soil – in self-contained accommodation and only with other members of their household. The next stage? Hotels and B&Bs are allowed to open from May 17th, but only for no more than six people from two different households. We know that’s a lot of ifs and buts. However, if you’re looking to book a holiday in the UK, you better move fast as things are selling out quickly.
Last summer, we tried out a classic staycation (shortly before lockdown 2), going on a caravan holiday without the caravan, spending a couple of nights in the plush new lodges at Cofton Holidays – a family-run holiday park in South Devon.
Located amidst nature close to Exmouth, you’ll find Cofton Holidays. The family-run holiday park, which’s been around for over 40 years, is just a ten-minute drive from the quintessentially British seaside town of Dawlish. Just over 30 minutes away, you’ll also find Torquay, meaning it’s well-located for those seeking a nostalgic escape. For those interested in flitting between cities and national parks, don’t worry; Exeter and Dartmoor National park are both easily accessible. For families, Crealy Theme Park and Go Ape are under 30-minutes away, while Diggerland is a tad further (around 35 minutes) and Dartmoor Zoo over an hour’s drive. There’s a Sainbury’s less than five minute’s drive to stock up on supplies. If arriving by public transport, don’t worry, Dawlish Warren train station is less than ten mins in a cab. Pub-wise, you’ve got a few options on the park, but The Anchor Inn and Shipp Inn are both a short walk away (take a torch if you’re going at night).
Cofton Holidays introduced 12 new luxury lodges for 2020, each comes with a sundeck and hot tub. We were surprised by our two-bedroom lodge’s’ size, which sat on a hillside overlooking the rest of the holiday park. The design is Scandi minimalist with nature printed curtains and earthy textures. All lodges come with a neat indoor/outdoor feel – thanks to the abundance of floor to ceiling windows. Although slightly overlooked by the other lodges (space is a premium on holiday parks), it’s still quiet and peaceful. The kitchen is a good size and comes stocked with all the necessary appliances (coffee machines, oven, washing machine, fridge freezer, microwave and cooking utensils). It opens out to a living room big enough for four guests where you’ll find a TV with Amazon and Netflix, plus a modern fire. Lodges will also be comfortable if you’re visiting when out of season, though ambient lighting would take it to the next level of cosy. The crown jewel? The hot tub and decking area – a dream spot for breakfast. Local biscuits, milk in the fridge and tea/ coffees were also a nice touch.
Facilities & staff
The check-in process was seamless with friendly and efficient staff. The park has strict COVID-19 measures to protect visitors, including hand sanitising stations and booking slots for swimming pool/ gym users. The outside pool looked inviting – even in autumn – but was sadly closed as it was out of season. There is, however, an indoor pool on-site, should you fancy a splash around with the kids. There’s also a games room with an American pool, bowling, slot machines etc. Plus children’s entertainment and soft play areas – though best to check these are open on booking. For adults, there’s a gym, five fishing lakes and various cycling paths. One issue we had was with the Wi-Fi, but when by nature, that feels insignificant. Staff were quick to iron out any problems, however, and were smiley and courteous throughout. A shop and fish and chip takeaway are also available on-site.
Food & Bev
We were only able to try Amelia’s Café as the pub on-site (The Swann Inn) was closed due to restrictions. It didn’t set the world alight in terms of décor (think Wetherspoons or Harvester) or food (overcooked scampi and bland pasta dishes). However, it is a holiday park and not a fine dining establishment. We also spoke to other guests who’d thoroughly enjoyed their meals previously. There is, however, a lovely village pub called The Ship Inn a 15-minute walk away, which serves quality gastro pub grub in a cosy setting. Meals here cost from about £12. The other pub in the area, The Anchor, is a little more upmarket and specialises in fresh fish.
- Remote pre-check-in, allowing guests to avoid the reception area on arrival
- Staggered and allotted arrival times to avoid delays or queues, promoting social distancing
- Arrival bags with wristbands to allow access to facilities, plus security car pass and keys to accommodation
- New one-way traffic flow system around the park to enhance customer safety
- Changes to pedestrian access around the park to enhance social distancing, with new footpaths to avoid roads on site
- New large village square to further enhance customer safety and distancing
- Digitised welcome packs, wildlife walk information and customer collateral
- Enhanced Covid-19 compliant cleaning on site and availability of knee-operated external washing stations around the main complex
- Freestanding sanitisers within the main complex
- Posters around the site reminding guest of Covid-19 guidance
- PPE for staff including face mask made in-house by a professional seamstress
- New access barriers with ANPR. This is connected to the booking system to control access and automatically allow checked-in guests on to the site.
Where to visit nearby
Cockwood Harbour – a quaint tidal harbour a short walk from the park worth visiting for a drink or bite to eat.
Dawlish Warren – a famous Blue Flag sandy beach within a short drive from the park that’s ideal for families.
Salcombe – a stunning seaside town known for its crab sandwiches, beautiful coastal walks and expensive real estate that’s just over an hour away by car,
Bigbury on Sea – a lovely spot to do some surfing (hire equipment from Discovery Surf Shop) that’s an hour away by car.
Cofton Copse Lodge collection is Cofton Holidays’ premier accommodation, offering two and three-bedroom lodges from:
£742 for a four-night break
£821 for a three-nights
£1,128 for a week break.
For more information visit: www.coftonholidays.co.uk/luxury-lodges/ or call 01626 890111.
Address: Cofton Ln, Exeter EX6 8RP
Adam was a guest at Cofton Holidays.