19-19 Harry’s Ramblings. Warners Lakeside
For those unaware, Warners is a holiday company that brings cruising to dry land.They have quite a few holiday park complexes around the UK, specialising in shortbreaks of two to four days, where guests have high quality rooms, food included, liveentertainment every night, daytime activities, and are encouraged to stay onboardthe complex throughout the stay.Pam and I have recently been to Lakeside, which is on Hayling Island, part of UK’ssouth coast. It’s not that far from Chichester, just before Portsmouth, with a ferryconnecting Hayling Island to Portsmouth. There is one road in and off the island, onebridge with one lane in each direction, so it’s fair to assume that if there is anycriminal activity police simply have to stop and check on the bridge.It only has a population of just over 16,000, is just over four miles from north tosouth, one main road with fields either side until you get to the main habitation on thesouth shore. This is mainly comprised of opulent houses, not so wealthy homes, afun fair, a long south shore with abundant parking, and lots of caravan and tentedenclaves. Warners has two properties, Sinah Warren on the western side, andLakeside on the east.
I only drove in and out of the former, just to see what it was like, and the impressionwas pretty good, with larger chalets around the main building complex. That is wherewe will take our next Hayling break, however our two night stay was at Lakeside. Thebest thing to do with these places is to keep your luggage in the car, park close toreception, ascertain your accommodation location, then drive round to it with yourkey. Our chalet was in a block of eight, backing onto a further identical group. Thesehad obviously been refurbished to quite a high quality, one basic room with en suitewalk in shower room. The bed was 5ft, wardrobe, two bedside cabinets, long desk,two chairs, wall tv, all you could wish for. Outside there was a small table with metalchairs opposite an identical block with yet more tables and chairs.
We visited in August, with flowers in abundance, they have a devoted team ofgardeners maintaining the grounds to quite a high standard, it’s a wonder they everget any work done because guests are forever talking to them. The paths are niceand wide between the blocks, the whole area is well designed to include themaximum while appearing open plan. The main complex is comprehensive, withreception, shop that opens a few hours every day for tourism essentials, the diningroom that doubles up as evening entertainment venue, a smaller entertainment bar,and outbuildings containing a small cinema and a separate swimming pool.
The grounds are extensive, with archery, pitch and putt, long walks around theshore. You are a good ten minute walk along a side road away from any activity suchas shops or pubs, which doesn’t seem to matter. There is a company coach to takeyou out for the day an extra fee to the Isle of Wight, or Portsmouth. Even if theweather is simply awful, it seems as if there is something to do, for people of allphysical abilities. There was a preponderance of wheelchairs and walkers, they weresimply integrated into the pleasant atmosphere of the place.
All the staff are so lovely, greeting with a smile, you are made to feel welcome, in away it has a holiday camp feel without the impression of cheapness. Holiday campscan be pretty basic, improved considerably over the years, this seems just a littlemore upmarket, not too surprising because Warners is owned by the same peopleas Haven and Butlins.
We felt they let themselves down in the main public area, where our table was thesame for all meals, as well as sitting there for the evening. The frantic waiting staffwere mainly able to cope, our chap struggled not just with basic English butproviding us with what we had ordered. The vast majority of main courses come fromthe self service area, on both evenings the food was cheap, flavourless, luke warm,overcooked, or tough meat. Breakfasts were fine. This is okay for more budgetaccommodation, but we were paying £75 per person per night for dinner bed andbreakfast including entertainment.The drinks were horrendously expensive, £8.10 for a 250ml glass of not particularlynice Malbec for example, before dinner each evening Pam had a large vodka andbottled lemonade, I had a large house brandy and bottled dry ginger, a jaw-dropping£16.80 for just these two. We didn’t see any drinks packages available, apart from10% discount for buying three bottles of wine at the same time.Warners is not for the budget end of the market, it is geared up for over 50s who likeold fashioned standards. They mainly succeed, but it might be a good idea if thethree secretive families that own the parent company with millions paid out everyyear in dividends maybe stayed incognito, listening to the customers.