Now, when it comes to national institutions that seem to have been around forever, Pontins has to be up there as the one everyone knows.
Although he is now often seen as Butlins’ poor cousin, Sindy’s Barbie to Butlins if you will, there’s no denying that Pontins has stood the test of time and is still high on many people’s list. when it comes to booking a cheap getaway on British. floor.
I’ve seen friends fly to Dubai, Los Angeles and Vegas over the past few weeks. I have to admit I was thinking ‘where did it all go wrong Simon?’ when I was packing my car for a public holiday in Southport but, as someone who never snubs my nose on a cheap weekend with my friends, I fired up Google Maps with an open mind and a mix exhilarating with apprehension and excitement.
Including slow traffic on the ever-unpredictable A66 after leaving Scotch Corner and a stop for a McDonald’s petrol station, the journey from Newcastle to Southport took just over three and a half hours, so it’s a relief when the famous, but slightly washed-out blue and white colors of Pontins appeared, like a Hi-De-Hi type lighthouse across the bay.
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After parking my car – with plenty of free spaces available on site and reducing the risk of screeching electric ballads behind the wheel – it was time for the holidays to begin.
I admit right away, it was the part of the trip that worried me the most. We all know that the place you call home for a few days can make or break a vacation and after reading the reviews I went there with low expectations and instead fearing the worst.
When you’re in your thirties the days of happily slouching on a rock hard bed in Magaluf so you have more money to spend on super strong bevvies have been and gone but I will say l The one bedroom apartment in Pontins Southport was absolutely fine and I had absolutely no complaints.
It wouldn’t win any awards for its high-end decor or state-of-the-art comforts, but between two people, with one bedroom and a decent-sized sofa bed in the living room and kitchen, it did the job well.
If you opt for a Standard chalet rather than the slightly more expensive Club option, you need to top up your electricity but, Martin Lewis will be happy to hear that you are not being ripped off for your electricity at a time when we all feel the pinch so it’s definitely worth having a kitten for food and planning ahead to make sure there’s always something to bang in the oven to line the stomach. Oh, and there’s an on-site Nisa shop and takeaway for all your hangover needs, with the shop also selling what I’d affectionately call a range of “tat”. Light the fairy wand with your corn flakes anyone? Why settle for bread and milk, when you can get bread, milk and a super dip for £1? !
The shower in the chalet bathroom was hot but required you to press the on button every 30 seconds or so – quite a challenge with shampoo in your eyes let me tell you!
Let’s be honest, as with many Brits on a bank holiday, for me and my friends our getaway to the coast was always going to be a ‘drinking holiday’, and with a bar called The Queen Vic and a giant nightclub function hall called Fun Factory, Pontins definitely saw us coming.
I directed this nightlife section but the fact is that it could be called day and nightlife because at Pontins weekends, the party obviously always starts well before sunset.
Want to attend a tribute to the Spice Girls or two women to sing a Celine Dion and Barbra Streisand duet at 2 p.m. while you are still fragile from the day before? Or go to a Silent Disco after a Sunday roast? This is the place for you!
When it comes to bar prices, holiday parks could easily exploit their punters, because once you’re there, you’re inevitably going to, like it or not, pay what they charge for your favorite drink. But other than a bit pricey £7.50 for a double vodka slush (although you can keep the souvenir plastic cup) I never thought I was paying more for a drink than I would in most bars in the House.
The big selling point of this weekend for me was the plethora of 90s, 00s and Drag Race acts on the bill.
Night one saw Little Mix tribute to Little Chix bring the party, before Drag Race UK season 3 queen Ella Vaday took the stage and Liberty X, sans Kevin and Tony, delivered a hit set.
On day two, the night belonged to Drag Race’s Kitty Scott Claus, Girls Aloud icon Nadine Coyle and North East’s Re Take That ahead of Ariana Grande’s tribute to Hariana, with her own fake tickets brand bank, the ever-energetic Cheryl Hole, Sabrina Washington of Mis-Teeq and two-thirds of Cleopatra finished on Sunday, all with some star spins from the resident reps.
For a child of the 90s, there was something VERY exciting about seeing Cleopatra, as a member downstairs, did the Cleopatra theme in the flesh, rather than carrying the CD to your home stereo bedroom while perched on an inflatable chair and looking at a lava lamp.
With so much going on over the weekend, it happened in a flash, although the hangover certainly didn’t!
Pontins won’t appeal to everyone but with a party vibe although according to the staff it was a little quieter than expected; reps always there with a smile to encourage you to get back to it and get your name out there for the karaoke and just a good buzz amongst the other guests at the shows and on site, to me it was British Bank Holiday personified.
We each paid £70 each for three nights in a chalet and given that a wristband also got you into all the events as well as free parking it was a break that certainly didn’t broke the bank and headache and tired eyes aside from that i had a smile on my face the whole time apart from the fact that a phone signal was hard to come by the whole time i was there.
Go to Pontins without preconceptions and I’m sure you’ll have fun. It’s by no means luxury, but if it’s bags of fun, a healthy dose of nostalgia, a non-judgmental holiday where everyone just wants to laugh and hear Mr Brightside, Sweet Caroline and Proud Mary at least three times a day you’re after, you won’t be disappointed.
No frills but ALL the fun!