During half term we managed to get away for 6 nights for a lodge break with the children, I took my Mom along with me as John couldn’t make the full 6 days. We stayed at Fornham Park in a Dream Lodge Group Lodge and I thought id share how we got on.
Ill begin with that this stay was complimentary as compensation due to a huge fail on their part last year whilst I was heavily pregnant with Charlie. We booked to go to one of their parks, and were called back to be upgraded if we changed location and stayed at one of their newest parks that was yet to open, the only catch was that it was such a new site everything was in place except there were some areas of grass that had not yet grown. We thought wow, sounds great!
So off we went- driving 3 1/2 hours with a 4 and 2 year old and a 12 week old puppy- and I was 34 weeks pregnant. On arrival, we couldn’t find the place at all, the satnav kept telling us we were there on a main road and no site could be seen, it was after 4pm on a Sunday so nobody was answering the phone, after driving around for a while, John took us down some tiny dirt track and we came across a building site, where we could see one man standing between a lodge and a ginormous skip so thought at least we could ask him where to go.
But no. That one lodge next to the skip, surrounded by nothing but rubble and parts for other lodges waiting to be built was our luxurious home for the week. We went and had a look inside and yes it would be beautiful when it was finished- but it wasn’t. Instead of a cooker hood there were cables, there were no light bulbs, the sofa cushions were completely missing, and the poor young man didn’t know where to put himself as said the site wasn’t ready yet and they were surprised someone was coming to stay. I just cried, John got us all back in the car and we drove all the way home.
The following day after numerous phone calls we were told the sales office hadn’t been made aware of the delays on site and they could only apologise profusely and offered us a full refund and a complementary stay as compensation. We agreed and advised as I was soon to have Charlie we would take the break after the baby was born, which we were told was fine.
Roll on time to after Charlie was born and MANY MANY phone calls, surprisingly never able to get to speak with the same manager again but passed from pillar to post and told someone would call me back, which never happened. A random phone call came after I lodged a complaint from a lovely lady in customer care called Leanne. Within five minutes she had sorted the complaint, booked us our complementary stay and everything was organised!
After the issues on the first site we asked to visit a different one, which she advised Fornham Park in Bury St Edmunds was the only one with availability for the half term, so we went there.
After a 3 hour drive we arrived at some beautiful iron gates into a large meadow of flowers and long grass with a number of lodges. The lodge was huge, beautiful furnished and accessorised, both myself and Mom had an ensuite bathroom which worked great for us, there was a hot tub on the decking and the children were super excited! We had a chilled evening and were just glad to of arrived and wanted to relax.
The next morning unfortunately we were woken at 4 am by a furry family who had nested in the ceilings of the lodge, and enjoyed a little exercising until 8am, the patio doors had also dropped so I wasn’t able to close them to lock the lodge. We called the onsite staff who were very helpful and advised us that they had to move us so they could evict the visitors, but not to worry they were upgrading us.
Moving three children’s, two adults packing, a weeks worth of food was no mean feat but the staff were really helpful and moved us to another lodge. I can definitely see for some this may be classed as an upgrade as there was a large wooden sauna in the ensuite bathroom, perfect if you were on a child free break or with older children. Unfortunately for us with three children under 5 we were not planning on shutting ourselves away through a number of doors whilst the children slept, so it didn’t get any use. I also lost the huge freestanding bath that was in the original lodge, and my mom lost her ensuite, and her room was considerably smaller and missing all the special little touches the first lodge had, such as a dressing table and chair, or even a mirror and TV in the bedroom.
These lodges have so many extra special touches, such as a number of board games for use which was fantastic and the children loved. There was a PlayStation too but no games to use it, so not particularly useful. There is a little hamper of cereals, tea, coffee and sugar, a bottle of prosecco on arrival which is fabulous, as well as toiletries left on the beds.
The hot tub was an actual god send and the children used this every day, so a definite plus point! As the site had no facilities at all, not even an area of flat grass the children could play on, I was super thankful for the hot tub to help keep them occupied. The meadow grass looked beautiful but couldn’t be walked through just to lots of thistles and nettles.
I don’t overly like to share a negative experience and review, but I always want to be completely honest and transparent to you my readers so feel it is only fair to explain how our break went. Although this break was complementary as compensation it meant I didn’t feel I could raise any issues we had, also originally the 6 night break was valued at £2600 and for such a high price I would have been disappointed and felt we had lost a lot of money. Its not somewhere we shall be racing back to with the children, due to the lack of site facilities- although some of their other sites do have more facilities.
We made the most of our break away and got out and about in the local area each day to wear the little ones out (and us!), and it was really special for me to be able to spend some time with my mom and the children away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The children made some special memories and we had the chance to take our fingers off the pulse of work for a while, so I cant complain there!
I’ve added some pictures to show you the whole experience, and also the amazing finish and little touches in the lodges. After a few tweaks I am sure this will be a very special place, but currently more aimed at an older market and not the family market with young children.