Cambrils Park in Spain’s Costa Dorada; a Mecca for families during the summer months. We learned of the resort through a friend after I mentioned wanting to take our first ever holiday abroad this summer. That was in June 2015 and I was warned to book it immediately or otherwise I didn’t stand a chance of getting in to the holy resort. Yes, a full year in advance!
I took my friend’s advice, went to the resort’s website and booked an Aloha Bungalow for seven nights in June and I was bursting with excitement for the whole eleven months. In October I booked our flights to Rues Barcelona so we were good to go.
So, what was our opinion of Cambrils Park? Is it hyped up or is it the holy grail of family holiday resorts?
Before I fill you in on our time there I have to mention the resort’s price policy. So when I booked the bungalow way back in June 2015 I was quoted €790 for the week and paid a 20 per cent deposit and the balance was due on arrival. However, it turns out that balance was some €300 more when we arrived in sunny Spain. Apparently I booked before the 2016 prices were released and when they were eventually published in November 2015, they had dramatically increased. Cambrils Park don’t think to tell their customers this though. Yes it’s in the fine print (which I stupidly didn’t read in full) but they still don’t think to contact their customers in advance to inform them of their true balance owing. So a nasty surprise at reception; in our case a €300 surprise; is not the best way to start a holiday.
Anyway, as I said we stayed in an Aloha Bungalow for the week; the cheapest of three accommodation options. It was grand. Nothing more and nothing less. The decor was a bit dated and it was dark inside but to be fair it was clean and we didn’t plan to spend too much time in the bungalow anyway. For those of you with babies or children with a fear of showers, just note there is no bath in a Alohas just a shower, which our Sarah was absolutely petrified of. But they do have excellent blackout blinds and the mattress in the travel cot supplied was really plush.
The bathrooms in the Aloha bungalows were probably the nicest room. They are super modern but go easy on the toilet roll folks! We were given two rolls for the week and when I asked for more at reception I was told to buy some in the supermarket! Paying well over €150 a night, doesn’t mean you are entitled to be a bit flahoola when you’re wiping your arse it seems! Oh and on another note, if you’re only staying for a week be aware that the Alohas aren’t cleaned during that period. You’re given an old pillow case to fill up with your dirty towels and get replacements a couple of times but that’s it.
So lets talk about the rest of the resort. Well it is absolutely spotless, the lawns are lush and the landscaping is kept perfectly. It really is a super place for kids and Aidan and Sarah were in their element. If it’s swimming pools you want, you won’t be disappointed by Cambrils Park. There’s the Polynesian Sea pool, the Caribbean Port pool, the La Mediterrania Beach pool and the Caribbean Jungle pool. With a three year old and a one and half year old, the Caribbean Jungle pool was the biggest hit. It has plenty of little water slides and huge elephant figures and my pair just loved it.
Most mornings Aidan and Sarah went to Mini Club for an hour or so from 10am. Because they are so young we had to stay with them and to be honest there wasn’t much to Mini Club at this time. For the most part the staff just flung out a few toys and that was it. Oh and there was colouring too. One morning the girl working, when handing out the colouring sheets, firmly told the children they were only getting one piece of paper each because there is too much waste generated otherwise. She also insisted that the kids coloured in between the lines. And I mean insisted! Suffice to say Aidan and Sarah didn’t get the memo!
Entertainment wise there’s loads on each day but the only thing we sampled was the evening entertainment at the Forum bar. At 8.30pm every evening there was a Mini Disco that lasted a half an hour. The entertainment staff were miked up and danced around for 30 minutes to the same tunes every night and Sarah, in particular, lapped it up.
Then a 9.30pm there was a show on (every night except Monday). The timing of it was a tad late for Aidan and Sarah but we did catch one or two of them. The pirate show was excellent, we saw a magic show and heard the U2 tribute band from our bungalow another night.
On site facilities are top notch. There’s a supermarket that sells ample supplies and as on site places go, it actually isn’t that expensive. However, if you’re on foot, there’s a great small supermarket really close by that’s a tad more cheaper and has more selection and that’s where we did most of our shopping. It’s located close to the Aloha Bungalow reception; just turn right when you leave the resort, keep going straight (you’ll cross the road on the way) and the supermarket is just passed the pizzeria on the corner.
The bakery in Cambrils Park is really lovely and their bread rolls make for a lovely breakfast. It opens from 8am so getting them fresh from the oven is a must!
The on-site playground was another big attraction for Aidan and Sarah. It has all the usual suspects; swings, slides, climbing frames and the like and also has a sandpit plonked in the middle of it and Aidan loved that the most. He also loved the trampoline park and loved kicking the ball around on the astro turf pitches. We can’t comment on the crazy golf because we didn’t sample that during our stay.
Food wise Cambrils Park is just rubbish to be honest. A lot of the food served in the snack bars and restaurants is frozen crap and the kids menu is the same in all the restaurants. The one restaurant that served nice food is El Pescador beside the beach pool. It’s the fancy eatery of the resort and be warned that it is quite pricey.
Aidan was in his element munching on pizzas but I ended up cooking in the bungalow a good few times, which is something I didn’t want to do on holiday. i was so fed up eating processed crap though. There’s an onsite deli that’s meant to be good though and I did have a yummy spaghetti Bolognese from it one night but that was my only experience of it.
Cambrils Park is crawling with Irish people. We encountered the very odd Brit and a few natives but it’s 99 per cent Paddy’s so if you’re in to holidaying with some fella that used to go to college with your neighbour or that knows your boss then it’s really for you!
So did we have a good time? A resounding yes! The place is just great for kids. It’s clean, it’s safe and there’s a shed load to do. I would say that older kids would knock more craic out of it. Not teenagers but maybe four/five-year-old up to twelve year olds. I found it quite noisy at night because of the entertainment and Aidan found it quite hard to go to sleep. If they were older they would have been up late but they just weren’t able for that at their age.
Cambrils Park laundrette
Oh and just a tip; don’t bother with the laundrette at Cambrils Park. The day before we were due to leave I headed down with two bin bags full of clothes. I absolutely loved the idea of heading home with a suitcase full of clean clothes. Well at €11 per bag, the wash is done in about 20 minutes and the tumble drying doesn’t take much longer. Our clothes weren’t clean though. In fact they were anything but.
In all I found Cambrils Park mega overly priced but I do understand why people love it too. There was mass hysteria every evening with people trying to book their place for 2017. It’s the hot topic of conversation. It’s nearly full up already I’m told and I was also told I was a fool not to grab a place.
I personally would like to try somewhere new; I’m not in to going to the same place over and over again. I’d like to meet people from different cultures and see different places. And I’d prefer to deal with a company who are up front and totally clear about their prices at the time of booking.
So there you have it (for what it’s worth)!