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‘Filthy and run down’ – Why Pontins has been rated the worst holiday park in the UK

Simon Calder’s Travel

Holiday park brand Pontins has been rated the worst in the UK, with smaller and independent brands outperforming well-known names like Butlin’s and Center Parcs, according to new research.

Consumer group Which? surveyed more than 1,700 people to assess the popular tourist spots over 11 criteria, including quality of accommodation, customer service, cleanliness, facilities, activities, and value for money.

Pontins, established in 1946 by Fred Pontin, scored a dismal 56 per cent in overall customer satisfaction, earning the lowest position in the survey. The brand, which was taken over by Britannia in 2011, has faced a series of challenges, including multiple site closures in the past year.

Currently, only two Pontins sites remain operational: Pakefield in Suffolk and Sand Bay in Somerset.

Survey respondents gave Pontins low marks across the board, with two-star ratings for customer service, accommodation quality, cleanliness, facilities, activities, food and drink, and value for money. The highest rating it received was three stars for communication and entertainment. One visitor described their stay as “dirty and dated,” while another found the facilities “filthy and run down.”

Pontins shut their Camber Sands outpost with with immediate effect at the end of 2023
Pontins shut their Camber Sands outpost with with immediate effect at the end of 2023 (PA)

The Independent has approached Pontins for a response to the Which? survey.

Other big-name holiday parks also struggled to meet expectations. Butlin’s, another long-standing British institution, ranked among the bottom five with a customer score of 67 per cent. While it received praise for its children’s activities and entertainment, earning four stars in these categories, it was criticised for poor customer service and subpar food and drink options. One respondent noted the meals were “basic and not good quality”.

A spokesperson for Butlins said “it’s brilliant to see that we’re scoring highly when it comes to activities and entertainment” after investing over £50 million across their resorts, but it’s ”disappointing” to see lower scores in some areas.

“[We] would like to reassure guests that we’re investing in these areas to offer a better holiday experience,” they added.

Haven Holiday Parks and Center Parcs tied with a customer score of 69 per cent, placing them just above Butlin’s. Center Parcs, although well-regarded for its customer…

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