Ian Cooper checks out Potters new ‘All Inclusive’ resort in Essex
Having read over the summer that consumer champion Which? ranked Potters Resorts top of their national survey of the UK’s holiday parks, my travel writer instincts started to itch. Could it really be as good as the reports and the marketing claims on its website? To check it out, my wife and I visited Potters new resort, Five Lakes, set in 320 acres of stunning Essex countryside, for a 4 nights Monday to Friday stay.
Five Lakes only opened in May this year, as an addition to the very well-established Potters holiday resort, at Hopton-On-Sea on the Norfolk and Suffolk border, near Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft.
So, did it live up to its number one holiday park ranking? It turns out, the simple answer is ‘yes’. Two huge things differentiate Potters from any other holiday park in the UK that I have been to. These are that it is ‘All Inclusive’ and that the ‘service’ is the friendliest I have experienced anywhere.
All Inclusive – Potters claim to be the first and only ‘All Inclusive’ holiday resort in the UK. Pay once before you go and you leave your wallet in the room safe. I found it liberating not to be faced with buying decisions at every turn. Do I really want a gin and tonic before dinner? How much are lunches and various activities going to be? What will my final bill be? Having paid before you go, everything is included in the price. Your food, drink, all activities and evening entertainment is literally on tap. Perfect right now given the current economic climate.
Guest Service – Finally, here at Potters I have experienced the style of service that I have been lusting after for years. I am not talking about the obsequious, white gloved butler service at some destinations. I am referring to staff at all levels delivering their service with a smile, in a friendly and efficient way. Owner and Managing Director of Potters, John Potter told me, “We have the friendliest team looking after our guests as they would their own friends and family”.
Also the ‘All Inclusive’ model changes the dynamics of the relationship with Potters, to one of ‘guest’ and ‘host’. This is transformational in terms of the overall atmosphere.
Other aspects of our Potters Five Lakes experience:
Accommodation – At check in, we were presented with our ‘magic bracelet’, so we could access all the ‘All-Inclusive’ facilities. We had a spacious comfortable ‘king bedded’ room, with a sofa, fridge, coffee table, large TV, and a safe at a sensible height that actually worked. Our ensuite had both a bath and a separate shower cubicle, although my wife was justifiably irritated that she couldn’t reach the overhead fixed shower head.
Food and drink – Being ‘All Inclusive’ there are four meals a day. Yes four! Apart from breakfast, lunch and dinner, if you are still hungry … and awake … you can dine again between midnight and 1am. I was too busy sleeping!
Guests are allocated their own table, for all meals, for the duration of the visit and food service was a combination of buffet and super quick waiter service, from the same waiter. Tilley, our own very friendly and efficient table server, got to know us and our preferences. When I congratulated Tilley on her excellent service, she told me, “we are all employed for our attitude”. The food was not Master Chef style, tiny portions beautifully arranged. This was hearty, down to earth cuisine with a good range of meat, fish and vegetarian options and deserts that were much too tempting to resist.
Activities and Entertainment – Over breakfast, there was a daily ritual of diners looking through their daily programme, debating what to do that day. During our stay, we quizzed, had a go at archery; kurling; laser clay shooting … I didn’t hit a thing … line dancing and table tennis where I was the proud winner of a Potters medal. However, we could have also gone boating, driven go-karts, played golf, gone swimming, crafting, or just sat and relaxed with endless all-inclusive coffees, soft or alcoholic drinks, whilst listening to the Potters vocalists entertain.
However, it was the evening entertainment that was totally memorable, Presented in their large, modern theatre, each night we were treated to a first-class West End-inspired production show, from Potters own resident singers and dancers. Brilliant!
Verdict – I can totally see why Which? ranked them top of the league. It has to be said however, that Potters are not the cheapest, but price and value are two different concepts. When you factor in what you get within the Potters ‘All Inclusive’ price and the high level of quality and guest service, their offering is great value.
I was also impressed by the strong nod towards public hygiene and a recognition that Covid is still around. Hand sanitisers were everywhere and I encountered the most ingenious invention. On leaving public toilets, the moment you grip the door handle, it automatically squeezes sanitiser onto your hands.
Breaks at the new Essex resort are designed for adults, but Potters other resort at Hopton-On-Sea also offers short family breaks scheduled around the major school holidays. I haven’t personally road tested this resort, but I am now thinking about it as a multi-generational option with my children and grandchildren.
Potters have two resorts to choose from, Five Lakes in Essex and Hopton on Sea in Norfolk. Both offer All Inclusive short breaks to include:
- Full board dining – four meals a day.
- Sports, leisure & activities.
- West End quality entertainment.
- Drinks throughout the stay.
For full information visit: www.pottersresorts.com or call 0333 3207 465