Parkdean Resorts operate a different grading system to Haven and Away Resorts when it comes to their caravans and lodges.
At some of their 60+ resorts around the UK, you will see the grading of 'Standard' (£), 'Superior' (££) and 'Premium' (£££).
When you see this it means:
However, this system isn't in place at all Parkdean Resorts and there's no published list of what is included with each grade.
For example, it's not possible to say that premium accommodation always includes a hot tub, a sea view and an ensuite.
Also worth noting is that the names of the caravans at one Parkdean resort aren't the same as those at another resort. For example, Parkdean Resorts Thorness Bay Holiday Park has caravans and lodges named after maritime things (Port, Commodore etc.) whilst Parkdean Resorts Landguard Holiday Park has caravans and lodges named after trees (Elm, Birch etc.).
You couldn't - for example - stay in an Elm caravan at Landguard and then look for the same grade caravan at Thorness Bay.
So, how do I choose the best caravan or lodge I can afford at Parkdean Resorts?
My advice is to a) use the filters on the booking form and b) look at our guide to the main nine upgrades below.
The filters on the Parkdean Resorts booking form give a better idea of what's included than you get from the 'standard' 'superior' and 'premium' listing. It's a bit hidden on mobile devices, but it's still there.
Here's a typical filter screen that you'll see when you get through to the Parkdean booking page.
So, you might decide that you really want a dishwasher and a hot tub. Once you've ticked them, check the results are in price order and you'll see what the cheapest options are.
The description next to each caravan or lodge gives some information, but the filters reveal a lot more information about what is and isn't included.
Here's our guide to the nine main things to look for - and our opinion on which are the upgrades worth getting.
The top 9 accommodation upgrades at Parkdean Resorts - and which are worth the money:
1. A newer caravan
On the booking form, look for a green rectangle which will either say:
If there isn't a green rectangle then it means the caravan is more than three years old.
It's not a disaster if the caravan is more than three years old, but grab a newer caravan if it isn't very expensive to upgrade.
You'll find that the difference in price between an older and newer caravan can be quite affordable. We searched for peak time holidays at Thorness Bay on the Isle of Wight and found that we could get a caravan which was less than three years old for only £40 more than one which was more than three years old. Other than that, they were pretty similar.
That is money well spent in my book.
2. A wider caravan
Parkdean Resorts offers three main sizes with their accommodation:
If you are on holiday with four energetic teenagers then sharing a 10 foot wide caravan for a week will be hard work. However, if it's summer then you may well spend most of the day out and about. If you're eating out for most meals then it's much more realistic to share a small caravan.
3. Sea views, lakeside views and verandas
Lakeside views, sea views and verandas are offered at a lot of Parkdean Resorts. They tend to have holiday parks in prime beachside locations and you'll pay more for a front row property with a good view. You can check the box which says 'sea view' on a lot of resorts.
My personal opinion is that this is worth paying for if you're inclined to spend a lot of time sat outside on a veranda. If you've got young children then it's a nice thing to do in an evening. If you have older children then you may well be out later and not really make the most of the view and veranda.
The amount you pay for a sea view or lakeside view varies a lot, but it tends to come with the more expensive accommodation. You won't many cheap caravans with a great view.
The location is also a factor. I wouldn't pay a lot for a veranda at a resort which doesn't have decent views.
4. Ensuite facilities or a bigger bathroom
The cheapest and smallest caravans tend to just have a single shower. If you upgrade to a more expensive caravan you will sometimes get an ensuite as well or a bath or second shower.
A bath is pretty useful for us, as it's easier to give young children a bath than a shower.
The availability of baths and ensuite facilities varies a lot between Parkdean Resorts holiday parks. For example at Crantock Beach Holiday Park in Cornwall I struggled to find available accommodation with a bath. At Landguard Holiday Park on the Isle Wight, I found three different types of accommodation with baths.
5. A hot tub
The availability of hot tubs varies a lot at Parkdean Resorts.
Trecco Bay Holiday Park in Wales is their biggest resort in the whole of the UK, but I couldn't find any accommodation with hot tubs for August 2023.
Meanwhile, all four of Parkdean Resorts' Isle of Wight holiday parks have hot tubs in at least one grade of accommodation.
If you do want a hot tub, you need to be prepared to pay a lot more. They tend to only be in the posher lodges, so don't be surprised if you are paying two or three times as much as you would for the cheapest caravan.
For example, we searched for a week at Thorness Bay Holiday Park and found that the cheapest caravan for a week in August 2023 was about £900 whilst the cheapest accommodation with a hot tub was just over £2100 (a difference of £1200).
Obviously that wasn't the only upgrade, but if it's the only upgrade that matters to you then you're paying a huge amount of money for a few dips in a hot tub!
My advice is to go for a hot tub upgrade if you a) plan to spend a lot of time onsite or b) if you're visiting off peak.
The difference in price is much less severe outside of school holidays. For example, we searched at Thorness Bay again for a week in mid September 2023. The cheapest caravan was £439 whilst the cheapest accommodation with a hot tub was £1289. So, the upgrade is £800 rather than £1200.
6. Double glazing and central heating
The vast majority of Parkdean Resorts caravans have double glazing and central heating.
If you're looking at the cheapest caravan available for a break during the colder months then I would check for both first. Upgrading is unlikely to be very expensive and will make quite a difference to your comfort levels.
Central heating isn't an issue in summer, of course, but double glazing does a good job of temperature regulation whether it's hot or cold outside.
7. Dishwashers and washing machines in the kitchen
I would say that most Parkdean Resorts accommodation doesn't come with a washing machine or a dishwasher.
If you do have a dishwasher it will likely be in a lodge where there's a lot more space, rather than crammed into a 10 foot wide caravan.
Personally, I can do without a washing machine for a week. There's usually a launderette onsite if we really need it.
However, I'm a big fan of dishwashers! The conundrum is that upgrading to accommodation with a dishwasher can cost hundreds of pounds, so you will probably be better to spend that money on eating out for most meals!
8. Towels provided
Parkdean Resorts always provide bedding, but towels are only offered at some resorts. Even then, you only get towels with the more expensive accommodation.
My advice is to not pay much attention to this when you're deciding what upgrades to pay for, unless you're arriving by public transport.
When I checked at Thorness Bay Holiday Park, you only got towels with the four most expensive types of property. It's a nice bonus if you're upgrading anyway, but it's not a big deal to throw a few towels in the car.
9. An extra bedroom
You might think that the number of bedrooms offered would be the main factor in determining price. However, that's not really the case at Parkdean Resorts. The cheapest caravan is sometimes a three bedroom caravan which sleeps eight people (including two in the lounge).
It's worth scrolling down to see if you can get a similar caravan with an extra bedroom for a few pounds extra. That's certainly preferable to having someone sleeping in the lounge, or getting children to share a room if they usually have separate rooms.
Which Parkdean Resorts accommodation upgrades are worth paying for?
Have a think about how much of an explorer you are, what time of year you are on holiday and who you are on holiday with.
A small family which mostly eats out and which likes to use the onsite facilities and explore the local area will probably be best to go for the cheapest caravan available. You can then increase your budget for meals out, local attractions and naff souvenirs which the children are begging for.
A bigger family with several children who tends to mostly self cater (perhaps because of intolerances or allergies) will get better value out of an upgrade to a wider caravan or a lodge with a hot tub.
Also consider that upgrading is much cheaper outside of school holidays. I am more inclined to pay for upgrades off peak than on peak.
My personal experience is that upgrading to a more modern caravan is usually worth it and doesn't cost a huge amount more. I also like to have enough bedrooms, rather than sleeping in the lounge so I think that's a worthwhile upgrade. If we are somewhere scenic then I like to have a veranda so that I can sit out whilst the children are asleep. I enjoy hot tubs, but I don't feel I can justify paying £1000+ extra for a week's holiday. I just spend my time calculating how much each visit to the hot tub has cost me!
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