Sorry for the gap in communication. But I am just back from the best holiday I have had in years. What made it the best holiday? Aside from a bee sting on miss 7 year old and Mum apparently squeezing the venom sack injecting more sting, everything was perfect. Everyone was happy and catered to. Service was faultless. And what's more, it was right here in Australia.
As you know, as travel researchers, we have always got our eye on the game and we have pretty high expectations. Life as a 'travel researcher' can be a roller coaster - big ups and big downs. We constantly want to be surprised and delighted but are often not.
However, our first stay at the Big 4 North Star, Harrington Beach exceeded all of our expectations in more ways than I could have anticipated. This is from the moment we made the booking to the moment we checked out. This is how it should be done. So what was so great?
These are some of the things that made our holiday memorable for everyone.
Great Value for Money, Transparent Pricing
As a family of five, we are always dismayed at how confusing domestic pricing has become, it is clear as mud for the most part. There is base pricing, then add-ons for extra bodies, possibly kids club and then you might have to pay a 'cleaning fee'. I mean, when does your holiday accommodation not need to be cleaned?
I called the holiday park, asked the price, they asked me how many people , I said 2 adults and 3 children from this date to this date, they gave me the price and that's it, that's all it cost for the entire time! Why isn't it always like that? Not an astrix in sight.
Everything was included. This is the first holiday we have ever been on up north where we had no need to go to any theme park. We only spent money on food and drink and the odd fish n chips at the beach. There was one cost that included all of the park facilities and events, that was it.
Faultless Service From the Beginning
I picked up the phone to check availability as there was nothing showing on the booking site. This was on a Saturday night at 7pm. I was really scared to call (I am serious) because I know that I shouldn't call on a Saturday night from previous operators making it quite known that I was an inconvenience at other inconvenient times such as 9am. But wow, if I hadn't called he informed me as I apologised, I wouldn't have got the last cabin so lucky I did - yep, I got the warm and welcoming shoulder not the cold one. Love it!
Once we arrived, we had a seamless check-in finalised in a couple of minutes and our cabin was ready at 2pm when we arrived.
The management genuinely looked after their staff and consciously employed a 'certain type of person' . The restaurant manager said to me that if 'new staff don't suit the tribe, it becomes apparent fairly quickly and they tend to leave'.
The staff from wait staff, cleaning staff to the keepers were all happy and helpful. Nothing was ever a problem. I have never quite experienced such a consistency of fabulous service in Australia.
It was obvious that staff and management worked in true partnership for the greater good of their customers.
Now, if you can out multi-generation our holiday, let me know. We had 4 generations at the Big 4 North Star and everyone had a great time. Great Nan, Nan and Pop, Me and Chris and our 3 kids. We each had our own cabin, all different, catering to our differing lifestage needs. There was something to keep everyone occupied. For the adults and Great Nan, there was the adults only seascape leisure centre, Nan and Pop had a shuttle bus to the club, the kids had Sammy's Lagoon, kids club and film nights, Chris had happy inlaws. And I was happy, because everyone was happy.
The park grounds, cabins and facilities were spotless. No little surprises anywhere.
Consistently Great Food
I live in Newtown, Sydney, where there are restaurants and cafe's galore. I am constantly disappointed by the inconsistency of not only the service but the ordinary nature of the food and inconsistent quality.
Ripples Cafe at Big 4 was the best cafe I have been to in recent memory, I am talking a long time. Every meal for every member of our family at every sitting was great every time. Why can't this happen to me in Sydney.
At the Big 4 North Star, nothing went wrong, everything went as it should and beyond. Upon check-out, I said "Same time next year please" and paid my deposit. Big 4 and White family happy - 5 year old twins had "the best holiday ever" and Big 4 have consistent repeat business. We were conspicuously the new people in our section of the park, the others had all been coming for years.
I know this isn't the most mind boggling and insightful blog piece, but the whole experience for me was mind blowing. Do you remember a time and place where nothing went wrong with your holiday and your expectations were constantly exceeded? Let me know, I would love to hear, and they deserve a plug.
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She also runs a well respected seniors travel blog, http://www.newyoungtravel.com.au.
Bronwyn is also the published author of Seniors Travel Tips, a global travel guide for seniors.