Friday, 9 June 2017

A Fabulous Family Break with Al Fresco Holidays - Sanguli Salou Review

If you are a regular reader to the blog then you will know that we are passionate about family travel. As I work on the blog full time (so effectively can work from anywhere there is wifi) and my husband works in a school, it gives us 12 weeks a year where we can travel and visit places to our hearts content as well as weekend breaks and day trips.

During May Half Term we had the opportunity to visit a wonderful holiday park called Sanguli in Salou, Spain with Al Fresco Holidays. We only stayed for 3 nights, but our short visit was absolutely amazing and we literally cannot wait to return in the future.

About Al Fresco Holidays

Al Fresco Holidays specialise in family mobile home holidays throughout Europe, on a selection of Europe's favourite family friendly holiday parks. They have a huge selection of destinations on their website with each park offering fantastic facilities and a wonderful location. There is a mix of large and lively parks, small and friendly, authentic and value, as well as midsize and sociable, so you can be sure of finding a holiday park that suits your requirements.

The website is really easy to use and by clicking the Destinations and Parks category on the top of the page, you can see a full list of destinations, as well as some quick links to the most popular parks. There is also a live chat facility which is really useful if you have any questions about a particular park, or need assistance with the booking process.

There is a choice of mobile homes which are all well equipped, comfortable and modern. Some of the mobile homes can sleep up to 8 people which is great for larger families, or if you would like to go on a trip with friends and share the cost. There is also ample space making them a great alternative to a hotel stay where you can all be restricted to being in one room. My particular favourites are the holiday homes which also offering decking, outdoor seating and a barbecue which means that you can make the most of the sunshine and enjoy some al fresco dining too!

Al Fresco Holidays make it easy to find a destination or park that suits you, using the search function. You can then refine your options by selecting specific requirements you have on the left hand side such as budget, being near to the beach, kids club facilities and dining choices to name just a few. You also have a choice as to how you wish to travel to the holiday park such as flying, ferry, train or Eurotunnel and Al Fresco representatives are more than happy to assist you with your travel needs.

The Booking Process

I found this to be really simple and it was a quick and efficient process. I knew the dates that we wanted to travel and had selected the type of mobile home that we required online whilst browsing through the site. I then completed the booking over the phone (as I had a couple of questions too) and within minutes I had received my booking confirmation via email along with important information about the holiday. You have the choice when booking to add additional options to your holiday such as air conditioning, linen packs, an equipment damage waiver (I would definitely recommend taking this out),  beach/bath towels, baby packs & toddler packs. Both the baby and toddler packs are a great idea and can really help cut down the amount of luggage that you need to take with you. For example the baby pack consists of a travel cot, high chair, baby bath, socket covers and a baby gate on the terrace.

We also received a further email several hours later with our itinerary, directions, a handy checklist and some useful contact telephone numbers should we need assistance before or during our holiday. All the information I was sent via email made me feel prepared for our trip and my family and I excitedly began our holiday countdown.

Getting to Sanguli

We looked at a couple of options of getting to the site, the first being that we could drive to Portsmouth, get the ferry over to Bilbao and then drive approximately 4.5 hours to the park. The second choice was to fly, which we decided was the easier option as Sanguli is ideally situated only 15 minutes from Reus Airport. Our nearest UK airport is Manchester and unfortunately flights were coming up very high at approximately £170 each and so with the help of Skyscanner we found return flights for 5 of us for less than £150 in total including allocated seats from Glasgow. This is approximately a 4 hour drive from our home, but we thought we would make the most of this and travel up a day earlier so we could have a day in Glasgow City Centre too which we really enjoyed and it worked out really well. The flight took just over two and a half hours and we received really good service on both the outbound and inbound flights.

To save money we chose to travel with hand luggage only. Our outbound flight was with Jet2.com and their allocated hand luggage sizes were slightly larger than our inbound flight back with Ryanair, so it was just a case of making sure that our luggage was within the size requirements for both airlines and we took a bag each. As this was only a 3 night stay we found that we had plenty of room for shorts, tshirts, shoes and towels and it also meant that we didn't need to queue in an airport to check our luggage in or wait at a carousel to collect it. We had declined the option to add the linen pack when we booked our holiday and simply used one of our hand luggage cases to keep all the linen in and found that there was plenty of space. We found it so much easier than pulling big suitcases around that we are considering travel hand luggage only on all future flights now where possible.

When we arrived in Reus Airport, we made our way outside where there was a line of taxis waiting. A gentleman with a clipboard approached us and asked where we would like to go. He spoke good English and then translated our destination to our Spanish speaking driver. We agreed on a price which was 35 euros and within half an hour of landing we arrived at the fantastic Sanguli holiday park.

Arrival at Sanguli

We arrived at the park via the new Africa entrance. A gentleman on the gate checked our name against the list and allowed the taxi entrance to drop us off. We then made our way to the main Sanguli reception which was just a very short walk away from the drop off point. There was no queue when we arrived and so we were welcomed straight away by a lovely lady on reception who asked me to sign a couple of forms and then provided us with our Sanguli wristbands which we needed to wear for the duration of our stay.



The lady provided us with a small welcome pack which gave us a timetable of activities and a user id and password so that we could use the wifi during our stay. We were also given a map of the new Africa Zone and given directions to the Al Fresco check in tent where we would be provided with the keys to our accommodation.

Our first impressions were fantastic. Sanguli have clearly put a lot of thought and effort into the design and layout of the Africa themed zone even down to the little details. The first thing the kids saw was the amazing water park and we couldn't wait to cool down in the pool and try out the water slides.



We made our way past the restaurant and then opposite the shop there were some steps which took you down to the Al Fresco tent. This is where you can check in with your representatives. You are required to leave a £50 housekeeping deposit on arrival which is then returned to you at the end of your stay providing the accommodation has been left how you found it. If you don't want this deposit to affect your available funds or spending money whilst there then I would suggest using a cheque, which is also Al Fresco's preferred method too. This way you simply hand them a cheque for £50 and they give it you back when you leave. I totally agree with this policy and personally think it is a great idea.

I signed a further form confirming that I agreed to the housekeeping deposit and we were handed our keys and given directions to our holiday home. This was located down a small gravel road and was opposite one of the camping fields. It was really easy to find and I loved the outside decking area which also had some great quality outdoor dining furniture.

Accommodation

We stayed in a Rossini Riviera Lounge which sleeps up to 6 people. There were two bedrooms, with one located either side of the main living room area. One bedroom was a double room, the second bedroom was a twin room and in the living area the sofa could pull out into a double sofa bed.


The mobile home was very modern and clean and we found that there was ample space for our family. It was very well equipped with everything you could possibly need in the kitchen and the fridge freezer was of ample size. We found that there was lots of room to store our possessions and there was a larder area just off the kitchen which had plenty of shelving to store food such as bread or cereals.


The shower room featured a shower with hot water and a sink area with shelving. There was also a plug in here which was great for me in the morning as I cannot live without my hair straighteners, so it was great to be able to have a plug by a mirror so I could get ready easily. The toilet was separate from the shower room and was in a small room (closet size) next to the twin room. I liked the fact that this was separate from the shower room as it can be very frustrating if someone is in the shower and you need the loo!


Pillows and blankets had been provided and we made up the beds on arrival so that they were ready for the remainder of our stay.

There was a dining table in the living area which came in very handy during our stay for preparing sandwiches and also eating our breakfast on the last morning of our stay when the bright sunny weather had been replaced with a showery downpour.

A couple of bin bags had been provided and there was also a broom and mop bucket, so that we could keep on top of keeping the mobile home clean and tidy.

We all had great first impressions of where we would be staying for a few nights and so once we had unpacked and the beds were made, we headed straight to the pool!



Sanguli Holiday Park

Wow! This holiday park simply has everything you can think of and more! The new Africa zone features two walk in pools, a selection of slides, water fountains and toys, animal statues, ample sun loungers, a restaurant, takeaway, shop and a bakery. All this is just in one section of the park which is just amazing! We spent all of our visit between the Africa area and the beach, but there were also numerous other pools and water slides throughout the park for guests to enjoy.



An extensive kids club programme ran by the park itself ensured that there was plenty to do for even the youngest of children and my son Riley enjoyed participating in the mini disco which was on three times a day! The kids club catered for children up to the age of 12 and there were plenty of toys and activities to keep everyone busy.



All the staff members that we came across were really helpful and friendly. They were also patient and kind when my children were taking their time to try their best to speak Spanish. One lady in the shop also made the effort to try and teach them some numbers.

I found the shop to be reasonably priced. There were some things that were a lot more expensive than at home for example 4 euros for a pack of Kelloggs Cereals (currently £1 in Asda). However some things were also a lot cheaper and so it did end up balancing out and didn't cost as much as we were expecting it to. We chose to self cater and cook for ourselves during our stay, however there were several restaurants on the site which all offered a wide range of meals that were of reasonable prices. We spent a total of 100 euros to purchase enough food for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, drinks, wine and beer to last our full stay. I was more than happy with this and had expected to spend double that. The shop in the Africa area was well stocked and had most essentials, however a short walk away near the ampitheatre, was a larger supermarket that had a bigger choice of meats, vegetables and drinks.

Despite being a really large busy park, it never felt overcrowded at any point. We had no issue in getting a sun lounger regardless of which time we went to the pool and all areas that we visited were spotlessly clean.

The pools were fantastic and despite having travelled all over the world, my children are adamant that the Africa pool is their favourite resort pool of anywhere else we have been to. It had no deep section and so it was also very relaxing for me knowing that they would be comfortable no matter where they were in the slide pool as the water was never higher than their waist.

There was a deeper pool adjacent to this that was suitable for swimming and seemed popular with adult guests. There were no queues for slides and these were all of various sizes so that there was something suitable for all age groups, meaning that everyone was catered for.  The numerous life guards were a welcome presence and did their jobs well. The pool isn't heated and although it does feel cold on entry, you soon warm up and I found it to be just right once I had been in there a few minutes.




As we absolutely loved the pools that were closest to our accommodation we chose to spend our days having fun here or at the beach. However, as mentioned previously there were numerous other pools throughout the campsite that all offered a great range of facilities and slides. In addition to pools there is also a football pitch, bicycle rental, and even trampolines to keep you busy.

We enjoyed taking a walk around the site in the evening pretending that we were on a safari and looking for different kinds of animals with the kids. They absolutely loved this and some of the animal statues are very lifelike too!



Dining & Drinks

There is a huge choice of restaurants, takeaways and snack bars throughout the park, so you will literally be spoilt for choice if you want to dine out for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The menu prices seemed very reasonable and I absolutely loved the decor in Restaurant Victoria which was in the new Africa resort area and named after the impressive Victoria Falls.



Bar Baobab was located closest to the Africa pool and offered a lovely range of refreshing drinks and cocktails.

We also loved the on-site bakery and the kids enjoyed purchasing a fresh croissant every morning to eat on the way to the beach.


Evening Entertainment

The onsite entertainment in the evening started a bit too late for us as Riley was fast asleep way before 9pm which was when the main evening programme would start. This would take place in a wonderful ampitheatre which had plenty of seating for the guests on site. My husband and I could hear the singing in the evening which was quite loud when sat outside, however we couldn't hear anything inside the accommodation so it didn't disturb any of the kids whilst they were asleep. We did try to convince Riley to have a siesta one day so that he would stay up late enough for us to watch a show, but he refused to leave the swimming pool and so we decided to just let him enjoy the holiday rather than try and enforce a nap.

Offsite there is also plenty to do in Salou itself and I believe that there is a fabulous fountain show in the town centre which starts at around 10pm in the evening. As we were visiting in mid season this wasn't actually on whilst we were there as was only scheduled for Friday and Saturday night, but in peak season I was told this is on every night.


Local Area

The wonderful sandy beach of Salou is located across the road from the town site entrance, which is approximately a ten minute walk from the Africa resort area. We really enjoyed the stroll through the park along its palm fringed walkways, but if you didn't fancy carrying all your beach items through the park, the site offers a fun little land train service that collects from the main Africa entrance and drops you off at the town side entrance.


It is a fabulous beach that is really clean and tidy, with plenty of sun loungers for hire, showers and bar areas to purchase a drink. My children absolutely loved coming here every morning and spent hours building sandcastles, digging holes and swimming in the sea.




The beach also offers pedalo hire, jet ski hire, paragliding and banana boat rides at various points along the shores and it was great fun watching people enjoy themselves out at sea.

For thrill-seekers there is also the amazing PortAventura Theme Park located approximately 10 minutes away by bus, where on the same site you can also find the brand new Ferrari Land and the Caribe Aquatic Park.

Other nearby attractions include go karting, an aerial adventure park and golf.


Our Opinion on the Al Fresco Experience

We found everything from the booking process through to leaving our holiday absolutely seamless. We received plenty of information before our trip commenced and I felt well prepared before we set off on our journey. The on-site representatives were really helpful and they were always on hand throughout the day in the event of needing any assistance. On our second day we decided to have a barbecue but we were missing the tongs from the barbecue set. My husband simply made one of the representatives aware of this and a new set was provided within ten minutes. On another occasion we were unsure how to control the air conditioning and a lady kindly came and showed us how to operate it correctly. There was also a handy comments pad in the Al Fresco tent so that if no one was there you could leave a message and they would get back to you on their return. This seemed a very simple but useful idea.

In the tent you could also find a selection of games and beach toys that you could borrow and return which is a lovely idea and seemed popular with all guests.

The day before we checked out we received information on the check out procedure and we were asked what time we would be planning on leaving so that someone could come and check the accommodation and return our housekeeping deposit. We informed our representative that we would be ready for 8:15am the following morning and sure enough they arrived exactly on time. We had made sure we had followed all the steps in the checklist and left the mobile home immaculate and just how we found it. The cheque was then handed back to us and we gave the keys back to the Al Fresco rep.

I literally cannot fault our stay with Al Fresco Holidays at Sanguli. Despite only being there for 3 nights it is quite easily one of the best family experiences that we have had together. We would love to return for a longer period of time in the future so that we can also fit in a visit to some of the local attractions and enjoy some more time in the sunshine.

Thank you to Al Fresco Holidays for an absolutely wonderful stay!

For further information you can visit the Al Fresco Holidays website here: http://www.alfresco-holidays.com/

It is also now possible to book your 2018 holiday with Al Fresco Holidays at http://2018.alfresco-holidays.com/

Alternatively you can follow them on social media via their channels which are:

Twitter - @AlFrescoHols
Facebook - Al Fresco Holidays
Instagram - @alfresco_hols


Disclaimer: We were provided with discounted accommodation for the purpose of providing an honest and impartial review of the Al Fresco experience and Sanguli Campsite. All opinions and photographs are my own unless otherwise stated.

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