STEVE FARMER — 14 June 2013

Most travellers make bookings with caravan parks for sites or cabin accommodation because it means we have somewhere to spend the night after a long day on the road — or does it? A few years back one park failed to honour a very specific booking I had made and I was more than a little annoyed. Read on and see if you reckon I had a right to be. 

We had enjoyed several weekend stays in cabins at this particular caravan park previously when visiting our daughter at boarding school and, with more school activities coming up, we booked a cabin weeks in advance. Our daughter asked to bring a couple of school friends to stay with us in the park for the weekend, so we booked one of the larger cabins. This cabin had a separate bedroom which would give my wife and me a little peace and privacy from three 16-year-old girls, while still allowing us to keep tabs on our teenage charges.

The booking was accepted, a deposit paid and we duly arrived at the appointed time and date. However, the woman in the office (whom I understood to be the owner) explained that “the people who were in the cabin wanted to stay longer and it didn’t seem worthwhile shifting them out”. She continued to tell me that they would put us in another cabin, but it did not have a separate bedroom and “would that be okay?”

I’m not usually one to complain when dealing with people, but in this case I made no attempt to conceal my annoyance when testily replying no, it wasn’t okay, and what was the point of taking bookings if they didn’t honour them?

We ended up getting a second, similar, open-plan cabin on the other side of the park at no cost. This alleviated the situation slightly, but it meant I slept soundly in one cabin while my wife bunked with the girls (whom we were responsible for) in the other cabin.

This whole fiasco was surprising and disappointing because we couldn’t fault the park in any other way and had always been impressed on our earlier visits. It is a four-star park and a member of one of the larger groups of caravan parks but I really did expect more by management. It left me wondering if the people in the cabin we had booked were friends or family of the owners and they were getting preferential treatment at our expense.

This was the only time we have ever received such shabby treatment from a caravan park. It cost them quite a bit of repeat business and word-of-mouth referrals from us.

I must emphasise that this park is in the minority. We’ve generally found the majority of park owners, managers and staff to be professional, considerate and fair.

By the way, we weren’t expecting anything which we haven’t done ourselves on a number of occasions. When we have wanted to extend our stay in other caravan parks (either in cabins or on powered sites) we have happily moved camp (usually to a lesser standard of accommodation) to make way for incoming, pre-booked holidaymakers.

YOUR SAY: Was I being unreasonable, under the circumstances, in expecting the park to honour the specific booking I had made? Have you experienced similar treatment with either cabin or site bookings?


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