Haven a meal? Sea the cafe on South Beach
LOVELY long stretches of clean sandy beaches, shimmering waters and a fabulous new café with mouth-watering fresh food – welcome to South Beach.
But this isn’t Miami, Florida. This is South Beach in Exmouth where Haven is revolutionising the concept of holiday parks with a multi-million pound investment and top-notch facilities.
Devon Cliffs Holiday Park, which has one of the most spectacular positions along the coast, has just opened South Beach Café overlooking beautiful Sandy Bay.
The wooden Caribbean-style restaurant with floor to ceiling glass windows and raffia-covered open terrace has views to die for and the menu is just as impressive.
There aren’t many holiday parks where you can order dishes such as Lyme Bay fish soup with cider brandy (£4.95), whole Brixham cock crab with mayonnaise (£11.50) or beef and ale pie with buttered spring greens and bubble and squeak (£10.95).
Icing on the cake is that food is locally produced
But the icing on the cake is that all the food is grown, reared or fished and the beer and cider bottled within a 30-mile radius of the park.
Chef Seldon Curry said: “You can taste the difference because all of our food arrives daily and we prepare it fresh in our kitchen, even the mayonnaise.”
Proud local producers were out in force to celebrate the café opening including former chartered accountant Neil Grigg and wife Sally, an ex-chartered surveyor.
They gave up their high-powered careers to opt for the “good life” in the country and rear cattle on Burrow Farm.
Neil said: “The restaurant is amazing and Haven has done a great job. It’s great to educate people as to where food comes from and show that high quality food such as our beef is not that expensive.”
Zetta King, from the fourth generation of fruit and veg growers F Milford & Sons, stood alongside baker Shaun Ryder (he has the best bread ever) and added: “We put our hearts into providing quality and more and more people are wanting that.”
Many of the producers are Taste of the West award-winners including Otter Valley Dairy’s Gill Bond and daughter Rebecca, whose ice-cream alone is enough to tempt you to Devon.
After hearing traditional songs from the Shanty Men, John Dunford, chief executive of Haven’s parent company Bourne Leisure, officially opened the eco-friendly café with a driftwood bar and barrel tables.
Holidaymakers want an escape from their urban environment
“It’s even better than I imagined,” he said. “Huge research showed us that our holidaymakers want an escape from their urban environment and fast-food outlets.
“They want to play on the beach, smell the seaside and eat in a restaurant that offers something different.”
Some of Haven’s other 34 UK holiday parks, which had £55 million of improvements last year, could be in for similar treatment.
John added: “The café concept will certainly be repeated but each new project will be suited to the individual park so there won’t be one identical to South Beach.”
Devon Cliffs attracts 170,000 holidaymakers a year and 1,100 families own their own caravan or lodge on site.
Jo and Andrew Norris from Wales and five-year-old twins Jac and Georgia were among the first families to try out the café, which is also open to non-guests and has a shop so you can take tasty treats home.
Andrew said: “It is fabulous, the view over the bay is amazing, and we’ve all found something on the menu we enjoy. I’ve just had the mussels, which were delicious. It was so unexpected to find a restaurant like this on a holiday park.”
Jo added: “It’s our first time to Haven and we are bowled over by the value. There’s so much included in the price compared to other holidays we’ve been on and the kids are having a brilliant time.”
It's a five-star park with a pool complex and spa
No wonder, it’s a five-star park with a pool complex with a four-lane waterslide, abseiling, climbing wall, bungee jumps, trampolines, adventure golf and enough sporting facilities to stage a mini-Olympics.
There’s a Starbucks, Burger King, Papa John’s as well as the buffet restaurants with character breakfasts.
Never mind the kids, if you fancy being pampered like holiday home owner Carol Bain, head for the spa which has pools, a gym, steam room and reasonably-priced treatments including a fish pedicure for £10 and a massage or facial from £28.
Lounging after a dip in the hot-tub, Carol said: “Just look at those sea views, it’s beautiful. What’s great about this park is that, even when it is full, it never feels too busy.
“There are so many fantastic walks around too, from one bay to the next.”
Devon Cliffs is on the Jurassic Coast, England’s first natural World Heritage Site, covering 95 miles of coastline in east Devon and Dorset.
So, if walking the pathway, stop off at South Beach Café for a coffee or real ale – from a local brewery, of course.
- Three–night breaks at Devon Cliffs for a family of up to six people in Standard accommodation start from £199 in May and from £342 in the summer. To book visit haven.com or call 0870 230 1900. Holiday homes available for sale on havenholidayhomes.com
DID YOU KNOW
- Sandy Bay’s red sandstone cliffs are the oldest on the Jurassic Coast, from the Triassic period 240 million years ago
- The red in the rocks indicates Exmouth was once part of a huge desert with similar conditions to Namibia
- At low tide you can walk from Sandy Bay to Orcombe Point, the official gateway to the Jurassic Coast
- Straight Point, at the eastern end of the beach, has the largest breeding colony of kittiwakes in the South West
- Seals and dolphins are regular visitors to Sandy Bay