REVIEW: Good value, action packed holiday for all the family: PGL Family Active, UK & France

By Ching Lee

School age children will delight in telling you that PGL stands for Parents Get Lost. Well, not on a PGL Family Active holiday, they don’t. In fact, parents have to unreservedly join in!

As a personal holiday planner, I know how finding a holiday to suit all the family can be a tough call. So parents have been intrigued to find out how my own family got on at a recent Family Active holiday in Devon.

3 reasons to take a PGL Family Active holiday

  1. Fantastic value for money
  2. Chance to try activities in a safe environment
  3. Chance to do something together as a family

Where did you go?

We went to Barton Hall just a few miles from Torbay, Devon. Thirteen of PGL’s 25 centres across UK and France are suitable for family activity holidays outside of term time. Barton Hall is set in 46 acres of grounds with views of the sea and Torbay. It offers a huge range of activities on site, as well as a heated outdoor swimming pool, tennis courts and a dry ski slope.

Fantastic value

PGL often have offers on for their Family Active holidays and this summer, these ranged from Parents Go Free, Kids Go Free or 20% off. The best value is a Parents Go Free offer; for example, 7 nights at Barton Hall was £670 for a family of 4 this summer, which includes accommodation, activities and your meals.

NO washing up or cooking!

Fantastic is what parents say when I tell them that everything is planned for you; your activities, your meals and even your evening entertainment if you want. No ‘I’m bored’ from the kids and, even better, NO food shopping, washing up or cooking!

What’s the accommodation like?


Accommodation is in the main hall or purpose built chalets in the grounds. Barton Hall was the flagship for Pontins in the 60s/70s so you get the picture. We were in two adjacent twin chalet rooms (with private bathroom). Basic but comfortable with plenty of hot water and, actually, this is all you need after a day of activities. Other families we met were in differing room styles. One family of 5 were accommodated in the main hall with 3 rooms (8 beds!) and a shower and another family of 3 were in a chalet room with 4 beds (including bunk beds).

How did you find the food?

The food was actually OK, highlights being the roast dinner on Sunday. There are 3 choices for main course, plus salad, dessert and water, squash, tea and coffee. For parents, you’re transported back to school canteens…but at least you don’t have to cook…

What activities did you do?

There were 4 activities per each full day (each lasting 1½ hours), two before lunch and two after lunch. You’re given your itinerary when you arrive and for a long weekend, we had a chance to do 10 activities:

  • Archery
  • Survivor Challenge (den building and fire making)
  • Problem Solving
  • Orienteering
  • Trapeze (climbing to the top of a telegraph pole and jumping off to catch a trapeze!)
  • Raft Building
  • Dry Ski Slope
  • Zipwire
  • Abseiling
  • Challenge Course (you have 2 crates and 1 ladder to get around the course)

Do you do these as one family?

We were put in a group of 12 with two other families, and we stayed with the group for the whole weekend. It was a huge bonus to have a group where we all got on so well and it really made our holiday.  

What about the evening?

There are always optional activities in the evening eg. quiz, campfire, etc or you can play tennis, swim, chill out in the games room or simply hang out in the family bar.

Were there any down sides?

Not really. The accommodation was basic, but comfortable; the food was OK, but no cooking and there’s an element of getting into the zone of a large centre environment. However, the benefits are huge: family time together, making new friends, trying new activities…and all for a great price.

Friendly staff

The staff at PGL were great and I have to especially mention Matt, Naomi and Willow at Barton Hall. They treated children and grown-ups the same way – always friendly, approachable and helpful. Most of staff were students/graduates who wanted to gain experience of outdoor teaching and/or working with children and it was lovely to hear how their PGL experience would help them in their future careers.

Overall family verdict

We definitely will do it again!

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