Travel review: Hafan y Môr - the perfect staycation break for families

It was once part of Billy Butlin's empire but has now been given a new lease of life. Lee Sobot discovers Hafan y Môr is the perfect staycation break for families.

The beach at Hafan y Môr.

There would be far more obvious candidates for a relaxing break in North Wales than a former Butlin’s holiday camp. However, like many of the old sites, the one in Pwllheli has been the subject of a radical makeover.

Now known as Hafan y Môr it came under the Haven Holidays banner in 1999 and thanks to significant investment it’s time to put aside images of basic chalets and knobbly knees competitions.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Hafan y Môr translates to ‘Haven by the sea’ in the local language and it is difficult to argue with that description, whatever your age or interests.

Because as well as offering the expected plethora of activities for families and children, a stay at Hafan y Môr is also capable of providing complete relaxation and recuperation in one of the luxury lodges that truly justify the label of ‘sea view’.

And the attractions begin long before arriving at the resort itself with the drive to Hafan y Môr a treat after crossing the Welsh border and meandering around the northern coastline with Snowdonia to the left hand side.

After passing through coastal towns such as Colwyn Bay and Caernarfon, Hafan y Môr is around a three hours’ drive from Leeds, less than you would think.

But be prepared to add another chunk of time upon checking into the Haven resort itself as the North Wales holiday site is huge, especially if heading to one of the beachside lodges.

The 500-acre park houses 1,400 units of accommodation including 25 lodges, some of which are at the complete opposite end to reception – away from the hustle bustle and offering a secluded feel.

The extra drive, though, is worth the wait as the decor of the luxury lodges and in particular the views over the Irish Sea and bay towards Snowdonia are simply stunning.

Despite the lure of a stack of activities on site from an aerial adventure course to swimming in an expensively revamped pool, possibly the hardest activity is finding the motivation to leave the luxury lodge itself, especially with the huge balconies offering a magnificent surprise.

As well as providing a huge decking area with comfortable seats overlooking the very close bay, selected luxury lodges offer an outdoor hot tub in which to slope back and enjoy North Wales’s beautiful surroundings.

Yet it would be impossible not to point out the huge amount of entertainment on offer within the resort itself which makes a stay at Hafan y Môr a winner whoever you are.

The luxury lodges are extremely spacious and belie anything associated with the thought of a typical caravan park.

An open plan living, dining and kitchen area features all the mod cons and huge wall-mounted TV.

The lodges offer between two and three bedrooms in which a comfortable night’s sleep is guaranteed given the secluded location of the Pine Lodge section of accommodation, a handful of which are only reached by unlocking a private security bollard first.

Peaceful, safe and private but equally still in the resort itself, which offers several convenience stores to stock up on supplies.

But for those choosing to dine and drink outside of their own four walls there is plenty of choice in keeping with the number of activities on offer.

Top of the list for food is the Mash & Barrel restaurant which offers an enjoyable range of meals including an eye-catching family-sharing platter which is served almost in a cream tea style on a stand stacked with three plates.

The Hafan y Môr complex also has a Papa John’s Pizza, Burger King, Starbucks and Cook’s Fish and Chip outlet on site.

Thankfully, there is no need to worry about over-indulging with plenty of activities in which to burn off the calories including the resort’s swimming complex which received a £3m makeover in 2017 and now has slides, flumes and a wave machine.

Somewhat more peaceful is the opportunity to boat around the Hafan y Môr lake.

An indoor SportsDrome for those rainy days plus nature trails, Segway hire, archery and fencing are also on site, while the resort offers evening entertainment in its two bars.

Slightly further afield, the stunning Snowdonia National Park is just 25 minutes’ drive away should you wish to venture outside Hafan y Môr.

To be honest, though, why would you?

Leaving the sea view of the luxury lodge is hard enough in itself.


For those new to lodges and holiday parks, has hints and tips to help you get started and plan your next family adventure.

Freedom to Go is the consumer-facing arm of the UK trade association, the National Caravan Council which helps keep British holidaymakers informed. For more information on Haven visit or call 0333 202 5305.