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“On the whole Acorn Adventure holiday was good value,...”

Written on: 19/08/2006 by billlion (1 review written)

Good Points
Instructors generally good, and safety was paramount.
The children made friends and were happy, and generally people got on and were friendly.
The Aosta Valley and Ardeche are beautiful locations.
You can leave the kids to go on the activities and do your own thing: hiking, swimming, or nothing.
The two day canoe descent on the Ardeche river was great fun.
We saw wild boar while bivouacking, and lots of other wildlife.
The coach drivers on the European part were highly experienced and knew the areas well. They took us on non-scheduled excursions, such as shopping etc., and they were pleasant and helpful.
At Labaume the staff were very good at adapting to different dietary requirements. I am vegan, and they even packed special food for me on the river descent.

Bad Points
The coach trip in the UK was the worst thing by far. On both outward and return journey the M6 was closed near Stoke on Trent. On the outward journey resulting in a five hour delay. Of course some disruption was unavoidable but the coach drivers did not listen to radio or other traffic reports. They did not use sat-nav, and failed to anticipate the problem or find the best route to minimise delay. They also failed to tell Acorn how long the delay was likely to be, resulting in passengers waiting unnecessarily at the roadside at pick up locations when they could have gone somewhere more comfortable for three hours.
The coach trip from France to Italy took about 10 hours, whereas Acorn had given us the impression that it was very short when we had talked on the phone.
The food at Villeneuve was pretty bad, and the dinning area was not cleaned.
The camp site at Villeneuve included a large electricity pylon and was right next to a building site in what felt like an industrial area. Although it did have nice long range views. It was also crowded compared to Labeaume.
The instructors and Acorn staff encouraged the children to shout unnecessarily, spoiling the tranquillity of peaceful river and mountain areas. This often annoyed local French and Italian holiday makers whose complaints were unheard by the Acorn staff. Either because they did not speak French or Italian or simply because they were totally insensitive that the Acorn staff did not even notice. This was the single most annoying feature of the holiday, and it plays to the stereotype of English yob culture abroad.
Perhaps by way of payback, a nearby French establishment played cheesy pop music so loud that it sounded like it was inside your head until 11 or 12 at night at Labeaume. Bring ear plugs!

General Comments
On the whole Acorn Adventure holiday was good value, and the children had a great time, and we had some fun, but most of all we enjoyed seeing them have fun. If you were really unhappy with the food, it might have still been good value if you went out for a few meals. And given that the food varies between centres, you might be luckier than we were. Don't expect much in the way of canoeing and climbing instruction, as you just get the basics for safety and fun. If you can't stand long coach journeys you can do the same holiday in your own car. I expect Acorn, if it stays in business, will respond to these criticisms, as no doubt they will be getting a lot of feedback along the same lines.

If you do the river decent bring a sleeping mat (such as a Therm-a-Rest) to sleep on. Most adults find it hard to sleep on hard ground! If you have climbing or walking boots bring them too.

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