You may have seen me mention Italy a few times recently. OK, a lot of times, but I have been lucky enough to visit the country twice in the last few weeks. I wish every summer was like this one (it isn’t, don’t worry.)
So today I want to talk about my first visit to Italy, just outside Venice, which was as a guest of Canvas Holidays. I’ve been working with Canvas for a couple of years, and I have to say, along with their PR company Siren, they are one of the nicest companies I’ve ever had the privilege to work with. Friendly, enthusiastic, positive and open-minded – what I’d like in a boyfriend if I’m honest.
Anyway, I chose the Camping Village Portofelice resort in Eraclea Mare for a few reasons. Firstly, it was a joint decision, as my very good blogging friend and fellow We Blog Travel co-founder, Amanda, and I decided that we would go on holiday together with our children. We get on really well and, especially for me, as a single parent, it’s really nice to have some adult company. Secondly, I don’t do camping. I’ve tried it and it’s not for me – that’s just personal preference and so we both wanted to choose the best accommodation that Canvas offered, which was the Moda, and this was one of the resorts that offered it. Oh, and thirdly, I’m having a bit of a love affair with Italy right now, so jumped at the chance to visit again.
So a quick word about who Canvas Holidays are, and what they offer. They provide European camping holidays and have been around for 50 years, so they really know their stuff. The range of accommodation they offer is huge – from maxi tents to luxury lodges (I stayed in a luxury Lodge in France last year with and it was absolutely gorgeous) – there’s something for everyone. I’ll talk more about our Moda accommodation in Italy later… but think full air-conditioning, fully equipped kitchen and a power shower!
There is always an English speaking Canvas team on hand at every campsite, so you are always looked after, and some resorts provide a whole Canvas ‘animation’ team that provide childcare and entertainment for children (our resort didn’t) – and that’s them in a nutshell!
We travelled with British Airways and treated ourselves to Business Class – I think I’ll do a separate review on that because I think it would be useful for people to know whether it’s worth doing if you are travelling in Europe. Our resort was only a 30-minute drive from Marco Polo airport in Venice, and we were there before we knew it. We arranged transportation ourselves in the form of a brand new Mercedes mini-van, and everything ran remarkably smoothly! All the staff on the site speak excellent English, several languages in fact, and we found that there was also a large contingent of Italians holidaying at this resort, which was lovely to see.
So, onto the facilities on site:
To set the scene, the campsite is set amidst a small pinewood, which separates the campsite from the beach. So, to get to the beach, you take a leisurely 10-minute stroll through the woods and the beach is literally the other side. The beach itself is large, clean and fairly shallow. We found ourselves walking out a fair distance in the water, and it didn’t seem to get any deeper. That probably means there’s a massive dip after that sandy shelf, but it’s nice and safe for small children. Fair bit of seaweed but I can live with that. There’s a restaurant/bar on the beach to get drinks/food/icecream, but it was the only one I could see, but as long as they sell Maxibons, I’m good.
The only negative thing to say is that there were quite a few hawkers on the beach, selling their wares, which gets a little tiring. But after a polite ‘no thanks’, they left you alone.
I’m more of a pool person than beach (sand EVERYWHERE), and so we only visited once, but I think you’d really like it – plenty of room for everyone, didn’t feel crowded at all. And the walk through the woodland is really pretty.
Eraclea Mare town can be found via the woodland again (although you can reach it via the main road), and took us about 15 minutes. But then we were walking with three children. You can hire a bike from the resort and it would be lovely to have a bike ride through the woods, but they’re not free, and I had to budget a bit, so decided I couldn’t afford it – but if you can, I can highly recommend it.
The town itself was a lot quieter than I thought, which is definitely a plus. We were there in the middle of August, so that’s probably a good indication of what you can expect. It was a mixture of restaurants and shops, which were all a bit samey, but the restaurant we ate in was nice, and a little cheaper than eating at the resort (but not much cheaper.)
I’m not one for shopping, and it’s not really much fun spending the evening out drinking when you have kids, so we ate dinner and came home – but it’s a nice change of scenery. Oh, and there’s a gelato shop on the outskirts that did amazing gelato, so it’s worth a trip into town for that.
A word of warning, make a note of which turning you need to take to get back to the campsite, or you’ll end up like us, walking a full circle around, onto the main road, and 45 minutes out of our way. Dexter still hasn’t forgiven Amanda, poor thing.
As I said earlier, this is Canvas’ most expensive accommodation BUT … I’d say it was totally worth it, and if I were to holiday with Canvas again, I’d choose this over the others on offer. And here’s why. I’m a fussy bugger. I like comfort. I like all mod cons. And, most importantly, I love air conditioning. I think if I were part of a couple and my kids were younger, I’d consider other accommodation options – but I’m not/they’re not and so this is what suits me and my needs. I’m at an age where I like what I like and I’m prepared to pay for it.
You can jump to the video below:
So, what’s included?
OUTSIDE AREA: the decking area is reached by a few steps and is pretty spacious, with a plastic patio table, six chairs, an air dryer, and one sun lounger all included. There’s a BBQ at the bottom of the stairs, which is all linked up to the gas supply, so you don’t need to worry about that – we didn’t try the BBQ out (because cooking), but it’s big enough to cook for the whole family. There’s also ample room to park a car, if you’ve driven.
KITCHEN: The air conditioning unit is above the main door as you walk in, and is the only unit in the accommodation, so if you want to cool the other rooms, you’ll need to leave your doors open – it’s strong enough to reach every room, don’t worry. The kitchen is on your left and has absolutely everything you’d expect. Apart from a toaster, which is a bit odd. But a large fridge/freezer, oven and hob, microwave … and enough utensils, crockery and cutlery for 8 people – the 2-bedroom Moda technically sleeps 6. There are two patio doors in the kitchen area that open directly onto the decking, and it made it much easier for me to cook breakfast, and then lay everything onto the patio table direct from the kitchen.
DINING AREA: This is the main living area with the bedrooms, bathroom and kitchen coming off it. It contains a table and benches (in an L shape), and would seat 6 fairly comfortably. The benches also turn into beds to sleep 2 more people, but we didn’t try that configuration out because there was only the two of us. One cool thing – it might not have had a TV, but it has a wireless speaker attached to the wall, which we both fought over … Dexter winning most of the time, so we ended up listening to grime. Apparently. I have no idea what grime is.
BEDROOMS: I was in the main bedroom, which had a really comfortable double bed, a small wardrobe and a few shelves. The storage is quite minimal I’d say, but there’s just about enough. There are some cupboards above the bed, which I didn’t use because they’re a bit awkward to get to. Each bedroom has a window, and both rooms come with enough bedding and blankets. You do have to make your own bed though … shocking I know, but we coped.
BATHROOM: The bathroom was bigger than I expected, next to my room, and the toilet is separate, and next to the smaller bedroom. The power shower was pretty fierce, which is great, but be very careful you don’t accidentally knock the lever like I did, else you’ll end up burning or freezing yourself. (I think my big bum did it.) Enough cupboards and shelving for both of us. Oh, and other word of caution, there’s a venetian blind on the window … I suggest you use it. I learnt the hard way.
I’ll list these because they’re all pretty self-explanatory – but if you have any questions about anything in particular, feel free to just message me or leave a comment.
- Bike hire.
- Swimming pools – one main large pool, 2 jacuzzis, and 2 childrens’ pools and a slide with a small pool (NB. all pools, and sunbeds, close for a siesta between 1pm-3pm. Personally, I wasn’t happy about this, and as much as I got used to using this time for lunch and a siesta, I don’t think it’s fair they do this. You’ll get used to it though, and if you have children, it’s especially not a bad thing.)
- Restaurant – book if you can, it gets very busy, and expect to wait a fair while if you want takeaway food (but the pizzas are amazing, and well worth the wait.)
- Gelato shop – nice gelato, but it’s better in the town.
- Arcade (air hockey, video games etc.)
- Supermarket (NB. closes from 1.30pm-4pm ish, coinciding with the pool closure.)
- Childrens’ race track with motorised bikes.
- Football pitch.
- Table tennis.
I’ve probably missed a few things, but these were the things I noticed, and we made use of most of them.
Our accommodation was a one-minute walk from the outdoor entertainment area, so it’s worth mentioning that you’re going to hear that every night. BUT, they have to turn everything off at 11pm, and so we were never kept awake because of the noise. Take earplugs just in case.
The Portofelice staff were fantastic, especially the Animation team that dealt with the children – not that we got to test them out, what with Dexter being 12 and ‘dead grown up’, but a couple of the girls took an aqua aerobics/dance class in the pool every day and their enthusiasm was infectious. The interaction I noticed between them and the children was great, although it’s worth pointing out that English children were in the minority, so there is the language issue to consider.
The staff in the restaurant were always rushed off their feet and don’t always have the time for pleasantries, but were nice enough – and a smile goes a long way, the manager will always find a table for you then!
The Canvas staff were fantastic. They didn’t know we were there to review the site (at least not that we were aware of), but they couldn’t have been more helpful – and we saw that when they were dealing with the other customers. There were two of them, and whenever we had a minor issue, like the gas cutting out temporarily, they were there to help, and fix the problem, within ten minutes. Nothing was too much trouble. And then we got talking about travelling, as they’re very well-travelled, and could have spent hours just chatting with them … but unfortunately, we had a plane to catch.
We loved our ten days at Camping Portofelice, and were sad to go home. The weather was a little temperamental at times, seeing the most incredible lightning and thunderstorms for several nights running, but every day was hot, which made the whole pool thing even more annoying, because I could have easily chilled by the pool all day, every day. But it’s probably saved me a few wrinkles to be honest.
Another thing to mention is the mosquitos – we all got bitten terribly, especially Amanda, so go prepared. Spray yourself head to toe, because you will probably get bitten. Although maybe we just have sweet blood!
Was it value for money? That depends on how much food you’re going to buy on site I think, as it soon adds up – although the alcohol was pretty cheap! Think fizzy red wine on tap for €2 a bottle! And eating in the restaurant every night became quite expensive, but I had budgeted for that and, at the end of the day, I just didn’t want to cook every night. I think the accommodation was worth every penny, we both loved it, and if you go, do try and take advantage of the great kids’ clubs, there’s one for every age range.
As I said, if you have any specific questions, don’t hesitate to ask – I don’t want to bombard you with an information overload here.
I miss my lunchtime of Prosecco, cream cheese and delicious tomatoes. I miss my evenings chatting with Amanda and the girls, playing cards and … drinking Limoncello. I miss the weather, the food, the luxury of a slow and lazy breakfast in the sunshine. And I miss chilling with Amanda, we had THE best time! You can read the first of her posts HERE.
Big thank you to Canvas Holidays for such a wonderful holiday.