Review: Potters resort, Norfolk
An East Coast of England institution for just five years short of a century, Potters Resort, is the UK’s first, and so far only purpose-built five-star seaside holiday village.
Set astride the Suffolk / Norfolk county line at England’s most easterly point, just outside Lowestoft, the 363 bedroom property sits on 65 well-manicured acres that sweep down to the cliff edge, with its own private beach providing a backdrop for some of the nation’s most spectacular sunrises.
Pampering is a key word here, with 550 employees providing a one and a half to one staff to guest ratio – claimed to be the highest in the UK hospitality industry.
Potters was originally funded with the then considerable sum of £500, won by Herbert Potter in a newspaper competition, and has ever since been operated by generations of the same family. Their firm policy of constantly re-investing in refurbishments and upgrades has kept them at the top of their game with an enviable record of 70 per cent repeat business, as well as year-round high occupancy levels.
There’s nothing over-sophisticated, trendy, relentlessly upmarket or snooty about this ultra-friendly venue that’s a top-quality family short-break destination all summer long, with a more mature audience snapping up the accommodations during the winter and colder months.
But while the mood is all-embracing and down to earth, luxurious touches abound throughout, from the very generously sized and tastefully furnished guestrooms to the palatial dining rooms and superbly appointed bars. The ambiance and décor are somewhat reminiscent of a cruise ship, making it no surprise that the owners operate a spin-off sea cruise programme as well as holiday packages to Cyprus.
Back at home base, an outstanding West End quality entertainment schedule centres on the massive 700 seat Atlas Theatre showroom as the key draw, featuring big name acts and a highly professional song and dance troupes supported by truly spectacular stagings.
Our visit happened to be on the 70th anniversary of VE Day, so, on top of the 40 hit songs of the spectacular ‘Legends’ revue show, the boys and girls gave us the bonus of a rousing cockney sing-along to a stirring medley of wartime favourites as we all waved our Union flags patriotically on high. With scarcely a dry eye in the house and the good humour of it all – replete with old army uniforms, shining medals and pearly king and queen outfits – the atmosphere was irresistibly infectious.
Ok, so it was kitsch, but such uninhibited joy that even a solitary German in the audience joined in the fun without a hint of self-conscious embarrassment. enjoying the friendly ribbing and only too happy to be dragged up on stage. It all made you ‘proud to be British”….
The full-on entertainment programme, involving a crew and cast of more than 70, has a lavishly staged 365 nights a year programme of song, dance and comedy shows.
Potters Theatre Company has been s springboard to the West End stage and national TV for many talents down the years, including Lee Mead, winner of the Andrew Lloyd Weber ‘Any Dream Will Do’ competition, and Leanne Mitchell, overall winner of the BBC’s ‘The Voice’.
Big name stars making regular headline appearances at the venue include Peter Andre and Billy Ocean. Live music ranges from big band to soul, via everything in-between.
A huge range of sports and leisure activities – from bowls, clay pigeon and rifle shooting, archery and badminton to snooker, darts, golf putting, curling and dancing – and a jam-packed calendar of special events fill the days, with carefully organised themed breaks the big attraction.
Complementing the Aphrodite beauty salon is the Palms health and fitness club, featuring two large indoor swimming pools, an outdoor pool, a whirlpool, steam room, sauna and a vertical tanning unit, as well as a TechnoGym training room with treadmills, bikes, cross trainers and rowers as well as a free weights gym.
The 50 strong kitchen brigade serves close on three quarters of a million meals a year. Dining options include the elegant, high ceilinged, garden restaurant and, in a separate building, the contemporary Black Rock restaurant, where guests cook their own steak, lamb, salmon or scallops over pre-heated volcanic hot lava rock. In the same building is the self-contained Zest function suite and business centre.
Accommodation options include two grades of bungalow and four grades of hotel rooms, including four-poster and penthouse suites.
Potters operates on an all-inclusive basis, with up to four high quality meals a day included in the deal and with only drinks and certain off-site activities charged as extras, and specialises in those themed three, four and five-day short breaks, representing extraordinarily good value.
Rooms and suites:
113 hotel rooms, 250 bungalows, including two four-poster rooms, three standard suites and five penthouse suites.
With pumping disco and high volume live music, he evening’s fun goes on into the small hours, so try to book a room as far removed as possible from the fun and games.