Sicily Unpacked: Eurocamp Review
I have travelled with Eurocamp on several occasions mostly in France and a trip to Austria. Each time it has been on a self-drive holiday with my own car. Such an arrangement gave us far more freedom. It was with a little trepidation that I decided on a Eurocamp holiday in Sicily.
The logistics would be more restrictive given that airlines these days have limited luggage allowance unlike a self-drive where you can take as much as you can fit in the boot. In our case that is quite a lot (usually more than we need). With this in mind Eurocamp have thoughtfully provided a linen service so you do not have to take bedding and towels which take up a great deal of space and weight in suitcases.
A flight and a hire car we managed to find online using Expedia UK (£). However, Eurocamp will book flights and car hire for you. We arrived at Palermo International Airport and picked up our hire car. One and three-quarters of an hour later we arrived at Camping El Bahira, the only parc in Sicily were Eurocamp have a presence.
The Eurocamp reception is opposite the parc’s reception and is obvious and easy to find. Before leaving home we had received a text message from the Eurocamp courier by way of introduction and providing a telephone number to call if we needed help. We were also asked to text an estimated time of arrival. Another text a day or two later suggested a supermarket on our way where we might pick up essential supplies.
On arrival we were met by Michelle our courier. Eurocamp have been using what they call “mature” couriers especially on smaller parcs. In my experience they are far more helpful having had more “experience of life”. Certainly the other Eurocampers I have spoken to in the past and at El Bahira were of the same opinion.
We were shown our accommodation, a three bedroom mobile home in a clutch of other Eurocamp holiday homes. Each had a wooden terrace cover with a sailcloth shade and outdoor table and chairs and two sun loungers. The shade is absolutely necessary in Sicily and further shade was provided by a maturing cloud pine tree. The area around the mobile homes had been thoughtfully landscaped with shrubs, agave and drought loving plants.
The pitches were on the small side and the car had to be parked away from the mobile home. A group of the mobiles were grouped around a couple of trees and had a backdrop of rocks. This created an ambience similar to a small village green. All that was missing, apart from the green, was a village pub.
Our mobile was a three bedroom Esprit. The central area was a kitchen, dining-room and lounge; what Eurocamp call the living space. Off this were two bedrooms and a toilet at one end and master bedroom and shower at the other. The design has been carefully thought out to maximise the space and given that so much living is outdoors in the Sicilian summer, more than adequate for us.
The mobile home is stocked with all the kitchen utensils needed along with bowls, plates, glasses, cutlery and mugs for 8 people. Eurocamp have thoughtfully provided a welcome pack with some essentials including cloths, washing up liquid, coffee, tea and sugar, some wine and olive oil, soap and scourer.
Sicily can be very hot so the included air conditioning was most welcome. The temperatures in a mobile home can soar to unbearable levels so having an airconditioning unit keeps the temperatures comfortable for those times spent indoors.
The El Bahira site is a slightly eccentric, rustic affair without the privations of a back to nature rural site. El Bahira, so I was told, was Arabic for “shining”. The Arab influence is very prevalent in Sicily with many place names reflecting the Arab heritage. The Arabs named the area El Bahira because it faces west and there were often spectacular sunsets. The site has made full use of this fact with the bar terrace, which overlooks the pool, facing directly into the sunsets. We enjoyed a meal and several gelato from the on site while watching the sun set in the western sky.
Like any Italian the El Bahira bar served coffee pastries and gelato. In the evening it became a ristorante serving a range of reasonably priced meals based around fish, seafood and pasta. There is also a pizzeria in the central area and a small supermarket for those wishing to self-cater.
When we were there the entertainment, especially in the evening was loud and incessant. Music and DJ patter boomed out across the parc non-stop from a little after nine some nights until well after midnight. Speaking to other Eurocampers who had returned to the parc for the third time I discovered that this was not the case in previous years in early June.
Although the entertainment was outside of Eurocamp’s control the courier did let the parc’s management know of ours and others concerns.
The pool is filled with sea water and is kept meticulously clean. All the sun loungers complete with their own adjustable sun shade, are laid out with military precision at the beginning of each day. Someone obviously takes pride in their job here as pool attendant/life guard.
The pool terrace has magnificent views across the coastline and out to sea. As such it catches the sea breezes making it a very pleasant place to spend the day. As the saying goes it is only “…mad dogs and Englishmen who go out in the midday sun…” During siesta time (13:00-16:00) the pool is closed; designed perhaps to reduce the incidence of sunstroke among the English..
Michelle, our courier, was exceptional. From advice on where the best wifi was to recommendations on the best bars, gelateria and restaurants. Early one morning she got up and played laundry fairy – taking towels and other laundry left out to dry and placing it under the awning during a short unexpected shower of rain.
She was never intrusive but always seemed to be available. My wife, who notices these things, had commented on how spotlessly clean the mobile home was when we moved in. Not only was Michelle welcoming but so was our accommodation.
In conclusion then: In many years holidaying with Eurocamp I have come to expect high standards. On my first time with them on Sicily and on a fly-drive I was not disappointed. Everything in Eurocamp’s control was excellent. I would go as far as saying that Michelle, the courier was the best I have encountered both with Eurocamp and other mobile home operators.
Going with Eurocamp on a fly-drive is a new chapter in my holidays with them. Starting with a car, full of kids and luggage driving south in France to our Eurocamp tent; then the same again but in a mobile home. As we became empty nesters we continued with the relative luxury of mobile homes but still drove long distances with a car full of luggage and supplies. Now we enter a new phase where we will fly to our chosen destination, hire a car and, with a lot less luggage enjoy the Eurocamp holiday without the seemingly interminable drives.
For further information on Eurocamp, please call 01606 787787 or visit www.eurocamp.co.uk
NOTE: I travelled as a guest of Eurocamp. However I will always retain editorial control and will, as I have done in the past, write a true and honest review about my experiences.
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