We booked two beachfront tent spaces for this weekend, and were very much looking forward to our visit, having been enticed by the photographs and website. We are a group of four adults and two children, and booked two beachfront tent sites, one with power and one without, just for charging the mobile phones and operating a light etc. On arrival, unfortunately it transpired that there was no powered site; it appears that there was some confusion when the booking was made, but that was no problem really, we could charge our phones in the cars, so we really were not terribly bothered about that.
The campsite is really quite nice and clean, and the beach is quite fantastic, though it is a public beach and not actually a part of the caravan park, but it adjoins directly. A little disappointed when we were shown our tent pitches, since rather than being on the nice grass that adorns the rest of the park, they were under trees on a sandy base, just the same as the five dollar per night national park sites close by, but hey, the beach was lovely, so again, we decided it was fine and erected our tents, happily looking forward to our barbeque lunch. While we guys went off along the beach to check the fishing spots, the girls set up the barbeque and prepared the food. Unfortunately, when we returned ten minutes later, the camp manager had stormed over on seeing the barbeque, and, in finest schoolteacher style, informed the wives that fires were not allowed and should be immediately extinguished. Clearly very annoyed, she also started to move our chairs which had crept a few inches outside the plot markers (they are tight plots, with about six inches left around the sides of our family tents) so they were right next to the tent. When we came back from out short stroll to check the fishing points, we were, needless to say, a bit disappointed about the no barbeque rule, as we didn't know about it, and there are no apparent signs warning people. However, rules are rules, and in fairness the camp does have gas powered stainless steel barbeque plates available for guest use, so we did up our burgers and steaks on those, though it's just not the same.
Later that evening, a few spits of rain start, so we strung a small canvas between one of our tents and the trees three or four feet to the back of the tents, and sat under there and had a nice evening of chat and relaxation. Before bed, we took the canvas down, tidied up and used the reasonably good facilities to take a shower and brush our teeth; slept well, and woke early at sunrise. Breakfast cooked on our small gas stove was very nice. Just as we finished breakfast, the camp manager again appeared, and again quite angry, gave both of us guys what could only really be described as a lecture about the barbeque we had tried to use the previous day, and as a parting shot said "and don't put up that 'structure' at the back of your tent again". Now, to be clear, the canvas shelter we had hastily erected to shelter from the rain, and later removed, was five feet square, and in no way encroached on any other camping spot, occupied or not. Suitably mortified at having been spoken to like naughty schoolchildren, we decided the we were there to enjoy ourselves, and tried to forget about it and enjoy our day. We did have a great day, the ladies and the kids on the beach and the boys fishing from the rocks.
That evening, we decided that we really wanted our barbecued steaks done the proper way, so as the daylight faded and armed with torches, we took our mini portable barbeque off the camp site and down to the beach, well away from any trees or other vegetation. I should perhaps explain that we are experienced campers, intelligent and sensible about any dangers, and we clear up our mess behind us. No sooner were the fire-lighters alight than two torches came rushing towards us and it was her again, this time accompanied by another lady too: "IT'S YOU TWO", she exclaimed, in what could only be described as "almost" a shout. "No fires on the beach, it's not allowed". And before we could say anything in reply, it continued: "...this is right next to two national parks you know, if the police come down here they WILL arrest you. If we let you do it, everyone will be doing it". Now might be a good time to point out we are two educated and professional guys in our forties, and it's been a while since we were spoken to like school children. Quite aghast, we sanded out our barbeque promptly, and headed off to tell the ladies and the kids the bad news...no barbecue tonight either! Now I must point out that at no point were we at all confrontational with this woman, preferring to say little rather than inflame the situation, after all, the camp rules are within her jurisdiction (though the beach is almost certainly not), and our only complaint could be that we were not informed about them until we had apparently broken them. Aside, that is, from complaining about the extremely rude and authoritarian method of letting us know.
On checking later, it is indeed the case that the local authority does not allow fires on the beach, which, again, we did not know, or we would not have tried to use our barbeque. The entry to the beach via the camp site does not have any rule signs. It would seem that the two other groups of people who were happily having parties around actual beach fires further down the beach later that very evening were also unaware of this rule. Anyway, fish and chips were purchased and enjoyed, and our own company and that of some our camping neighbours was most enjoyable. During the conversation with our neighbours, it seems that they had also been guilty of minor rule infringements and similarly admonished. One was speaking of initiating a petition of complaint to the site owner about the camp Manager's rude and unfortunate manner. However, it was generally agreed that we were all there to relax and enjoy ourselves, and we shouldn't let the unfortunate "telling-offs" spoil our break.
And so we left this morning (Monday 20th Sept.), with the strange feeling that despite it being a very nice place apart from the relatively poor spots (for the price) we were allocated, it had been a bit spoiled by this Lady's rudeness. We will not be returning there, and neither will most of the other guests we met from the tent site area for the same reason.
If the lady concerned should happen to read this, and I am writing a similar letter directly to the camp which will bear my name and address folks, so don't view this post as a cowardly article hiding behind the fence of anonymity), I would urge you to remember that customers are a finite resource. I don't know if the RV and caravan sections of the site get the same experience, or if it's just that the "tenties" are looked down on and regarded as the poor relations or an inconvenience, but if you were friendlier in your approach to people, you wouldn't need to walk around the camp avoiding eye contact with your head down. Rules are rules, and you are entitled to enforce them, but I'd recommend doing so by approaching people in a friendly manner and gently reminding them of the rules. And a few signs around the place advising people of the rules in the first place would be a great help. At least then you could point to the sign and say "really sorry, but the camp rules prohibit....".
Also, as a customer service coach and retail consultant, I'd like to say that I noticed quite a few empty spots around the site, despite it being one of the busiest weekends of the year, with the school holidays etc. The neighbouring site at 1770 has not a single vacancy, and yours has the advantage of that beautiful beach. Perhaps it would be worth looking at your bookings to see how many visitors are second or third time visitors, or are they just first timers drawn by the natural beauty of the place?
Sorry it's a tough report, but you partly spoiled our holiday, and that of other guests too. This is not an attack on you personally, as I'm sure you are very nice otherwise. But it is certainly a justified criticism of your behaviour.