Family owned Potters Resort has attained almost legendary status through what it calls, Land Cruising. An all-inclusive cruise-like experience but in the peaceful green meadows of Hopton on Sea. After visiting many times while his own children were growing up, Andy Mossack returns with a new generation of family members to find out if the Potters Resort magic is still alive and well.
It’s early morning and I’m having breakfast in the main dining room at Potters Resort. My trip down memory lane has become all the more real as we’ve been given the very table that used to be reserved for the Potter family. A large round table on a raised plinth on the upper floor; I can’t lie, I feel rather royal. So does Paul Reaney for that matter. The former Leeds United legend and now the long-serving football coach at Potters gives us a little bow as he passes by. ” Can’t help it.” He says “I always did it when Brian was sitting there.”
Brian Potter has sadly passed now, and although wife Judy is around to keep her eye on things, the mantle of the helm is now in the very capable hands of son John and sister Jane, the 4th generation Potters.
Brian’s vision of inclusive land cruising has always been the DNA of a Potters holiday; full board dining including a midnight dish, bungalow or hotel accommodation, a 70-strong in-house theatre and entertainment company offering nightly shows and literally dozens of indoor and outdoor activities from football, golf, bowls and racket sports to swimming, fitness and spa facilities. Talking of bowls, perhaps the biggest leap forward for Potters was being chosen as the home of the World Indoor Bowls Championships now in its 21st year and unlikely to shut up shop anytime soon.
The Potters Resort is set on 65 private acres of prime Norfolk coastline and from its origins over 100 years ago as a wooden hutted holiday camp (predating Billy Butlin by 16 years) it has undergone considerable transformations.
It’s an odd feeling being back. It’s as familiar as a comfortable pair of slippers but also different at the same time. The 300 + bungalows and hotel rooms have received another makeover, the Atlas Theatre has show technology that would rival Bill Kenwright’s theatres and Segways and rally carts headline kids activities.
I’m in a Bungalow Plus room which includes a very comfortable queen bed, flat screen TV, tea and coffee making facilities, fridge, en-suite bath and shower and daily housekeeping. It’s actually a very comfortable room and a big step up from the living space I remember.
Meanwhile, back in the dining room, Simon is demonstrating the waiter version of four spinning plates as he manages to seamlessly service our table of six adults, two young boys and a toddler of 9 months. The boys can’t quite believe their eyes at the prospect of eating endless amounts of food; it’s an opportunity too good to miss so they grab platefuls off the buffet and get Simon running off to the kitchen for special orders.
“Don’t suppose you can find any fresh avocados while you’re at it?” I joke. He comes back empty-handed, but here’s a surprise “Sadly no avocados, but I’ll stop by the supermarket and get some for you for tomorrow.”
That’s impressive. It’s how I remember our meal times and it’s good to know that going the extra mile is still alive and kicking. That goes for the food quality too by the way. It’s not tasting menu standards but it’s light years away from the standard fare you might be expecting. Three courses and you can fill your boots. It really is quite remarkable.
The day plays out in typical Potters fashion; plenty of sports activities for all ages, some bar quizzes and team games for those who crave things less strenuous, a walk on the beach to burn off some lunch calories before taking on the Potters team in some crazy event. It’s always a foregone conclusion; the guests never, ever win.
I get together with Potters legend Mark Brewer for a long overdue catch-up. An entertainment force of nature, Marks madcap antics have kept guests royally entertained for decades. These days by his own admission he takes things a bit easier, sharing the entertainment duties with other colleagues. But watching him work a crowd is still something to behold. Just ask anyone attending his Green Goddess work out session if they’ve ever witnessed anything quite like it.
Talking of entertainment, as evening draws in, the Atlas Theatre opens for business. A bingo session with big money to be won is a worthwhile support act but the star turn is undoubtedly the Potters Theatre Company show. Over the years I’ve enjoyed watching them perform numerous west end style shows, but after some serious investment in state of the art technology, this is event-staging on another level entirely. Showtime is two hours of live entertainment, from a homage to current musicals to celebrating music over the decades. It’s an impressive platform to learn stagecraft and you may well have spotted one or two former members of the team who have furthered their careers; Kerry Ellis was a long-time lead in Wicked, Lee Mead won Any Dream Will Do and Leanne Mitchell won The Voice.
It’s late now, the show’s over, all the stardust has settled and most guests have called it a night. But the show’s not over for some of us. The traditional Terrace Bar late night sessions are still going strong I’m delighted to see. A few of the band members turn up, a couple of the show singers too and the party goes on into the small hours. The free midnight feast might have something to do with it of course, but the drinks flow, the band jams and we all have a great night.
The Black Rock Grill is a welcome addition to the resort; a restaurant where £35 pp gets you gets you barbecuing unlimited amounts of meats, fish and seafood on your own slab of hot volcanic rock. It’s open to non-residents too and the draw for them is it includes admission to the nightly shows. It’s a genius move. Get the locals to come and eat, watch a show and spread the Potters love.
The lure of a barbecue has me wandering over on the following night for a try. Residents can eat at the Black Rock Grill for a £10 pp discount and despite having to walk past both sets of toilets before climbing upstairs to the dining room, it doesn’t disappoint. Some fresh dipping bread, oils and sauces are an excellent start. Despite the distraction of a couple of other tempting starters (asparagus and halloumi salad or sticky BBQ ribs with Tennessee whiskey), we plumb for some very tasty starters. Satay chicken skewers with coriander for Mrs M and smoked salmon, beetroot and avocado with horseradish and crème fraîche for me.
Of course, all this is simply the prelude to endless amounts of meat and fish to be freshly cooked on the aforementioned black rock. Beef fillet, English lamb, Scottish salmon and giant scallops are available. You can have them all, or just the ones you prefer.
Waitress Linda is quick to point out a surprise addition. “You can go exotic if you feel like it.”
I can’t deny I’m intrigued at this turn of events.
“For an extra £3.50 you can get an exotic meat platter. Tonight we’re serving kangaroo and alligator.”
We politely sidestep this particular culinary diversion and before long we’re sizzling our meat and fish over our own piece of volcanic rock.
This style of cooking makes you feel you’re doing most of the work here, but it is nonetheless a fun way to eat. Leaving enough room of course for the included desserts; Sticky toffee pudding to the Black Rock signature fondue and a few others in between.
Another Norfolk beach day dawns and I head for the 9 hole par 3 course. The stiff sea breeze makes it all the more challenging but I still throw in an extended final hole across the cliff and over the sea for added drama and old times’ sake.
Before long I get a shout from one of the family. “There’s another team game on if you’re up for it.”
I inwardly groan as thoughts of a quiet cuppa evaporate.
That Potters spellbook has weaved its magic on another generation no doubt.
Tell me more about Potters Resort
Potters Resort, Coast Road, Hopton-On-Sea, Great Yarmouth, NR31 9BX
Tel: 0333 3207 497
Facebook: www.facebook.com/PottersResort Twitter: @pottersresort
Andy and his family (six adults and three children in total) stayed on a Four Night Potters Easter Family Break in April 2018 in bungalow accommodation. The break included comfortable accommodation, four meals a day for each full day, activities, live evening and late night entertainment, and use of the Resort’s sports and leisure facilities. This inclusive four-night break price breakdown: adults from £399, 9-15-year-olds from £329, 2-8-year-olds from £279 and under 2s from £25.
As well as family breaks, Potters Resort has various One Night Breaks featuring special guests, Weekend breaks and Midweek adult breaks throughout the year.
One Night Weekend breaks start from just £129 per person.