UK Campsites Celebrate


The winners of the AA Caravan & Camping Awards 2014 were presented with their awards in a ceremony at the Aztec Hotel in Bristol.

UK Campsites Celebrate

A selection of the UK’s best campsites have been honoured at this year’s AA Caravan and Camping Awards ceremony.

Representatives from campsites across the country gathered at the Aztec Hotel in Bristol to recognise the front runners within the camping and caravan park industry. Although the awards have been running for over two decades, this was the first time the winners have been celebrated at an official lunch.

Receiving top honours, Polmanter Touring Park in Cornwall was named as the overall Best Campsite of the Year. The five star graded park offers a mix of hard standing and grass pitches with modern catering and leisure facilities, close to the picturesque fishing port of St Ives.

Phil Osborne of Polmanter said: “We are delighted that Polmanter has received this prestigious award. We are the third generation of the Osborne family to run the site, and we always listen to our customers and think about what they would like.

“This, along with insight gained camping with our own young family, has helped to inspire the provision of individual shower rooms, baby bath rooms and a weekly party for younger visitors in school holidays; alongside our ongoing commitment to provide a warm welcome, spotless, modern facilities and spacious pitches.” Phil added: “Our team take great pride in the site and taking care of our guests, and we are really pleased that the high standards that they help us to achieve at Polmanter have been rewarded.”

Cairnsmill Holiday Park in St Andrews, Fife scooped the award for Best Campsite of the Year in Scotland, and the Best Campsite of the Year in Wales went to Tyddyn Isaf Caravan Park in Dulas, Isle of Anglesey.

The awards ceremony also marked the official launch of the AA Caravan and Camping Guide, now in its 46th year. The guide has details of over 900 fully inspected and independently graded camping parks across England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

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Summer Set To Be The Hottest On Record


Holiday parks across the UK and Eire should be gearing up for a sizzling summer according to German weather experts. Pic: Hendra Holiday Park.

Summer Set To Be The Hottest On Record

It may have been the wettest winter in a hundred years, but the UK holiday industry should be getting set for a sizzling summer, if we are to believe scientists, who are 75 per cent certain that 2014 will be the hottest on record for the UK and Eire.

The weather is being linked to the El Niño pattern, which occurs when waters on the Pacific equator become unusually warm, which can lead to disruptive changes in ocean and wind currents across the globe. In a study published by the PNAS journal, scientists in Germany claim they are able to forecast El Niño trends a year in advance, up from six months currently forecast, LiveScience reported.

Meanwhile VisitBritain is forecasting a record-breaking 2014 for tourism. The national tourism agency is expecting an increase of 2% in overseas visitor numbers, resulting in an estimated spend of around £21.5 billion, representing growth of 4.2% in nominal terms.

Sandie Dawe, chief executive at VisitBritain said: “Government investment in the millions will bring tourism returns in the billions. This year is set to be a record – it just goes to show what can be achieved with a clear strategy and cooperation across all the major Government agencies promoting Britain overseas.”

It is business as usual for holiday park operator Park Holidays UK, who announced a record number of bookings in January and February, despite many of their parks being located in areas worst hit by winter’s savage storms. The company’s 23 parks are all based on the coast across Devon and southern and eastern England where some of the strongest winds, highest tides and most persistent downpours were measured. Holiday guests, it says, are unlikely to find any trace of the batterings received from the weather which caused millions of pounds worth of damage to other parks in Britain. March opening “We suspected that the affected parks would be fully dried out in time for our March opening, but thought it fair to offer booked customers a refund, or change of date or park. We’ve also been able to assure all of our of holiday home owners that their properties have successfully weathered the storms, and are now awaiting their return,” said group director Tony Clish.

The government has recently launched a £10 million scheme to provide hardship funding for SME businesses in areas affected by the floods. Eligible businesses will be able to claim for funding for things like immediate clean-up costs, materials, and exceptional costs to help them continue trading. If any affected company is unable to file accounts or other documents on time as a direct result of the floods, Companies House will agree an extension and not collect the penalties which apply for late filings. The helpline number to call for more information is 0300 456 3565.

Riding The Waves


A highlight at Golden Coast is the Wavesurfer simulator, allowing guests to brush up on their surfing and body boarding skills.

Riding The Waves

Capitalising on a prime seaside location, Woolacombe Bay Holiday Parks own and operate four 4-star holiday parks around the village of Woolacombe in North Devon.

Frequently voted the best beach in Britain, the location is a unique mix of sandy beaches, rolling fields and the rugged beauty of Exmoor National Park, all within a stone’s throw of the Woolacombe Bay sites.

Kevin Darvill, sales and marketing director at Woolacombe Bay comments: “The most crucial aspect to the success of our parks has to be the beach. Woolacombe’s beach is quite simply gorgeous and offers everything from a traditional bucket and spade holiday to surfing. Of course the beach alone isn’t enough to encourage customers to stay with us and for that we try to ensure we offer lots for every age to do and great places to stay.”

The family run business was established over 50 years ago, and the four parks now welcome international and UK guests from February to November each year. The parks are hire fleet only, meaning that there are no caravan sales activities, but the company does offer caravans, lodges, villas, apartments and traditional farmhouses along with high quality camping and touring facilities at all four parks.

“We’ve seen big changes in where customers want to stay,” explains Kevin. “A few years ago smaller, older caravans were in demand as budget options, but over the past couple of years there really has been a trend for extended families with several generations or two families sharing higher quality caravans. In response to this, we recently replaced a fifth of all our caravans, meaning our average caravan age is now just 3 years old.” He adds: “Then there’s the rise in popularity of the short break. A week’s holiday in July and August is still the mainstay at those times, but in term time we’ve had to adapt to more short breaks and change the offering to suit the demographic.”

Golden Coast is the company’s biggest park, offering 342 rental units and 93 touring pitches, plus the widest range of leisure facilities, including a ten lane bowling alley, a 17th Century pub and a high ropes course. Making the most of the park’s Atlantic facing location, a surf school and unique surfing simulator enables guests to try surfing no matter what their ability.

“Customers are always looking for something new and different, wanting the best experience they can get for their hard earned holiday time. There’s a continuous demand for new activities, particularly those that can be used whatever the weather. In the run up to and after the Olympics we saw a big demand for more sports activities to, so we’ve introduced sports complexes at all our parks,” says Kevin.

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Woolacombe Bay Holiday Parks
Tel. 0843 2080 377

New Campaign To Support British Tourism


It is hoped that the new VisitEngland campaign will boost holiday bookings and support businesses affected by the bad weather earlier in the year. Pic: VisitEngland, Chris J Parker.

New Campaign To Support British Tourism

A new £2million government funded campaign has been launched to support businesses affected by the recent severe weather and to drive holiday bookings in England.

VisitEngland, the country’s national tourist board, has developed a campaign with two distinct elements - events focused on providing business support and a tactical marketing campaign called ‘Spot On England’, aimed at boosting bookings.

While tourism businesses in the main have been unaffected by the severe weather conditions, and the resounding message from industry has been ‘business as usual’, recent research by VisitEngland shows that 10% of consumers say that have been put off taking a trip to affected areas.

To combat this negative perception VisitEngland has launched a dedicated marketing campaign in the UK as well as in Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands, called ‘Spot on England’. The campaign will promote England with great value offers to inspire holiday bookings. In addition, VisitEngland is partnering with a number of destinations to organise events around the country where tourism businesses can gain free access to experts on building design, communications, social media, marketing and legal issues to ensure greater resilience against severe weather conditions in the future.

Norfolk Parks To Benefit From £1.5 Million Boost


Significant improvements will be made to the facilities at the award-winning Kelling Heath Park and Woodhill Park in Norfolk by park operator Blue Sky Leisure.

Norfolk Parks To Benefit From £1.5 Million Boost

A £1.5m investment in to two of Norfolk’s leading holiday destinations is set to provide a much-needed boost for the local economy as well as the natural environment.

Holiday park operator, Blue Sky Leisure, plans to spend £1.2m improving and adding to the luxury accommodation on offer at Kelling Heath Holiday Park near Holt and Woodhill Park near Cromer. The cash injection will increase capacity at Kelling Heath by 10%.

The remaining £300,000 has been set aside for a two-year refurbishment of the health and fitness club at Kelling Heath, which will include a new spa, steam room, sauna and poolside showers, with phase two including the refurbishment of the changing rooms, reception and gym.

Mark Durrant, operations manager at Kelling Heath says the investment has been prompted by healthy bookings and informed by customer feedback. “Our ongoing investment in quality accommodation and first-class facilities helps us deliver a unique holiday experience. We’ve listened to what our customers have been saying and are dedicated to making continuous improvements to better their enjoyment of the parks.”

A large proportion of the investment will go towards the development of two new areas for holiday home ownership at Kelling Heath, as well as continued refurbishment of the accommodation available for hire at both parks. Facilities for camping and touring have not been overlooked either and as a result of the investment ten new multi-service pitches at Kelling Heath and nine at Woodhill will be created.

New Caravan Park Adds Appeal To Show Site

new park

Caravan enthusiasts John and Vicky Boyes have taken up their roles as resident wardens, and are looking forward to welcoming visitors to the Harrogate Caravan Park.

New Caravan Park Adds Appeal To Show Site

A brand new caravan site has opened in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, to meet the demands of visitors to the Great Yorkshire Show.

Following an investment of more than £100,000 by the site owners the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, Harrogate Caravan Park is situated adjacent to the Harrogate Showground, and consists of 66 hard standing and grass pitches.

New roads, drainage, electrics and new heated washroom facilities have been installed as part of the investment, and the park will remain open for the season until mid-November.

Heather Parry, deputy chief executive of the society said: “We have a beautiful site on the outskirts of Harrogate and it is wonderful to be able to offer visitors an additional accommodation choice.

“We wanted to make sure our guests have the best possible experience so in advance of the opening we held a ‘soft opening’ with 53 caravans staying to test the site – and the feedback was great; they loved it.”

Harrogate Caravan Park
Tel. 01423 546145

Trade Exclusive At Park & Leisure Home Show

The World of Park & Leisure Home Show is a one-stop shop for the park homes and leisure industry, 5th – 8th June 2014.

Trade Exclusive At Park & Leisure Home Show

The World of Park & Leisure Home Show is opening its doors early this year, for a special one day preview, exclusively for the trade.

Visitors to the show can expect to see more than 40 homes within the picturesque surroundings of Stoneleigh Park, in Warwickshire. Homes and lodges from most of the UK’s leading manufacturers will be on display, plus a host of other exhibitors.

Trade visitors can make the most of the preview day on Thursday 5th June from 10am until 5pm. The show will be open to the public from Friday 6th June – Sunday 8th June. Entry to the show is free, as is parking, and each visitor will receive a complimentary show guide.

Plus, you could also win a luxury holiday in the ‘La Belle Maison’ at Woodlands Park in East Sussex, courtesy of The Dream Lodge Group. To be in with a chance, like and share The World of Park & Leisure Home Show on Facebook.

The World of Park & Leisure Homes Show
Tel.01789 491451

Holiday Snaps: Bev Diamond


Bev Diamond, UKTV Travel Channel and Britain’s Best Breaks

Holiday Snaps: Bev Diamond

Bev Diamond is the managing director of the UKTV Travel Channel, established 10 years ago to broadcast UK travel programmes such as Britain’s Best Breaks...

How do you see the UK tourism industry at the moment?

It’s pretty fair to say that it’s changed an awful lot over the last few years, more historically perceived as a short break destination rather than a proper holiday destination. People who take their main holiday abroad seem to take extra short breaks or holidays in the UK. The downturn is on the up and people are spending, albeit cautiously.

What are the main challenges facing the industry?

Britain has had a lot of positive publicity over the last few years as a great place to visit, but all the focus has been on London, and there’s so much more to Britain which is slightly overshadowed by the capital. Another challenge for UK tourism is that the British public are bombarded by the foreign travel market, lured by the weather, the domestic market needs more publicity so the British population know exactly what’s on offer on their doorstep.

What’s new for Britain’s Best Breaks?

We’re putting together a new UK Travel lifestyle TV show, aiming to bridge the gap between foreign holiday promotion and the UK holiday. Currently our website focuses on location as the key selling point of any UK holiday, and we’re going to continue this in the programmes.

How can holiday parks get involved with Britain’s Best Breaks?

We feature many holiday parks on our website and as a big supporters of independent businesses, we would love to feature more in our new upcoming shows.

What does a typical day in the office for you entail?

A lot of talking, whether via email or on the phone. My days involve talking to new and existing customers and making sure they’re 100% happy. I am also currently organising the new lifestyle television show that the company are about to launch, so it’s a busy time.

What has been your most interesting experience in the industry?

Filming Shakespeare’s birthday celebration in Stratford upon Avon - the whole place was so alive for the entire weekend. Stratford is well worth a trip and you don’t have to stay at an expensive hotel, there are some lovely places off the beaten track.

What is the best piece of business advice you have been given?

We never plan to fail, only fail to plan.

Where do you go on holiday?

I’m not tied to any destination in the UK, I like visiting the coast and countryside. This year I’ll be looking for somewhere pet friendly so the dog can come too. The trouble is I see so many places over the course of just one day, I’m always totally spoilt for choice.

Britain’s Best Breaks
Tel. 01623 706 174

Park Focus: Hendra Holiday Park


Hendra Holiday Park in Newquay is one of Cornwall’s largest parks, welcoming 380,000 visitors per year.

Park Focus: Hendra Holiday Park

For over 42 years, Hendra Holiday Park in Newquay has been a popular tourist destination for families and couples looking to explore the Cornwall coastline from the comfort of a 5-star caravan and camping site.

The family-run park has been owned and operated by three generations of the May and Hyatt families since it opened as a touring and camping park in 1972. Static holiday homes were added to the site in the mid 80’s and the park now boasts over 300 holiday homes and 500 touring, camping and motorhome pitches. Both May and Hyatt families still live on the site and are actively involved in the day to day running of the park.

Jon Hyatt, director at Hendra Holiday Park comments: “Our philosophy is to offer great family holidays for all budgets at the highest, 5 star quality standard. We invest heavily on an annual basis to improve, upgrade, build and install new facilities for our guests, to not only fulfil, but surpass their expectations.”

The park has a high profile among holidaymakers and is one of the largest in the county. The 80 acre site provides guests with various catering options, a supermarket, indoor and outdoor children’s play facilities as well as sports and entertainment activities. But as Jon explains, the park must constantly evolve to keep up with customer demand: “I would say the biggest challenge we face is continuing to meet the needs of an increasingly sophisticated market with higher and higher expectations from a holiday.” He adds: “Whilst Cornwall remains the UK’s favourite holiday destination, household spending on holidays has been reduced and competition from cheap overseas destinations with guaranteed weather is very strong.”

Continuous development and investment into the facilities and services has won Hendra numerous awards and accreditations including a National Quality Assured Scheme 5 star grading, an AA 5 Pennant award, and a Cornwall Tourism Award for Holiday Park of the Year and Sustainable Tourism. Most recently Hendra’s Fish & Chip Takeaway won Seasonal Fish & Chip Operator of the Year at the Seafish National Fish & Chip Awards.

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Hendra Holiday Park
Tel. 01637 875778