Bridge Leisure Expands Portfolio

bridgeBridge Leisure Expands Portfolio

Holiday park specialist Bridge Leisure has recently completed a management buyout with support from private equity firm Phoenix Equity Partners.

The agreement means that the existing Bridge Leisure management team, led by CEO Andrew Howe, will continue to run the company. Phoenix will support the growth of Bridge Leisure through further developing its four existing parks and providing capital for new acquisitions.

Andrew Howe, CEO of Bridge Leisure, said: “Our plan is to buy new parks. We have the funding, team and know-how to grow in 2015 and beyond and we welcome contact from park owners interested in selling their business.

“We are very pleased that Phoenix will be supporting Bridge Leisure as we look to further expand the business.”

Headquartered in Milton Keynes, Bridge Leisure was founded in 2008 as a holiday park consultancy and management business initially focused on operating leisure parks for third parties. In 2010, the team expanded into the operation of owned parks with the acquisitions of Trevella Park in Cornwall and Sand Le Mere Holiday Village on the Yorkshire coast, followed by Turnberry, in Ayrshire, at the end of 2012. Strengthening its portfolio, Bridge Leisure is simultaneously acquiring Silver Sands Holiday Park, located close to Inverness on the east coast of Scotland.

Record Breaking Start To The Year

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Woolacombe Bay Holiday Park in Devon is just one of a number of parks that saw a boost on bookings during January and February.

Record Breaking Start To The Year

The UK could be in for a bumper tourist season as 2015 got off to a flying start for holiday parks across the country, with many enjoying record-breaking booking figures in the first few weeks of the year.

It is estimated that around a third of all summer holidays are booked during January and February, with early birds looking to snap up the best deals and accommodation on offer.

One of Devon’s biggest independent holiday parks, Ladram Bay Holiday Park, saw a surge in bookings and figures were up by nearly 50 per cent on this time last year. The award winning park on the Jurassic coast saw bookings rise by 46 per cent in the first full week of January and then by 52 per cent the following week, compared with the same period in 2014. The holiday firm has now launched a recruitment drive to meet the anticipated high demand for the tourist season.

Director of Ladram Bay, Zoe House said: “It’s very busy and that’s great news for us and testament to the enduring appeal of the West Country and the work we are doing to continue to improve the Ladram Bay experience whether people are staying with us in holiday homes, apartments, lodges, motorhomes, caravans or camping.

“2014 was very good for us but this year people seem to be making their decisions earlier and not just for their main summer break.”

Mirroring the trend, another of Devon’s popular parks, Woolacombe Bay Holiday Park reported its biggest ever online booking day on January 31st, representing an increase of 35 per cent on the same day last year. The park has seen high demand Easter since the school holiday period has been condensed into two weeks as opposed to three in 2014 and also for Spring Bank Holiday as more families are now using it for a second holiday to complement a main summer getaway.

Hoseasons also enjoyed a 16 per cent increase in online bookings as demand for domestic holidays reached peak levels in January. Lodge holidays performed particularly well with bookings up 17 per cent, while boating holidays also started the year well up 12 per cent.

Upgrades Underway At Carlton Meres

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The refurbishment of Carlton Meres Holiday Park in Suffolk is due for completion later this month.

Upgrades Underway At Carlton Meres

Guests at Carlton Meres Holiday Park in Suffolk will soon be benefiting from improved facilities and services, after an investment of £250,000 from park owners Lifestyle Living Group.

The extensive eight-week refurbishment and renovation schedule began in January and will see upgrades to the sanitary blocks and swimming pool, plus the installation of new hard-standing touring pitches, a commercial kitchen and a new owners lounge adjacent to the bar. Other enhancements will include new gaming machines and flooring in the arcade, as well as an overhaul of the site entrance, spa area and gym.

David Macdonald, director of Lifestyle Living Group said: “We’re investing a lot of money to improve our flagship site and sincerely hope all our visitors enjoy the changes coming their way.

“All the activities being undertaken are geared towards making life better for people staying at Carlton Meres and we are confident the effort will strengthen our offering and increase the popularity of an already successful park.”

When finished later this month, the development will open up 75 new pitches, taking the total number of spaces for statics up to 219 and tourers to 200.

Holiday Parks Urged To Get Active

in2action

In2action works with holiday parks to help them boost their revenue and visitor experience through activities.

Holiday Parks Urged To Get Active

Activity specialists In2action are urging holiday park operators to maximise the opportunity for activity participation and revenue during off-peak seasons.

As the largest provider of activity services to the holiday park sector, In2action works closely with companies to create cost effective leisure solutions that will boost both revenue and visitor experience.

In2action’s top tips for improving activity participation in the off-peak season:

• Widen your market. This can be achieved by introducing non holidaymakers to your site. For example, provide activity packages for local schools, clubs and organisations.

• Keep it fresh. Assess your current activity provision and design new concepts that fit in with the guest profiles during off-peak seasons. Passive activities for older guests and toddler packages are usually a hit in the autumn and winter months.

• Put your customers first. Work with your instructing team to ensure they put your customers at the heart of everything they do. They are some of your greatest assets so train them to upsell activities through word of mouth.

Coastal Retreat For Bereft Families

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A holiday home at Haggerston Castle Holiday Park is the fourth in the UK opened by the charity which supports the families of those who have lost their lives while serving in the British Armed Forces.

Coastal Retreat For Bereft Families

A Northumberland holiday park has become a retreat for families that have lost a loved one in the British Armed Forces after a new holiday lodge was opened by a national children’s charity.

The holiday home at Haggerston Castle Holiday Park is the fourth in the UK opened by the charity, Scotty’s Little Soldiers, which supports the children and families of those who have lost their lives whilst serving in the British Armed Forces.

The lodge at the holiday park near Berwick is intended to offer more families the chance to take a much-needed break following the loss of a loved one.

Inspired by her own experience of being an army widow, Nikki Scott set up Scotty’s Little Soldiers five years ago in honour of her husband Corporal Lee Scott who was killed in Afghanistan in 2009. Currently Scotty’s Little Soldiers supports over 100 children with money raised through events, fundraising, donations, merchandise and corporate sponsorship.

Each lodge is filled with home comforts and the charity ensures that the families have everything they could need, from bedding to high chairs and toys and games. Scotty’s also cover travel fees and provide each family with £100 every time they stay to help towards both food and activities.

Lakeland Parks Chief Is New Association Chairman

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Henry Wild has become national chairman of the British Holiday & Home Parks Association (BH&HPA).

Lakeland Parks Chief Is New Association Chairman

The association representing Britain’s £4 billion holiday parks industry is now being headed-up by Lake District leisure business developer Henry Wild.

Henry has become national chairman of the British Holiday & Home Parks Association (BH&HPA) which brings together the owners and managers of some 3,000 parks.They range from small farm-based camping sites to major park groups, as well as residential parks.

Henry, 44, is a director of his family’s long-established holiday parks business comprising Skelwith Fold Caravan Park in Ambleside and Moss Wood Caravan Park in north Lancashire. Both parks provide privately owned caravan holiday homes as well as touring pitches – and were among the first to gain the David Bellamy Conservation Award on its inception two decades ago.

Popular Show Returns To Stoneleigh This Summer

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The World of Park & Leisure Homes Show returns to Stoneleigh Park from 11th – 14th June.

Popular Show Returns To Stoneleigh This Summer

The UK’s biggest show for leisure lodges and residential park homes returns once again to the grounds of Stoneleigh Park in Warwickshire this year.

The World of Park & Leisure Homes Show 2015 is your chance to view over 50 show homes including the launch of several new lodges and homes from the country’s leading manufacturers.

In addition to the display of homes, a host of suppliers will be exhibiting related products and services including decking, coatings, hot tubs, insurance, refurbishment and garages. The Trade Preview Day is Thursday June 11 and the show will be open to the public Friday to Sunday June 12 to 14.

Entry and parking are free and each visitor receives a complimentary show guide. Keep up to date with the latest show news by visiting www.parkhomeandleisure.co.uk

Holiday Snaps: Andrew Howe, Bridge Leisure

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Holiday Snaps: Andrew Howe, Bridge Leisure

Andrew Howe is CEO of Bridge Leisure, which owns holiday parks in Cornwall, Yorkshire, Ayrshire and in Moray, Scotland. Andrew has worked in the leisure industry for 17 years, within both independent and plc companies including UK caravan park operator Park Resorts and Sandy Balls Holiday Centre.

How is 2015 shaping up for Bridge Leisure?

We couldn’t have hoped for a better start to the year; a new park acquired; new funding in place for more acquisitions and we are seeing good like for like growth in terms of holiday home sales and holiday sales at our parks. It’s looking like a great year!

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

The sector is in good shape as consumers and the economy gather confidence and momentum. Of course there are winners and losers and those operators with tired parks are struggling to retain ever more demanding customers.

What are the challenges facing holiday parks at present and how are you meeting those challenges?

Two main challenges; red tape and ever increasing regulation. No one objects to the sector being regulated but the burden is growing exponentially and affects good operators perhaps more than the poor operators it is aimed at. Secondly, the sector lacks coordination and a single voice. We have very good trade associations but park operators resist working together which is a shame.

What is the single best marketing or promotional tool for attracting visitors?

The internet – but only if you know what to do with it.

What is the best business advice you ever received and from whom?

Not something addressed to me directly but a quote from a former CEO of Swissair who remarked “if our tray tables are dirty our customers will worry that we don’t service our aircraft engines properly”. It’s worth remembering and encourages a customer eye view of what you are doing; no other view has any lasting relevance.

Who is the most important person in your business and why?

Front line staff; they see our customers and I don’t. It’s the team at the parks who make the difference between happy and unhappy customers.

Where do you go on holiday?

Sounds clichéd but I don’t get many holidays. I like ‘doing’ holidays and skiing particularly.

Anything else you would like to add?

Yes, we are looking for more parks to buy!

Energy-Efficient Era For Hot Tub Heating

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The compact heat exchanger is hidden behind the skin of the hot tub, so is neither visible nor affects the design.

Energy-Efficient Era For Hot Tub Heating

Bowman heat exchangers are helping a luxury golf and leisure resort save thousands of pounds a year on its energy bills while maximising the potential of its sustainable heating system.

The Bowman units are part of a new and innovative heating system for hot tubs, which uses a biomass boiler and heat exchangers instead of conventional electric heating. The system has been installed at the KP Club, a prestigious leisure destination which is set in 180 acres of the Yorkshire Wolds. The club recently opened 24 new luxury woodland lodges which offer guests privacy combined with the facilities of a boutique hotel.

The lodges each have their own hot tub, supplied by Bristol based, Urban Cedar, who are specialists in the design, build and installation of contemporary cedar wood hot tubs. The energy savings of the combined biomass boiler/heat exchanger system are nothing short of remarkable.

“On average, using conventional electric heaters, each hot tub would use around £500 annually in electricity. However, by using the existing heat source of the biomass boiler system, the hot tubs are now heated at no extra cost – saving the KP Club approximately £12,000 a year,” says Antony Perry, managing director of Urban Cedar.

The KP Club approached Urban Cedar when the resort was looking at a greener way of heating the hot tubs. “Having heard that heat exchangers are a highly efficient solution, the club asked us to contact Bowman first, because of its reputation as the best in the industry. Bowman introduced us to GVS, one of their UK distributors, who advised us on the best unit for the application” says Antony.

Urban Cedar fitted the hot tubs with the Bowman units which was simple as just standard plumbing components are required. The compact heat exchanger is hidden behind the skin of the hot tub, so is neither visible nor affects the design.

An added benefit of the new system is the much faster heat up times. Traditionally, electric heaters would raise the water temperature in the tubs by 1-2°C an hour, taking up to 24 hours to heat a tub from cold. The Bowman heat exchangers raise the water temperature by 12°C an hour – so the tub reaches temperature within just two to three hours, giving greater flexibility between changeovers and ensuring the tubs are immediately ready when new guests arrive.

Bowman
Tel. +44 (0)121 359 5401
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