Outdoor Essentials

outdoor essentials

Outdoor Essentials

Make the most of your park’s outdoor appeal with a few simple measures as Ashleigh Mackenzie reports…

From outdoor hot tubs to state-of-the-art furniture, fitness and play equipment, making the most of your outdoor appeal can be a wise investment.

Switched-on park owners who optimise their alfresco offering can reap rich rewards from holidaymakers who will pay extra for high-spec facilities and luxuries.

Transforming your outdoor areas needn’t be a daunting task. Investing in a few simple and cost effective measures can go a long way in improving aesthetics, comfort and services for guests.

Hot tubs are now a key driver in attracting new and existing business. Holiday homes and lodges with outdoor hot tubs can be rented out at a higher premium and remain a popular choice even in the low season.
According to self-catering specialists Hoseasons, a private hot tub is the number one searched for item on the website, accounting for more than 100,000 searches each month.
Two years ago, the holiday home owners of The Barns in Lyonshall, Herefordshire, made a very sound business investment and installed two hot tubs. Since then, they have seen a virtual stampede in bookings with almost all year round occupancy and have recently added a third.

SOUND INVESTMENT

Manager Steph Gardiner says: “We have walled gardens, wood burners, movie rooms, state-of-the-art kitchens for large scale dining and stunning views. Within that setting we wanted to add a ‘wow’ factor and we very quickly settled on installing hot tubs.” Steph contacted Three Counties Pools & Spas in Hereford and purchased two six person Caldera Palantinos. They proved so successful that she has recently added the seven person Vanto model.

Steph empties and refills the hot tubs after each set of guests, which takes a maximum of one hour, including filling time.
Says Steph: “When guests are in residence, daily maintenance takes less than an hour. We have adapted our procedures and training for the care of the spas and feel we are now very efficient whilst maintaining a very high level of hygiene and cleanliness.
“It’s no understatement that the hot tubs have proved a massive draw,” says Steph. “The beauty about hot tubs is that they appeal to everyone - from children to 80 year olds and they can be used all year round, whatever the weather.
“A group of junior doctors who recently came to stay told me they managed to get 14 people in one and it was the highlight of their year!”

PLAY MATTERS

Whitby Holiday Park in North Yorkshire has invested in a new outdoor play area, with help from play equipment specialists Timberplay.

Whitby Holiday Park in North Yorkshire has invested in a new outdoor play area, with help from play equipment specialists Timberplay.

There is no better way of enhancing and enriching an outdoor space than by investing in play equipment. Creating an innovative play space that fires a child’s imagination and creates a pleasant environment for parents to get together is a winning formula for holiday parks.

Whitby Holiday Park in North Yorkshire has invested in a new outdoor play area, with help from play equipment specialists Timberplay.

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Holiday Snaps with Peter Lawrence, Andrewshayes Holiday Park

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Holiday Snaps with Peter Lawrence, Andrewshayes Holiday Park

Peter Lawrence is the General Manager at the Andrewshayes Holiday Park that offers a mix of static caravans, camping and seasonal tourer pitches on a rural park in East Devon. Established by his grandmother 80 years ago, Peter oversees the day-to-day smooth running of the third generation site, as well as strategic planning.

What challenges are currently facing the holiday park sector?
The sector has fragmented with new types of holidays now on offer and a range of facilities. Honest marketing is important to ensure that customers know what sort of park they have booked onto and we can therefore better manage their expectations. For example, as a medium sized park we do not offer a full entertainment programme, however this is not a requirement for all families.

How have visitor expectations changed during your time in the holiday business and how have you reacted to those demands?
Expectations are far higher today, people are taking more holidays and demand quality. Trying to improve the quality of the holiday park and the service while maintaining good value for money is the challenge.

If you had to identify one element, what is the most crucial aspect to the success of the park?
Customer service has to be second to none. Even the most disgruntled customer can be managed with good customer service.

Where do you see the park in 10 years’ time?
We would like to expand the park, but due to being in an AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) that is unlikely to happen for us. We are looking into glamping options and the possibility of converting existing static caravan pitches into lodges. With a finite space it’s about the best return on the land we have.

What has been your most challenging experience in the industry?
One year three families with tourers arrived at the end of July for their holiday, all convinced that they had booked three pitches for three weeks at the end of their last holiday - they hadn’t. Of course at that time of the year we were virtually full so there was a lot of juggling involved to keep them happy!

What is the best piece of business advice you have been given and by whom?
My grandmother once told me “you reap what you sow”. I think that’s sound advice for life in general and in business it’s certainly true that the more effort and hard work you put in the more you get back.

How is the summer season shaping up for Andrewshayes Holiday Park?
Bookings are coming in well for the peak weeks, it’s the shoulder months we always need to work hard to fill. Of course we are hoping for some good weather to really keep customers happy.

Where do you go on holiday?
I like a complete change of scenery and have a passion for skiing which ties in nicely with the park being closed.

Anything else you would like to add or flag up?
The rise of social media is a new challenge for us but is also a great opportunity, especially for parks with smaller marketing budgets to help get their name out there. As an inland site we are always up against the more sought after coastal parks and we find we have to work harder to attract customers.

 

 

Award-Winning Ways

Award-Winning Ways

Caravan Guard’s PR & Communications Officer Liz Harrison (right) receives the Customer Connectivity Award.

Caravan Guard’s PR & Communications
Officer Liz Harrison (right) receives the Customer Connectivity Award.

Insurance specialists Caravan Guard, which incorporates Leisuredays, have been recognised for their outstanding communication with customers and raising the company’s profile among caravanners.

The Halifax-based company beat off stiff competition to win the ‘Customer Connectivity Award’ at the 2016 Insurance Marketing and PR Awards.

Happy customers were central to Caravan Guard’s ‘Don’t take our word for it’ campaign, which included magazine adverts, customer videos and social media.

Caravan Guard’s Director of Marketing Craig Thompson said: “We’ve harnessed the power of this customer feedback throughout our marketing from direct channels to our communications with park and dealer customers to help us keep customers and attract new ones.”

 

Super Soakers

Super Soakers

Switched on park operators who maximise the water play experience will ultimately reap the rewards…

Water play is suitable and fun for all ages and all abilities, creates an ideal leisure space the whole family can enjoy together. Pic: WSL.

Water play is suitable and fun for all ages and all abilities, creates an ideal leisure space the whole family can enjoy together. Pic: WSL.

Come rain or shine, water play provides hours of fun for guests of all ages. From thrilling head-to-toe splashes to gentle sprays and fine mists, aquatic play features go a long way in enhancing the holiday experience.

Through smart design and a good selection of features, any holiday park can create an aquatic play space that guests will enjoy and want to return to on repeat visits.

“A great choice of water play product scan help any destination attract new visitors, and boost overall attendance,” says Richard Harrison, Director of Waterplay Solutions Ltd (WSL).

“Water play is suitable and fun for all ages and all abilities and creates an ideal leisure space the whole family can enjoy together. The naturally inclusive and adaptable nature of a zero-depth splash park makes it an excellent amenity for holiday parks seeking to increase family attendance.”

WSL has been working with Parkdean Holidays since 2015 and is installing an indoor water play area at Trecco Bay Holiday Park in Wales later this year. The bespoke design includes a water slide, tipping buckets, ground sprays and water jets. “There is an increasing demand for interactivity and discovery in aquatic play design,” Richard reveals. “For example, play features that introduce cause and effect functions help children develop intention and discover causal relationships. Features that engage motor skills, sensory stimulation create both a socially and emotionally rewarding play experience for children.”

Waterplay’s innovative new Cirque Collection is a design collaboration with world-renowned public space designer Markus Ehring and invites kids to push, spin, plug, and take aim with a whimsical group of features designed for user interaction. Kids can push down on the Boingo to make water shoot higher from the nearest ground spray, or spin the magic handle on the Ringmaster to activate surrounding features.

COLLABORATIVE APPROACH

Richard adds: “We recommend that parks opt for products that are designed with a Detach and Exchange (DEX) System. This offers the flexibility of phasing your park installation, if subject to budget restraints, and changing your features over time. “For example, a DEX geyser ground spray in low, medium, or high flow can be installed initially, and then be replaced with an above ground feature later when money allows.”

Waterplay Solutions offer a flush-to-grade DEX anchoring system that eliminates the need for toe guards and combines clean design aesthetic with functionality and streamlined installation. Their extensive range of products are available in vibrant colour palettes and carry a 25-year warranty. Their industry-leading materials are non-toxic, durable and vandal resistant, and are carefully selected to ensure a safe play experience that stands the test of time.

In terms of cost, Richard advises that supply only prices can vary from a few hundred pounds for ground sprays up to several thousand for a slide activity centre: “A small water play area, when connected to an existing water management system can be achieved for around £50,000.

“A full turnkey solution for an aquatic play pad of 252m² with an array of Waterplay’s products, a wetpour safety surface and a brand new recirculation system can be achieved for £180,000,” he continues. “The sky really is the limit in determining exactly how much you would like to spend and how adventurous you would like your water play area to be.”

TIDAL WAVES

Ustigate Waterplay offers a vast range of over 300 aquatic structures designed to meet almost any specification.

Ustigate Waterplay offers a vast range of over 300 aquatic structures designed to meet almost any specification.

Ernie Hemming of Ustigate Waterplay advises: “Ensure you have explored all possible options as water installations can be expensive and time consuming. “Even though initial setup costs for a high quality and robust water system may be excessive this will be cost effective in the long run as the water system will be able to stand the test of time and demands of excited children.” Ustigate is a partner of Vortex International of Canada, offering a product index of over 300 aquatic structures specifically designed to meet almost any specification, from low water consuming products for once use systems to super soaking buckets which create tidal waves.

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Holiday Firm Delivers Strong Performance

Holiday Firm Delivers Strong Performance

Parkdean Resorts experienced a strong start to 2016.

Parkdean Resorts experienced a strong start to 2016.

Parkdean Resorts has reported a spike in bookings this year, after extending its holiday season and investing in new facilities at its 72 sites nationwide.
The holiday park firm has seen an 11 per cent growth in bookings for 2016, following the merger between Parkdean and Park Resorts at the end of last year. The group continues to invest in double glazed centrally heated caravans and lodges to enable the parks to have longer, more productive seasons.

Whilst the vast majority of the parks offer a ten month or year-round operation for holiday home owners, in 2016 a further ten parks opened for February Half Term for the first time bringing the total to 18 that operate for the extended season.

John Waterworth, CEO Parkdean Resorts said: “Capital investment in new facilities, refurbishment and park enhancement and expansion is reaping reward, as is investment in our people and extending the holiday season.

“In 2015 we sold almost half a million holidays, demonstrating that our marketplace is growing. The scale of the merger has brought national sales capability for the first time and merger synergies will flow through in the current year and beyond. 2016 has begun strongly.”

Blue Sky Thinking

Blue Sky Thinking: Alicia Dunne of the NCC forecasts blue sky prospects for the park home sector…

The UK park home sector can look forward to a bright future on the back of housing shortages and an aging population.

The UK park home sector can look forward to a bright future on the back of housing shortages and an aging population.

As the UK faces up to an ever-aging population, the park home sector is in an increasingly strong position, believes Alicia Dunne, Deputy Director General of the National Caravan Council. Alicia says improvements to the quality of the accommodation and the broad product offering will continue to make park home living an attractive housing option. “The sector is boosted by technical advantages in construction methods and by its greener credentials and improved energy efficiency provisions,” says Alicia. “With the changing demographics in the UK, demand for this type of flexible and affordable accommodation is likely to increase. With this in mind, changes to planning laws would help the industry to fulfil its potential, and play its full part in solving the country’s current housing shortage.”

UNITED INDUSTRY

The NCC is the trade body for the entire UK ‘caravan’ and recreational vehicle industry, encompassing touring caravans, motorhomes, caravan holiday homes and residential park homes. As such, the NCC’s work in the residential park sector – in the housing footprint - is different from the work it does in the leisure sector. The NCC is committed to promoting the interests of its members in the park home sector – from the manufacturer right through to the park operators.

Says Alicia: “We try to ensure that every park home-related business has a voice – and we have a direct dialogue with our members through our Park Home Strategic Panel and the relevant technical panel.”

Alicia joined the NCC in January 2000 as Policy Advisor before becoming Deputy Director General. Her chief responsibilities are public affairs including representation with government; negotiation with regulatory bodies and advising on impact of new or proposed legislation; policy development; committee administration (NPHC, Parks Section and Caravan Holiday Home Distributors); advice to members on regulatory matters and operation of the NCC conciliation and complaints handling service.

Says Alicia: “The park home sector has made a strong start to 2016, with the number of park homes dispatched by manufacturers up by around 14 per cent on last year.

“This sector follows closely the fluctuations in the residential housing market and the related upturn reflects positively on the demand for this popular form of housing lifestyle.” The park home sector has seen significant regulatory change in recent years and the NCC has maintained a close relationship for over 20 years with Government (Westminster and devolved administrations) and other regulatory bodies to ensure that dialogue is maintained, change is relevant and proportionate, and park members’ views are represented.

Alicia Dunne, the NCC Deputy Director General says the park home sector is in a strong position.

Alicia Dunne, the NCC Deputy Director General says the park home sector is in a strong position.

LOBBY GROUP

As Alicia explains: “One recent example was that the NCC engaged with a Minister-led working group in Westminster that is looking at the impact of the Mobile Homes Act (2013) in England ahead of a formal review of the legislation in 2017.” “Over the last few years, there has been primary park home legislation passed in all the constituent parts of the UK and publication of a new construction standard for residential park homes has been issued by the British Standards Institute (BS3632:2015).

One of the main successes of the NCC, in recent years, has been helping to shape the legislation across the UK and ensuring that park members are equipped with the tools they need to maintain compliance. The NCC also helped secure the publication of a new build standard - BS3632:2015 -which raises the bar significantly, especially in relation to increased levels of insulation and in ventilation. The influential body also assisted in the introduction of an Energy Efficiency Rating Scheme for park homes to give consumers an informed choice of product. It is now a mandatory element of product approval.

“The NCC has helped to both shape the legislation and give unique technical advice to the BSI. We provide members with the tools to ensure that they are compliant and can build to the highest standard approved for the sector,” says Alicia

EMBRACING CHANGE

“Our park members have had to embrace many changes to the ways in which they operate their businesses in recent years,” Alicia reflects. “There is a danger that if the regulatory burden continues to increase apace, many of the reputable operators might simply decide to sell up and leave the industry. “Another key challenge relates to the acquisition of planning consents - the overwhelming number of local authorities do not take park home developments into account as part of their planning policy/local development plans,” continues Alicia. “It is important that any definition of affordable housing is amended to explicitly recognise the unique housing contribution and planning circumstances of park homes, in order to deliver land for park development."

National Caravan Council Limited
Tel. 01252 318251
Email: info@thencc.org.uk

 

 

 

 

 

Soap Star Pulls A Pint

Soap Star Pulls A Pint

Soap actress Emma Atkins pulled the first pint at The Royal, opened by the owners of Silverdale Holiday Park.

Soap actress Emma Atkins pulled the first pint at The Royal, opened by the owners of Silverdale Holiday Park.

The owners of Silverdale Holiday Park in Cumbria were delighted to welcome a well-known local soap star to open their newly refurbished pub.

At a cost of £300,000, the family business has rescued The Royal in the nearby village of Silverdale, and brought the pub back to life after it stood empty for six years.

Emma Atkins, who plays Charity Dingle in Emmerdale, lives in the area and pulled the first official pint at The Royal’s celebration opening.

Owner Michael Holgate said that although Silverdale Holiday Park provides its own acclaimed restaurant, cafe and bar, guests occasionally fancy a change of scenery and, until recently, local options were rather limited.

“Although we bought The Royal with our own customers in mind, we’re delighted that it will also provide something of a social hub for the local community,” said Michael.

Diamond Jubilee

On Location at Lickhill Caravan Park

diamond 1

Lickhill Manor Caravan Park in Worcestershire is proud of its six-decade heritage. In fact, one of its most prized possessions is a 1956 Car Cruiser Clubman Four touring caravan which is exhibited on the park.

The first caravan sold by the park, for which they still have the original invoice number one, dated July 16, 1956, spent many of its years languishing in a field in South Wales. Park owner Denis Lloyd Jones was able to re-purchase the caravan for the park in 2006, but for more than the original selling price 50 years earlier!

Celebrating its diamond jubilee this summer, Lickhill Manor is pulling out all the stops to make 2016 a year to remember for its guests. Among the anniversary events planned, the park’s regular guests will each receive celebratory gifts and memorabilia throughout the year.

The park has also invested in a special 60th anniversary logo, which will appear on all corporate stationary and marketing. “The recipe for the park’s success has been fine-tuned over many years, being passed from generation to generation,", reveals Dennis.

“Our park managers are often long serving and they are truly passionate. Their dedication and hard work is a major factor in the success of our park. Our customers, some of whom return year after year, also play a starring role in our success.”

Lickhill Manor Caravan Park occupies over 65 acres encircling a 17th Century manor house alongside the River Severn near to Stourport-On-Severn.

FAMILY VALUES

Owned for 60 years by the Lloyd Jones family, since 1986 the park has been operated by Denis and Karen, whose son James, is also very active in the business. The park is one of seven caravan parks owned by the family, all of which are maintained to the same high standards.

Denis explains: “Our park managers Colin White and Anita Pagett joined us in 2015 and oversee the day-to-day running of the park.

Anita’s son Chris has worked on the park for ten years and was joined by Dorian early in 2015. Nick and Michelle joined us in March as Touring Field Wardens, along with Seasonal Touring Wardens Roger and Claire.

All the staff work hard to provide a five star service to our customers.” Lickhill Manor Caravan Park has a total of 123 holiday home pitches, plus 120 touring and camping pitches. In addition there is a Riverside Field, which caters for caravan rallies with a capacity of approximately 250.
On average, the park’s touring and camping bookings are around 3,600 per year. The Riverside Field is frequented with caravan club rallies from as early as March, continuing through until October, and sees an average of 35 rallies during the year with 10 to 240 caravans, motorhomes and tents.

 MANY ACCOLADES

One of the park’s most prized possessions is a 1956 Car Cruiser Clubman Four touring caravan, which was the first caravan sold by the park six decades ago.

One of the park’s most prized possessions is a 1956 Car Cruiser Clubman Four touring caravan, which was the first caravan sold by the park six decades ago.

“As the park is open for 12 months of the year, our holiday home owners are able to visit their caravans for recreational use at any time. Our touring and camping customers book well in advance for Bank Holiday weekends as we are always fully booked,” says Denis.
“We have a steady flow of tourers and campers at weekends from April through to mid-September, we even have the hardy few that book for a Christmas stay.”
Among its many accolades, Lickhill’s touring field washrooms have been graded five stars many times by the Loo of the Year awards, receiving ‘National Category Winner’ as best caravan park washrooms in England in 2011 and most recently a Platinum award for 2016.

VisitEngland also awarded the park five stars and Gold conservation awards from environmentalist David Bellamy have been achieved by Lickhill for 14 years running.

“One of the biggest challenges the park faces is the weather,” comments Denis. “When the outlook is warm and sunny, we are faced with a busy switchboard and internet bookings, being inundated with enquiries. It is a fine balance to maintain the park’s high standards, whilst being able to cater to all of our customers’ requirements, and endeavouring always to be available for our customers’ needs with a personal touch.”

Plans for the future development of Lickhill Manor include the modernisation of the riverside washrooms, which is currently in the preliminary stage. Plans are also underway for the construction of camping pods, to be built near to the touring and camping area of the park and the riverside moorings will be upgraded in the future, with the benefit of water and electricity.

Says Denis: “Lickhill Manor Caravan Park is constantly being improved and developed to keep it fresh and appealing in order to meet the needs of our customers. After all, our best marketing tool is our customers. The majority of our clientele visit because of a recommendation they have received from one of our customers.”

Lickhill Manor Caravan Park
Tel. 01299 871041
www.lickhillmanor.co.uk

UK Tourism Set To Soar This Year

UK Tourism Set To Soar This Year

Figures show that the first three months of the year set a record for inbound visits to the UK. Pic: VisitBritain.

 Pic: VisitBritain

This year is shaping up to be a record-breaking year for tourism if the latest statistics from the Office of National Statistics are anything to go by.

Figures show that the first three months of the year set a record for inbound visits to the UK, up by six per cent on the same period last year.

More than 7.36 million people visited UK between January and March, with visitors spending £3.64 billion.

Tourism Minister David Evennett said: “Our tourism industry is booming as our world-class attractions, heritage and culture make Britain the first choice destination for many, with visit numbers at an all-time high.

“Tourism is making a massive contribution to our economy and we want to keep up this momentum, encouraging more people to come and enjoy the very best of Britain for themselves.”

Comparing growth during the last five years shows that there were six million more visits in 2015 than 2010, an increase of more than 20 per cent.

A Fine Romance

A Fine Romance: Jane Herbert talks with the movers and shakers of the industry and reports on the growing love affair with the park home living concept….

The latest park homes offer vast improvements in energy efficiency, light and space. Pictured: Omar Ikon.

The latest park homes offer vast improvements in energy efficiency, light and space. Pictured: Omar Ikon.

There are exciting times ahead for those involved in buying and selling park homes.

“There is a marked change in culture; this is in part down to the Mobile Homes Act and partly down to the public being better informed about the benefits of park home living,” says Justin Allitt, owner of sellmyparkhome.co.uk and its sister company sellmylodge.co.uk.

“Now, it seems, at long last, the public is falling in love with park homes,” Justin adds.

With over 20 years’ experience in the property industry and a chain of estate agents, Justin identified an opportunity to expand into the park home industry at the end of 2012. “My background in the property industry proved invaluable and has given me a unique perspective on park homes,” he explains.

“For many years, as an estate agent, these homes were hard to sell. Although popular, both the public and agents found it difficult to get to grips with the legislation, licensing and rules, which led to a lack of confidence,” he adds.

 

WEBSITE TRAFFIC

One of the best sellers within QMP’s stock support scheme is the Tingdene Hayden Classic.

One of the best sellers within QMP’s stock support scheme is the Tingdene Hayden Classic.

Since 2012, traffic to the sellmyparkhome.co.uk website has grown 50 per cent year on year which reflects both the increase in consumer confidence and also the wider public’s interest in park homes. 65 per cent of their customers are the general public but the remaining (and growing) proportion is park owners themselves.

Justin explains: “With the recent developments in design and manufacture, the whole industry is now less inward-looking and more geared towards the needs of the end user. More and more park owners are using our service to reach the buying public.” In recent years, many newcomers to the residential homes industry are bringing with them their ideas and experience from mainstream property after cutting their teeth in new builds, construction and traditional estate agencies.

Paul Short joined Turners Parks Group as National Sales Manager in 2015 after 20 years in the bricks and mortar market.

He credits his varied experience in construction and estate agency as “it has provided me with an unprecedented insight into every aspect of the process that enables me to speak to both developers and potential purchasers with reassuring confidence.”

With 38 residential parks across the UK, Paul and the Turners team certainly have their work cut out but the market is buoyant and new developments such as Lechlade Court in Gloucestershire are selling well. Another new project at Twinbrook Park in Falmouth has already sold four units prior to launch.

CUSTOMER FOCUS

Key to success is a customer-centric attitude and an integrated approach that is typical of those businesses at the forefront of the park homes industry. As Paul says, “Turners can offer a truly bespoke service to our clients offering them a sales journey which is transparent and simple. We can manage the whole transaction.”

The modern park homes business is all about providing innovative solutions that bring the industry together and move homes forward. As the UK’s largest independent provider of property part exchange, Quick Move Properties works with everyone from individual park owners to manufacturers and groups with large park portfolios. Since 1998, Quick Move Properties has directly purchased over 5,000 properties with a value of over £725 million.

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