A Cinderella Story
Hard work and determination has paid off for a woman who started working as a cleaner when she barely spoke a word of English and is now at the helm of an award-winning holiday park in north Lancashire.
Zuzana Terry, 36, who hails from Slovakia, only knew the basics of the English language when she got a job cleaning the facilities at Fell End Caravan Park at Hale, near Milnthorpe, in 2005. Within a short space of time she began helping out in the on-site shop before being promoted to duty manager in 2008.
Two years later, the park’s owners, Pure Leisure Group, moved her across to South Lakeland Leisure Village – where she has worked her way up from Head Housekeeper to General Manager in just six years.
“I couldn’t believe it. It was a huge surprise and I feel really proud,” said Mrs Terry, who grew up in Sobrance in Slovakia, but now lives in Carnforth. “When I first moved here I hardly spoke a word of English and I didn’t really know what a caravan or a lodge was. That meant I had to learn everything from scratch and I think it’s given me a huge advantage to have worked my way up and to understand how all the elements of the business work.”
Zuzana now oversees the day to day running of South Lakeland Leisure Village, which is Pure Leisure Group’s flagship park. Located in north Lancashire, close to the Lake District, the leisure village welcomes several thousand visitors each year, from owners to holidaymakers, many of whom have been visiting for years.
The park sits on the site of a former gravel pit and was transformed into the thriving park it is today by owner John Morphet in 2003. “As well as offering sailing on the lake and its own leisure complex and restaurant, there’s all sorts to see and do on the doorstep, making the park very popular with families,” explains Zuzana.
“It is particularly popular with couples who have retired, or arenearing retirement, who enjoy the convenience of the park’s location. The majority of these owners let their lodges out when they or their families are not visiting themselves, ensuring their holiday home returns an income.”
There are 278 plots on the park, offering a mixture of holiday homes and holiday lets. The holiday lodges range in price from £69,995 to more than £250,000, and many of the plots are on the water front, with private jetties, wooden decking and hot tubs.
The park operates a buy-to-let scheme which ensures that buyers can earn an income from their holiday home when it’s not in use. This is a huge attraction to buyers, who are guaranteed a return of 6% per annum for three years. Several owners have started with one lodge, and bought more as they have come available.
“The park’s biggest challenge is also its biggest asset,” reveals Zuzana. She continues: “The nearby Lake District National Park is full of alternative options when it comes to luxury holiday homes but this works in our favour, with around 30% of holiday home sales on the park resulting from people ‘calling in’ as they head back down the M6 after being put off by high prices or Lake District traffic jams.”
The leisure village has an 11 month season, closing from the beginning of January to the beginning of February for annual maintenance work and improvements. The state-of-the-art Pure Leisure Health & Fitness Club is the highlight of the leisure facilities offered at the park and includes a gym, fitness suites a large, indoor swimming pool, steam room and a beauty spa.
The latest addition to the park is a brand new £2million development of eco-friendly holiday homes, which bridges the gap between the high-end caravans and luxury lodges. Named The Yealands, the development has been developed from scratch by Pure Leisure Group and owners have access to all of the facilities at the leisure village.
Zuzana says she has a number of hopes for her new role at the park, but will concentrate on putting people first: “I have loved all of my jobs because I like working with people. I’m not afraid of hard work and I know every person in the team has an important role to play in keeping a lovely place like this running smoothly.”
South Lakeland Leisure Village
Tel. 01524 781918