13th May, 2020: The UK’s largest holiday park operator, Parkdean Resorts, has provided free accommodation to front-line NHS workers during the Coronavirus crisis.
After government instruction in March, the company’s 67 parks shut down, and were left empty, save for a handful of key security and maintenance staff on each park. With caravans and lodges available, Parkdean Resorts took the decision to contact local healthcare authorities to offer free accommodation on selected parks to NHS key workers in need of a convenient place to stay at the end of their shifts, or living with any vulnerable or at-risk family members.
So far, free accommodation has been offered to NHS workers at four parks across the country: Torquay, Whitley Bay in Northumberland, Vauxhall in Great Yarmouth, and Southview in Skegness. In total, the four parks have housed more than fifty key workers for a total of more than 1000 nights, with a total value of over £70,000.
Rob Warner, Operations Director for Parkdean Resorts said: “The vast majority of our teams live locally to our parks so they’ve been keen to give back to the local community and in particular to support NHS staff who have been doing such an incredible job throughout the Coronavirus crisis. As our own small way of showing our thanks and appreciation for all they have been doing, we were happy to offer our park facilities for free to support key workers.”
NHS Community support worker, Stephanie Head, was one of the key workers who took advantage of Parkdean Resorts’ offer of free accommodation, at Torquay. She said: “Due to living with my parents who are in their 70s, I had to find temporary accommodation to keep them safe. I cannot thank Parkdean and their staff enough for making this possible! The overall experience was perfect. The staff were friendly and helpful, and I could not fault the accommodation.”
NHS Operating Department Practitioner, Mark Simpson, stayed at Whitley Bay, adding, “I have three young children at home, who have been worried about the situation. I cannot thank Parkdean enough, their staff have been very friendly and the overall experience has been amazing.”
And NHS Pharmacist, Samuel Tsui, was grateful to be able to stay at Vauxhall: “I had come down to Norfolk to cover NHS Staff shortages in the area for a week. I had been struggling to find accommodation until I came across Vauxhall Holiday Park! I really can’t thank Parkdean Resorts enough. The staff were very friendly and accommodating, the park was very secure with locked gates and the caravan I stayed had everything I needed and was very comfortable, this allowed me to self- isolate efficiently and get a good night’s rest after a long day at work. Thank you, Vauxhall, for opening your doors for NHS staff in these uncertain times!”
Throughout the lockdown, many of Parkdean Resorts’ holiday park teams have also shown support for their local communities by donating tens of thousands of pounds worth of unused food to local foodbanks and charities.
Parkdean Resorts is the UK’s largest operator of caravan, lodge, cabin, glamping and camping holiday resorts, and was named Best UK Family Holiday Company 2019 at the British Travel Awards, the UK’s biggest opinion poll for travel and tourism in the country. Earlier this year, the company announced an investment of over £80million in its business across Britain.
Top Of The Camping Pods Award winners in the annual camping and glamping awards….
A selection of popular camping and glamping sites across the UK have picked up gongs in the latest Campsites.co.uk camping and glamping awards. Yorkshire came top with more awards than any other county, followed closely by Cumbria.
The Best Holiday Park national award went to stunning Cofton Holidays in Devon, closely followed by commendations for Wooda Farm Holiday Park in Cornwall and Highlands End Holiday Park in Dorset.
Cofton’s extensive camping facilities include grass, hard standing and fully serviced pitches with newly-refurbished toilet and shower blocks. Nearby, the camp shop stocks everything campers need from freshly baked croissants to tent pegs.
Facilities include a heated indoor pool with a splash pad area and hydrotherapy loungers, a gym, restaurant, pub, steam room, sauna, fitness studio, soft play area, playground, sports wall, outdoor pools and much more. Guests also have access to five coarse fishing lakes, miles of cycle paths and nature trails that take visitors through woodland to the golden sands of Dawlish Warren beach and nature reserve.
Helen Scott, Director at Cofton Holidays, is thrilled with Cofton’s success, saying: “Starting 2020 off with this prestigious accolade is a very positive sign for things to come, building further on the success of last year.” Helen added: “The Cofton team work tirelessly throughout the year to deliver an unforgettable experience to all of our guests, and being recognised independently for that is testament to our fantastic staff.” Cornish site Hendra Holiday Park has received the Popular Choice national award for 2019.
Located in glorious countryside just outside Newquay in Cornwall, with 80-acres of landscaped parkland, Hendra welcomes from approximately 1,000 to over 3,500 people a night during the peak season, in a range of accommodation options, including camping, touring, glamping, holiday homes and lodges.
The super deluxe Shepherds Hut Retreat was the winner of the national award for Best Glamping Site 2019. Its lakeside hot tub and sauna are the perfect finishing touch to its high end glamping. Grooby's Pit took home the Best Caravan Park award 2019 at national level (winner) and is in the Skegness area. Its 5 star pitches are adult only, hard standing, serviced and set beside a stunning lake. With excellent facilities and great fishing, it’s an ideal touring base for the sights of the coastline.
Family friendly Umberslade Adventure near Hockley Heath was awarded Best Family Campsite national winner 2019. Most Unique Site 2019 went to The Private Hill, a stunning set of boutique geodomes tucked into the Yorkshire Wolds, with an experience that’s far from the norm.
Launched in 2015, Campsites.co.uk makes it easy to find and book great camping and glamping sites. The platform allows users to filter their search depending on their requirements, as well as search for the best camping holiday deals. The Sussex-based company currently lists more than 2,500 camping, glamping and touring sites across the UK and its Campmate iPhone app is one of the most popular camping apps on the App store. Martin Smith, founder of Campsites.co.uk said: "Every one of our winners has brought their best to the table this year and they deserve every success that comes their way."
POPULAR CHOICE AWARD
NATIONAL WINNER: Hendra Holiday Park, Cornwall Found in tempting countryside just a short distance from Newquay's buzz, beaches and surfing, this family-owned 5-star park makes a cracking base for your next break. With award winning facilities, landscaped parkland and indoor and outdoor pools (complete with water flumes!), a holiday here is sure to make a splash.
BEST GLAMPING SITES
NATIONAL WINNER: Shepherds Hut Retreat, Somerset These shepherd's huts are a whole new level of decadence. With stunning nature to enjoy alongside the plush accommodation, the lakeside hot tub and sauna is the icing on the cake. Each of the huts has had an interior designer work their magic on its vintage decor – and it shows - and guests rave about the luxurious details. An ideal base for couples to explore the Jurassic Coast.
BEST CARAVAN PARK
NATIONAL WINNER: Grooby's Pit, Lincolnshire It's five star all the way with a waterside pitch at Grooby's Pit, perfect for a spot of fishing. Enjoy the peace of the adult only park, rod in hand, or use the site as a well maintained base for trips along the Lincolnshire Coast. The amenities are immaculate and there's plenty of space. From seaside Skegness to the seals at Mablethorpe, it's a caravanner's dream
BEST FAMILY PARKS
Take the kids camping and make some memories that'll last your family a lifetime. Whether it's the fun of playing in the fresh air, building a den with new friends or toasting a treat in the glow of the campfire, these sites have mastered the art of family friendly breaks.
NATIONAL WINNER: Umberslade Adventure, Warwickshire 50 acres of glorious space should be enough for even the most active little ones, and this site adds its own adventure park with 140 foot zip wire, commando course and 4x4 off roading experience. Talk about a cure for the school holiday doldrums! You and your little 'uns can camp out under the stars or try a spacious bell tent, then enjoy getting some sausages a-sizzling on the BBQ.
BEST COUPLES’ CAMPSITES
You'll soon forget traffic and city streets in favour of endless sunsets, pretty countryside and some quality time together.
NATIONAL WINNER: Greendale Farm Caravan and Camping, Rutland It's an adult only zone at this peaceful site, so pick a spot and soak up the relaxing vibes. Start with a dip in the pool, or wander to the local village pub and cosy up with that special someone. Nearby Rutland Water is truly romantic at sunset and any good cheese lover will find a few nibbles in Melton Mowbray hard to resist.
MOST UNIQUE LOCATION
Fancy something quirky, out of the box and unique? These sites are anything but run of the mill - and we bet your friends and family won't have seen anything like it!
WINNER: The Private Hill, North Yorkshire Commended: Myrtle at Larchfield Estate, County Down
Commended: Windmill Campersite, Isle of Wight
BEST HOLIDAY PARK
From unbeatable locations to high end facilities and activities that'll keep the whole family buzzing, these holiday parks are the cream of the crop. Whether it's making a splash in the pool, boogieing to top entertainment at night, or being just moments from a popular beach, they've got you covered.
WINNER: Cofton Holidays, Devon Commended: Wooda Farm Holiday Park, Cornwall
Commended: Highlands End Holiday Park, Dorset
TOP DOG AWARD
We're a nation of dog lovers and there's no way we're leaving Fido behind to chase his tail! Fortunately these pet friendly havens will put a smile on your face and a wag in your pooch's tail.
WINNER: Polmanter Touring Park, Cornwall Commended: Meadow Falls, North Yorkshire
Commended: Welltrough Hall Farm, Cheshire
Brand new in 2019, these sites have got off to an excellent start with plenty of happy campers. They've started as they mean to go on and the future's looking bright!
Holiday Snaps- Josh Donald Managing Director of South West Holiday Parks
How is 2017 shaping up for your parks? We are very excited about the 2017 season and feel that the staycation will be stronger than ever with more and more families choosing to holiday in the beautiful South West. Demand is already up on last year for camping, holiday lodges and private lodge ownership.
What challenges are currently facing the holiday park sector? Not just meeting, but exceeding, our customers’ expectations is our greatest challenge. We strive to offer the very best in accommodation, facilities and service and the expectations of our customers are rising at the fastest rate I have ever seen.
How have visitor expectations changed during your time in the holiday business and how have you reacted to those demands? Our customers will not accept poor service or accommodation and they are right. We are constantly re-investing to ensure that we keep ahead of our competition. Customer retention is very important to us and proves that we are getting it right.
If you had to identify one element, what is the most crucial aspect to the success of the park? Our team. Everyone plays their role to ensure the smooth running of the business and we work hard to ensure we pull together and deliver the best parks we can for guests.
Who is the most important person in the business and why? We believe that our customers are the most important people. They are the reason we are in business and what we offer them really matters.
What has been your most interesting experience in the industry? Developing Coast View, Shaldon and taking it from a run-down out-dated holiday camp to a dynamic five star holiday park. We are not finished yet and there is still much to do but the transformation has been incredible and very rewarding to see.
What is the best piece of business advice you have been given and by whom? My father once told me ‘customer first or you’ll have no customers’ and this has stuck with me ever since, and works because it is so true.
Where do you see yourself and the company in ten years’ time? Still growing, developing and learning I hope. Perhaps with several more parks to add to the SWHP brand but without forgetting that we never wanted to be the biggest; just the best.
Where do you go on holiday? We appreciate how lucky we are to live in Devon but we do spend a lot of time with family and friends on the Isle of Wight. We also love Cornwall, France and Italy but never get to go as often as I would like.
Picture postcards from Pearl Lake Leisure Park, Shobdon in Herefordshire… Run by Glenn and Hannah Jones, Pearl Lake Leisure Park is a luxury country park set around a breathtaking 15 acre glacial lake. The lake is the largest natural lake in Herefordshire and is the crowning jewel to 80 acres of rolling park land that also boasts an exclusive nine hole golf course, a crown bowling green and relaxing woodland walks.
Pearl Lake Leisure Park is being continually improved and updated by Glenn and Hannah and has won numerous awards for their efforts in the time they have been there. As a member of Visit England’s grading system the park has achieved a five star status. The Lakeside Bar Kitchen was revamped last year and the owners are also investing in a new sun terrace for the 2017 season. Children can enjoy the play area, football pitch, skate ramps and recreation field.
In the village of Shobdon there’s a village shop and Post Office that takes care of all the essentials, and the local village pub is just a few minutes’ walk away. Open for a ten month season, March 1st to January 2nd, holiday home owners can even celebrate Christmas and New Year at Pearl Lake. Tourers are welcome and self-catering holidays are available. There are also a wide range of both new and pre-owned holiday homes for sale.
Record numbers of visitors to Cumbria’s Skelwith Fold Caravan Park enjoyed foraging for wild food at the end of last season – making it the park’s most popular pastime. Park owner Henry Wild said that the season had produced a bumper crop of holidaymakers thanks to a fast-growing interest in foraging in the park’s 130-acre grounds. As well as edible fungi, he said, guests also gathered blackberries, elderberries and sloes to take back home for turning into jelly, wine and gin. Guests roaming the grounds for free pickings were given the thumbs-up for their activities by the park – but with a few words of caution from Henry: “We asked people not to gather more than they can make use of themselves, and not to strip plants or decimate areas entirely as many of our wildlife residents feed on fungi and berries. “We also suggest that visitors learn to tell the difference between similar looking edible and deadly varieties of mushroom, and never to send children out alone to forage,” he added.
SPATEX 2016 takes place at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena from Sunday January 31st to Tuesday February 2nd.
A shop window on all that is new and happening in swimming pools, spas, saunas, enclosures, steam rooms, SPATEX 2016 is a must-attend for park owners. Celebrating its 20th anniversary, SPATEX is the largest dedicated water leisure exhibition. With 100 plus exhibitors, both national and international, the show brings together under one roof everyone in wet leisure, whatever their business. SPATEX is also a unique platform for free professional training and seminars will run on all three days of the show with the emphasis on holiday parks and the commercial sector. The ‘Legionnaires’ Disease Awareness’ session will look at what steps to take to prevent, detect and combat this silent killer, while the ‘Dealing with Pool Problems’ session will tackle commonly encountered commercial swimming pool problems, including water testing, automatic control and water treatment issues.
Above: The World of Park & Leisure Homes Show took place at Stoneleigh Park in Warwickshire in June.
Show Visitors Spoilt For Choice
Visitors from across the country descended on Stoneleigh Park in Warwickshire last month to visit the 2015 World of Park & Leisure Homes Show – the biggest in the show’s history.
With over 50 homes on display from some of the UK’s major manufacturers in the leisure lodge and park homes industry, the visitors were spoilt for choice at the four day outdoor exhibition.
The feel good factor was evident among exhibitors and the trade preview day was an ideal opportunity for park owners, site managers and others working within the industry to visit the show ahead of the general public.
As in previous years, the 2015 show was a one-stop-shop covering all aspects of park life. A varied selection of exhibitors were on hand to offer expert advice and guidance on choosing the right park and the right lodge or park home to fit any budget.
Above: Omar Park Homes celebrated its 50th year in business with a cake cutting ceremony and drinks reception.
A highlight of this year’s show was a pop-up holiday park created by park and holiday home specialists Pathfinder Homes. Located at the main entrance to the show and aptly named the Pathfinder Garden Quarter, the area was equipped with aweinspiring gardens, luxury lodges and a courtyard, and featured some of Pathfinder’s most popular lodges – The Summit, Keeper’s Lodge, Meadow View and Country Retreat. In fact, The Summit lodge was voted ‘Ultimate Lodge of the Year’ at the show for its innovative design and evolutionary detailing.
Mike Wills, Pathfinder Homes MD stated: “We are delighted to have won the Ultimate Lodge of the Year Award for the third consecutive year. The industry is experiencing such an exciting period and we are proud to continue to innovate the standard.”
Meanwhile Omar Park Homes celebrated its 50th anniversary at the show with a special cake cutting ceremony and the launch of its brand new park home – ‘The Anniversary’.
Aside from lodges and park homes, there was plenty of information and advice on refurbishment, maintenance and of course those must-have little luxuries such as spas and hot tubs.
Claire Jeavons is the third generation of the Jeavons family who together run the award-winning Beverley Holidays and Whitehill Country Park, situated in the heart of the English Riviera. Claire is also chairman of the prestigious Best of British Holiday & Touring Parks Group, for which Beverley Holidays is a member, as well as being on the board of directors of the English Riviera Tourism Company.
How do you see the UK holiday industry at the moment?
The UK holiday industry is a hugely exciting area at the moment. We’re finding that more and more people are seeking a UK-based staycation over going abroad. Plus, here in the English Riviera, our famously mild micro-climate means visitors can still enjoy a sunny seaside holiday without the hassle of heading too far from home or flying overseas.
What are the main challenges facing the industry?
If the spate of storms we experienced last winter proved anything, it was how changeable the UK climate can be. However, the quick response we saw here in the South West to the damaged Dawlish railway line instilled a huge amount of confidence in the tourism community that we are more than capable to rising to any challenges that the weather might throw our way.
How have customer expectations changed during your time in the holiday business and how have you reacted to those demands?
Having welcomed visitors to the English Riviera for more than 56 years, our team has been given a fascinating insight into the increasing expectations of customers. As a business, we pride ourselves on constantly adapting and re-investing in our holiday parks to ensure we always stay at the forefront of the tourism scene.
If you had to identify one element, what is the most crucial aspect to the success of your business?
The secret to our long-standing success is undoubtedly down to the hard work and dedication of our teams, and also our ability to constantly adapt to changing customer needs. We have transformed ourselves from a small-scale site on farmland to a destination in its own right, offering a multitude of on-site facilities and modern holiday accommodation.
What has been your most interesting experience in the industry?
We have recently undergone a major re-branding initiative at Beverley Holidays, whereby we unified a number of our parks under the ‘Beverley Holidays’ banner. It was a fascinating experience as we have a passionate following of loyal customers who were understandably curious of the changes, but the end result has been hugely successful and well received by guests both old and new.
What does a typical day in the office for you entail?
My main role is running the marketing department and covering all areas from social media to advertising and public relations. There is always a marketing campaign on the go.
What is the best piece of business advice you have been given and by whom?
It’s a cliché but ‘put yourself in your customer’s shoes’. I’m a big traveller and I love to visit new places and experience new things, and this certainly helps when it comes to gaining new ideas to improve our guests’ holiday experience. I’m also constantly visiting other holiday parks in the UK through by work as chairman of the Best of British Holiday and Touring Parks group, which gives me a rare insight through the eyes of a customer.
Where do you go on holiday?
I tend to stay in all sorts of different accommodation styles from camping huts to luxury villas. There’s so much to see and experience both in the UK and worldwide, and my aim is to see it all!
Heatsavr has saved Hoburne Holiday Parks thousands of pounds on pool heating costs at the Devon Bay resort.
Hoburne Holiday Parks has saved thousands of pounds on its gas bills, following the introduction of Heatsavr liquid pool cover in the indoor pool at its site in Torbay.
Heatsavr was first used at the park in 2011, in a bid to reduce the gas consumption used to maintain the temperature of the pool and the humidity within the pool hall. Results from an independent analysis by EEVS, the UK’s leading provider of performance measurement and verification services for energy, reveal that Heatsavr has reduced gas usage at the park by 21.7 per cent, the equivalent of £4,500 cost saving per year.
Heatsavr, the original liquid pool cover, was first introduced to the UK leisure industry almost a decade ago. Many commercial pool operators and domestic owners have adopted the technology and enjoyed considerable energy savings, as well as the benefit of a simple pool cover system that works 24 hours a day.
Heatsavr works by slowing evaporation from the pool’s surface. The Heatsavr monolayer spreads across the water and traps energy and moisture within the pool. In an indoor pool, energy savings relate not only to pool water heating but also to the ability to turn down the dehumidification system due to the reduced evaporation.
“For pool managers who are in control of expenditure where the pool itself has limited controls, using Heatsavr may feel like a leap of faith as the energy savings may not be easily extracted,” says Peter Marshall of Brenntag UK. The product is odourless, tasteless and completely invisible, tempting pool managers to wonder if it is working at all.
“But pool managers should have confidence in these findings and recognise that whilst invisible, Heatsavr continues to work throughout the day and night, saving energy and enabling them to focus on other cost saving initiatives within their site.”
Peter adds: “In providing customers with the independent analysis that they have been seeking, we hope to be able to deliver energy saving benefits and ultimately, peace of mind, to a greater number of commercial operators across the UK.”
The 2015 bar has been set high for Trethem Mill Touring Park after winning three separate gold awards last year.
Trethem Mill Touring Park is celebrating a highly successful year after completing a hat-trick of gold accolades.
Most recently, the Cornish park received the overall Camping and Caravanning Park of the Year title at the Cornwall Tourism Awards in November – the eighth occasion in the 13 years of the event that Trethem Mill has taken a gold award.
Last spring, the park was one of just a handful of caravan and camping parks in the UK chosen to receive the prestigious gold award given out by VisitEngland to its highest rated parks. Then, in autumn, botanist David Bellamy announced Trethem Mill as a winner of his Conservation Award at its top gold level.
Park owner Jane Akeroyd said that 2014 had been a whirlwind of a year for the park, both in terms of visitor numbers and the awards it has received: “By far the majority of our guests are now either repeat visitors, or people coming as a result of a recommendation, which helps create a lovely atmosphere on the park.
“Our latest Cornwall Tourism award is especially pleasing as it judges not just the quality of the park, but also the welcome and hospitality which is shown to holidaymakers.”
Jane added: “The bar has now been set pretty high for 2015, but we are determined to carry on simply making Trethem Mill the type of park to which everyone wants to return”.