ENGINE ROOMS - HOLIDAY POOL LOCATIONS
Plant rooms are the power houses behind top holiday park pools...
It may be the shots of happy swimmers that fill the glossy advertisements but the real heroes of our holiday park pools are hidden behind the scenes. Packed with automatically controlled, and remotely monitored, water and air quality technology, today’s modern plant rooms are almost a match for a NASA flight deck. A hidden technological treasure trove beneath the pool surface, the vital role of the plant room should never be underestimated. Combining the iconic Butlins, Haven and Warner brands, the mighty Bourne Leisure has been undertaking a £3.5m upgrade of its swimming pool plant rooms. “By the very nature of the beast, many holiday location swimming pools are 30 to 50 years old,” points out Craig Valentine, Bourne’s Regional Health & Safety Manager. “A lot of pool equipment is inherited and, of course, you inherit the problems that go with them. “A future-proof wish list would need a budget between £16 – 20m which we cannot do in one hit so we spread it over several years.” Temporarily halted by the pandemic, Bourne’s current investment programme has included remedial work on 16 of its pools with upgrades planned on 17 more pools next year. Craig says: “We identified our worse performing pools and worked our way up the list to generally raise the bar across the swimming pool stock.”
Phase one of those upgrades has involved installations of UV water treatment equipment, sand filter changes and the additional of updated chemical controllers. Phase Two will concentrate on updating pipework. Craig explains: “Some were performing at circulation rates of four to five hour turnover and have now been switched to 1.5 hours to two hours which enables us to not only comply with industry guidance but to keep the pools open for longer.” A significant plug of £300k has been invested in leak detection, halting water wastage on a few badly performing pools. “Some people forget about the plant room which is the engine room of the swimming pool, because it is covered up; out of sight and out of mind. “Instead they concentrate on the aesthetics -- but really you have to get the equipment right before you think about the design, because that keeps the swimming pool running efficiently,” he continues. “Generally, the industry has an issue with pool plant sizes,” says Craig. “Sometimes, rather than throw good money after bad; it requires a major strategic rethink in order to tackle plant room issues.” Craig advises choosing equipment that is fit for purpose with improved eco- performance, using less chlorine and less water as well. “Make sure, if you buy new equipment, that it is compatible with what other equipment and don’t just go for salesmen speak,” advises Craig. “Look at new things coming up and try to minimise your chemical handlin,” he adds. “Look for alternatives such as salt chlorination,” he adds. With no laws, regulations or British Standard concerning swimming pool water, it is not always obvious how to demonstrate to customers and staff that you pool is fit for purpose. A free online Code of Practice that codifies the information in the authoritative book Swimming Pool Water published by the Pool Water Advisory Group. (PWTAG). The publication provides pool operators with a structured plan for the technical operation of their pool.
PEACE OF MIND
It makes sense to follow the PWTAG guidance because, if anything does go wrong at the pool, you will be able to demonstrate - in court if necessary – that you were following the best available guidelines.Without this protection, you are vulnerable. It is incumbent on everyone involved in the provision of holiday packages and accommodation to ensure that pools and spas at their destinations are fit for purpose. “We use PWTAG as guidance setters but I get frustrated at people quoting the law at us.” Craig points out. “If you have robust system; good testing; good plant policy and an emergency action plan then you can prove you are adopting best practice.” Craig has worked with Bourne Leisure for 33 years including in his present role for 21 years. “We learned some lessons through restricted pool use during Covid,” Craig reveals. “We understood that some people like to have a structured day and want to know when they are going to swimming and for how long while others want a more relaxed approach. “The pools have not been the problems but the changing facilities. “Getting the guests in the pool and spreading them by 2m in changing rooms – that by their very nature are confined spaces has resulted in a lot more labour, sanitising and ultimately asking people to arrive swim-ready.
When it comes to swimming pools, there are plenty of examples of good practice around the UK’s holiday parks. Completed in 2019, the swimming pool at Seldons Golden Gate Holiday Centre, in North Wales, is used by holiday home owners and holiday makers. Consideration for the build included environmental impact, aesthetic appeal and user experience. The pool hall is an energetic space with high ceilings, a glass facade and clean lines. Sub-floor ventilation voids omit the need for an overhead ventilation infrastructure and provide advanced energy efficient climate control including pool water heating. The pool timetable includes owner- only, adult-only and family swim sessions, along with a lively programme of activities including Water-Walkerz, Water-Peddlerz, RC Watercraft, pool parties and swimming lessons. A bespoke booking system provides customers with the control to use the facility to best suit their requirements. A ‘state of the art’ chemical dosing system ensures water quality is optimal at all times. The integrated Spa areas allow adults to relax and unwind using a variety of bubble stations and high pressure jets. An integrated children’s pool accommodates safe play incorporating a huge mushroom fountain whilst being at the heart of the pool hall. The pool and changing village access is biometrically controlled allowing ‘real time’ information of users, identify booking trends and peak user times and ensures only pool users are granted access.
Complete with parachuting penguins, three, 100m flumes and a four-lane racing slide the Hafan y Mar Holiday Park’s Splashaway Bay swimming pool has benefited from a major upgrade. The £3.1m investment included the addition of a new toddler pool, multi-lane swimming pool and food outlet. The wave pool, rapids, main pool slides and flumes were all refurbished, as well as introducing additional fun filled water features. The Lady’s Mile Holiday Park in Dawlish, Devon, removed the old boiler system on its swimming pool and replaced it with brand new eco-boilers. They added new energy efficient pool covers fitted to maintain the temperature of the pool, which in turn reduces energy consumption. They have also purchased a pool hoist, allowing customers with mobility issues to gain access to our pool. Regularly investments in your water features, especially the plant equipment, will ensure your holiday park pool remains the jewel in your visitor crown.