HOORAY! IT’S RAINING!
Emily Martin presents top tips for weather-proof play…
In 2021, temperatures hit an unseasonable 24 degrees Celsius in March, followed by the wettest every May on record. In 2020 (or as we call it, ‘the year we do not mention’) we had the wettest February ever recorded followed by a gloriously sunny spring. There’s nothing more unpredictable than a British summer and with extreme weather becoming increasingly the norm, savvy holiday parks are advised to be ready for anything.
Unpredictable weather can sometimes a deterrent for holidaymakers who don’t want to waste their precious annual leave (or money) on a holiday that might be a wash-out. But for cunning holiday park owners, when it comes to indoor play there are ways you can reassure prospective bookers and stand out from the crowd. “British weather can be unpredictable, so it’s really important to provide plenty of indoor entertainment, as well as opportunities to eat and dine in the same area,” advises Helen Scott a Director at Cofton Holidays where indoor play is held in high regard.
“We’re proud to be an all year round, all-weather holiday destination in South Devon. Come rain or shine, there’s always something to keep families entertained and we’ve worked hard to provide a rich and varied range of indoor entertainment experiences, mixing activities and play so there’s always something for the whole family to enjoy.”
Cofton have indoor play covered or the children and the adults too as Helen explains: “Our indoor play offering includes a heated indoor swimming pool with hydrotherapy loungers, bubbling water jets and splash pad area, sauna, steam room and gym. “Also fitness and cycling studios, a bowling alley an amusement arcade and soft play area. Having all our indoor play facilities in one central complex works really well for our guests,” says Helen.
“When it’s raining, you don’t want to be running from one end of the site to the other, ducking from the wet weather.” Helen continues: “Our indoor pool is perfectly located next to our café so guests can enjoy a morning swim and recharge afterwards with a fresh coffee and fluffy slice of cake. Many of our guests regularly spend half of their day in our indoor complex.” The Cofton Holidays indoor play facilities have been carefully chosen so that they meet the needs of all age groups.
Helen says: “The soft play area is aimed at children under the age of eight, and has been carefully located with plenty of seating nearby, so that adults can keep an eye on their young ones, while they enjoy light refreshments.” Helen flags up: “Something that we have adopted recently is a pre booking system for our indoor pool. This is something we introduced during the Covid-19 pandemic to ensure we complied with social distancing rules, but it has worked really well for us.
“Our indoor pool is incredibly popular and can get busy, particularly during the school holidays, so we have decided to keep this booking system in place for the foreseeable future. It allows us to control how busy the pool gets without disappointing customers so it is definitely something I would recommend other park owners think about.” Tony Clish, is the Director at Park Holidays UK. We asked him about indoor play facilities and how important the planning and preparation of those areas are to a Park Holidays site. Tony says: “As a family-focussed holiday parks group, we recognise the importance of providing play facilities for all ages – and in all weathers.
“That’s why many of our 40-plus parks make provision for indoor play areas suitable for toddler-age upwards, with the obvious provision that parental supervision is required at all times in the case of smaller children. Tony continues: “Soft play areas are especially popular as they provide a safe environment in which youngsters can let off steam for an hour or two – and, of course, give mum and dad a breather. “Seating and café areas are often located nearby which give parents an opportunity to view their children at play, and park staff keep a regular eye open to check on aspects such as cleanliness and the number of youngsters using the amenity.
“Children are also well provided for in other indoor areas such as swimming pools where smaller slides and other water features mean that all ages can make use of the facility. Customer comments from younger families often pay tribute to our indoor play zones, and they represent a significant part of the investment we make in activities at our parks.” Whether you’re singing in the rain or walking on sunshine, having plenty to do inside and undercover is a must if you want to ensure happy guests and consistent income all your round.
ADVICE ON TAP
For those who incorporate a gaming, play or adventure zone within your visitor attraction within your resort, the InterFun Expo is a great opportunity to find out about the latest product innovations and learn about current trends and new tech to help you drive more visitors to your attraction. The InterFun Expo will take place on 26-27 April, 2022, at New Dock Hall in the Royal Armouries complex in Leeds. The opening hours are 10am-5pm on 26 April and 10am – 4pm on 27 April. A huge range of products will be represented:
• Aerial adventure
• Soft play
• Arcade games
• Mini sports
• Family and kiddie rides
• Playground equipment
• Laser tag & paintball
• Table games
The exhibition is supported by an eye-catching seminar timetable that are all free to attend and do not have to be pre-booked; you simply drop in and out of those of interest to you and your organisation. Michael Harrison kicks off the schedule with a look at Trends In the UK Leisure Sector with other subjects including Attracting Visitors Through Mixed Marketing Techniques, The Soft Play Sector Post Covid and Immersive Tech – turning Visitors Into Players. Simply register to attend and you will gain access to the exhibition and seminars via www.interfunexpo.com