Holiday Snaps - featuring Graham Hodgson
Founder and Chief Executive of Verdant Leisure Limited and runs a group of 10 parks in North East England and Southern Scotland. Born in Morecambe, Lancashire, Graham is married to Louise and they have two sons, Martin and James.
WHAT WAS YOUR CAREER PATH INTO THE INDUSTRY?
As an HSBC Bank Manager I had several caravan park operators as customers, one of whom was John Morphet and his business, South Lakeland Caravans. In 2001, John tempted me away from the bank to join him as Chief Executive and so started my second career in the caravan industry. We quickly set about improving and professionalising the business before selling it towards the end of 2007, just before the financial crash, at a handsome profit. This enabled me, alongside Bev Dixon, who was then Operations Director, to set up Verdant Leisure in 2010, with a new Finance Director, Andrew Wall.
HOW HAS THE MARKET CHANGED?
The quality of both the parks and the accommodation that we offer in this industry has improved on all levels. Fundamentally, our customers still want the same thing, a place of their own to relax and get away with family and friends and our strap line ‘Relax, Explore, Experience’ remains as relevant now as it was when I started.
HOW DO YOU THINK THE INDUSTRY HAS RESPONDED TO COVID 19?
I think our industry has reacted fantastically to the pandemic to date. There was a lot of work going on collaboratively between the larger park operators including ourselves, and our trade bodies including the BH&HPA, NCC and UK Hospitality. I think that this coordinated approach was instrumental in enabling parks to re-open quite quickly following Lockdown.
BEST PIECE OF INDUSTRY ADVICE?
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.” While I think that this applies to life in general, it is equally appropriate to anybody in business. Too many people are focused on an end goal but that is just one moment in time. Whilst I certainly have a plan, I try to enjoy each experience as it comes, and, with hard work, success has followed.
HOW DO YOU FIND YOUR OUT OFWORK TIME?
I have always enjoyed lots of sports although playing has been replaced by watching over recent years! I spent 22 years as a Director of Morecambe Football Club, and this remains a big passion of mine
IF WE COULD GIVE YOU THREE GUESTS? WHO WOULD LIKE MOST LIKE TO SIT DOWN TO DINNER WITH AND WHY?
Winston Churchill – A flawed leader who achieved the most amazing things; Peter Kay – Always hilarious and would lighten the mood if the conversation became too intense; Mohammad Ali – One of the greatest sports personalities ever – and much more besides
WHAT ARE YOU MOST LIKELY TO BE LISTENING TO IN THE CAR?
Often ridiculed! I enjoy the classic groups from years ago – Dire Straits; Fleetwood Mac; Queen and the like. The music I grew up with has never really left me – some would say I should move on
ANY CLAIMS TO FAME?
I can juggle!
WHERE DO YOU PREFER TO TAKE YOUR HOLIDAYS?
Barbados is my ‘go-to’ destination. I love it and hope to be able to return there soon.
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VERDANT CELEBRATE IN STYLE
Bespoke holiday park operator Verdant Leisure recently celebrated its 10th birthday in style with gifts for staff and holiday homeowners. Through its social media pages, Verdant gave away 10 holidays to one lucky family who has a child that turned 10 years old in September. Verdant Leisure runs ten UK holiday parks in spectacular locations across South East Scotland, Ayrshire, Dumfriesshire, Perthshire & North East England offering a wide range of accommodation from self-catering caravans, deluxe lodges to camping pods, glamping pods and touring pitches at selected parks.
Customers and staff have been at the heart of the business since it was born in 2010 – the brainchild of founders CEO Graham Hodgson, Commercial Director Bev Dixon and Finance Director Andrew Wall. The company employs over 300 staff and is passionate about building a solid team, who are invested in the brand and deliver exceptionally high customer service. As a testament to their engaged and happy employees, Verdant Leisure were awarded 13th Best Company toWork For in the Sunday Times 100 Best Companies List in 2020, 3rd in the North East and 9th Best Company in Scotland. “We value all members of the Verdant Leisure team and really treasure the people who make our company what it is. It has been the same since 2010 and each and every one of them has played a large part in our success, today is really about them and our customers – both new and existing,” says CEO Graham Hodgson. Verdant Leisure’s service levels ensured that 2019 saw 60% of guests booking again and the latest customer satisfaction survey results show that 95% of holiday guests would recommend Verdant Leisure to family and friends. “The 2020 customer base has shifted slightly, we’re welcoming lots of new customers into the Verdant family, many of whom may not have enjoyed a British holiday park break for a number of years,” continues Graham.
A significant number of new customers are also deciding to purchase holiday homes on Verdant Leisure’s parks as the post-Lockdown staycation uplift sees no signs of abating. Verdant Leisure was founded in September 2010 following a management buy-in of Dunham Leisure Limited, owners of Pease Bay and Thurston Manor Leisure Parks in South East Scotland. Verdant went on to purchase Viewfield Manor Leisure Park in Ayrshire in July 2011 and Riverside Leisure Park in Northumberland in 2012. Kingfisher and Heather View Leisure parks in Wear Valley, and Coldingham Bay were then acquired. Scoutscroft Leisure Park was purchased in February 2018 followed by Queensberry Bay in Dumfriesshire in October 2018. In January 2020 Verdant Leisure purchased Erigmore in Perthshire bringing Verdant Leisure’s portfolio to ten parks across Scotland and North East England. This deal continued the company’s growth strategy to create a strong regional group with significant scale, and Verdant Leisure remains keen to add further parks to its group over the next 18 months.
Tel. 03300 535524
ALL THE WORLD IS A BLUESTONE PLAY STAGE
Pembrokeshire‘s Bluestone Resort, turned to KOMPAN to come up with a timber-based play design for an underused area of its Welsh resort. The task was to create a play area that had adventure but also a village theme for the village green area. As this was to attract people into the area, the play area had to be aesthetically pleasing and exciting to draw people into the area time and again. The client wanted an area where they could put on a show and children could watch it from the play equipment. The play area had to be constructed in three weeks, in limited hours of working, and with challenging access.
KOMPAN designed a village area that centred around a raised stage. The stage had pipework in it so that electrical cables could be channelled. The play area was constructed in three weeks by KOMPAN installers, on budget and on time. The village houses cater for very young children and children up to the age of 12. There are small houses as well as a large house with a 3m high net! The village coffee shop and public house has seen an increase In popularity and sales since the installation. The artificial grass surfacing made it inviting for people to sit or lie on. It has become the focal point of the village, where parents and caregivers can enjoy a coffee or two whilst the children play in the village green
WYBOSTON INVESTS IN SUSTAINABILITY
As Bedfordshire’s Wyboston Lakes Resort continues to search for opportunities and to introduce initiatives to be more sustainable, it has installed ten more electric car supercharger points for guests to encourage electric car usage. There is now a total of 24 charger points on the site. This latest development supports Wyboston Lakes Resort ‘2020 Green Objectives’ initiative, which includes reducing its carbon footprint by 50 per cent by 2025. The resort recently partnered with The Energy Check, specialists in minimising energy usage costs and CO2 to increase energy efficiency and reduce its carbon footprint as part of the strong commitment to its sustainability strategy.
Some of the initiatives already in place include the reduction of energy consumption throughout the venue by upgrading the lighting across site to the latest energy efficient LEDs which are turned off by movement sensors when a room is not in use, and ensuring energy ratings are considered as part of the purchasing decision for all new heavy equipment. The resort recycled over 20,000kg of cardboard waste in the last year, is continuing to fulfil its ‘Zero waste to landfill’ promise for the fifth consecutive year and actively supports the #20percentless campaign to cut back on single-use plastics each year
CLS WINNERS ANNOUNCED
The Caravan and Motorhome Club has unveiled the winner of its Certificated Location of the Year Award 2020 as Woody Kiln Farm, near Milford Haven in beautiful Pembrokeshire. Certificated Locations (CLs) are privately-owned, maximum five- pitch sites found across the UK, open exclusively to Caravan and Motorhome Club members. The sites entered for the CL of the Year Awards are nominated by Club members, recognising the very best sites and rewarding hard-working owners who pull out all the stops for guests. Set on a small farm in the heart of the Pembrokeshire National Park, the only coastal National Park in the UK, Dean and Sharon Philpin opened Woody Kiln Farm CL in 2015. “Our aim is for visitors to be enjoying their holiday, relaxing and to be connected to all services within 20 minutes of arrival,” commented Dean and Sharon Philpin. “Visitors tend to really enjoy the farmland, which can be accessed for a daily stroll, or to exercise dogs and totals over 10 acres which is all lawned. “This includes a large pond, which has ducks, moorhens and swans at different times of the year.” All pitches are surrounded by peaceful paddocks where horses and sheep graze. There is a small orchard adjacent to the park and guests are welcome to sample the fruit. The site operates with hardstanding pitches which are well maintained.
Dean and Sharon Philpin continued, “We have continued diversifying from agricultural activities and in August 2019 set up a hair and beauty salon in a traditional stone building just outside the grounds of the CL. This has been incredibly popular with visitors – to the degree that a number of our visitors book on the CL and stay to coincide with hairdressing appointments.” Nick Lomas, Director General of the Caravan and Motorhome Club said: “The Certificated Location (CL) of the Year Awards celebrate owners who truly go above and beyond to give visitors the very best holiday experience. “Our network of around 2,300 CLs provide Club members with the opportunity to stay at unique locations throughout the UK. CLs are the jewels in the crown of our nationwide campsite network and we are delighted that over 80 new CLs have joined the network this year. “I’d like to congratulate all of the winners and wholeheartedly thank our CL owners for their hard work and dedication that helps to make lifelong holiday memories for our members.”
HOT TUB PAYBACK
Spas clinch the holiday booking deal...
Open 365 days a year and based in the picturesque location of Dawlish in South Devon, Lady’s Mile Holiday Park currently offers 90 hot tubs on its lodge and mini lodge accommodation. The multi-award winning, family-run park knows that hot tubs are a key component when sealing the booking deal. “Customers are asking for hot tubs as part of their booking requirements,” says Stephen Brown Lady’s Mile Holiday Park’s Operations Manager. “It is now getting to be an expectation rather than a luxury add on,” Stephen continues. Stephen confirms accommodation offering hot tubs are returning value for money. “Lodges with hot tubs command a 20% premium in the peak weeks and up to 80% premium in low income weeks due to increased levels of demand,” he confirms. “Payback on a hot tub can be as little as six months,” he adds. “We certainly will be looking to increase our hot tub range on lodges and high-end caravans for the foreseeable future.”
PLUG AND PLAY
Lady’s Mile Holiday Park’s preferred spa supplier is Sunbeach Spas offering the holiday park sector five models in a ‘plug and play’ range, designed to run from regular household electricity supplies and starting from £1,995. “Whilst these tubs tend to be at the lower end of the price range we offer, they are not lacking in features and have everything holidaymakers need in a hot tub – easy to operate with space for all the family, and offer powerful jets, music and lights,” explainsWayne Green, Managing Director of the UK- wide Sunbeach team. “Holiday park operators also appreciate the fact that all our plug and play spas come with our R10 insulation, providing massive reductions in incidental heat loss over standard insulation, with savings of over 70% in test conditions.”
FIT FOR PURPOSE
Sunbeach Spas also build their hot tubs with two separate pumps – one for circulation and one for jets, instead of the oft-used solitary twin-speed pump which performs both tasks with a single unit. “Whilst this has a marginally higher outset cost, it will allow for significant savings on overall costs – as holiday park hot tubs see significantly more use than general, the circulation pumps are running at maximum frequency to unsure the water is reheated and retreated at all times,”Wayne explains. This range has additional convenient features for the holiday park, including built in/non-removable headrests (no pillows to get damaged or stolen) and twin filters with inline chemical dispensers allowing for superior water cleansing, even whilst the tub is in use. “We have also developed an acrylic control panel housing to prevent unwanted tampering with the controls on systems which don’t have a user lock-out built in,” addsWayne. When considering large numbers of hot tubs running on the same site, the question of running costs becomes all important; even a small saving on a single spa will prove significant when multiplied across an entire holiday park, and so it is vital that any recommendation takes this into account. Wayne points out: “The common perception of the unbranded, low- cost hot tub was one of “cheap to buy, expensive to run”, with better insulation and power saving technology reserved for high-end hot tubs from well established brands. “Sunbeach Spas philosophy is that you can have the best of both worlds - the R10 insulation we build into each of our hot tubs won us the Spa Energy Efficiency Award at the 2019 UK Pool and Spa Awards and we continue to innovate to improve on that baseline.”
For holiday lets, simplicity the key, both from the perspective of the park and of their guests. The average holidaymaker does not want to have to wade through pages of instructions, so it is important that the chosen hot tubs are simple to operate, but also come with the features that make having a hot tub so appealing – relaxing jets, a good music system, fun lighting and so forth. SaysWayne: “From the park’s point of view, simplicity of installation, using plug and play systems to avoid unnecessary and expensive upgrades to the park’s electrical grid system.” All Sunbeach Spas holiday park customers are offered free training days, which are held on their own site (so as many of their employees as they wish can attend easily) and are conducted by one of the leading chemical supply companies in the UK. “We also offer on-site training with our own staff for hot tub operational training, as well as all year round, out- of-hours telephone support,” adds Wayne.
“CUSTOMERS ARE ASKING FOR HOT TUBS AS PART OF THEIR BOOKING REQUIREMENTS.” LADY’S MILE HOLIDAY PARK say payback on a hot tub can be as little as six months. - Stephen Brown, Lady’s Mile Holiday Park
“In our opinion, having a well-trained, on-site team is key for any holiday park; a hot tub breakdown, even if caused by the guests themselves, can sour an otherwise perfect holiday experience. Having an on- site team minimises downtime and will also be available for preventative maintenance,” Having hot tubs which are easy to maintain is vital to getting things up and running again smoothly. It’s equally important that the regular maintenance (cleaning, sterilising etc) is a hassle-free job, to ensure that the tub can be made ready for the next party of holidaymakers to use. “All our hot tubs have inline chemical dispenser options to keep the spa water clear and safe during their stay and minimising the impact on the clean down crew at the end of the stay,”Wayne continues. “In the last couple of years alone, we have seen the technology available on hot tub control systems jump forward.” New control systems are being developed all the time, with new features and ways of managing the spas more efficiently. But not all changes are suited to all cases, and it is easy to get excited about new features which are not of true benefit. One of the pitfalls of a hot tub at a holiday let is guests having the correct information on how to use the hot tub safely. “Most guests just want to just get in it and use it but if they don’t shower beforehand, rinse their costumes, not walk around in bare feet, drunk too much alcohol then their experience and safety can be at risk,” advises Sunbeach dealer John Threadgall of Yorkshire Spas. “We encourage holiday let owners to clearly display a user guide both next to the hot tub and in their welcome pack also giving users reasoning behind guidelines. “This information can prevent guests contacting the owners regarding dirty water, help quicker changeovers and help keep guests safe.”
Tel. 01623 706185
ADDED BENEFITS FOR HOLIDAY HOT TUB EXPERIENCE
Specialist suppliers, Golden Coast has an extensive range of accessories designed to make the most out of hot tubs no matter what the season. When it comes to heating, costs can soar, but with the Dura Pro heat pump owners can cut bills by thousands. The inverter-driven air source pump heats water up to 40°C and maintains the desired temperature while operating on a lower current. This means it uses less energy compared to electric hot tub heaters, and the nominal current removes the risk of overloading the park’s power supply. Tried and tested even in cold temperatures as low as -15°C, Dura Pro is a high-efficiency pump that ensures consistent, year- round performance. If your hot tubs overlook picturesque scenery, be sure to maximise the impact by hiding the cover out of sight. The VisionLift hot tub cover lifter positions the cover to the back of the spa where it rests on the deck or patio — giving users an unobstructed view of their surroundings. The lifter is built from aluminium and high-strength galvanized steel with corrosion- resistant power-coating for long-term, maintenance-free use. When space is a premium, why not try the easy-to-install Cover EX lifter, which requires only 254mm of clearance space. It is suitable for most square and rectangular hot tubs and is built to last with robust aluminium brackets and reinforced double tubing on the bends. Adding steps to a spa can make access easier and safer for users. The Waterway step is made of durable UV-protected polypropylene, has large 838mm wide non-slip treads, and a sturdy 363kg weight capacity. It is perfect for all sizes of hot tubs and comes in a range of colours to suit the spa’s aesthetics.
Te. 01271 378100
Never has there been more attention on outdoor space, as Sue Hollingshead reports…
With the advent of a ‘new normal’ you could argue it has never been more important to ensure the outdoor space on our holiday destinations, not just meets but exceeds customer expectations. As we witness the stampede to UK holiday parks, demands on our outdoor space have been dramatically heightened with the combined influences of social distancing, and the need to stay at a safe distance, coinciding with a renewed interest in the great outdoors. “The initial first impression when a customer arrives on the park is paramount and can set the scene for the remainder of their stay,” believes Sian Gomersall, Group Marketing Services Manager, Poole Bay Holdings. “To create a great outdoor experience for owners and holiday makers alike, it is vital that holiday parks create a warm and inviting atmosphere,” she adds. “We offer recycled plastic furniture that has a host of benefits and lasts 25 years so there is no need to replace it for a long time,” Sian continues.
“Play areas for children are a big plus and again, recycled plastic outdoor play furniture such as play boats and planes can encourage little ones to explore imaginative play,” she says. Doug Barr, Sales Manager at Woodberry, points out “Customer flow and signage is also key to a great visitor experience, knowing where to park for reception, which way to go, what to do, all helps people feel relaxed and reassured - especially after this year of uncertainty.” It is not just about the landscaping, entrance layout, and perfectly planted floral pots, all of which are indeed important. Throw in a tidy grassed area, well maintained gardens, thoughtful customer-focused layouts into the mix and you are moving towards the ultimate top rates on reviews. Discreet bin storage is an essential day to day management element that can adversely affect the atmosphere if not managed effectively. Park lighting strategies are needed for visibility and safety, however, is also a vital part of the aesthetics. Small pockets of communal seating, in open spaces within the park, are essential for creating good aesthetics and areas for relaxation.
The children’s playground is typically a well populated area and an area where seating is important as Doug explains: “Seating is always a welcome addition adjacent to playgrounds, parents are on holiday too so they get to relax whilst still keeping an eye on their children and enjoying family time together. “It is also well known that timber play equipment has more anti-bacterial qualities than metal or plastic as wood naturally kills bacteria on surfaces quickly,” Doug adds.
“DEMANDS ON OUTDOOR SPACE HAVE BEEN DRAMATICALLY HEIGHTENED."
Well-managed communal areas are great, but we do all like our own space don’t we. Therefore a few finishing touches of accommodation essentials should surely include for outdoor tables, chairs, parasol, BBQ and maybe an outdoor hot tub. “Within a holiday park, it is vital that the private lodge area has everything a visitor would want,” Sian emphasises.
“The option of a BBQ and dining tables and chairs create a home from home environment. Recycled plastic furniture can be wiped cleaned, meaning that the visitors can simply wipe down after a rain shower and use immediately. Decking and walkways can also be created from recycled plastic with an anti-slip finish for a safe environment. Recycled plastic raised beds would also be a great addition for summertime with blooming flowers, adding a nice touch of colour to the outside area of a cabin/lodge. EV charging facilities are now pivotal. In September, electric vehicle registrations increased by 183.4% compared to the same period last year. “Visitors will be at peace of mind knowing that the destination offers EV charging, whether that be free charging or tariff-based charging,” says Sultana Rahman, Marketing & Social Co-ordinator at Rolec Services. “As the government have set out plans to completely abolish the sales of diesel and petrol vehicles, the need for charging points at such destinations is fundamental and will be a determining factor towards which caravan/holiday park they decide to visit.”
With the major uptake of cycling this summer, it would be a mistake to forget cycle storage, advises Fraser Dixon, Business Development Manager at Fordingbridge . “It makes perfect sense to promote cycling through a holiday park,” says Fraser. “Guests, more often than not, are looking for a healthy outdoor lifestyle when away, and anything to promote this is a definite must. “Not only will you have the safety benefits from reduced traffic through the park, but it also creates a feeling of wellbeing with guests. “That said, it is wise to move away from generic steel cycle stores in a holiday park setting; the last thing you want to achieve is remind guests of their daily commute to the train station when on holiday,” he says. Covered cycle areas can be pretty too; living sedum roof structures or flowing tensile canopies serve the need perfectly and complement the surroundings without looking utilitarian. Doug adds: “A good option is to have a few bike storage areas around the park, not necessarily that each accommodation has one – but so there won’t be one far away.” However you prioritise the multiple elements of your outdoor space management strategy, the overall principle is the same; to deliver the ultimate customer satisfaction to trigger return visits and repeat business, a worthwhile investment in your annual business planning
ATTENTION TO OUTDOORS DETAIL
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BETTER SAFE THAN SORRY WITHOUT DOOR COVER
On any park, the cost of buying and maintaining outdoor essential equipment can quickly add up. Compass Insurance recommend you record the replacement value of all your equipment, no matter how large, small, cheap or expensive the items are, ideally backed up with evidence of values, such as receipts. It will then be easier to make insurance claims (or make the decisions not to claim) should they get damaged or destroyed. As with any other equipment on a park, the likes of bike shelters, racks, bins, seating and other outdoor furniture will need to be regularly inspected for damage, wear and tear etc. All equipment should be kept in good condition and records of all risk assessments made, maintenance, checking, cleaning etc. should be formally documented and kept readily accessible. This is particularly important in relation to any Public Liability that might arise.
Tel. 0344 274 0277
Environmentally-friendly tourism is in safe hands, as Emily Martin reports...
The holiday park industry is big business. In a 2019 study, carried out by Frontline Consultants on behalf of the UK Caravan and Camping Alliance (UKCCA), it was found that in the UK alone, campsites and holiday parks generate £9.3bn in visitor spending and support 171,448 full-time employees. That accounts for 8% of the UK tourism industry overall and is a colossal figure everyone involved is surely keen to protect. But, as any big business does, it can come with a great big dirty footprint and, for business owners, it’s striking the balance between what makes their accountants happy, but also what’s environmentally something to be proud of that poses a perpetual challenge. Happily, the custodians of the gorgeous pockets of the UK, known as holiday parks, are proving they are more than up to the challenge.
It is impossible to go any further without mentioning the David Bellamy Awards which takes place every year and is one of the longest-running green tourism awards in the UK. It is truly seen as the benchmark for holiday parks who pride themselves on their green credentials. The late Mr Bellamy himself, who sadly died in 2019, remarked when he piloted the scheme in 1996, that his dream was to: “Upgrade all caravan parks to some sort of conservation status so that they can educate the visiting public and help them respect and care for the countryside.” A romantic notion indeed, but sometimes being ‘green’ has to be lower down the priorities list for a business ultimately focussed on making a profit, or does it? In 2007 there was a major revision of the judging criteria for award winners, done to acknowledge the increasing importance of energy saving and sustainability issues. With businesses cottoning on to the fact that caring about the environment is well worth it in order to preserve their incomes for the future, it’s been embraced by the industry in a myriad of ways. Rufus Bellamy, environmental adviser to the British Holiday and Home Parks Association, and David’s son, is now charged with continuing his father’s work. He says, “Many parks in Britain are blessed with abundantwildlife, and their owners are generally mindful of the need to manage their natural surroundings with sensitivity.” And Jon Boston of the BHPA says: “Holiday parks are commercial operations - they need to make a profit to stay in existence and keep their staff employed. “But these days, and especially during the pandemic, people want to get out into the countryside and discover places where they can get the benefits of fresh air and rural surroundings, so it’s actually a commercial investment to ensure parks are environmental oases.”
This all sounds lovely in theory. Idealistic, utopian holiday parks teaming with squirrels, fluttering with butterflies and leafy trees filled with birds is what we’d all hope for, but when going green costs money, how does it all work in reality? How much do holiday parks actually prioritise sustainability, and crucially how much of their budget will get allocated to overcoming the challenges? Kaz Mortimer is Group General Manager of Shorefield Holidays, a family owned business with eight parks across the south coast, and proud recipient of a Gold David Bellamy Award this year. Kay says: “Good green credentials are very important to our business.We have started the implementation of electric vehicles in our company fleet, as well as installing LED lighting to reduce light pollution and power consumption. “Our indoor swimming pool at Shorefield Country Park, is heated and runs on bio fuel and, where essential tree works are carried out, we re-use the chippings on our gardens.” FraserWatts, Operations Manager at Away Resorts comments: “Any but there is a commercial benefit when you invest in your micro-ecology environment and it’s something which parks are very keen to do, basically because customers like it and it encourages more customers.”
Zoe House of family owned Ladram Bay Holiday Park agrees: “Our family tries to make sustainability a key factor in all of our business decisions. “The David Bellamy Conservation Award Scheme incorporates many of our values, and we have been closely involved with it from the outset,” Zoe continues. “Perhaps one of its most vital roles is to demonstrate that parks such as ours can play a major part in protecting and enhancing the natural world, and at the same time create a more exciting and enjoyable place for people to visit. “One very successful recent project was to retrieve one ton of plastic waste washed up on our private beach. We showed the growing total on a rising column of sand on a special display board near the beach path, and children especially showed great enthusiasm to help us reach our target! “Other initiatives involve substantially greater cost, such as our decision to reduce by 33% Ladram Bay’s carbon footprint,” she continues. “This has included a £300,000 investment in a solar energy system which will prevent a massive 171 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually from entering the atmosphere.We have also expanded our fleet of all-electric vehicles, and plan to introduce car charging points for customers. “We don’t, of course, expect to gain commercially from such actions – but they all fit into the wider objective of providing the park with a sustainable future. This policy isn’t something we especially boast about to guests, but it’s amazing how many do take a genuine interest in our environmental work and are keen to hear about our plans. We have always felt privileged to be able to live and work in such a project we undertake, always has considerations for being environmentally and eco-friendly." added Zoe.
Without financial return on investment, is the appeal for businesses purely a desire to just…do something good? Jon Boston again: “David Bellamy himself was very keen on holiday parks publicising what they were doing to encourage people to go there, because that in turn would encourage the park to spend more on its environmental initiatives. “It’s not done for commercial reasons, it's a beautiful part of Devon, and putting something back into the region is its own reward.” Ladram Bay are not alone. This feeling that being green is simply the right thing to do, regardless of the investment it takes, is echoed widely. Henry Wild of Skelwith Fold caravan park comments:“Businesses, including holiday parks such as ours, will evaluate most new projects in terms of their cost and the likely payback period. “But this doesn’t work when weighing up investments intended to produce environmental benefits. They may, in the long term, make the park a more attractive or appealing proposition for holiday guests, but you would be hard pressed to see this reflected in the balance sheets.
Skelwith Fold go the extra mile with environmentally measures such as treating wastewater naturally by channelling it through specially cultivated beds of iris plants. Maintaining these beds is a costly year-round commitment, and it could be argued that simply using chemicals to make the water safe would be far cheaper. Henry says: “To my mind, sweet- scented irises provide a much more attractive outlook than an industrial treatment plant, and the system is more ecologically sound. “In a similar vein, our visitors greatly enjoy spotting the red squirrels and roe deer in our grounds. “But these animal numbers would probably be far fewer if we didn’t implement a labour-intensive winter- feeding programme, or spend time and money on creating the conditions and habitats which enable such species to flourish. “We choose to take such initiatives not for any financial gain, but so that we can have pride in a business which is impacting positively on the environment.” It’s certainly impressive and extremely heartening to find that the more you dig into the complex workings of holiday parks, the more intricate the environmental duty of care being practised really is. From tiny bee hotels to huge solar installations, it seems that the UK’s most celebrated and beautiful places are in very safe hands. HenryWild sums it up nicely: “I really don’t believe that business decisions should be entirely profit focussed. If this year has taught us anything, it is that quality of life is all about how we feel and our sense of wellbeing. “Connecting with nature benefits both, and if our park can play a small part in nudging this along, I’ll be perfectly happy!”
The effects of the pandemic on staff retention and employment…
It would be fair to say that staff retention has been a hot topic over recent months, in light of COVID-19 implecations, writes Sue Hollingshead. As we entered Lockdown in March, it was naturally a difficult time for everyone and also an unknown entity. Staff being furloughed, not being able to physically go to work, not being able to go anywhere for that matter, created a scenario that was totally new to us all. Holiday Park Scene has been researching how it affected employers within the holiday park sector and we have been pleasantly surprised by the positivity. Lisa Charles-Jones, HR Director from Parkdean Resorts reflects: “The response of our teams was fantastic. For example, we were first forced to close just before Easter, and rather than all our fresh food and drink going to waste, teams decided to donate to local foodbanks in their communities. “We also worked with the NHS to provide accommodation for key workers at four of our parks, which was our own small way of saying thank you,” says Lisa. “We were fortunate that we were able to keep hold of all our staff under the furlough scheme, and each park had regular online socials to check in on everybody and maintain the family spirit that is so important for our teams.”
Danielle Lasky, Head of People Operations at Away Resorts shared how their teams faired: “COVID-19 has made our team stronger than ever and the spirit that has been shown from our team members during Lockdown has been incredible! “We used our internal social media platform to engage with our team members while they actively took the initiative to pioneer some of their own engagement events – interactive quizzes, bingo, comedy nights. “It was uplifting to see how much creativity there was across the business. We were really keen to keep the lines of communication open and our CEO, Carl Castledine, very much led from the front. “At the height of Lockdown Carl was providing three recorded updates a week to all team members, ensuring teams were fully informed as to what movements there were across the business but also providing some well needed reassurance in what was such an uncertain, vulnerable time for all.” The approach by Parkdean Resorts and Away Resorts is refreshing, it was also a framework adopted by many companies throughout the country. A key part of retaining staff revolves around investing in their mental wellbeing, whether this is to support them in their role, tipping into their personal life, financial or otherwise. The true results of how companies have handled and supported their staff during Lockdown will be evident post- Lockdown. Danielle said: “We could not be prouder of how our team have adopted the new safe ways of working. “The hospitality and leisure industry can often be very demanding and the added need for protective equipment has made the demands on these roles higher – but our team have seamlessly taken on the challenge and excelled. It was such a great feeling to open our doors and welcome the team back when reopening on 4th July.” We are lucky to be in a buoyant market, with the Staycation having taken off massively as we were able to start travelling again. Parkdean reported huge demand and were able to bring back all of their staff from furlough and in fact hired a further 1,500 seasonal workers across the country to cope with the demand. A trend which we have seen throughout the market with its strength continuing to grow.
With his experience in recruitment, Jim Gandon, Managing Director of Annesley Gandon, for offered valuable advice: “Recruiting is sometimes the easy bit, retaining them can be the challenge.When it comes to recruitment, the biggest mistake we see is the lack of due diligence undertaken,” he said. “Candidates can look great on paper, but we can all write a CV that looks good. The key is a good track record and previous performance.” Jim advises when interviewing always ask for specific examples of things that have gone well, this doesn’t always relate to financial it could be systems and processes put in place. If they are good, then they should have a few examples of these. “Always take references and ensure that they have worked at the places they say they have, ask for their last two previous employers as a reference. If they have an excuse why you shouldn’t talk to them then that should be a cause for concern.” Retaining a team is one of the biggest issues we come up against, Jim continues: “As an employer, we should be creating an environment that is a pleasure to work in. Believe it or not we still come across employers that think it is the employees’ privilege to work for them and they should be thankful!
“We have put together teams that have made companies millions in extra revenue,” Jim says. “This has all been about the right people, in the right place, within a positive environment. For the most part recognition is the biggest driver for most people, small gestures like a thank you or a team night out goes a long way. “Yes, there are lots of employee benefit schemes around, but the simple things are the most important.” The next step, as advised by Jim, is to ensure that a new employee has the right level of induction and introduction into the company. This was endorsed also by Lisa and Danielle, and clearly a vital part of the process. Setting goals, targets, and review dates may seem unnecessary to the employer when employing someone they feel will be a perfect for the role, however the employee will flourish from having the guidelines and clarification of the employers’ expectations. So, what thoughts for post- Lockdown and the immediate future, we wonder. Jim commented: “The strength of the market is almost as unprecedented as the pandemic itself. “The appetite for the UK holidays and holiday home ownership post- Lockdown is like nothing I’ve ever seen in my 30 years in the industry.
“The tougher side is where operators have realised they need to make redundancies, however there are also many opportunities for people as other companies grow.We have seen some very forward-thinking operators using this period of time to invest in their products and services for 2021.” Lisa agrees: “Unfortunately a lot of people have lost their jobs, but that could provide a great opportunity for sectors like ours which have been thriving over the past few months. “We’re always keen to recruit from a variety of professional backgrounds, and we may see people from other sectors making the move into our industry. “There was a fantastic level of co-operation across the sector as we all worked together to lobby the Government and local MPs. There’s no doubt that together, we’re stronger, and hopefully we’ll continue to collaborate together in the future.” Danielle concludes: “It has been such an unfortunate period watching so many people become vulnerable to redundancies, from a recruitment perspective it has infiltrated the market with some truly fantastic candidates! “We are continuing to grow as a business and have some amazing opportunities at all levels so I hope we can provide some stability for job seekers that have found themselves in an unfortunate circumstance this year.” Despite having had a challenging year which has affected Human Resource departments massively, there is clearly positivity for the holiday sector with some strong feedback, advice, and strength for future employment.
Tel: 01223 843888
Tel: 01442 817398
Tel: 01912 560795
THE PERFECT FIT
Hot tubs that add desirability to your holiday offering…
A hot tub not only adds a touch of luxury but can also increase occupancy and revenue by up to 60%. The year of 2020 has been a year to remember with a huge demand in holidaying in the UK and in particular choosing accommodation that allows you to have your own space and privacy. This trend is set to continue in 2021 with many properties up on bookings for the year. According to Google, holiday cottages with hot tubs was the third most searched holiday phrase this year, up by 300% compared to the previous year.
A HOT TUB NOT ONLY ADDS A TOUCH OF LUXURY BUT CAN ALSO INCREASES OCCUPANCY AND REVENUE BY UP TO 60%.
A hot tub allows families and loved ones to reconnect and spend quality time together – something we all appreciate even more so after the Lockdowns of 2020. People are also focusing on their wellness much more and a hot tub can help with this – soothing aches and pains, reducing anxiety and stress and relieving headaches. All reasons that may inspire a customer to book a holiday property with a hot tub. A Platinum Spas Holiday Let hot tub is the perfect addition to holiday cottages, holiday parks, leisure parks and glamping locations. Platinum Spas is part of the UK’s leading distributor Superior Spas, soon to become Superior Wellness. Renowned for quality and innovation at affordable prices with unrivalled warranties. The Holiday Let hot tub is designed to be minimal maintenance to offer site or cottage owners the perfect solution. Specific to the holiday sector, the Holiday Let hot tub seats five people with 40 jets – perfect for families or a group of friends. Platinum Spas are also looking at introducing a holiday let hot tub for four people – perfect for a couple or small families. The hot tub meets the HSG282 regulations; which are the guidelines for businesses to be able to offer a hot tub for financial gains.
Many people ask about the pitfalls and problems as it surely can’t be all about increasing revenue. Gareth Ward, Sales Director, Superior Spas advises: “We do get a number of queries from potential buyers and this is a common question. The constant upkeep, care and maintenance is the biggest downfall. “You need to look after your hot tub and ensure you provide the care and maintenance it needs and stick to the guidelines. However, the increase in revenue you will receive in terms of price per night and occupancy will outweigh any time and money spent on the upkeep,” continues Gareth and adds: “We recommend that the hot tub is replaced approximately every five years depending on usage. No matter where you are you are always in control with your hot tub. You can add theWiFi module to monitor the status and access the settings of your hot tub from anywhere in the world.
“THE INCREASE IN REVENUE YOU WILL RECEIVE IN TERMS OF PRICE PER NIGHT AND OCCUPANCY WILL OUTWEIGH ANY TIME AND MONEY SPENT ON THE UPKEEP.” - Gareth Ward, Platinum Spas
The app provides you with the interface to control all of your hot tub functions, transforming your mobile devices into a remote control using a wireless or cellular internet connection. You can set your temperature settings and choose your preferred setting for water care including super energy savings and weekender. To use this app, you need the in.touch 2 modules from Gecko Alliance. There is no compatibility with the in.touch first generation. Connect it to any smartphone or tablet. The perfect app for owners who want to connect their hot tubs to the internet – saving you time and money.
Although this year has seen unprecedented demands for all types of hot tubs, Platinum Spas have still been able to supply the holiday let hot tub. Gareth reassures: “We have seen a huge increase in demand this year for our holiday let hot tub and the lead times have increased due to this. “I would advise you to plan in advance and order your hot tub now to ensure it arrives in time for the start of the season for next year. Don’t wait until the new year as you may miss out on additional revenue by not having one sooner.”
Superior Spas work with the largest dealer network across the UK, who distribute the holiday let hot tubs on their behalf. They don’t offer any special arrangements such as lease or buy-back offers and currently work with Sykes Cottages as their preferred hot tub supplier, is the personal touch and the proximity. They are on hand to answer your queries and some offer training and guidance tailored to you. “They also offer a great service and I would advise you to purchase from them rather than an online hot tub retailer where the service level may be poor and they could be a long distance from you.”
T: 01246 559071
ROLLER COASTER YEAR
The ups and downs of 2020,as the Holiday Park Scene team reports...
It was emotional to witness the end-of-week show at a leading UK holiday resort just before the start of England’s second Lockdown. Not knowing if they were going to get the opportunity to perform in December, the outstanding entertainment team burst into festive song for their encore, just in case they never get the opportunity to stage their Christmas show. The disappointment and uncertainty was tangible. A roller coaster year of famine, feast then famine again, Covid-19 has taken its toll on morale across the UK holiday sector through 2020. A short reprieve from Lockdown this summer meant many holiday parks were able to fire up and get back to some form of business as usual, albeit with restricted booking numbers to comply with new safety measures and a great deal of logistical thought going into communal areas and social distancing.
As the next wave of this pandemic continues to batter Britain, a second enforced national Lockdown has forced holiday parks to cancel bookings and close once again, with staff left fearing an uncertain future. All is not lost. With overseas travel restricted and families desperate to fit in a winter break, December and January are shaping up as the new peak season months. Helen Scott is the Director of Cofton Holidays in South Devon. A family-run business established over 40 years and usually booked year-round with guests enjoying the luxury cottages, lodges, bubbling hot-tubs and static caravans; the bustle of busy restaurants serving Devonshire cream teas. As she spoke to Holiday Park Scene magazine, the resort lay still, silent, empty - with almost 95% of its workforce on furlough.
Our staff are like our family,” says Helen, “We are all so close and work together well as a team, so we are feeling sad. “Nobody knows how this will play out or what the future holds,” Helen continues. “The uncertainty of not knowing if there will be further Lockdowns in the future is something that worries us all and, as we’re usually open 365 days a year, this second national Lockdown has hit us hard.” After months of hard work to make sure guests could visit safely, this Lockdown has been such a blow to places like Cofton. Helen says: “Our team worked tirelessly after the first Lockdown to secure bookings for November, so to see them cancelled is a real shame. It seems so strange for us to have to send our customers away once again.”
December could be one of the busiest months of the year at Park Holidays UK after hundreds of families learned that their hopes for a November break had been dashed. The latest Lockdown means that the company has had to cancel all November holidays, but director Tony Clish says that many guests have opted simply to delay their stay. “Under our coronavirus guarantee, customers can book with confidence because we promise a full no-quibble refund if they are forced to change their plans.
“In fact, we’re finding a large number of couples and families are asking if they can time-shift their break until December – and we’re happy to make the changes without cost. “Added to the high volume of existing bookings we already have, I think it’s likely that December will be as busy as high season across our parks. “It’s great news for everyone, including Britain’s tourism economy, but it means people will need to be fast on their feet if they want to enjoy an escape next month. “Some of our parks are already approaching capacity, so we must work on the basis of first come, first served,” said Tony. Instead of closing after the October half-term, a total of 13 of the group’s 30-plus parks are this year continuing to welcome guests until the week before Christmas. Despite the heavy demand, says Tony, off-season prices will apply.
During December, and guests will stay in luxury lodges and premium grade holiday caravans. The holidays are all being offered on an “accommodation only” basis with many of the parks’ usual facilities remaining closed or operating on reduced hours. “There’s going to be a very relaxed atmosphere across our parks, and I think that’s exactly what people will be wanting after another month of Lockdown,” said Tony. “Roads, towns and visitor attractions will all be less busy, and you can enjoy beautiful coast and countryside walks with the feeling that you’ve got it all to yourself. “It will be a great chance to chill – but also to stay snug as all our holiday homes have super-efficient central heating and high levels of insulation.”
The owner of a Cornwall holiday park has spoken of his ‘gut-wrenching dismay’ at having to cancel more than 130 free holidays for Lockdown heroes in November. Patrick Langmaid of Mother Ivey’s Bay in Padstow had pledged to give key workers the holidays as a massive ‘thank you’ for their bravery and commitment during the continuing Covid crisis. But with the second Lockdown, the no-cost stays are having to be put on ice. “I am so desperately disappointed that we are having to cancel the free holidays that we had planned and were so looking forward to providing,” said Patrick.” We had hoped to be welcoming staff from the NHS, police, fire service, local foodbanks and care workers for their richly deserved breaks. “Now, instead of preparing for their arrival, we are contacting them to let them know they can no longer come with their families and spend time with us,” he said. Throughout November, 137 key workers from across the UK were to be welcomed at Mother Ivey’s, and a further 21 in December at its sister-park, Martha’s Orchard in Constantine Bay.
“I have great respect and admiration for those who have kept Britain going during these challenging times, and it’s so sad that they are not going to be able to have the benefit of these holidays. “Key workers need respite too, and their personal wellbeing seems to have been forgotten during the recent announcements.” Patrick is calling upon the Government to make special provision for key workers and their wellbeing during this new Lockdown, including giving them the important downtime to relax. “Everyone needs a break, and especially those who have been tirelessly working on the frontline for the past six months,” says Patrick. It is not easy for the on-site owners who, Cofton’s Helen Scott says, have been very understanding, or the customers, many of whom have had rearranged trips cancelled yet again: “Our customers are very sad to see us closed but understand this is what needs to be done,” Helen says. “Cofton Holidays is their haven; their get away from it all. Helen says they’re using the time as best they can and trying to look ahead positively: “We are making the most of being closed and progressing with work that we would have found difficult to achieve with customers staying on site.
“We want our customers to really see the difference when they return. During the last Lockdown, we improved our roadways and footpaths, developed our beautiful wildlife corridors, introduced new super pitches and increased security with the installation of ANPR barriers. We know that next year will be a bumper season for staycations. We’re already seeing a significant increase in our bookings for 2021.” Helen remains pragmatic about the government handling of the crisis. “I just keep thinking, who would want to be in their shoes? Would any of us do a better job? “The furlough scheme has been a godsend and has helped us protect the jobs of our Cofton team, which is extremely important to us. “Looking back to earlier this year, I wonder if the first national Lockdown was too harsh, especially on Devon and Cornwall which was not as affected by the Coronavirus compared to other regions.”
STRATOSPHERIC SEASON AHEAD
Park Holidays UK is plunging £2 million into the building of a new luxury pool at Dovercourt Holiday Park in Harwich – and says its bracing itself for a staycation year ‘like no other’ in 2021. The group reports that it has given the green light to new investments across its 30-plus holiday parks as bookings for next year hit ‘stratospheric’ levels. “Make no mistake, Britain will be the place to be on holiday in 2021 and we are going to be ready for it,” says Park Holidays UK director Tony Clish. “Families will be seeking-out top quality experiences in this country as a substitute for going abroad, and that’s just what we intend to deliver,” he continued. “The group will be investing heavily this winter both in its leisure facilities, and in top quality accommodation such as luxury lodges, so nobody will feel they are getting second best.”
Many of next year’s bookings are from families who took a staycation this year and were amazed by how much more enjoyable it was than an overseas holiday. “Less hassle, less cost, beautiful countryside and coasts, and so much more for kids to enjoy - the time is now right for Britain to play up to its greatest strengths” said Tony. Work on Dovercourt’s new swimming pool began this month, and it’s planned that park guests will be dipping their toes in the water from next March with the complex’s interior decked out in a nostalgic seaside theme, plus pool-side relaxation areas and cascading slides.. Next year is likely to be the park’s busiest on record, according to Park Holidays UK. ”We do normally start to receive a flow of bookings around autumn across the group for the following year’s holidays, but this time it’s turned into a deluge,” said Tony. “We are responding by channelling major investments into our parks this winter and making sure that guests will have all of their expectations exceeded.”
Tel. 0191 256 0795
WISH YOU WERE HERE
Picture postcards from Dorset's Golden Cap Holiday Park
Guests to the real-life Jurassic Park on the scenic Dorset coast are unlikely to get bored of the scenery in a hurry. Even after the sunset, Golden Cap Holiday Park have some of the most breath-taking views from their popular Stargazer tents. Marketed under the West Dorset Leisure Holidays banner, Golden Cap Holiday Park has a picturesque location on the Jurassic Coast, just 150 yards from Seatown Beach and surrounded by 2,000 acres of National Trust land. Ideally situated for walkers, dog owners and families, the park is nestled in a quiet valley next to a stream and is surrounded by footpaths. Boasting a fantastic location next to Seatown Beach the Park is a paradise for walkers and dog owners.
There is a peaceful fishing lake on the park as well as a reception, pizza takeaway and visitor information, while the South West Coast Path runs right past the park Just a short drive from the park are Lyme Regis and Charmouth - worldrenowned for fossil hunting and breathtaking scenery. And for those wanting to stay a bit closer to home.
Family-run, Golden Cap welcomes families, friends and couples with a range of accommodation – luxury two and three-bedroom Lodges with sea and countryside views, two and three bedroom holiday homes, glamping units including a Stargazer Belle Tent, Safari tent and camping and glamping options, pitches for touring caravans, motorhomes and camping as well as holiday homes for sale. In 2018, the park celebrated 40 years under the ownership of the Cox Family.
The occasion coincides with the arrival of some brand new modern camping pods, perfect for families, couples and groups. These pods expand the popular glamping range to nine units, some of which are dog-friendly.
Golden Cap Holiday Park
Tel. 01308 442139
ADAPTING TO COVID-19 IMPACT
Woodberry is a leading supplier of outdoor furniture to the UK hospitality industry, with over 100 years combined experience in the family team. As a family run company, Woodberry was fortunate that it didn’t have to shut during lockdown but the company has certainly diversified. With all customers closed, Woodberry quickly diversified their workshop to manufacture temporary hospital doors for the NHS Nightingale Hospitals.
During March and April, the seven-strong family team produced 200 doors per week. In May, it started to supply Covid-19 secure products, such as perspex screens, hand sanitisers and outdoor serveries, to help prepare hospitality customers for reopening. Woodberry also started to run webinars cohosted by industry experts to help prepare customers and interpret the guidelines issued by the government. Speed of delivery for customers was crucial in June as we all finally got confirmation of a reopening date.
Woodberry has good levels of stock and was and is able to delivery within 1-2 weeks of order (or quicker given the need). “We have been incredibly fortunate to be able to remain open and support our customers during lockdown,” says Tim Barr, General Manager at Woodberry. “As a small company we can respond quickly to change. By constantly talking to our customers we have been able to understand their needs and to help their businesses get back up and running quickly, easily and most cost effectively.”
QUIET SITE SECURES TOP AWARD
Family and team members at The Quiet Site in Cumbria are celebrating their triumph in the finals of the VisitEngland Awards for Excellence 2020. The Watermillock Park was named as the Silver winner in the category for sustainable tourism businesses which bring benefits to the environment and local communities. This year’s award ceremony, hosted by popular TV presenter Julia Bradbury, was a “virtual” event streamed live. It was watched at The Quiet Site by Daniel Holder and his wife Anne along with family, friends, holiday guests and members of the Quiet team.
“We were thrilled when it was announced that The Quiet Site is among England’s top three tourism businesses championing sustainability,” said Daniel. “The VisitEngland awards are known as the Oscars for the holiday industry, and we’re very proud to be able to bring this silver award home to Cumbria. “I hope it will help put the national spotlight on our county as a place where visitors can enjoy the world’s most beautiful scenery without impacting negatively on the environment. “After what has been a very testing time for tourism enterprises everywhere, this is a wonderful way to show that the Lake District is truly back in business,” added Daniel.
The Quiet Site has invested heavily in sustainable technologies including solar panels and biomass heating, as well as banning single-use plastics, and implementing a “buy local” policy. Last year, the park opened a “zero waste” food shop which specialises in Cumbrian produce free from unnecessary packaging, and with the fewest possible food miles under its belt.
TRIPLE TRIUMPH FOR OLD OAKS
Glastonbury’s Old Oaks Touring and Glamping Park has scored hat-trick of awards in a national poll carried out by the UK’s two top touring magazines. The readers of Practical Caravan and has scored a hat-trick of awards in a national poll carried out by the UK’s two top touring magazines.
The readers of Practical Caravan and Practical Motorhome voted Old Oaks as their favourite park on which to stay in Somerset, Avon and Wiltshire Dorset. In the same annual poll, readers also named Old Oaks as Britain’s best park for enjoying adults-only stays which are free from the patter of tiny feet.
Completing the hat trick of honours, the publication presented the park with its national award for the Best Green Site in the UK for eco-friendly holidays. Old Oaks has been in the same family’s ownership for over 30 years, and is managed by family members Tara White and her husband James. As well as touring pitches, the park provides a range of exciting glamping options including luxurious fully-equipped mini cedar lodges, shepherds huts and cosy camping cabins.
WELCOME FOR FIRST TIMERS
First-time motorhome users are being promised a soft and sympathetic landing when they pull into one of the Lakes District’s most popular parks for tourers. Skelwith Fold in Ambleside is going all out to win the confidence of couples and families taking their debut drive in a motorhome this year. “It’s clear that many people during lockdown were dreaming of experiencing just such a holiday, and now their chance has come,” said park director Henry Wild. “Hiring a motorhome is now very much on trend with younger guests, and we want to ensure that their first taste of this lifestyle will give them an appetite for more.” Guests arriving at the 130-acre park for the contactless fast check-in will be asked by staff if they have visited before, and offered help if this is their first motorhome outing. “Motorhome hire firms usually do an excellent job of explaining everything during handover, but after that you are on your own and it can feel a little daunting,” Henry said. “Our message is, never be afraid to ask for help at the park – if it hasn’t already been offered by other more experienced motorhome users nearby, which often happens. “Some of our first-timers have already become second-timers, so we’re delighted that those lockdown dreams are living up to expectations!” added Henry.
THE NEW NORMAL - Swimming Pool Focus
Step up your duty of care pool protocols in light of the pandemic…
In the light of the global pandemic, it has never been more vital to show duty of care for your holiday park swimming pool users. You don’t just need to follow the guidance. You need to evidence you are following that guidance. Swim England has published and is constantly updating comprehensive Return to Pools Guidance to coincide with the government controlling lockdown measures. All available through the Swim England website and easily downloadable, five detailed documents have been created and are based on the latest scientific advice and government guidelines. The guidance includes robust recommendations for operators, casual swimmers, lane swimming, family-fun sessions, club activity, teachers and those attending swimming lessons. “As pools reopen, it will not be a case of ‘business as usual’ and we know that things will have to be different, but if we are to play our part in protecting the NHS from another wave of Covid-19 admissions, it is important we follow the latest guidance and adjust to the new ‘normal’,” comments Jane Nickerson, Chief Executive, Swim England The Swim England information aims to support operators in re-opening swimming facilities following the period of closure, due to Covid-19, and provides guidance on reducing the risk of Covid-19 transmission within the swimming pool environment.
The information highlights the continued requirements for safe social distancing and enhanced hygiene regimes, along with guidance on how this will impact on the operational management of swimming facilities. The guide also includes details on getting pools back to operational requirements, certification, programming, understanding the new needs of users coming out of isolation (especially the most vulnerable) and protecting and training the workforce. Operators should have a dedicated officer responsible for Covid-19 considerations, making sure that they are up to date with central or local government recommendations. If your pool water is chlorine-treated to Pool Water Treatment Advisory Group (PWTAG) guidelines, you can state, with confidence, that Covid-19 should not be transmissible through the swimming pool water. It is worth noting that most air conditioning systems do not need adjustment, Swim England advises, however where systems serve multiple buildings, or operators are unsure, advice should be sought from an appropriate heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) engineer or adviser.
Maintaining social distancing is paramount in order to reduce the risk of transmission of Covid 19 between participants, this is important both whilst in and out of the water.
Distance: The greater the distance between participants the lower the level of risk of transmission via air droplets.
Activity: The way in which participants move during the activity will determine how you can control the above two parameters, for example lane swimming is a controlled setting where participants are guided to swim in a set direction.
The swimming pool industry is urging holiday park operators to urgently have their swimming pool check plantrooms and water testing systems by appropriately qualified specialists. “Following extended shutdowns, we have to warn holiday swimming pool operators, they are potentially returning to the most dangerous pathogens lurking in pool water,” warns Dyfed Thompson-Smith of leading supplier, AstralPool UK. “Follow correct procedures including bacteriological tests in case there has been any significant break in disinfection. “It is not scare-mongering,” he emphasises. “It is just being sensible.” Pool users too are being urged to comply with guidance including arriving ready to swim, showering away from the pool and changing rooms, and leaving he pool as soon as possible after swimming. Pool users are reminded to respect people of different swimming standards and abilities, always maintaining appropriate social distance between yourself and another swimmer.
Swimmers need reminding that if they change their pace, by opting for a slower stroke, they may have to switch designated speed lanes while staying hydrated by bringing their own ‘prefilled’ water bottle on to poolside during your swim. Meanwhile, Swim England has pleaded with the Government to ensure swimming doesn’t become leisure’s ‘forgotten activity’ – after it was revealed almost a third of public pools could remain closed for another six months. However, less than 20 per cent of local authority-owned facilities will welcome swimmers back into the water on reopening day – and many of those will be at a reduced capacity. New research also shows 30 per cent of public pools may remain closed into 2021 due to the exceptional costs councils face to reopen facilities – coupled with the income lost during the lockdown period.
BLUE SKY THINKING
The cloud holds the power for switched on holiday business...
If we have learned anything from the global pandemic crisis, and its impact on our holiday business, it is surely the importance of access to user-friendly, joined-up management systems. From on-line marketing to ‘click to confirm’ buttons, as the Covid-19 curtain was raised, a booking stampede was triggered with demand exceeding availability by an estimated three-fold. Switched-on operators now boast sophisticated monitoring systems to alert them to booking trends. The big players will know from geographic triggers which destinations are top of the holiday pops. Equally, from tourer pitches to luxury lodges, they will have a close eye on the trends for holiday accommodation requests. Like all aspects of business, knowledge is the key to success. Capitalising on the gold rush, those operators were quick to raise prices as demand spiralled. Constantly monitoring those graphs, with performance alerts, they are more akin to stock market traders than the traditional bucket and spade brigade. It’s more important than ever that park operators keep pace with technology – especially when it comes to maximising online bookings and sales.
In today’s post Covid-19 market, sharp and effective websites with user-friendly online booking systems, search engine optimisation, e-blasts, apps and cookie-based promotion – the e-marketing revolution is in full flow with the majority of holiday businesses investing or ignoring at their peril. Net Guides are the brains behind one of the market’s most popular systems, GemaPark.
“Online bookings are so important in saving time and increasing revenue,” advises Netguides Managing Director, Dawn Bee. “In the new socially distanced world of today the system should provide online check-in, easy ways to keep in touch with customers if things change, and the ability for customers to manage their bookings and rebook if required,” Dawn adds. “Make sure they are easy for your customers, integrate well with your website, and give you the flexibility to sell what you want.”
Still not convinced? A huge proportion research their holidays on line before going on to click booking links to confirm their holidays. Google data shows that 45% of UK travellers feel comfortable researching, planning and booking trips to new destinations using only their mobile smart phone. More than a third, 33%, of consumers say they’ve used a virtual travel assistant to help organise and plan their next trip. 72% of mobile phone bookings happen within 48 hours of last-minute Google searches. Those booking systems cannot just be business-friendly they need to be user-friendly. For a visitor to the website, the online booking system should be straightforward and easy to use, and clearly provide the visitor with all the information they need to book their stay. It must be logical, with quality pictures and descriptions so that customers can make their preferred selection.
Having the booking page designed in the same style as the website and having the payment taken directly from the website page considerably helps this, and directly increases the number of online bookings made. Customers like to feel comfortable and secure as they navigate around the website booking pages. Equally, the system should be just as simple for the reservation team to use, making it easy for them to carry out tasks such as taking payment, amend bookings, calculate tariffs, generate ‘remote access’ arrival and departure reports and undertake online marketing initiatives. A key advantage of having a webbased booking system that operates off one platform, is that when an online booking is made it immediately goes into the management system, therefore avoiding mistakes and errors.
Another area technology that has started to see major take up by caravan and holiday parks, arcades and family entertainment centres worldwide is the cashless payment system. The system replaces traditional methods of transaction like tokens, coins, and admission tickets with a simple card. Guests use the plastic card, similar to a credit card, to make all of their transactions on site. The cards can be loaded with any amount, and once swiped at an activity, the appropriate value is deducted. The card system goes well beyond a payment method, but includes a full suite of products designed to handle all the pay to play activities, as well as the monitoring of customers activity and games performance. Park operators benefit from the endless marketing and pricing opportunities that become available, while at the same time reduce operating costs and improve cash control. With all customers using cards for their activity within the site or across multiple sites of the same chain, operators have the opportunity to profile their customers and create marketing promotions and packages based on the real spending habits. This in turn can generate more return visits and higher spend during each visit. Ignorance may be bliss but it will be the switched-on holiday park businesses, who embrace new technology, that stand to reap the rewards and benefits of multiple net gains.
KNOWLEDGE IS PLAY POWER
Knowledge is power in all facets of our holiday park provision but especially in the key aspects of play. Getting the play recipe right means the best use of precious revenue and increased customer loyalty for those that include play as part of their offering. Recent research is therefore vital as it arms decision makers with key clues about the opportunities that exist in play solutions. That research, by leading play providers, Proludic, reveals a whopping 89% of parents and carers are more likely to be drawn to a leisure destination with a good quality play space.
The findings show, for the UK population, play is about the child being outdoors, expending energy and expressing themselves. For families and those with closer ties to the child’s development, it is also about spending time together, something which the leisure sector is a big proponent of. It is also viewed as time spent away from digital devices, such as smartphones and tablets. For those with junior aged children, it represents an opportunity for their child to make friends. Due to the impact on overseas travel because of the global pandemic, this year is set to be another recordbreaking year for the UK’s hospitality and leisure sector with both domestic tourist expenditure. “This presents a great opportunity for businesses to take advantage of the increased revenue and grow their market share,” says Anne Parkin, Key Accounts Manager for Proludic, who says holiday destinations are reviewing the play facilities they offer. As providers of creative play, outdoor gyms and sports areas to the leisure sector, leading suppliers, Proludic, carried out their research into the type of play facilities are most desired during their leisure time. “When planning your on-site facilities understanding what families want is vital, whether your business is a holiday destination, pub, restaurant or visitor attraction,” says Anne. “To aid in this, Proludic has undertaken some primary research to discover the key factors involved when selecting a place to visit, and also to understand what will ensure your visitors return.”
The Proludic research evidences the importance of attracting custom, extending dwell time and the financial consequences of that for your business. It identifies the importance of targeting the family market and addressing the diversity of ages. This allows you to plan appropriately for future years to keep pace with the increasingly competitive leisure market. With its extensive range of play equipment for all ages, Proludic offers a varied material palette,” says Anne. “We can also provide bespoke play features to suit your environment to suit space and budget. “We also offer a free design service, which will realise your dreams and work towards ensuring your business stands out in the crowd.” One in three (35%) agreed that they would be happy to travel further to a destination with a good play space. Play also appears to be a good way to build customer relationships and encourage repeat business, with nearly half (46%) stating that they are more likely to return. The research also tells us that half of all leisure customers (48%) would be more inclined to stay longer if a good playground for children was evident. This figure rises to 76% when family customers are taken into account.
INCLUDING THE KITCHEN SINK!
Sue Hollingshead investigates the glamping journey…
When it first sprouted shoots, we could expect a glamping holiday to be in a pod of some description, or a glammed-up tent. Today, we can expect glamping accommodation to be almost anything that has a touch of luxury and quirkiness about it. “Over the years, glamping has gone from an empty shell to offering everything from heating, bathrooms, kitchens, one or two bedrooms, a lounge and dining area and now top of the range glamping pods are fitted out like a hotel suite with everything including the kitchen sink!” The structure of glamping pods has developed to the point that Lesko Modular now offer a 10 year warranty with their range of pods which is a clear indicator how the market has grown. Glamping pods are just the tip of the iceberg of course, also available are: shepherd huts, safari tents, tipis, Bell tents, yurts, domes, wigwams, airstream, vintage caravan, train carriages, tree houses, not to mention quirky options such as tree tents, plane carriages and fuselages. The imagination can be endless to create something different, something inspirational.
Jason Thawley, Innovation and Design Director, Tree Tents, explains: “The key tenet here is individuality, no matter what the structure may be, guests are looking for an experience. “A unique structure in a nice location is always a winner, though it is all in the detail and creating a space where guests feel they have arrived in a niche little world of their own. “Even simple things such as a hammock in a shady spot under a tree, a fire pit with comfortable seating to sit back and enjoy the stars in the evening and well-placed lighting to make things feel cosy.” Tree Tents, offer buildings such as Fuselages, set up high, or in built up areas amongst trees, with various bespoke designs set within trees. Treehouses, not to be confused with Tree Tents, are becoming one of the most sort after types of accommodation at Cooling Camping as James Warner Smith explains: “Part of the desire is the uniqueness, however it is partly also due to the sparsity of supply – treehouses are expensive to build, a practical challenge and present many planning difficulties. “If the obstacles can be overcome, a luxury treehouse is a very safe bet for year-round bookings and constant demand.” Clearly glamping is about the experience as endorsed by key players in the industry. It is also important to remember that although there is an aim to provide luxury, glamping is still ultimately about connecting with the outdoors and all that it entails, so hot tubs, especially the wood-fired version which are growing in popularity, saunas, outside spas and showers, pizza huts, private space are all aspects that should be considered in your strategy when developing either a new site, or refreshing existing. As Britain gradually returns to normal, albeit with the ‘new normal’ to consider, the whole concept of holiday accommodation that puts guests in touch with the outdoors, and provides them with space to be themselves, whether this is family time, or romantic breaks, will tick boxes.
Outstanding UK, providers of safari tents, have seen a surge of business as lockdown has slowly been released both from trade and consumer and are adapting to the new challenges. James King, UK Account Manager says: “Realising that individual pitch options are key in re-opening sites across Europe, Outstanding Tents have launched their sanitary tent. It is a take on the XS model in their extensive range, and is a higher version featuring shower, WC and basin to be placed onsite to offer en-suite facilities to any existing pitch, camping or glamping.” They are not the only company planning for the new challenges, Alan Hetherington, Customer Relationship Manager at Blackdown Shepherd Huts has some sound advice: “We feel that the most important thing new glamping owners should remember, is to know what their customers want from a self-contained unit following lockdown. “Ensure you can offer it to them, with quality, flexibility, and their experience at the forefront of your mind. Focus on offering a unique and bespoke experience that your customers’ want but cannot get elsewhere.
“This is exactly why we offer bespoke shepherd huts and after months of being cooped up at home guests will feel safe, relaxed, and excited to tell their friends and family.” Return on investment on many glamping units are achievable within 12-24 month period, which you would need to set aside other expenditure. From a marketing point of view, getting ahead with social media is considered to be one of the key areas to focus on moving forward.
The Staycation has been actively growing for many years, however we have seen many indicators following recent months that this is set to boom in the short term at the very least. James at Cool Glamping has a clear vision for future predictions: “This year we are seeing more first-time campers and glampers taking holidays in the UK as a result of travel restrictions and coronavirus, so the audience has grown dramatically. “Our hope is that this will convert into a longer time audience, giving our whole industry a larger market in the years to come. “I expect growth to continue in the higher end of the market, particularly for more inventive accommodation. I also expect more hoteliers and boutique accommodation providers to move into the market.” Ian at Lesko Modular adds: “The future for Glamping looks very bright with many large holiday providers that I am aware of planning new glamping developments for 2021. Apart from mainstream we also work closely with major children’s theme parks and are providing themed pods for the 2021 season.” Ian continues: “The benchmark has already been set quite high with regards to quirky accommodation and I feel that we can continue to see increased innovation in all types of accommodation with the emphasis developing on the overall experience itself. “Back to nature experiences, including cooking, creative, learning, developing skills, knowledge, enjoying the great outdoors, with a learning element to the holiday break. “We have already experienced elements of this during lockdown, back to old fashioned values almost, all of which backs nicely into the outdoor holiday experience for the future.”
Blackdown Shepherd Huts
PEACE AND TRANQUILITY
Seafield Caravan Park offers the ultimate getaway location…
Situated adjacent to the picturepostcard village of Seahouses on the Northumberland coastline, Seafield Caravan Park offers its guests the ultimate peaceful getaway and a five star holiday destination. What sets Seafield apart is its dramatic setting and breath-taking outlook. Most pitches on the newest development of the park offer fantastic views of the imposing and majestic Bamburgh Castle and many command panoramic views of the sea and the Farne Islands. In addition, nearly all holiday homes have west-facing doors, which means you can enjoy the sun for the entire day and, in the early evening, watch the sun set in a golden sky through front windows.
"The peace and tranquillity of the park is one of its greatest attractions, which is why we have resisted any temptation to build bars or evening entertainment centres on site,” explains Alison Thompson, park manager. “By far the most critical aspect to the success of the business is the team of people that work on the park, who constantly deliver exceptional customer service which in turn encourages our customers to return year after year.” Seafield is managed by Alison’s father, Ken Britton, along with several other members of the family who are involved in managing the daily running of the business. Part owned by the Britton family, and partly by the Earl of Moray, the park was established in 1960 as a small caravan site. By 1979, it had expanded to include 230 pitches, plus utilities and touring pitches.
THE EXTRA MILE
“Our mission statement of going far beyond expectations is achieved by giving a five star service in every aspect of our business. Attention to detail is of the utmost importance leaving no stone unturned however trivial it might be,” says Alison.
“Perhaps one of our biggest challenges is to always be one step ahead and thinking of ways to continually improve the facilities and service we offer to our guests.” Seafield boasts a string of accolades, including gold David Bellamy Conservation awards and gold Enjoy England status. Most recently, Seafield was named as VisitEngland’s Holiday Village of the Year and is a multiple gold winner in the North East Tourism Awards yearon- year.
Many of caravans on the site are privately owned, but the park also hires lodges, apartments and touring pitches. During the peak season, Seafield operates at an average occupancy rate of 92 per cent across its caravans and chalet lettings, of which 62 per cent are repeat bookings.
A post millennium construction of a £2.5 million private leisure club, The Ocean Club, consists of a 20m indoor swimming pool, a separate children’s pool, gymnasium and spa area – further extension work carried a budget of around £700k. The premier leisure club runs as a separate spa facility with membership and has twice been awarded Spa of The Year by the prestigious spa house Thalgo. There has also been significant investment in occupancy with 230 new pitches and a further £30,000 outlay to improve Wi-Fi facilities on the park.
All Seafield’s touring pitches are ‘Super Pitches’ – hard standing with electric, water, sewerage and drainage and including an electric light. Heated toilet and shower facilities are close to all pitches, along with laundry and dish washing facilities. For those families with small children, you’ll find a full size bath in the ladies toilet block along with a separate baby bath in the designated baby changing room. Alison comments: “Our typical customer base includes families with young children, activity groups such as golfers and walkers, plus over 50’s looking to rest and relax.
“We liaise with tourism partners to identify our target market and work closely with them as well as other tourism businesses in the community to conduct marketing and promotional campaigns to attract new and existing customers to stay with us.” The park operates a privilege card scheme, allowing its guests to enjoy discounts at some of the area’s top attractions, including Farne Islands, Alnwick and Bamburgh Castle. The park owners have also invested in a strategic social media marketing campaign, to communicate discounts, offers, latest news and availability, through Facebook, Twitter and e-newsletters via MailChimp.
Seafield Caravan Park
Tel. 01665 720628
STAYCATIONS SPARK HOLIDAY HOME BOOM
Park Holidays UK is reporting an explosion in demand from new holiday home buyers with enquiries soaring fuelled by the likelihood that overseas holidays will be a no-go this year and possibly next.
Park Holidays UK director Tony Clish says his group hopes to avoid rationing the distribution of holiday caravans and lodges among its 31 parks. “We do carry good levels of new stock at present, and existing owners trading-up to 2020 models means that we should have plenty of pre-owned holiday homes to offer,” he said.
“Sales enquiries slowed in March when government ordered the shutdown of parks – but they’ve since been escalating to a phenomenal extent throughout spring. “I think there’s the realisation that one of the best ways to enjoy staying in the UK is by owning a holiday home where you can take breaks throughout the four seasons.
“That, of course, and the fact that a park is perhaps the safest of all holiday destinations with completely selfcontained accommodation set at least five metres apart. “The staycation trend was already well entrenched before this present crisis, and I think it is going to come back with a vengeance,” added Tony.
SOARING BOOKINGS FOR OCTOBER BREAKS
Verdant Leisure, a bespoke holiday park operator with ten holiday parks in Scotland and the north of England, is reporting a continued trend for staycation bookings this autumn, with October bookings doubling on autumn 2019. “We’re continuing to see recordbreaking bookings across all our UK parks,” says Verdant Leisure’s Chief Executive, Graham Hodgson. “This is really helping to boost the local economies in the Scottish and English regions where our parks are located, as each park provides the customer base for numerous other regional businesses, including local suppliers, shops, pubs, restaurants, cafes and visitor attractions,” Verdant Leisure recently secured licences for some of its leisure parks which permit them to open for 12-months of the year.
With the enforced closure and demand for UK breaks now so high, the company was in talks with local authorities to agree this for 2020/2021. The nationwide lockdown from March-June put considerable strain on the many local economies in the UK that rely on tourism to survive. Therefore, extending ‘the season’ was high on the agenda for Verdant Leisure and the British tourism industry as a whole. “As with many businesses in the sector we have seen an uplift in last minute bookings with more people than ever wanting to take a break with their family in the UK – a trend which we predict will continue well into 2021.
We recently announced a half a million-pound investment to increase accommodation pitches at our Scottish parks to keep up with demand and these are due for completion in the next few weeks, ready for our autumn visitors,” continues Graham. Verdant has also recently invested £500,000 to keep up with the current staycation demand. A new luxury lodge development has been completed at its East Lothianbased Thurston Manor Leisure Park. The company is also starting a new pitch development at Perthshire-based Erigmore Leisure Park.
BEST OF BRITISH TOURISM ON VISIT TO BUTLIN’S
The Rt Hon Oliver Dowden CBE MP - Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport - has visited Butlin’s Bognor Regis to see first-hand how domestic tourism is booming despite COVID-19 restrictions still being in place. Mr Dowden met with holidaymakers and staff – including the famous Red Coats - as he was given a tour by Managing Director, Jon Hendry-Pickup. Butlin’s has introduced a range of measures to keep guests safe whilst still providing the renowned experience that has captivated generations of guests. A new openair amphitheatre is hosting outdoor entertainment from 10am until 9pm at a safe social distance with capacity for up 500 people at Bognor Regis, whilst Butlin’s has also participated in a UK Government pilot to test the use of indoor theatre space at reduced capacity.
New mobile platforms where customers can book activities, swimming and shows in advance to avoid queuing has come into operation and Butlin’s state of the art £40m swimming pool opened in May 2019 – Splash – has resumed operation with new social distancing measures developed in conjunction with Swim England. Butlin’s Bognor Regis generates £90m sales per year with 350,000 guests and day visitors, and 1300 team members – the biggest single employer in the area. Over the past two years, Butlin’s has invested almost £50m in its Bognor Regis site to maintain and enhance its famous guest experience to ensure it remains a Great British success story.
Jon Hendry-Pickup, Managing Director at Butlin’s, said: “Butlin’s has been treasured by generations of British holidaymakers and as COVID-19 restrictions eased it was once again the go-to destination for families across the country. “Whether it be our exceptional outdoor entertainment, access to our brilliant Splash pool or our new methods of booking food and activities, guests can be assured that the Butlin’s experience is as enjoyable as ever whilst remaining safe and secure for visitors and staff.”
INDUSTRY SUPPORT FOR KEY WORKERS
Britain’s caravan and camping parks have been praised by government tourism minister Nigel Huddleston for accommodating front-line NHS workers and others in urgent need of accommodation during the coronavirus crisis.
The British Holiday & Home Parks Association reports “a massive industrywide response” following the closure of all its 2,900 member park businesses this week. The association’s chairman, Andrew Baragwanath, says that medical staff coming out of retirement and needing to be close to NHS hospitals are among those being welcomed.
“We are hearing many examples of parks offering up holiday caravans and holiday lodges, and even glamping units, to local councils and health boards,” he said. “There are a lot of instances where parks are able to play a role, including providing a safer place to stay for homeless people previously housed by councils in B&B accommodation.
“We’ve also heard of parks working with councils to accommodate people who must stay apart from their families as their partner or relative has contracted the virus.
“Parks would normally now be starting to really busy-up as the holiday season gets underway, but instead there are thousands of holiday caravans across the country lying empty.
“Most parks are smaller family-run businesses where the owners have long been a part of the local community, and now see an opportunity to reach out even further to support it. “We are very proud of what we are witnessing and the compassion being shown,” said Andrew whose longestablished family firm owns Ayr Holiday Park near St Ives in Cornwall.
PRIME BBC SPOT FOR BREAN SANDS
Viewers of BBC’s The One Show were given a sneak preview of how a major Somerset holiday park was getting ready to welcome back its much-missed guests. The popular magazine show went behind the scenes at Holiday Resort Unity in Brean Sands as it put the finishing touches to re-opening preparations.
Alan House, director of the familyrun business, showed the programme’s reporter how social distancing and other safety measures would help give peace of mind to guests. He said that bookings had gone “absolutely crackers” in the weeks running up to today, and that staff couldn’t wait to see the park bustling with smiling faces again.
“At last the great British seaside holiday is back, and people can finally enjoy a relaxing carefree break they need and deserve,” said Alan. “Our job now is to provide some truly memorable experiences, and for our business to start salvaging what it can from the rest of the holiday year.”
SURGE IN CARAVAN PURCHASE DEMAND
The UK’s largest digital marketplace for new and used cars, Auto Trader, has reported that views of caravan adverts increased 18% last week and views of motorhomes adverts increased 17%, compared to the previous year. A survey of 2,000 UK adults which the brand carried out to examine this trend further reveals almost half of the population (40%) is planning a 2020 staycation (provided Government guidelines allow), and that caravan holidays are set to almost match stays in hotels this year. Only 40% of those planning a staycation this summer said they would consider staying in a hotel, while 33% say they would consider staying in a caravan - making caravans second only to hotels in popularity amongst those planning breaks.
Caravans are also set to overtake the popularity of rented holiday apartments and houses, which have enjoyed a meteoric rise in popularity over the past few years thanks to a new wave of disruptive rental websites and B&Bs. Demand for rented apartments and houses this summer is set to trail behind that for caravans and hotels, with just 27% of those planning staycations saying they’d consider them. The trend for caravans seems to be being driven by a need to feel safer. 37% said staying in a caravan would mean they could sanitise the environment properly themselves, to limit the spread of germs from those outside their family.
Auto Trader’s Rory Reid comments: “Coronavirus has changed the way we live our lives in so many ways, and there’s no doubt this will extend to our holidays. “Many are unlikely to want (or be able) to quarantine themselves for 14 days after a holiday abroad, so we’ll be seeing UK beaches and other hotspots a buzz with British holidaymakers this summer. He continues: “Caravan holidays in particular will shoot through the roof. The idea of holidaying in a space that you yourself own, which you can clean yourself and which won’t have been used by others recently, is definitely reassuring.”
NORFOLK WELLNESS RESORT PROPOSED
Consultation has begun on a proposed 200 acre ecowellness resort in Ashwicken, Norfolk, comprising of 154 floating and lakeside holiday lodges including treehouse accommodation, a clubhouse on the water and associated boat house.
There will be a specialised focused on water-based pursuits including rowing, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, fishing and open water swimming.
Developer Norfolk Farm Leisure wants to transform Ashwicken Lake near East Winch, with 154 floating and waterside holiday lodges with a £35m investment. The resort has been designed by London-based Baca Architects, which specialises in building on or near water.
The resort will lead to an estimated £8m (£6m in King’s Lynn & West Norfolk, and the remaining £2m in Norfolk) boost to the local economy and the creation of 340 jobs.
WINTER OPENING LIFELINE
Holiday parks and campsites have welcomed the news that they could be given the green light to remain open over this winter. Following a lobbying campaign by the British Holiday & Home Parks Association, the Government has sent a message to local authorities in England, asking them to fast-track applications for a longer season.
Scottish local authorities have received a similar signal from the Scottish Government.
England’s Local Government Minister Lord Greenhalgh said he hopes winter opening requests will receive a “sympathetic approach” following huge losses suffered by most parks this year. The association’s Director General, Ros Pritchard OBE, said the lifeline was a step in the right direction to helping prevent wide-scale job cuts and business failures in the sector. “More than a third of all holiday parks and campsites are required by their planning consent to shut up shop in October – and it’s a moment most of them are dreading,” she said. “After being closed from March until July, they have missed out on months of prime trading time, including bank holidays and half-terms.
“This simply isn’t sustainable for seasonally dependent businesses, and especially the hundreds of smaller family-run parks which make up our membership. “At present, only a quarter of holiday parks and campsites are allowed to remain open all year – and many of the rest will be pinning their survival hopes on keeping going over winter. Although the request by the Westminster Government for local authorities to allow winter opening applies only in England, parks in Scotland are also being supported. BH&HPA, which represents around 2,200 UK holiday parks and campsites, says it is also working with the Welsh Government to achieve similar backing for parks in Wales to remain open over winter.
Family’s Holiday Park Is A Natural Winner
Moss Wood has been heralded as Lancashire’s torch-bearer for businesses with a conscience. Judges in the Lancashire Tourism Awards named the family-run park as first place in the ‘ethical, responsible and sustainable’ category of the awards, beating a strong line-up of contenders from across the North West. It means that Moss Wood will now be fast-tracked through to the national VisitEngland Awards for Excellence later this year in the same category. An awards ceremony, held at Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach Arena, was attended by tourism and business chiefs from across Lancashire.
Henry Wild accepted the award on behalf of his father Syd who first started the park over 40 years ago, and who still plays an active part in its running. Moss Wood, judges said, puts sustainability and care for the countryside at the heart of its business culture, bringing great benefits to the natural environment. The park was also praised for the way it encourages holiday guests and members of the local community, especially children, to engage with nature and to help protect its wildlife.
Henry Wild said that everyone was absolutely delighted to have taken the top sustainability prize: “We are very fortunate to be able to attract staff who share our enthusiasm for the natural world, and for doing everything possible to protect our flora and fauna. “Their knowledge and skills mean we are never short of new ideas for safeguarding wildlife, and for helping youngsters to enjoy making new outdoor discoveries,” Henry continue. “Our family feels very privileged to live and work in this beautiful part of rural Lancashire, and I hope this award will help raise awareness of its very special qualities,” he added.
Moss Wood provides holiday homes to buy as well as pitches for touring caravans and motorhomes. The park has been presented with the David Bellamy Conservation Award at its top gold level for more than 20 consecutive years, recognising its raft of conservation initiatives. These include a recently created 1.5km nature discovery trail, and a 3000 square-foot wild flower wilderness providing vital foraging for honey bees and butterflies.
There is also a spring-fed lake at Moss Wood which acts as a magnet for birdlife, dragonflies, water fowl and a host of other different aquatic species. In addition, the park plays host to thousands of bees in hives on its grounds, and supports bee-keeping charities with the sale of its own artisan beer produced by a local micro-brewery.
Wish You Were Here? Beachcombers Idyll With Winter Walking Breaks
Visitors to Cornwall this winter will be enjoying stunning views, watching the sunset over Holywell Bay and cosying up by the fire while enjoying winter breaks at Trevornick Holiday Park near Newquay. Crisp sea air, deserted beaches and quiet coastal paths make for an invigorating walking holiday at the locals’ favourite time of year and one that remains relatively unexplored by holiday makers.
Trevornick Holiday Park is situated just a short walk thor ugh the sand dunes to Holywell Bay beach. The iconic setting has frequently been used as a filming location, most recently becoming BBC Poldark’s favourite beach. Offering statics, glamping, camping and touring, Trevornick has a choice of three cosy cottages to make guests feel at home home in for the duration of their Cornish getaway.
Trevornick is situated within a beautiful area on a section of the South West Coast Path, a 630-mile-long route, originally carved out by the coastguard to keep a watch over the shoreline, which now provides walkers with endless opportunities to explore the best Cornwall has to offer. Brand new for 2019, the Gull Rocks Beach lodges make living the beachcomber’s lifestyle a breeze. Choose from the Harlyn or Sennen lodges; both finished to a very high standard, designed entirely with the guests’ comfort in mind.
After a day of walking the coast paths and enjoying cosy pub lunches head back to the decking and jump in the hot tub on a crisp winter evening. There is a host of things to do in the UK’s most southerly county during the colder months. From hopping between art galleries, sampling the region’s finest seafood or heading to the clifftops for a brisk hike.
Trevornick Holiday Park and Cornwall are also extremely dog friendly, so there is no need to leave the four-legged family member at home. With the ‘bark and bath’ wash stations located on-site and many local pubs welcoming pooches, they’ll love Holywell Bay too. On site amenities at Trevornick Holiday Park include a shop stocking local produce, places to entertain the youngsters and the Farm Club Bar which is open daily throughout the winter season.
Trevornick Holiday Park
Tel. 01637 830531
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!
WINNER: Hobby Farm, Dorset Commended: Shillingridge Glamping, Buckinghamshire
Commended: Kingley Vale Campsite, West Sussex
GREENER SITE AWARD
These eco-friendly sites can't be beaten when it comes to caring for the incredible British countryside, and all without compromising on the fun of camping.
WINNER: Wild Boar Wood Campsite, West Sussex
Commended: Alderfen Marshes, Norfolk
InterFun Offers Revenue Inspiration
Family holiday park managers will converge in Leeds for the second InterFun Expo to be held on Tuesday and Wednesday April 28 and 29. The B2B event will offer, holiday operators, inspiration and ideas to help attract new and repeat business.
The latest in indoor and outdoor play facilities will be on view. There will also be an opportunity to investigate bolting on new facilities, including mini-golf, rope courses and indoor amusements.
The series of free seminars will offer tips and advice on how businesses can benefit from current trends. InterFun Expo’s managing director, Christine Butterworth, said: “Last year’s InterFun Expo proved hugely popular and our free seminars were packed out.
It’s fast becoming an essential date to put in the diary for holiday park managers who want to expand or update facilities or who are looking to network and catch up on the latest trends in our seminar sessions.” The InterFun Expo takes place at the New Dock Hall, Armouries Square, Harmonies Drive, Leeds, and is free to attend by registering at www.interfunexpo.com/register
Bigger and Better Show Promised
Following the huge success last year of the first ever World of Park & Leisure Homes ‘South of England’ Show’, the organisers have confirmed that not only will the event be returning but promises to be even bigger and better!
Held at the South of England Showground in Ardingly, West Sussex, on Thursday April 2, from 10 am to 4 pm, the event offers free entry and free parking. Combined trade and public access will continue from Friday to Sunday, April 3 to 5.
The trade-only Preview Day provides a perfect platform to do business and find the best deals in privacy and comfort. The special day provides a unique and exclusive opportunity for park owners and operators to spend quality time discussing specific requirements and options.
On display will be an outstanding collection of the latest park homes and lodges from the UK’s leading manufacturers plus, new for 2020, visitors are invited to explore the range of ‘Pods’ and alternative leisure living ideas too.
Complementing the range of Park and Leisure Homes, the visitor experience is further enhanced with a broader and extended range of products to discover and consider.
There are also carefully selected experts, service and product suppliers on hand, all waiting to discuss latest developments, innovations and products in a relaxed and professional environment.
Just turn up with your business card and enjoy this unique shop window, believed to be the South of England’s biggest collection of park and leisure homes on display at any one time.
Park Home and Leisure Show
Tel. 01789 491451
Hoburne Awarded Trusted Service Status
Hoburne Holidays has been awarded the Feefo Trusted Service Award, an independent seal of excellence that recognises businesses for delivering exceptional experiences, as rated by real customers.
Created by Feefo, the Trusted Service Award is only given to those businesses that use Feefo to collect genuine ratings and reviews. Those that meet the high standard are based on the number of reviews collected and their average rating.
As all reviews are verified as genuine, the accreditation is a true reflection of a business’ commitment to outstanding service. Rosie Kennar, chairman of the Hoburne Group, said: “It’s a real honour to receive the Feefo Trusted Service Award for the second year in a row. “To be recognised for delivering exceptional experiences to our customers is a great achievement.,” Rosie continues. “We’ve been working hard to ensure our customers receive the best service possible, going that extra mile to provide truly memorable experiences for our holidaymakers across our parks.”
Hoburne Group was established in 1912 in Dorset and is a family business now in its fifth generation of the Burry family, creating one of the south’s largest and most successful family-owned tourism companies, offering high quality holiday experiences and holiday home ownership.
Hoburne owns eight holiday parks across the south and south west of England, plus three golf clubs under the Hoburne Golf brand and a residential and commercial development operation under Hoburne Development.
All-In-One Booking Management System
One of the most significant changes to Camp Manager since its creation 14 years ago, market leading Camp Manager has launched Camp Manager 2.0 as a cloud-based booking and park management system.
The all-singing and all-dancing CampManager 2.0 offers the complete end-to-end process for managing your caravan park or campsite. Camp Manager 2.0 provides a perfect roadmap for the hundreds of new features and enhancements with feedback from their customers. These include:
• An all-new dashboard
• Multiple bookings in one simple transaction
• Increase direct bookings and compete with online travel agents
• Responsive Interactive site map from any device
• Camp Manager automated communications
“With over eighteen months in development, hundreds of new and enhanced features, we are extremely proud to have released Camp Manager 2.0,” says Andrew Norris, Technical Director for Camp Manager.
“We are now introducing it to, more than 450 clients, and so far, the feedback has been extremely positive,” Andrew continues. “Camp Manager is dedicated to understanding the needs of each customer, we pride ourselves on delivering a tailored system that works for every business.”
With outstanding customer service, the host of new features and functionality, sites are challenged to put Camp Manager 2.0 to test by logging on in the first instance to www.campmanager.com
Haulfryn Group Appoints New CEO
Haulfryn Group which owns and manages a range of luxury holiday parks throughout the UK, has appointed its new CEO, Echo Lu, who took the reins of the company, from February.
Haulfryn, which employs nearly 500, prides itself on delivering a five-star experience for holidaymakers and holiday home owners, with state-of-the-art food and beverage outlets, activities, spas, fitness centres and waterparks on selected parks.
Born and raised in China, Echo completed her military service and attained her first degree there, before moving to the USA to complete her Masters degree.
With an impressive CV spanning over 20 years, her general management experiences include COO for Tesco China, Property Director for Tesco UK/ Ireland and later on Managing Director for Homebase and Holland & Barrett International. Echo is currently a serving Non-Exec Director of Coats Group plc and a Be Inspired Ambassador for Retail Week.
Lifeboat Appeal Makes A Splash
Family owners and guests at a holiday park near Lyme Regis have pushed the boat out for their local RNLI crew by creating a bumper charity windfall.
Wood Farm Caravan Park in Charmouth adopted the Lyme Regis lifeboat as their charity of the year in 2019 – and have been fundraising throughout the holiday season.
When the amount was totalled up, the award-winning business was delighted to find that it was able to donate £3,130 to the RNLI’s lifesaving work. The 45-acre park, which sits in the tranquil Char Valley, is owned by Jane Bremner whose parents, Duncan and Joan, first started welcoming guests almost 50 years ago.
Today, Wood Farm provides luxury holiday caravans to hire, and pitches for touring guests. Park manager Adrian Mowbray said that charity fundraising has long been an important facet of the Wood Farm’s activity, and that guests played an important role in this:”We receive thousands of holiday bookings each year, and on each occasion we offer customers the chance to make a donation to our charity of the year,” he said.
“The overwhelming majority choose to do so, and we top up this sum with a charity party on the park over the August bank holiday weekend,” added Adrian. “This year, we saw over 1,500 holiday guests and local residents enjoy the celebrations – and our volunteers’ with their collection buckets were out in force!”
Extra Support For First Time Buyers
Shrewsbury-based caravan and motorhome dealership Salop Leisure held a first time buyers’ event for caravan holiday homes and luxury lodges recently.
A whopping 75 holiday homes and lodges, priced from £34,995, were on display and Salop Leisure supported with full details of more than 250 parks across Mid Wales and the Heart of England best-suited to the requirements of buyers.
Holiday homes and lodges purchased will be ready on site for the new season. “Within nine weeks of the new year beginning, holiday home parks will be opening for the new season,” said Tony Bywater, Salop Leisure’s chairman. “We have some fantastic deals on holiday homes and luxury lodges for first time buyers.
“The general uncertainty surrounding Brexit in 2019 has been very destabilising for everybody in the UK. However, following the December General Election result, it’s great that a decision has now been made that we are going to leave Europe in 2020. “I think it’s going to be a great boost to our business and to people from all walks of life.
I predict that 2020 is going to be a tremendous year for this country as demand for holiday homes and staycationing in the UK increases.”
Word Of Mouth Existing residents are Park Home Life’s best sales assets….
Swindon-based residential park operator Park Home Life first established its roots as a mobile home transport company in the 1960s. Some 60 years ago, the family business purchased their first park – Pine View Park in Bedfordshire. The company’s portfolio expanded during the 1980s and 1990s, adding four more parks, before re-branding as Park Home Life five years ago.
Today, the company’s Head Office operates from one of its two flagship parks, Blunsdon Abbey Park in Swindon, Wiltshire, which was acquired by the business in 1997. The original Pine View Park remains part of the portfolio, alongside Orchard Park and Wildwood Park in Gloucestershire, and Hillcrest Park in Wythall, West Midlands. Employing a staff of ten, as well as a number of subcontractors, Park Home Life is led by General Manager, Nick Bond- Powell, who joined the business in 2003.
Nick says the business’ main goal is to aim to provide excellent quality homes with driveways, garages, mains utilities and fibre broadband, in a warm, friendly community. “The residents are at the heart of everything we do,” explains Nick. “If you visit on one of our park open days, you will find our residents serving the teas and coffees, and ‘selling’ the positives of park living to their future neighbours. “Our parks are all about building and supporting that old fashioned community feeling.
We actively encourage activities, and it’s fair to say that the majority of our residents enjoy a fantastic social life!” Social activities for the 50+ community at Blunsdon Abbey Park are centred round the recently refurbished Social Hall, part of a former country mansion that was destroyed by fire in 1904.
The park enjoys a unique setting within the conservation area of the parish of Blunsdon St Andrew to the north of Swindon. Since 2010, Park Home Life has been redeveloping the park’s 85 homes, creating larger plots that are better-equipped for modern needs. New park homes, which border the ruins and parkland of the former Blunsdon Abbey House, now outnumber the original older-style, rental properties.
Seven new plots have recently been completed in the redevelopment of an area known as Main Drive. Each of these plots has been sympathetically constructed to a high specification, and also offers attractive views of the Abbey. A similar re-development programme is underway at Park Home Life’s other flagship park, Orchard Park.
A well-established community in the village of Twigworth, situated on the edge of the Cotswolds, Orchard Park will comprise close to 140 homes when fully developed. The first part of the latest development of 21 new homes called The Ribstons is due to complete mid-April 2020.
As at Blunsdon, every home comes with a private garden, garage and adjacent driveway. Purchasers can choose from different sizes of plots and reserve off-plan for a home of their choice. “We are pleased to work with all manufacturers,” says Nick. “Most of our properties tend to be two bedroom homes from Oak grove, Tingdene and Omar to name just a few, but it’s all about customer preference at the end of the day.”
“Many of our clients do their own extensive research. We had a customer recently purchase a plot on one of our parks who had visited 83 parks before he found the one he wanted to call home!
Our team has a can-do attitude… we will always do everything within our power to keep our customer’s happy.” Having a customer-centric ethos has allowed the business to ride out the difficult trading conditions of recent years. “The last two years have been tough for the housing market in general,” says Nick. “We support and hold the hands of our customers all the way through their property sale and park home purchase. “Now that the country is moving on from Brexit and the general election is out of the way we are optimistic we will see a further rise in consumer and market confidence.”
With the park home industry having mostly turned a corner image-wise, Park Home Life spends a large proportion of its budget on marketing to reinforce the now more accepted positive benefits of park home living.
In Nick’s words, “this, and putting into practice the highest standards on our parks, reaps dividends. In the end, it’s all about customer confidence in our product.” For the future, Nick and his team are focusing on completing their existing redevelopments. “Our redevelopment programme has been a constant now for ten years,” explains Nick. “That’s where our immediate plans lie. Once we get the 21 homes completed at Orchard Park, we will have more of the same on this and our other properties. “We want to bring the latest innovations and quality standards of the industry to our existing portfolio, and make our parks the best they can be. Beyond that, who knows what the future holds…”
Park Home Life
Charge Of The Electric Brigade On-site charging is a win, win situation for holiday destinations…
Ladram Bay has upped the stakes in its bid to become one of the UK’s most sustainable holiday parks where guests can enjoy their stays with a clear conscience. Recently, the Devon park spent around £300,000 on a state of- the-art solar energy system across various buildings in its grounds.
The move will be preventing a massive 171 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually from entering the atmosphere. The family-run holiday destination, winner of a David Bellamy Conservation Award, has also swapped two more of its fossil fuel vehicles in favour of the latest green technology.
It brings to five the number of electric run-arounds in use at Ladram Bay in Budleigh Salterton, and at its sister-park Castle Brake in Woodbury, near Exeter, where multiple charging points are installed so that customers don’t suffer from ‘range anxiety’ during their stays. “Our team need to make a lot of stop-start journeys around Ladram Bay and Castle Brake, and this isn’t an efficient use of petrol and diesel vehicles,” says Ladram Bay director Zoe House, whose family has owned the park since 1943. “We were also concerned about the noise they created, and the effect of the engine emissions on our wildlife as well as the atmosphere generally. “Electric vehicles are a perfect solution as they are nonpolluting and much quieter – something which I’m sure our guests who enjoy a lie-in will appreciate!” added Zoe.
The UK government has brought forward its intention to end the sale of new combustion engine-powered cars and vans to 2035, fuelling concerns about the future of the automotive industry and the UK’s readiness for the advent of electric vehicles.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently announced his decision to advance the government’s 2040 target for petrol, diesel and hybrid vehicle sales. The policy was disclosed as the government prepares to withdraw its plug-in car grant in March.
This had supported electric car sales growth and provided customers with as much as £3,500 to purchase low-emission vehicles. Knowing that for holiday operators, revenue can be generated by simply providing a power supply to the charge point location, should encourage operators to electrify their sites.
With this in mind, specialist suppliers to the holiday park sector, Rolec has also recently launched its new electric vehicle charging back office system, EV Charge. Online that enables operators to manage and monitor their customer’s/employees’ charging behaviour via a web enabled device. “Year on year, the uptake of electric vehicles increases and because of this, the demand for EV charging also increases,” advises Head of EV Charging at Rolec Services, Frankie Mellon.
“With more and more EVs on the road, EV drivers are conscious about whether their chosen destinations are equipped with charging facilities to cater for their requirements. “As a result, we are witnessing a proliferation in leisure and hospitality venues offering their visitors the ability to recharge, providing EV drivers with peace of mind,” Frankie adds.
EV drivers now plan their visits and journeys around EV charging; if a destination offers EV charging, the driver is more likely to visit that particular location as opposed to destinations that lack charging facilities.
Frankie says: “We will 100% witness more and more destinations offer EV charging to their customers. “It’s a no brainer. Whilst customers are satisfied with charging their vehicles on-site, network operators will benefit from an additional revenue stream, boosting overall income.”
The return on investment is down to the network operator, they have the capability of changing and controlling their fees to various groups of EV drivers. Some have stated that they have generated the costs back in just one year. It is also worth noting that caravan and holiday parks are eligible for up to £10,000 of OLEV grant funding which is a great method of offsetting the costs of the purchase and installation of the EV charging points. Caravan and holiday parks only require a single phase electricity supply and mobile phone signal to start their EV charging roll out.
It is a win, win situation for operators. “The EV market is increasing at rates like never before, incentives such as the 0% BiK tax rate will only heighten the demand for charging infrastructure, therefore those who act now and offer EV charging to their customers are in a prime position,” explains Frankie.
“Added benefits also include: positions the destination on the map as offering EV charging (Zap Map); at the forefront of modern and innovative technology; committed to the environment; dedicated to providing excellent service and facilities to their customers,” she continues. Rolec’s back office system is required to ensure network operators can control and manage their energy usage when the EV charging points are in use and enables operators to understand charging behaviours; if a charging point is in use and for how long, how much power is utilising and electricity costs to facilitate the recharging of the vehicles.
Network operators simply have an account that informs them of their driver group activity, allowing them to understand key figures such as power usage, costs and charging times. Frankie says: “This can all be viewed, monitored and managed via any web enabled device. EV Charge.
Online also allows network operators to be completely flexible with their pay-to-charge costs, for example, network operators may opt to provide employees with free charging as opposed to charging their visitors a flat rate and residential park industries,” comments Rolec’s Sales Director Martin Georgeson.
Rolec’s ParkServ services includes free-of-charge site surveys and no obligation quotations based on local rates as well as installation work, and rapid response callout services, by local engineers. Add to the equation, local after sales support, electrical testing at local rates and locally stocked spare and replacement parts by local engineers – and it is not hard to see how Rolec’s team will underline its position as the industry’s leading hook-up specialists.
Ladram Bay Tel. 01395 568398
Return On Investment Sue Hollingwood reveals the latest accommodation trends…
One thing is for certain, the current Staycation trend is here to stay for the immediate future with significant year-on-year growth and no sign of it diminishing. Hoseasons, the UK’s largest domestic operator, had a record two million customers booking holidays with them last year announcing a 10% growth for 2019, and has reported that they started 2020 with the positive trend continuing.
The self-catering specialist smashed its previous single day sales high by 11% on January 7th and achieved a 42% share of lodges and parks market traffic – the best it’s ever recorded according to Hitwise monitoring. This in itself is a good indicator for the future with lodges being in high demand, not forgetting glamping, with the luxurious versions of glamping pods and quirky accommodation options also high on the list.
Whether you opt for lodges, statics, glamping pods or one of the many quirky options available, there is much to consider when making the investment and balancing that with ROI (Return on Investment).
It doesn’t happen overnight and you will be considering everything from groundworks, infrastructure, product investment, through to the rental price point and marketing.
There is a lot to consider and it is important to take time to embrace all aspects, and to also take advice. For example, which accommodation to offer? Is it two bedrooms or even three for families, or one bedroom for couples? What does the location offer and therefore who is the target audience? How much investment now and at what stage to invest further? What percentage of occupancy can be achieved?
Jon Moxon, Senior Business Development Manager, at Hoseasons can offer some sound advice on these topics and comments: “We are uniquely positioned to advise owners on accommodation trends and occupancy because of our unparalleled penetration in the market. This give us great insight into what is achieving the best rental values and allows us to advise on an area’s suitability based on likely future trends.”
Once established it is then vital to ensure excellence in the eyes of the customer, and to achieve that a dedicated ongoing programme is required to replace and repair as necessary items such as mattresses, sofas, carpets, kitchens. Keeping the park and accommodation maintained is also key along with the importance of cleanliness. Jon advises: “Later check-outs and earlier check-ins mean cleaning teams are increasingly up against it when it comes to keeping up appearance, and this is where the open plan style of rental lodges and caravans can work in the owner’s favour.
Simple features, such as installing quality hard floors in preference to carpets, can improve the efficiency of changeovers”. Darwin Escapes have been leading the way with park rental fleets over recent years. Simon Spencer, Head of Lodge and Caravan Procurement and Stock Control, has many years of experience designing lodges that are fit for purpose.
Simon comments: “The lodge design is very important. Consideration on how a lodge will stand up to constant use and the maintenance required is a vital aspect. The design can iron out many issues before they exist, such as hard floors instead of carpet for ease of cleaning, especially in dog friendly buildings, which have been in high demand from visitors. Quality white goods for reliability and commercial furniture instead of retail, including a hotel grade mattress for the ‘good nights sleep’ expected by customers.
None of the practical aspects however should hinder the customer experience which needs to be second-to-none, we are aiming to WOW the customer, so a good layout and features within the home aimed to enhance their experience are all important.
Outdoor space is also important and hot tubs have been a must for parks over recent years, however it is not for everyone, so a balance throughout the park is generally a good idea especially taking the management of hot tubs into consideration. Darwin Escapes give a lot of consideration to the customer experience and with that the community areas that we provide, whether that includes bar and eating area, swimming pool, spa or children’s play area, they are all part of the strategy.”
Jon Moxon adds: “Modern accommodation is built to a fantastic standard, but rising customer expectations mean it’s important to keep on top of key design tends and features.
Keeping wall colours neutral and focusing on furnishings and accent colours means owners can keep things fresh without having to spend a fortune. Branded kitchen equipment and white goods are also important as customers look for that ‘better than at home’ experience.”
Keeping things fresh is just part of the strategy, introducing exciting new aspects to the interiors is another challenge. Going back a number of years, a lodge was a lodge, that was it, however now it is a Holiday Retreat Experience, and park owners and manufacturers alike have had to raise the bar considerably, to entice the customer to keep coming back, and to feed the Staycation.
We have seen the introduction of decking, then decking with hot tubs. We have seen the interiors being refined from basic, to luxurious, from a ‘lodge’, to a ‘superior modern environment’ that people don’t want to leave. Visitor’s expectations have driven the change, along with the imagination of parks. We are now seeing roof terraces over the full lodge roof creating a new outdoor living experience.
Cinema type lounges, deluxe raised bathrooms with fancy baths, luxury showers and fully equipped kitchens that match our everyday home. We often say ‘home from home’ however the accommodation must somehow exceed that, which creates the challenge for the future.
Even Glamping Pods have changed from a shell with minimal interior, which is what you would have expected a few years ago, to now offer an interior expertly designed to include kitchen, bathroom, living area, all within the same footprint.
Jon Moxon again: “When it comes to the future, it’s clear that technology will have an important role to play for environmentally-aware customers. App-based heating controls are just one example of how technical advancements are giving customers more choice over how they impact the planet while on holiday.”
The environmental aspect of how we live our lives, will certainly follow through and impact on holidays, so we can expect aspects that Jon has outlined to be part of the Staycation for the future. We can also expect to see a lot more innovation within the designs, which certainly puts the onus on manufacturers and owners to amaze us further.
Tel 01745 341 887
Lesko Leisure and Glamping
The Perfect Balance
Landal GreenParks offers more than three million visitors a back to nature experience…
More than three million holidaymakers chose one of Landal Green Parks’ 31,000 places to stay last year – a far cry from its origins in 1954 as an insurance company offering employees holidays in natural surroundings. A little bit of that ethos still holds true to today as Landal GreenParks is still committed to providing the perfect balance between getting away from it all, getting back to nature and enjoying life’s luxuries.
Landal GreenParks UK, one of the UK’s fastest-growing resort groups, was established originally in Holland and is now seen as a leading destination brand, not only in the Netherlands but across Europe. Part of Awaze - Europe’s leading managed vacation rentals and holiday resorts business, Landal GreenParks has over 90 locations across ten countries in Europe. It offers wide range of parks catering for every holiday experience with units ranging from 50 – 600 across different locations.
Venturing overseas to the UK, Landal GreenParks noticed a gap in the market for holidaymakers to get back to nature and basics, whilst enjoying high-quality accommodation and amenities in some of the UK’s stunning counties.
The first two UK parks opened in 2017 and three years on, is one of the fastest growing park businesses in the country. Paul Hardingham, Vice President of Portfolio at Awaze UK believes the reason behind its success is down to the unique locations and beautiful surroundings with 2020 bookings for June to August up by 39%.
With holiday resorts in Northumberland, Cornwall, Peak District, Scottish Highlands and Lincolnshire, families, friends and couples can enjoy a UK staycation in luxury woodland lodges, with hot tubs, restaurants, spas and activities all on site along with indoor pools to extend the season. Paul says: “What makes us different to other UK holiday providers is that we are committed to introducing people to the local areas around the parks and supporting the local economy and community.
We encourage a pick-n-mix approach to facilities and activities, so guests can do as much or as little as they like. In every lodge, we provide guests with guidebooks and inspire them to experience something different each time they visit, whether it’s a new walking route, new attraction or hidden gem.” This approach builds up great brand loyalty among the guests, who then decide to swap and try out the different destinations to experience something new each time. Not only do guests visit from the UK, but Landal GreenParks also receives high numbers of overseas holidaymakers and vice versa who are reassured by the familiar brand that they know from home.
Landal Piperdam in Scotland is currently the most popular region for inbound guests from the Netherlands whereas, Landal Gwel an Mor in Cornwall welcomes the most holidaymakers from Germany. Customer service plays a huge role within the brand and business, with every employee undertaking ‘Hostmanship’ training to ensure they make a positive difference to the guest’s stay. The success in this training is evident with Landal GreenParks positive reviews and the range of awards they have been nominated.
With the brand encouraging back to nature breaks, it only seemed right for Landal GreenParks, along with their European counterpart, to strengthen its sustainability and green credentials by launching their own green initiative. By working closely with each park owner, Landal GreenParks UK has launched their Green Pledge demonstrating how Landal GreenParks UK is investing in a brighter, cleaner future and committing to offer unforgettable natural getaways with a positive impact on the environment.
Paul Hardingham said, “We are working closely with our resorts and partners to ensure a sustainable future; however, this pledge will further our actions and impact enabling us to reach our goal of being carbon neutral by 2030. We are dedicated to raising further awareness of sustainable travel and driving positive change among our resorts and customers.”
The holiday resort company have also been awarded the prestigious Green Key accreditation, an eco-label awarded to accommodations and other hospitality facilities that promote a culture of sustainable development and environmental awareness, whilst taking steps to reduce their own level of consumption and carbon footprint. Working closely on this initiative highlights the close relationship the Landal team has with each of its owners. The Landal GreenParks group is a franchise model allowing independent park owners to retain their parks whilst being part of a much bigger international organisation benefitting from all the experience and knowledge that comes with it.
Paul continues: “Owners are vital in the success we have we the Landal brand. That’s why we have dedicated teams to look after, guide and advise both our existing owners and our prospective ones” The key members of the Landal GreenParks UK team alongside Paul include Robbie Davies, Business Development Director and Ryan, Senior Marketing Manager, all of which have years of experience having previously worked on sister-brands such as Hoseasons and cottages.com.
Robbie says being part of a big group like Awaze brings benefits to owners, including a huge customer database, a dedicated marketing machine and a trusted reputation.
He says: ‘We work very closely with our each one of our park owners sharing insights and knowledge from our many years of successful operation across different brands as well as countries. We help owners to get the most out of their parks, for example by sharing data and insight to help them maximise the lodge rental return and the on park spend opportunities.” Three years on since the first UK resort opened, Landal GreenParks UK is looking to expand its portfolio and grow further across the UK.
Owners, management companies or developers interested in working with Hoseasons should contact the Business Development Team, email email@example.com
Macbeth Country We soak up the wonders of Verdant Leisure’s latest holiday destination…
Enrigmore Estate is Verdant Leisure’s tenth leisure park and is the second holiday park purchase in the last 18 months for the bespoke leisure park operator. Erigmore is located on the site of the old ‘Birnam Wood’, made famous by Shakespeare’s Macbeth. It is just minutes from the picturesque village of Birnam and small town of Dunkeld, in the heart of Perthshire and borders the beautiful River Tay. Within easy reach of Edinburgh, Glasgow and central Scotland, it’s a breathtaking woodland retreat with amazing attractions nearby. At the centre of the estate is the Grand Victorian Baronial Mansion, Erigmore House. Once home to Pre-Raphaelite painter Sir John Everett Millais, the house and its estate now offers a unique holiday experience, with apartments, cottages and holiday homes for hire. Erigmore also has top class facilities and a world of adventure right on its doorstep, making it the perfect location for holidays in Perthshire.
Erigmore offers a stunning countryside location which is perfect for those who are seeking a tranquil and relaxing break away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, making Erigmore the perfect choice for holiday home owners and holiday makers. On-park facilities for the ultimate relaxation include:
• Indoor heated pool
• Sauna and spa
• Woodland and riverside walks
• Outstanding local area attractions
• A well-stocked bar has a range of light bites and snacks to suit all appetites.
Erigmore features a hugely diverse range of accommodation, sleeping between 2 and 9 people within the caravans, spa lodges with hot tubs, apartments and cottages available. Luxury spa lodges come with private decking area, and hot tub for guests to enjoy the ultimate relaxation overlooking the Perthshire countryside. With patio doors out to the semi secluded decking area, guests can enjoy the views, the living area also boasts contemporary furnishings, a 55” TV with surround sound, Bluray player and Bluetooth connectivity.
There is also a TV in the master bedroom, and ensuite shower room, several which have innovative colour changing lighting. These lodges are the ideal option for those looking to soak away the hustle and bustle of everyday life in a hot tub, or experience a boutique hotel style holiday, but with the privacy that a lodge offers. This acquisition of Erigmore will continue the company’s growth strategy to create a strong regional group with significant scale, and Verdant Leisure remains keen to add further parks to its group during 2020.
Erigmore Leisure Park
Tel. 01350 727236
Verdant Leisure Supports Teenage Cancer Trust
Over the past two years, employees, holiday homeowners and holiday guests across Verdant Leisure parks and Lancaster Head Office have held numerous fundraising events to raise a total of £76,033.69 for the Teenage Cancer Trust.
Verdant Leisure have worked tirelessly to raise an impressive £38,753.04 for the charity in 2019, compared with the previous year’s notable total of £37,280.65. 2019’s fundraising events and activities saw members of the Verdant team skydive over 10,000 feet, shave their hair and host weekend family fun days.
The monies raised will help Teenage Cancer Trust provide care and support for young people aged 13-24 facing cancer in the UK. To decide on its Charity of the Year, Verdant Leisure called upon holiday homes owners, holiday guests and employees to nominate a charity. The nominated charities were shortlisted and decided by a public Facebook poll, with Teenager Cancer Trust being the overall winner with an outstanding 80% of the vote.
Verdant Leisure offers a wide range of bespoke accommodation from self-catering caravans, deluxe lodges to camping pods and touring pitches at selected parks across South East Scotland, Ayrshire and North East England.
Anglo-French Holiday Liaison
The Best of British parks group has entered into an entente cordiale with its French-based equivalent to signpost the top destinations in both countries.
The link-up with Sunêlia Vacances, says BoB, will give peace of mind to guests on either side of the Channel, and also provide them with booking benefits and incentives.
Both groups are made up of independently owned holiday parks which must meet stringently applied quality standards in order to gain membership.
BoB offers 57 parks in England, Wales, and Scotland, whilst Sunêlia Vacances has 30 park options in mainly French coastal, countryside and mountain regions.
Members of the groups variously provide touring pitches, glamping units, and the hire of holiday accommodation including luxury lodges, caravans and apartments.
Platinum Plaudit For Park Holidays
Verdicts from customers staying with Park Holidays UK have resulted in the group receiving the highest possible rating from a leading independent reviews website.
The company is now the proud bearer of the 2020 Feefo Platinum Trusted Service Award, based on the number of glowing reviews posted by park guests. The honour comes after three successive years of Park Holidays UK gaining gold status from Feefo as a result of attracting consistently favourable verdicts from families.
The top-level platinum award is held by only a small elite of holiday firms which allow customers to post unedited reviews via Feefo, and receive an exceptionally high scoring.
In 2019, said Feefo, almost all of the guests summing up their satisfaction with Park Holidays UK gave it a rating of 4.5 or 5 – the maximum score – based on their experiences. Tony Clish, director of the group which now has 31 coastal parks in Southern England, said that all members of the staff team should take a bow: “It’s always our aim to provide guests with the best possible holiday memories, and we are delighted to be exceeding their expectations in so many different ways.”
Bookings for 2020 have got off to an extremely strong start, he reports, and sales of holiday caravans and lodges look likely to set a new record high this year.
Full Frontal Attack On Breast Cancer
A brave band of women from holiday parks across Wales have generated a £22,000 charity windfall by baring all for Breast Cancer Care. The group’s cheeky photographs appear on a month-by-month calendar which has been snapped-up by collectors from across the UK.
With their modestly protected by props, the photos capture the women relaxing on the parks in Wales where they own holiday caravans and lodges. When their first calendar came out last year, it raised around £7,500 for charity – but strong demand for a 2020 version has now seen that amount almost tripled.
Leading lights behind the project were two women with holiday homes on the parks: Kay Large from Haydock in Merseyside, and Chris Lawton from Bramhall in Stockport. Kay’s holiday home is at Meanan Abbey Caravan Park in Conwy, and Chris has a holiday home at Tree Tops Caravan Park near Hollywell.
The sum raised came from a combination of 1,000 sales of the £8.50 calendars, sponsorship by holiday parks of each month, donations, and a glittering gala night. The gala was held at Gorse Hill Caravan Park in Conwy, organised by manager Tracy Thomas Evelyn, and raised £8,000 over the course of the evening.
Behind the lens for the photo-shoot was accomplished photographer Andy Walker of Tree Tops Caravan Park which he co-owns with his parents Maureen and Harry. Last year, said Andy, the women were all from Tree Tops – but this time, seven other parks were also keen to become involved in the posing project.
Swimming Pool Entrapment Warning
MSI has campaigned for years to get the holiday tourism sector to accept the risks posed by swimming pool drain entrapment. A company spokesperson said: “It’s a tragedy that three members of the Diya family died in the same pool incident, and it’s also a travesty that the family has not been given access to the pool for an independent inspection – why? “While entrapment cannot, at this time, be officially confirmed, all the signs point to drain entrapment and the only way to discover the cause of the deaths is an independent inspection by a recognised UK expert.”
Pool entrapment incidents have been happening for many years in outdated and overseas holiday pools. In 2017, there was an entrapment incident at the Valenciano Swimming Club in Carprese, Valencia – a 14-year-old boy was trapped underwater by suction from a drain. The boy became unconscious and sustained a perineal tear as a result of the strong suction of the pump.
It took a four-hour operation to save his life. In another incident, a six-year old girl on holiday with her family in France drowned after her leg became trapped in the filter drain at the bottom of the hotel’s pool.
The incident happened when the girl jumped into the pool, landed on the drain of the pool’s filter pump system, whose safety grille had broken. A witness said the girl was “sucked into the drain.”
Pool entrapment danger has been known for decades and it is believed that there are more than one million pools across Europe which are outdated, having a single drain which puts swimmers around the world at risk. However, the risk to swimmers can be significantly reduced by simply installing a Vac-Alert safety system which responds in milliseconds.
MSI again: “Some parts of the hotel and commercial leisure industry are still not recognising the need for a Vac-Alert, especially in older pools. “For example, MSI tried to advertise the Vac-Alert in a Maltese newspaper but the advert was rejected because it was seen as bad for tourism.
The three deaths in the hotel pool in Fuengirola on Christmas Eve has obviously intensified the focus on pool entrapment danger and sales of the Vac-Alert have significantly increased – at last the message is getting through. “The holiday industry throughout Europe should not wait for another death to make their pools safer,” say MSI. “If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to act.”
Tel. 01825 790524
Parkdean To Deliver Parks Of The Future
Parkdean Resorts, the UK’s largest holiday park operator, has published its 2019 results confirming revenue was up by 5%. The leading operator of holiday parks in the UK, Parkdean Resorts owns and operates 67 award-winning holiday parks nationwide in coastal locations and areas of natural beauty across the UK with a wide range of accommodation options including static caravans, lodges and glamping as well as touring and camping pitches.
The group, that has over 31,000 pitches will invest £80m in 2020 in a pilot ‘parks of the future’ initiative at four locations to create state-of-the-art amenities including accommodation, park facilities and kids’ activity-based entertainment such as the Bear Grylls Survival Academy. The company reveal holiday packages increased in sales by 6% year on year at 599,000 holidays of which 80% were short stay (less than four days) playing to the increasing trend for UK staycations.
On-park spend revenue grew by 6% year-on-year at on-site shops, concessions, restaurants, bars and arcades as well as swimming pools, gyms and other leisure facilities.
The business will sell approximately 4,300 caravans and lodges priced from £25,000 for an entry level caravan to £600,000 for a premium lodge, and everything in between. Steve Richards, Chief Executive of Parkdean Resorts, said: “Much progress has been made over the last year and it is fair reward for the passion and unrelenting desire our teams bring in delivering great holiday experiences for our customers. “The momentum achieved in 2019 has continued into the current year which has started strongly with 32% of summer capacity already sold as we take share in what is a growing and resilient market.”
A new senior management team is now in place with the appointment of Catherine Lynn (CCO), John McKenzie (MD Holiday Homes), Mos Shamel (COO), David Lodge (Property Director) and Lisa Charles-Jones as HRD.
Park Lawyers Celebrate National Award
Specialist lawyers to the holiday park sector, Tozers has clinched the Team of the Year accolade in the annual search by LawNet for lawyers delivering exceptional performance to their clients. The award judges recognised Tozers as having established an enviable reputation in their specialism which greatly benefits both the British Holiday & Homes Parks Association and its park members. The Exeter-based practice was among the 70 UK law firms competing for honours given each year by LawNet, the national consortium of leading independent legal practitioners. Tozers’ top team accolade came after an in-depth analysis of the scope of support and commitment it has provided to BH&HPA and its 3,000 member-parks. At a national level, judges said, the firm’s park team played a hugely important role in assisting the lobbying activity of BH&HPA when addressing laws affecting park businesses. Park owners are also able to access the expertise of the practice’s park specialists in a number of ways, including a telephone helpline to assist with legal issues and queries.
The firm additionally provides detailed guidance on park-related laws via the BH&HPA Journal, and team members regularly speak at industry conferences, branch meetings, and other events. Tozers can trace the practice’s roots in Devon back to 1785, and today employs around 170 staff at its Exeter headquarters and area offices around the county. Paul Kelly, head of the parks team and managing partner at Tozers, said the award reflected the commitment of his colleagues to supporting a dynamic and highly regarded industry. The team’s determination to achieve the best possible outcomes for BH&HPA and park businesses, said Paul, was a strength in which the whole firm could take pride. National Chairman of BH&HPA, Andrew Baragwanath, paid tribute to the knowledge and sound advice which Tozers brings to the holiday and residential parks sector: “This is a very well deserved award for a dedicated team of professionals who have made it their job to fully understand our industry, and to serve our best interests,” he said. Andrew added: “They have a thorough grasp of the myriad different laws and regulations which impact on parks, and the implications these have for business owners and the sector as a whole.”
Don’t Slip Up - Insurance
Bryony George reports on the most common holiday park insurance claims…
Specialists serving the industry have confirmed storm damage was the top holiday caravan insurance claim last winter, accounting for 20 per cent of all holiday caravan claims. Other common claims were escape of water and boiler damage, often caused by frozen pipe damage, highlighting the importance of draining down static caravans or lodges from November until mid-March, if they’re not in use. But one of the biggest risk facing most park operators remains liability claims, primarily from members of the public but also from employees. It is now no longer unusual to see claims north of £10m and there are numerous examples of claims no approaching £30m. “Park operators need to be mindful that their limits of indemnity for such incidents are set at the time of the incident but the eventual settlement, assuming the Park is found to be liable, is set based on the regime at the time of settlement,” advises David Moffat, Associate Director of specialist insurers, Wilby. “Given such claims take a long time to bring to a conclusion a Park could find itself without enough cover and they would be liable for any shortfall.”
David explains: “Insurers are rather focussed on this area following various changes to the Ogden Rate by the Government, which is a rate used by insurers and solicitors to calculate payments on serious, life changing, injuries, i.e. incidents involving paralysis. “As an example, a claim involving serious injuries say seven years ago but settled three years ago might have been settled for £3m - £4m so if the Park had £5m Public Liability cover at the time of the incident they would be fine. “If the same incident was settled today using the current Ogden Rates the settlement might be £12m to £15m and given the park only had £5m cover at the time of the incident they would now be facing a rather large bill which could threaten the very existence of the Park,” says Andrew. He adds: “It should be noted that the chance of a park operator causing the sorts of injuries needed to get to these levels remains as remote as it ever was but the chance of not having sufficient cover has increased considerably and as such operators need to review their cover now as they aren’t in a position to buy extra cover once the worst has happened.”
Another growing area of cover that operators need to consider is Cyber Insurance. The sorts of cyber policies now on offer covers much more than simple Data Protection issues. It will provide some cover for other things such as Business Interruption or Loss of Revenue if the Park Operators Computer System is hacked or affected by a virus or other Cyber incident. Traditional Business Interruption cover is based on a physical loss, such as fire, and would generally take no notice of the loss of revenue if the computer system was badly affected at the height of the summer. There are specific policies that will provide cover for data and system recovery, cyber extortion, privacy and network security liability, cyber-crime, telecommunication fraud amongst other areas of cover. Of course, no two holiday park businesses are the same, which means that every business’s insurance requirements are unique. Park owners should therefore seek out specialist cover specifically tailored to suit the needs of their individual business. Comparing what’s on offer from different providers will also be a useful exercise. Some covers, for example Employer’s Liability and Motor cover, are not only essential but are a legal requirement. Other covers need to be proportionate to a park’s individual risks and liabilities. Paula Hudson of Compass Insurance, who offer cover through its Binnacle scheme, advises: “So, a small park with no central facilities may find themselves well protected by a park-specific commercial combined policy. “Conversely a larger, multi-amenity park may need to increase some of the standard covers on offer by purchasing ‘excess layers’ such as property, public and employer’s liability cover. Common sense would suggest that the more facilities and services offered by a park, the higher the number of risks they may face, Paula points out. She continues: “Equally the nature of the service will dictate the size and seriousness of the risks that may apply. “For example, parks with a swimming pool will face more risks than a park without one; parks with a multi-depth pool featuring water slides and a wave machine will face more risks than parks with a small, single-depth pool that has no add on features.” Park owners and managers have a legal responsibility to manage risk, for example under Health & Safety Legislation, with some on-site facilities and operations requiring particularly careful supervision. Says Paula: “In the best-case scenario, a park owner will be able to provide comprehensive documentation to show that they had taken all reasonable steps to assess, manage and mitigate the associated risks. “Alongside other pertinent information, this documentation may need to be examined by a regulatory authority, such as the HSE, as well as the park’s and claimant’s insurers and solicitors.” Coastal parks, advise Leisure days, can be most at risk from flooding and stormy weather, as well as those near rivers and in exposed areas. Leisure days works with more than 1,000 parks who, in turn, introduce their customers to protect their business. “We handle thousands of customer claims, which range from simple accidental damage, to fires and floods that can wipe out multiple holiday caravans in one event,” says Gareth Walker, Head of Leisure days insurance. “Our most common customer claims are often weather related. Remember the Beast from the East, Storm Emma and Storm Doris in 2018 and then the severe flooding in 2015? “These weather events led to a huge spike in static caravan insurance claims for storm damage, flooding and damage caused by frozen pipes – highlighting the importance of park customers having the right level of specialist insurance cover. Holiday parks are continually checking their customers have adequate insurance in place and will write this into their park terms and conditions. Making sure customers have insurance gives parks re-assurance damaged units will be fixed, or removed and replaced, keeping the park looking its best. Choosing to work with an insurance partner can also boost income streams with parks earning insurance commission in return for introducing customers to the policy. Park operators need to look for specialist insurance cover for their customers, making sure all customers are adequately insured and that they’re dealing with a specialist and reputable insurance provider. There are some specific policy benefits worth looking out for. ‘New for old’ cover is essential for when disaster strikes and will make sure customers have the right sums insured to replace their damaged, written off unit with a brand new one. The main perils should also be covered, such as fire, flood, storm and theft. Look for benefits such as debris removal, so any badly damaged units can be removed quickly from your park, as well as pay-outs for re-siting and re-connection costs, and also use a provider who has experience of settling claims quickly, with prompt repairs and replacements.
Caravan Guard clients are always issued advice on how to take precautions to protect their pride and joy during these colder, winter months, as well as how parks can help owners drain down and advise on lagging any exposed pipes or adjusting boilers appropriately. It’s also worth checking that owners have taken any outdoor furniture and other outside equipment inside to avoid any external damage when windy weather strikes. Customer or parks have to report the claim first. If it’s a big event then the park would tell their Business Development Manager and we would arrange for specialist loss adjustors to attend the park and assess the damage. We’re well versed in handling multiple losses on parks after severe weather events such as flooding or storm damage. Our dedicated Claims Liaison Team make sure customer claims are handled quickly and fairly, keeping everyone informed along the way. The team also won Claims Team of the Year at the UK Broker Awards 2019. To make sure all park customers have extensive insurance cover in place so they are fully protected should the worst happen and to encourage customers to keep their unit in a good state of repair. Look closely at an insurance policy’s features and benefits, as well as the support you receive from your insurance provider, throughout the year, and in the event of a claim.
There are some claims that tend to affect parks more often than others. For example, the Compass claims team won’t be surprised to see claims for frost and water damage on holiday caravans over the next few months. Similarly, we may expect to see some theft-related claims, which tend to spike during periods of no occupancy. Equally, there are some claims that can be no more predicted than they are likely to occur on the same park again anytime soon, for example the ‘tornado’ wreaked havoc on one of our customer’s parks a few years ago. This varies greatly. The best-case scenario for a park owner or a caravan owner is that if they need to make a claim, the claim is approved quickly and paid-out in full. However, as aforementioned, this will always depend on whether or not the park has purchased adequate cover in the first place. If the insurer will need evidence to defend a claim such as evidence of risk management in the event of a liability claim being made against the park then the outcome of the claim will also depend on whether or not relevant risk management, operating procedures and systems, training etc are in place and have been adequately documented. Park owners are encouraged to see beyond price. For example, a broker’s approach to claims in times of crisis is especially important. The Compass Major Incident Hotline sets the benchmark for crisis response. Compass Insurance’s 24/7/365 disaster line is available to all of its park business customers and those that operate Compass’ Appointed Representative (AR) and Introducer Appointed Representative (IAR) schemes. Parks with private owners may also wish to consider working with an insurance provider to introduce or sell holiday caravan cover to their customers via an IAR or AR Scheme, advise Compass. Finally, it is important for park owners and managers to note that a condition of their park’s commercial insurance policy is likely to be that they must keep buildings and facilities in a ‘good state of repair’. If a claim is made and the loss adjuster believes that the affected building/facility and so on, has not been maintained adequately, this may lead to non-payment. It could even lead to an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive. To avoid any slip-ups, operators are advised, in every instance, to consult with a specialist insurance supplier.
Tel. 0344 274 0277
Caravan Guard/ Leisuredays
Tel. 01422 396 693
Park Protect/Wilby Insurance
Tel. 01422 358 325
Get Out Of Jail - Indoor Play
Finding the recipe for success on indoor play will reap significant rewards…
The UK’s notoriously unpredictable weather means that indoor play facilities can be a real get out of a jail card for holiday parks and leisure venues. Whether it’s a soft play zone or an adventure course, parks that offer exciting indoor entertainment are sure to stand out from the crowd. The unpredictability of our country’s weather, coupled with the limited activities that are available to children indoors, means that soft play centres play a massive role in attracting customers to a venue. Of course, retaining those customers is a different challenge. This can be achieved by providing good customer service and a warm and inviting environment. Offering good range of quality food and refreshments is also a must. Based in South Yorkshire, House of Play provides a consultancy, design, manufacture, installation and after service package for all aspects of soft play. With over 20 years’ experience in the industry, the company is the only soft play equipment manufacturer in the UK to both own and operate a soft play facility – giving them a unique insight into the operational aspects from a management point of view. “The biggest issue we see in the holiday park sector is the lack of maintenance on the play equipment or the lack of servicing by competent, trusted suppliers. Our advice is that you have made the big investment, now protect it,” advises Shaun. House of Play suggest that regular routine maintenance of play equipment should be performed to ensure that minor issues can be dealt with whilst they are minor, and to keep the yearly costs down to a minimum. As a rule of thumb, a minimum of six maintenance visits per month are recommended by House of Play, plus a daily cleaning routine and they also suggest refreshing the equipment every five years to keep it current. Shaun explains: “Ongoing maintenance for play equipment does not cost very much but it will protect your investment and prolong its lifespan. Plus it doesn’t matter who installed the equipment originally - we can still service it for customers. “Similarly, the refreshers do not need to cost the earth and we can work with customers to deliver very cost effective solutions and maximise impact.” Generally price points are dependent upon the scale of the play area, the location of the site and the offering as a whole. Shaun adds: “The majority of holiday parks that install small token play areas don’t tend to charge directly for the use of the play equipment. The larger sites can charge anything between £1 and £5 for admission and then of course there is the secondary spend in the café. “Ultimately, the scale and offering as a whole needs to be right if you are to maximise your profit potential.”
Brean Play has managed to get the balance just right, with a typical site in Brean Leisure Park in Somerset. Owned and managed by Holiday Resort Unity, the £2 million soft play attraction provides another reason for guests to visit the leisure park for the day, or to come for a holiday and stay at the resort. “Since we opened we have seen a lot of customers using the play centre on a regular basis,” says park director Kieran Spottiswoode. “We offer an annual membership scheme and this has proved popular, and we also offer a number of birthday party packages as we have 5 party rooms on the mezzanine floor. The soft play equipment for Brean Play was supplied by Cheer Europe and features three distinct areas for babies, toddlers and children up to the age of 11 with a large play frame, slides, trampolines, and a cannon ball zone. The Mezzanine floor also features five party rooms available for hire all year round. Kieran comments: “Before undertaking any new soft play project, it’s important to do your research. Be clear on what you want to offer and what age groups you are offering it to. It’s also worth looking at other operators, visit their facilities, talk to them about what works for them and what doesn’t. “It’s easy to get carried away with what other people or the suppliers say, but if you have done your research correctly you’ll be fine – stick to your vision.” Kieran also advises other holiday parks to look at the bigger picture and think about other aspects that will add to the play offering. Allowing a large enough area for spectator seating and tables is crucial, as is getting the food and beverage options right. Brean Play offer a varied menu in the cafeteria, and brew Starbucks coffee and frappuccinos. “Take your time, don’t rush the design phase. Getting this bit right is key to the whole project. We got two companies to pitch for the project initially but from the first time we sat down with the team from Cheer Europe there was a good understanding between us, which helped push the creativity forward.”
Visitors to Shorefield Holidays are spoilt for choice…
With an estimated £31 million impact in the local community and over £4.4 million spent annually with local business and suppliers, Shorefield Holidays is influential family-run business within the Dorset and New Forest areas where its eight parks are situated. “As a company we have a huge focus on sourcing locally, whether it be for fresh local produce to use in our restaurants or even our luxury holiday homes,” says Simon Pollock, Chairman and Managing Director. “One of our key suppliers for the ownership side of our business is Regal Holiday Homes, based in Wareham, Dorset,” Simon explains. “We do also make sure we are always up to date with a range of different suppliers and manufacturers, to ensure we’re choosing the very best for our guests and owners.” Shorefield Holidays was founded in 1958 when Dr Robert Pollock, the company’s founder, was unable to find an available pitch for his touring caravan.
He loved the area and regularly holidayed on the south coast with his family, however after finding that there was nowhere to stay, he bought a small caravan park next to a worked-out gravel pit…and so the company roots were formed! To this day, Shorefield Holidays is proud to still be family-run, with family remaining at the core of everything they do. Shorefield Holidays now boasts eight beautifully landscaped parks in Dorset and the New Forest, each with their own unique selling points and charm. Whether you’re looking for somewhere filled with entertainment and family fun, or a luxury retreat in peaceful surroundings, our parks cover everything. The sites offer a wide range of amenities but their proximity to both the picturesque New Forest and stunning local beaches offer a unique location from which to explore the very best of the south coast. Within minutes of leaving the park, you have some of the UK’s most beautiful landscapes and idyllic walks just waiting to be discovered. This, coupled with our family values and warm welcome, is what keeps our guests returning year after year. You’re spoilt for choice on accommodation types and facilities across our parks, meaning there’s sure to be something to suit everyone. Families enjoy a range of caravan options, which we are constantly updating. This means that much of our caravan accommodation is no more than a few years old – something that really stands out to our guests and helps us to ensure we’re offering the best experience. Simon comments: “For something a little more special, our hot tub retreats are the ideal choice. Whether it’s an idyllic hot tub lodge our guests are looking for or a luxury house for the whole family, we have it all. “What could be better than returning to your accommodation after a day of exploring to enjoy a relaxing soak in the warm, bubbling hot tub? And when our largest house sleeps up to 14 guests, there really is room for everyone! Shorefield Country Park is at the heart of the holiday operator’s story and where the company began. It is also the largest, spanning over 100 acres, and has a range of fantastic facilities on site for all members the family to enjoy. “Our aim is to provide unforgettable family moments and memories that our guests will cherish for a lifetime, whilst minimising our environmental impact when doing so,” says Lesley. “We have implemented a range of CSR initiatives across all our parks - from joining the World Community Grid, enabling our idle computers to help power supercomputers research the likes of cancer cures, to regular beach clean initiatives. “We’ve even won multiple David Bellamy Conservation Awards in the process, something we’re extremely proud to be doing.”
Currently, the three family directors working alongside Simon include Sara Bertin as Finance Director and Lesley Lawrence as Marketing Director while Andy Bowden and Paula Curtis fill the roles of ICT Director and Company Accountant and Director respectively. The company recognises that its outstanding staff team are a huge factor behind its success, which is why they invest significantly in training, development and even awards nights to show our appreciation to our outstanding teams across all our parks. “Our stand out feature would have to be our highly skilled staff who regularly go the extra mile for our guests,” says Lesley. “We’re proud to say that many of our fantastic employees have been with us for more than 10 years and without them we would not be anywhere near as successful as we are today
A key challenge is ensuring a new guest experience and keeping guest retention high. As a business we are always looking for ways to refresh our offering for repeat holidaymakers, who are often our most loyal guests. Each year we invest significantly in new accommodation, ensuring we have the very best to offer our guests, in addition to introducing a range of new facilities and entertainment. We have some exciting plans in the pipeline for the coming year, which form just part of this strategy. Shorefield Holidays are extremely excited to be introducing luxury treehouse accommodation to our Milford-on-Sea park in 2020. Says Simon: “This investment encompasses our aim to continually grow and develop our guest experience.” He continues: “The stunning three-bedroom properties, situated in a secluded woodland area of the park, will offer a truly unique experience and even have their own private hot tub. “We are also looking to expand our portfolio in the coming years through the acquisition of new holiday parks along the South Coast.”
Tel. 01590 648 300
Heart Of The Appeal
We admire the five star quality of Northumberland’s Amble Links Retreat…
Just a short stroll from the quaint fishing town of Amble and a stone’s throw from the spectacular, unspoiled beaches of Northumberland, you could say the heart of the appeal of the Amble Links Coastal Retreat & Holiday Park is its location, or, its location – oh yes, and that location. Apart from the picturesque immediate surroundings, owners at the park are placed in the perfect location to take advantage of everything that Northumberland has to offer. Whether it’s a relaxing stroll and unwind on the beach, or an all-action day out full of exploration, owners can create their own perfect holiday. Alnwick, Bamburgh and their castles, Northumberland National Park, Kielder Water, Holy Island and miles upon miles of coast are but a few attractions. Even the sights and sounds of Newcastle are within reach, just 40 minutes’ drive away. So it’s true to say that location is vitally important. The team at Amble Links are always looking for new ways to enhance the on-park experience of the holiday home ownership team. This is our challenge and ambition for the future. “One of the biggest challenges for the Amble Links team is maintaining the high, five-star standard of service,” reflects Brian Docherty, General Manager at Amble. “We want to build on the work that has seen Amble Links receive this Visit England award for so many consecutive years,” Brian continues.
ALL YEAR ROUND
“Our 12-month season allows our owners to visit their holiday home 365 days a year, to see all those towns, villages and attractions and that make the North East so great in another light, without the crowds,” he says. “With most holiday parks, you’re restricted to certain times of the year. In the North East, it’s common for gates to close in November, not reopening until March. “During these quieter autumn and winter months, you’re missing out on Northumberland at its most beautiful. We’re talking refreshing morning walks across the crisp, wintery sand dunes. The spectacular sight of the frosty, rolling countryside. Cosy pub lunches by a roaring fire in Northumberland’s finest eateries. Fortunately, here at Amble Links, there’s a 12-month season.” A range of accommodation is offered at Amble Links from static caravans and lodges of various sizes and prices, new and pre-owned. Some of the most sought-after holiday homes at Amble Links would be the 2020 Willerby Vogue Classique or the 2020 ABI Beaumont. Behind their appeal are high-end interiors, spacious open-plan living areas, large free-standing sofas, kitchen and dining areas as well as two bedrooms, each with ensuite. At Amble Links, pride is placed on offering owners a lavish on-park experience. As well as an indoor pool, sauna, steam room and gym, there’s the owners’ bar and entertainment lounge. That’s not forgetting the on-site restaurant and pub, The Old Storehouse, where delicious belly warmers are being served throughout the colder months; for quicker bites to eat, there’s also our pizzeria and café, The Pantry.
The on-park children’s adventure playground and entertainment means that the little ones will be kept busy too. Brian again: “Many owners choose us because we also warmly welcome family members on four legs, as well as those on two. “The park is completely pet friendly, meaning owners don’t need to bother with the stress and expense of dog kennels when they’re planning their getaways.” Whether it’s the sales team, food and beverage team, our healthcare assistants, grounds managers or customer care advisors, everyone plays a crucial role in upholding Amble Links’ award-winning standards. It’s their proud job to ensure the park delivers a luxury holiday home ownership experience. “At Amble Links, quality is our passion. We’re dedicated to offering top quality service to match our five-star location and facilities" adds Brian I’m extremely proud of the team’s unbelievable work in achieving this and welcome guests to come and see for themselves just how special our park and community really is.”
Amble Links Coastal Retreat & Holiday Park
Tel. 01665 710530
Strong Man With Gentle Heart
Former chairman and non-executive director of the Hoburne Group, John Burry, has died at the age of 88. A strong man with a gentle heart, John had a huge influence on many people’s lives and was an inspiration to everyone at Hoburne and the wider tourism industry.
John was chairman of the Hoburne Group for 38 years, during which time, he not only grew the holiday park business, but he presided over the continuing success of the property and development arm as well. Golf courses were acquired, and hundreds of houses built under the Hoburne Development brand. Industrial and retail units, along with offices, were also constructed. John took on several distinguished roles. He was chairman of the National Caravan Council during the 70s, where he played a key part in the fight to improve standards in services within the industry. He served as Official Verderer of the New Forest from 1993 to 1999 for which he was awarded an MBE and in December 1994, he was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of Hampshire. John grew the holiday business by acquiring a further six stunning holiday park locations, but he presided over the continuing success of Hoburne Development until he passed the baton of chairman to his daughter, Rosie Kennar, in 2002.
Today, Hoburne owns eight holiday parks across the south and south west of England, plus three golf clubs under the Hoburne Golf brand and a residential and commercial development operation under Hoburne Development. Established in 1912 in Dorset, the family business is now in its fifth generation of the Burry family, creating one of the south’s largest and most successful family-owned tourism companies. John’s support for numerous organisations, charities, and individuals, extended beyond practical input where his expertise and wisdom were always highly valued. Through the Burry Charitable Trust, donations totalling around £1.75 million to date have been made to numerous organisations, and these were often given anonymously because John found it embarrassing to be thanked.
Hot Tub Expo Bubbles Over
Awash with hot tubs, the UK’s only dedicated water leisure exhibition, SPATEX 2020, takes place from Tuesday 28th to Thursday 30th January at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena. For those looking to invest in hot tubs or swimming pools, the event is a must-attend event, with many exhibitors under one roof, including a vast choice of spa companies. SPATEX hosts a double programme of free seminars and workshops on all three days to help you hone water leisure skills.
Check out the website at www.spatex.co.uk to find out more and to register for free attendance.
Top Swimming Pool Honour For Butlin’s
The Art Deco influenced pool building represents a £40m water leisure investment staffed by a 48-strong daily team. The only pool in the world that has a Helter-Skelter, the pool centre also features a wave pool with themed music that has a Pool Party with DJ on every Peak Break!
Butlin’s seaside-themed, Bognor Regis swimming complex, has scooped the title of Holiday Park Pool Of The Year for 2019, in the recent UK Pool & Spa Awards.
A Lido Pool with beach huts allows bathers to relax and unwind with, another feature, a Stick of Rock designed slide that is 26m from top to bottom. All the slides joined together measure a combined total of 478 metres. A 12 metre high Adrenaline Flume with weather effect light strips throughout its journey while a family raft ride accommodates up to three people at a time. Jon Hendry-Pickup, Butlin’s Managing Director said: “The pool has already thousands of our guests have been able to combine fun, thrills, waves and flumes.
“Feedback so far has been glowing and justifies the time spent listening to our guests so that we delivered what they want and need,” he said, adding: “Our aim was to create an experience that takes our Bognor resort to a whole new level and ensures we continue to be at the forefront of British family breaks. We believe we’ve done exactly that.” Part of Bourne Leisure Ltd which also owns Warner Leisure Hotels and Haven Holidays, Butlin’s has three beach side resorts, Bognor Regis (West Sussex), Minehead (Somerset) and Skegness (Lincolnshire) and welcomes around 1.5m guests annually.
Fowler Group Swoops For Welsh Acquisition
John Fowler Holidays has announced its acquisition of Llanrhidian Holiday Park, one of Wales’ largest parks. The move will make the North Devon based holiday park group one of the principal privately-owned holiday park groups in the country. A family business, started in 1953, John Fowler Holidays has expanded to operate 12 holiday parks throughout Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Wales. It employs almost 1000 people across the region. Every year more than 300,000 visitors stay at their parks.
Llanrhidian Holiday Park, on the Gower Peninsula, an area of outstanding natural beauty, was previously owned by the Richards family for more than 27 years. John Fowler Holidays managing director Martyn Fowler said: “We are delighted to have been able to add Llanrhidian to our business, it forms an important part of our planned expansion. It has been a pleasure to work with a family with a similar ethos to ours during this process and we are looking forward to continuing their excellent work as we take the park forward.” Ollie Fowler head of development for the group, added: “We intend to add further parks in exceptional locations in the future but it will be hard to beat the beauty of the Gower Peninsular.”
Farewell To Friend of Holiday Parks
The Conservation Foundation was greatly saddened to announce the death of Professor David Bellamy OBE, its co-founder and President in December. A passionate friend to the holiday park industry, he put his name to The David Bellamy Conservation Award Scheme -- one of the longest running green tourism awards in the UK. The idea behind the awards has been to celebrate what the best parks are doing for the British countryside and to encourage others to follow their lead. One of the first comments David made about the scheme remains true today: “My dream is to upgrade all caravan parks up to some sort of conservation status so that they can educate the visiting public and help them respect and care for the countryside. “Help the environment and choose a park that has one of my awards,” he urged as he continued to work in close partnership with the British Holiday & Home Parks Association. Last year, 570 holiday parks received a David Bellamy Conservation Award for the work they’ve done to protect and enhance Britain’s natural environment. From the creation of new wildlife meadows and woodlands to the construction of solar-powered shower blocks and energy efficient lodges made out of recycled plastic, the variety of work being done by these parks is outstanding. The parks that take part in the scheme are all regularly assessed by the scheme’s team of local wildlife experts. The assessors look at the steps parks are taking to:
• Manage their land as a haven for wildlife
• Reduce their use of energy, water and other resources
• Reduce, reuse and recycle the waste they produce
• Support their local communities.
The idea of the scheme was first sown when David Bellamy gave a talk to members of the camping, caravanning and holiday home park industry in which he gave the audience members a challenge to be part of the environmental solution and not part of the problem. David, who was 86 when he died, was then invited to visit many parks and was amazed at the wide range of work that the most forward-thinking owners were doing for the environment as mini nature reserves. Known for his distinctive gravelly voice, the botanist and broadcaster was a larger-than-life character who inspired a whole generation. He became a household name, as a scientist and conservationist and will continue to inspire the holiday park industry in his name.
Shorefield Stages Charity Bake Off
Shorefield Holidays staged its own Bake Off-style coffee morning across two of its eight UK holiday parks to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support. The events at Shorefield Country Park and Oakdene Forest Park were part of the World’s Biggest Coffee Morning and raised £760.47 for the charity, which provides emotional, medical, practical and financial support for cancer patients and their families, as well as campaigning for better cancer care.
Juliet Dowrick, Digital Marketer at Shorefield Country Park, received the title of Best Baker on the day, while the Accounts Department won Best Department for its outstanding team effort. Harry Wells, Junior Graphic Designer & Marketer, and Katie Ward, Entertainment Manager, both received recognition for ‘Best Faker’ and ‘I Taste Better Than I Look’ respectively.
Cooler Months Still Packed With Appeal
Caravan and Motorhome Club members are continuing to embrace autumn and winter touring proving that caravanning and motorhomes are great holiday options no matter what time of year. Bookings for autumn and winter 2018 to 2019 were up seven per cent compared to the 2017 to 2018 season, and feedback from the Club’s recent social media polls show that its members think there is much to love about touring during the cooler and quieter months. Some 26 per cent of Club members questioned said they enjoyed the autumn colours and 22 per cent loved long walks on crisp bright days, with 35 per cent enjoying the quieter sites and attractions out of season. Nearly 20 per cent travelled out of season to appreciate the sheer beauty of the seasonal landscape. The resounding sentiment was that whilst members want to get out walking and visiting local attractions, many also love the warm and cosy feeling of being in their campervan, caravan or motorhome over the autumn and winter months, whatever the weather might throw at them.
Harvey Alexander, director of marketing for the Caravan and Motorhome Club, said: “Our members are an active and adventurous bunch so it’s no surprise that so many of them enjoy touring during autumn and winter, and we are striving to keep more and more of our sites open out of season to keep up with the demand. “It’s great to hear how our members all get away their way – whether that be curling up with a good book and a nice cuppa in a cosy motorhome or braving the chill and camping in a national park so they can spend the days walking and cycling. “I’ve especially enjoyed hearing the tips that our members have for getting away in the cooler months, not just the practicalities of being prepared, but the lovely feeling they have of being safe and warm inside their leisure vehicles and benefitting from the great facilities we have on our sites.” NEW SITE Meanwhile, work to develop a new campsite in the popular Sherwood Pines forest in Nottinghamshire will continue throughout the winter and spring, ahead of a planned opening during the 2020. The campsite will be run and managed by Camping in the Forest, a partnership between The Camping and Caravanning Club and Forestry England. It will span 20 acres of Forestry England woodland and brings the total number of Camping in the Forest Sites to 16 across England and Scotland.
Thomas Cook Staff By The Seaside
Park Holidays UK has invited more than 600 Thomas Cook staff and their families to enjoy a weekend by the seaside. The holiday park group will pick up the accommodation tab in fully-equipped holiday homes for up to three nights, and will lay on free entertainment. Scene of the huge reunion party will be Broadland Sands Holiday Park, near Lowestoft, which the group is opening up especially for the event from November 8-11.
Park Holidays UK marketing director Geoff Barnes said it would be a chance for staff to swap memories and let their hair down after Thomas Cook suddenly went into liquidation in September. “As members of the holiday industry ourselves, we were also deeply saddened by the news and wanted to reach out to try and soften the blow in some way. “We thought the best way to help would be to open one of our most popular parks, Broadland Sands, for a long weekend and to offer free stays to staff and their partners and children. “Within one day of making the opportunity known to Thomas Cook staff, we were delighted to have taken bookings for all of the park’s 150-plus holiday homes,” says Geoff. “It means that we’ll be welcoming over 600 guests in total for between two and three nights, and we hope it will create a truly memorable experience for everyone. “I’m sure there will be some nostalgic moments, but overall we simply want all the Thomas Cook team, and especially the children, to share a very happy time,” added Geoff. As well as the free accommodation, guests will have use of all of Broadland Sand’s leisure facilities, including a recently opened £1.6 million swimming pool complex. Charges will also be waived on some other activities usually paid for by holiday guests, such as the climbing wall, adventure golf course and Segway Scooters. In addition, Park Holidays UK will be laying on a full no-cost entertainments programme in the park’s clubhouse featuring professional family-friendly acts.
Holiday Park Innovation PREVIEW
Underlining its reputation as one of the leading holiday park shows in Europe, this month’s Holiday Park Innovation aims to attract over 4,000 key decision makers in the industry to the NEC for its unmissable annual gathering. For added appeal, the event from November 6 to 7 inclusive, reinforces its recipe for success by running other rural shows alongside, including the Farm Business Innovation Show, Family Attraction Expo, and our launch show, the Leisure Food and Beverage Expo. The Holiday Park & Resort Innovation Show is dedicated to providing the country’s most ambitious holiday park and resort owners and managers with the best advice, services, and products to make their holiday business stand out from the rest. With 400 exhibitors and 170 seminars dedicated to the industry, it’s the perfect opportunity to create the idyllic getaway for your customers. Learn the latest industry knowledge and gain insight into the newest innovations and technology currently available. If the exhibitors themselves were not enough to pack your visit, over the two days, the organisers offer a tempting seminar programme backed by insightful speakers.
Take some time to visit the Keynote theatre from 11 am to 4 pm. On both days speakers will be covering topics as broad as Post-Brexit Tourism, Maximising the Natural Environment, and Busting Outdoor Accommodation Myths while Hoseasons’ Shelley D’Arcy discusses the benefits of using land for the holiday market. Three other theatres offer stand-out presentations from 11 am to 4 pm daily covering subjects as varied as holiday hot tubs, playground design, to water conservation. Look out for Vicky Parr, from Visit England, discussing ways of boosting your business for holiday makers in the UK while Dave Courteen of Mosaic Spa and Health Clubs will outline How to Create a Profitable On-Site Leisure. So what are you waiting for? Register for your free tickets via the Holiday Park & Resort Innovation show website with your chance to see the show first hand.
As the main media partner to the event, Holiday Park Scene is a B2B print and on-line magazine for the holiday park sector, earning itself a reputation as an essential read for anyone involved in holiday park management. Packed with fresh ideas and essential reading for anyone who runs or works in a holiday park the magazine is available on-line at www.holidayparkscene.com Holiday Park Scene offers the inside track on the latest market news and reports covering all aspects of holiday park management. Most importantly, Holiday Park Scene provides you with a targeted platform to promote your products and services across all areas of the UK and Eire holiday park sector. If you would like to get involved with this exciting publication, please don`t hesitate to visit the team at the show or make direct contact now, to help us understand how to make you stand out from the crowd.
British Holiday & Home Parks Association
Tel. 01452 526911
Family Holiday Association
Tel: 0203 117 0650
Tel. 01243 554455
Tel. 01983 282420
Tel. 0845 470 6060
Tel. 07722 187272
Tel. 0121-428 1155
Tel. 01536 517028
Wilby Park Protect Insurance
Tel. 01422 358 525
Tel. 01329 514000
Just One Click
The case for running an on-line booking system almost speaks for itself.
Because holiday destinations that move to full online bookings, typically, see increased in turnover – and profit -- of 40-50%.
You can cut overheads too. Parks who change to automated systems, regularly reduce staff administration costs by 30%.
I call that a win, win situation. Yet many older or smaller parks still work with wall charts, diaries and spreadsheets. So why the reluctance to make the switch?
“For a significant percentage, they have a small park and it is always full and they feel they don’t need a bespoke booking systems,” explains Dawn Bee, who runs one of the industry’s most popular systems in GemaPark.
“For others, it is a reluctance to lose the ability to talk to -- and vet -- their customers,” Dawn adds.
Allocate is a flexible online booking system you can embed in your existing website that is ideal for holiday home lettings and campsite bookings.
“There are some campsites that operate under the 28 day rule that don’t believe they would benefit sufficiently from a booking system,” comments Allocate’s Charles Holdsworth.
“Some of these are cash-only sites where few, if any, arrangements are made in advance,” he adds.
“Over the last five years though, the rise of payment systems that do not have a fixed monthly fee has made booking systems far more attractive to the seasonal market, even those with a low turnover.”
Smaller sites can be victims of their own success as they tend to have several lines of business and the time they can devote to each is limited. In this case, the booking system will ease the burden of taking bookings and simplifying all customer interactions.
Charles again: “The smallest of customers with just a handful of pitches that takes around 100 bookings a year would find it impractical to operate without an online booking system that make running a small establishment viable. Dawn says smaller business still need to be a step ahead on the competition.
“As the parks around them go online, offering more convenience to the newer web-orientated generation of customers, they will eventually have to follow,” she predicts.
“A booking system will undoubtedly make your life easier but more importantly it makes your customers life easier.
“It’s a question of service, of talking to a new generation of customer in the way they want to communicate. “ The benefits are significant. Customer service can increase massively because the process is consistent for every customer.
Booking documents, welcome letters and other documentation, can all be automated so if there is an issue, you fix it one place and it’s fixed for everyone.
Dawn points out: “Cash flow is better and by automating collection of deposit and balance before arrival, no-shows are massively reduced.” Driving direct bookings is key to maximising returns, she adds: “Without their own booking system, the lion’s share of bookings will have a hefty commission,” Charles emphasises.
“People expect to be able to book online, at any time of day or night. Sites are keen to keep all their bookings in one place, to that end, when they receive calls they will either direct the customer to make the booking online or enter the booking online for them.
As one smaller site operator said: “I’m fed up with all the interruptions to manage phone and email bookings”.
This is a common theme, the amount of time a booking system saves is considerably more than people estimate. Online bookings automate the collection of money too which was always a time -consuming burden.
The management information a good booking system provides is invaluable, whether to manage guest arrivals, to prepare on site services, or to organise third party activities.
An interface to an accounts package is another way a booking system can reduce overheads, there is no need for double entry of data.
The data can also be reviewed to analyse the customer base and booking patterns in order to appropriately focus marketing activity.
But what if the system crashed and the great Internet in the sky lets us down.
Dawn admits, it can happen but urges: “A ‘cloud’ solution is a lot more reliable than your work PC and will have full backups.
“They are very rarely down and then rarely for longer than a few minutes.
“You can still print off daily arrival reports, the night before as a fall back, if you want to.” Unfortunately, nowadays, even the most clued-up of businesses are still vulnerable to a cyber-attack. As a result, the popularity of cyber-specific insurance products is growing.
While existing insurance policies such as commercial property, business interruption or professional indemnity insurance may provide some elements of cover against cyber risks, businesses are increasingly buying specialised cyber insurance policies to supplement their existing insurance arrangements, particularly if they:
• hold sensitive customer details such as names and addresses or banking information
• rely heavily on IT systems and websites to conduct their business
• process payment card information as a matter of course.
Many insurers, including Compass, include technical assistance with managing a breach as part of the insurance policy.
Adding-on cyber insurance cover is widely available, but as with all insurance, quality can vary and from an economical perspective, it would be sensible for parks to seek out add on products that ‘wrap around’ their existing cover.
First-party cyber insurance covers your business’s own assets.
Third-party cyber insurance covers the assets of others too, typically your customers.
With reliable booking systems out there, and supplied with reliable safety nets, we would urge you to take the leap for your 2020 bookings – and reap the rewards.
Holiday Snaps - Gareth Walker
What was your career path into the industry?
After leaving school, I worked in the financial sector for HBOS (now
Lloyds Banking Group). I worked for the group in various departments from International Payments to Treasury in the big smoke. I was
working in the marketing department when an opportunity to join
Leisuredays came up. And 14 years on I’ve never looked back!
How has the market changed during your time in the industry?
The changes I’ve witnessed have been for the better. The customer
product has greatly improved, which in turn provides insurance
companies/brokers with a better risk. Holiday parks are open longer and
have much more to offer, with a wide range of facilities and activities.
Conversely insurance has become much more heavily regulated,
meaning parks need our help more than ever to stay compliant.
How do you predict things will change in the next five to 10 years?
I can see more online and digital engagement between parks and
their customers and also between us and our policyholders. We’ll use
technology to make it ever easier and quicker for customers to obtain
the cover and make a claim.
What are the biggest challenges you face in your working life?
Work vs life balance is my biggest challenge. Trying to keep my wife
and the kids happy whilst travelling around the country to support
my team and our parks. But I’m privileged to have a great team of
Business Development Managers and a flexible boss (and wife)!
What is the best piece of business advice you have been given and by whom?
The best piece of advice that’s stuck with me is from one of my first
mangers. And that’s to be honest and don’t be frightened to make
mistakes. If you’re not making mistakes you’re not learning or improving!
What do you most like to spend your time out of working hours?
In my spare time I’m an Academy football coach with FC Halifax Town.
Both my boys are big into football and this covers any hours I have
free. It is a great way to wind down after a day on the road.
If we could give you three guests? Who would like most like to sit down to dinner with and why?
It’s hard to just choose three but in no particular order: David Beckham
– Because he was a very successful footballer, dad, business man and all
round decent guy. Dynamo the magician - I just love magic! Plus, he’s
a good Yorkshire lad and would be guaranteed to keep you entertained.
Dr Steve Peters – I’ve read a few of his books now and think he’d be
very interesting to have as a guest to bounce thoughts and theories off.
Do you have any claims to fame?
At one of the first Soccer Aids, I gave Maradona a high five when
passing him in the corridor on his way out of the stadium.
Where do you prefer to take your holidays?
We often visit Tenerife, however, my two boys love a week away in a
holiday caravan or lodge and it’s those holidays they talk most about
to friends and family. There are some fantastic holiday parks and
locations in the UK, but the ones with a pool, football pitch and a bar
will always be most attractive for a young family like mine!
Wish You Were Here - Oyster Bay Coastal & Country Retreat
Oyster Bay Coastal and Country Retreat, is one of Cornwall’s best-kept secrets and the only 5-Star, owners’only holiday park. You’ll find Oyster Bay set in the beautiful Cornish countryside, just a stone’s throw from the stunning, famous sands of Perranporth.
Oyster Bay’s brand-new development – Penpol Creek – boasts 23 spectacular holiday homes.
Imagine a mixture of extraordinary lodges, immaculately furnished. We’re talking contemporary, well-equipped kitchens, spacious open-plan living spaces and private sun terraces with unbeatable views of the Cornwall’s rolling countryside. Set in its own private gated community, there’s no better place to soak up the scenery – what’s more, it’s open all year round with a 12-month season. Unwind at the park’s exclusive facilities, including its indoor leisure complex – why not go for a calming dip in the pool, followed by a chilled drink on the decked terrace?
At the end of a busy day, enjoy a short stroll to Oyster Bay’s very own pub and restaurant, The New Inn.
They’ve laid on some delicious seasonal dishes to sample with your owner discount – and why not join in with the exclusive monthly wine club? Other benefits for owners include a chauffeur service and a calendar of special events.
Oh, and don’t even contemplate leaving your loved four-legged friends behind, either – Oyster Bay is completely pet-friendly.
At Oyster Bay, dedicated watersports instructors are available to help guests make the most of the surfing, paddle boarding and windsurfing
opportunities available nearby. You can make full use of the putting green, the tennis courts or get out and about to explore the endless, stunning countryside with complimentary electric bike hire.
Nothing has been missed in the quest to create a spectacular sanctuary all year round. Oyster Bay is the perfect home from home with everything required for endless holidays and lasting memories.
The Caravan and Holiday Home Expo 2019
26th September 2019
Hides Field, Beaulieu.www.caravanandholidayhometradeshow.com
The annual Beaulieu show gives both trade and public visitors the opportunity to see the latest and best that the major manufacturers within the industry have to offer and to examine the designs and luxurious accommodation available for the new season.The show is held on the Beaulieu Estate in Hampshire where they are joined by others for the Southern Caravan Trade Show on September 26th and the public show on the three following days. This the largest show of its type in southern England and provides a great opportunity for manufacturers and parks to showcase their latest products to the many thousands of visitors.
The shows are run by HERCMA (the Hull and East Riding of Yorkshire Caravan Manufacturers’ Association).
Holiday Park & Resort Innovation
6th - 7th November 2019
They say you should always save the best to last, so we finish this preview with The Holiday Park & Resort Innovation show, providing leisure and resort industry professionals with an unparalleled opportunity to network and bring new revenue and diversification to their business.
This is the trade event to help holiday business owners grow, expand and evolve. The Holiday Park & Resort Innovation show really is your one-stop event for industry leaders, world class speakers and 1-2-1 networking opportunities.
• 7,000 attendees of key businesses and industry decision makers • 400 industry leading exhibitors • 170 seminars from industry experts including Park Evolution, FSC UK, Wifinity and Wyldecrest Parks, plus many more!
• Exceptional networking and business opportunities including the chance\ to speak directly with business influencers • Advice and guidance on all areas of business, from marketing and PR to planning and finances
Want to know the best part? It is absolutely FREE! Free tickets to attend the show can be registered for via the Holiday Park & Resort Innovation show website.
30th - 31st October 2019
SALTEX 2019 will feature over 300 exhibitors including some of the biggest names in groundscare.
The two-day event will offer visitors a unique opportunity to experience the very latest industry trends and innovations, enhance their education and learn from industry experts.
The exhibition is the longest-standing event of its kind in the world, having been held almost every year since 1938, and the show is continually evolving with the people of the industry in mind.
This year the show floor will be bursting with everything a visitor needs to increase their efficiency and improve operations – and attendees can expect features such as:
• NEW! Eco Village – live demonstrations purely dedicated to environmentally-friendly products.
• Learning LIVE - SALTEX’s world-class free educational programme.
• Pathology and Soil Science LIVE – a look in detail at the symptoms of turfgrass fungal disease problems.
• SALTEX Innovation Award – celebrating the very best in new groundscare technology.
• Ask the Expert - free face-to-face turfcare advice.
• Outdoor Demonstrations – the latest products in action in an area directly outside halls 6,7 and 8.
• SALTEX College Cup - land based colleges compete in an academic test of turf management knowledge.
• Lawn Care Legends LIVE – a fantastic networking opportunity for landscapers and gardeners.
• Job Clinic – free one-to-one sessions covering CV writing to interview techniques.
Registration is accessible through the SALTEX website and visitors can simply bring their email confirmation (on a phone or a printed copy to the registration desk) which will be located at the show entrance.
The Holiday & Leisure Park Development Forum
3rd - 4th October 2019
Whittlebury Hall, Northants
A brand new event for 2019, The Holiday and Leisure Park Development Forum will bring together the holiday and leisure park community to share best practice through an inspiring seminar programme as well as the opportunity to network and explore some of the most innovative products and services in the sector.
With the theme ‘Harnessing the growth in the UK staycation’ speakers include Jamie Christon, chief operating office of Chester Zoo who will be discussing managing sustainable growth, Paul Hardingham UK managing director of Landal GreenParks who will be talking about trends, innovations and expectations for UK holidays, and Matt Cartwright, director of Twelve Architects who will talk about ‘creating a destination’ with reference to Bodmin Jail museum and hotel in creating a leading visitor attraction.
Held over one and half days this must attend event will be attended by owner/operators and the key players involved in the design, build and management of holiday and leisure parks of all kinds. If you are upgrading, expanding or developing new parks then it is complimentary to attend including access to the seminars, executive accommodation, all meals, drinks receptions and our superb gala dinner. It will run in parallel with the physical activity facilities forum offering further networking opportunities. Please visit www.hlpd-forum.co.uk to register your interest in attending or contact Sue Ramcharan on 020 8288 1080 email: firstname.lastname@example.org If you are a supplier interested looking to meet with decision-makers please contact Leslie de Hoog email: email@example.com or call 020 8288 1080.
The Landscape Show 2019
17th - 18th September 2019
The Evolution Centre, Battersea Park (Chelsea Bridge Entrance), London SW11 4NJ
The LANDSCAPE Show is back again for 2019 and is already developing into
their most exciting show yet. The leading trade event is dedicated to bringing together an array of industry professionals from all over the UK and beyond, including garden designers, landscape architects and contractors.
Two days full of CPD accredited seminars enhances professional qualifications of practitioners and allows visitors to earn up to 11 CPD points with their attendance of sessions. This year’s show will host 44 seminars with leading members of the landscaping industry. With each seminar offering its own unique topic, there is definitely something for everyone!
Alongside the exhibition and seminars, The LANDSCAPE Show aims to inspire and entertain their visitors with a variety of events. This includes the return of the Pecha Kucha 20x20; an exciting event that derives from the Japanese term ‘chit-chat’. This discussion will be presented in a simple format, where the industry’s most creative and professional Landscape Architects will be presenting 20 images for 20 seconds each.
Additionally, they are also looking forward to bringing back the Best in Show competition, where exhibitors will be showcasing a particular product from their innovative ranges to introduce to visitors. It’s down to visitors to decide the Best in Show winner of 2019 so make sure you register to attend online so you can have your vote!
The LANDSCAPE Show will be open from 10am-6pm on Tuesday the 17th September, and 10am-5pm on Wednesday 18th September 2019 Both the exhibition and all seminar sessions are free to attend, simply register online!
Recipe For Success
Running a restaurant alongside a holiday park can be a huge undertaking, involving some big decisions… and not just with the menu, writes Karen Cotton.
Catering to a wide range of budgets and tastes can create challenges for operators – particularly when you’re looking after diverse needs and expectations on the same site, from campers in tents to guests in luxury holiday lodges
It’s an issue they recognise at the award-winning Tyddyn Isaf Camping and Caravan Park in Dulas, Anglesey.
“Our guests expectations vary a lot,” explains Hayley Mount-Leonard, who looks after front of house. “While our campers are looking for the little extras to enjoy with their barbecues, holiday home owners are typically looking for a higher quality of food,” Hayley continues.
“We’ve found that the key is to ensure the quality of our food is as high as possible,” she continues. The Anglesey campsite has been owned and operated by the Hunt/Mount family for 45 years. Long before a restaurant was created on site, however, food was still on offer, thanks to a very forward-thinking purchase.
“About 40 years ago, we invested in a pizza oven and it all grew from there. Of course, we do a lot more than pizzas now and, unlike back then, it’s all made in-house.” The decision to take cooking in-house was borne from a desire to ensure guests were satisfied with what was on offer.
“Enjoying the outdoors and camping is what we are all about,” says Hayley of the site which holds a regional title for Best Park in Wales is has won a David Bellamy Gold Award.
“We wanted to make sure that our diners were enjoying the hearty, homemade meals that encourage them to be active.” Nine years ago, Hayley’s father, site owner Arthur Mount took up the role of head chef and the restaurant has gone from strength to strength – winning rave reviews and awards. The menu includes signature dishes, such as homemade pizzas, tiger prawns sautéed in white wine and sambuca, seafood linguine and homemade curries. Recipes are kept top-secret – including ‘Nan’s’ recipe for cheesecake.
While guests can enjoy a casual meal in the restaurant, there are also options available for those who want to dine alfresco.
“All of our meals can be ordered for takeaway,” says Hayley. “It ensures our guests can enjoy them in whatever setting they wish.
A firm believer in supporting local businesses, Tyddyn Isaf partnered with The Great Orme Brewery to create their own range of four local ales and a craft lager.
“Summer of 76, for example, is a light hoppy summer ale that its name from the legendary hot summer of 1976 that heralded the start of Tyddyn Isaf under our ownership. Over 40 years and four generations later we are still going strong,” enthuses Hayley.
Switching location to Cornwall’s rugged North Coast, Landal Gwel an Mor aims to deliver guests with a memorable eco-escape.
Resort Director Matt Way ensures their eco-friendly ethos extends to every aspect of the business across the entire resort.
A fleet of electric buggies and vans allow staff to move easily on site – without emissions, while its luxury eco lodges, with their low-maintenance gardens and high-efficiency LED lighting, have been built to have a reduced impact on the environment.
Earlier this year, lights were dimmed throughout the site to mark Earth Hour 2019. “We wanted to make this an opportunity for our guests,” suggests Matt. “As well as dining by candlelight, our guests had an opportunity to see a flying display put on by one of our rangers and an owl.”
With such green credentials, Matt ensures their eco-friendly ethos extends to every aspect of the business across the entire resort and with catering this means, straw and plastic free. “We are continuing to reduce our use all the time. Our takeaways, for example, are provided in paper bags and cardboard boxes,” explains Matt.
Landal Gwel an Mor’s Terrace Restaurant, which has just launched a new menu, tries to source ingredients locally wherever possible. Seafood, for example is supplied by Matthew Stevens Cornish Fish in nearby St Ives. Because it is sustainably and ethically sourced, it ensures The Terrace’s inclusion in the Cornwall Good Seafood Guide.
Mounts Bay Dairy, some 15 miles away in Penzance, is the chief supplier for local cheese and milk, while St Austell brewery supplies beverages.
Not all ingredients need to be sourced on site, as Matt explains.
“We keep a well-stocked herb garden just by the kitchen. It gives our chefs a convenient way of adding fresh flavour into our dishes as and when they need it.”
“Being in Cornwall, it’s hardly surprising that the Cornish Camembert with house chutney is a favourite,” Matt reveals.
“With the coast just metres from us, the same can be said for seafood dishes like our shellfish linguine and mussels with skin-on chips.”
Gwel an Mor
Tel. 01209 842354
Tyddyn Isaf Camping and Caravan Park
Tel. 01248 410203
White Lodge Caravan Park & Campsite
Tel. 01248 440230
Holiday park owners who improve the quality and choice of their accommodation and facilities are most likely to reap the rewards from increasing demand, particularly for UK short breaks.
Staycation specialist Hoseasons, which this year celebrates its 75th anniversary, is predicting a positive outlook for the industry for the rest of 2019 following an 11% Year-on-Year surge in bookings across its lodges and parks portfolio.
Mark Warnes, Vice President of Property Services at Awaze UK, Hoseasons’ parent company, says keeping up with changing customer habits has always been at the heart of the company’s success over the years, and that those who invest in ‘wowing’ their guests now are the ones most likely to benefit in the longer term.
“Standards of UK accommodation and facilities have made such a huge leap over the last 10 years that holidaymakers are now actively seeking out luxury, hassle-free short breaks closer to home at a time when they may have concerns about going further afield,” Mark says.
“Customer expectations have rocketed at the same time, though, so it’s no surprise that the locations we see performing best are the ones where owners have been prepared to invest and improve their offer.” Locations sold through Hoseasons that have recently invested in their offer include Go Active Holidays location Hemsby Beach Holiday Park, in Norfolk, which has had a £10m overhaul of accommodation and facilities.
The new look ‘super park’ features brand new luxury lodges with hot tubs, a Show Bar, Yacht Club Bar and a whole range of Go Active activities, including archery, zorbing, sea scooters, crazy golf and bowls.
Set just 350 yards from the golden sands and rolling dunes of Hemsby Breach, and close to the Norfolk Broads, the park also now boasts a Traverse Climbing Wall, an all-weather multi-sports court, soft play for the little ones, a Go Juniors activity programme for three to seven year olds and an amusement arcade.
Fellow Go Active location Cheddar Woods Resort and Spa, in Somerset, has also invested – unveiling 23 new properties earlier this year to cope with greater demand for quality short break staycations.
The mix of one, two, three and four-bedroom properties all offer spectacular views of the Cheddar countryside and have been purposely placed to maximise privacy and enhance guests’ sense of getting away from it all.
Each of the lodges comes with either a private garden, enclosed decking or an outdoor patio area, as well as non-reflective windows that allow the properties to blend into the Cheddar landscape.
Nine of the new units are one-bedroom lodges – a response to growing off-peak demand for couples’ romantic breaks.
Ninety minutes down the road Finlake Holiday Resort, in North Devon – another Go Active Holidays location - has a multimillionpound new facilities complex with waterpark and flume rides, spa and treatment rooms, and a state-of-the-art gym.
Finlake’s refurbished Retreat Bar and Restaurant offers lunch and à la carte evening meals and the nearby Cabin Café & Farm Shop offers a fantastic takeaway menu. Nature trails, outdoor tennis courts, two coarse fishing lakes and horse riding are also available, providing sporting opportunities for everyone.
All the parks have seen a rise in bookings since investing in their offer, with Warnes encouraging others to follow their lead.
“Capital investment is not something the owners we work with rush into,” he says, adding: “It’s a considered thought-though strategic approach, designed to make the most of a strong market and keep pace with what the public want when it comes to a short break.”
Lead Designer, Sue Brodie has worked with Willerby for almost seven years having previous worked on executive homes located in the prestigious London boroughs of Knightsbridge, Kensington and Chelsea.
Sue says you need to strike a balance between the design aesthetics and the practicality of the home.
“There is a balance between the two – clever storage solutions can be aesthetically pleasing and enhance the interior,” Sue emphasises.
“It’s no good if the unit looks beautiful but fails to function as a living space, we always ensure there is enough seating, storage and the layout flows.
“We try to create furniture with a freestanding appearance so it appears more domestic but still includes that vital storage.” Sue stresses that owners are looking for comfort, a real home from home experience, although they are not looking to replicate their own homes.
“Their expectations are high along with their desire for better features and décor,” she says.
Many of Willerby’s unique designs grow from an innovative layout, offsetting the linear roof line and introducing an appliance bank allowed us to create a nearside corridor and internal bathroom. These internal bathrooms were made possible by the introduction of the ‘sun tube’ which in effect is ecofriendly mini skylight.
Willerby were also the first to introduce a larder unit into the kitchen with sliding baskets drawers and open shelving the unit is now available in two sizes. Other features include the Sheraton fireplace and bed surround shelving which were influenced by the New England, American interior designs.
Says Sue: “We now have access to some wonderful materials and finishes which allow us to create authentic looking interiors and are no longer constrained by our manufacturing capabilities.
Because we manufacture our own furniture, elements are completely bespoke and produced to our specification in just the right style, size and colour to complement the unit. Adds Sue: “We can co-ordinate our finishes though out the unit so the finished product looks cohesive and resolve.”
Previously static caravans adopted styling used in touring caravans, with lots of wall to wall storage and clunky furniture. We are now looking to popular high street brands for our Styling cues.
Fabrics were supplied by manufacturers to the caravan industry, we are now using domestic fabrics you would find on the high street.
With the improvements in LED lighting, we have substituted decorative wall and ceiling lighting for integrated spotlights bringing a cleaner modern look to our units.
We have introduced improved MP3 players with integrated speakers and USB sockets for phone charging and ipads.
We are seeing recent trends shift and evolve as oppose to completely new trends emerging. The Country Heritage trend is still strong with the addition of new colours, pebble greys and truffles.
Black fittings are popular this year and we have introduced Graphite handles and light fittings in birdcage deconstructed styles.
The colour trends are teal, blue terracotta, warm grey and sage with gold accents while authentic woods, sit alongside luxury fabrics, windowpane checks and pinstripe fabrics.
Pathfinder Homes have over 25 standard homes customers can choose from, however, the company offers a fully bespoke service giving the opportunity to create homes as unique as they are.
The Pathfinder Homes team is fully trained and committed to providing customers with not just a memorable selection process but a home that suits every requirement and desire.
“All standard home start their life with me,” explains Creative Manager, Kelly Martyr. “I am constantly listening to feedback from customers and keeping up to date on fashion and trends.
“Creating a new standard home initially starts with seeing a gap in the market, inspiration from other industries or even a popular request. Initially, I will sit down with our Architectural Technologist and Technical Manager and discuss the sometime outlandish ideas that occur to me.
“I try to take all advice on board and then start to sketch out initial ideas and mood boards,” reveals Kelly. “Once I am confident with the design I will present to our directors, along with rationale, budget and where this sits in the market place.
“As soon as approved all the technical drawings are completed, we pass over to our production team and begin the build.” The whole process from inception to completion can be about six months, and offering a fully bespoke service is something Pathfinder Homes is particularly proud of.
“We understand everyone is different as is their customisation,” Kelly asserts. “For those who know
exactly what they want, our Selection Studio is like heaven.
From carpets to curtains, decking to door handles, the Selection Studio is the perfect place to be inspired and the Pathfinder team can help dreams come true. For those who want a little more guidance, then that’s exactly what they get.
Kelly explains: “I can meet the customer at the Selection Studio and walk them through the whole process and offer advice and assistance every step of the way. Customers can start from a blank canvas or from a preselected, standard design.”
One thing is for certain, there’s no shortage of inspiration, the studio overlooks the famous Haytor in Dartmoor’s National Park, is fully equipped with all the aesthetic examples you might need, from kitchen units to soft furnishings, all to make sure that the new home is exactly how they want it,” says Kelly.
“Pathfinders’ Selection Studio really gives presents a tangible design experience,” she continues. “Customers can touch and feel the fabrics, walk through the kitchen and enjoy a coffee on the couch.
Kelly says Pathfinders’ suppliers play a significant part in the company’s design success. She says: “Over the years we have built up a base of fabulous, supportive and loyal suppliers.
“The relationship we have built together is so important. There are a select few who I work with on almost a daily basis and consider them part of the team here at Pathfinder Homes.
“Our suppliers are constantly sending over innovative products, new samples and exciting developments within their industry – this allows us to continue to lead ours!”
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Simply The Best
Newly-opened luxury resort Ullswater Heights has a simple but clear mission – to be the UK’s best holiday park.
Situated on the site of an abandoned quarry at Newbiggin, Penrith, this stunning new location on the edge of the Lake District officially opened its doors to customers in July, promising new standards in UK self-catering.
Just six miles from Ullswater and 40 minutes from Windermere, it’s not hard to see why the park’s owners – five-star resort operators Leisure Resorts - chose this spot for their £20m new location and why they believe it should be considered among the best in Britain.
Set around 70 acres of landscaped gardens and an eight-acre lake, the park features 74 one to four bed luxury lodges and 10 one and two-storey centrally heated glamping tents - all of which come complete with their own decking and steamy hot tubs.
There’s an on-site farm and a playground for the little ones, while the Lake House Bar and Restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and serves a menu featuring locally sourced Lakeland produce and ingredients.
LURE OF LAKES
Leisure Resorts director Grant Gidman says the range of topquality accommodation and facilities on offer reflects the varied customer base the park expects to attract. “The lure of the Lakes is undeniable - whether it’s families wanting to get their kids out and about, groups of friends on a walking holiday or couples looking for an indulgent romantic break, this incredible area has it all - but that doesn’t mean ‘average’ is going to be good enough when it comes to where they stay,” says Grant. “Customers quite rightly expect more and more from their staycation these days, and that’s why we’re doing everything we can to make a stay at Ullswater Heights as memorable as possible.”
Guests who really want to live the high life will soon be able to have their every whim catered for by indulging in the park’s concierge service. Transport arrangements, restaurant reservations and entertainment bookings will all be taken care of, as the park looks to make good on its commitment to premium customer service.
It’s a quality mark Leisure Resorts are backing with investment in a 40-strong Ullswater team, led by General Manager, Laura Corner, who has been brought in from sister park Aysgarth Lodges to make sure standards exceed expectations.
That means for pets as well as their owners - Ullswater Heights is dog-friendly with cosy beds, water bowls and dog toys available free of charge. There’s also dedicated bins dotted around the park to make dog walking as stress-free as possible.
Leisure Resorts initially had no intention of including holiday lets at the park, but it thought again when bookings for sister park Aysgarth Lodges did so well through self-catering specialist Hoseasons.
Gidman says working with the firm famous for its luxury hot tub breaks is one of the best decisions the business has made since being set up by former Park Leisure boss Gary Molloy in 2017.
He says: “The team at Hoseasons have been so integral to our success at Aysgarth that bringing them on board here was a complete no brainer. The relationship is evolving all the time and now we’ve got to know them I can’t imagine what it would be like without them.”
Ullswater Heights, like Aysgarth Lodges, is part of Hoseasons’ luxury Evermore Lodge Holidays Collection - an exclusive range of 23 hot tub lodge locations designed for families and groups of friends to relax and spend quality time together in beautiful surroundings.
This investment at Ullswater comes at a time when Hoseasons says it is, for the first time ever, selling more holidays with hot tubs than without. The company has seen a 20% increase in the number of hot tub holidays it has sold in 2019, compared to the same time last year.
Holiday lodge rentals at Ullswater Heights start from £464 per week and range up to £2,200 for the most luxurious rentals at peak times.
Park To Park Charity Challenge
North Wales parks boss David Thornley Jnr has pedalled to victory in his bid to raise much-needed funds for a children’s hospice appeal.
David, a director of Thornley Leisure Parks, led a group of seven amateur cyclists this summer in a gruelling 186-mile sponsored ride which was completed in a single day.
Now, thanks to the team’s efforts, Hope House Children’s Hospices will shortly be handed a cheque for £8,500 to help support its vital care for young sufferers. The donation brings to a remarkable £170,000 the total that Thornley Leisure Parks has raised for the UK-wide hospice charity over the years.
David’s epic ride began at Green Pastures Holiday Park in Abersoch and followed mostly minor roads before finishing at Gallaber Holiday Park in the Yorkshire Dales. The two parks are among the nine multi-award winning holiday centres now owned by the Thornley family’s business which was established over 55 years ago.
The group’s connection with Hope House Children’s Hospices, said David, goes just as far back: “It was my grandparents Dorothy and William who opened our first park, Craiglwyd Hall Caravan Park in Conwy, which we still own today,” he said.
“They both became supporters of the charity from the outset, and it’s a tradition which my family has been very happy and proud to continue to this day.
“Many of our park staff are also enthusiastic fundraisers for Hope House, and take part in a wide range of events and challenges to swell our donations. We owe a big debt of thanks to all our sponsors for their fantastic generosity,” added David.
There is more information about the charity on its website at www.hopehouse.org.uk
Ten Year Holiday Milestone
Since the partnership between Canvas Holidays and the Family Holiday Association began back in 2009, 450 families, struggling with terrible circumstances, have been gifted a much-needed short break at the seaside, or local day out.
The funds have been raised solely through customer donations at the point of booking a Canvas Holiday and staff fundraising activities, both on Canvas campsites throughout Europe and at the company’s head office in Dunfermline.
The short breaks offered by the charity enable individual families to spend a few nights in a caravan at a holiday park at the British seaside.
Michael Thompson, International Call Centre Manager at Canvas Holidays said “We are so happy to have been able to help these families over the past ten years and we’d like to thank all our staff and customers for supporting the Family Holiday Association and the invaluable work they do.
“We look forward to continuing to work with the Family Holiday Association in the future.” To help Canvas Holidays cover the costs of keeping the caravan in tip-top condition, enabling even more families to have a vital break for another year, you can donate via www.justgiving.com/campaign/Canvas
Champagne Compass Celebrations
Binnacle was established in a unique, strategic alliance between BH&HPA and Rural & Commercial Holdings back in December 2018.
The name Binnacle was chosen for the business because a binnacle supports and houses a ship’s compass.
Some six months later, it was celebrations all round this summer, when the Compass team were able to finally and formally celebrate the re-birth of their scheme.
The official grand opening of the airy new Binnacle/Compass offices took place in Pullman Court in Gloucester, which is also home to the British Holiday and Home Parks Association (BH&HPA).
Invited guests were welcomed by both the Compass and BH&HPA teams for a champagne lunch and a blue ribbon was cut to mark the occasion.
In welcoming everyone to the event, BH&HPA National Chairman Andrew Baragwanath explained how important it is to the Association to ensure that the right insurance cover and services are available to park business and their customers. He also outlined some of the history of the Compass Scheme, which dates back to 1976, and explained the work involved in establishing Binnacle.
Tel: 0344 274 0277
Award Winners Moved To Lincs Parks
The focal feature of an award-winning entry at the prestigious BBC Gardeners World Live show has moved to two Lincolnshire holiday home parks.
The life-size wooden horse sculptures which were hand-carved by an artist in Asia are now on permanent display at Lakeside Park in North Somercotes and Whispering Waters, Mablethorpe.
The ambitious show garden created by Horticulture and Construction students at Derby College Group’s Broomfield Hall won a silver merit medal at Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre in June.
The college teamed up with the Multiple Sclerosis Society and a range of sponsors headed by Don Amott Parks which has five Lincolnshire holiday parks. Key features of the garden, including the spectacular wooden horses, have now been rebuilt at Lakeside Park, close to the village of North Somercotes, just 12 miles from Louth.
Chairman, Don Amott said: “Having lost a cousin to Multiple Sclerosis, I was particularly keen to work alongside the MS Society on this project. It is a charity that is close to my heart.”
Don Amott Parks
Tel: 01507 358428
Ssh! Pitches For Lovers Of Peace and Quiet
One of Devon’s most beautifully located holiday parks is wooing holiday home buyers with a list of all the attractions which they won’t be able to enjoy. But rather than putting people off, Nichols Nymett Holiday Park owner Angela Stupiak believes her unusual pitch will be well received by the right type of customers. They are being told that the park doesn’t have a disco for late-night revelries, or the chance to win a fortune on bingo, or sing-alongs in the clubhouse, nor a children’s talent contest. In fact the only live entertainment on her park near Okehampton, Angela cheerfully admits, is a constant chorus of birdsong - plus delightful views of the peaceful Devon countryside. In other words, she says, it’s the perfect bolt-hole for those seeking escapes to total tranquillity. Angela and her husband Michael took on the business almost 25 years ago after being ‘smitten’ by its picture postcard location near Dartmoor in the village of North Tawton.
Holiday Park Eco Heroes Praised
Anti-litter warriors at a Dorset holiday park have been honoured with an award for helping to make the area’s beaches and sea even more welcoming to visitors. The staff team at Highlands End Holiday Park in Bridport received the accolade from the Litter Free Coast and Sea Dorset campaign in recognition of their many anti-waste initiatives. It was presented after the park was audited by the organisation and received a thumbs-up for its success in minimising wastage, reducing litter, and stamping down on single-use plastics. Martin Cox, a member of the family which has owned Highlands End for almost 50 years, said that everyone was immensely proud to have received the honour: “Minimising waste is an important part of our sustainability polices, and it’s not just about reducing the environmental footprint of our business, important though that is.
“It’s also about ensuring that our holiday guests can enjoy clean beaches on which to have fun and relax, and safe seas in which to swim or take part in watersports. “Our family and the vast majority of our staff were born and brought up in this area, so we naturally feel very strongly about safeguarding its fragile beauty and protecting the natural world. “The Litter Free Coast and Sea campaign does a fantastic job of involving local people and businesses in its work, and we’re very proud to be giving them our full support,” said Martin. He said that Highlands End and its four neighbouring sister parks were now close to achieving their target of recycling 50 percent of all waste materials produced.
Spa Is Up On The Park Home Roof
Tingdene Homes partnered with spa specialists, Park Leisure Solutions, to design its show-stopping Quantum Leisure Lodge that will form the centrepiece of the Northamptonshire company’s 50th anniversary celebrations.
Stealing the show at the recent World of Park & Leisure Homes show at Stoneleigh, The Quantum Leisure Lodge has now moved to Tingdene’s Visitor Centre in Wellingborough but will appear at various exhibitions throughout the UK during the course of the year.
Unrivalled in the industry, the 52’ x 22’ Quantum Leisure Lodge boasts spacious living areas with luxury fittings and furnishing throughout. The huge 1,114 sq/ft footprint of the Quantum has been fully optimised both inside and out with the design of a fantastic edge to edge, fully decked roof terrace, with seating and entertainment areas as well as an energy efficient spa adding that final touch of luxury living.
Installed on the roof terrace the unique design will allow guests using the spa to enjoy 360-degree views from the comfort of the spa, in the privacy of the roof terrace.
Park Leisure Solutions Managing Director Stuart Mulchay said: “We were delighted to be involved with such a prestigious and challenging project that breaks new boundaries in leisure lodge development.” “From initial ideas-to plans and build specification, to final production and installation both teams used their skills and knowledge to deliver what will be a very unique customer experience when relaxing in the spa.”
Tempting Menu At Stoneleigh Show
The World Of Park and Leisure Homes once again served up a Smörgåsbord of design and operational ideas to tempt all palettes at it returned to the Stoneleigh showground in June. With many big name players on show, one team standing out from the crowd were Suffolk-based Country Homes (Anglia) who felt being a smaller player worked better for its customers who could expect unrivalled design, install and after sales support.
Meanwhile the team from Oakwood Park and Leisure Homes, a family run business offering a choice of high specification park and leisure homes, shined their spotlight on its Maple design, a contemporary three bedroom, two bathroom lodge with a combined kitchen and dining area.
Other stand out exhibits included Littlehouse Glamping offered a competitively priced range of gipsy-style caravans and shepherds’ hut on an individual, bespoke basis.
If its leisure or residential – Pathfinder Homes had it covered -- with some head-turning display lodges topped off by its outstanding Hawthorne design. Custom-built for the Grange Park golfing resort, in North Lincolnshire, the Hawthorne design changed the game when it was first built, being the first centrelounge home on the market and arguably the most impressive to date.
Knowledge Is Hot Tub Power
Knowledge is power when it comes to reducing the risk of Legionella outbreaks associated with spas and hot tubs in holiday park locations. So a newly launched modular training course, available on-line, from industryleading experts Tintometer, offers vital support for operators who want to be safe rather than sorry and show due diligence when it comes to holiday hot tub compliance. Crucially, the course covers the practical aspects of complying with the Health and Safety Guideline 282 (HSG282) which came into effect in early 2017.
The guideline covers all spas and hot tubs in a commercial setting i.e. all those hired out and used by more than one party – for example, holiday lettings. Section five of the guideline concentrates on water testing with the following emphasis:
• Reducing the risk of Legionella and microbiological contamination
• Emphasizing that this is the operator’s responsibility
• Ensuring testing is frequent and planned (at least two or three times a day)
• Highlighting that results should be recorded
• Stressing that there should be a written action plan if required
The guidelines focus on three main parameters; Disinfectant, pH and Total Dissolved Solids (TDS). Don’t be baffled by the science, say leading experts, Tintometer, who offer professional photometer test kits that are the only way for the operator to accurately measure all the tests mentioned in HSG282 and evidence your findings. Contained within the kit is a professional photometer for the measurement of chlorine, bromine and pH and a Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Pen. Importantly these kits measure both chlorine and bromine so, if different disinfectants are used across your site, the same kit will cover both.
For more information and to sign up for the course, which can be undertaken in stages at your own pace, simply email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Set in 40 acres of beautiful East Yorkshire countryside, the multi awardwinning Patrington Haven Leisure Park is celebrating its 35th anniversary by engaging with its customers and the local community. Founded by Graham Sparkes in 1984 on a disused RAF base near the East Yorkshire coast, after he sold his caravan-building business, the site is now run by Graham’s son, Guy Sparkes, his wife Karen and their extended family, who have grown the team from 35 employees, five years ago, to more than 70 today.
With a growth in turnover from £2.7m in 2014 to £5.6m last year, the owners-only park close to the Holderness coast is forecasting £6m in revenue for 2019 and is experiencing its highest ever occupancy rates, with just 15 of 485 plots currently free. Patrington Haven Leisure Park sells a wide range of quality new and used holiday homes, with customers enjoying a choice of their own private garden plot with designated parking. Holiday homes currently available range in price from £14,995 to £69,000. After investing £5.5m in the leisure park’s Country Club and infrastructure over the past five years, the business is continuing to push forward with new services for its owners and visitors and to reach out to the local community.
Significant investments have been made in Guy’s Café Bar and Restaurant, new technology in the state-of-the-art gym, and three new vans for the maintenance team, which have helped to improve rubbish collections and the upkeep of caravans. In addition, the business has invested thousands of pounds in a rubbish compactor, which has ensured not a single piece of commercial waste has gone to landfill since it was installed, and launched The Spa at the Country Club, providing luxury health and beauty treatments to caravan owners and the local community. A takeaway delivery service offering food from the park’s restaurant menu has also been set up to operate within a seven-mile radius, delivering everything from pizza to fish and chips, romantic meals for two and family feasts, as well as an alcohol delivery service, to caravans on site and local homes, with orders taken via the Just Eat service and delivered by two new vans. Meanwhile, an innovative, free mobile phone app has been launched to communicate with people on and off the park, with options for them to choose the news and notifications they receive, and a new website is due to launch this summer. Managing Director Guy Sparkes firmly believes the park’s committed team and loyal customers are the foundations of its success. Guy said: “We’ve seen a really strong five-year growth period and I put that down to belief, supporting the team and allowing them to be in charge of their own destinies.
SIMPLY THE BEST
“A leisure park is only as good as its owners and its guests and we have some of the best. Our main aim is for all our customers to be proud of our team and our team to be proud of our customers. “I can’t say it’s like coming to work here. It has various pressures, but at the same time, you’re coming in to collaborate with people who believe in the same things. When you have shared beliefs, you can achieve anything.” The park has been awarded the Remarkable Holiday Park/Holiday Village Award in the Remarkable East Yorkshire Tourism Awards (REYTAs) for the past three years, racking up the latest win in March. It also received the Visit England Gold Award for exceptional quality of accommodation and customer service 2018/2019. The success is based on creating a home away from home environment for owners and making the leisure park a hub for the local community. Although the pool and gym require membership, appointments at the Elemis spa can be booked and the restaurant, bar and other facilities are open to everyone all year round. The leisure park draws its customers from across Yorkshire, the M62 corridor and the Midlands and enjoys remarkable loyalty, with the longestserving caravan owners having called Patrington Haven their home away from home for more than 20 years. Andy and Kerry Naylor live in nearby Hedon and have owned a caravan on the park for four years, regularly staying in their current Willerby Vogue with their cocker spaniels, Charlie and Rosie. Mr Naylor, 57, said: “This is the third caravan we have had on the site. It’s like home away from home. “As well as my family, I bring work colleagues and engineers I know through my business to stay in the lodges and they all love it. “We like the takeaway service too. They’ve got it right with good chefs, and you can order online through Just Eat.” Eric and Linda Thompson, from Rotherham, South Yorkshire, first bought on the park in 2003 and have owned three caravans during that time, including their current Winchester model. Mrs Thompson, 66, said: “We came to look at Patrington Haven one Saturday morning and we loved it straight away, so we bought our first caravan on the same day. “The plots all have their own gardens and it’s a very healthy environment. I walk, as well as swim, most days. The people are lovely and it’s like a small village. We’ve made friends here and everyone looks out for each other. “The park is family-run and that family feel is reflected in everything. We really feel part of that," she adds.
Retired couple Keith and Denise Wright bought their first Willerby Vogue caravan on the park last month, going ahead with the sale within 24 hours of arriving and falling in love with the surroundings. Originally from Manchester, they have owned a narrowboat for the past nine years and Mrs Wright said she is pleased to have found an ideal holiday home for their two children and five grandchildren to visit at various points throughout the year. Mrs Wright, 66, said: “We thought we’d go to lots of different sites to see what was available, but we never went anywhere else. “The staff took us round and we fell in love with it. When you need anything, someone is there straight away and nothing is too much trouble. There is such a lot going on for all ages and the park has a really nice feel about it. “Everyone has been so friendly here and made us feel so welcome. The park is really well cared for and has such pleasant surroundings.”
At A Glance
• The park operates an 11-month season for owners t o enjoy, but its five-star facilities are open all year round.
• Every holiday home comes with its own private garden.
• Guy’s Café Bar and Restaurant, which serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and a superb Sunday carvery.
• The Country Club and Pool, which is open from 6.30am, 364 days of the year.
• The Spa open daily and offers a wide range of treatments using only the very best Elemis products.
• A well-stocked fishing lake
• A jam-packed events programme, from the all-day music extravaganza, Patfest, to the exclusive Owner’s Select private dinner.
Patrington Haven Leisure Park
Tel: 01964 630 071
Making A Splash
Taking the plunge with a holiday park swimming pool can be as daunting as diving off the highest board. But be bold. Investing in on-site swimming offers many avenues for return on investment from initial visitor appeal to encouraging maximum ‘on park’ spend. But don’t just think swimming pool – rather, think water leisure and entertainment. After all, maximum payback will come from an aquatic feature that does not just offer lane swimming, but entertains all ages and abilities with excitement and splash appeal.
A perfect holiday should provide plentiful opportunities to have fun, and opportunities to de-stress and recharge batteries. A swimming pool is an ideal choice for holiday operators wishing to attract and retain visitors, whilst promoting good health and wellbeing in their guests. “It is our experience that holiday park operators view swimming pools as a very necessary evil,” advises Tim Bareham of leading holiday park pool specialist, Cresta Leisure. “Some small privately owned operators resist the need for a pool, particularly if they are not family oriented,” Tim continues. “Larger operators invest heavily to deliver ‘water leisure’ facilities to customers.” With the trend to offer longer seasons or even all-year round appeal, many parks now have both indoor and outdoor pools.
When holiday park operators first contact potential suppliers, they will generally have carried out some research and could have an initial wish list. the available space to maximise and enhance their guest experiences, how much will it cost to establish, how long it will take to build, and what maintenance will be required,” reveals Michelle Minns-Sykes of water play specialists, Ustigate. “The installation of a pool and a flume alone is a mistake as the overall aim should be to create a wet environment that pleases many people in one space at the same time,” Michelle advises. “Whilst a flume is great and exciting it is an attraction that has to limit rider’s descents for safety reasons. “In a one pool and one flume scenario, the flume would be in great demand and holiday guests would spend more time queuing than playing!” Swimming is
certainly an activity that many of visitors enjoy when on holiday, and therefore a swimming pool will influence bookings.
An outdoor pool will be very popular in the summer while an indoor pool will continue to attract guests all year round. Michelle again: “Holiday operator’s main objectives are to create a destination for guests to take time out of their busy work schedules, to deliver a balance between work and play where guests can enjoy precious time with families and friends. “Access is very important in design. Where there is a depth of water, life-guarding staff will need to be constantly present to guarantee public safety. Every project is unique in its location and its product mix and the cost is dependent upon size, features and the water management system. Says Michelle: “The favourites have got to be tipping buckets and cannons, because we have witnessed the shrills of excitement that come from everyone on the receiving end of a large tipping bucket and the laughter that comes from the one at the firing end of a cannon!” Thinking outside the pool box, a splashpad is a safe and economic way to provide aquatic play; safe because of it being a zero standing water concept and economic because a splashpad generally uses less water than a pool and requires no life-guarding staff. A small installation with a couple of above ground products and some ground sprays is feasible to operate directly from the mains under a flow through water management system.
When designing a splashpad, Ustigate designers start by separating the area into three zones; incorporating a toddler, family and teen bay. The toddler bay would feature above-grade devices scaled down to a level that’s not intimidating for little ones, with products such as a low level Water Journey™ complete with a water pump, water channels and weirs or a PlayNuk™ two-deck exploration hub with softer spray features, small steps, double handrails, shaded spaces, and age-appropriate games that enable young children to explore exciting new frontiers on their own safely.
The family bay encourages cross-generational play. An adult, for example, might pick up a small child and walk through a series of tipping buckets or a spraying arch or loop. This isn't a high-energy play area, but instead an area that encourages socialising in a casual walk-through, park-like experience. The teen bay is focused on high-energy, incorporating cannons and where the space allows, a large tipping bucket that gives promise of a jolly good soaking! The majority of the Vortex product range is available with a safe-swap anchor system, enabling products to be exchanged for alternatives in the future without the need to break the ground. This system enables an aquatic play area to stay as fresh and as unique as the day it was installed, whilst keeping visitors intrigued and entertained with the essence of new. Holiday operators that have several sites can benefit from the safe-swap system by rotating aquatic play features between parks. It is important to allocate some forward thinking in the design to ensure any changes or add-ons have been allowed for in the initial design and build of the water management system. Ustigate Waterplay has launched a new user-friendly controller this year that features access to all of the controls and data on one screen, also available with remote access if an internet connection can be made available in the plant room. The controller enables you to set hours of operation, a sequence, to monitor the pumps, filters, water usage, and water treatment. With the remote access package, Ustigate Waterplay will email alarms to clients by text or by email, should anything require immediate attention. Taking expert advice on essentials such as water treatment is a no-brainer.
Bather load is critical to all, when the sun is shining the outdoor pools become very busy and when the weather is inclement customers all want to be indoors. Investing in indoor, weather-proof water leisure appeal upon the type and size of the park and whether it has potential to operate for 12 months of the year. Cresta Leisure’s Tim Bareham again: “Many larger operators who have appropriate planning permission, open indoor pools to local residents during the winter months but this is dependent upon the potential revenue and the cost to open.” Tim says there are many challenges to water leisure investment but probably the most significant is safety, life guarding and plant operation. “An outdoor pool needs to be warm and inviting and correctly sized to anticipated bather load. “A large freeform pool looks appealing but is impossible to cover and expensive to heat. An indoor pool without adequate dehumidification will cause serious problems to the fabric of the building.” The good news is that pools do not have to be built out of reinforced concrete and finished with mosaic tiles, there are more cost effective solutions. However there is no cutting corners when it comes to safe operation. “Commercial pools require high capacity pumps to meet turnover periods required but the inclusion of inverters and variable speed drives will improve efficiency,” advises Tim. The ability to cover the pool, when it is not in use, will reduce energy costs as well as insulating the pool tank when building the pool. Heat pump technology must be considered for both outdoor and indoor pools to minimise pool water heating dehumidification costs. Ultra-Violet disinfection units and PAC dosing improves filtration and water quality thus saving on pool chemicals and can reduce backwashing to make significant savings on water and reheating costs. If you are already feeling daunted then make sure you make a good start by seeking expert advice from experienced suppliers like Cresta Leisure and Ustigate. A pool investment does require capital payment but when you choose an aquatic partner wisely, you will get a great return for your investment because your guests will keep coming back.
Ustigate's 31-station Dippy the Dinosaur inspired splashpad has met its original goal in making Roarr! Dinosaur Adventure in Norfolk, even more popular than before.
Dippy’s Splash Zone has been successful at extending the length of a visit and has increased park revenues through locker availability, the sale of towels, shirts, diapers, and refreshments at Dippy’s Snack Shack. The facility provided the park with an extra influx of visitors, growing visitors by 18% in its first full year.
Rather than spend money on renovating the outdated outdoor pool, Freshwater Beach Holiday Park on the Jurassic Coast, decided to undertake a temporary upgrade to the filtration plant and line the pool with a commercial pool liner. They also decided to undertake a feasibility study, to develop a brand-new indoor pool facility. Cresta Leisure was invited to join the project design team, to develop and deliver a wet-leisure facility that would appeal to all ages. This co-operation has resulted in a very popular, purpose built pool complex that incorporates a splash zone, a paddling pool, a play pool, interactive tower with tippers, sprays and slides, a stand-alone four-lane slide with integral catch, a 20m deck level swimming pool and a spa. Following the success of the new indoor pool complex, Freshwater asked Cresta Leisure to come up with a scheme to improve the outdoor pool facilities. Because the filtration and circulation on the existing outdoor pool was below current standards, it was decided to break out the old pool and start afresh. All the groundworks were undertaken by Freshwater’s own team. In just five months, Cresta has built a brand new 25m x 12m outdoor pool with 12m2 paddling pool packed full of interactive water play features from Hippo Leisure. This new pool facility is fully compliant with European standards and is proving to be a smash hit with everyone.
Tel. 01305 259253
Tel. 01752 771740
Tel. 01322 424445
Set just two miles from Newquay’s golden sand beaches, Hendra Holiday Park welcomes up to 3,800 guests a night during peak season. The family-owned business began in 1972 as a site offering camping and touring. Nowadays, Hendra’s 80- acre site is home to more than 300 luxury holiday homes and 600 pitches (from standard grass to super), ensuring it caters to a wide range of guests and budgets. Newquay has undergone a transformation in recent years, as Director Jon Hyatt explains: “The town has come a long way since the days of nightclubs, stag and hen dos. “It’s now a five-star family-friendly holiday destination and that makes the job of keeping our guests safe and secure that bit easier.” On-site security is handled by the Nitoe Group Ltd, a company launched more than a decade ago to support Newquay’s bustling nightlife. The experience brought with it some valuable lessons. “In bars and clubs, security needs to be managed carefully to avoid ruining the experience for everyone,” says managing director Tom Peel. “Holiday parks are very much the same. “Our primary goal is to make sure guests feel safe and secure – without compromising on their enjoyment. Being approachable plays a big part in this – especially in a holiday park where very young guests might find themselves needing help.”
Hendra and Nitoe work in close partnership to achieve this: from choosing the appropriate measures and policies to sharing recruitment events. “The Nitoe Group team is very much an extension of our own workforce,” says Hendra director Jon Hyatt. “Their approach is more front of house than door supervisor and that’s a credit to the training they’ve received.” Security personnel on site understand the importance of customer service and know the skills to deliver it. In addition, they are trained to deliver first aid and can take on basic maintenance tasks, too. Jon continues: “With such a wide-range of functions, it means that, especially in peak season, we can enjoy an ‘all-hands-on-deck approach to give our visitors the experience that will see them returning year after year. “In addition, our staff has been trained on how to work with security, including how to get help in the event of issues on site, such as disruptive guests.” In such a big operation, data security is a significant concern. To protect against cyber threats externally, Hendra’s booking systems are isolated from the WiFi, feature a firewall and use subnets for added protection. On top of this, systems undergo external testing quarterly to ensure PCI-DSS compliance. “At Hendra, we go out of our way to treat our guests with the utmost respect and that extends to their personal information,” comments Bookings and IT manager Scott Dickinson. “Any data we hold is fully encrypted and we’ve made the decision not to store credit card details. “Sensitive information like this is only needed in the event of a refund; this affects no more than 5 per cent of our bookings. In our experience, when refunds are necessary, guests are usually more than happy to share their details again if it will help resolve the issue.”
Alongside external scans and testing, Hendra’s IT team regularly run internal vulnerability scans. Scott adds: “With so much data to protect, we are always on the lookout for flaws in the system which could result in data breaches and issues for our customers.” This robust-but-friendly approach to security has paid dividends, according to Hendra Director Jon Hyatt. “We’ve been welcoming guests from across the UK and beyond for nearly 50 years’ now. “Indeed, many of our guests nowadays first came here as young children and, because of our customer-focused approach – across every aspect of the business – they continue returning each year, bringing children and grandchildren in tow.”
Situated on beautiful Mersea Island, overlooking the sparkling Blackwater Estuary, Waldegraves Holiday Park offers a great mixture of static holiday homes and touring areas. While guests can enjoy all the creature comforts in one of the site’s luxury static caravans by the coast, those looking to connect with the great outdoors can choose from a range of pitches, including electric, non-electric and hardstanding. The sprawling site includes family friendly facilities, including an outdoor heated pool (May to September), restaurant bar and shop. In addition, there are four wellstocked and popular fishing lakes, children’s play areas, an entertainment venue and much, much more. For the site operator, keeping guests, staff and facilities safe is a top priority, as marketing manager Roberta Puze explains: “We want our guests’ stays to be memorable for the right reasons. Our team works hard to instil a culture of respect throughout the operation.” This is echoed throughout the guest’s experience: from booking to departure. The site’s Code of Behaviour can be found within the park rules that are listed on the website, within booking information and in arrival packs. Once on site, guests are reminded to respect their neighbours on site, at all times of day, through carefully placed signage and posters. Day-to-day security issues are handled by the site’s park warden. “Guests need to be comfortable raising issues or asking questions, so approachability was something we were looking for in a park warden,” comments Roberta. During weekends and school holidays, Waldegraves employs an external security company to look after the doors on the clubhouse, as well as patrol in the evenings and overnight. However, there are drawbacks to this approach. “Previously, we have had issues where external staff weren’t able to work out the layout of the park quickly enough,” adds Roberta. “This meant we did have some complaints that areas of the site weren’t being policed efficiently. “Ideally, we would like to employ an in-house security team. But, because it could only ever be a seasonal position, it is almost impossible to find the right candidates. Alongside a range of security equipment, including CCTV, ANPR and automatic barriers to keep guests safe, the team at Waldegraves is also working to tackle antisocial behaviour.
Waldegraves is accredited to the Community Safety Accreditation Scheme (CSAS). The scheme targets organisations that play an active role in safeguarding communities with the tools to make them more effective in their efforts to reduce crime and disorder. “Under the scheme,” explains Roberta, “some of our staff hold the authority to exercise powers, such as issuing penalty notices for consuming alcohol in a public place and acting in a way likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress.” To gain accreditation from Essex’s Chief Constable, each selected team member was vetted, undertook an interview and completed a training programme culminating in an exam. She concludes: “We’re especially proud of these members of the team and the commitment they’ve made to making Waldegraves a much nicer and safer place to holiday.”
Hendra Holiday Park
Waldegraves Holiday Park
Tel. 01206 382898
Six parks strong, Away Resorts conducted a study last year that revealed 76% of the British public believe holiday operators need to do more to conserve wildlife in and around their locations. Since then, Away Resorts has taken measures to become more environmentally aware including installing electric car charging points at Sandy Balls, its New Forest Holiday Park, moving all barbed wire fencing and enforcing speed limits to protect wildlife that wanders into their park. The Away Resorts team has also created an on-line resource bank with information about the wildlife found near their 100-year-old holiday resort. The resource allows visitors to learn more about the National Park’s wildlife, including rare birds, mammals, endangered insects and unique plants. Readers can discover facts about the creatures and foliage, where in the New Forest they can be seen and tips on how the public can ensure the conservation of all that call the National Park their home.
Clare Watkins, the General Manager at the New Forest Holiday Park, said: “It is naïve to think that tourism isn’t having an effect on wildlife, this is why it is important that holiday park operators in the UK, like ourselves, take responsibility and make changes to lessen the impact. “We are taking steps to ensure our parks respectfully co-exist with the wildlife that surrounds them, we hope that by creating this resource we can raise awareness and encourage our guests to also become more conscious of the species in the New Forest, ensuring their impact on wildlife is only positive while they holiday with us.” Trevornick Holiday Park in Holywell Bay, Cornwall, is encouraging guests to join them in going green. The five-star family caravan and campsite, located behind the sand dunes at Holywell Bay, was the first in Newquay to install Oltco walkways made from a combination of recycled plastic drink bottles, food packaging and straws. The area surrounding the pool used the equivalent of nearly 100,000 straws alone.
This sustainable re-use of materials can be seen throughout the business as they continue to increase their efforts in becoming even more environmentally friendly. The park has joined the Final Straw campaign, replacing plastic straws in the three onsite bars with paper alternatives. Staff also organise their own beach cleans on Holywell Bay to ensure the location and its wildlife remain unharmed by plastic waste, whilst also encouraging guests to adopt this mindset and asking them to leave the beach as they find it. “We are so lucky to live in such a beautiful part of the world and it is our responsibility to ensure it remains this way,” said Trevornick’s Manager Adrian Tribe. “We have all benefitted from the increase in tourism as a result of hit TV shows like BBC’s Poldark much of which was filmed at Holywell Bay and we feel we have a duty to highlight the dangers of single use plastic and its effect on our beautiful coastline. “This year we have introduced initiatives such as the ‘Drop an Swap’ station where guests can leave their beach toys and bodyboards to reduce this type of waste, as well as joining the ‘Re-Fill’ app which highlights locations nearby where people can fill up their water bottles,” he added. Other measures the park are taking to reduce their single use plastic waste and improve their recycling capabilities includes easy access to recycling points throughout the campsite for camping and touring guests and trialling recycling waste such as crisp packets and bottle tops which aren’t widely recycled and can be made into things such as children’s play parks.
When project planning, it always makes sense to build in green credentials to schemes, not just for the cost-effectiveness but also for its marketing appeal. Olicana Cottages in Ilkley commissioned the construction of five, two bedroom timber built lodges on the banks of the River Wharfe. Boasting saunas and hot tubs the luxury lodges that take full advantage of the peaceful riverside setting, they had sustainability very much on their minds. Perhaps most interesting is how the lodges and new café bar are heated – by a central ground source heat pump, giving the lodges and café independent control of heating and hot water. With this type of sustainable heating system the holiday park owners will receive Renewable Heat Incentive payments which have been calculated to be in excess of £103,000 over 20 years – the period of return for commercial installations. Golden Leas in Sheerness, Kent, has 350 privately-owned caravan holiday homes and lodges, and a newly-opened clubhouse will provide the focus for a raft of social activities and entertainment. Sustainability was an important part of the park’s business philosophy, and the clubhouse has solar panels on its roof to generate heat for the building. Golden Leas also has plans to convert the heating of its 20-metre outdoor swimming pool to use green energy and reduce even further its carbon footprint. There are plans as well to make the park even more welcoming to wildlife with the creation of new habitat areas, and the planting of nectar-rich flowers for foraging by honey bees and butterflies.
Great Field Farm is a 45 acre site in Stelling Minnis, near Canterbury, with existing self-catering accommodation that includes two barns and a lodge, as well as bed and breakfast accommodation within the main farmhouse. The site was set up in 2007 by husband and wife, Malcolm and Lewana Castle. Oxfordshire-based Green Unit installed their ARC™ eco-building at the environmentally-conscious, self-catering holiday resort, Great Field Farm, near Canterbury. The 90 m2 building is equipped with environmentally-friendly features such as a green roof, a heat exchange system with infrared underfloor heating, and smart sensors to regulate pollen, CO2 levels, ventilation, heating and lighting. Marketed as the Bumble Barn, the accommodation offers a unique opportunity to expand the environmentally-conscious business, allowing the couple to cater to the demand for larger families and groups. Lewana Castle said: “We pride our business on offering guests the space and freedom of the outdoors, but with the warmth and comfort of a house, and the new ARC building offers exactly that. “Our guests will love the new experience of living in the round of the curved building, and I think they’ll be interested in the ARC’s sustainable features and clever technology.” The family owners of a Lake District holiday park are also helping visitors to enjoy even greener stays in Cumbria following a new series of environmental initiatives. Park Foot Caravan and Camping Park, on the shores of Ullswater near Penrith, says its latest steps will help further ensure that guests can enjoy their holidays with a clear conscience. Measures taken include the construction from local stone of a new amenity building for campers which is kept warm with underfloor heating from the park’s biomass boiler. Park Foot has also increased its reliance on green energy with new solar panels on its recycling centre which will feed excess electricity into the national grid. A super-efficient new heating system has additionally been installed to minimise energy usage. Park Foot, which employs around 80 locally-recruited staff in high season, has also decided from this year to ban single-use plastics in its clubhouse.
The club’s restaurant has been re-equipped with energy-saving catering equipment, and will continue to feature Cumbria-sourced ingredients in its dishes to minimise food miles. Founded over 60 years ago by the Allen family on their farm, Park Foot has around 140 caravan holiday homes spread throughout the 40-acre grounds, and 400 touring pitches. The business is today run by Fiona Bell and Barbara Allen, the daughters of founder Jimmy Allen, along with Fiona’s husband Malcolm. “But as a farming family, we know how important it is to help safeguard Cumbria’s beautiful but fragile countryside for future generations to enjoy,” comments Fiona. “Our policy has always been to run the park along sustainable lines, and we’re pleased that our latest developments are making greener holidays even more possible,” she adds.
Thanks A Multi-Million Bottles
A significant supplier in the greener credentials of many holiday parks is NBB Recycled Furniture. In 2018 alone, the UK-based team saved 27.4million plastic bottles from entering landfill sites. This is set to drastically rise in 2019 and 2020 as the desire for recycled furniture soars. Tables, picnic-sets and benches accounted for over 50% of the saved bottles with organisations such as holiday parks, hotels and schools opting for recycled plastic for its safety, maintenance-free and eco properties. NBB Business Manager, Sharon Jenkins comments: “We have seen a significant rise in sales of recycled plastic products over the last five years. Consumers are now very aware of the environmental impact of plastic waste and would rather opt for a hardwearing, low maintenance option that largely contributes to the reduction of plastic pollution.”
NBB Recycled Furniture
Tel. 0800 1777 052
Wish You Were Here - Rimington Leisure Park
The countryside haven that is Rimington Leisure Park, deep in the heart of the Ribble Valley, is the newest Park to join the award-winning family owned Holgates Holiday Parks.
Open 12 months of the year offering top quality holiday home ownership, the park is set for more than half a million pounds worth of investment before the end of 2020, which makes it an exciting time to be a new owner on Rimington.
With lush green panoramic views out to the beautiful Forest of Bowland and Pendle Hill, Rimington is perfectly situated (on the edge of a Designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty AONB – no less) for reaching the Yorkshire Dales, Morecambe Bay, and the Lake District.
It feels wonderfully remote and untouched by man, so its no surprise that the Forest of Bowland is home to some of the most unspoilt and picturesque rugged landscapes in the UK. Rimington really is the holiday park of choice for nature lovers and those who enjoy walking and spending time in the great outdoors.
Its tranquil location, in the shadow of the atmospheric Pendle Hill and surrounded only by fresh green countryside, provides peace and quiet in abundance – albeit mixed with the gentle tinkling of birdsong! Walks of varying effort can be enjoyed from the park – from short strolls to brisk climbs. Views from the 557-metre summit of Pendle Hill are certainly worth the effort as pretty much the whole of Lancashire opens up as a reward for reaching the top.
Two and three bedroomed pre-owned holiday homes priced from just £15,950 and brand new 2019 models available from £37,950.
Rimington Leisure Park
Tel. 01200 445355
Holiday Snaps - Helen Scott of Cofton Holidays
Helen Scott is a Director of multi award winning holiday park, Cofton Holidays. Having grown up at Cofton Holidays, Helen has a passion for tourism and sits on the Area Tourism Partnership and Visit South Devon boards and chairs the local Dawlish Warren Tourism Group...
What was your career path into the industry?
I grew up on the Park so have worked and helped my parents from a very young age, learning the basics, and have always been taught to have a good work ethic. I studied for my NVQ 4 Business and Finance Diploma in the evenings at Exeter College whilst working full time for BT. I found working for another corporate company gave me a big insight into working for a different industry and it gave me a good grounding for one day helping run a busy holiday park.
How has the market changed during your time in the industry?
When I was a teenager, we were a seasonal business open from Easter through to the end of October. We loved the down time with nobody staying in the winter months and only a few sheep for company. Now, the popularity of staycations has grown massively and to meet this demand, we are open 365 days of the year. Many holiday makers do not limit themselves any more to just one holiday a year.
How do you predict things will change in the next five to ten years?
I feel that the ‘staycation’ is here to stay; it’s all about demand and supply. Customers will continue to stay in the UK and travel around to see more of the country they live in. I think we will see a bigger boom in motor home sales, particularly amongst retired couples that enjoy touring to different areas.
What are the biggest challenges you face in your working life?
The biggest challenge for me is juggling work with home life. I often feel pulled in both directions and very rarely switch off when I am at home. Sometimes, you need some time away from work to be able to think clearly and come up with creative solutions to challenges at work.
What is the best piece of business advice you have been given and by whom?
Derek Blackburn of Sidona Group gave me some excellent advice during some in-house management training. The advice was to have faith in your staff and give them the tools and training they need so you can delegate responsibility to them.
If you could invite any three guests, who would you most like to sit down to dinner with and why?
Ben Fogle as he is a dog lover and we welcome dogs big and small here at Cofton! Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall as he lives in Devon and can relate well to the local area. Dawn French as I find her funny and feel I have a similar sense of humour.
Where do you prefer to take your holidays?
I can only take a holiday in the depths of winter so have found going abroad to Tenerife is a nice way to get some sun. I also try and take a few days here and there and go away in our touring caravan. It is good to visit other holiday parks and enjoy being a customer and relaxing.
Away Resorts Ticking All Visitors Boxes
UK holiday park operator Away Resorts has kicked off the 2019 season with a £5.25 million investment in its lakeside retreat of Tattershall Lakes Country Park, which opened in time for the Easter holidays. Guests holidaying at the Lincolnshire holiday village this summer will be able to make the most of a new skyline bar, splash zone, beach and accommodation that ticks all the boxes when it comes to the ultimate luxury holiday home. The skyline bar will be called Bar 49 after a poll of guests on Facebook decided to opt for the name, which refers to the number of airfields in Lincolnshire during World War II. Bar 49 will be an elevated open-air space that will give holidaymakers the opportunity to enjoy a drink and take in the breathtaking views of the surrounding lakes. The new indoor Splash Zone will give families and kids of all ages the chance to enjoy some interactive water fun with lots of fantastic water experiences - so get ready for sprays, streams and super slides. The new Splash Zone will be a welcome addition to the indoor pool, spa and gym as well as the adventure playground, sports court and high ropes course, which was introduced last year and has proved to be a great success. The operator is also introducing a range of glamping options due to the increasing popularity to enjoy the great lakes with a bit of home-from-home comfort.
National Installation Network Launches
Rolec Services have launched a new nationwide electrical hook-up installation network called ParkServ, to accommodate the changing demands of the caravan and residential park industries. The network consists of Rolec-trained, Rolec-supported, and Rolec-managed electrical contractors located in local areas - all able to provide a host of corporate services at local rates. “For almost 30 years, Rolec engineers have travelled the length and breadth of the UK undertaking the installation of electrical hook-up, distribution and lighting systems - as well as providing electrical testing and support services to the caravan and residential park industries,” comments Rolec’s Sales Director Martin Georgeson. “Times are changing,” Martin continues. “ParkServ has been designed to offer our customers Rolec’s experience, quality and corporate performance, fused with local installers’ pricing and knowledge.” Rolec’s ParkServ services includes free-of-charge site surveys and no obligation quotations based on local rates as well as installation work, and rapid response callout services, by local engineers. Add to the equation, local aftersales support, electrical testing at local rates and locally stocked spare and replacement parts by local engineers – and it is not hard to see how Rolec’s team will underline their position as the industry’s leading hook-up specialists.
Kent Park Unveils New Clubhouse
Local MP Gordon Henderson officially opened the new clubhouse at one of Kent’s most popular holiday parks, Golden Leas in Sheerness. The clubhouse is part of a recent £500,000 investment project at Golden Leas by Lovat Parks which acquired the business almost a year ago from its longstanding family owners. During his visit, Mr Henderson, who is MP for Sittingbourne and Sheppey, toured the park’s 22-acre grounds in the company of its general manager Jo Treadgold. Golden Leas has 350 privately-owned caravan holiday homes and lodges, and the new clubhouse will provide the focus for a raft of social activities and entertainment. It also includes a bar and cafe, a children’s club, and a shop which will focus on locally sourced food and drinks including many specialities produced in Kent. Sustainability, said Jo, was an important part of the park’s business philosophy, and the clubhouse has solar panels on its roof to generate heat for the building.
Five Star Holiday Nature Trail Unveiled
On the southern edge of the beautiful New Forest, Shorefield Holidays’ five-star Shorefield Country Park has direct access to miles of peaceful forest walks, as well as a series of walks and nature trails on its 100 acres of landscaped parkland. Following three years of careful planning, the Shorefield gardening team has created a new woodland nature trail in a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation, which links up with the park’s existing woodland walk, as well as a network of paths owned by Milford Parish Council. Classed as ancient woodland, the area is carpeted with seasonal wildflowers and features a huge diversity of trees and wildlife. The new trail also gives guests and holiday home owners at the park better access to the surrounding area and nearby seafront. Head Gardener Ian Colverson says: “This is one of the biggest projects our gardening team has undertaken. The nature trail winds under a canopy of trees, and there is an abundance of wildlife and woodland flowers. Since we’ve completed the path, it’s become apparent just how many bluebells are emerging.” Shorefield Holidays is an award-winning family run business operating eight holiday parks across Hampshire and Dorset. It contributes more than £27m a year to the local economy and has won a number of conservation awards over the years. Formed just over 25 years ago, Park Holidays UK has its headquarters in Bexhill-on-Sea in East Sussex, and in high season employs some 1,600 full and part-time staff. Prior to joining Park Holidays UK, Richard spent five years as divisional director of Enterprise Inns plc, Britain’s largest pub company with around 5,000 properties.
Flushed With Success
We humans share five common activities every day: breathing, eating, drinking, sleeping and toileting. When you’re away from home, it’s often the latter which creates the biggest cause for concern. Despite this, washrooms are often overlooked, even in the hospitality and leisure sectors, where guests of all ages will need to make use your facilities. Whether you have a positive or negative experience as a customer, chances are you’ll share it with family, friends and colleagues, or even make a few negative comments on sites like Trip Advisor and Facebook.
Maintaining high standards for your washroom provision can separate you from the competition in a crowded industry. Established in 1987, the Loo of the Year Awards provide a tried-and-tested, cost-effective, independent annual assessment of your operations. Entrants are recognised through an annual grading scheme – including a new grade (Diamond) in 2019. Participants in the event include the UK’s leading retail, hospitality, leisure and entertainment companies. And many holiday park owners already reap the benefits of taking part. In 2018, the national winners included Hillcroft Park (Penrith), Ord House (Berwick on Tweed) and Trotting Mare Caravan Park (Wrexham). All gained significant publicity – both nationally and locally – as a result.
Entries are awarded a star grading (Silver, Gold, Platinum or Diamond), following an unannounced visit by an authorised LOYA inspector. Every entry is assessed against more than 100 criteria which cover male and female facilities, as well as any baby changing or changing room facilities provided. LOYA criteria, where appropriate, is based on British Standards and the Equality Act, and includes hygiene equipment, cleanliness, fixtures and fittings, décor, maintenance and value-added extras. Providing good facilities for families with babies and young children is particularly important in holiday parks. Assessors will look closely at toilet accessibility and the condition and safety of changing units. Extras, such as baby baths and nappy dispensing facilities all add value: increasing the level of the Award achieved. LOYA organiser Mike Bone has some advice for anyone thinking about entering. He says: “An award-winning holiday ark entrant’s washroom has the ‘Wow’ factor as the provide attractive loos that make toilet use away from home a pleasure – not a concern. “Excellent ventilation, dry floors, constant availability of toilet tissue and hand soap and a safe hygienic environment are what separate winning loos from those which deter visitors from booking again. “ Winners of the Loo of the Year Awards 2019 will be recognised and celebrated in a prestigious daytime Awards Event in December. Whether your site has new or existing washroom facilities, there are several areas of insurance which apply, according to a Compass Insurance spokesperson. Your buildings and structures should be covered under your park’s commercial (business) policy and that should also offer Public Liability (PL) cover, which would be relevant toany washroom-related accident or incident that may lead to a claim by a member of the public. “It is essential to ensure that your PL cover amounts are adequate for your individual business,” notes programme manager Richard Walker. “The standard level offered by your insurer may not be sufficient and an add-on amount may need to be purchased.” For smaller parks, a minimum of £5 million PL cover is suggested. On parks with larger footfall, a minimum of £10 million might be more realistic. For help on choosing adequate PL cover, park owners and managers should speak to their insurance account executive. Employers Liability (EL) insurance cover is readily available as a part of a park’s commercial cover, though on occasion it may need to be bought separately – your insurance account executive should be able to guide you on this. Again, park owners should check that their EL cover is adequate for the individuals they employ and the nature of work they carry out. EL is a legal requirement and the Compass scheme offers cover of up to £10 million. It is the employer’s (i.e. the park owner/manager’s) duty of care to ensure that the washroom facilities are a safe environment for people to work in. As with all buildings and structures on a holiday park, it is essential that your washrooms are adequately insured. In addition to structural and fixtures and fittings re-build costs, your Sums Insured amount may need to take into account the cost of replacing any systems that might also need to be replaced as a result of a total loss, such as water heating systems and drainage.
The total loss of a washroom facility, especially on parks hat are touring/camping only, is the stuff of nightmares for park owners. Without washing and toileting facilities, a park can be left unable to operate. In this respect, the loss of washroom can mean a significant loss of income while the facility is repaired/ replaced. In this instance, an area of insurance called Business Interruption cover could pay dividends. When a business is ‘interrupted’ from normal trading following an insurable event, a Business Interruption (BI) policy can compensate for related financial losses. These might include lost bookings and the cost of refunding bookings that cannot be honoured as well as staff wages . It is important for park owners and managers to note that a condition of your park’s commercial insurance policy is likely to be that you must keep your buildings and facilities in a ‘good state of repair’. This means that if a claim is made and the loss adjuster believes your washroom facilities have not been maintained adequately, this may lead to non-payment. It could even lead to an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive.
Remember also that washroom facilities can create ideal opportunities to communicate with your customers. LED screens are now appearing in washrooms across the UK. While many units are stand-alone, some are integrated into washroom equipment specifically as an advertising medium. If you are working with a smaller budget, clip frames offer an affordable and effective alternative. These can be placed within the cubicles or by the sink and allow you to promote everything from entertainment and activities to special offers and deals.
Spending Wise Park Pennies
When Paul Lancaster and his wife Jane opened Donkey Creek Farm Caravan Park on Lancashire’s Fylde coast, they understood the importance of offering great facilities. Donkey Creek was opened to cater for those seeking a high-quality location to pitch on the Fylde coast, which is close to the scenic countryside and its famous resorts. One of the first tasks was to build a state-of-the-art washroom facility for guests pitching up at the park with motorhomes, touring caravans and tents. Enabling them to spend a penny in five-star surroundings cost around £300,00 – and has helped Donkey Creek earn a raft of glowing reviews… and a top Platinum Award from LOYA just a year after opening. New facilities include large shower and drying areas, private family bathrooms, hairdryers, underfloor heating and full access for people with limited mobility. In addition to the Award, LOYA inspectors also gave the washroom cleaning team a special certificate for the outstandingly high standards of cleanliness maintained. For Paul, the washroom building reflects the park’s aspirations. He explains: “Donkey Creek has a very special appeal to people who enjoy away-from-it-all holidays in gorgeous surroundings, and we've tried to provide the perfect backdrop for that.”
Pinewood Holiday Park is at the heart of the North Norfolk coast in Wells-next-the-Sea. They offer modern and luxury holiday accommodation and wanted their two new washroom blocks to reflect the high standards that Pinewood strives for across all areas of the park. Having worked with caravan and camping sites for many years, Dunhams Washroom Systems had no hesitation in recommending its Challenger system. Challenger WC, shower and changing cubicles are a long-lasting and versatile cubicle systems designed for high traffic and wet area use. Along with this, Dunham Washroom System vanities, seating, shower rail systems and accessories completed the package.
Holiday Snaps - John Bunn
Boasting state-of-the art facilities including a 10 pin bowling alley, indoor sports area, a new outdoor pool, a bar and restaurant plus a beautiful new lounge and 1,400 seater Show Bar, John Bunn, Managing Director at Bunn Leisure, wants to continue to make serious waves in the industry…
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The variety in the type of work, as no day is ever the same.
What’s been the landmark moment of your career?
Completing the coastal works that now protect our business. It has created some incredible beaches and habitat as a by-product. How do you see the holiday park industry at the moment? I think it has been undervalued as part of the British tourism industry, but it is now starting to make its mark! It has been much sought after as an investment vehicle, but I feel that this could be the root cause of some of the industry issues that are starting to surface.
What are the biggest challenges facing the sector?
Reputation as a bucket and spade holiday when in fact Holiday Home Ownership is a luxury costing anything from between £16,995 to £249,995.
What’s the best piece of business advice that you have been given? And by whom?
Never worry about what someone else is paid and never turn away a salesman who will earn £100k a year, because if you have structured his pay correctly, he will earn 10 times that for your business! Cecil Redfern
Where do you go on holiday?
Caribbean generally to relax, or the Alps, but I need to expand the horizons and learn to take all my holidays now the major projects are complete.
Although a small independent, we are one of the biggest caravan holiday parks in the world so we haven’t gone unnoticed by the big players in the industry. We have and continue to make serious waves in the industry and have been the apple of many eyes over the years.