PAW-SOME HOLIDAYS - DOG FREINDLY
Going that extra mile for our furry friends...
This summer, the Great British public reconnected in their droves with our furry housemates – that’s our pets, not the partners who have stopped shaving during lockdown. According to the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association, a whopping 3.2 million people welcomed a new pet to the family during the pandemic. Switched on holiday parks up and down the country recognise the earning potential and have made themselves ready to host guests and their furry plus ones.
But what makes a truly pet-friendly holiday?
We’ve spoken to experts and holiday parks to find out how they plan to make a dog’s dreams come true this summer - and some other quirky creatures too. Sarah Ferguson is Head of Business at Paws Holidays, a website dedicated to collating information about the UK’s most dog-friendly holidays. So, Sarah knows what a complicated minefield planning a holiday with your pet can be: “Finding a dog friendly resort or destination can be mind-blowing, as dog owners have to think about so much,” she says.
Typical questions on booking are:
• Will the resort have a dog exercise area? And if so, is it enclosed?
• Will they be able to let the dog off its lead?
• Are there dog drinking stations?
• Will there be a designated area where the family can eat but the dog is allowed in too?
And then there’s accommodation which is a massive consideration. Sarah explains: “Some Park operators remove carpets and have just a wooden floor or a very high standard of lino which makes it so much easier if the dog does have an accident. “Dog owners expect the dog to be welcomed as a guest, just as much as they are. They will expect to see dog waste bins dotted around the resort, dog-wash areas and some park operators such as Haven even have a dog playpark.
“Forest Holidays provide a Doggy Welcome Pack – containing a healthy biscuit and poo bags. And some parks will provide a dog blanket and dog toys.” Sounds like pure luxury. But does being ‘dog-friendly’ also mean extra cleaning/maintenance? Sarah again: “Most park operators have very high powered hoovers that will pick up any dog hair, and also have a wet and dry hoovers, just in case a dog has an accident. “And the smell of the previous dog can be eliminated before the next guests arrive.” What can go wrong? Sarah points out: “If a guest leaves the dog in the accommodation unattended it can cause the dog stress, and they could scratch away at the soft furnishings, or start to chew, or even constantly bark, which might upset or annoy other holiday guests.” And its not just dogs who are welcome this summer, other pets deserve a break too and there are many pet-friendly places.
CATS AND FERRETS
Sarah recalls: “Over the years, I have seen guests on holiday parks with a cat on a lead or a ferret on a lead. “One holiday guest brought their African Grey Parrot and one family brought a horse and checked him into the holiday park’s stables.” Debbie Dangerfield is the owner of dogsinvited.co.uk and another expert on what makes a holiday great for a pet and an owner. “Visitors especially look for an enclosed area, so they can relax with their dog by their side,” says Debbie. “And many holiday properties supply throws so that they can be put on the furniture to let dogs on. “Dog bowls, towels, and even a temporary dog tag in case they run off are a nice touch too. “For real luxury, some places now supply a warm dog shower to give the dogs a clean after a muddy walk or sandy day at the beach.” Debbie echoes Sarah when she says that dogs left alone are the biggest problem: “Dogs are usually left on their own if they aren’t allowed to go where the rest of the family are going.” So that is what the experts think, but what about a holiday park that does some of the above really well? Caroline Povey is the Marketing Director for the Coppice Spa Lodges at the Darwin Forest Luxury Lodge Holidays. It is a spectacular development of seven luxury pet- friendly lodges designed with pets in mind.
Caroline adds: “Our Coppice Spa lodges are very popular. Each one has a separate utility room and everything you need to pamper your pooch, complete with a doggy shower, hairdryer (fur dryer), towels and space for their bed and feeding bowls, your dog can have its own bedroom. “Stable doors separate the utility area from both the decking and the internal living space enabling you to keep your pet safe and secure.” Another favourite with dog-owners are the Forest Holiday cabins with locations in England, Scotland and Wales. Amy Teige from Forest Holidays explains: “The cabins are the ultimate base for dog owners who want the freedom to explore the forest and woodlands surrounding the locations. “Over half of our cabins are pet- friendly, offering doggy treats, wipe- clean sofas and plenty of space for the animals’ favourite bedding and toys, plus we have the gentle warmth of underfloor heating throughout.” It can be tough finding a park that will allow guests to bring more than two dogs, but Forest Holidays allow up to four pets per cabin. Caroline explains: “It’s usually dogs but other pets are welcome too, and we charge £15 per pet, per night.” Helen Scott is the Director of Cofton Holidays and explains: “We’re set within 80 acres of glorious Devon countryside, and have four dog-friendly cottages on the Eastdon Estate where we’ve designed six of our holiday homes with pet-owners in mind.” Helen continues: “The cottages on the Eastdon Estate are set a short walk away from the main park and boast incredible views of the Exe Estuary and Devon countryside.
“All dog-friendly accommodation features hardwood floors, dog food and drink bowls, a dog mat, a blanket plus some delicious handmade local treats.
“What if your dog fancies an ice- cream? Not a problem! Says Helen: “Our Waggy Doggy Doodah doggy ice cream is served inside our on-site pets- welcome pub, The Swan Inn.” Guests can also look forward to the annual Cofton Dog Show. They offer a dedicated dog exercise field and have developed woodland walks through the Eastdon Estate. Sounds like dog paradise. And there’s more. Helen continues: “Our on-site shop has a good selection of dog supplies and guests can find dog mess bins across the site which are emptied regularly. “Plus, there’s no additional charge for dogs when visiting in low and mid-season and we don’t charge for registered assistance dogs. “We are located next to the award- winning Dawlish Countryside Park which was developed for local dog walkers and is an excellent facility for customers staying at Cofton.
“We also have a dog-wash planned in the new 12-acre camping site toilet block, and we’re planning four more pet friendly lodges with hot tubs due for launch later this summer.” To quote from the Forest Holidays dedicated dog-blog, 10 reasons why dogs love the forest: “We are a nation that adore our four- legged-friends and love taking them on holiday with us! “Sure, that means staying reasonably close to home, but watching the pure joy on their faces’ as they scamper about, snuffling happily at all those new smells, nose twitching, tail a blurry wag, makes it all worthwhile.” When it is done really well, helping dogs have a good time is just as satisfying for the holiday parks as it is for the guests.
SIX-UP FOR CENTER PARCS IN UK
Center Parcs has confirmed it has identified a site for its sixth UK village having secured an option agreement to acquire 553 acres of woodland off Balcombe Road in Worth, West Sussex. The forest at Oldhouse Warren, near Crawley, has been chosen because of its location (to the south of London) and its excellent transport links. The development is expected to cost between £350m and £400m and will create around 1,500 permanent local jobs once operational, as well as around 1,000 jobs during construction.
Center Parcs anticipate the development will add an additional £40m to the local economy each year. CEO Martin Dalby said: “It’s really exciting to have identified a potential site for another Center Parcs village in the UK. “The proposal we will be submitting will create a significant number of jobs and bring major benefits to the local and national economy.” Center Parcs has five villages across the UK and Ireland; Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire, Elveden Forest in Suffolk, Longleat Forest inWiltshire, Whinfell Forest in Cumbria,Woburn Forest in Bedfordshire and Longford Forest in County Longford, Ireland.
Each village is nestled within 350- 400 acres of woodland with a variety of activities to choose from, restaurants and cafes. There is also a Subtropical Swimming Paradise and award-winning spa called Aqua Sana. As the leader in the UK short break holiday market, Center Parcs achieves average annual occupancy in excess of 97%. Center Parcs’ villages are sympathetically designed to blend into the existing landscape, with no visual impact on the surrounding area, and the company is committed to both protecting and enhancing the forests in which their holiday villages are located.
Sustainability is at the heart of the Center Parcs ethos and the new village will be constructed and operated in the most sustainable way possible. Hoping to submit a planning application in 2022, work is now underway on rigorous site surveys, detailed designs and pre-planning works to make sure the woodland meets the specific requirements for a Center Parcs village, as well as beginning a programme of community engagement with the local area. In line with the other Center Parcs villages, it is intended that the site at Oldhouse Warren will include lodges, a range of indoor and outdoor leisure facilities, a Subtropical Swimming Paradise, a variety of restaurants and shops and an Aqua Sana Spa.
JABS BOOST FOR LONGER SEASONS
Vaccinations are giving a shot in the arm to the business hopes of British parks this year – and with every likelihood that the busy season will continue well into autumn. Caravan Sitefinder’s annual spring survey reports more than half of those surveyed (57%) planned an exclusive UK holiday in 2021, whilst around another third (31%) hoped to enjoy both a domestic and a foreign holiday. Almost half (43%) said that the success of the vaccination programme and the sharp fall in Covid infection rates were the main reasons they felt confident of taking a break.
The Caravan Sitefinder website, which has around one million visitors annually, provides booking facilities and user reviews for thousands of camping, glamping and holiday parks. Caravan Sitefinder CEO Michael Paul, whose company is marking its tenth anniversary in 2021, said the survey results contained many positive messages for UK parks: “The faith of people in the ability of British parks to provide a safe holiday environment came across strongly and is testimony to the precautionary measures these businesses have adopted. “But given the unpredictability of this crisis, it’s not surprising that many customers wanted a refund safeguard in place if anyone in their party had to pull out for Covid-related reasons,” Michael continued.
“Parks may also want to heed this concern, and to encourage customers to have a refund plan in place so that their business will be protected from possible revenue losses. “Very encouragingly, almost a quarter of those canvassed said they planned to take a holiday in autumn this year, supplementing in many cases their summer break. “At present, this seems an unlikely prospect – but we should not ignore the possibility that some UK bookings are predicated on the assumption that overseas simply isn’t an option,” said Michael.
PLANS TO DEVELOP DEVON LAKES
Private equity-backed holiday operator Lakeshore Leisure Group has secured planning permission to develop Clawford Lakes, a stunning 80-acre property in Devon that is set to open this Autumn. Lakeshore Leisure Group is a UK leisure brand offering high quality holiday accommodation including self-catering rental cottages and lodges, hotel accommodation and privately owned lodges across three Devon locations; Otter Falls, Lakeview Manor and Clawford Lakes.
Acquired in 2019 with initial investment from Kings Park Capital, Clawford Lakes in Holsworthy, north west Devon is an holiday resort comprising of 17 man-made fishing and recreation lakes and 24 self- catering units, as well as a large bar and restaurant. With planning permission now approved, work is now underway on the major redevelopment which will include the build of 144 luxury lodges, 13 bespoke angling pods, seven unique luxury cocoons, nine floating lodges, and a Scandinavian- inspired spa with swimming pool and treatment rooms, set aside a stunning central lake. Lakeshore Leisure Group has also secured exclusive rights to the luxury cocoon units in the UK.
The new luxury holiday lodges will be available for both holiday rentals and for purchase as pre-furnished holiday homes, available to use year-round and with the option of subletting on a managed site. The refurbished Apple and Grape bar and restaurant will showcase dishes created using a variety of local produce and will also welcome local visitors. There will be a small provisions and fishing tackle shop on site, to support the high-quality fishing lakes, which have been invested in and restocked. In addition, leisure water sports will be added in 2022 including paddle boarding, kayaking, open water swimming and canoeing, and the new swimming pool and spa will open, all forming part of the visitor experience.
HAVE LOO BRUSH – WILL TRAVEL!
Guests taking holidays at a major Cornwall holiday park this summer are being asked to help keep the park open – by swapping the beach for a toilet brush.
Mother Ivey’s Bay Holiday Park in Padstow says staff shortages could force the closure of his toilet blocks and is trying to rally a volunteer army of loo legionnaires. More than 20 people have so far stepped forward with offers to help, according to Patrick Langmaid, owner of the 30-year-old family business.
“Like many tourism providers we are desperate to recruit staff, but the staycation boom and the easing of lockdown has created more jobs than there are people to fill them,” said Patrick. “Unless we can find enough volunteers to give up part of their holidays to keep our toilets spotless, we could have to start cancelling stays already booked for this summer.”
TRIPLE TRIUMPH FOR BEST OF BRITISH
The family owners of three Best of British holiday parks are celebrating after winning top honours in the year’s South West Tourism Excellence awards. The awards drew hundreds of contenders from across Dorset, Devon, Cornwall, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and the Isles of Scilly.
South Lytchett Manor in Poole, Dorset, won the overall gold title in the Camping and Caravanning Park of the Year category.
In the same hotly-contested category, Polmanter Touring Park in St Ives, Cornwall, took the silver trophy for the standard of excellence it provides to holiday guests. Owned for over 50 years by the same family and run today by husband-and-wife team Phil and Becki Osborne, the seaside park provides spectacular views along the Cornish coast.
In the Holiday Park of the Year category of the awards, Ladram Bay Holiday Park in Budleigh Salterton, Devon, came away with one of the main awards. The Carter family has owned the park for over 60 years and, like the two other BoB winners, has received many regional and national awards for its high standards and welcoming atmosphere.
ON LOCATION featuring Long Hazel Park
Located in glorious South Somerset, Long Hazel Park has been awarded 4 Pennant Gold from The AA in their most recent Park inspection. This is a first for the park operators Alan and Pamela Walton who have been part of The AA’s prestigious inspection scheme for many years, beginning their journey as a 3 pennant Park in 2005. “Our new groundwork, installation of new fully serviced pitches and shower block upgrade has been influential in our new ranking this year,” explains Alan. “The 4 Pennant Gold accolade puts us in the category of the best of the best of small caravan and camping parks, based on our facilities, grounds and customer experience,” he adds. Open all year, Long Hazel is an adult- only caravan and camping park with ample space for RVs, motorhomes, caravans and tents of all sizes. A new serviced touring caravan and motorhome hardstanding pitches available for 2021 while a shower and toilet block was completed in May this year.
Long Hazel also offers two self- catering holiday lodges providing accommodation for up to four people and are available all year for both long or short breaks. Long Hazel provides one of the only fully wheelchair accessible holiday lodge rentals in Somerset and the South West with their fully adapted Blackforest Lodge. Both holiday lodges have parking directly outside together with decking areas for al fresco dining The lodges have double glazing, are substantially insulated and fully heated for your comfort in all seasons. Fully furnished and equipped, the Park provides duvets, pillows and blankets but ask guests to provide their own bed linen and towels. Free WiFi with HD ready Freeview colour TVs are available in each lodge.
AA Hotel Services Inspector Chris Pike awarded the Park a 90% Quality Score during the impromptu inspection. Mr Pike noted: “The purpose of this visit was to verify the standards of maintenance and cleanliness were consistent with the Quality Standards requirements. “Extensive work has been carried out in the last two years. The facilities were spotless with detail paid to the cleaning and top-grade fixtures and fittings. “In reading the list of the enhancements to the park, I have no hesitation in recommending Long Hazel Park 4 Pennant Gold status with a quality score of 90%” Alongside their fantastic 4 Pennant Gold achievement, the Park is also celebrating success in this year’s Bristol, Bath and Somerset Tourism Awards where they have won a Gold Award in the Camping, Glamping and Holiday Park of the Year category, as well as becoming an award-winner in the Theo Paphitis Small Business awards last month.
“For us, being “green” isn’t a new thing; even our logo reflects how running an eco-friendly business is at the centre of our values,” says Pamela. Over 24 years at Long Hazel Park, the couple have planted over 2000 trees. Since 2019, they have worked on filling planters with plants more suited to tropical weather. Their plants are primarily watered with rainwater collected in large water butts and they use a special built-in, water saving formula in our hanging baskets to ensure that the highest amount of water is absorbed. Pamela again: “In the recent shower block overhaul, we switched to LED lighting throughout and changed over to eco-friendly hand driers to avoid extra paper waste.We have push taps and showers throughout to ensure that taps aren’t left running and our showers and washing areas are clad with recycled plastic.
We used local tradesmen and suppliers to help with our makeover.” “In 2019, they installed environmentally friendly solar panelling and the shower block is now successfully run on solar energy. Any energy not used by us on site is fed back to the National Grid.” Opting for eco-friendly cleaning products throughout the shower block and lodges with custom-scented air fresheners even use natural oils rather than aerosols, theWaltons sell their own eggs on site from their own chickens whose byproducts are used as an eco-friendly fertiliser for our plants. They also use grass cuttings as mulch around the trees and hedges and homemade bird boxes for the trees. Many of our hedges also house insect hotels to ensure sustainable pollination from wild bees with several hedgehog houses hidden away in hedgerows. “A particularly long-lived feature of our park is the recycling system and we are always over the moon when our guests help reduce, reuse and recycle too,” says Pamela who adds: “We are experiencing a wonderfully busy summer season already, bouncing back from closures last year and are enjoying welcoming guests old and new back to Somerset.”
Long Hazel Park
Tel. 01963 440002
ENGINE ROOMS - HOLIDAY POOL LOCATIONS
Plant rooms are the power houses behind top holiday park pools...
It may be the shots of happy swimmers that fill the glossy advertisements but the real heroes of our holiday park pools are hidden behind the scenes. Packed with automatically controlled, and remotely monitored, water and air quality technology, today’s modern plant rooms are almost a match for a NASA flight deck. A hidden technological treasure trove beneath the pool surface, the vital role of the plant room should never be underestimated. Combining the iconic Butlins, Haven and Warner brands, the mighty Bourne Leisure has been undertaking a £3.5m upgrade of its swimming pool plant rooms. “By the very nature of the beast, many holiday location swimming pools are 30 to 50 years old,” points out Craig Valentine, Bourne’s Regional Health & Safety Manager. “A lot of pool equipment is inherited and, of course, you inherit the problems that go with them. “A future-proof wish list would need a budget between £16 – 20m which we cannot do in one hit so we spread it over several years.” Temporarily halted by the pandemic, Bourne’s current investment programme has included remedial work on 16 of its pools with upgrades planned on 17 more pools next year. Craig says: “We identified our worse performing pools and worked our way up the list to generally raise the bar across the swimming pool stock.”
Phase one of those upgrades has involved installations of UV water treatment equipment, sand filter changes and the additional of updated chemical controllers. Phase Two will concentrate on updating pipework. Craig explains: “Some were performing at circulation rates of four to five hour turnover and have now been switched to 1.5 hours to two hours which enables us to not only comply with industry guidance but to keep the pools open for longer.” A significant plug of £300k has been invested in leak detection, halting water wastage on a few badly performing pools. “Some people forget about the plant room which is the engine room of the swimming pool, because it is covered up; out of sight and out of mind. “Instead they concentrate on the aesthetics -- but really you have to get the equipment right before you think about the design, because that keeps the swimming pool running efficiently,” he continues. “Generally, the industry has an issue with pool plant sizes,” says Craig. “Sometimes, rather than throw good money after bad; it requires a major strategic rethink in order to tackle plant room issues.” Craig advises choosing equipment that is fit for purpose with improved eco- performance, using less chlorine and less water as well. “Make sure, if you buy new equipment, that it is compatible with what other equipment and don’t just go for salesmen speak,” advises Craig. “Look at new things coming up and try to minimise your chemical handlin,” he adds. “Look for alternatives such as salt chlorination,” he adds. With no laws, regulations or British Standard concerning swimming pool water, it is not always obvious how to demonstrate to customers and staff that you pool is fit for purpose. A free online Code of Practice that codifies the information in the authoritative book Swimming Pool Water published by the Pool Water Advisory Group. (PWTAG). The publication provides pool operators with a structured plan for the technical operation of their pool.
PEACE OF MIND
It makes sense to follow the PWTAG guidance because, if anything does go wrong at the pool, you will be able to demonstrate - in court if necessary – that you were following the best available guidelines.Without this protection, you are vulnerable. It is incumbent on everyone involved in the provision of holiday packages and accommodation to ensure that pools and spas at their destinations are fit for purpose. “We use PWTAG as guidance setters but I get frustrated at people quoting the law at us.” Craig points out. “If you have robust system; good testing; good plant policy and an emergency action plan then you can prove you are adopting best practice.” Craig has worked with Bourne Leisure for 33 years including in his present role for 21 years. “We learned some lessons through restricted pool use during Covid,” Craig reveals. “We understood that some people like to have a structured day and want to know when they are going to swimming and for how long while others want a more relaxed approach. “The pools have not been the problems but the changing facilities. “Getting the guests in the pool and spreading them by 2m in changing rooms – that by their very nature are confined spaces has resulted in a lot more labour, sanitising and ultimately asking people to arrive swim-ready.
When it comes to swimming pools, there are plenty of examples of good practice around the UK’s holiday parks. Completed in 2019, the swimming pool at Seldons Golden Gate Holiday Centre, in North Wales, is used by holiday home owners and holiday makers. Consideration for the build included environmental impact, aesthetic appeal and user experience. The pool hall is an energetic space with high ceilings, a glass facade and clean lines. Sub-floor ventilation voids omit the need for an overhead ventilation infrastructure and provide advanced energy efficient climate control including pool water heating. The pool timetable includes owner- only, adult-only and family swim sessions, along with a lively programme of activities including Water-Walkerz, Water-Peddlerz, RC Watercraft, pool parties and swimming lessons. A bespoke booking system provides customers with the control to use the facility to best suit their requirements. A ‘state of the art’ chemical dosing system ensures water quality is optimal at all times. The integrated Spa areas allow adults to relax and unwind using a variety of bubble stations and high pressure jets. An integrated children’s pool accommodates safe play incorporating a huge mushroom fountain whilst being at the heart of the pool hall. The pool and changing village access is biometrically controlled allowing ‘real time’ information of users, identify booking trends and peak user times and ensures only pool users are granted access.
Complete with parachuting penguins, three, 100m flumes and a four-lane racing slide the Hafan y Mar Holiday Park’s Splashaway Bay swimming pool has benefited from a major upgrade. The £3.1m investment included the addition of a new toddler pool, multi-lane swimming pool and food outlet. The wave pool, rapids, main pool slides and flumes were all refurbished, as well as introducing additional fun filled water features. The Lady’s Mile Holiday Park in Dawlish, Devon, removed the old boiler system on its swimming pool and replaced it with brand new eco-boilers. They added new energy efficient pool covers fitted to maintain the temperature of the pool, which in turn reduces energy consumption. They have also purchased a pool hoist, allowing customers with mobility issues to gain access to our pool. Regularly investments in your water features, especially the plant equipment, will ensure your holiday park pool remains the jewel in your visitor crown.
ARRESTING POOLCOP EFFICIENCY
When it comes to enhancing the energy efficiency of a pool, the key is good management. Taking care of a pool has never been easier thanks to GC PoolCop Genesis – available from Golden Coast.
The system remotely monitors every aspect of a pool, from temperature, lighting and water levels, to filter status, dosing and disinfection. “GC PoolCop Genesis offers holiday park owners complete visibility of their pool 24/7,” says Adam Clark, Sales Director at Golden Coast. “For example, you can see how much electricity is being used by the pumps, lights and heating, and you can adjust them accordingly in order to reduce energy consumption, water waste and running costs.”
When a fault is found, or something in the pool requires attention, the system sends alerts via a web interface. This enables engineers to act quickly, helping to minimise downtime and lost resources. “Keeping holiday park guests happy means being able to guarantee the use of the swimming pool,” says Adam.
“With GC PoolCop Genesis, you can proactively manage your pool, as you’ll always be able to see how it is performing. You won’t have to worry about unexpected technical problems, pool closures, or disappointed guests.”
Tel. 01271 378100
FIFTH MVP AWARD FOR VORTEX
Available in the UK via Ustigate, Vortex has received a Most Valuable Products award in 2021 for its Astra collection, as voted for by the readers of Aquatics International Magazine.
The new Astra offers three unique Splashpad® experiences, each with its own fun. Astra No.1 and No.3 provide a halo of water which rains down from above for children to run through. No.3 also features a Twirltec™ ball so children can rotate the water stream to create a beautiful spiral pattern. With three spilling Seeflow™ buckets, Astra No.2 encourages social interaction. Many children can play at once, and anticipation builds as the children see the buckets fill up before they spill.
Ustigate Water Play
Tel. 01322 424445
LOCK IT OR LOSE OUT - CYBER SECURITY
Cyber-crime prevention advice from Compass Insurance...
Parks are far from immune when it comes to cyber security breaches and attacks. If something like this happened to you and your business, what would you do? Could you handle it internally? Or would you need help? If so, where and who would you turn to for support? If you can’t immediately answer these questions, you may be unprepared to deal with a cybercrime incident. As almost half of UK businesses (46%) have reported a cyber security breach or attack in the last 12 months, there’s unfortunately no doubt that park businesses like yours could see their own IT systems compromised in the future.
The damage a cyber breach/attack could inflict on your park business cannot be overstated. They can cripple operations by interrupting normal services and it can be very expensive and time consuming to put things right. The average annual cost to small and micro businesses which lost data or assets after breaches is £8,170. For medium to large businesses, this average rises to £13,400. Losing information or being held to ransom is bad enough, but on top of this, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) could levy a fine of up to 4% of your turnover against you if you’re found to have lost customer information. Additional issues, such as the bad PR that can come with the loss of other people’s personal information means there will be any number of things you’ll need to manage quickly and skilfully if you fall victim to this kind of attack. As cyber criminals evolve and hone their techniques all the time it’s a huge challenge to consistently prevent breaches and attacks. Keeping up with cyber crime ‘trends’, learning how to protect your IT systems and training ALL staff to be vigilant is key. Nevertheless, the sad fact of the matter is that it’s near impossible to make an IT system 100% safe from the determined cybercriminal.
This is just one of the reasons why more and more businesses are turning to bespoke cyber insurance cover as their ‘second layer’ of protection. You may well already be insured against some cyber risks, though this is more likely to be through your general commercial insurance policy rather than a cyber-specific one. A comparison table above gives an indication of the likely differences between the two different types of cover. As can be seen from the table, a cyber policy will take care of a lot of the things that most of us wouldn’t really know where to start. Technical support, forensic analysis expertise and help with communications are particularly important aspects of specialist cyber cover, as these benefits would help to get your business back on its feet in the quickest and best possible way. The financial assistance will also be of real value. If you don’t have enough money in the bank to fund a recovery and/ or or the specialist skills to respond to an attack and any corresponding reputational damage your business could literally find itself on the edge – or worse. An insurance account executive should be able to run through the levels of cover provided in your existing policies and highlight any areas of cover that you might need to consider.
What suits your business will depend not just on size, but relative risk. However, a cyber-specific policy would be especially useful for parks which:
• 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
Add-on cyber insurance cover is widely available, but as with all insurance, quality can vary. From a cost perspective, it would be sensible for parks to seek out add on products that complement their existing cover. The good news is that there is a lot of support out there, including a wealth of free guidance to assist you in risk assessing and managing their IT security.
Areas to consider will include:
• Keeping IT inventories
• Keeping up-to-date records on IT systems access
• Conducting regular IT Health Check
• Keeping on top of IT management – who is responsible for supervising and checking all the above?
Remember holiday / sickness / maternity cover. The BH&HPA also provides a wealth of specialist information and guidance to park business. Do contact them for more information.
Tel. 0344 274 0276
GemaPark cloud-based booking and park management system offers you not only an easy-to-use solution for taking and managing bookings and owner information, but also security and peace of mind that your data is protected and backed up. Cloud-based booking systems like GemaPark reduce the risk of data be lost or stolen by keeping it off site, secure and well backed up.
A standard GDPR data processor agreement requires us, the cloud solution provider, to protect your data appropriately for the data type being stored. Multi-factor authentication is enforced on all admin system logins ensuring all devices accessing the GemaPark system are verified using a second authentication method at least every 90 days. Multi-factor authentication is the number one way to protect against unauthorised access to data. The weakest link in most systems is that people need access.
Passwords can be guessed or stolen but multi-factor authentication will also verify the access using a token or authentication method usually linked to your email or mobile phone. This means even if someone has your password they still can’t access your system from an unverified device. This does not have to be onerous, for example a device could be verified once a month rather than every login, once the device is verified it can be used to login without using the second authentication method until the required period expires.
GemaPark is developed by Netguides Limited, based in the UK we have been providing web-based solutions for over 20 years.We make the transition to a new system as painless as possible by providing a full setup service including importing data from existing systems, we follow this up with first class easy to access support and training.
Tel. 01983 282420
BALANCING ACTS - OUTDOOR ACTIVITES
Emily Martin on serving up the best outdoor entertainment recipe…
Offering a holiday that suits the whole family can be a tricky game of swings and roundabouts. Excuse the pun. Making a holiday stay fun for the adults, the younger children and the teenagers too, is a delicate balance. Never have we been more grateful for the use of our outdoor space than coping with the challenges of the pandemic. Outdoor play, outdoor activities, outdoor entertainment – have all become part of the Al Fresco holiday menu.
Don’t take our word for it. We’ve spoken to some outstanding UK holiday parks that strive to make sure there’s really something for everyone, Covid- distanced, when guests book in. And they are constantly coming up are some great ideas on how to get that balance just right. Richard Silver is the owner of Ilfracombe Holiday Park on the beautiful western shores of England. “We get all ages visiting us and we’ve spotted a really big current trend where grandparents will pay to take whole family away. “In terms of entertainment that means putting on what is appropriate for the right age group at the right time. “There are a few options for family entertainment – something a spread of ages will enjoy are things like: a magician or mind reader, maybe a family quiz. “We have a movie area, a games hall with table tennis, snooker and badminton. Plus, we have lots of games and activities for younger people, sports competitions, quizzes and even a teens got talent night.
Ilfracombe strategically aims to add value to entertainment areas by putting restaurants or cafes nearby so the adults have something to do, while younger children play. Richard explains: “We have a restaurant and bar near where entertainment is. And we also have a soft play area for younger children, but in the same area we’ve put a sports hall for older children and teenagers which has all kinds of things going on.” Richard thinks there are important things to remember when trying to entertain the whole family. “You certainly need the right type of accommodation and location but crucially you need staff with lots of energy and ideas. “Every day has to be different and you’ll know if the children are having fun, because then so are the adults.” Torie Wilkinson is Chief Marketing Officer at Lovat Parks.With parks across the UK in Cornwall, Kent, the New Forest, its Green Hill Farm Holiday Village in the New Forest does things particularly well when it comes to entertaining a range of age groups within a family group. Green Hill offer activities such as archery, target shooting, laser clay, Segways, bungee trampolines and mini golf. There’s also den building, fire building, woodland art, bug hunting, bird boxes, orienteering and nature trails. And that’s just some of what’s on offer for families who like to stay busy. Torie says: “We offer a range of activities aimed at guests aged four right through to adult and this summer we’re introducing new activities for the under-fives too.
“We try and balance the mix we offer with lots of the Ranger activities being suitable for ages 4-10. And the activities like using the Segways or practising archery are more appealing to age eight through to the grown-ups. “However, what’s great about many of our activities is that the whole family can take part and build memories together. Green Hill is set in the New Forest and so many of our activities use this as inspiration. For example, our den building is done using fallen wood. “We offer bike hire on site with traditional and e-bike options allowing guests to explore the local area including routes that take in local business, pubs and restaurants.We get fabulous feedback particularly for our Ranger scheme, with many families returning to the park and booking their favourite activities in advance.” “Children get the chance to try new things and learn skills with our Ranger team building their confidence and creating unforgettable memories.We aim to relate as much as we can to our natural setting and offer guests something they might never have done before or could not at home.
And it is not just for holiday makers. The local community plays a part in Greenhill’s offering too. Torie explains: “We have a partnership with a local primary school where we offer days on the park taking part in the Ranger programme across the year. “The activities are open to those of all abilities and the team also offer private sessions which can be tailored to a child’s particular needs. “ When it comes to planning things to amuse young people, what’s Torie’s advises: “Be inspired by your local area and natural surroundings, include a mix of fun and learning and try and create something shared for all age groups.” Covid safety is a massive consideration when hosting families and Torie adds: “We currently have a maximum of six participants per session, we observe social distancing at 2m where possible and our staff always wear masks.We also have hand-sanitising at all activity stations and all equipment is cleaned after each use. “Furthermore, just for general safety we carry out frequent risk assessments and have fire extinguishers and practices. The team hold monthly refresher courses as a group so they can learn from one another and at Lovat Parks we support the team by sending them on specialist training, for example if wider guidance for an activity changes and we need to incorporate that into our ways of working.” Cofton Holidays is another destination which has put some strategic thought into getting the balance right for families. Director Helen Scott says: “Cofton is an excellent toddler-friendly destination. Our facilities include a splash pad area - part of the heated indoor pool, a soft play area, outdoor play spaces include a play area with new equipment aimed at toddlers, and a Kid’s Club where little ones can meet Cofton’s mascot, Digby the Dinosaur, and participate in a range of activities. “In addition to all of this, we’ve created a host of kids’ clubs that run outdoors such as survival skills and nature trail experiences.”
Cofton’s £50,000 Woodland Adventure Area features a 25m zip line, a climbing cage, rope ladders, a balance beam, balance lines and scramble nets. Young guests can enjoy fishing experiences on the five coarse fishing lakes and we offer pond dipping experiences too, which are always hugely popular. There are miles of cycle paths and nature trails that take visitors through woodland to the golden sands of Dawlish Warren beach and nature reserve. There’s a gym, fitness studio and added entertainment opportunities, such as the bowling alley Helen continues: ‘We’re always looking for fun ways of engaging with our young visitors. In July 2020, guests were given complimentary duck-whistles to alert other guests to their presence whilst out and about on site maintaining social distancing. Children visiting really loved it and TV and national papers even picked-up on the story.’ With potentially only a week (or maybe two) breaks in the year, holiday parks don’t have long to impress their guests. To ensure everyone has a good time and, crucially, to secure a rebooking or a recommendation, parks need to think about layout, adding value, and providing activities that families can enjoy together in a safe and stress-free environment, in order to foster and help create those precious memories. You need the right staff team and to create those precious opportunities for families to make special memories together. If you can crack that, then you’re on to a winner.
(*All COVID guidance being observed by the parks featured was correct at the time of writing).
MORE MEANS MORE FUN!
In an increasingly ‘more is more’ world, businesses, especially holiday venues, are starting to realise the benefits of developing their sites to provide more than just a one-off experience.We are seeing more and more business owners begin to invest in a well-designed play area to not only attract customers but retain them for longer providing them with a greater return on investment.
External play areas can:
• Attract families to your site - External play areas are no longer an after-thought but are fast becoming essential in all redevelopments as operators understand that play facilities are a key driver and drawcard for families.
• Increase dwell time – Research has shown that children’s play facilities influence customer’s decisions on where to visit, dine out or holiday. Installing a well-designed play area illustrates how businesses are working to improve the customer experience.
• Boost foot traffic - Parents often use the promise of visiting a play area as a motivation to visit somewhere more frequently.
As the play areas are safe and secure it gives families peace of mind to allow their children to play. It’s also an inexpensive option to entertain the children, whatever the occasion. As any commercial operator will tell you, happy entertained children mean happy and relaxed parents! An exciting and challenging play area gives children somewhere to let off steam and make new friends. Investing in new or existing play equipment is a great way to show customers that your commercial establishment caters for families with young children who want to be entertained and have fun. HAGS, a world leader in outdoor play equipment helps clients understand how to design play spaces that attract customers to your destination.
Tel. 0845 2601655
PLAY REMAINS CRUCIAL DRAW
Independently commissioned research by leading outdoor play and sport provider Proludic has shown that the public still wants to see high-quality outdoor play facilities at leading leisure attractions across the UK. In 2018 Proludic researched what adults thought about play facilities at leisure and hospitality venues. The results were revealing and showed a clear relationship between the availability of play facilities and time spent at leisure venues. Furthermore, it led to greater loyalty.
There is a clear desire to see play as an integral part of the offering. Three years have passed since the last research. We wanted to revisit it to see the current situation, particularly in the aftermath of the global pandemic. We, therefore, asked the same questions to a randomly selected representative sample of 1000 adults. Over half (51%) of the respondents said play areas were an important consideration for them when visiting a pub, holiday park, or visitor attraction. Furthermore, 41% said they were more likely to book a UK holiday park vacation if they had made good provisions for children’s play.
As you would expect, this was more of a factor for families (83%) with children under the age of 16. The results clearly show that, despite the pandemic, families are keen to get out and about to tourist and leisure attractions with play facilities.
Tel. 0115 982 3980
MAGICAL PLAY FOR ALL AGES
KOMPAN believe in working together when it comes to designing and building playgrounds for children, sports arenas for teenagers, effective outdoor fitness equipment for adults, and stay fit solutions for active seniors. KOMPAN achieve this through developing playful and inspiring solutions that trigger the fantasy and curiosity of children, and drive adults to become fit for life.
To makes users stay for longer and visit time and time again, we pack playgrounds full of high variety and increasingly challenging play features, so it keeps on being fun, adventurous, and stimulating. The designers at our Design Studio are ready to customise a unique concept based on your local vision, enabling you to say something important about where you live.We use the highest quality playground materials and advanced engineering to ensure that they last a lifetime. In the years ahead, today’s children will be able to enjoy the same KOMPAN activity area with their children.
Tel. 01908 201002
STAYCATION TREND DRIVES GROWTH
Back-to-nature holiday brand Landal GreenParks has expanded its growing UK portfolio with the addition of a three new holiday resorts, as it continues to be one of the fastest growing lodge holiday brands in the UK and capitalise on the surge in demand for staycation holidays. Welcomed into the group are Landal Barton Pines in Devon, Landal Rockingham Forest in Northamptonshire and Landal Vale of Usk in Monmouthshire – the brand’s first holiday resort inWales – and brings the number of parks to ten across the UK since their launch in 2017.
Landal GreenParks originated in Holland in 1954 and now offers over 100 locations across nine European countries including the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and Austria, and the UK is the 9th territory for Landal GreenParks to launch into. “We are delighted to welcome our latest additions to the Landal family,” said Paul Hardingham, Managing Director of Landal GreenParks UK. “When we brought the concept to the UK we were confident it would appeal to British holidaymakers, as there wasn’t anything offering the same experience, but we’ve been astounded by the popularity our current locations.” “The next stage for us was to add more resorts within the UK to build on our successes, so we are pleased to announce plans for three new locations this year and have more in the pipeline for the near future.” “It’s been a challenging 18 months for the industry, but it is evident that holidays which bring guests closer to nature and give them the chance to explore the diverse outdoor space in the UK is exactly what guests want right now.”
Landal’s seven other sites are spread across the UK including the Peak District, Kielder Water & Forest Park, the Cornish coastline and Scottish countryside. The company offers 15,000 holiday homes, has 3,000 employees and provides 14.5 million overnight stays to 2.8 million guests per year.
VALLEY RESORTS ADD TO CORNISH CREAM
Millendreath Beach Resort near Looe, has recently been acquired by Valley Resorts, a growing Cornish luxury holiday resort business, for an undisclosed sum. This popular Cornish beach resort comprises a collection of luxury self- catering apartments, a south-facing beach, and 65 acres of private woodland. Its location, on Cornwall’s south coast, is perfectly situated to complement Valley Resort’s growing portfolio of Cornish holiday parks. This purchase will strengthen Valley Resort’s offering to holiday makers and holiday home owners, looking to Cornwall as their destination of choice, and will take its portfolio of resorts to four; including Towan Valley, Porthtowan; Leycroft Valley near Perranporth and St Merryn Park, near Padstow.
CEO Andrew Clark’s commented: “We are delighted to announce this fantastic new acquisition.We will be taking Millendreath under the Valley Resort’s umbrella, enabling our guests and owners to ‘live the Cornish dream’ on the south coast. Millendreath will be run with the same ethos as our existing parks –providing luxury self- catering accommodation in stunning locations, while maintaining the resort’s own unique atmosphere that guests have come to know and love.” Valley Resorts sets out to be a friendly and professional holiday home business that always has the needs of its guests and customers mind. It offers both holiday homes for sale and self-catering holidays.
BEACON PARK SELLS FOR £11M
One of the UK’s biggest holiday park deals so far this year has seen Beacon Fell View, in Lancashire, sold off a guide price of £11 million to a cash buyer. It has been sold to Hill Brothers Residential & Leisure Parks, an expanding UK parks company that is looking to grow further, in an off- market deal negotiated by sector specialist Colliers on behalf of Hagans Leisure UK Ltd.
Tom Hill, of Hill Brothers, commented: “I would like to thank Hagans Leisure. We see it as a great opportunity to expand our portfolio in the Ribble Valley, as parks of this quality and size don’t often come to the market in the North West, and we look forward to further expansion in this sector.” The 4* holiday park is set in around 35 landscaped acres overlooking Dilworth Upper Reservoir in the picturesque Ribble Valley. It is licensed for a total of 419 caravans and has planning consent for further lodge development. Facilities include an indoor swimming pool, a bar, an amusement arcade, a gym, and an entertainment venue with food and beverage offer.
COFTON SCOOPS STAYCATION TITLE
Experiencing the busiest summer in its history, with occupancy rates running at 98%, up 8% on 2019, Devon’s multi award-winning Cofton Holidays has been named the UK’s Best Caravan/Campsite at the prestigious iTravel Staycation Awards 2020/21. Having been shortlisted in more categories than any other tourism business in the UK, the team at Cofton attended the virtual Staycation Awards, held to celebrate the cream of the crop within the tourism sector. After receiving more than 1,000 nominations and entries across 14 fiercely competitive categories., the virtual ceremony, hosted by Countryfile’s Sean Fletcher, whittled the list down to the final champions, with winners coming from as far North as Loch Lomond in Scotland, right down to Penryn in Cornwall. 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.
COVE COMMUNITIES FAST TRACK REOPENING
In 2019 international holiday park operator Cove Communities, which runs 28 sites across the US and Canada, announced its plan to take over West Sussex-based holiday park Bunn Leisure. Banking on the growth in UK staycations, the acquisition of the 265- acre site in Selsey was the company’s first step in developing a premium UK holiday offering as part of a substantial investment in the UK holiday park sector. By April this year, the new owners faced a race against time to ensure its 800 team members were prepared and fully trained to welcome back the 11,000 holidaymakers and holiday homeowners the park hosts each year.
The objective was to ensure that the parks opened safely and that all team members had received the appropriate training. Erango software was chosen because of its speed of deployment and its ability to make HR managers’ lives easier by giving them access to reliable data on employees. Ross Cumming, Software Development Manager leading the deployment of Erango commented, “Park Managers were under pressure of deadline to reopen the parks safely. Erango was chosen to help track employee skills and competencies for many reasons. These included the speed of deployment and its ability to help with health and safety compliance.” Erango can be set up and deployed in most instances in less than a day. The intuitive platform is easy to navigate and so far, it has been used to track 350 employees who have completed food safety courses, hygiene training and accreditations, health and safety training courses, GDPR compliance and allergy training courses.
HOBURNE NEW CEO CONFIRMED
The Hoburne Group has confirmed the appointment of Riviera Travel chief commercial officer Jim Forward as its new CEO. He will take over from Rod Tucker, who will be retiring from his position of managing director at the end of this year after seven years of leading the family- run business.
Forward has worked in the holiday sector for over 25 years and has held senior management positions at companies including HF Holidays,Warner Leisure Hotels and Butlins.Most recently, as chief commercial officer of Riviera Travel, Jim has taken his team and the business through the challenges of COVID while maintaining his strong commitment to doing the right thing for customers, an approach that Hoburne has also taken through the pandemic.
“Hoburne has a fantastic history and as a family-run company, it genuinely believes in respect and integrity,” said Jim. “From my experience of meeting with team members, I am already impressed by their enthusiasm and concerted efforts to offer an outstanding level of customer service.”
SAT NAVS SET FOR NORTHWALES
The picturesque North Wales market town of Llanrwst is welcoming the launch of ‘Rwst’, a luxurious new holiday lodge park. The £1.8m development opened its doors to its first guests in July, just as North Wales topped the charts as the UK’s most popular staycation destination, overtaking the coastal and rural charms of Devon and Cornwall for the first time, according to a survey by Sykes Holiday Cottages. Rwst occupies a prime location on the edge of the historic town, with scenic views across the River Conwy to the Gwydir Forest and Snowdonia mountains beyond. The park, which is a high-end redevelopment of the much-loved Trem Gwydir holiday village, includes 22, five-star holiday lodges, with one, two, and three-bedroom single-storey lodges available for holiday rentals
BRITS BULK BUYING UK HOLIDAYS
Many families are now ‘multi- buying’ holiday breaks in Britain this year in case providers are forced to ration their accommodation later in the season. Camping, glamping and holiday park agency Caravan Sitefinder says that almost one in ten of the bookings it receives are now for two or more stays. The firm’s CEO Michael Paul believes that the diminishing prospect of foreign travel this year is fuelling concerns that there simply won’t be enough UK holidays to go around: “Our bookings website covers thousands of parks, but it’s not a bottomless well - and many operators say some summer weeks are already near capacity,” he said. “They would normally be reporting this much further into the season, so the prospect of “no vacancies” notices going up in the near future is very real.
“The shortage is also being exasperated because a lot of parks are deliberately operating under capacity in order to ensure the protection of staff and guests. “Many people these days choose to take short breaks at different locations in the UK throughout the year – so they clearly want to stake their claims while there is availability. “We’re certainly unlikely to see many last-minute deals this summer, so those who in previous years have gambled on an eleventh-hour bargain will risk disappointment. “The good news is that there is little evidence of parks raising prices in response to demand, and the majority of stays are pitched at around last year’s price levels,” added Michael. Parks in England re-opened from April 12th as part of the government’s ‘roadmap’ post Lockdown. “May and June are already looking like peak season on many parks, and autumn and winter are also popular with those booking more than one holiday,” he says. The Caravan Sitefinder website, which has around one million visitors annually, was established 25 years ago and provides user reviews for many of the parks it features.
NOVELTY IMPORTS CELEBRATE 20 YEARS
About to celebrate 20 years in the event supplies industry, Staffordshire based Novelty Imports supply a broad range of fast-selling novelty lights to many market sectors including, theme parks, schools, pantomimes, circus and funfairs. Covering the whole of the UK network with their 24-hour online ecommerce website and telephone mail order service, Novelty Imports also boast a customer showroom at the heart of all the major motorway networks, where all the latest and best-selling light up event novelties, inflatable prizes, carnival festival items and pocket money toys can be found.
Owner Nigel Browne comments: “We are not an ordinary everyday warehouse who sells pots n pans and knick knacks; we sell light-up novelties, inflatable prize toys and carnival festival items all year round. It is what we do best! “With all the doom and gloom hopefully coming to a distant end now,” Nigel continues. “We can see a much brighter future with people making up for lockdown by treating their children and spending a lot more on gifts and novelty products in the UK holiday market this year.”
Novelty Imports strive to make sure their products are reliable, fast selling, great value for money and of course most importantly safe with CE EN71 toy safety testing certificates gained for every item imported.
You can call Novelty Imports or order online where the light- up novelties have video clips, so you can see them in action before placing your order. Alternatively, call to arrange a visit to the company’s dedicated Midlands ‘glowroom’. The future looks set to be good for Novelty Imports as their range of goods and customer database grows bigger every year. Here’s to the next 20 years! Happy Birthday Novelty Imports!
T: 01543 732008
INSERT COIN HERE
On-site strategies for added income revenue...
On-site activities can mean the make or break for keeping the punters spending, both indoors and outdoors. Whether it is a soft play zone or an under-cover sit ‘n ride track, parks and resorts that offer thoughtful on-site entertainment are sure to stand out from the crowd. We are approaching the centenary anniversary of the creation of amusement arcades. Having totally outgrown their ‘penny arcade’ nickname, coin-operated machines have matured into a valuable added income stream that only the foolish would ignore. While penny fall coin-pushers, fruit machines and crane claw cabinets have stood the test of time, others, such as pinball machines and air hockey tables have made way for video-based games that can offer everything from Formula One motor racing experiences to the adrenalin rush of combat zone warfare. First introduced in the 1980s, top performing video games like Donkey Kong were still crowd-pleasers at a recent Haven stay as youngsters queued to compete in the weekly resort tournament.
Arcades tend to be crowded spaces filled with the roar of engines, gunfire and dozens of surging music tracks. People gather around to watch the top players vie for leaderboard positions. Spot the health and safety elephant in the room. Covid has put arcades under intense compliance pressure in the face of the pandemic. Controlling visitor numbers, regular wipe-downs, hand sanitisers and masks, have all become a regular routine that for some, has failed to pass the risk-assessment test, with many simply putting up the temporarily closed barriers. May 17th is the date that should see the arcade curtains raised. Don’t be caught diary watching though. Use the time wisely to refresh your thinking on arcades by planning the layout of your offerings. Remember ‘change’ machines are essential to keep the coins flowing while a couple of strategically placed vending machines, offering soft drinks and snacks, all add to the return on investment potential. A redemption counter, with a wide range of prizes to be exchanged for tickets won on the games, could be a focal point although, in reality, is often shoved to the back of the arcade room.
Holiday Park operators can either buy the games, or can lease machines on a time-limited basis, to ensure the arcade’s appeal is frequently refreshed. Others go the whole hog by bringing in specialists to operate their games room as a complete turnkey solution, picking the games, putting them on site and managing the arcade on a profit-share basis.
BUY VS LEASE
Launched in 1985, B.R. Leisure is the UK’s longest established, leading suppliers of licensed coin-operated kiddie rides, vending and amusement machines. A family-run business based in East Sussex, the company prides itself on a wide range of quality interactive entertainment machines available on a profit share or buy basis. “Offering exceptional service, we oversee everything from installation to maintenance,” says BR’s Brian Riley. “All customers have to do is supply a power socket and then sit back and watch their turnover increase,” Brian adds. “We work with shopping centres, amusement parks, family attractions, play centres, property developments, holiday parks and resorts all over the UK.” Over the last few decades, coin- operated kiddie rides have been constantly evolving and new machines are being produced all the time to keep up with the latest child obsession. From Postman Pat to Bob The Builder.
Machines can be rotated and replaced regularly to maintain children’s engagement as well as appeal to different age groups. Alternatively, BR Leisure offer a range of new and used machines and equipment available to buy from carousels to kiddie rides and from vending to amusement machines. “There are many benefits that coin- operated kiddie rides can have to your business, including an additional avenue of revenue and over time an increase in your profit,” says Brian. “However, there is so much more that kiddie rides and entertainment platforms can offer to your venue, and more importantly your customer,” he points out. “Once customers have inserted a coin, they have ‘invested’ in the machine and want to get their money’s worth. “They will stay for the duration of the whole ride, from start to finish, all whilst keeping the customer in your venue for longer.” World of Rides, the UK’s longest established family-owned manufacturer and distributor of children’s rides celebrated their 50th Anniversary during 2019. In addition to their world-beating 72 model range of 12v and 24v battery rides, they are also long-established UK manufacturers and distributors for many other award-winning themed ranges of 240v static children’s rides and games too with six new models already in pre-production development, largely due to the high demand from holiday park operators.
World of Rides are also the UK’s leading source of turnkey themed battery ride attractions for holiday parks, such as pollution free ‘parent and child’ Bumper Boat Aqua-Ball Pools, Bumper Car Tracks and Bumper-Ball Pitches, Go-Kart Tracks and Outlander- Adventure Trails, as well as full Driving Schools and a complete children’s play park and custom rides design service… to ensure family fun For everyone’ after the pandemic. Further to the Government’s ‘road map’ post-pandemic, the UK’s leading holiday park and holiday resort operators have already been drawing up their plans for reopening. Andrew Robinson, World Of Rides Sales Manager comments: “Always thinking ahead, holiday parks have been placing their orders since last winter for pollution-free battery rides in their parks, knowing that however short the season turns out to be for 2021, their attractions will almost certainly still achieve pay-back plus a profit, based upon their past-experience ofWorld of Rides’ hugely popular and profitable attractions. “The days of putting only one or two old battery rides on a track are now thankfully long gone,” says Andrew. “Especially as visitors demand shorter queuing times and the excitement of an unforgettable, fully interactive and highly competitive experience.”
As a result, they have constantly remained high on the wish-lists of many of the leading holiday park operators with many of whom still claiming that their existing attractions fromWorld of Rides are still their top earners. “All UK holiday parks will need to be placing their orders in the coming weeks, not months,” advises Andrew. He adds: “Whilst our delivery timescales still-remain achievable at around five weeks, in order to beat the even longer delivery timescales, already being forecast throughout the whole of our industry, due to the unprecedented demand for high quality and environmentally friendly attractions to offer to their visitors.” Because of the enforced Lockdowns, The Bank of England have predicted the public have amassed savings of between £150 and £250 billion pounds. Much of that cash will be splashed on their leisure pursuits. Return on investment will be a rich reward for those who invest wisely in their weatherproof entertainment attractions.
World of Rides
Insurance companies respond to unprecedented times...
It has been an unprecedented period for holiday park operators with challenges of biblical proportions as they faced floods, a global plague and a stop-start famine then feast on bookings. It is a period that has also challenged insurance cover suppliers to step up for their holiday park customers. Given the extraordinary circumstances of Covid, one of the hottest insurance topics has been Business Interruption (BI) cover. Long-awaited clarity about how BI claims should be handled came with the publication of the Supreme Court judgement on 15th January 2021. Not all customers will have the specific cover the test case referred to, which means that not all customers’ policies will be expected to cover Covid. The process of assessing BI claims is a complex one, and there are steps that need to be followed in order to submit a valid claim. Specialist insurers are working with the holiday trade who had the relevant policy coverage to confirm and assess their claims as quickly as they can. Champions of the Park Protect Scheme, David Moffat, Associate Director, of PIB Insurance Brokers says: “Unfortunately the pandemic has coincided with a significant hardening of the insurance market with insurance rates for certain types of insurance increasing markedly in recent months.
“This often happens at a time of uncertainty as it usually comes with increases in claims and the insurance market reacts accordingly,” David explains. “Insurers have seen increasing claims costs, particularly from natural disasters but also due to an increasingly litigious society,” David continues. “As insurer profitability declines, they either decide to exit unprofitable markets or increase premiums.” Meanwhile, Leisuredays have been working hard, often behind the scenes: “We worked hard to educate caravan and lodge owners that their units remained at risk during lockdown using press releases, online content and through our advisers,” says Gareth Walker, Head of Leisuredays Development. “Covid, may have meant parks were closed for long periods but the winds still blow, rivers still flood, thieves still steal and pipes still freeze,” Gareth continues. “We calculate over 90% of claims could still occur even when units are unoccupied and parks closed, with storm and flood, fire, vermin damage and theft topping the list of claim types,” says Gareth. With parks’ income drying up overnight, it was clear that specialist insurance companies needed to do whatever we could as quickly as possible to help customers through the lockdown period. Compass were quick out of the blocks, developing a tailored product, Compass Essentials, which was offered to all holiday park businesses from May 2020. The product was designed to ensure all park customers, existing and new, could be offered a discount or refund of some sort. It largely worked on the premise that parks’ insurance needs changed, as a direct result of being closed to the public. For many, this meant liability covers could be reduced without putting the park business at risk. By further eliminating less critical covers such as frozen food cover and accidental damage, many parks were able to secure immediate premium refunds of up to 25%.
Several Compass insured parks have experienced flooding in the past six months, and a few have been very badly affected. Over half of the claims that Compass handles relate to flood and storm. One of the biggest lockdown issues for holiday home owners has been their ability to comply with insurance policy conditions. Holiday caravan owners also need to think about their sums insured as pressures on the supply chain mean that the cost of replacing caravans is likely to increase sharply, if only for the next 12 – 18 months “Coronavirus has had a significant impact on the way in which holiday caravan and lodge manufacturers can operate,” Richard Walker, of Compass points out. “Coupled with supply chain issues, this has resulted in fewer units being produced at a time when staycation bookings and new caravan/ lodge sales have boomed. “The high demand for the units that are available could potentially impact any total losses experienced by parks and their customers in the next year or so. “The fact that the dearth in available units is driving up prices may also be relevant, as will the increased costs of many of the materials used in caravan/ lodge construction,” Paula adds. Once parks re-opened, Leisuredays say they dealt with a record number of insurance enquiries as parks enjoyed healthy sales of new units.
“For those suffering temporary financial difficulty as a result of Covid, we were able to defer payments or waive cancellation charges,” says Gareth. “If a customer asked to cancel their policy but was intending to keep their unit uninsured, we would do everything possible to keep them insured because the last thing they needed on top of everything else was an uncovered bill for a caravan repair or replacement. The closing of parks at the end of October also brought difficulties for customers to drain down their units for winter in line with insurance policy terms. “We were able to offer flexibility for customers to arrange for their parks to drain down within an extended timeframe yet maintain full cover until this was completed,” he adds. Leisuredays set about making it even easier for park customers by offering a new online renewal portal so they could renew 24/7. Gareth explains: “To ease any stress, we provided an up to 10% uplift to policy sum insured at no charge. “This was beneficial to customers on a new for old policy who have to insure at the price of a brand-new equivalent unit.” In effect, the Leisuredays approach meant the customer could renew and be sure their caravan would be fully replaced with a new one on the park – it also reassured the parks that the customer would have sufficient funds to replace their unit via them.
“If anything, our way of working with parks has worked extremely well during the pandemic,” Gareth emphasises. “Because our parks work with us as Introducer Appointed Representatives they effectively introduce the customer to us for us to quote, then setup and administrate policies. “When parks re-opened in July 2020, many parks were keen to maximise sales so they bundled our free insurance offer with new units as a deal sweetener. “This proved extremely popular for new owners who wanted everything to be provided as part of the purchase package.” Gareth believes Covid has made self- administration of customer insurance even less attractive for holiday park operators. “We’re even more confident the route of introducing to a specialist like ourselves delivers better results,” says Gareth. “Letting a specialist such as Leisuredays do the insurance admin lets them concentrate on their core business. Gareth adds: “We firmly believe they’re in for a bumper season of demand for holiday caravan sales and holidays so they need to make hay whilst the sun shines in that regard – why let insurance get in the way?”
PIB Insurance Brokers
Tel. 01422 358 525
FLUSHED WITH SUCCESS
It pays to invest your washroom facilites pennies in wisely, as Emily Martin investigates...
The average person uses the bathroom 2,500 times year and for about 20 minutes every day. Apparently, that works out to a whopping three months of the average lifetime sitting on the proverbial throne. That timing may vary, of course, because the more features your smart phone has, the longer you sit on the toilet! Whether it is holiday parks or restaurants, or both, I always judge a venue by the standard of its toilets and it would seem, I am in good company.
Filtering the all-singing Trip Advisor by toilet blocks, Holiday Park Scene found numerous reports of a ‘spotlessly clean’ facility at one outstanding site, the Macrihanish Holiday Park, near to Argyll in Western Scotland. Offering a variety of accommodation from camping and touring to camping pods and lodges, Macrihanish boasts a block of eight brand new individual toilet and shower rooms similar to the standard you would expect in an ensuite hotel bedroom. “I think the fact that we have private rooms is the unique point,” says Macrihanish’s Ewen MacDonald. “Parents with younger children love the facilities for getting the whole family sorted in the morning and ready for bed at night,” Ewan continues. “When we installed the block, we knew that it would be several years to realise the investment but it has been worth every penny. “It’s without a doubt the most important thing customers are looking for when visiting holiday parks,” Ewan emphasises and adds: “You can have the best pitches, the best views and the best staff in the world but if your toilets aren’t clean or appear scruffy then none of your other hard work is worth anything, you’ll just be remembered for your grubby loos!” Macrihanish Holiday Park is also cracking COVID considerations on health and safety measures implemented since the pandemic. ‘With Covid, last year, it meant we could operate very safely as individual blocks are perfect for social distancing. They are normally cleaned up to five times a day, with hourly buff ups,” says Ewen.
HEALTH AND SAFETY
‘We can also easily isolate each room to fumigate or fog which is something else that we have been doing periodically each day throughout the pandemic.’ Clearly a lot of effort goes into keeping these loos sparkling clean. Does Ewen think it has been worth the investment? “Without a doubt,” Ewan responds enthusiastically. “We have guests rebooking several times a season and now returning as a result of our facilities.” Browsing the internet for getaways, potential customers might prioritise fabulous views, comfortable accommodation, attractions nearby, children’s entertainment, catering… the list goes on. But forget those wash facilities at your peril.
James Feltham from Aaztec.com, a leading installer of holiday park wash- blocks, and asked how much holiday parks tend to budget for the toilet block or washroom and, how important is being eco-friendly to his typical holiday park client?
‘We have completed wash-block projects ranging from a few thousand to over a hundred thousand pounds,” says James. “Caring about the environment is at the forefront of our design. A recent installation at the Lake District National Park included environmentally friendly options such as recycled-plastic vanity units. Other outstanding examples include Flamingo Land in Malton that was designed geared up for a mechanical feel with chequered race-car style cubicles and real tyres for the hand basins. Other Aaztec projects that amplify luxury finishes include the Vale of Pickering in Pickering and Don Amott in Derby James believes customer expectations are constantly changing with guests expecting more, more and more. “Gone are the days when going camping in the UK was about getting stuck in the mud,” he says. Clientele of holiday parks now desire the glamping experience when it comes to facilities.Whether it is a long hike in the forest or a day chilling on the beach, holiday makers want to come back to the park for a hot shower in privacy with all the home comforts.
James continues: “Many holiday parks are now opting for unisex and family orientated wash-blocks, where full height cubicles and space efficiency create the feeling of separation from the guest in the cubicle next to you. “It is important to make the most of the space available and depending on capacity requirements, some wash- blocks can feel small because too many cubicles or basins are placed close together. “It is key to remember guests will spend a lot of their holiday using the facilities provided and it’s not just a quick stop like at a service station, thinking about choices of colours and theme are also fundamental when making a washroom feel cosy.” So with cleanliness at the top of the washroom pops, what other tips can James share? “Holiday park washrooms can be subject to intensely high footfalls at peak times of year so you need durable decor and technology that will ensure your wash-block lasts a lifetime,” James emphases, advising strength and sturdiness when it comes to washroom design.
With more than 100 aquatic installations under their specialist belt, Ustigate’s aquatic play schemes are assembled for a variety of budgets. Experience and expertise enables Ustigate to respond efficiently to all enquiries, carrying out prompt site surveys, calculations and designs to allocated budgets for all sizes of projects both indoor and out. In conjunction with long term aquatic partner Vortex International, Ustigate’s product portfolio includes waterslides, Elevations™ play structures, the award- winning Water Journey™ collection and over 300 individual and interactive Splashpad® play items, with the majority being available with the Safeswap™ Anchoring System. Particularly thought-provoking for holiday destinations, the Safeswap™ Anchoring System provides clients with the ability to exchange features for alternatives in the future, without the need to break the ground again.
This system enables all water play facilities to stay fresh and modern for years to come and it also enables a water play facility to be built in phases. Each anchor can be capped, provided with a ground spray or home to an above ground feature. The Safeswap™ system is particularly helpful when building a water play project according to budget constraints as it enables the infrastructure to be placed in year one and an array of aquatic play products can be purchased annually and assembled over the course of, for example, a five year plan. A multi-site holiday park operator can also alternate products of the same flow rates between locations to keep visitors intrigued and entertained. Alternatively, or additionally, the joy of Splashpad® is a trend that has encompassed the nation and its popularity continues to grow. An area dedicated to a multitude of water play items, a splashpad is set in a zero standing water environment, making it entirely inclusive and 100% safe without any lifeguard requirement. The trend is fuelled by the inclusive pleasure involved and the fact aquatic play product development has come on a very long way. Twirltec™ enables children to turn products 360° and Orbs and Twistnozzle™ feature widely throughout the award winning Explora range, enabling children to move, twist, spin, splash and change the direction of the water jets.
Ustigate Waterplay and Vortex have also recently added “bouncing and splashing” to their offered activities via “Hop” from their Water Journey™ collection. Hop encourages children to physically jump on three soft, padded stepping stones to be rewarded with a bigger and higher splash from the ground up. Water play has been proven to promote water confidence, happiness, excitement, exercise, cognitive behaviours and group play. All factors that aid and promote good health and social development. Interactive aquatic play is being incorporated indoors and outdoors to promote water confidence at a young age and to deliver good health and wellbeing for all ages and abilities. Being with friends and families and being active indoors and outdoors is what makes us happy, fit and strong and the pandemic has taken its toll on everyone’s physical and mental wellbeing because we have never spent more time at home indoors and away from our loved ones and activities. The negative impact of Covid closures has been great on humanity and the leisure, hospitality and aviation industries given all was brought to a standstill in 2020. The roadmap out of the Covid pandemic must also remain cautious to ensure we continue to move in the direction of a healthier and more positive future. Exercise and staying outdoors have been recommended the whole way through. An outdoor Splashpad® with several features and a recirculation system is certainly a safe, clean and exciting place to be. Inclusive water features such as the KirkleathamWalled Garden set the scene for peace and tranquillity, a shining example of Ustigate’s inclusive aquatic play schemes promote happiness and physical fitness for everyone involved.
Keep ahead of the competition, with stand-out attractions….
In an often crowded market, holiday parks and resorts understand the need for differentiation. More and more destinations are setting themselves apart with attractions like high-performance water rides that deliver impactful return on investment and draw in the ever- important guest demographic: families. Water parks have been shown to differentiate parks and resorts by increasing guest satisfaction, occupancy rates, perceived value, and secondary spending on things like concessions. ProSlide’s KIDZ Rides are part of its WaterKINGDOM suite of water rides and attractions and are purposefully designed to cater to a park and resort’s family guests, leaving them with an exciting and memorable Experience that keeps them coming back. ProSlide’s KIDZ Rides provide families the excitement of a water ride with the comfort and safety envisioned and designed for kids. They offer a ‘graduated ride experience’ that allows younger guests to aspire toward a more advanced ride as they age, while still providing distinctive, high-performance water slides that also mirror their adult counterparts in design and experience. This ensures that no matter the age, there’s always a ProSlide ride for every age group.
ProSlide’s KIDZ Rides also boast an array of benefits that make them the ideal fit for holiday parks and resorts. The ride’s smaller footprint allows them to fit any vision and topography. Add to that an easily customisable ride path, ProSlide’s KIDZ rides can be accommodated in either an indoor space or an outdoor one. Being able to customize the rides means they’re also the perfect attraction to add to an expanding family entertainment area. ProSlide’s latest KIDZ Ride additions have made some of the most impactful debuts imaginable at world-class water parks around the world in the past 12 months. The world’s first KIDZ RallyRACER at Atlantis Aquaventure in Dubai, UAE, brings the pinnacle of a competitive water racing experience to young riders for the first time ever.
Utilising ProSlide’s patented RallyPOINTS – portions of u-shaped flume with low divider walls – that appear at multiple sections throughout the ride, young riders can see and hear their competition as they race side-by- side. The exclusive design merges the excitement and action of the original RallyRACER® with the industry-leading design considerations present in ProSlide’s KIDZ rides. The debut of the KIDZWAVE® at Soaky MountainWaterpark in Tennessee, USA delivered the park an iconic water ride purposefully designed for its family customers. Like the KIDZ RallyRACER®, its design and experience are inspired by its larger counterpart, the TornadoWAVE®. By incorporating ProSlide’s award-winning TORNADO® technology, the KIDZWave sends young riders on a thrilling journey up the arched wall.
During 2021, ProSlide has even more exciting installations of KIDZ Rides coming up in parks all over the globe. Europa-Park’s Rulantica in Rust, Germany is set to install an industry leading aquatic play structure with multiple ProSlide KIDZ Rides like serpentine TWISTERS and the competitive, multi-lane ProRACER®. UP AND COMING NovaHills in Mui Ne, Vietnam will also enjoy an array of KIDZ Rides, like the KIDZ ProRACER® and KIDZ TWISTER, with their brand new dedicated KIDZ Zone coming this summer. ProSlide’s KIDZ Rides are making a dramatic impact at hotels and resorts around the world, increasing guest satisfaction and ROI, while also cementing themselves as the ideal destination with world-leading water ride attractions to set any park or resort apart.
Sue Hollingshead reports on the surge in UK holiday bookings post lockdown...
The Great British public has a new-found love of holidays in the UK and exploring the great outdoors has been high on their agenda. They have come to appreciate the beautiful home locations that are available across the UK, and how relaxing it is to avoid the hassle of airports! The savvy park operator hasn’t missed the opportunity, and many have been hugely busy during lockdown with new marketing plans, new websites, new development phases, even purchasing new parks. Having been given the green light for re-opening holiday parks, the consumer certainly wasting no time! Since the roadmap announcement by Boris Johnson back in February, holiday bookings have soared, with people keen to get their holiday break into the diary. In addition to the normal holiday break, there is also a trend to catch up on the missed family Christmas, special birthday, anniversary, or other lifestyle events. The UK Staycation boom has been a hot topic over the past year, and with the latest travel restrictions for holidays abroad looking set to be in place for some time yet, holidays in the UK are very much in favour.
As we progressively see the vaccine levels increase, we are seeing consumer confidence grow, which has been demonstrated by their actions and confirmed by some latest statistics. For park operators, there has been a flurry of activity to ensure everything is in place and ready for visitors. Laura Miller, Head of Marketing and Insights at Away Resorts, comments “The demand for new bookings is already up 50% year- on-year along with autumn bookings seeing a rise of 31%. When we came out of lockdown last summer, we saw an increase in bookings by 44% year-on- year.” Tony Clish, Director at Park Holidays UK, also confirms that holiday bookings are currently very strong. Tony added: “This must be seen in context with the substantial shortfalls in income suffered last year, as we would normally run at near full capacity during the holiday season. In addition, we will be entertaining many bookings this year which were postponed from last year.” Cool Camping is an Online Travel Booking Agent working with hundreds of campsites throughout the UK. James Warner Smith shared their stats with Holiday Park SCENE. “Across the board, we have witnessed a dramatically higher number of early bookings compared to previous years,” says James. “In February, bookings were up by 525% on last year, with the busiest day falling, perhaps unsurprisingly, the day after Boris Johnson announced the roadmap out of lockdown in England. March, too, is already up by over 400% on 2019,” he adds.
The stats certainly demonstrate that the Staycation is on the rise, and supported by press activity over recent months, with many news articles relating to the UK holiday boom and their predictions for the future. However, what about trends, are we seeing any changes to the holiday habits of the British public? At Cool Camping, they are noticing quite a few trends. Firstly, for the location, with people particularly interested in Cornwall, the Lake District, and the New Forest. They have also witnessed their customers reacting very quickly to positive news from the government. The key date being in February when the road map was announced for England on 23rd February then also forWales, on 12th March. Interestingly there was also a surge of bookings when the vaccine was officially licensed for use in the UK. They have also noticed people booking longer holidays and spending more than in previous years. Similarly, Park Holidays have noticed a demand for top-end holiday accommodation such as luxury lodges, again an indicator of those replacing their holidays abroad. They have also noticed an increase in demand for holiday home sales, which is currently buoyant. Laura, at Away Resorts, says: “Naturally, consumers are responding to Government advice and we are seeing a huge volume of bookings post ‘Step 4’ when all restrictions are expected to lift.” Despite the surge in bookings, it would seem there is availability across the board for this summer, although it is to be expected that places will fill up quite quickly. Park Holidays are seeing bookings close to Christmas and even into 2022. Probably one of the biggest issues that any holiday booking platform has had to contend with and adapt to since COVID restrictions began in Spring 2020, is their cancellation policy. It would be fair to say that a complete revamp of policies had to be undertaken.
Companies now need to offer a Coronavirus Booking Guarantee, with the option to move the break to a new date, or a full refund, when related to COVID. Those not offering this won’t fair well in the market. Park Holidays and Away Resorts certainly offer this guarantee. Laura, at Away Resorts, summed it up nicely: “We recognise that we are all living in uncertain times, so it is important to have something special to look forward to as a family and we want to ensure customers feel safe and confident when booking with us.” Cool Camping being an agent are in a different situation however recruited more staff in their customer service team to handle the enquiries relating to the policy. Generally, the cancellation policy would be with the campsite direct, however Cool Camping took the initiative to introduce a Cool Camping Coronavirus Booking Guarantee which was then offered to campsites to enrol into. This was rolled out with huge success. There is a theory that due to lockdown and Coronavirus Guarantees, prices will rise for 2021, however prices seem to be reasonably static at present. Considering that many bookings for this year are postponed from 2020, and although there is a huge demand, holiday parks do still need to be competitive. In fact, Park Holidays took the initiative to offer a discount to customers who had to postpone from 2020.
From the point of overall support, including financially, most holiday parks seem to have weathered the Coronavirus storm reasonably well considering. Luckily, there are several industry bodies, including The British Holiday & Homes Parks Association, that have worked endlessly with the government to ensure firstly that the government understands the needs of the sector, and secondly, that park owners are provided with the maximum advice and guidance available. Tony, of Park Holidays, agrees: “The government has listened very attentively to our representations throughout the pandemic, and we are very grateful for the guidance received from them and our trade body, as to what steps to take to ensure staff and customers remains safe.” Laura adds “The impact of Coronavirus on this industry has been huge and financial support has been critical to ensuring we protect the business and our staff.”
Tony of Park Holidays, shared their activity with Holiday Park SCENE: “We have remained very busy during the closed months, and have just opened a new section of our website which previews 14 new holiday home developments across our parks. “These offer more than 200 new luxury lodges, villas, and holiday caravans. Visitors can view state-of- the-art images and tour the interiors on our website. “We have also added new indoor pools and entertainment venues to some of our parks as well as acquiring three more parks in recent months”. Laura, Away Resorts, also had investment news to share: “It has still been a busy time behind the scenes with Away Resorts investing in the UK tourism and staycation sector. “We have recently added St Ives Bay to the portfolio ahead of the peak season and recently completed the purchase of Boston West Hotel and Golf Course in Hubbert’s Bridge, Lincolnshire,” says Laura and adds: “Phase one plans have begun at Mill Rythe Coastal Village, on Hayling Island, as it undergoes an exciting £10million transformation.” James, of Cool Camping, said: “It has been fantastic to see the new business in the industry and the speed in which many companies have responded and adapted. “We have also witnessed a growth in new ‘pop-up’ camping and glamping sites, operating under the 28-day planning rule (extended this year in most areas of the UK),” James continues. “Many of these sites are people within the events industry reacting to the cancellation of festivals, utilising the accommodation they would normally provide. “Our success in supporting businesses and bringing in high volumes of bookings over the last year has led to an increase in new businesses joining our platform.” At the end of a long year, it is good to reflect on how key companies in the sector have responded. Companies like Park Holidays, Away Resorts and Cool Camping have risen to the challenge, seen an opportunity in the market, and invested in opportunities.
Tel: 0330 127 7962
Park Holidays UK
Tel: 0191 256 0795
Tel: 0207 820 9333
Holiday Park Operator Focus featuring Haulfryn Group
The 20-strong Haulfryn Group is celebrating its 85th birthday…
The origins of the Haulfryn Group date back to the early 20th century when Frank Minoprio, the son of an Italian immigrant entrepreneur, invested in the beauty of the North Wales coastline. Having spent holidays enjoying the outstanding scenery of the region, Frank invested in his very own piece of land on which he built a fine granite house. He called it Haulfryn, meaning ‘sunny hill’. Over the years, Frank continued to invest and build up his estate in North Wales. He believed strongly in giving back to the community and with this in mind he built the primary school in Abersoch alongside many other philanthropic activities. In 1935, The Haulfryn Estate Company was officially founded with the aim of developing the land at TheWarren, just down the road from the family holiday home at Abersoch.
By the start of the 1960s, TheWarren had become a popular destination, setting the standards for holiday parks across the country. Replicating the success of The Warren elsewhere, The Haulfryn Group continued to invest in holiday parks in outstanding locations. The 1970s and 80s were years of further expansion with Gimblet Rock and Crugan added to the portfolio, among others and further investment at The Haulfryn Group’s flagship park, TheWarren. Expansion beyondWales followed, including strategic moves into the South West of England. Today, the Haulfryn Group’s estate includes 20 holiday parks throughout England andWales. The Haulfryn Group’s CEO since February 2020 is Echo Lu.With an impressive CV spanning over 20 years and senior experience within national and global brands including Tesco, Homebase and Holland & Barrett, Echo oversees the Group’s 500 team members. David John, Group Operations Director joined The Haulfryn group back in 2013, bringing with him a wealth of experience in Leisure and Hospitality, most notably Nutfield Heath, De Vere Hotels and Leisure, as well as early years spent in Local Authority.
The Group continues to invest in its portfolio to ensure Haulfryn resorts continue to meet the high expectations of its growing and loyal customer base. The Group’s leisure and entertainment venues, facilities and services are widely renowned as among the best in the business. David John comments: “The 85th birthday of the founding of the company is a fantastic milestone to achieve and testament to the company ethos and the hard work of every member of our team at every level. “As a company we’re extremely proud of everything we have achieved so far and look forward to welcoming holidaymakers new and old to our parks to create more special memories to last a lifetime,” he adds. “When you strip everything back to basics, the core of what we do today is the same as it was 85 years ago. The family values on which Haulfryn was established are as relevant today as ever, and these coupled with our outstanding locations is what brings holidaymakers and buyers back to us time and time again,” he emphasises. “Our main driver is to bring joy to every moment of a customer’s stay with us and we’re proud to have been doing that since 1936!” The Haulfryn Group offers a wide choice of accommodation for all tastes and for all ages. Popular holiday lodges provide home-from-home comfort, many with added luxuries such as wine coolers and hot tubs.
For those seeking a modern twist, a selection of glamping pods provide quirky, comfortable accommodation bringing you closer to the outdoors. Some of Haulfryn’s long-standing suppliers include Lissett, Prestige and Omar whilst more recently they have partnered with Aspire and Armadilla Pods. The Group’s original site, TheWarren, is often thought of as Haulfryn’s flagship park but David insists: “We firmly believe each and every one of our parks are flagships. “Whether it’s ancient woodland, lakeside living, beautiful beaches as well as charming scenic settings - we always provide the accommodation and facilities to complement the surroundings environments.” TheWarren’s private beach location boasts golden sands and soul-reviving views of Cardigan Bay and Snowdonia. A boat launch ramp accesses internationally recognised sailing waters alongside first class leisure, sports and spa facilities. Haulfryn’s Delamere Lake offers a beautiful oasis in the midst of the Cheshire plains. Situated in Cheshire’s largest area of woodland, with incredible views over the sparkling lake, Delamere is located within easy reach of Manchester and Liverpool. Finlake Holiday Resort is set within 130-acres of Devon woodland, Finlake is an exclusive Devon holiday home destination for all the family. On-site facilities include a gym, spa, sauna, swimming pools, including flumes, slides and fountains, a restaurant and bar, tennis courts and more. Praa Sands is situated on the edge of turquoise waters and golden sands on the furthermost tip of west Cornwall. The resort is ideally located to make the most of the spectacular local area including beautiful beaches, walks, and cycle tracks. On-site facilities include a gym and heated indoor swimming pool. Before 2020, the Haulfryn Group’s biggest challenge would have been continuing to exceed customers’ expectations. Since the pandemic hit, Haulfryn’s overriding objective has been the safety of local communities, their teams and owners.
STAYCATIONERS ANXIOUS ABOUT HOTEL STAYS
New research from investment holding company MBH Corporation shows nearly one in 10 people (9%) plan to take a caravan holiday in the UK for the first time this year as tourists worry about potential COVID risks when on vacation. That is three times the number who took a UK caravan holiday for the first-time last year and points to a boom year for caravans which are set to be more popular for holidays than UK hotels.
MBH Corporation’s nationwide survey found that of those people who have already booked a holiday for later this year, 14% have opted for static or mobile caravans in the UK narrowly ahead of the 13% booking UK hotels, and just behind the 16% who have booked cottage stays.
The study for MBH Corporation, which owns caravan dealer Robinsons Caravans as part of its portfolio of successful, strong-performing small to medium enterprises, found 41% of people who have already booked their holidays are put off hotels because of worries about being among large groups of people. The study found caravan ownership is also growing with nearly one in 20 people (4%) considering buying a caravan. Robinsons Caravans has already seen a surge in demand for pre-owned caravans and has launched caravans4cash. co.uk to help source more used caravans and offer a simple, speedy, and honest service to value and buy people’s touring caravans.
The UK caravan industry contributes more than £6 billion a year to the economy, and usually around 50 million nights are spent in caravans each year. There are currently over one million leisure caravans in the UK but, based on the research, this is expected to increase dramatically.
SELF-CARE IS THE NEW HEALTH CARE
The UK wellness retreat industry is predicted to boom following the relaxation of Lockdown restrictions, according to experts. Demand for wellness retreats has steadily been on the rise over the past decade, with a 1605% increase in online searches for the term since 2015, including an 81% increase from 2019 to 2020. The Health Retreat growth has been seriously on the rise for the last 20 years and these are now taking over from classic holiday destinations. Almost all countries which usually invite the family holiday groups will offer a health and wellness retreat.
“Self-care is the new health care,” says Yvonne Wake, a wellbeing and lifestyle consultant who hosts her own retreats. “I don’t see how the industry cannot continue to grow. There’s absolutely no reason to stop an industry where the earning capacity is getting higher by the year.” “Healthwise it’s important to just stop, which is what wellness retreats provide.” Activity retreats are among the fastest-growing in the industry after having experienced a 928% increase in online searches from 2019 to 2020.
Camptoo’s Head of Wanderlust, Ed Bassett, is expecting a similar uptake in interest this year as the UK gradually begins to ease out of lockdown. “Activity-based holidays are among the fastest-growing in the industry, and there’s never been a more exciting time to be involved. “The benefits of a wellness retreat are endless, but we really believe that adding something activity-based in the UK - whether it be kayaking, hiking, surfing, wild swimming, climbing, mountain biking - will take that experience to the next level.” He added: “The industry was booming prior to lockdown last year and despite being locked away, we can see that enthusiasm has not dropped and with everyone desperate to get out of their homes, it’s the perfect time to get out and explore the great British outdoors.”
PUSHING £20M STAYCATION BUTTON
Park Holidays UK is investing more than £20 million in its 30-plus parks this year as families seek top-end experiences in the UK as an alternative to going abroad. The company’s shopping list includes an order for 350 luxury-grade caravan holiday homes which has been placed with British manufacturers, hard-hit by the pandemic. New leisure centres, swimming pools, landscaping projects and children’s activities are also being developed as advance bookings recently reached a new record peak: “We’re braced for the busiest season in our 30-year history, and we’re determined to give guests and holiday home owners the best possible time,” said director Tony Clish. “Bookings across our parks tell us that we’ll not be waiting until summer before the holiday year starts in earnest – spring is already looking like peak season. “News of parks re-opening on 12 April, the ban on overseas travel, and the success of the vaccine roll-out has given an extra shot in the arm to the UK’s tourism industry. “That’s why our board of directors has authorised a spend of more than £20 million on hundreds of top-grade accommodation units, and new guest facilities.
RAISING THE BAR
“Our aim is always to constantly raise the bar on both the quantity and the quality of what our parks provide to people on both short breaks and longer stays. “This is especially important to us now because many bookings are coming from families who took a staycation with us in 2020, perhaps for the first time in years. “They clearly enjoyed the experience, so we want to welcome them and everyone back with facilities and attractions which will prove that UK holidays really are unbeatable,” said Mr Clish. Work is almost complete, he said, on a new £2 million pool at Dovercourt Holiday Park in Harwich, and a £1 million entertainments venue at West Mersea Holiday Park on Essex’s Mersea Island. Mr Clish added that sales of holiday homes are also rocketing, and that more than 200 new luxury lodges, villas and holiday caravans have just been released on new park developments.
INVESTORS SWOOP ON UK MARKET
The revenue of the UK’s top 25 holiday parks has increased by 65% in the past five years, validating major investment in a sector that has performed strongly during the pandemic, says New Street Consulting Group, the leadership and people solutions consultancy. The incomes of the Top 25 holiday park groups have increased from £1.61bn in 2014/15 to £2.67bn in 2019/20. Even before the lockdown, warmer summers and a weaker pound are factors that have contributed to the rise in popularity of staycations in the UK, increasing by 14% between 2014 and 2019*. New Street Consulting Group says this long term rise in staycations has been one of the major factors behind the investment of private equity firms in this sector. Blackstone, the private equity giant, recently acquired Bourne Leisure, the UK’s largest holiday parks provider, whose estate includes Butlins. US based private equity fund KKR purchased Roompot, one of Europe’s leading holiday parks providers, in June last year, whilst Away Resorts is now owned by UK based private equity house Bregal Freshstream. New Street Consulting Group says holiday parks have been a surprise winner of the Covid crisis, having attracted a new group of higher- spending consumers who have been unable to or opted against going on cruise holidays or travelling internationally. The low density of guests at holiday parks makes them particularly suitable for social distancing, with groups being able to stay in separate buildings from other holiday-goers.
Several private equity houses that own holiday parks are embarking on large scale capital investment programmes in order to cater for increased demand. Parks are undergoing significant programmes of premiumisation in accommodation, food service and activities to ensure that clients gained in 2020 are retained when the market for cruises and other overseas holidays reopens. Investment is also being made into apps and digital enablement that allow customers to order food and book activities/entertainment without having to leave their lodges or mix with other guests. Richard Lindsay, Director at New Street Consulting Group, says: “Despite its fair share of challenges and impacts on income, the UK staycation sector is booming, with the holiday park industry in particular being one of the strongest performing parts of the leisure sector during the Covid crisis.” “Private equity funds’ interest in the sector is only going to continue. PE houses see holiday parks as a long- term growth prospect and not just a flash in the pan during the year of coronavirus.” “The changing demographics of those who visit holidays parks is likely to increase the speed of change in the sector. The opportunity to improve the perception of parks for the long term through major capital investment programmes is now likely to accelerate as we head towards summer 2021.”
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.
USE SOCIAL MEDIA TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS
Social media should form a key part of marketing your campsite or glamping business. Using Lisa Bullen’s personal experience of running a successful campsite, you’ll learn how to identify your target customers and promote your business to them using social media. Lisa understands how important it is to market your business to the right crowd, but also how time consuming and overwhelming it can feel. So, without further delay, Lisa Bullen presents a new course available to you for just £149! Please get in touch to discuss in more detail.
Social Media Sussex
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
Offering the ultimate flexibility for kerbside working, a Quad Chip 160 from Green Mech is the chipper of choice for Andrew Steel of AS Tree care - assisting him in delivering domestic tree works in and around Surrey and South West London. With parking and space at a premium in tight urban and suburban locations, the 360-degree turntable of the Quad Chip improves the speed and efficiency with which both timber and brash can be processed.
Green Mech - www.greenmech.co.uk
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.