Milestone For Family Insurance Firm
A leading leisure insurance provider, Caravan Guard, incorporating static caravan insurance specialist Leisuredays, is celebrating insuring more than 90,000 customer at over 900 UK Holiday Parks.
The milestone was reached as the Halifax-based company celebrated being shortlisted for a trio of national insurance awards. “This is down to our fantastic team of positive people who are all committed to delivering exceptional customer service,” explains Ryan Wilby, Caravan Guard’s Managing Director, “Plus our great value insurance policies, which are amongst the most comprehensive on the market.”
So far this year, Caravan Guard and Leisuredays have reached the finals of the prestigious British Insurance Awards, and earlier this month they were shortlisted in three categories at the forthcoming UK Broker Awards.
Ryan added: “We’re absolutely thrilled and proud to have more than 90,000 caravan, motorhome, holiday caravan and park home customers on cover. As we continue to deliver brilliant customer experiences and grow our workforce we have our sights firmly set on insuring 100,000 customers in the coming years.”
Caravan Guard was established in 1995 by Ryan’s father Peter Wilby and along with Leisuredays has remained a family–run business and one of the leading insurance providers for static caravans, touring caravans, motorhomes and park homes. Their static caravan insurance policy is also independently rated as five-star by financial researcher Defaqto.
Quick Service For UK Parks
Quick Move Properties has teamed up with some of the biggest leisure home manufacturers to offer a turn-key solution for independent leisure park operators. Their Stock Support service is designed to shorten the timescales usually associated with lodge purchases, speeding up the process to bring forward completion dates and aid cash flow.
The service is available for no charge to any UK leisure park operator when their customer uses Quick Move Properties’ house buying services to help fund their holiday property purchase. The units on offer are ordered from manufacturers such as Prestige, Homeseeker and Pathfinder.
Top Scoring Shropshire Parks
Five touring caravan parks owned by Shrewsbury-based Morris Leisure based have all achieved a Certificate of Excellence from the traveller review website TripAdvisor.
Stanmore Hall Touring Park at Bridgnorth, Ludlow Touring Park in Ludlow, Oxon Hall Touring Park in Shrewsbury, Riverside Touring Park in Betws-y-Coed and Llanberis Touring Park in Llanberis have all been recognised by TripAdvisor after receiving consistently great reviews from caravanners and motorhome owners over the past year.
Rural Business Award Celebrations
The best of the country’s rural tourism sector – from fully disabled-accessible cottages to the best in-farm visitor education – have been rewarded by being named finalists for Best Rural Tourism Business in the Rural Business Awards (RBAs) 2017. The awards, run in partnership with the CLA and Amazon, are the only UK-wide programme dedicated to showcasing the success of rural businesses. Now in their third year and with nearly three times as many entries as in 2016, they are split into 13 sections across the industry. The five finalists for Best Rural Tourism Business:
• Hoe Grange Holidays, based in Matlock, Derbyshire
• Barleylands Farm Park and Craft Village, based in Billericay, Essex
• The Rookery, based in Roughlee, Lancashire
• Ceridwen Centre Ltd, based in Llandysul, Carmarthenshire
• Humble Bee Leisure, based in Scarborough, North Yorkshire
MP Speaks Out On Commission Fees
Park home operators across the Vale of Glamorgan are being urged to participate in a consultation on the commission rate paid on the sale of homes. The Welsh Government is consulting on whether there should be moves to halt the ten per cent commission rate paid. Speaking on a visit to Ham Manor Park in Llantwit Major, Andrew RT Davies AM and leader of the Welsh Conservatives, explained it was vital everyone had the opportunity to have their say and urged park residents and park owners to get involved.
“It was great to visit Ham Manor Park and have the opportunity to speak with residents of the site,” said Mr Davies. “It was really beneficial to meet some people who love their community and enjoy park living,” he added. “Among those is the Welsh Government’s latest consultation on the park homes commission rate and I’d urge all park home residents and park owners to participate and make their views known.”
Wish You Were Here - Highlands End Holiday Park
For TV drama fans, Highlands End Holiday Park is spectacularly located on the clifftop overlooking West Bay, the setting of ITV’s Broadchurch.
The lodges and some of the touring caravans and motorhome pitches on the park have views out over Broadchurch while some of the other caravans, and camping pitches overlook the ‘Broadchurch Hut’ and Eype Beach. Part of West Dorset Leisure Holidays, a family run group, Highlands End Holiday Park is located on the clifftop near West Bay in Dorset and enjoys panoramic views across 99 miles of World Heritage Jurassic Coastline.
Highlands End has been providing memorable holidays for families, friends and couples for decades and todays accommodation includes luxury lodges, glamping pods, caravan holiday homes, apartments, bungalows and pitches for touring caravans, motorhomes and tents – many of which enjoy fantastic views over the surrounding coast and countryside. The park is particularly popular with star gazers and dog owners, who enjoy the clear night skies and mile after mile of footpath to explore.
The Park has a newly refurbished bar and restaurant with one of the largest and most important private collections of fire service memorabilia in the country. The collection has been built up over three decades by Martin Cox, a member of the family who have owned Highlands End – and its four sister parks – for 45 years.
As well as ‘Martin’s Bar & Restaurant,’ the parks highly-praised facilities include a Leisure Club which incorporates a pool, sauna and steam room, a shop specialising in fresh Dorset produce and a pitch and putt course that is great for the whole family.
Highlands End Holiday Park
Tel. 01308 422 139
Holiday Show Season Round Up
As summer draws to a close, the Holiday Park industry enters its busy show season with a series of exhibitions and trade seminars. Shows cover all aspects of park life from accommodation to outdoor essentials and from hot tubs and swimming pools to catering equipment. With so many dates to pencil into your diaries we bring you a shortlist of the biggest industry shows coming up this autumn and what you can expect from each one…
The Caravan Extravaganza (The Lawns)
Sept 5th – 7th from 10am
The Lawns, Harland Way, Cottingham, East Yorkshire HU16 5SQ
September sees the 42nd annual HERCMA (the Hull and East Riding of Yorkshire Caravan Manufacturers’ Association) Caravan Trade Show in Cottingham, near Hull. Major manufacturers will be unveiling their 2018 models to park owners, dealers and distributors from across the UK and to international visitors from other countries. There will be more than 150 holiday homes, lodges and park homes and over 130 touring caravans on display along with many other supplies and service stands.
The trade show is preceded by The Caravan Extravaganza where there is a fun and friendly atmosphere, where parks and dealers and accessory stalls along with bands and other entertainment are present. www.hercmatradeshows.com
BodyPower Fitness Trade Show 2017
Sept 12th and 13th from 9am
NEC, Birmingham B40 1NT
BodyPower Fitness Trade Show is the new name for Leisure Industry Week, the trade event that has dominated the UK’s leisure landscape as a calendar staple for the past three decades. The focus of the event is to explore the fitness and leisure industries. BodyPower Fitness Trade Show promise over 100 innovative brands, in the wet and dry sectors, including pools, spas, saunas and gyms. Offering fitness solutions to various markets, including holiday parks, means BodyPower will provide the options for the perfect addition to your resort. BodyPower Fitness Trade Show will offer the opportunity to network with the leading industry experts and explore the one stop shop of leisure needs to upgrade your resort. www.bodypower.com
The Landscape Show 2017
Sept 19th and 20th from 10am
Evolution Centre, Battersea Park, London SW11 4NJ
The award winning, multi-media supported industry trade show, Landscape, returns to Battersea Park for two days. The Landscape Show promotes the latest products, technologies and innovations to the very best Garden Designers, Landscape Architects, Contractors, Groundsmen, Facilities Managers and Local Authority Landscaping Professionals from across the UK and beyond.
The show is supported by over 40 different media titles and trade associations. Landscape also hosts a free to attend, industry leading seminar programme which addresses a diverse range of topics integral to the industry. Topics being discussed this year include: ‘How Green Infrastructure Can Change the Horticulture Industry’, Choosing or Commissioning Relevant Artwork for Exterior Spaces, ‘Successful Small Spaces’ and ‘What Happened Next? Successful Aftercare for Great Garden Designs’. These sessions will be led by speakers from all backgrounds and career paths. www.landscapeshow.co.uk
Holiday Caravan (Beaulieu) 2017
Sept 21st from 10am
Beaulieu, Brockenhurst, Hampshire, SO42 7ZN
HERCMA’s Southern Trade Show takes place at Beaulieu and is set in the grounds of the National Motor Museum in the New Forest. More manufacturers will be exhibiting their brand new models although there are no tourers at Beaulieu. Following the trade day there are three days where the public are invited to see the new seasons’ models and meet representatives from parks and dealers in the hope of purchasing their next holiday home or lodge. The venues are outdoor events and sensible footwear is a must as ground conditions are greatly affected by the weather. www.hercmatradeshows.com
Nov 1st and 2nd from 9am
NEC, Birmingham, B40 1NT
Last year’s SALTEX (Sports, Amenities, Landscaping Trade Exhibition) was an unprecedented success with 292 exhibitors and 8,754 unique visitors spanning 45 different nations. Building on that success, SALTEX 2017’s improved show features and unrivalled industry support are set to work together to create the most exciting holiday park industries event to date when the doors open at the NEC. With three large halls containing many of the major players from across the industry, SALTEX 2017 is the ideal place to see products and services which could improve the daily operations of holiday parks. Visitors can also expect to see new products being unveiled, new unique services and some exciting guest appearances on the exhibitor stands. www.iogsaltex.com
Holiday Park and Resort Innovation
November 8th and 9th from 10am
NEC, Birmingham B40 1NT
Holiday Park & Resort Innovation is an unparalleled opportunity for holiday and leisure entrepreneurs to make the most of their resorts, holiday parks and attractions by delivering first-hand the very best in advice, products and services. Combining world class experts, face-to-face advice, 150 inspirational seminars, 350 leading suppliers, workshops, unrivalled networking and live features all under one roof - these two days are truly unmissable for anyone in this sector.
2017 also sees the launch of the Family Attraction Expo running directly alongside, designed as a one-stop-marketplace for an owner or manager of a visitor attraction or tourism enterprise this vibrant and diverse event will open a host of opportunities to visitors this November. Running alongside again is the Farm Business Innovation Show which took home ‘Best Trade Show of the Year’ at the 2016 UK’s EN Awards. www.holidayparkshow.co.uk
Jan 30th – Feb 1st 2018 from 9.30am
Ericcson Exhibition Hall, The Ricoh Arena, Coventry, CV6 6GE
SPATEX, the UK’s only dedicated water leisure exhibition and designed with the holiday park sector in mind. The show attracts well over a hundred big name manufacturers and suppliers from the UK and abroad, and showcases the very latest in swimming pools, enclosures, wet and dry safety flooring, saunas, spas, steam rooms, water features and everything under the wet leisure umbrella. Discover new ways of saving time, money and energy and see for yourself the very
latest models for 2018. SPATEX also hosts an impressive double seminar programme, topics such as effective commercial spa operation, how to prevent Legionnaires’ disease and cryptosporidium and the latest guidance on health and safety. Certificates of attendance and CPD points are available for all attendees. www.spatex.co.uk
Return On Searles Leisure Investment
Norfolk’s Searles Leisure Resort says investments of over £1 million have helped put the park on course for the busiest ever summer in its 60-plus year history. The multi-award winning Hunstanton venue met its deadline of adding the extra facilities by the start of the school holidays with the investments in a raft of new activities, including an innovative new indoor splash zone.
Managing Director, Paul Searle, Chairman of the BHPHA says providing first-class facilities and experiences for touring guests is still the park’s core aim. He commented: “I think that many people now realise that, compared with going abroad, British park holidays offer great value and a far more relaxing time for the whole family.”
The site is also celebrating receiving AA’s Gold Pennant after meeting the stringent conditions of a five-pennant rating – and then going on to achieve a quality score of over 90 per cent in that band. “The AA’s awards put a strong emphasis on the hospitality which qualifying parks provide, and here we are indebted to our hard-working staff team at Searles,” said Paul adding: “Our thanks go to them, and to our many loyal touring customers.”
New Seaside Star For Park Holidays UK
Park Holidays UK has completed the acquisition of Pevensey Bay Holiday Park near Eastbourne in Sussex. Formerly known as Martello Beach Holiday Park, the site boasts private beach access and a jetty for boats and jet-skis, and is the 28th park to join the Park Holidays UK group.
The site presently provides 265 holiday homes, both privately owned and available to rent, all set in picturesque landscaped grounds amid the countryside of the Sussex Weald. Owners and holiday guests are provided with a long line-up of leisure facilities including an indoor swimming pool, spa pool and sauna, and a fully equipped gym and fitness centre. Park Holidays UK director Tony Clish said the Pevensey Bay’s previous owners had done a magnificent job in creating a park which provides a true sense of privilege: “The lovely setting obviously gives Pevensey Bay a head start, but the park and its superbly high standards is a perfect match for its surroundings,” said Tony.
“As a group, we have always been committed to operating parks which offer only the very best customer experiences and the best value in their class. “That’s why we will ensure that Pevensey Bay continues as an ideal base for families and those who enjoy activities such as sailing, rowing, jet-skiing and sea fishing. “All of our parks make important and substantial contributions to the local economies where they are based by generating millions of pounds of visitor spending,” said Tony. “Our intention is that Pevensey Bay will build even further on the support it already provides to many local small businesses and the people they employ,” he added.
Web Wise - Online Bookings
The sense that many potential customers are just looking, not booking is common. Web visitors often just want to get a picture of what’s available. At other times they’re unable to commit to plans until they’ve settled on exact dates with friends and family.
Whatever the reason, conversion rates in the travel industry are surprisingly low, and that’s why it is crucial for holiday park owners to get the booking process right. More people are using the web to shop around for holidays than ever before, and this means they’re only a swipe away from comparing prices with a competitor.
Research has shown that 37 per cent of consumers abandon travel purchases at the last minute because they want to do further research or find a cheaper price. But when margins in the industry are low, competing on price is difficult. Instead, holiday park owners should focus on delivering a streamlined shopping experience and a fuss-free checkout process. With so many holiday options on offer, it’s vital that potential customers don’t vanish at the finish line.
Choosing the most appropriate booking system requires park owners and managers to match their needs with the features of a product. But no two holiday parks are identical and it might seem difficult to find a system with all the necessary functions and flexibility. This is why CampManager, a leading Park Management Software provider, assists more than 300 campsites and caravan parks throughout the UK and Ireland with an online booking solution suited to the individual parks’ requirements.
“There are many different booking systems in the market, some of which have been adapted from hotel booking systems, which may not provide you with the pricing functionality that you require,” says Niall Norris of CampManager. “It’s important to select a booking system which is specifically designed to manage all your different pricing requirements – season dates, minimum stays and set arrival dates – and all your different rental accommodation and touring pitch characteristics.”
However, park owners should realise that the best solution may not come right out of a box. Sometimes choosing a booking system is more about modifying an existing offering to fit a park’s individual specifications. For Dafydd Lawrence, head of information systems at Bluestone National Park Resort, an award-winning retreat in the rolling Pembrokeshire countryside, it was important to create a bespoke solution that would fit with the park’s existing digital infrastructure.
“Having a web API in our main booking system allowed us to write our own online platform that talks directly to our booking system,” Lawrence explains. “Any system that makes you use an ‘off-the-shelf’ website or their own web booking engine can severely limit how much you can customise the experience for your guests.” The most obvious step to making booking on your site easy is to ensure that it works well on mobile devices.
To read more about getting 'Web Wise' please subscribe to Holiday Park Scene here.
Peas In A Pod
One in four holidaymakers are now choosing to stay in the UK rather than travel abroad. So, having compromised on flights, when it comes to booking closer to home, the calibre of accommodation is undoubtedly the decision maker or the deal breaker for potential holiday park guests.
From lodges to hobbit holes and from safari tents to yurts, holiday parks offer multiple levels of accommodation, with both varied quality and pricing. Of these, it is the fast-moving pod sector that currently stands out from the crowd.
The explosion of interest in pods is one of the key factors behind the rejuvenation of British camping with increasing numbers of young people and families opting to experience ‘the great outdoors’ while still appreciating the comforts of home. Since its first appearance in 2008 the pod has become a well-established and much enjoyed alternative to the tent and the caravan holiday home and is now a widely available feature on many sites throughout the UK and Ireland as well as most of the countries in Europe.
Although selling the idea of the new concept pods to holiday park operators was a challenge ten years ago, owners are now seeing the perks and can create an interesting setting with the added benefit of using ground that may be unsuitable for camping or tourers. “Pods can and will provide a good stream of income as they are set up nicely to offer an exclusive visitor experience,” says Ian Bone, Director of the Original Pod Company. Creators of the trademarked Pod range, Newfoundland Lodges are the originators of the pod concept.
Ian says the growth in the industry is a cause for innovation. “Our recent wet summers have tempered the ‘canvas holiday’ to some degree which has certainly been to our advantage, plus the pods are an all year round option and will see occupancy outside of the traditional camping season,” comments Ian. The Cowshed - a ‘boutique bunkhouse’ hostel in Uig on the Isle of Skye - highlights where the Pod is well placed, and how to make the most of this sector of the industry.
The Cowshed site was initially transformed by the new owners and quickly became a highly popular stopping off point for visitors to Skye and the Western Isles. To increase capacity and add interest an area of ground was developed at the back of the hostel which offered excellent views down to the harbour and the island seascapes beyond.
Says Ian: “The north-west coast of Scotland is a tough place when it comes to weather so it was decided to use Thermowood as external cladding on all seven of the MegaPod-S units as well as using double skinned outer walls.” The hostel is open all year and comfort levels need to be maintained.
“Overall, I think the diversity on offer is healthy and gives this sector energy,” says Ian. “We have been here from the start and have seen ideas come and go but it does seem to be the case that you have come to the market with something original if you want to survive” Although the glamping experience may be usurping the traditional camping holiday, there are still a variety of options for visitors hoping to have a break under canvas.
To find out more about accommodation options, please subscribe to Holiday Park Scene here.
Duty Of Care
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. Since 2012 there has been a free online Code of Practice 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. Last year PWTAG introduced Poolmark, available only to pools that meet the Code of Practice. Poolmark certification gives public assurance that your pool meets the essential healthy pool operational standards.
With it, bathers can be assured – by you and by the Poolmark plaque – that the pool is approved. You can rely on the authority of the organisations that endorse PWTAG – Public Health England, Health and Safety Executive etc. Staff have to be adequately trained to meet the Code of Practice and achieve Poolmark status. There are several hidden benefits behind the scheme too.
New members will be sure that the pool is safe and comfortable for bathers – and this will be fully authenticated – plus users will have the reputation and authority of PWTAG behind them. 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. The alarming increase in the number of media reports on entrapment accidents, highlights the fear that many pools and spas remain unsafe ticking time bombs for unsuspecting swimmers. The danger is escalated when you realise how poorly management and lifeguards at many holiday resorts and hotels are trained to avoid entrapment risks.
Looking at international media coverage, it appears that most entrapment accidents and deaths have taken place while families are holidaying abroad where perhaps regulations are less rigorously enforced than in the UK. There are hundreds of thousands of pools installed at hotels and holiday resorts across continental Europe that may not conform to the correct safety standards, often because they are very old pools and do not have the prerequisite two main drains at the bottom of the pool.
Pools with a single drain, poorly-fitted or with faulty parts pose grave dangers, as does the lack of understanding of the risk to life if a swimmer gets trapped in a drain. Pool operators must exercise full responsibility and enforce rigorous safety measures to guard against accidents including entrapment. This includes regular testing of the pool structure and the water chemistry through to the provision of experienced lifeguards who are trained to deal with all types of incidents promptly.
Put simply, entrapment is when part of the body becomes trapped in the powerful suction of a pool’s only drain. This is not a risk that a swimmer can see and thus cannot take care to avoid.
Whilst entrapment can occur because of a damaged outlet in a pool or spa, the root cause is the lack of two drains – a known and solvable problem. A single drain can create intense pump suction as the water system is regulated.
Getting too close to a single main drain leaves bathers at risk of being dragged into this vacuum which is almost impossible to break free of without the pool system being turned off, and that can take far too long. Sadly these incidents are continuing to result in people drowning or sustaining terrible physical problems such as disembowelment – and children are seemingly at greatest risk of such incidents.
UK regulatory standards (BSEN 15288 and SPATA) are already in place to ensure that all new pools are equipped with two main drains, as this reduces the demands that circulating water places on a single drain. While operators of holiday accommodation may not wish to close lucrative facilities for adaptation, doing nothing puts people’s lives at risk and is unjustifiable especially given that an anti-entrapment device such as the MSI Vac-Alert eliminates the danger and can be installed in half a day.
Hoteliers and the travel trade have a duty to ensure clients are able to enjoy pools and spas without coming to harm, and preventing entrapment is a significant part of that responsibility. Poolmark looks like being an ideal way of demonstrating that duty of care.
To find out more about Poolmark, visit www.pwtag.org.uk/poolmark
According to a 2017 report from the Office of National Statistics, Britons are spending more on eating out and short breaks than ever before. Great news for holiday park owners who, post-Brexit, are already reaping the benefits of the staycation trend. Increasingly demanding, UK holidaymakers want a whole lot more than a home away from home.
The trend for greater sophistication and refinement in holiday home design is filtering through to modern catering solutions too. A fine dining restaurant might not be the first thought when you think of a holiday park but Islawrffordd Caravan Park is no ordinary holiday park. Owned and run by the Evans Family since 1957, award-winning Islawrffordd provides the very best in quality facilities for its 201 holiday home bases, 75 fully serviced hard standing touring caravan/motorhome plots and 30 camping pitches.
Situated in the village of Talybont, at the southern end of the magnificent Snowdonia National Park coastline, Islawrffordd has seen considerable recent investment. In a park blessed with luxurious leisure facilities, even the toilet block of the touring area boasts under-floor heating. In 2015, a £500,000 investment brought to life a new fine dining experience, Nineteen57 restaurant.
“It was important to give the park bar and restaurant facilities that match the high standards of the rest of the site, explains Jane Evans. “Nineteen57 offers both formal and relaxed areas, and menus that appeal to the widest selection of customer tastes.”
A glance at the fine dining menu is enough to make your mouth water with such delights as pheasant with potato and thyme gratin and Welsh lamb, served with leek and cheddar croquette. Meals are prepared using locally sourced items and a 24 hour notice period for table bookings ensures the absolute freshest ingredients.
Jane Evans says; “The project has been incredibly successful for both the park and the local area. The park leases the building to chef Sion Wellings. We don’t have the expertise to run such an operation ourselves and outsourcing has given the chance for Sion, a talented local young chef, to have his own business.”
Outsourcing to catering professionals or franchises may be the norm but keeping catering services in-house can have benefits too. “The case for franchising a park’s catering operation can be quite compelling admits Michael Holgate of the Holgates parks group. “For a start, you can say goodbye to a whole host of admin issues, not to mention staffing headaches…but franchising will never happen at Holgates.”
To find out why, and to read more about making the most of 'Haute Cuisine' subscribe to Holiday Park Scene here.
Pick Of The Crop
Beginning life as farmland, the Orchards took its name from the array of apple trees on the land. It began its transition into a holiday park in 1952 when eight caravans were added to the site.
After 15 years in charge of Orchards Holiday Park, Tim and Julie Gray are continuing to improve the Isle of Wight based business, with the help of long serving staff and loyal employees. Situated in Newbridge, a small village on the west side of the island, the site covers roughly 13 acres on the edge of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that the Isle of Wight can offer. “You can’t fail to be impressed with our facilities centre,” says owner Julie Gray, “It houses all of your touring needs with amazing views.
“It has a very spacious washing up, ironing and laundry area, accessible facilities, all with the luxury of under floor heating, to make your holiday more comfortable.”
To read more about our Orchards Holiday Park, subscribe to Holiday Park Scene here.
Would-Be Owners Can Try Before They Buy
A Shropshire Holiday Park site has started its expansion project following increased demand from staycationers and is offering a new ‘try before you buy’ scheme for potential customers. The scheme allows customer who decide to buy a holiday home or luxury lodge on the park following a two-night stay, to have the cost deducted from the purchase price.
25 pitches are being created a Bow House Country Park, near Bishops Castle, which already has 62 caravans and 15 luxury lodges. 14 new pitches are being created in the first phase of the expansion with the picturesque caravan holiday home park in the South Shropshire Hills already popular with guests who live within two hours travelling distance of Bishops Castle.
Three of the new pitches have already been reserved and 15 holiday homes and lodges had been sold in the past 12 months. Many of the sales were secured from buyers who had been tempted to stop at the park whilst driving past. “Bow House Country Park is a wonderful place to get away from the stresses and strains of modern living, an idyllic, secluded location for a holiday retreat.
“We appreciate that buying a holiday home is a big deal and we want to ensure that customers make the right decision,” said Edward Goddard, managing director of Morris Leisure. “That’s why we offer them the opportunity to experience holiday home ownership at Bow House Country Park before they invest their hard-earned money.”
Sub-Let Owner Pay Outs
People who turn their holiday homes into cash generators during the school summer holidays are now scooping pay-outs of more than £5,500 each, according to research undertaken by Park Holidays UK.
The group says that many owners let go of just six weeks in July and August to maximise income, and then enjoy well over 40 weeks of their own exclusive use. But such people aren’t necessarily missing out on a summer break, says Park Holidays UK, because what they earn can more than cover the cost of a holiday abroad.
Others simply prefer to make use of their holiday homes outside the main summer season, and to leave the busier weeks to fun-loving families and children.
Nation Of Happy Campers
Almost half of Brits set off on a camping holiday in the UK this summer, with 43 per cent of holidaymakers looking forward to sleeping under canvas, according to research by Halfords the camping and leisure equipment retailer.
A survey of 2,000 people revealed that for 54 per cent, exploring the great outdoors is their main motivation, while half of Brits said they’ll be camping because it’s a more affordable option than holidaying abroad. A total of 41 per cent describe camping as ‘the perfect way to spend time with family’, while one in four look forward to switching off from the stresses of modern life.
Negative comments included having to go outside to use the toilet – 42 per cent cite this as the most annoying part of their camping trip – and 34 per cent said disruptive neighbours tend to get on their nerves.
“Our sales across camping and outdoor leisure were up 45 per cent on April to May last year, and it’s no surprise that Brits are choosing to holiday in the UK rather than travelling abroad, which can be expensive and stressful,” comments David Howell, Halfords’ motoring and leisure accessories expert. “It’s really easy to forget that we live in one of the world’s top tourist destinations – and summer is a great time to get out and explore.”
The owners of the Copper Pot Campsite near Callington, in Cornwall, are hoping to raise £50,000 through a crowd funding scheme.
Local businesses in the area are already stepping forward to help support the couple by offering their services, but funds are desperately needed to buy materials.
Husband and wife owners, James and Laiana Lankester say once open, the campsite will give back by supporting the local economy - providing custom to local businesses and jobs.
Rondeau Leisure is backing the effort to recycle plastic waste that is often dumped in the worlds’ ocean.
The business is supported by its own range of Pacific Ocean outdoor furniture which is produced from recycled plastic cartons that would otherwise find their way back to the seas. The aim of Pacific Ocean furniture is to turn plastic waste into durable garden additions with a lifespan of 10 years and beyond.
The range of chairs, tables, stools, loveseats and benches are made from milk cartons but are moulded into the same grain as wood – without the worry of rotting, splitting, cracking, fading or being burnt by cigarettes.
Rondeau Leisure’s managing director, Stuart Cooke, says: “The plastic waste issue is about more than just water bottles. “Sports, leisure and hospitality providers – even care homes and hospitals - need to get on board by not buying plastic furniture that has to be scrapped after a season or two."
Green Footprint Scheme For Parks Trio
Scottish holiday parks group Abbeyford Leisure is encouraging guests to help safeguard South East Scotland’s natural heritage. Guests at Elie Holiday Park, St Andrews Holiday Park, and St Monans Holiday Park are being asked to add a voluntary £1 donation when booking their stay. Money raised will go towards the Big Green Footprint Scheme, an initiative that was recently launched across the region by the Fife Coast and Countryside Trust.
Peter Davies, sales and marketing manager for Abbeyford Leisure, said the work of the Fife Coast and Countryside Trust was especially close to its heart. “The Fife Coastal Path, which connects our three parks, is one of the charity’s main responsibilities, and is enjoyed by many of our guests every year,” he said. “It’s a hugely important and much-loved feature of our coast, and it’s essential that the path and the surrounding wildlife habitats are properly cared for and safeguarded. The Big Green Footprint Scheme is an exciting and imaginative way to ensure this happens, and we’re delighted to become one of its founding champions,” added Peter.
Training Park Leaders Of The Future
Shorefield Holiday Park has launched an innovative academy training scheme aiming to recognise outstanding staff and develop the tourism and leisure ‘leaders of the future’. The academy, which celebrates the company’s 60th anniversary in 2018, will be known as the Dr Pollock Academy in honour of the company’s founder, and is leading the way in the tourism industry by providing training and recognition to nominated staff. HR manager Sue Lilley said the academy had been set up to recognise and nurture outstanding employees, and emphasise the company’s dedication to its staff. The inaugural members of the academy were nominated by their park managers and peers. “We wanted to set up this new initiative to reward our talented staff members with an ongoing training programme that will enable them to progress as far as they can within the business,” Sue said.
Christmas Present Hopes For Debra
In the summer of 2014, Debra Drew was enjoying a holiday at Woolacombe Bay, Devon, with her family when disaster struck.
After spotting a nine-year-old boy struggling in the choppy waters she plunged into the sea in an attempt to save the youngster. The boy survived – but Debra suffered catastrophic brain injuries when sand was swept into her mouth by the seawater, stopping her breathing. The 48-year-old from Stourbridge, Worcestershire, was in a coma for six months and doctors believed she would be unlikely ever to move again without assistance.
Although still paralysed, Debra is putting up a brave fight – and is determined to be back home in time for Christmas this year. Park Holidays UK are now helping to raise funds to deliver Debra’s dream of returning home for Christmas. For this to happen, however, her friends and family need to raise £25,000 to buy a range of different medical equipment, including a specially built wheelchair.
Tony Clish, director of Park Holidays UK, said that Debra’s story is truly inspirational: “Debra has undergone many operations since the horrific incident and defied doctors’ expectations that there would be little chance of her surviving. She has shown remarkable spirit and now it’s time for us to do our bit by helping her return home full time to be among her treasured friends and family.”
Park Holidays UK operates 24 holiday parks in Southern England, including five in seaside Devon – and have offered Debra and her family a free stay whenever she feels able to take up the offer.
Wish You Were Here...
Picture postcards from Tretham Mill Touring Park in St Just-in-Roseland, Cornwall…
The award-winning Trethem Mill Touring Park is situated in an area of outstanding natural beauty on the stunning Roseland Peninsula on the south coast of Cornwall.
Set in 12 acres of landscaped grounds it provides 84 individually hedged pitches. The park caters for touring caravans, motorhomes and tents with a choice of fully serviced, all-weather and grass pitches. Trethem Mill is owned by Ian and Jane Akeroyd, their son Jake and Ian’s father Derek.
This year they are celebrating their 25th anniversary at Trethem Mill, having moved to the Park in 1992. The family are all involved in the running of the park along with Theo Forman who has joined the team full-time.
Over the years, the family have invested much time and money into transforming the park from an open field with basic facilities into a multi-award winning five-star park. “We are very proud of our park and what we have created as a family,” explains Jane.
“Providing a warm welcome and a friendly and relaxing atmosphere in which people can enjoy their stays has always been high on our list of priorities.” Amenities include a laundrette, licensed shop, WiFi, children’s playground, disabled facilities, individual shower rooms, dog walk and nature field, a pick your own herb garden and a games room with amusements.
Tretham Mill Touring Park
Tel. 01872 580504
English Tourism Winners Raise The Bar
VisitEngland celebrated the best of English tourism with the announcement of the 2017 winners of its Awards for Excellence.
The prestigious awards, now in their 28th year, celebrate those businesses and individuals who continuously raise the bar of England’s tourism offer. Some 25 award winners were selected from the 600 applications in this year’s competition. The winners were announced at a special ceremony in London, hosted by British comedienne and broadcaster Sue Perkins. Trethem Mill Touring Park in Cornwall was named the Holiday Park of the Year and The Dandelion Hideaway in Leicestershire scooped the Glamping Provider of the Year Award.
Other notable winners included Blakelow Farm Holiday Cottages in the East Midlands, which was named Self-Catering Holiday Provider of the Year and Letheringham Water Mill Holiday Cottages in Suffolk won the Dog Friendly Business of the Year Award.
VisitEngland Chief Executive, Sally Balcombe, commented: “This year’s awards were fiercely contested and we had some terrific applications, showcasing not only the excellence on offer within English tourism but also the outstanding innovation and the sheer diversity of experiences throughout the country. “From afternoon tea in a railway carriage to ‘Alice in Wonderland’ boutique hotel rooms, from great family friendly animal attractions to cottages for one, all well deserved the recognition of their quality and service.”
Park Holidays UK has just completed a £2million investment into new leisure facilities at Vale Holiday Park in Kent.
The 100-acre park now has at its heart a brand new complex, which includes a 150m2 swimming pool, shop, cafe-restaurant, and arcade area. Outside, a newly built patio area provides barbecues, super-size TV screens, seating and tables.
Elsewhere on the park an additional 97 leisure homes will be developed, adding to the current 280 holiday caravans and luxury lodges which are available to buy and to let.
Tony Clish, director of Park Holidays UK, said he was confident that his company’s investment in Birchington Vale would pay dividends for the whole region: “The Margate area has long been a holiday favourite for many families, and a top quality holiday park such as this will do much to further bolster its popularity.”
It has been a record year so far for inbound tourism to Britain, with visits up by six per cent on last year.
In the first two months of the year there were with 5.2 million visits to the country from overseas visitors and visitor spend reached a record £2.7 billion in January and February, up 11 per cent on the previous year.
Tourism Minister Tracey Crouch said: “This record-breaking start to the year once more underlines the strength of our tourism industry.
“Our fantastic welcome and world-class attractions are continuing to attract huge numbers of visitors from across the globe, which is great news for the whole country.” There were 3.6 million visits from the EU in January and February, up five per cent on the previous year. VisitBritain’s forecast predicts that growth is set to continue in 2017 with 38.8 million visits and with spending reaching £23.9 billion
Post-Brexit Boom In Holiday Home Sales
With holiday caravans and lodges being more affordable than traditional houses, but certainly no less of a second-home in terms of space and style, sales at South West Holiday Parks’ two sites in Cornwall and their flagship park in Devon, have surged in the past 12 months.
The company has put the increase in sales partly down to more Brits opting to stay closer to home for their holidays, as the uncertainty of Brexit looms. “While Brexit has cast uncertainty over the economy, it is evident to us that people are still buying holiday homes, but here in the UK times have changed,” commented Josh Donald, Managing Director of South West Holiday Parks.
“Rather than watching their savings devalue month by month due to poor interest rates and rising inflation, our owners are buying a great holiday home, in a beautiful location and can sit back and relax knowing we take care of everything for them.”
He added: “Many people either have cash in the bank and are ready to buy a holiday lodge or caravan, or they use equity release so they can buy a holiday home without having to sell their main home and downsize. With a range of finance deals also on offer and more developments planned, we feel the holiday park is on the rise.”
Keeping Up Appearances
From weather-proofing picnic areas, to investing in new playground equipment and waste recycling systems, holiday park owners that take pride in their park’s exterior appearance and make the most of their outdoor appeal will ultimately reap the rewards.
If you’re considering transforming your outdoor areas it needn’t be a daunting task. In fact, investing in a few simple and cost effective measures can go a long way in improving aesthetics, comfort and facilities for your guests. “It’s important to keep outdoor spaces well-maintained as this is one of the first impressions visitors will experience at your park,” says Stephen Toone, Managing Director of Fordingbridge Plc – a leading manufacturer of canopies, walkways and sustainable buildings.
“Your clientele are more likely to return to your site and recommend to their friends and family if the external appearance is tidy.”
Maximising the use of outdoor spaces all year round by weather-proofing your facilities can not only improve your customers’ experience, but also set your park apart from the competition.
“We are seeing an increase in demand for weather protected activity areas and dining spaces. Popular designs include the soft aesthetics of timber, which blend nicely into forest parks. Alternatively, tensile structures which can be applied to all types of parks in any setting,” says Stephen.
Fordingbridge work in partnership with parks to maximise customer experience and increase revenue potential. The experienced in-house design team assists by designing a canopy, walkway or queuing area pertinent to a park’s individual requirements or brand consistency at different sites. “Canopies can be used for increasing dining and picnic areas, which improve dwell time and all year round usage. Further uses include aesthetically pleasing storage facilities, such as secure bike shelters or outdoor activity equipment,” says Stephen.
“With more competition than ever before within the holiday park and leisure sector, attracting customers with new and engaging ideas are vital to achieve this. One of the many innovative ideas is the inspiring and engaging butterfly exhibit, which provides an attraction to suit all ages in all weather conditions.” A comprehensive outdoor play area is a winning formula for hospitality venues looking to appeal to young families.
Camber Sands Holiday Park in Sussex required a large new play area as part of a refurbishment project earlier this year. The park owners wanted separate areas for toddlers and juniors and a wide range of equipment. They enlisted the help of HAGS-SMP to design and install the scheme, which included themed multi-play units, dynamic equipment, a zip line, sunken trampolines and a trail with an 8m traverse wall.
The play area has proven to be a huge hit with customers, and according to HAGS, the only complaint from site has been to ask how to keep the adults off the equipment! “Theming seems to be a constant favourite with our clients. From pirate ships to fairy-tale castles you can add real play value to your areas by engaging a child’s imagination,” comments Simon Wright, Head of Sales at HAGS.
“With something to suit all budgets, our products are built to last, providing better value over a longer period of time. A small play area suitable for approximate six to ten children might start from £10k and increase from there.” Simon add: “Remember though, if your budget is tight you might consider planning your scheme in phases, this way you can add to the playground over a period of time that suits.”
To find out more about maximising your outdoor space, subscribe to Holiday Park Scene
Fordingbridge Tel. 01243 554 455 www.fordingbridge.co.uk
HAGS-SMP Tel. 01784 489109 www.hags-smp.co.uk
IvyLiving Tel. 08448 002215 www.ivyliving.co
Rolec Services Tel. 01205 724754 www.rolecserv.com
Trimax Tel. 01933 652 235 www.trimaxmowers.co.uk
Coastal Breaks Top Holiday Wish List
‘Seasiding’ is the most popular way to spend your holidays in 2017 according to holiday park operator Parkdean Resorts.
The new term has been coined by the company to describe a trend in holidaymakers booking up to take a trip to the seaside, either for their children to share in the same experiences they have enjoyed years ago or simply to appreciate the wonders of a holiday by the sea. The UK staycation market has grown steadily over recent years, with many people opting for domestic holidays over going abroad.
As a result, Parkdean Resorts welcomed over 500,000 holidaymakers in 2016, a figure which is set to increase this year - with real demand for coastal breaks in particular emerging. John Waterworth, chief executive of Parkdean Resorts, said: “This year will see more and more people reliving memories of childhood holidays at the sea, reflected by an uplift in our booking figures for 2017 breaks across our coastal parks.
“While nostalgia and tradition play an important part in the trend, ‘seasiding’ is all about holidaying at the coast in new ways. The seaside offering has evolved considerably over the decades since my parents visited as children, not least on our parks which now provide caravans with central heating and double glazing, and often with indoor pools and adventure play areas, making it comfortable to holiday both sides of the peak summer months.” John added: “We have made a significant investment of £50m across our parks on accommodation, retail and leisure facilities this year, where families can create memories that will last a lifetime.”
Suffolk Park Under New Ownership
Park Holidays UK has become the new owner of Carlton Meres Country Park in Suffolk. he company’s acquisition of the long-established business near Aldeburgh brings the number of parks operated by the group in Southern England to 27. Carlton Meres has long been a popular choice for holiday home buyers, and more than 200 lodges and caravan holiday homes are located in its extensive grounds. There are also holiday homes to rent, and pitches for touring caravans and motorhomes. Facilities include an outdoor swimming pool, a fully-equipped gym and spa suite, tennis courts, an adventure playground, plus restaurant, bar, and games and snooker areas.
Park Holidays UK now owns four parks in Suffolk, and director Tony Clish says that Carlton Meres is an exciting new addition to the existing portfolio. “Our plan is to start rolling out an extensive investment programme which will benefit both existing holiday home owners and new customers,” he said. “Park Holidays UK always aims to ensure that its parks provide the very best in their class, and we’ll be applying exactly the same principles to Carlton Meres. “We’re very proud to welcome a park of such character and distinction to our group, and to broaden even further the range of experiences we can deliver,” added Tony.
In light of recent events, security in the UK is at an all time. While we are assured that the chance of a security breach or incident is highly unlikely, holiday park owners and facility managers are right to be cautious and take appropriate measures to safeguard themselves, staff and visitors.
When the owners of Hampshire-based touring and caravan park Sunnydale Farm were looking for a solution to reduce uncontrolled vehicle access to the site, it was the Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) system from IDS Group that caught their attention. Open all year round, the park is visited by many campers, tourers and suppliers each day. Having previously tried traditional gates and overhead height barriers to control access to their site, owners Stella and Bill Matthews were looking for a more secure, efficient and automated solution.
For the entrances, IDS Group installed two electronic barriers and two ANPR cameras for incoming vehicles. They also incorporated 1080p HD resolution IP CCTV cameras with infrared night vision to automate the access to the site and give a general overview. As the vehicles are typically caravans and longer than the average car, it was important to strategically position the ground loops effectively to avoid the barrier coming down too soon, due to the length of the vehicle.
The exit required more consideration, such as the safety of children, cyclists and proximity to the main road so IDS Group installed an electronic barrier with a longer loop for the delayed exit. The ANPR cameras provide barrier control and create time log recordings of length of stay.
“In a lot of cases holiday parks have several entrances and exits and receptions desks are not always located at either of them - this makes it difficult to monitor who leaves or exits their sites. So many holiday parks are having to deal with unwanted guests, as such, this can lead to theft, vandalism and a threat to customer security,” explains Tas Kyriacou, Head of Business Development at IDS Group.
ANPR and barrier solutions have been growing in popularity over the years and the control this security solution provides to staff can significantly reduce risks to the park. According to IDS Group, an ANPR solution can start from around £6,500 up to £12,500 depending on many variables. CCTV solutions can start from £4,000. “Just like anything else in life, you get what you pay for, so if you invest in the right technology, you will be sure to enhance the safety of your customers and property and since your customers are what generates revenue, you will need to protect your assets,” says Tas.
“However before thinking about the technology, it is important to find a security company that can understand your requirements and have the ability to deliver what is required. A good security company is imperative to the delivery of the right solution.”
Earlier this year a caravan was stolen from Bynea’s Gateway Caravan Park in South Wales. The high-value caravan was taken in broad daylight between 9am and 11am in the morning. Elsewhere in the country, offenders gained access to a window of a static caravan at a holiday park in Dorchester and stole valuable items of diamond jewellery. And in Scotland, police appealed to the public for more information after two mountain bikes were stolen from a caravan park in Peebles in August last year. The bikes had been taken along with the chains that had been used to secure them to a tree.
Unfortunately, cases of holiday park crime like these are not uncommon. And worryingly, crime levels across the country are on the rise. The Office for National Statistics said that recent police data showed a nine per cent rise in overall crime in 2016. Last year Avon and Somerset police pledged to increase resources in Burnham, Brean, and Berrow after a number of incidents at holiday parks over the summer months. Police officers and holiday park owners met to discuss ways of cracking down on crime in the area. Owners of holiday parks in Burnham, and its surrounding areas, said they had to deal with a number of caravan thefts, as well as drunk and disorderly behaviour on a regular basis.
This prompted the police to upgrade their Pubwatch scheme - a partnership where independent groups of licensees work with police to pre-empt crime and antisocial behaviour in licensed premises. The scheme saw the installation of more high-quality radio systems and more staff onsite who are able to connect directly with the police. In Lincolnshire, the local police force offers a Caravan Park Watch Scheme to tackle caravan related crime across the county.
Caravan site owners, Lincolnshire Police and other representatives from the caravan industry meet regularly to discuss caravan related issues. The initiative was set up initially to tackle a growing number of burglaries occurring on holiday parks, especially during the winter close down period. Since the Caravan Park Watch scheme was implemented in 2014, caravan related crime rates in the area have dropped by over 45 per cent.
To find out more about security measures subscribe to Holiday Park Scene
Crosby Intruder Alarms Tel. 0800 917 1441 www.crosbyintruder.co.uk
IDS Group Tel. 0208 819 1044 www.idsgroup.uk.com
Leisure Days Tel. 01422 396 770 www.leisuredays.co.uk
Wilby Tel. 01422 358 525 www.wilbyltd.co.uk
The UK's Finest Holiday Park Pools
Entries are now open for the hotly-contested Holiday Park Pool of the Year Award, part of the 2017 UK Pool & Spa Awards.
The Holiday Park Pool of the Year category is open to all parks in the UK and Eire with water leisure facilities, regardless of trade affiliation or association. Past winners of the award have said how much they value the competition as an opportunity to raise the profile of their park, both within the industry and most importantly to their target customers.
Returning for the ninth consecutive competition, the UK Pool & Spa Awards showcase the very best of the companies involved in the provision of water leisure in Great Britain. Parks wishing to take part can now enter via the UK Pool & Spa Awards website www.ukpoolandspaawards.co.uk. All entries must be submitted online by Monday September 4th, and an entry fee of £30 plus VAT (£36 total) for each entry is payable via PayPal at time of entry submission.
All entries need to be accompanied by at least one, but ideally three, digital images at 300 dpi or more. This year’s awards presentation evening will once again return to The Vox Conference Centre within Resorts World on the Birmingham NEC site.
The networking event will take place on Monday December 4th, and will begin with a business networking style drinks reception, followed by dinner and the presentation of the awards. Tickets for the business networking style prize-giving event are now available to book online.
Tickets are priced at £50 +VAT, which includes drinks on arrival, dinner and entertainment. With limited seats available, early booking is advised. An informal event and opportunity to celebrate its many successes; the dress code for the evening is smart casual
TV Drama Draws A Crowd
Fans of TV drama series Broadchurch have helped set a record year for visitors to West Dorset, according to a major holiday parks group in the region.
West Dorset Leisure Holidays says bookings are currently up 25 per cent on last year’s figures as families go in search of the picturesque vistas and seascapes seen on screen.
The final series of the award-winning drama finished in April, and the parks’ General Manager, James Cox, said that enquiries began to swell from the first episode: “We experienced similar uplifts during the first two series of Broadchurch, and many of those guests became repeat visitors – so obviously the county lives up to expectations!
“Now with this latest wave of demand, we are expecting to see the busiest year yet for our business, and will be helping to point families to some of the locations seen on television.
“So overall, Broadchurch has proved a massive boom for Dorset’s visitor economy,” added James.
Family-owned West Dorset Leisure Holidays owns five holiday parks in the region, including its flagship Highlands End Holiday Park in Bridport. All parts of the business have seen booking figures rise, says James, and there has also been an uplift in sales of new and pre-owned caravan holiday homes.
Centre Parcs Ireland's First Employee
Center Parcs has appointed Daragh Feighery as the first General Manager of Center Parcs Longford Forest, near Ballymahon in County Longford.
Daragh becomes the company’s first employee in Ireland and will be the most senior role at the new site. As General Manager, Daragh’s main responsibility will be to oversee the safe and successful operation of Center Parcs Longford Forest, which includes the 1,000 employees and approximately 2,500 guests per break.
Daragh will also work closely with the local community once operational to ensure that Center Parcs remains a long term, sustainable partner within County Longford and the wider Midlands region. Daragh commented: “I am extremely excited to join the Center Parcs team and look forward to what will be a fantastic opportunity for families like my own to enjoy a unique family break in Ireland. I believe my experience, skills and beliefs will be a great match in the role of General Manager in Center Parcs Longford Forest.”
Martin Dalby, CEO of Center Parcs, added: “Daragh brings with him a wealth of industry experience in Ireland as well as the drive and personality that are crucial to the role of General Manager at Center Parcs. This appointment represents another key milestone in our journey to bring Center Parcs to Ireland.”
Devon MP Recieves A Warm Welcome
Staff and the family owners of a popular Devon holiday park recently marked the opening of a new reception building with the help of their local Member of Parliament.
Neil Parish MP was the VIP guest at Oakdown Holiday Park near Sidmouth where the £140,000 project was completed in time for the summer season. The five-month project involved 20 local tradespeople and the use of many traditional craft skills and natural materials during the construction.
One of the features of the eco-friendly project is a large oak desk area made from timber which was reclaimed from an ancient fallen tree on the park’s farmland. Stone tiles and natural floor-coverings are incorporated, together with low energy lighting and high levels of thermal insulation to further reduce the park’s carbon footprint.
The building also includes a meeting room, seating areas, and washroom and toilet facilities for people with limited mobility. Alastair Franks, who runs the park with his wife Andrianna and parents Doreen and Roger, said they were thrilled with the new reception building: “It is always important to us that new developments on the park are a match to the quality of the natural surroundings of Oakdown,” he said.
“We were also pleased to be able to find local builders and craftspeople to carry out the work, and their skills have achieved just the high standards we were seeking”.
Some 72 per cent of dog owners consider their dogs to be family member when it comes to booking a holiday. With eight and a half million dogs kept as pets in the UK; that is a customer focus group not to be barked at!
So no wonder that many UK holiday parks now offer options to bring along Rover and Patch with a dog-friendly levy attached. Manager of the North Devon safari tent glamping site, Daisy Meadows; Tina Walters, knows how difficult it can be for dog owners and since taking over the North Devon site in 2013, has aimed to make the park more enjoyable for dogs and owners alike.
The strategy is paying off. In 2016, 80 per cent of Daisy Meadows guests were accompanied on their summer break by their pooch. Visitors can enjoy a spectacular glamping experience as well as including the dog as a special guest, with its Happy Hounds Doggy Day Crèche.
“We created Daisy Meadows as just the right mix for guests, particularly those who have dogs,” says Tina. “We can provide a doggy day crèche so that you can still bring your dog on holiday. We realise that sometimes you might want to spend the day shopping or go to a show and still come back at the end of the day to your happy hound.”
Tina adds: “They are always cared for as if they are our own. On site, dogs are free to roam in the meadow, but we always ask guests to check with their neighbours, and pick up their dog’s poo and pop it in the bins provided, of course!”
The family-run business is situated in two-and-a-half acres of land in the Blackdown Hills area of Outstanding Natural Beauty - also known as the ‘Gateway to Devon’ - and offers a back to nature safari tent experience. The site is set in a secluded corner of the county, but within easy access of the M5, linking it to Exmoor and Dartmoor National Parks.
“This is a great base to explore areas of outstanding natural beauty,” says Tina, “And it’s a doggy-walking paradise. Guests can set off in a different direction every day and be at a beach or place of interest within minutes.” Not only do their owners enjoy the amenities laid on for pampered pooches, but it is also cost-effective. The average cost of a kennel is around £140 per week, whilst many holiday parks allow pets for free – or a nominal fee, often to cover cleaning costs and supplies – although one in four are happy to pay the same amount to take their dog on holiday, as it would cost to take another adult.
Dennis O’Connor, Tourism Liaison Manager of Pembrokeshire Tourism says: “Increasingly, visitors are looking for dog-friendly destinations to avoid the distress of leaving their pets in kennels. “The wonderful coast and countryside is a very special place for visitors, and we are delighted to have been able to recognise the work of dog friendly businesses throughout the county as well as our fantastic towns and beaches.”
Coastal Wood Camping was crowned ‘Best Dog Friendly Campsite’ in May. The Pembrokeshire site is rapidly becoming a first-choice holiday destination for dog owners – not only for its beautiful coastline but for the many facilities that now welcome holiday makers with their dogs.
This status was celebrated at the inaugural Dog Friendly Pembrokeshire Tourism Awards ceremony to recognise businesses, villages and locations going the extra mile, and awarded by Pembrokeshire Tourism and Burns Pet Nutrition. The judges assessed a wide range of criteria to decide the winner, but most specifically; an area dogs can enjoy safely with exceptional dog litter facilities, facilities to wash dogs if they got muddy and excellent dog friendly facilities and supplies.
Although the majority of campsites, holiday parks and beaches allow dogs, vacations in caravans and motorhomes are usually accessible for pet owners, perfectly tailored for their animal’s needs. With some of the most beautiful national parks, forests and beaches in the world, the UK is perfect for a caravanning dog-friendly holiday. Woodhill Park in East Runton, Norfolk has been dog-friendly since its owners took over the site in 1988, but the park has noticed a steady increase in the number of guests bringing their pets with them in the last 18 months. “
To read more about Dog Friendly Holiday Parks subscribe to Holiday Park Scene
Daisy Meadows Tel. 07852 544219 www.daisymeadowsafaritents.co.uk
Coastal Wood Camping Tel. 01994 453214 www.coastalwoodholidays.co.uk
Thornley Leisure Centres Tel. 01606 861043 www.thornleyleisure.co.uk
Whitehill Country Park Tel. 01803 782338 www.whitehill-park.co.uk
Woodhill Park Tel. 01263 588181 www.woodhill-park.com
Thrills And Spills
Water play is sure to keep guests returning year after year…
There’s no better time for enjoying the thrills and spills of water play than on a family holiday.
A holiday park that can offer a unique and exhilarating swimming experience is sure to score over it’s nearest rivals. Through smart design and a clever selection of features, any holiday park can transform their swimming pool into an exciting aquatic play space that guests will enjoy and want to return to on repeat visits. “Water play installations offer a range of benefits when compared to standard swimming or paddling pools,” explains Ernie Hemming of Ustigate Waterplay.
“Firstly, a water play installation uses water on demand, which is a more economical and cheaper solution as water will be consumed only when someone touches one of our activation bollards using considerably less water. Moreover, a water play installation provides countless hours of fun for all the family.”
Ustigate installed a bespoke splash zone at Dinosaur Adventure Park in Norfolk last year.
The allocated splash area had previously been home to long-standing old wooden outdoor play equipment which had become outdated so the park owners took the decision to reinvest in the area and give it a new lease of life. The new splash zone takes inspiration from the famous Dippy the Dinosaur, the mascot and one of the Dinosaur Adventure Park’s most popular attractions in order to attract and retain more customers on site.
The splash zone was divided into three bays which have range of play items designed for each age group - toddler, teen and family. The focal point is the huge ‘supersplash’ elevation consisting of a bucket that tilts over crashing onto a platform creating a mini-tidal wave soaking everyone in its spray zone. The fully PWTAG compliant filtration and recirculated water system ensures highest quality of water for children to play in.
Ustigate’s Vortex sourced products offer the latest designs and features which are premium quality and competitively priced. The price of a typical splash pad depends mainly on three factors; size of the scheme, the type of water system that will be used - one use or re-circulating - and finally the selected water features. According to Ustigate, a typical once use system would usually cost between £50,000- £100,000 and a recirculating system costing £300,000- £500,000.
“Ensure you have explored all possible options as water installations can be expensive and time consuming,” comments Ernie. “Remember that the cheapest option may not always be the right decision in the long term as a significant drop in quality may lead to additional repair or alteration costs in the future or even worse closing of the water play installation. “Even though initial setup costs for a high quality and robust water system may be excessive this will be cost effective in the long run as the water system will be able to stand the test of time and demands of excited children.”
Leyland-based World Leisure recently completed a £1.5m overhaul of the swimming pool facilities at Ribby Hall Village Holiday Park in Lancashire, in just 12 weeks.
The holiday park’s pool is well-known for its water slides and is used by members and visitors alike. It was given a refurbishment eight years ago but bosses at the attraction decided the time was right for a complete revamp, with added facilities to maintain interest for visitors. The new pool features new slides including a 48m interactive play slide. Members and guests are able to climb a tower to the top of the slide, which then takes them out of the building and back inside again. As they come down the slide, they can play an interactive touchpad game on the inside of the slide, with scores recorded once the ride is complete.
To find out more about water play facilities please subscribe at Holiday Park Scene
Certikin Tel. 01993 778855 www.certikin.co.uk
Hippo Leisure Tel. 01752 771740 www.hippoleisure.com
Ustigate Waterplay Tel. 01322 424445 www.ustigatewaterplay.co.uk
World Leisure UK Tel. 01777 284883 www.worldleisureuk.co.uk
Into The Woods
For over 35 years Blairgowrie Holiday Park was the Wood family’s flagship site, but after the expansion of the company – extending to a further four parks – the 2008 purchase of Deeside has since changed the landscape.
The Deeside site boasts exquisite hot tub lodges, contemporary holiday homes and en-suite glamping pods. The Woods’ also welcome campers with large areas of hardstanding and fully serviced pitches available. Says Park Manager Shona Stewart: “The park provides a peaceful and tranquil environment for its guests to have a relaxing stay while enjoying picturesque countryside views with nature on your doorstep. The area is popular among visitors from Scotland and further afield who come to explore Royal Deeside.”
As the parks have spread across the country, so too has the family’s involvement in running the company. Colin and Margaret, who started the business three decades ago have since been joined on the team by their daughters, Rachel, Kirsty and Sarah.
The eldest, Rachel, is in charge of the administrative and financial side of the business. Middle daughter, Kirsty, manages the HR and Health & Safety sectors, and the youngest, Sarah, is the head of the Marketing and Sales department.
The girls are also joined by their husbands, who oversee the parks operations, and most recently Shona Stewart who — two years ago — was promoted to Park Manager after six-years as the Administrator for Deeside Holiday Park.
Tel. 01250 878123
To read more about Wood Leisure and Deeside Holiday Park subscribe to Holiday Park Scene
Making A Splash
The swimming pool facilities at Ribby Hall Village holiday park in Lancashire have undergone a £1.5million transformation. The pool was refurbished eight years ago but bosses at the attraction decided the time was right for a complete revamp, with added facilities to maintain excitement and interest for visitors.
The work was carried out by World Leisure and the pool now features new slides including a 48m interactive play slide. World Leisure also refurbished the splash pool and added an interactive aqua deck play structure, with tipping buckets and integral slides.
A themed Glass Reinforced Polyester toddlers’ pool links into the splash pool, with a slide and steps to open the pools up to all ages. Mark Leech, Senior Manager at Ribby Hall Village, said: “It is important as a business to continually invest and improve the facilities we offer to our customers. We believe the new interactive slide and new splash pool features will be real talking points that will bring family visitors back again and again.”
Gas Meter Checks
Property owners could be liable for prosecution if their gas meters do not meet new safety standards. The Measuring Instruments Directive (MID) replaced the old Ofgem legislation in 2016 and governs the manufacture and accuracy standards for electricity and gas meters in the UK.
The aim of the legislation is to ensure that customers and users are protected by ensuring that all meters comply with safety and accuracy standards. “This is particularly important for property managers as it could mean your existing meters are illegal,” says Chris Smith, Managing Director for Energy Controls – a leading supplier of SMART meters and Pre-payment metering systems. “If so, consumers may have a right to refuse to pay for their electricity and as landlords you could be liable to prosecution.”
You can check the meter itself for an MID stamp of approval or you can ask your supplier to provide an MID certificate. Your meter supplier is legally required to provide supporting evidence that their meters conform to MID standards; if they are unable to do so then it is highly likely your meter does not conform.
Pool Upgrades At Campsie Glen
Campsie Glen Holiday Park in Stirlingshire has invested £80,000 into upgrading its outdoor swimming pool facilities. The new development, which launched in April, features an enclosure over the existing outdoor pool, plus the installation of a brand new children’s pool and new changing and toilet facilities.
The new Perspex enclosure, model Endless Summer in Moss Green, is an aluminium and acrylic structure that offers safety by taking away the danger of broken glass, and functionality by sheltering the pool area from cold drafts and making it more weatherproof.
The new children’s pool is a 2.5m x 4m NIVEKO one-piece pool, which was supplied and installed by Eagle Leisure from South Lanarkshire, Scotland. Both swimming pools run on energy efficient air-source heating system contributing to the environment-conserving focus of the park. Bruce Thomson, Operations Manager at Wood Leisure, commented: “We are committed to investing in our parks and facilities to deliver value to the families from Scotland and beyond. This significant investment supports our long-term growth and development plans while benefiting our customers, wider community and Scottish economy.”
As any holiday park operator will tell you, happy and entertained children mean happy and relaxed parents. An exciting and challenging play area for all ages and abilities gives children somewhere to let off steam and make new friends as well as giving them some independence on holiday. Mike Harris, Director at Warren Farm Holiday Centre in Bream, Somerset invested in new playground facilities last year, designed and supplied by HAGS. He said: “We are known as a child friendly park, and people purposefully book plots near the play areas.
The initial outlay was definitely worthwhile and we have a large number of repeat visitors because of this, as well as many new ones.” “The more attractive, enticing, challenging and fun the outdoor play equipment is, the more likely it will be that visitors to the play area will continue to visit and enjoy all the facilities on offer and it could be the deciding factor on choice of holiday destination,” comments Stuart Wetherell for Wicksteed Playgrounds. Wicksteed was recently commissioned to create an impressive and imaginative playpark at Wilton Lodge Park in Hawick, Scotland. Reflecting the history of the area, a large bespoke timber castle-inspired feature takes pride of place at the centre of the play area. The custom-built castle is adorned with turrets, slides, climbing nets and monkey bars as well as a bridge over a moat and portcullis entrance.
The £300k play facility was developed as part of a £3.64m park regeneration project, funded by Scottish Borders Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund. “Local children were involved with creating the designs and ideas for the play area and came up with the idea of incorporating Hawick’s history and scenery into the design. The play park proudly features a castle, river design, horse artwork and a common riding flag as part of the surface design,” commented Gordon Webber, Wilton Lodge Park Events Manager.
RANGE OF FEATURES : The play park features a range of different zones with play equipment suitable for a variety of age groups and abilities. A timber fenced area features sensory sound and visual items as well as a central carved timber totem pole. Wicksteed has become the go to for cleverly designed bespoke playgrounds which can reflect the history of the site or have a theme running throughout. The company has also developed an award-winning range of outdoor gym equipment, the FLZ, which is ideally suited to the holiday park environment and suitable for those aged 14 plus.
“Prices do of course vary depending upon the type of equipment, landscaping and installation but a product from Wicksteed’s Toddlers’ range might start at around £500 with individual, interactive panels from around £590,” explains the Stuart. “An entire playground which could contain multi-play, modular units together with fitness products would obviously require greater funds, so it all depends on the project in question. To achieve a ‘wow’ factor a new green site fully supplied area should have a budget of around £70K.”
Apart from keeping your play equipment and areas regularly checked to meet health and safety standards, there are no guidelines stipulating when a playground requires updating, this is solely down to playground owners. However, updating your equipment regularly to stay ahead of the competition will certainly help attract and retain customers, providing a greater return on investment.
It is recommended that any equipment purchased for unsupervised use is certified as compliant to EN1176 (the European Playground safety standard), this ensures that the equipment is designed and manufactured to a high standard and will provide an exciting and challenging experience while minimising risk. The safety of children on their playgrounds doesn’t just depend upon the initial design of the area and the selection of equipment within it. Its continued management and the delivery of high quality inspection and maintenance schedules are crucial if the safe opportunities for children to play creatively are to be preserved. Mark Rands, Head of UK Installation and Service at HAGS comments: “We know that a good maintenance regime will significantly extend the life of your equipment and reduce the likelihood of accidents. Regular servicing and replacement of worn out parts is essential to keep your play area safe and compliant.
“Remember it is the responsibility of the owner to keep the play area safe, delaying needed repairs not only shortens the life of the equipment but increases the risk of an accident. The inspection should cover the whole of the site - not just the play equipment. Pathways, fences and seats all need to be checked.”
HAGS is a global company with a product offering that stretches over an extensive range of thousands of play products– designed for people of all ages. They have gained over 50 years’ experience in providing both landscaped and traditional outdoor areas. The best-selling UniPlay and UniMini ranges from HAGS offer a vast number of play functions and games within a unique modular system.
HAGS offer a wide range of standard ready-made units for every size and budget, and additionally, all units can be customised by adding special features or games to create your ideal play space.
Liz Townsend, Head of UK Proposals for HAGS says: “Our customers want a play area that is visually striking and attractive – something that immediately captures the imagination of children and becomes memorable so families have a great time and want to return again. The design details are what holds a child’s attention for longer than a few minutes, for example: tower structures are very popular with all ages, even more so when they have interactive games and imaginative activities that can involve all generations.” Liz continues: “At HAGS we focus on a ‘cost per user’ model during the design process, this helps eliminate single user items that can be expensive to own for little return in place of items that offer great play and financial value for users and owners alike.”
“Play facilities are vital in holiday parks, in order to both attract and retain the family spend,” says David Robison of World of Rides. “2017 is going to be a milestone year for the UK’s holiday parks, as Brexit and the fluctuating exchange rates are making more and more families stay at home in the UK for their holidays. However, if operators do not invest in new equipment to entertain their visitors and guests during this exceptional year, then they may not return in future years.” World of Rides have served the holiday park industry with a fully comprehensive range of coin-operated leisure rides and equipment for nearly five decades, ranging from battery rides and static rides to quadricycles and rowing boats. “For the past few years our Go-Karts, Super Hero Trikes and licensed character static rides have been the firm favourites with children, but for 2017 holiday park operators are suddenly asking for our driving school cars and above ground pools with bumper boats, in order to satisfy the demand of their customers for new experiences,” says David.
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Under New Management
Stanmore Hall Touring Park in Shropshire has appointed a new management team for the new season. Gary and Tania Smith have been promoted to managers of the Bridgnorth park and will be supported by new assistant managers Nick and Sandra Bellinger.
The Smiths have worked for park owner, Morris Leisure, for five years, having previously served at Oxon Hall Touring and Holiday Home Park, Riverside Touring and Holiday Home Park and Ludlow Touring Park. Before becoming caravan park managers, Tania worked as a chef for 32 years and Gary worked as a landscape gardener for 27 years for Birmingham Council. “We were at that time of life when we both wanted a change of lifestyle,” explains Tania, who has two children and five grandchildren.
“Gary was working nine to five while I was working evenings and weekends and we hardly saw each other” “We now see each other 24-7 and absolutely love being park managers.” Assistant Manager Sandra Bellinger added: “Morris Leisure is a great company to work for and our only regret is that we had not stayed at one of their parks before we started to work for them. It’s definitely something everyone should try.”
New Yorks Park
Park Leisure has unveiled a state-of-the-art new development at its Yorkshire Dales park. The Hawkswick development will boast seven new lodges and is the result of a £1.3m investment at the park. Yorkshire Dales General Manager Mike Clappison said: “The new lodges will be a great and vital asset to our park as it continues to grow and welcome new customers.
“As well as the site’s various family facilities including a children’s playground, Yorkshire Dales is a gateway to some of the best country walking trails, bridal paths and cycling routes in the UK and we’re at the very heart of that.” The news comes just weeks after Park Leisure announced a £103m partnership deal with Midlothian Capital Partners (MCP) as the luxury holiday company embarks on its next phase of expansion.
We’ll Meat Again
Hollins Farm Camping and Caravanning Park near Silverdale is offering youngsters the chance to learn about the food cycle. The farm raises traditional breeds of sheep, cows and chickens in its picturesque Lakeland setting, and then supplies the meat to local dining establishments.
“Surveys suggest that many children have a disconnect with farming, and some don’t know that bacon comes from pigs, or eggs are produced by chickens,” said Park Owner Michael Holgate. “That’s why we’re encouraging mums and dads who stay with us to regard Hollins Farm as a place where youngsters can really have their eyes opened. “As well as discovering more about nature and the countryside, youngsters can also make that important connection between farming and the food they eat,” added Michael.
Moving On Up
With a host of extensive improvements completed in 2016 and further plans on the table for the future, Coast View Holiday Park in Devon is going from strength to strength. The park is the flagship site for South West Holiday Parks and is nestled in the hills overlooking the pretty seaside village of Shaldon. Bought by the company in 2012, Josh Donald, and his team, has turned the tired, dated park into a modern site with first class facilities, excellent customer service and strong links with the local community.
“We see an average of 7,000 guests a year and that figure is growing year on year” reveals Josh Donald, Managing Director of South West Holiday Parks. “Moving forwards we hope to see that number rise, especially with the improved infrastructure and facilities in place as well as our new luxury lodges with their boutique hotel feel.” Last year saw the opening of Coast View’s new heated indoor swimming pool, complete with a toddler pool and boasting sea views. The park also launched a new restaurant in 2016 - ODE&CO at Coast View - with celebrated local chef and restaurateur, Tim Bouget. The bright, contemporary Italian restaurant is at the heart of the park and is proving to be a popular addition with guests.
BRIGHT FUTURE : “We have already carried out extensive changes at the park over the last few years, but we aren’t stopping yet. We have plans for more luxury lodges to be created and have already had great interest from potential owners about these,” explains Josh. “To compliment the swimming pool, we plan to add a luxurious spa and beauty rooms as well as a state-of-the-art fitness suite and envisage this being in place by 2018. Our much-awaited Portland Drive development is now open and we are currently working the new phase of lodges.” At Coast View there is a mixture of accommodation on offer to suit all tastes and budgets, including spacious luxury lodges, modern wooden chalets and static caravans. The park is open 365 days a year for holiday home owners and holidaymakers can visit between April 1st and November 1st. This year is shaping up to a busy year for the park, with bookings already up on last year. “We have a range of clientele at the park and everyone is welcome. Our choice of accommodation means there is something for everyone and every budget,” says Josh.
EYE ON THE BALL : “We also run a number of promotions during the season that are very well received and are perfect for catching that much needed, last minute break.” He adds: “There is no denying that we are facing challenging times as a country and Brexit means many businesses are being cautious. While we are seeing a steady rise in visitors across all of our parks as more people are holidaying on home soil, we are aware we have to keep our eye on the ball at all times.” In terms of local attractions, Coast View is situated next to a golf course and owners receive free membership at Teignmouth Golf Club, which is a short drive from the site.
The city and the moors are all on the doorstep so guests can be as active as they wish. The reception team is on hand with information and suggestions of places to visit and free Wi-Fi throughout the park means guests can easily look up local attractions. Says Josh: “For us, the park can only be a success if our guests are happy. We are a family business and pride ourselves on offering value for money holidays and a first class experience. From the moment they drive into Coast View, to the moment they wave goodbye, we want guests have had a great time and we would love to see them return for another holiday. “We believe our attention to detail, excellent customer service and flexible approach are all deal breakers, but it’s the stunning views across the Jurassic coastline that really put this park on the map.”
Coast View Holiday Park Tel. 01626 818 350 www.southwestholidayparks.co.uk
Lodge Bookings Soar
Lodge-style holiday homes have leapt into pole position as Britain’s favourite self-catering accommodation. Outdoor accommodation provider Pitchup.com has reported a 139 per cent growth in lodge bookings since the beginning of the year, equating to a 70 per cent increase year on year. Growth in demand for glamping accommodation options, such as yurts, is up 13 per cent compared with 89 per cent last year.
“This summer is all about lodges,” says Pitchup.com founder, Dan Yates. “We’ve seen a huge growth in lodge bookings for 2017 as they outsell all other types of glamping accommodation in the UK by 38 per cent.” “Families in particular are rediscovering this more traditional style of accommodation, which is enjoying a resurgence as people look for relatively inexpensive accommodation, following the Brexit vote, that is weatherproof and offers all of the comforts of home and more.”
He continued: “Cabins, a more basic form of lodge-style accommodation, have also performed well, up 135 per cent year on year as budget-conscious holidaymakers search for affordable accommodation options.”
Hidden Entrapment Danger Strikes
Holiday park owners are being urged to show duty of care when it comes to the swimming safety of their guests. Earlier this year, a four-year-old British girl was seriously injured after being sucked into a spa pool filter at a holiday complex in Bulgaria. Thankfully, doctors were able to save the girl’s life and she is now recovering from severe injuries to her bowel and intestines. An incident of this kind is known as ‘entrapment’ and is entirely preventable, and only happens because what appears to be a perfectly safe outlet is, in fact, a potential death trap.
Every year incidents of entrapment – where limbs and other body parts are caught via strong suction from drains at the bottom of either private or public pools – are reported in the media, tragically because the event often results in drowning. But worryingly many incidents are also going un-reported. The Blue Cap Foundation in the Netherlands conducted an investigation into swimming pool entrapment at 100 hotels and aqua parks in popular European holiday destinations. They found at least one hazardous circumstance in every swimming pool that could cause an injury and 31 of the pools were condemned to be dangerous and even life-threatening.
“The problem is that there is nowhere to report this type of incident and most holiday companies are nervous about action been taken against them from over reactions,” comments Craig Valentine, Health & Safety Manager at Bourne Leisure. “I think that there should be a confidential hotline or email address that such incidents and other pool-related issues could be reported without reprisal. In turn this would help stop dangerous incidents happening by using industry best practice with learning outcomes.” Many UK companies have been campaigning to raise awareness of the dangers of entrapment for years. These include Mineral Supplies International (MSI), which has supplied the Vac-Alert anti-entrapment device to UK and European markets since 1996.
Installed on both pools and hot tubs, the Vac-Alert responds within a millisecond to any increase in filter pump suction; spring-loaded pistons open the pipe to atmosphere, freeing a person trapped by life-threatening suction. “Entrapment is a serious issue globally,” comments MSI’s Amanda Slade. “But what’s concerning is that many cases of entrapment are going unreported and are being put down to ‘accidental drowning’. After all, no pool operator wants that type of bad publicity.” Amanda adds: “This is why we have been working with major holiday operators and cruise liners who want to demonstrate that they will put duty of care first every time when it comes to their customers.”
Washrooms are one of the most-used facilities at a holiday park or campsite and are all too important to be left to chance. From design layout to lighting and cleanliness, it’s often the smallest rooms that can have the biggest impact on a customer experience. Modern washroom designs continue to become ever more stylish, sophisticated and eco-friendly, from urinals with television screens to all-in-one toilet, sink and vanity table units. “Washrooms don’t have to be boring and grey,” comments Ged Hirst of design specialists Cubicle Centre.
“Vibrant cubicles and walls brighten the washrooms and create a better environment. There are many coloured and woodgrain panels available to match any theme or design choices you might want.” Cubicle Centre is an award-winning, family-run business that manufactures and supplies washroom panel products. These include toilets cubicles, shower cubicles, vanity units, and wall panels. The company has supplied dozens of holiday parks with durable washroom facilities. Most recently, Cubicle Centre provided shower and toilet cubicles for the newly renovated washroom block at Glan Morfa Mawr Caravan Park on the Welsh coast.
VITAL INGREDIENT : “Holiday park toilet and shower facilities are vital for attracting repeat visitors,” says Ged. “Guests want to be as comfortable as possible during their stay. A dirty, smelly or out-of-order washroom will damage their experience. “My advice is to ensure facilities are well signposted, well-lit, heated and cleaned at regular intervals. It is also important to make sure you provide enough toilet cubicles, washbasins and showers - this will reduce the chance of visitors having to wait to use the facilities.” Ged advises that a properly planned and maintained washroom can last between ten and 20 years, depending on the quality of the fittings, panels and sanitary products.
Exploring the different types and qualities of materials on offer is essential. Heavy duty locks and legs will keep your shower and toilet cubicles in working order and water-proof wall and cubicle panels will be able to resist distortion and damage from moisture. Says Ged: “Buying cheaper products to begin with will end up costing you more later on. For example, MFC cubicle panels are a cheaper option but they can swell and distort when exposed to too much moisture. Whereas Compact Grade Laminate (CGL) panels will cost more initially but are water-proof and vandal resistant, which means they will be durable enough to last the heavy use environment of a holiday park washroom block.”
Another key consideration is the safety of the guests who use the facilities. Visitors will use the washroom block in different weather conditions. On rainy days users might walk in wet and mud, which can be a slipping hazard so the flooring should be non-slip to avoid these types of falls. The facilities should also have good lighting for safe use a night and adequate heating. It’s also important to consider less physically able visitors. There should be easy access to the washroom via ramps if needed and clear circulation routes at 1500mm wide for wheelchairs should be provided. Larger sized shower and WC cubicles with grab rails may also be required. The increased demands placed on heavily used facilities require careful consideration and professional planning. It goes without saying that well-designed washrooms should at least be clean, dry, well ventilated and user friendly. hygiene in kitchens and other back of house areas which the customer cannot see. Poorly maintained washrooms can easily damage the wider reputation of a business.
DUNHAMS WASHROOM SYSTEMS Tel. 01603 424855 www.dunhamswashrooms.com
LOO OF THE YEAR AWARDS Tel. 01531 640715 www.loo.co.uk
ARMSTRONG COMMERCIAL LAUNDRY SYSTEMS Tel. 01635 263410 www.armstrong-laundry.co.uk
CUBICLE CENTRE Tel. 01924 457600 www.washroomcubicles.co.uk
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Hey Big Spenders!
Growth in demand for glamping accommodation options, such as yurts, is up 13 per cent on last year according to Pitchup.com. Meanwhile bell tents, which bridge the gap between glamping and camping, have enjoyed a 101 per cent growth in bookings as holidaymakers search for more affordable glamping options. A North Herefordshire activity centre is reaping the benefits of its highly successful glamping villages, which have seen year on year growth of over 100 per cent.
Business is booming for Oaker Wood Leisure near Leominster, since it launched its first woodland glamping village in 2014. The park quickly reached maximum capacity, so over the winter of 2014/15 they built a second village. Each village is made up of nine wooden pods, made locally by Jaques International Ltd, and can be booked exclusively by groups which has proved popular with corporate team building groups and stag and hen parties. School and youth groups visits have also increased year on year with the second glamping village meaning Oaker Wood can now accommodate groups of up to 120 young people.
Kate Tudge of Oaker Wood Leisure explains: “We have two glamping villages that each sleep between 12 and 50 people in wooden pods. We only take exclusive bookings so the groups have private use of all the village facilities, including the fire circle, dining and kitchen hut, Scandinavian style barbecue hut, showers and toilets.” She continues: “Our Glamping & Activity weekend package is very popular. This includes two nights glamping and two outdoor activities at a package price of £160 per person. We could sell our weekends in spring and summer several times over, so there is definitely a growing marketing for packaged activity and glamping weekends.”
HOME FROM HOME : Glamping has changed markedly in the last few years, with a definitive move into more luxurious interiors, higher specification facilities and the provision of individual toilets and showers. New designs and innovations are constantly evolving and premium quality components and interiors are now the norm, rather than the exception. “Around 65 per cent of the enquiries we get from people who are thinking about adding glamping to their parks or farms never go beyond the initial thought stage. The usual issues include planning considerations, lack of identifiable locations within the parks or lack of understanding within the old guard,” reveals Mark Scott of Clear Sky Safari Tents. “Holiday parks are all about selling caravans and lodges and it is often difficult for existing management structures to fully understand the revolution that is happening throughout the holiday park industry with the UK and Europe.” He adds: “Glamping is a revolution that will continue to grow and develop in all sorts of directions, this is not a fad, it’s a movement led by the networked generation, fuelled by social media and experienced by younger families for a more adventurous holiday experience.”
CHANGING MARKET : Anouk Wanders of Outstanding Safari Tents agrees: “Glamping has not only proved to be a trend, it has changed the holiday industry. “The level of comfort that guests have come to expect is getting higher and higher. For example, private bathrooms was a rare luxury just a few years ago, but nowadays most glamping accommodation features built-in bathroom facilities.” Anouk adds: “The market is going through major changes and we have to adapt very fast. We need to keep developing new structures and need to be innovative to keep up with this increasing demand.” Inspired by the African experience, safari tents are fast becoming one of the most popular forms of glamping accommodation. Great for families, couples or groups, tents offer something extra special for holiday makers and many parks are reaping the rewards of a safari tent investment.
BOLDSCAN Tel. 01823 665849 www.albioncanvas.co.uk
CLEAR SKY SAFARI TENTS Tel. 0845 299 6484 www.safaritents.net
FUTURE ROOMS Tel. 01452 501455 www.futurerooms.co.uk
OUTSTANDING SAFARI TENTS Tel. +31 (0)318 575056 www.safaritents.co.uk
OAKER WOOD LEISURE Tel. 01568 780111 www.oakerwoodleisure.co.uk
YURTS FOR LIFE Tel. 01803 762370 www.yurtsforlife.com
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Fit For Purpose - Holiday Hot Tubs
Hot tubs are the must-have ingredient in the recipe to holiday booking success it has been revealed. According to self-catering specialists Hoseasons, a private hot tub is the number one searched for item on the website, accounting for more than 100,000 searches each month. With thousands of models to choose from, selecting the right hot tub for a holiday let can be a potential minefield. Holiday home owner Lucy Dawson recently invested in two new hot tubs for her two rental properties at Easter Ellister Farm, situated on the Rhinns of the Isle of Islay - an island off the west coast of Scotland.
CEDAR HOT TUBS : Lucy first invested in a circular cedar hot tub for her property – An Linnean – in 2008. The hot tub proved to a be a very popular addition with guests, so Lucy decided to upgrade the hot tub this year and has also purchased a second hot tub for her other property – Easter Ellister. “Having run the two self-catering houses of similar standard and in the same location, I can say without doubt that the house with the hot tub is more popular than the one without. I would say I get at least 25 per cent more bookings for An Linnean and the property is booked up most of the year round,” says Lucy. “This is the main reason why I have decided to install one at Easter Ellister too.
People just want that little added bit of luxury on holiday and for some reason a hot tub hits those buttons!” Lucy purchased the hot tubs from Eagle Leisure, based near Glasgow. She opted for the seven-seater Freedom model and the six person Vantage model out of the Coast Spas stable. Both have full foam insulation and insulated covers to help retain heat. They also feature Coast Spas’ 50sq ft cyclonic pressurised filtration to ensure the guests are sitting in the cleanest possible water. Each of the hot tubs cost around £7,000, but Lucy estimates that she can make most of this money back within ten weeks of rentals of the property.
“It is a big investment to install hot tubs but I believe them to be an essential part of my business in attracting customers,” says Lucy. “I would always advise other holiday property owners to do their research before taking the plunge though. I paid the price in choosing an internet ill-researched purchase the first time around and had countless problems with the tub over the years. It was very costly to maintain and run. She continues: “You need to make sure you are buying good quality, well made tub that is well insulated and good filtration system. “I would advise going to a reputable spa retailer who knows their stuff. I was incredibly impressed with the customer service and installation service from Eagle Leisure, something you just don’t get when you order online.” Eagle Leisure recommend the Coast Spas range of hot tubs for holiday properties. Their bestselling models for this market are the 7ft and 8ft options, which seat up to six and eight adults respectively and are available from £6,995.
TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE
“There will be some customers looking for a low end hot tub just to say that they have one,” explains Debbie Ekins, Commercial and Communications Manager at Eagle Leisure. “These usually retail between £2,000 - £3,000, but personally I don’t think there are any great quality holiday hot tubs on the market place within this price range. If something seems too good to be true it probably is.” Debbie continues: “On the other hand, we get some holiday owners who realise that a hot tub purchase of £7,000 - £8,000 is an investment. Adding a hot tub allows the property owner to a) charge a higher rental rate and b) rent out the property to full capacity – so should be able to quickly make their money back. Plus they get the peace of mind knowing they have a quality hot tub that the guest will be happy with and that will last them a long time.”
Over the past ten years, a significant amount of holiday park operators and holiday let owners have purchased and operate what are in fact domestic hot tubs only designed for home, and not intended for commercial use. Commercial spas, the type found at health clubs and spas, are generally much larger than the average portable spa with bigger and better filtration and sanitation systems along with other features that suit much heavier bather use. “It can be tempting to purchase cheap imported tubs but it can be a very expensive mistake if you experience service issues,” reveals Jason Smith, Sales Director at RotoSpa. “Holiday hot tubs drive revenue so they need to be reliable. If they are not you will regret it. My advice is to buy quality, buy once and buy British.”
The British-made RotoSpa range is ideal for holiday use given its durability, low cost, UK support and the ability to specify bespoke features tailored to the individual risk assessment for the site. The RotoSpa Quatrospa and DuraSpa are among the UK’s bestselling holiday let units, which feature Individual auto dosing sanitiser systems and individual sand filters. The autofill and quickdrain system is operated by the touch of a button and enables the water to be completely changed in less than ten minutes.
In terms of life expectancy, RotoSpa recommend that hot tubs are changed every five years, however, the company has installed tubs on holiday park sites that are still going strong some ten years later. When selecting a hot tub supplier, Jason advises: “Choose a hot tub supply partner with a long pedigree of manufacture and service - someone who will listen to your needs and offer solutions to them rather than try and force you into an overpriced unit from their stock with features unsuitable for high demand use. Use someone who will work with you as a partner not just sell you a tub.”
HOT TUB HAZARDS
From an insurance claims perspective, hot tub-related slip and trip injuries are not uncommon. If a holidaymaker slips in a wet area, or even inside the hot tub itself, there’s a potential for them to be quite seriously hurt. “Skin irritation claims are also quite high up on the claims list, from minor rashes to quite serious skin conditions,” says Tom Dallow, Customer Claims Manager at Compass Insurance. “We were particularly surprised by a claim made in relation to a baby getting a rash from a hot tub - but this is certainly not the only claim we’ve received relating to an individual who shouldn’t have been in a hot tub in the first place!”
Further highlighting the vital importance of managing water health and safety correctly, Compass has had one allegation of Legionnaire’s Disease having being ‘caught’ from a hot tub on record, as well as several claims made related to injuries sustained by suction from hot tub outlets. Says Tom: “Thankfully for all involved, Compass doesn’t receive hot tub related claims in high numbers. Of those we have dealt with, park owners will be interested to note that in many cases no negligence was found, so no pay-out to the claimant was made. “However, we must stress that insurers will struggle to defend parks where written evidence of appropriate hot tub management is not available. A compliant, common sense approach is critical.” If parks carry out appropriate risk assessments, follow relevant health and safety regulations to the letter, keep relevant documentation up-to-date and display clear rules on safe usage for users to adhere to, then there’s no reason why hot tubs should be considered a commercial hazard. You should speak to your insurance advisor to discuss your individual circumstances.
COMPASS INSURANCE Tel. 01452 511 430 www.compass.co.uk
EAGLE LEISURE Tel. 01355 264466 www.eagleleisure.co.uk
ROTOSPA Tel. 0121 354 3428 www.rotospa.co.uk
WELLIS Tel. 01246 559071 www.wellis.eu
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Holiday Snaps - Alex Saul, General Manager at Greenacres, Cardigan View and Garreg Wen holiday parks.
Alex is the General Manger of three holiday parks North Wales. His career began in the nightclub industry, before a brief spell managing health clubs and then joining the holiday parks industry at parks in Cornwall and South Wales. He now looks after more than 1,400 holiday homes across the Greenacres, Cardigan View and Garreg Wen sites. Alex’s downtime is spent with his wife Claire and two children, Annabel and Barnaby. During the summer he enjoys kitesurfing and in the winter he likes to go shooting with his Labrador Floyd.
How is the summer season shaping up for your parks? The 2017 season is looking fabulous; double digit growth in holiday bookings and strong caravan sales mean we are in a great place. I keep seeing reports that it will be the hottest summer in years which would be the icing on the cake.
What are you most looking forward to about the summer season? I think the parks look a bit lost and forlorn when they are closed. I am looking forward to seeing families enjoying themselves, venues full of people having fun, kids riding around on their bikes and the smell of BBQs in the air.
If you had to identify one element, what is the most crucial aspect to the success of the parks? The team - it’s a cliché but so true. Without your team you do not have a business. Even in the age of the internet, people buy from people and relationships are important. They are also the parts of the holiday families remember long after the photos of a sunny day have faded.
What challenges are currently facing the holiday park sector? Competition between parks and the drive to create value for customers will always be a challenge. Things like a weak pound are on our side but we cannot take it for granted, we have to provide great service and high standards if we are going to maximize on the opportunities in front of us.
What is the best piece of business advice you have been given and by whom? A coach and phycologist called Martin Perry made us do an exercise involving throwing tennis balls around. You stand in a circle throwing to each other and keep adding balls until they start to drop. The lesson is that you can do loads to get a successful catch and it taught me that the responsibility for a successful catch lies with the thrower. In business this means that the responsibility for a team successfully implementing projects, lies with the management.
What has been your most interesting experience in the holiday industry? The variety that I am faced with in a single day is staggering and definitely keeps me on my toes. The best part is getting to know the different types of people we encounter, from the successful entrepreneur who is looking to buy a holiday home to the young family taking a well-earned weekend away.
Where do you see yourself and the park in ten years’ time? I think the next ten years are going to be very exciting and a fabulous time for the industry. New players will come in and for the companies that get it right, great rewards and success will come. I love this industry and in ten years’ time I hope to be doing pretty much the same, enjoying the challenge, working with great people and helping families get the most out of their recreation time.
Where do you go on holiday? I am a keen kite surfer so anywhere there is sun a wind. This year as a family we went to Cape Verde which was amazing.
Wish You Were Here...
Picture postcards from Cringoed Holiday Park in Llanbrynmair, Mid-Wales…
Cringoed Holiday Park sits alongside the river Twymyn one mile from the small village of Llanbrynmair in the heart of Mid-Wales. A gem of a site in the Twymyn valley between Snowdonia National Park and the Brecon Beacons, the area offers a terrific opportunity for bird watching, walking and cycling.
The park itself is owned and run by husband and wife team Paul and Sue Mathers, who have made many improvements to the campsite for tourers, statics and campers since they took over ownership in 2001. “Having owned our own caravan for some years, we decided that we liked the idea of owning our own park and one day we came across an advert in Daltons Weekly – Cringoed was for sale,” explains Paul Mathers. “It was just what we were looking for. Inspiration mixed with overwhelming enthusiasm - we were sold and the deal was done there and then.”
16 years on from a bare field and a near nonexistent income, Cringoed has matured into a successful and well-presented caravan park. It now boasts over 40 static holiday homes, 20 seasonal pitches, casual camping, camping pods, extensive landscaping and modern facilities and even a 4 star badge. The site provides toilets, hot showers, washing-up facilities and a launderette for guests and there is a large children’s play area and a games room with amusements.
Cringoed Holiday Park
Tel. 01650 521237
Devon Park Embarks On A Green Safari
Visitors to Ladram Bay Holiday Park this year are being invited to enjoy a ‘green safari’ of the grounds where a raft of new wildlife-friendly initiatives are taking place. Last year the park was named by world-famous botanist David Bellamy as a winner of his prestigious conservation award at its top gold level.
Now Ladram Bay’s family owners say they intend to move up another gear in their efforts to make the park a haven for flora and fauna, including endangered species. Holiday guests, it says, will notice many new plantings of native trees, shrubs and flowers – including foxgloves flourishing in fallen trees which have been allowed to naturally decay. At the same time, the park will be removing various non-native species such as laurel – and bolstering its historic hedgerows with new plants such as blackthorn, spindle and hazel.
Credit for much of the work, says Ladram Bay, is due to head gardener Scott Rowe who leads a four-person grounds-keeping team tasked with putting the park’s plans into action. Park director Zoe House says the latest initiatives will add an extra dimension of discovery for holiday guests to enjoy during their stays: “Our family first started welcoming holidaymakers to Ladram Bay Holiday Park more than seventy years ago,” said Zoe. “It was then a farm, and we have never forgotten our agricultural roots and the importance of managing the land in a sustainable way. “Protecting the natural world and its inhabitants is even more important now than it was then, and we try to ensure that the park is as welcoming to wildlife as it is to guests.”
A leading UK playground inspection and maintenance company is urging holiday park owners to check the condition of outdoor play equipment before the start of the season to avoid costly repairs during the busiest time of the year. RSS (Playground Inspection and Maintenance) advises that failing to check equipment could lead to equipment failure rendering the play area out of action during peak periods.
In the worst case, a failure could cause an accident resulting in a personal injury claim, a fine and bad publicity. “Play equipment is like any item with moving parts - they suffer wear and ultimately they break or decay,” says Andy Readman, Managing Director of RSS. “You wouldn’t leave your car in the garage for five months and then take it for a long journey without first checking it over!”
Andy adds: “Not only will regular inspection and maintenance keep your equipment safe, it will also extend the life of your play area giving you the best return on your capital investment.”
BH&HPA Welcomes New Chairman
Paul Searle, managing director of Searles Leisure Resort in Hunstanton, North Norfolk, has become the new national chairman of the British Holiday & Home Parks Association (BH&HPA). The organisation brings together the owners and managers of some 3,000 park businesses which, according to tourist board statistics, accommodated 13.5 million holidays in 2015.
The figure equates to 30% of all holiday nights spent by domestic holidaymakers in Britain that year. Paul believes that the association he now chairs is stronger today than at any other point in its 60-plus year history: “Ours is an incredibly diverse industry, bringing together businesses of all types and sizes,” he says. “The sector includes many long-established family-owned enterprises, which form the majority of BH&HPA’s membership, as well as major holiday park groups with a national presence.
COMMON GOAL “What binds us together, however, is a common goal – and it’s that of constantly evolving, and refining the standard of the services and facilities we offer to customers. “An important way to achieve this is by parks coming together to share their knowledge and experience, and the association is the perfect platform for facilitating this,” said Paul. Paul heads one of Norfolk’s largest and most popular holiday centres which he manages in partnership with his brother Andrew and sister Joanna.
The family business was founded in 1954 by Paul’s grandfather, Geoffrey, and began life as a modest touring park serving visitors to the popular coastal resort of Hunstanton. Today, Searles provides more than 500 privately owned and rented caravan holiday homes and lodges, as well as 300-plus touring pitches plus luxury timber camping pods. Paul follows his father, Richard, who served as BH&HPA national chairman from 1995 to 1997, and who was appointed MBE for his services to tourism in 2001.
When Andrew Thornley’s parents diversified from running a bakery to running caravan parks in the 1960s, the ingredients were set for a family-run business that is still going strong almost 50 years later. Olympic Park Homes, as the company is now known, has been in operation for six years although Andrew Thornley has been in the residential park homes business for at least 17 years. Now in his sixties, Andrew is still very active in the business but is gradually passing over the reins to step-daughter Sam Leigh-Jones and her husband Darren Jones.
Six years ago, Sam and Darren took an increased role in the company, initiating a stronger commercial focus that led to them re-branding as Olympic Park Homes. Today, Olympic operates three residential parks - Delamere Grove and Meadow Home Park in Cheshire and Carrwood Park in Lancashire. All three Olympic parks are exclusive to people 50 years or older, are pet friendly and crucially, are set in stunning locations. Meadow Home is the newest and smallest of the three parks, but Sam considers it to be the family’s flagship park. “We bought Meadow Home from another family in June 2015,” explains Sam. “At the moment we have 18 homes there, but we already have planning permission for another seven. I don’t think you could find a more picturesque and peaceful location.”
THIRD TIER Meadow Home Park lies beside the River Weaver and the layout of the park takes full advantage of its natural topography. The development, which will add in a third tier of new homes to replace older models, is planned to start this May. Sam hopes that it will be completed by September. “We’re really excited about this project and also keen to get it completed,” says Sam. Darren, Sam and their two daughters live on the site and take a strong personal interest in their residents.
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Finger On The Pulse
Staying ahead of your competition and showing off your best assets through strategic marketing is an increasingly essential element for a thriving holiday business. Carefully balancing the elements of a successful marketing strategy to suit the tastes of your target audience is key. For that reason, marketing for all businesses, regardless of size, needs to be carefully thought through, and often requires a multi-pronged approach.
“A good marketing strategy is essential for any holiday park, regardless of size or scale,” comments Mark Warnes, Property & Portfolio Director at Hoseasons. “We recognise that owners take much pride in the operational management of their parks and want to ensure that occupancy is at its highest throughout the year. To achieve this, a fully integrated marketing strategy which includes digital and traditional channels is required to fully showcase and promote the USP’s on each park, to the desired audience.” Hoseasons by Wyndham Vacation Rentals is one of the UK’s leading self-catering accommodation specialists, with over 28,000 places to stay in coastal and countryside settings throughout Britain and Europe including lodges, parks, boats, cottages and apartments.
The brand sells well over a million holidays each year on behalf of its partners, who also benefit from year-round, multimillion pound, multi-media promotional campaigns. Says Mark: “Knowledge, recognition and trust are the most important benefits for any park when partnering with Hoseasons. “The brand is led by people with a flair for marketing and desire to push the boundaries of traditional UK holiday perceptions.
“We realise that customer attitudes to marketing are constantly changing and we ensure that our marketing is fresh, engaging and embraces technology.” He adds: “Our marketing strategy is fluid and we utilise digital methods to drive website traffic and create targeting campaigns that work alongside ecommerce initiatives and traditional channels of print and offline strategies.”
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The vagaries of the Great British weather can play havoc with outdoor pool time. While outdoor pools are often the main attraction in the summer, during the cooler months they tend to be a no-go area for holidaymakers and can ultimately cost the pool operator, with little or no return on investment. By weather-proofing an outdoor pool owners can not only benefit from year-round pool usage but can also extend the swimming day; a win-win situation for both park owners and their guests.
Commercial swimming pool enclosures offer new opportunities and increased profitability to venues by extending the season, increasing throughput and reducing costs. There are two main types of swimming pool enclosures; telescopic or fixed. A fixed pool building remains in place and ventilation is provided via lift up sides and access is via doors at the end of the building. Changing rooms and shower facilities can easily be incorporated if required. In contrast, a telescopic pool enclosure enables you to fully open the pool and enjoy warm sunny days whilst rolling it back either by hand or using solar powered motors when it turns colder. Both types of pool building can be freestanding or attached to an existing adjacent building.
PLANNING REQUIREMENTS “It’s important to remember that a swimming pool enclosure is not a temporary building and will require planning in sensitive locations as will the swimming pool,” advises David Lawrence, Managing Director of Telescopic Pool Enclosures, who has been marketing retractable enclosures throughout UK since 1991. He adds: “We always undertake all planning and if requested building regulations for our enclosures and accept full responsibility.”
The company has held sole exclusive rights for the ROLAL retractable or fixed swimming pool enclosure for the UK, EIRE and the Channel Islands since 1998 and has installed hundreds of enclosures throughout the UK. The enclosures are the only retractable enclosures designed for glass of either 6mm safety or 16mm sealed units. They are also the only retractable enclosures in the UK using as standard 16mm triple walled polycarbonate, which makes them the most insulated enclosures that offer all year use without any additional heating other than the pool water. Since 2006, the company has also offered another complete range of retractable enclosures with low to medium heights and high, smaller enclosures.
These are not glass, but glazed with either eight or 10mm of twin walled polycarbonate or clear or bronze solid 4mm transparent polycarbonate. “All our enclosures are constructed on site by our own skilled fitters and are done so usually within a two to three week period. Larger enclosures can take longer especially when using glulam beams to allow incorporation of walls, chalets and other buildings,” says David.
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A paperless initiative by insurance provider, Leisuredays, has helped the company raise more than £15,000 for national charity, Heart Research UK.
Leisuredays donates £1 to the charity every time a customer chooses to receive their insurance documents by email rather than in the post. The Paperless Policies initiative has raised a whopping £62,908 in the last eight years.
This year, Leisuredays’ Managing Director Ryan Wilby presented the charity with a cheque for £15,163 during Healthy Heart day. The money will help to prevent and treat heart disease across the UK by funding the charity’s work.
“We thought we’d written our biggest cheque last year, but once again I’m delighted that our customers have helped to raise the most money yet to support Heart Research UK’s very valuable work,” said Ryan. “Plus, customers not only receive their insurance documents quicker but they’re also helping to protect the environment too.”
New Income Stream For Caravan Parks
A revolutionary EV charge point management system which means that EV drivers no longer have to pay any membership, subscription or connection fees and the caravan park operator does not have to pay a licence fee, has been developed by one of the UK’s electric vehicle charge point manufacturers.
The EV Charge Online from Rolec enables EV drivers to simply pull up to a charge point and, using their mobile phone, login to the charge point and pay-to-charge using Visa, MasterCard, American Express or PayPal via Rolec EV’s secure back office. GPRS connectivity to the back office is provided by Rolec’s network partner Vodafone, who supply roaming SIM cards designed to lock onto the strongest signal in the area, regardless of network provider. Over 200 businesses have already installed EV charging pedestals complete with the EV Charge Online system.
Rolec EV’s Managing Director Kieron Alsop commented: “These charging pedestals, when used by an EV driver, immediately begin paying money back directly into the caravan park operator’s bank account.” He added: “These self-managing pedestals are easy to install, requiring only an electricity supply in order to provide EV drivers with charging facilities.”
Short break provider Center Parcs has been recognised by two industry standard organisations for continuing to deliver excellent service to its guests. All five Center Parcs villages retained their five star status from Quality in Tourism whilst the company also maintained its Hospitality Assured Premier position.
Center Parcs achieved an average score of 92 per cent and the Quality in Tourism assessors commented on the high standards of presentation and service throughout and also praised the number of new initiatives and investments made by the business. Paul Kent, Center Parcs Operations & Development Director said: “We’re really pleased to have maintained a five star status from Quality in Tourism across our villages and uphold our Hospitality Assured position. “The recognition from these external industry assessors is really important to Center Parcs and a testament to everyone who works hard to continually deliver excellent service to our guests.”
The Holiday Park & Resort Innovation show has been nominated for the Show Rising Star award at the 2017 Exhibition News Awards. The award celebrates the most promising up and coming trade shows in the exhibition industry and the success of Holiday Park & Resort Innovation over the last couple of years caught the eye of the judges.
Holiday Park Event Director Will Mansfield, said: “I’m absolutely over the moon to see our efforts have been rewarded with this nomination. The show smashed all our expectations and has rapidly risen to become the foremost event in the hugely exciting luxury staycation market, and to now be recognised by the industry alongside some of the country’s most outstanding trade events truly caps a dream year for the team.” This year’s event will take place at the NEC Birmingham on the 8th and 9th of November 2017. To book your free ticket and to find out more about the show, visit www.holidayparkshow.co.uk.
Gold Rush For Staffordshire Park
The owners of Oakland Holiday Park in Staffordshire are celebrating after the park won the overall gold award in the holiday parks category at the recent Enjoy Staffordshire Tourism Awards. It is the second year in succession that Oakland Holiday Park has scooped the top title. The presentation to the Breakspeare family, which has owned the park for more than 30 years, was made at a glittering ceremony at the Alton Towers Conference Centre.
The park provides luxury caravan holiday homes for private owners, and is also just completing a major refurbishment of its self-catering chalets which are available to rent. The park’s clubhouse has also been given a full makeover this winter, and will be ready to welcome holidaymakers when the park re-opens for the season in March. Partner Adam Breakspeare commented: “Our aim is to provide firstclass surroundings for visitors, and to match these with a high standard of hospitality – both are often mentioned by in our online reviews.
“They are also two of the main criteria in the Enjoy Staffordshire Tourism Awards, so naturally we are delighted that the judges were impressed with what we’ve achieved.” He added: “A big share of the credit must go to our team of staff who help us maintain our high standards, and do a great job of making our guests feel at home.”
Tingdene Parks is expanding one of its Cambridgeshire park home sites with the addition of new plots. Bedwell Park in Witchford is about to see the launch of seven plots on what is already one of the county’s most sort after park home estates exclusively designed for the over 45’s. Works have already commenced to accommodate a mixture of ready to move into homes and vacant plots for customers to design and furnish to their own specification.
The homes which are built to the latest energy saving standards provide low maintenance and can be designed and built to individual specifications, with over 100 floorplans and ideas to choose from. Each home also comes as a turnkey package, to include carpets, curtains beds, kitchen appliances, sofas and chairs providing the opportunity for that truly fresh start in life. By choosing to downsize and move on to these private residential estates has meant that owners have been able to release equity from their previous property, leaving some money in the bank allowing them the opportunity to truly enjoy life.
The World of Park & Leisure Homes Show returns to Stoneleigh Park in Warwickshire this summer and will once again showcase the latest designs from some of the UK’s leading lodge and park home manufacturers. Taking place from Friday 9th to Sunday 11th June and with a special trade preview day on Thursday 8th, The World of Park & Leisure Homes Show will have over 50 lodges on display, plus a vast array of other products and services for the park home sector.
Manufacturers confirmed for the 2017 edition include Pathfinder, Manor, Oakgrove, Prestige & Homeseeker, Lodgikol, Pemberton, Tingdene, Sovereign, Stately-Albion, and Phoenix Lodges. A number of both residential and holiday parks will also be represented at the show such as Darwin Holiday & Leisure Resorts, Lakeland Leisure Estates, Berkeley Parks, Haulfryn Group, Kerdene, John Roman Homes, Kelling Heath Holiday Park, Laird Estates Group and Birch’s Park Homes. As always, entry to the show is free and there is free parking on site. The show opens daily at 10am and dogs are allowed but must be kept on leads at all times.
For more information visit www.parkhomeandleisure.co.uk.
Matlock Park Gets £1Million Makeover
Residential and luxury lodge park operator, Countrywide Park Homes is investing £1 million into a new development on Haytop Country Park in Matlock, Derbyshire. This is the 15th park to be added to the Countrywide Park Homes portfolio and will see the addition of a number of new luxury lodge homes while retaining its current camping and touring caravan area. The on-site mill house that has survived two World Wars will be renovated into a farmhouse-style tearoom, shop and residents lounge.
The new development is set to attract prospective homeowners from across the country and boost the local economy with the influx of new visitors to the park. Jonathan Harvey a Partner at Countrywide Park Homes said: “We are investing a lot of money in to the park and hope to create luxury affordable homes, whilst also maintaining the history and beauty of the park.” This is one of the first in a line of luxury lodge parks to be developed by Countrywide Park Homes, following the success of Malton Grange Country Park in Yorkshire. Jonathan added: “I’m thrilled to be expanding our portfolio of parks, and am especially excited about this new addition. Surrounded by the beautiful countryside and picturesque towns, the new homes will be the perfect place to make some lifelong memories with your loved ones.”
Shorefield Holidays has launched a major regional recruitment drive to enable further growth of the holiday business. Shorefield, which runs six holiday parks across Hampshire and Dorset, employs more than 250 full-time staff and contributes more than £27m every year to the local economy.
In recent years Shorefield has seen significant growth across its parks, both for holidays and holiday home ownership. Managing Director Simon Pollock explained that with the impact of the staycation trend, and the increased cost of holidaying abroad following Brexit, they are anticipating this growth will continue.
“We are proud of our staff training and development programmes, and especially of our team, many of whom come from the local area. We are an Investor in People and especially want to foster local talent,” said Simon.
Changes to Smart Card Hook-Ups
October 2016 saw changes to the regulations relating to kWh metering of caravan hook-ups, making it mandatory for all meters installed after this date to have full MID approval. As a result of this regulation change, Rolec Services, one of the UK’s leading specialists in caravan electrical distribution and hook-up
systems, has invested heavily in a new range of MID approved Smart Card metered hook-up systems.
Martin Georgeson, Rolec’s Sales Director, commented: “Our range of Smart Card metered hook-ups for both static and touring caravans have proved exceptionally popular and, as a result of this demand, we chose to invest in the design, certification and manufacture of a new range of MID approved Smart Card meters.”
Georgeson continued: “As a result of our investment in developing the MID approved Smart Card meter, and our bulk buying policy, we are able to provide the lowest priced MID approved Smart Card hook-ups in the UK.” In addition to providing Smart Card metered hook-ups, Rolec also supply individual MID approved Smart Card meters and MID approved credit meters for retro-fitting into existing static and touring hook-up units.
Record numbers of international tourists are visiting Great Britain and they are spending more too, according to official statistics. The report by the Office of National Statistics shows that in the first nine months of 2016 there were a record-breaking 12.2 million visits to English regions outside London, up 4% compared to the same period in 2015.
Spend by international visitors across England’s regions also set a record during this period, up 2% to £5.9 billion. Wales saw inbound visits increase 12% from January to September last year and in Scotland visitor numbers grew by 4% to 2.2 million - the strongest year to date since 2007.
VisitBritain Chief Executive Sally Balcombe said: “Inbound tourism is one of our largest export industries and it is very encouraging to see that growth is being spread right across our nations and regions, demonstrating the industry’s increasing importance as a driver of economic growth and jobs.”
Popular Attraction Invests
The famous Somerset tourist attraction Wookey Hole Caves has expanded its business with the purchase of its first holiday park. Wookey Hole Ltd has bought Bucklegrove Holiday Park in the Cheddar Valley in a six figure deal.
The seven acre holiday park comprises 41 static caravans, 125 touring caravan pitches and space for 20 tents. The site also boasts a leisure complex, pool, bar, shop and children’s play area. Daniel Medley, Managing Director of Wookey Hole Ltd said: “When Bucklegrove Holiday Park came onto the market we saw immediately its strategic potential for our business.
The holiday park sector is really buoyant and Bucklegrove’s stunning views across Somerset and great facilities attract thousands of visitors each year.” He added: “We plan to build on this success and develop the site even further over the coming months.”
Away Resorts Expands Its Portfolio
UK holiday park operator Away Resorts has acquired the Sandy Balls Holiday Village in the New Forest. It brings the company’s portfolio of parks to six with Sandy Balls joining Tattershall Lakes in Lincolnshire, Whitecliff Bay on the Isle of Wight, Mersea Island in Essex, Barmouth Bay in Wales and Mill Rythe on Hayling Island. 2016 was a record year for Away Resorts as overall bookings across its parks rose significantly against 2015’s figures.
With the addition of Sandy Balls, the business now has an annual turnover of over £40million, and employs 650 staff across its portfolio of sites. Carl Castledine, Chief Executive Officer at Away Resorts, says: “Over the last eight years, we have built up a strong brand that has really hit the right note with UK holidaymakers.
The demand for affordable UK holidays, particularly short breaks, is strong, and growing, as our record bookings for 2016 have shown. “Sandy Balls complements our strategy of providing our existing customer base with a range of very different types of holidays, avoiding the chainlike feel of our major competitors. We now have parks that meet the needs of a wide variety of guests and with Sandy Balls, we have a park that is forest-based with extensive central facilities.”
Staff and guests at Porth Beach Holiday Park in Newquay have raised £1,000 to help a young girl from Cornwall undergo a pioneering surgical procedure in America. Six-year-old Izzy Pearce suffers from cerebral palsy and is unable to walk properly or stand unaided.
Her parents, Michael and Ursula, learned of the potentially life-changing operation known as Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) – but discovered it was not available on the NHS and so began a huge fundraising campaign.
Porth Beach Holiday Park made the very first donation on Izzy’s JustGiving page and kick-started the campaign. The family reached their £86,000 target in October - and donations continue to flood in.
All money raised over the target will go towards Izzy’s post-op physiotherapy that she will require over the next few years. Chris Case, Manager at Porth Beach said he was pleased to have helped such a worthy cause.
Camping Sector Growth
Camping is on the up according to a new report by Mintel, which suggests that Great Britain’s camping and caravanning market will be worth over £3.2 billion by 2020.
A total of over 17 million camping and caravanning trips are estimated to have been taken by UK adults in 2016, over 15 million of which were in Great Britain, and include a spectrum of accommodation options from yurts, safari tents and shepherd’s huts to tiny two-berth mini and large luxury caravans, sophisticated motorhomes and holiday lodges.
The total trips taken figure is expected to rise to 17.9 million in 2017 and to over 21 million in 2020. Of those camping in a tent in the last three years, ‘getting away from it all’ is one of the key attractions (42%) as well as ‘connecting with nature’ (41%). Market drivers for camping, caravanning and motorhomes trips in recent years include a reduction in petrol prices and a desire for families to reconnect with their environment.
Parkdean Resorts is set to invest a record £50m on accommodation, retail and leisure facilities across its UK parks this year. The operator will be investing £17m into a range of new lodges, caravans and glamping facilities and £4m on refurbishments to existing caravans and lodges. Meanwhile, entertainment and leisure venues, and children’s activity areas will also be refurbished at many of its 73 parks nationwide as part of a significant investment exceeding £5.5m.
The ambitious investment will mean that the new facilities will be completed ahead of the 2017 travel season. Parkdean Resorts Chief Executive John Waterworth said: “It is a truly exciting time for Parkdean Resorts as we gear up for the 2017 season where substantial investment will continue and for what we are confident will be our busiest year yet.
“We are looking forward to introducing these changes which will further enhance our park experience – allowing holidaymakers to create many more amazing memories with family and friends.”
Bunn Leisure, a five-star holiday village complex in West Sussex, has embarked on an ambitious £14m refurbishment programme, which will create jobs and provide a welcome boost to the local economy. The first phase of the plans passed by Chichester District Council will see the creation of a new head office and main visitor reception, with a new entertainment complex and improvements at the White Horse and Green Lawns sites following 12 months later.
John Bunn, managing director of the 300-acre park, said: “Bunn Leisure offers outstanding family holidays at our four wonderful parks and this refurbishment programme will enable us to provide an even better service. “We begin 2017 investing heavily in our facilities and it shows our ongoing commitment to be an innovative leader in the family holiday sector. “Our park employs 350 full-time and 350 seasonal staff, and we welcome 100,000 holidaymakers every year.
Bunn Leisure already generates more than £60m for the local economy, and we hope these developments will create future employment opportunities and increase our popularity as a tourist destination.”
Just a Penny More...
A holiday experience wouldn’t be complete without trying your luck on the prize crane or the coin tipping machine. In fact, the arcade has been a staple attraction of the Great British seaside holiday since the early 1900’s. Part of the Bourne Leisure group, Haven currently operates 37 arcades at its parks across the UK and has seen a shift from traditional arcades moving to all-encompassing family entertainment centres. “Our guest feedback indicates that arcades are a valued part of the holiday offering.
I wouldn’t suggest that anyone books a holiday based purely on the arcade offering, as we have seen a focus towards our Nature Rockz activities, but it is a very wellused facility and part of the overall holiday experience,” says Kevin Scott, Head of Arcades at Bourne Leisure. “The arcades are now environments where families can play together and often we include other family products such as soft play.” Redemption games, where the player is rewarded proportionally to their score, are Haven’s most popular arcade games, closely followed by cranes and coin pushers.
“We have expanded the redemption and prize offers at the expense of the gaming element of the business. A very high proportion of our games offer has a prize element which is very well received by both the holiday makers and our owners,” reveals Kevin. He adds: “Arcades have long been and are still very much part of the seaside family holiday and there is no indication to suggest that this will change in the near future.” Before investing in arcade games and equipment, it is advisable to seek advice from a reputable dealer or manufacturer, who offers a warranty and will give you fast and efficient after-sales care and service for the entire life of the equipment.
ATTENTION TO DETAIL “Too many park owners become totally disillusioned by a particular attraction that has failed in the past and this fazes their judgement for ever buying anything similar ever again - all because they were badly advised in the very beginning,” comments David Robinson of World of Rides. He continues: “Never buy any rides or equipment based on the lowest price, as every month we receive at least one sad story of cheap failed equipment at peak times of the season, which has resulted in lost income, and more importantly, disappointment and lost customer satisfaction.”
World of Rides is a leading UK manufacturer of battery operated land and water-based leisure rides. The company’s three biggest selling rides for 2017 so far are the fully operational Driving School Car, which has all the same controls as any normal road car, the glow in the dark Future Bike, which has under-LED lighting, and the new Baby Beetle Car for smaller children. “Our entire 12v/24v range of rides are becoming very much more popular with holiday park owners, partly due to the fact that they are nearly all able to carry either two children or a parent and child, but also because they all run without any noise, air or water pollution,” says David. “With trade prices starting at only £2,750 each, they still remain the highest earning children’s rides, due to them being fully directional and interactive with the riders.” According to David, really good rides and amusements will normally achieve full return on investment a number of times over in any one season, providing that they are operated correctly and looked after.
LIFE SPAN “All modern EEC and UK made rides have a long life expectancy, but in order to keep guests and visitors coming back every year, and incomes retained at their maximum, the rides should ideally be run on a rolling five-year-plan, with at least one new ride attraction being added to the park every year,” says David. “After that, each ride should be subsequently downgraded or replaced after year five, depending on its continued income potential and key position in the park,” he adds. For holiday parks that choose to hire their arcade equipment, it is advisable to work with fully vetted and experienced operators who use up-to-date rides that are tested and documented using H.S.E.-ADIPS safety testing every year. It is also important to check that the operator can show documentary evidence of themselves being fully insured for Public Liability for a minimum £10,000,000, in the event of any incident.
INSURANCE MATTERS Another key consideration is to ensure that your arcade equipment is covered by a suitable insurance policy. According to Compass Insurance, the key message when it comes to rides and machines - whether they are relatively simple coin-operated equipment or larger, more complex facilities - is to have a conversation with your insurer or broker before you go ahead and sign a hire agreement or make a purchase. “Park owners and managers should be aware that your insurer or broker may decline cover,” advises Chris Jones, Retail Underwriting Manager at Thistle Insurance Services. “An increase in premium could otherwise apply – and in the worst case scenario this could make the rides or machines commercially unviable. It’s always best to have the conversation up front.”
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Research has revealed that Brits spend on average, 15 per cent of their income on leisure activities including holidays - totalling a whopping £8.3bn per month. Conducted by YouGov, the survey of 2,061 adults also found that all Brits, irrespective of age and gender, prioritised experiences over material goods.
No wonder then that the drive towards high quality holiday accommodation in the last two decades has seen real innovation in the holiday park sector. For many years the humble caravan dominated the holiday parks market but cabins and lodges continue to grow their market share. Cabins and lodges are known to attract longer let periods than caravans, typically being very popular in the ‘harder to let’ shoulder months outside the peak season.
Whatever your preference, we can all agree that investing in high-value holiday accommodation makes sound business sense for park owners and operators. Because of their extended season appeal, it is imperative that lodges are well-built and insulated. Leading lodge manufacturer, Pathfinder Homes, recently boasted that on average, their lodges are 20 per cent better than the British Standard. Pathfinder’s typical build offers a minimum of 100mm thick insulation to the external walls and the floor with the roof boasting 200mm. This, in hand with a rated appliances, argon gas filled windows, low energy lighting and many other features means the lodge is not only kind to the environment but these changes add up and keep the average running costs down too.
NO COMPROMISE “Unlike a traditional bricks and mortar home, where you would be expected to compromise on at least a few of your desires, choosing a park home or lodge can open doors you never even knew existed – excuse the pun!” comments a spokesperson for Pathfinder. Pathfinder’s clients can select everything from the size, the layout, the external finishing and the internal furnishings of the lodge. Each customer is offered a blank canvas to start with, or they can choose from a preselected, standard design. The design studio presents a tangible design experience – so they can touch and feel the fabrics and virtually walk through the lodge before it is built. Leading lodge and holiday home manufacturer, Victory Leisure Homes has just launched its brand new model for 2017, which allows customers to create their own design, specified to their personal tastes from a list of 10 optional extras.
HOME FROM HOME The Echo comes in four sizes and room configurations – 36ft, two or three bedroom; 33ft, two bedroom, and; 28ft, two bedroom – and boasts a host of standard features, as well as an extensive list of extras including central heating, double glazing and integrated appliances. Standard features include, among others, Sandstone aluminium cladding, lounge electric fire, uPVC single glazed windows, USB sockets to all bedrooms and lounge, panoramic large front windows and Victory’s own design SoCozeee mattresses. The Echo is Victory’s first mid-season launch since 2015 when the company unveiled its popular model, the Sandhurst, to the industry. However last year, the company took a step back from launching a mid-season model, amid rising sales for its existing range.
Peter Nevitt, Managing Director of Victory Leisure Homes said: “In 2015/2016 sales across the range were flying, so we decided not to launch a mid-season model. “But since then we have expanded our manufacturing capacity significantly, meaning we are able to accommodate an extra, midseason model, which is why we’re delighted to be launching the Echo in 2017.”
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Purchased as a run-down park with a bad reputation for attracting the wrong sort of crowd to Newquay, Peter Bull Resorts has achieved a complete 180° turnaround at Newquay View Holiday Park in just three seasons. The group purchased the park in 2014 and has invested over £2m to improve the holiday fleet, refurbish and introduce new facilities and completely upgrade the general appearance of the park.
In fact, last year the park welcomed almost 19,000 holidaymakers and there are plans to further expand and enhance the facilities in the next 12 months. “Our ambition is to become a five star park, with all of the modern facilities and activities that guests expect from a resort,” reveals Barry McGregor, Managing Director at Peter Bull Resorts. “Having replaced every single hire fleet caravan since 2015, we now have planning in for a modern fully landscaped touring park with 85 fully serviced pitches and top notch amenities.”
He adds: “Newquay is all about outdoor living and we want to champion Porth as a top class destination.” Newquay View has the benefit of being very close to Newquay and all that it has to offer in the way of restaurants, pubs, clubs, beaches and attractions; but the park is set back in a peaceful valley with beautiful surrounding countryside, allowing our guests to enjoy the best of both worlds.
HIRE FLEET : On the park is a hire fleet of 75 caravans, ten glamping pods and over 100 touring and camping pitches. In addition there are over 110 holiday home owners on-site and 60 seasonal tourers. For the 2017 season, the park will be adding two Swift S Pods to its offering as a luxury glamping option. “We now have a strong base of holiday home owners and touring customers, a new holiday fleet and glamping accommodation too.
Situated near the beach at Porth, just outside the main town of Newquay, the park is popular with the outdoor family market,” comments Barry. “Ultimately the most important thing is that people enjoy their holidays with us so that they want to come back year after year. To achieve this it is vital we work well as a team and also listen to our guests to ensure that we are providing them with everything that they need to make their time with us special and memorable.”
CORE TEAM : The park is managed on a day-to-day basis by General Manager Sue Hogg, who has over 30 years’ experience in improving customer experience and sales for top leisure brands including Bourne Leisure and Park Leisure. Sue leads a core team of 25 staff with the support of a Leisure Manager, Operations Manager, Entertainment Manager and Housekeeping Manager. Amenities on the park include a 22m indoor pool, sauna, steam room, an endless elite training pool, café, amusements, a nightclub, two playgrounds, an outdoor heated pool, a convenience store, a fitness facility and specialist sports coaching.
There’s also an on-site surf school, Blue Surf, which gives lessons at nearby Watergate Bay. The park also supports the local community by making its facilities available to all neighbours. The indoor pool is used for weekly training and lessons by several local schools, the surf rescue services, local swimming clubs and the emergency services. Many Cornish organisations use the Venue Club to host their presentations or awards dinners, theatre productions, weddings and local events. “The bulk of our customers are families during the peak seasons, but we are increasingly seeing a growth in the couples and very young family market during the shoulder seasons and this is something that we are keen to encourage as we are now open all year round,” Barry explains.
He adds: “The biggest challenge that the park faces is providing high quality holidays to increasingly discerning customers, some of whom have never stayed in Cornwall before. Newquay View has required record levels of investment, which is challenging for owner managers, and higher staffing levels to manage facilities that will be flat out.”
Luxury holiday park operator Park Leisure has been sold for £103 million. Private equity firm Midlothian Capital Partners and a consortium of investors have agreed to acquire the business, which was founded by Miles Dewhurst and Gary Molloy 19 years ago.
Upon completion, Gary will exit the business to pursue other avenues and Miles will take up the role of CEO supported by the existing management team as well as MCP. Park Leisure operates ten holiday home parks across the UK with a turnover of £58 million and 350 staff.
Gary Molloy, CEO and co-founder of Park Leisure, added: “After 19 dedicated years I have decided to take a back seat and exit the business over this coming season. The company started from an office in a bedroom in my house and has steadily grown ever since. “I have very much enjoyed working with Andrew and the MCP team, and wish them, as well as Miles and the Park Leisure team the very best for the future.”
The family owners of Waterrow Touring Park in Wiveliscombe scooped a top accolade in the 2016 Bristol, Bath and Somerset Tourism Awards.
The park received the gold award in the camping and caravanning category of the competition in which hundreds of other contenders took part. Stepping up to receive the winning trophy at Bristol’s Cadbury Hilton hotel were Lynette and Jamie Cook who, with Jamie’s parents, are Waterrow’s owners.
The husband-and-wife team quit their successful careers in IT and customer services four years ago to take on the tranquil picture-postcard park on the fringes of Exmoor.
Since moving in, Lynette and Jamie have invested much time and energy into caring for the natural surroundings and introducing many new wildlife-friendly features. Lynette said: “One of the things we most value as caravanners is a welcoming and friendly atmosphere on the parks we visit, and that’s what we’ve tried to create here at Waterrow. “I know the awards placed a big emphasis on the quality of hospitality and customer care provided, so we are particularly pleased that this came across.”
New Year's Honours
The industry enjoyed a record-breaking summer in 2016, with more holidaymakers than ever choosing to visit the UK. In fact figures from the Office of National Statistics showed that July was the highest month ever for inbound tourism with 3.8 million visits, up two per cent on the same period in 2015.
The weather we experienced during the summer was a mixed bag, starting of wet and cloudy through June but hotting up towards the end of August and into September. However, the changeable weather didn’t dampen the spirits of the UK’s holidaymakers who flocked to coastal resorts and parks regardless.
The Brexit vote further fuelled the staycation trend, leading to higher than average sales and bookings throughout the winter and into 2017.
The Holiday Park Scene team featured nearly 200 parks throughout 2016, with facts and information from more than 300 suppliers. Here we bring you just some of the headlines…
The Holiday Park Scene team launched into 2016 with tips for holiday park owners looking to improve their water play areas in Splash Attack.
We also explored the importance of selecting the right insurance partner and how it can be the difference between success and failure in the event of a catastrophe. There was also high acclaim for the winning parks of the 2015 UK Pool & Spa Awards, which we announced in the January issue of Holiday Park Scene.
Silver Sands Holiday Park in Lossiemouth was the first stop on our whistle-stop tour of the UK’s holiday parks, while Alan House of Holiday Resort Unity in Somerset gave us his analysis of the 2015 season and predictions for 2016 in Holiday Snaps.
For the rest of 2016 headlines subscribe at www.holidayparkscene.com
The second edition of the Holiday Park & Resort Innovation Show (HPI) returned to NEC in Birmingham in November and proved itself to be the country’s unmissable event for the holiday park sector.
Bigger and more vibrant than ever, HPI ran alongside the Farm Business Innovation and Country House Innovations Shows covering halls 8 and 9 of the NEC, with an overall audience totalling 7,898 leisure business owners.
The event served as a platform for 300 suppliers to showcase their products and services, combined with networking opportunities and over 150 seminars, live demonstrations, live debates. Among the distinguished speakers to take part were Away Resorts CEO Carl Castledine, Drayton Manor Park Director George Bryan and Abbey Oladapo, lead trainer at Google’s Digital Garage.
Event Organiser Will Mansfield commented: “HPI is renowned for attracting the country’s most revered holiday parks, accommodation suppliers, and industry inspirations to form its line-up of seminars and suppliers to pass on their visionary knowledge and guidance, and November’s show continued this proud tradition.” This year also saw the very first Holiday Park & Resort Innovation Industry Awards, with exhibitors competing for accolades across three separate categories: Innovation, Enterprise, and Entertainment.
GFR Tech Ltd took home the Innovation Award for ‘Line Cheetah,’ their innovative new mobile ordering app; 360 Karting/ Ensol 360 Ltd won the Enterprise Award for their services in rental karting track concept, design, installation, and equipment; and Active Connections took the Entertainment accolade for their innovative Glowsports sporting experience.
HPI organisers are promising that the 2017 show will be the brand’s greatest spectacle yet, with more speakers, suppliers, seminars, and features than ever before and the launch of the Family Attraction Expo.
Thinking Outside The Box
Imagination Playground is an ideal solution for leisure venues with limited space. It is a unique mobile play system designed to unlock the creative powers of children through open-ended, unstructured play.
The portable playground comes in two storage-friendly carts that can be wheeled through a standard sized door and then packed away easily after use. Think of a giant-sized construction game, with soft, lightweight blue blocks in a variety of shapes and sizes. The blocks can be stacked, connected, channelled or just lined up - all to make children’s ideas a reality.
“The driving force behind Imagination Playground is to provide a way to encourage children to do what they do best - to be creative and to use their imaginations,” says David Rockwell, CEO of Rockwell Group and designer of Imagination Playground. “Researchers have long known that playing with blocks helps children develop cognitive and social skills. Unstructured, child-directed play is a critical component of healthy, social, emotional and intellectual development.”
Available from HAGS, the Classic 105 Big Block Set features 75 biodegradable blue blocks and parts, 15 noodles, 15 plastic balls and two weather resistant carts for simple storage.
Suitable for both indoor and outdoor use, Imagination Playground is currently priced at just £4,499* including delivery. Quote LEISURE-JAN17 when ordering.* *Offer price available from 1st Jan 2017 to 31st March 2017. Price excludes VAT. Price includes delivery to Mainland UK only, excludes Scottish Highlands.
Jim Pass, a lifelong caravanner and a member of The Camping and Caravanning Club for more than 50 years has been awarded a Chevalier Légion d’honneur.
The Légion d’honneur is the most esteemed order for servicemen and women who fought to protect France in times of war. On average, just ten British nationals receive the medal each year.
The 98 year-old was presented with his medal by the French Ambassador to the United Kingdom Yorkshire Air Museum. Jim served over seven years during and shortly after the war. Upon returning home, he became an active member of The Camping and Caravanning Club. He remains the Vice President of the British Caravan Club, the latest in a long line of titles held by the former soldier. Darren Whittington,
The Camping and Caravanning Club’s Membership Services Director, said: “Jim’s brave endeavours on D-Day and his heroic efforts have rightly earned him this medal, the highest honour bestowed by the French Government. “His achievements and hard work for The Camping and Caravanning Club must also be commended. He is one of our true ‘golden members’.”
North West Bounces Back
Holiday property owners in Windermere are enjoying a surge in demand as increased numbers of holidaymakers head to the Lakes this winter. Latest booking figures released by cottages.com revealed that December bookings were up by as much as 47 per cent compared to the same period in 2015. The figures indicate a positive growth for the winter season, showing the area has bounced back from last year’s difficult winter caused by the December flooding.
The survey also found that more than a third of us believe it is easier and more convenient to stay in the UK whilst one in five people enjoyed their 2016 UK break so much they wanted to repeat it. Speaking of the increasing demand, Anne Concannon, Regional Manager for cottages.com said: “It’s been a tough year for Windermere following the flooding, but we’re thrilled the area remains a desirable spot for holidaymakers. The demand for winter bookings has been fantastic and many of our properties have been reaching 90 per cent occupancy, which is extremely positive. The weekly bookings are increasing all the time, so there is definitely demand there and of course it is great news for local owners who are benefitting from a successful holiday let.”
One Stop Shop
First class water leisure facilities, such as hot tubs, saunas and swimming pools are now widely regarded as fundamental to a successful holiday. For holiday park owners looking to improve or expand their water leisure offering, SPATEX 2017, is a red letter day in the 2017 calendar.
The exhibition takes place at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena from Tuesday January 31st to Thursday February 2nd. Over a hundred exhibitors from home and abroad make SPATEX the ideal hunting ground to source new products and innovations, seek advice for a specific project and explore new ideas.
With 42 seminars over three days led by 35 eminent experts you can gain valuable industry knowledge on topics as varied as commercial spa operation and the latest health and safety guidance for water leisure facilities.
Visit www. spatex.co.uk to see the full list of exhibitors, details of the double seminar programme and to register for free.
The Gift Of Holidays To Families In Need
Mother Ivey’s Bay Holiday Park in Padstow provided free holidays for 80 people in 2016 through its One for All initiative. Launched in 2013, the scheme dedicates 1% of the park’s hire fleet occupancy to those who need a break, but cannot afford.
One family to benefit was Mike, Kerry and their two young children, Ellie and Luke. Mike, a builder, has suffered from diabetes since childhood. His condition has worsened recently, affecting the nerves in his legs. This has meant missing work, which has hit the family finances hard. Ellie’s school teacher, Mrs Parker, contacted the Family Holiday Association, to see if they could organise a much-needed break for the family. The result was a week’s holiday in September at Mother Ivey’s Bay Holiday Park. Park owner Patrick Langmaid, would like One for All to become a business model that every holiday park owner in the country can use.
He said: “If, as holiday park owners, we can all do something positive for our communities without disrupting our own business model it has to be worthwhile. “Everyone wants their children to grow up with happy memories and this scheme has the potential to provide countless positive life-changing experiences for families in need.” He adds: “One for All also helps fill parks during the shoulder months. When I’m at half capacity in April or October I’d much rather give holidays away, even outside school holidays, because sometimes a holiday with your family is more important and beneficial than being in the classroom.”
UK’s Top Parks For Happy Campers
Vale of Pickering Caravan Park in North Yorkshire has been crowned the Campsite of the Year 2017 at the AA Caravan and Camping Awards. The park beat off stiff competition from 860 sites across the country, which were all visited by the AA’s campsite inspectors to assess the touring pitches, facilities and hospitality.
Each park is graded from one to five pennants, with Gold Pennants awarded to the very best. Since winning an AA regional award in 2013, owners of the Vale of Pickering Caravan Park - Chris and Dianne Stockdale - have continued to invest in the park each year, including a new state-ofthe- art facilities block which has six fully-equipped wet rooms and a dishwashing room. New electric points and a dog wash, with a hot shower were also added to the park this year.
Another notable winner this year was Forest Fields Caravan and Camping Park in Powys, which was named AA Campsite of the Year for Wales. The family-run park, which is located near to Royal Welsh Showground, is popular with families and outdoor adventure groups. The park’s owners - the Barstow family - also has plans to expand the glamping offering in 2017.
Elsewhere in the country Castlerigg Hall in Keswick, Cumbria took the top spot as the Regional Campsite of the Year for the North West. Owned by the Jackson family since 1938, the park provides luxury caravan holiday homes for hire, plus eco-friendly camping pods and pitches for touring caravans, motorhomes. A former farm which began by welcoming campers, Castlerigg Hall is today one of the Lake District’s most highly regarded parks. 2017 also saw the introduction of a new award – The AA Glamping Site of the Year, to celebrate the increasing popularity of glamping. The winner of this brand new award was Durrell Wildlife Camp in Jersey, which is situated in 32 acres of landscaped parkland and water-gardens offers guest the opportunity to stay overnight in stylish Ecopods with unlimited access to some of the rarest wildlife species on earth.
All the winners of this year’s AA Caravan and Camping Awards will appear in the new AA Caravan and Camping Guide 2017.
With an emphasis on first class entertainment and good old fashioned family fun, Mill Rythe Holiday Village on Hayling Island in Hampshire is a traditional UK holiday park. Millions of pounds worth of investment has been made into improving the park’s accommodation, facilities and entertainment offering in the last few years.
In fact, the park’s entertainment team boasts West End credentials. The investment has certainly paid off, with more than 50,000 guests visiting the park each year. “We aim to help everyone have a brilliant and memorable holiday by crafting holiday experiences for our guests,” comments Cathy Murphy, Head of Sales at Mill Rythe. “We have an internal mission to help every one of our guests experience ‘The Away Resorts Effect’ and all of our activities, entertainment, facilities, accommodation and restaurants are designed to deliver this.” Mill Rythe has a packed programme of daytime and evening entertainment ABOVE: Mill Rythe Holiday Village in Hampshire places huge emphasis on premium entertainment and family fun. ABOVE: Cathy Murphy is the Head of Sales at Mill Rythe. provided by the in-house entertainment team.
In the evening, there’s bingo and musical shows including Electric Dreams, Champions of Rock and the Christmas Spectacular. Cabaret stars regularly visit the park too, with the likes of Martin Kemp, Steve Harley and the Cockney Rebel Band and Des O’Connor taking to the stage. There is also a resident band and DJ that play on into the early hours and next year the cast of the UK tour of the West End musical Priscilla Queen of the Desert will be at Mill Rythe. “We have a hugely loyal base of customers who keep coming back to Mill Rythe,” says Cathy. “Because of our entertainment-focused, themed mid-week and weekend breaks - many of which are adults-only - the majority of the clientele is over 50s.
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A huge charity donation from leisure insurance specialists Caravan Guard has helped to fund a pioneering new cancer treatment at the Yorkshire Cancer Centre. The family-run company, met a £68,000 shortfall needed to pay for a Nano-Knife device, which uses revolutionary, non-invasive technology for cancer patients.
Peter Wilby, Chairman of Caravan Guard and its sister company Wilby Ltd, heard of the appeal from a close family friend whose wife and son have both received treatment at the Leeds Cancer Centre. “As a family business we’re committed to supporting local and national charities by sharing some of our financial success,” said Managing Director Ryan Wilby. “This appeal struck a real chord with us as we’ve seen first-hand the benefits of treatment at the cancer centre. So we’re delighted our donation means more procedures can be carried out to prolong survival and provide a better quality of life for patients.”
Family Team Scores Awards Hat-Trick
Trethem Mill Touring Park in Cornwall is celebrating a triple triumph of awards, including an accolade for its work to protect endangered honey bees. The family-owned business celebrated its first honour when judges in the Cornwall Tourism Awards crowned it as the county’s finest caravan and camping park. The park’s environmental policies were marked in the second of the accolades it received this month from world-famous botanist David Bellamy. Professor Bellamy presented the park with his prestigious Conservation Award at its top gold level, recognising the raft of initiatives taken to safeguard the natural world. The hat trick of accolades was completed when David Bellamy also designated Trethem Mill as an official “Honey Bee Friendly” park as part of his new initiative to prevent the insects’ decline. Park owners Ian and Jane first moved to Trethem Mill with Ian’s parents – Derek and Lorna - 24 years ago, and Jane says the park’s success has been very much the result of a team effort: “Very sadly, Lorna passed away earlier this year – but she believed strongly, as we all do, in trying to make Trethem Mill a place for creating truly memorable holiday experiences,” said Jane. “We would like to see these awards as a tribute to her passion for this part of Cornwall, and to making the park a match for these beautiful surroundings.”
Top Honours Awarded
Ladram Bay Holiday Park has been crowned ‘company of the year’ in a major award scheme celebrating successful women in business.
The park was named as overall winner in the 2016 Devon Venus Awards in November. Competition was fierce this year with almost 2,000 nominations and applications received in one or more of the different categories of the awards.
Stepping up to receive the accolade were director and member of the park-owning family member Zoe House, and Ladram Bay’s General Manager Claire Williams.
Zoe House commented: “We have always believed in providing equal career opportunities for both women and men, and in helping employees achieve their goals with support and training. “This award is for everyone who works at the park, and we would like to thank all those who have supported us along the way,” added Zoe.
Tributes Pour In
Willerby Holiday Homes has paid tribute to its Export Sales Manager Martin Savage, who has died suddenly at the age of 58.
Having worked for Willerby for the last three years, Martin looked after sales throughout Europe, drawing in part on the long-term relationships he had established in France, where he’d spent the last three decades.
During his career, he’d held the position of Export Area Sales Manager for several big names in the industry prior to working with Willerby, including ABI, Cosalt and Atlas.
For a number of years, he also worked as area manager in France for Queensborough Holdings, who owned a number of parks in the country. Willerby’s sales director, Keith Holland commented: “It was a pleasure to work with Martin over the course of the last three years at Willerby. He was a fantastic salesman - always charming and full of good humour. Martin will be sadly missed, not just by all of us at Willerby, but by the wider industry as he had such an impact during his career.”
Scottish Parks Meet At Annual Summit
Owners and managers of many of Scotland’s 200 plus park businesses attended the annual conference of the BH&HPA (Scotland) in November, at the end of what was generally regarded as a highly successful year for their sector.
Scottish tourism minister Fiona Hyslop MSP was the guest speaker at the event and was welcomed by Aberdeen park owner Colin Fraser who is chairman of BH&HPA (Scotland). Mr Fraser told the minister that an independent economic survey published last year found that Scottish holiday parks generate around £700m of visitor spending each year in Scotland.
This figure, he said, accounts for 8% of all the revenue produced by Scotland’s tourism economy, and allows the Scottish park sector to support more than 5,600 full-time equivalent jobs. In her address to delegates, Fiona Hyslop said: “The holiday homes sector is a unique but vital part of our tourism and hospitality industry.
The sector provides important geographic spread, allowing visitors to see more of our country and, in doing so, to support our rural economies.” Other speakers at the Edinburgh event included Director General of BH&HPA, Ros Pritchard, who outlined some of ways in which the association engages with politicians to help frame UK and EU laws and regulations affecting park businesses.
National BH&HPA chairman Henry Wild also gave his perspective as a holiday park owner on how the association helps its members develop their businesses and meet customer expectations.
Site Takes Shape
Work has begun on a new caravan holiday home park on the edge of the historic market town of Ludlow in Shropshire.
Morris Leisure is investing £200,000 in developing the new park for 36 caravan holiday home alongside its successful Ludlow Touring Park.
First phase work is expected to be completed in the spring and will see 20 pitches created. “It’s great to be able to develop a caravan holiday home park alongside the touring park and we now feel the time is right to press ahead with the work to bring even more sustainable tourism to Ludlow, which is a very popular destination,” said Edward Goddard, Morris Leisure’s Managing Director.
“We believe the new park is going to further enhance the local tourism offer and generate extra income for Ludlow and the surrounding area, which has got to be good news for the local economy.”
Taking The Plunge
One of Clacton’s largest holiday parks, Seawick in St Osyth, is investing £1m this winter on a prestigious new swimming pool complex. It’s envisaged that the new pool complex, complete with flumes and new changing areas, will be ready for the park’s re-opening in March. Owners of the park, Park Holidays UK, says the pool will benefit not just the local economy but also the environment – as it will be heated by a super-efficient biomass boiler.
Much more environmentally friendly than conventional heating systems, the green energy boiler will be fuelled by wood pellets and reduce substantially the park’s carbon emissions. Seawick’s new pool will complete a series of new developments at the park, which included the opening of a new £1.8m entertainment complex last summer.
Park Holidays UK Director Tony Clish, commented: “I am confident that our investment will help attract even more visitors to Clacton in the future, and this will also benefit the many other businesses in this part of Essex which rely on tourism.”
Park Faces Fire Safety Failure Fines
The owner of Europa Holiday Park, in North Devon has been fined £40,000 and ordered to pay £15,500 costs after pleading guilty to six offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. Graham Toms, Director of Woolacombe Beach Holiday Park Ltd (operating at Europa Holiday Park), was also given a six-month sentence suspended for two years when he appeared before Exeter Crown Court. On the afternoon of August 3, 2015 a significant fire broke out in the club house at Europa Park Holiday park.
During the course of the fire, two staff members suffered burns and a guest, using the pool with his young son, had to break out of the building by using his bare feet to smash the glass of a locked fire exit with only minutes to spare. The resulting investigations by Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service revealed a number of failings including lack of emergency escape lighting and failure to provide adequate safety training for staff. The investigation also found that Mr Toms had failed to act on the findings of a fire risk assessment carried in 2009, which had identified several issues.
Business Safety Manager Paul Bray, of Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service, said: “Mr Toms had been in the industry for many years and should have been well aware of what was expected and needed in respect of fire safety at the premises. “He understood the need for a Fire Risk Assessment, yet failed to comply with the requirements of the Fire Safety Order by ignoring advice from those he had appointed to assist, putting lives at risk as evidenced by the actions and resulting injuries sustained by a guest and staff as a result of a fire on the premises.”
Spa Work Underway
Work has started on a new £3.5 million touring caravan park with a wellness centre and spa facilities in Shrewsbury.
The park, which will have 120 touring caravan pitches and create up to eight jobs, is being developed on 21.5 acres of land by Salop Leisure.
The environmentally-friendly development will also have a natural swimming pool, spa facilities, exercise studios, a gym and a wooden play area.
“We are keen to develop a park that is a new concept at one with nature and will instil a feeling of well-being and tranquillity in our visitors,” said Mark Bebb, Salop Leisure’s managing director.
“As a company we develop caravan parks to five star standard, but this touring park will raise the bar to a new level,” he added.
“I believe that what we are currently offering customers as an industry needs to improve and develop for the future and we have to move with the times and push boundaries.”