Staying Ahead Of The Arcade Games
Aimed at owners and operators from soft play centres to holiday parks and resorts, Interfun Expo is a brand new event that will showcase all the latest products and trends in the world of indoor and outdoor play, amusements and adventure activities for families. It will incorporate a product showcase and a series of inspirational seminars for all those involved in the business of providing family fun and entertainment. Taking place at the New Dock Hall, Armouries Square, Armouries Drive, Leeds, on April 30 and May 1, holiday park managers will find inspiration and innovation to help attract families to their locations and keep their parks ahead of the curve. In addition to a product showcase there will be a series of free seminars. InterFun Expo’s manager director, Christine Butterworth, commented: “We are looking forward to welcoming the holiday park industry to this new event in the north of England where there is a wealth of interest. “The Royal Armouries in Leeds is an extremely easy location to reach from anywhere in the UK and there will be a wide range of products on show. Information is also key to this type of event and our seminar programme will both inform and stimulate.” The InterFun Expo is free to attend by registering www.interfunexpo.com/
The InterFun Expo will take place from 30 April to 1 May, 2019 in New Dock Hall, set amid the Royal Armouries canalside complex in Leeds, UK.
Ensure Your Hot Tubs Are Compliant
Unfortunately, few hot tubs sold on the UK market feature inline disinfectant feeders. Worse still, HSG282 made no legacy-exemption provision, meaning many thousands of hot tubs already in the field became non-compliant overnight. SaniStreamTM heralds the solution to this issue. The award-winning SaniStreamTM Direct Line Filtration system is a high quality Darlly hot tub filter, combined with an adjustable and refillable chlorine or bromine tablet erosion feeder, called SpaPodTM; to make a highly effective combined, integrated hot tub water treatment system. The SaniStreamTM system offers a solution to Section 76 of health and safety guidelines, HSG282, which states that hot tubs installed in a setting where used ‘... as part of a business activity (eg in a holiday park rental unit or hotel bedroom(s) with their own dedicated spa, or as part of a rental agreement for a single family or group use)’ must be ‘disinfected using bromine or chlorine through the use of an inline disinfectant feeder’. Heather Gilmore of Paith Holiday Cottages near Aberystwyth thinks the SaniStreamTM system is “fantastic”. Heather says: “I hardly have to intervene, and the dosing works very well. It gives me great peace of mind knowing my customers are in safe hygienic water conditions, and inspection and maintenance for us is easy and painless. “Not only that, but switching to the SaniStreamTM system was incredibly easy, very cost-effective, and required no modification to the hot tubs’ plumbing or equipment.”
Tel. 01952 580500
Second Date For Park Show Team
The World of Park & Leisure Homes show team has added a second date and venue to its successful event concept, with a spring show at the South of England Showground in Ardingly. The World of Park & Leisure Homes provides park owners and operators a comprehensive shop window experience, with a massive collection of leisure lodges and park homes on display and the chance to discuss your particular requirements and options in privacy and comfort. Save the date for the Trade Preview Day on Thursday 11th April 2019 with the South of England event open to the general public from Friday to Sunday, 12th -14th. Meanwhile, the World Of Park & Leisure Homes will return in the summer, to its more familiar Stoneleigh venue, from June – 9th.
World Of Park & Leisure Homes
Tel. 01789 491451
Park Holidays Investment Agenda
The Park Holidays UK has signalled another year of major investment in its parks with the appointment of Richard Ullman to the group’s main board of directors. Since joining Park Holidays UK six years ago, Richard, 45, has led the company’s capital expenditure programme across its portfolio of 30 parks in southern England. Last year alone, the group invested £28 million in a raft of upgrade projects from the building of new clubs and leisure facilities to the expansion of its holiday home rental fleet. Richard, who now takes the title of Chief Operating Officer, says he will continue driving the programme forward with the emphasis on the development of customer-facing facilities: “Our aim has always been to continually raise the bar on both the quantity and the quality of what our parks provide to guests and holiday home owners,” said Richard. “Much of our business is generated by repeat sales and personal recommendations - and we achieve this by delivering experiences which people know can’t be replicated elsewhere. “For that reason, our board is committed to a policy of escalating investment in new facilities both at our long-held parks and at those we have taken on through acquisition,” added Richard. Formed just over 25 years ago, Park Holidays UK has its headquarters in Bexhill-on-Sea in East Sussex, and in high season employs some 1,600 full and part-time staff. Prior to joining Park Holidays UK, Richard spent five years as divisional director of Enterprise Inns plc, Britain’s largest pub company with around 5,000 properties.
Park Holidays UK
Tel. 01424 234234
Ready, Steady, Go Camping
Ready Camp, the glamping brand owned by The Camping and Caravanning Club, has added three new locations across England for 2019. With new safari-style tents at Clitheroe (Lancashire), Kingsbury Water Park (West Midlands) and Devizes (Wiltshire), there is now a network of 242 pre-pitched Ready Camp tents at 48 locations across the UK. Bob Hill, Club Sites Director, said: “Ready Camp remains a top pick for hassle-free breaks and we’re pleased to extend the coverage of our glamping holidays across England this year. “It’s reported that 59% of people are planning a domestic UK break in 2019* and we’re growing to meet this demand.” Since its launch in 2015, Ready Camp coverage across the UK has more than doubled. Each Ready Camp tent is wellequipped with a kitchenette, decked area, table and chairs, triple bunk bed and a single stow away bed. Campers need only bring their bedding, towels and a sense of adventure. On-site facilities are of a high standard and benefit from regular investment. Facility blocks are within walking distance of each tent and many have locations have dedicated parent and baby rooms. Ready Camp has scooped several awards in recent years including the Best Holiday Rental for Families award at the Family Traveller Awards 2017. Ready Camp at Clitheroe sits in the heart of the Ribble Valley with several bustling market towns nearby. Further north, The Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty covers 312 square miles with rare wildlife and pretty villages that can be explored by bike or on foot. Kingsbury Water Park is located in the heart of the Midlands with attractions such as Cadbury World and Black Country Living Museum close at hand. The water park is adjacent to Ready Camp at Kingsbury and has miles of walking and cycling tracks plus canoeing and sailing opportunities. Nearby Lichfield is one of the UK’s smallest cities with historic streets, quirky shops and a stunning 13th century cathedral. Ready Campers at Devizes can enjoy the famous Caen Hill locks, a flight of 29 locks on the Kennet and Avon Canal that can be reached direct from site. It’s in a perfect location too for prehistoric sites such as Stonehenge and the Avebury stone circle. The nearby Longleat estate has 900 acres of parkland and the biggest hedge maze in Britain.
One Stop Be My Guest Roadshow
Offering a combined destination for independent accommodation providers, the Be My Guest team brings together a multi-billion pound industry through its innovative regional roadshow series. The BMG 2019 dates kicked off in Bournemouth in February, offering a one stop shop for holiday let providers who want to network, learn, grow, save money...and become top rated. In just one day, the organisers promise a hive of opportunity whether that’s exclusive show-only deals, inspirational speakers in our fact-packed seminar programme or the chance to speak and meet with experts and other owners in our networking area. More than 150 companies will be showcasing the very best of hospitality at the BMG Marketplace, the ideal stopping point for finding new products, services, ideas and inspiration. The second event, in the series of three, takes place in Scarborough on Tuesday March 5th followed by the third and final event, this year, in Swansea on Wednesday October 16th. The organisers are keen to provide a hub of information and a meeting place for the 45,000 + independent accommodation providers in the UK. Find out more at www.bemyguest.live
Macmillan Cancer Support Boost
A charity gala dinner held at Beaulieu during the annual Holiday Caravan and Park Home Show in September raised a remarkable £22,246 for MacMillan Cancer Support. An initiative by three of the manufacturers at the show – ABI UK, Carnaby Caravans and the Swift Group – the event was supported by four of the other manufacturers – Atlas Leisure Homes, Pathfinder Homes, Prestige Homeseeker Park & Leisure Homes and Stately Albion. The 300 guests, who came mainly from holiday and residential parks across the south of England, enjoyed a drinks reception in the worldfamous National Motor Museum before for a sumptuous three-course meal, during which they were entertained by performances from three outstanding magicians. The evening concluded with a hugely entertaining presentation by the brilliant ventriloquist, Nina Conti. Macmillan Cancer Support described the donation as ‘absolutely fantastic’ and said it would all be used to help people living with cancer and their families to receive essential medical, practical and emotional support. For example, it requires £21,510 to fund a Macmillan nurse for nine months. Meanwhile, Hendra Holiday Park, in Newquay Cornwall, handed over £13,398 to Macmillan Cancer Support, the proceeds from fundraising at the Park throughout the year. Janine Hyatt, Director, said: “We chose MacMillan as we want to help them continue their very important work of supporting people through cancer. This is the largest amount we have raised and is certainly the result of the hard work of Hendra team members. Our guests opted into making a donation with their accommodation booking, took part in fundraising activities and dropped cash into charity tins on the park, and we are grateful for their support.” Emma Wright, Senior Fundraising Manager: ““We would like to say a huge thank you to Hendra Holiday Park and all of their guests for raising such an amazing amount of money for Macmillan Cancer Support. “We want to help everyone with cancer find their best way through, from the moment of diagnosis, so they’re able to live life as fully as they can. That’s why this money is so vital to us and will make a real difference to those trying to find their best way through cancer with Macmillan’s support.”
The staycation boom of recent years means that UK holiday park operators now have access to more potential customers than ever before. This growing market brings extra challenges: how can parks best increase their visibility and rise above the competition? “Now, more than ever, understanding and creating a joined-up marketing approach is vital to your holiday park or campsite’s ongoing success,” says Andrew Hampton, one of the Directors of tourism marketing specialists Pitched. It’s taken as a given in these digital days that at the centre of any integrated marketing strategy is a well-designed website. “As the saying goes, first impressions count,” says Andrew. “Your website will be the first port of call for 99% of your customers, so it not only needs to stand out from the crowd but work seamlessly too – across all devices.” With traffic from mobile devices likely to equate to over 60% of all traffic to a website, Andrew advises his clients to spend more time thinking about the user experience on mobile: “Does the site display properly, is it easy to navigate, can users easily start an online booking, and can they find all the information they need?”
Visual appeal is key in creating a lasting impression on potential customers and authenticity helps to avoid potential pitfalls later. According to Andrew, park operators shouldn’t be tempted to scrimp on imagery and video: “People can spot a stock image from a hundred paces – they want to see pictures of where they will be staying, not something from a magazine shoot in America.” To be effective, websites must not only look good but drive bookings and enquiries. More often than not, customers need a nudge in the right direction and adding high visibility Call To Action (CTA) messages throughout a website helps to get people into the online booking process quicker. Ensuring high visibility of your website means embracing the so-called ‘dark arts’ of SEO and PPC. Nurturing your website with regular, well-considered content as part of aSEO strategy is almost certain to help your organic traffic build over time but PPC can offer quick wins for those with bigger pockets. According to Andrew, PPC can be an effective way to cheat the system and propel your site to the heights of Google but a word of caution… “£100 here and there really isn’t going to cut it. During peak booking periods, park operators must be prepared to spend well over £1,000 a month if they want to get their ads in front of enough eyeballs to have any sort of impact.” Modern technology is continually opening up new marketing channels. According to Industry Expert and Managing Director of Key Digital Agency, David Lakins, Voice is an area that is having a huge impact. Incorporating Voice into your marketing strategy means focusing on two areas: Optimising your website for voice search, and developing your own voice assistants. “Voice searches change how your guests are searching. If your park website is going to answer the natural language questions people now use to search, your content is the first thing that should be reviewed,” explains David. In simple terms, this will mean incorporating longer voice-friendly key phrases and using question phrases in your content, for example, by creating an FAQ page on your website. Most voice searches take place from a mobile device, which gives an even greater reason to ensure your site is optimised for mobile. For David, effective marketing for holiday parks is about “having a strong digital presence - not necessarily being good at everything - but showing your guests that you understand them and the way they want to connect with a park.” Key Digital is at the forefront of looking at ways in which parks can use Voice for connecting with guests - particularly ‘in-stay’.With the popularity of voice control devices increasing in the home, it seems natural that the next step will be their use in holiday accommodation. Last year, Amazon started to trial their new Alexa for Hospitality system and as David says, “Watch this space…” Increasingly, Social Media channels are a vital route to market, as well as a key customer service tool. David believes that “more than anything, parks need to focus their attention on treating social networking as a preferred way to connect with guests.” He recommends looking beyond the three main channels of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and keeping an eye on the chosen platforms of the next generation of consumers. David also advises that park operators consider using influencer marketing as part of their content strategy. This means developing “meaningful customer relationships and turning them into park advocates”, as well as building links with existing influencers. Harnessing the power of video is also critical to successfully generating engagement and building followers. For most parks, effective digital marketing means time to call in an expert. According to Smart Marketing’s Caroline Farrar, using an outsourced marketing expert brings “a valuable, outside perspective to your park, leading to fresh ideas and programs that drive results.” Caroline has worked as a Marketing Consultant for Holgates Holiday Park Group (six 5 star parks in North Lancashire and South Cumbria) for the past three years. “Initially, my core focus was on their digital strategy, social channels and a new website build. Now this extends to a monthly, retained service providing marketing support and strategy guidance. Measurability and budget management is also key to this support.” According to Holgate’s owner Michael Holgate, Caroline’s great digital knowledge fills an obvious “skills gap” in their business.With digital activity now accounting for 80% of the Holgate’s marketing budget, tracking and being able to offer a demonstrable return on investment is an important part of Caroline’s remit. A fundamental advantage of digital marketing is the ability to more easily measure success and ROI. Google Analytics is one of the most popular tools, and the good news is it’s free and easy to use! Andrew Hampton says Google Analytics should be “your best friend.” His agency, Pitched, use it on a daily basis. “Once configured, Google Analytics will record everything you need to know,” says Andrew. “From revenue from social media and email campaigns to your PPC performance, this is the place where you can view it all with relative ease.” With this increased, modern focus on digital marketing, it’s important that park operators implementing an integrated marketing strategy don’t ignore offline opportunities such as print (see case study) or more traditional communication channels.
PR may be ‘old-school’ but park owners should not dismiss it. Jon Boston specialises in PR consultancy for holiday parks. The bulk of his work, he says, is helping parks to gain editorial coverage both in print and online, and where possible on television and radio. But he wonders if some parks aren’t missing a trick when it comes to gaining free publicity: “The staycation boom is increasingly putting the spotlight on Britain’s tourism industry, and editors are often keen to feature interesting examples of what accommodation providers are doing to woo new customers,” he says. “Parks have a particularly strong hand to play here because they can usually offer a much more diverse and exciting alternative to more traditional options such as hotels and holiday cottages.” Jon recommends picking up on an interesting news angle that is likely to engage editors, and including quality imagery: “Fielding a good story is important – but just as crucial is supplying a great photograph to go with it.”
Finally, park operators should consider developing partnerships with larger groups to achieve greater economies of scale, or even working with Online Travel Agents (OTAs). David Lakins believes that OTAs are “the biggest threats to parks at the moment” due to the size of their budgets and their powerful marketing spend, which leaves many parks unable to compete. But if you can’t beat them, why not join them? Mara Casadio, Marketing and Content Executive for Pitchup.com, says that OTAs can help parks avoid risk associated with promotional activity since commission is only payable on a successful sale. They can also help parks reach certain customer segments more efficiently. “With international tourists to the UK at an all-time high, parks can target this untapped market via OTAs,” explains Mara. “Pitchup.com is now translated into 16 languages. Nearly 25% of our traffic now comes from outside the UK as a result of media promotion, as well as other international activity including SEO, paid search and newsletters.” Pitchup.com’s investment in their award-winning mobile site means that they have a strong appeal to a younger, international audience who can book in just a couple of minutes, even whilst travelling. Parks are not necessarily investing twice or competing for the same sales lead. Mara explains: “One major group found an overlap of only 3% between their Pitchup customers and their existing customer database.” According to Jon Moxon, Business Development Manager of Hoseasons, the Booking Agent’s size and scale, accommodating over 1.75 million holidaymakers each year, means they can offer “unrivalled access to the UK self-catering market.” Parks can benefit from cutting-edge technological and booking solutions, as well as dynamic pricing software to maximise yield. Jon continues: “As part of the partnership, owners also have a dedicated account manager who draws on a huge bank of expert knowledge and data to provide our partners with the insight they need to best run their businesses.”
The Power Of The Print Brochure
Located near Penzance in West Cornwall, Kenegie Manor offers self-catering cottages, bungalows, apartments and barn conversions. Alongside website development, SEO and PPC services, Pitched also handles the park’s printed material. The annual brochure continues to be a big source of bookings and enquiries. The park also sends out several postcards and mailers to promote offers or to push quieter, shoulder weeks and months. Ed Newbold, owner of Kenegie Manor, says: “Print still has a huge role to play in the industry and, even in this digital world, is a vital part of our overall marketing strategy.” He continues: “In this post GDPR era, where email databases have been reduced, print continues to serve us well. An email can be deleted, easily forgotten or go unnoticed. A brochure will be picked up time and again and serves as a reminder to regular and new guests. Our brochure and mailshots have proven to be not only excellent marketing tools but also an important driver of bookings.”
Think back to your earliest holidays… or even your most recent one. Chances are your memories include at least one desperate attempt to strike it lucky on a coin - flipping machine or prize grabber. It’s no wonder really. Amusements like these inject fun and excitement into a family’s holiday experience – keeping them wanting for more. While we all want our guests to enjoy themselves, our main objective is to generate revenue. And amusements, attractions and ride-on equipment do just that by allowing you to increase your sources of income. It’s important to remember, however, what a big investment holidays represent for most families. Here in the UK, research from travel booking site Expedia found that, on average, a nine day holiday comes with a £2,417 price tag. Importantly, this figure includes the little extras, such as a flutter on the fruit machines or enjoying activities together. And those extras can quickly add up to something significant.
That’s why it’s important to identify the right mix of amusements and attractions to boost your bottom line. While there are a wide-range to choose from, we look at the latest trends in the hopes that one (or more) will enhance your offering. We Brits love a good amusement or attraction when we’re on holiday. Indeed, at some point in their lives, 72 per cent of adult consumers have played with amusement equipment, according to research from Price Waterhouse Cooper (PwC).British Amusement Catering Trade Association, estimates there are more than 310,000 machines in the UK alone played regularly by 14 million people. While many can be found in pubs, clubs and adult entertainment centres (AEC), a large number can be found in the UK’s more than 1000 family-entertainment centres (FEC). Many will be familiar with destination venues, such as Brighton Palace Pier – which attracts more visitors than Stonehenge – and Namco Funscape in London, on London’s South Bank, as well as the multitude of smaller operations, including those at holiday parks.
In the pub, however, some machines are starting to lose their appeal, according to Bacta. “Whilst the Category C AWP remains the most profitable four square feet of pub floor space, the trend is a downward one, accentuated by the proliferation of Licensed Betting Offices and the lure of FOBT (fixed odd betting terminals).” According to some experts, this has cost the sector dearly. There’s believed to have been a 25% reduction in average weekly income from them since 2007 and, so far, it’s cost the industry more than £600 million. Fortunately, all is not lost. Bacta explains: “Advances in technology have seen something of a revolution with pubs featuring the very latest in digital gaming equipment and internet-empowered jukeboxes.” Say the letters G-D-P-R and you’re sure to hear a sigh. However, big data plays a big role in making sure our machine investments pay dividends. “If you measure it, you can manage it. Appreciate the value of your site and machine data,” advises John Dorman, Marketing Manager for Playsafe Systems (www.playsafe.systems) in Bath. The company works with the AGC and FEC sectors to collect, record and secure customer site data, which it converts into the useful information businesses need to drive their amusement revenue streams forward… even when they’re off-site. To get best value from your equipment, John suggests site owners “consider introducing an integrated system of hardware and software that collects and stores all their gaming and machine information to track/measure performance and increase onsite security.” He adds: “And, if you use technology to help secure your site data and cash, you can enjoy better piece of mind – even if you are offsite.”
Tel. + 31 20 893 2161
Tel. 01707 280 020
When it comes to accommodation, the ‘one size fits all’ philosophy is long gone, as parks now strive to provide bespoke options to suit all tastes and clientele. Today’s holiday parks are more inclusive than ever before. With a vast selection of accommodation and activities now available to choose from, it’s no wonder that an increasingly broad clientele of people are opting to holiday close to home. Parks up and down the country are expanding their horizons when it comes to accommodation, with most offering a good range of options for families with small children, teenagers and young couples as well as the older generation. And what’s more, it’s a shift that’s paying off, with more and more parks reaping the financial rewards. Henry Wild, of Skelwith Fold caravan park in the Lake District, says that new ways for guests to stay on parks are helping to ensure bookings and drive down the average age of visitors: "About a decade ago, many park industry commentators became concerned at what they saw as an increasingly mature market of visitors and holiday home buyers. Their conclusion was that without new blood being drawn in, numbers in these sectors would be sent on a downward trajectory. "What they didn't foresee was a combination of factors, which has led many younger couples and families to become familiar with the park product, helping to underpin this industry's future.”
BANG ON TREND
Leading the way has been glamping in all its different forms. What began as a type of accommodation characterised by quite basic timber huts has now evolved into a sophisticated and often luxurious staying option for people seeking a new holiday experienceIn addition, park-based glamping holidays are being increasingly featured in the media where they are often described as ‘cool’, and highlighted as a much more exciting type of escape than a hotel or rented cottage. "Often these types of accommodation attract younger generations, and we see plenty of evidence of this with those booking our fully equipped safari tends and top-end glamping modules based on the Swift S-Pod,” says Henry. "Motorhomes are also very much on-trend with younger holiday guests, and last summer we saw a rise of eight percent in the number of motorhome bookings compared with the previous year, with the result that motorhomes now occupying almost half of our touring pitches.” Henry goes on to explain that the continuing confusion surrounding what Brexit will mean for travel in Europe next year also appears to be driving UK holiday makers to play it safe and holiday closer to home.
CLOSE TO HOME
"Another factor which couldn't have been predicted a decade ago, and which has also broadened the appeal of parks to new markets, are concerns over Brexit and the accompanying fall in the value of the pound .which has driven up the cost of holidays overseas,” he comments. "Combine this with a series of spectacular summers in recent years, and many people are now questioning whether a UK holiday might offer more fun and a lot less stress than going abroad. The superbly high standards of modern holiday homes reinforces the argument, and makes a pretty persuasive case for owning a holiday home in this country.” According to holiday park owner and operator Bridge Leisure, the uncertainty surrounding Brexit is already having a positive impact on UK staycations. Their advance bookings for 2019 have seen a 30 per cent increase across their nine parks, with Ashbourne Heights in Derbyshire already up by 150 per cent on the same period last year. CEO Andrew Howe believes they are definitely benefitting from the Brexit effect, he said: “Staycations are becoming increasingly popular anyway but with the lack of clarity around what a deal or no deal Brexit means for travellers, people just want to avoid any nasty surprises and seem to be opting for a UK holiday instead.” To meet the demand, Bridge Leisure are continuing to invest in their accommodation options, to ensure that they are hitting the spot when it comes to their customer’s expectations. “Staycations are becoming more and more popular, so the various types of accommodation continue to evolve and develop to meet what the customer is looking for in all sorts of shapes, styles and sizes,” says Andrew.
“You only have to look at the popularity of lodges with hot tubs to see that the demand is still there and growing.” He adds: “Above all people are looking for experiences, good quality and choice. They are also looking for something a bit different which you can’t get everywhere like our two storey safari lodges. They are very popular with families and provide a sense of adventure with the added touches of luxury.” The group recently invested in Safari Lodges at Trevella Park in Crantock, Ashbourne Heights in Derbyshire and Hedley Wood near Bude, to offer guests the ultimate glamping experience. Set over two floors, each lodge features a spacious double bedroom and a second bedroom on the upper floor, as well as a fully equipped kitchenette with hob, microwave, fridge and sink, and WC with shower. The lodges also boast an outdoor hot tub with a large porch and parking. Andrew believes that today’s guests have ever increasing expectations but as ever cleanliness is king: “Generally our guests are looking for a home away from home experience with all the added comforts. We offer ready erected tents to minimise stress and packing and en-suite touring pitches for added comfort and convenience. It’s the extra touches which can make the difference.”
In terms of maintaining a high standard of accommodation on their parks, Bridge Leisure have a dedicated on-site team who carry out regular checks and keep everything in tip-top condition. “There isn’t really a hard and fast rule for when accommodation should be replaced. Different types will have different life cycles,” says Andrew. “We have an annual refurbishment programme across all of our parks and this year we are investing over half a million in new units. We want to make sure customers have a choice of different accommodation to suit different requirements and budgets.” For park owners that are looking to invest in new accommodation, choosing the right supplier is a key decision. A good supplier is easy to deal with, consistent, reliable and provides quality products and suitable prices. In turn, this helps you to focus on your park and deliver a high-level of service to your guests. An average supplier can, at best, take up your valuable time and, at worst, can cause a knock-on effect that impacts your service, guests and profit. “When choosing an accommodation supplier I’m sure top of most people’s lists will be value for money, quality and innovation,” comments Andrew. “But in addition, we look for suppliers who understand the demands of our business and deliver within agreed timescales.”
From an insurance point of view, the potential for an insurance claim to arise is ever present, even on the best run holiday parks. Identifying and managing the risks associated with all types of park-owned accommodation units relies upon a park carrying out regular and thorough risk assessments. The demand for high-end accommodation and luxury facilities such as hot tubs continues. Apart from the extra operational demands of these facilities, they can increase risk and as such may have insurance implications. “It is all too common for a liability claim to arise in respect of park-owned units,” explains a spokesperson for Compass Insurance. “For example, steps, beds, showers, baths, hot tubs and wet surfaces are associated with slip, trip and fall claims. Park owners will also understand that carbon monoxide poisoning can pose a life-threatening risk to customers staying in various types of accommodation units and of the need to ensure that the necessary detectors are in-situ.”
There is no shortcut to risk assessing each and every park-owned unit onsite. The risks associated with a caravan holiday home or lodge will differ from those associated with a glamping pod, which will differ still to those associated with a tepee, safari tent or ready tent. Parks should ensure that all park-owned accommodation meets relevant regulatory safety requirements. This is also required by the Policy wording. Subsequently, units should be kept in good condition and it is crucial that records of all operating procedures, maintenance, checking and cleaning are meticulously documented and kept readily accessible. The Compass spokesperson warns: “If a park cannot prove, using up-to-date and documented evidence, that it has taken all reasonable steps to minimise health and safety risks, it may be impossible for an insurer to defend a liability claim. The park could also end up in trouble with the HSE!” According to Compass, the type of cover and the cost of insurance will vary according to the type of accommodation on a park. This is relevant to the risk presented. For example, it may be more expensive to insure a pod with a wood burner than one without, simply because there is more likelihood of a fire-related incident where a wood burner exists. Premium costs will also vary depending on the number, variety, age and value of the units requiring cover. “Insurance can be expensive so while it is very important not to underinsure, over-insuring won’t help either! In this regard, maintaining an accurate valuation of park-owned accommodation is vital,” advises the spokesperson. “The value of accommodation should be reviewed on an annual basis, but policies can and should be amended mid-term too if new units are purchased or sold. It is important to keep your insurer informed about investment and development throughout the year so that they can ensure your policy is fully up-to-date.” To keep things as simple as possible, park owners would be wise to choose a specialist provider that can cover all of their park-owned accommodation under a single policy avoiding issues, should a claim occur, over which provider is responsible.
Tel. 01908 067 900
Tel. 0344 274 027
Tel. 01327 349297
SKELWITH FOLD CARAVAN PARK
Tel. 015394 32277
Cofton Holidays has been welcoming holiday-makers for over 40 years..
Nestled in its very own glorious corner of Devon, surrounded by 80 acres of Devon countryside and close to the pretty coastline of Dawlish Warren, Cofton Holidays has been welcoming holidaymakers from far and wide for over 40 years. Guests return year after year to enjoy its beautiful and convenient location, extensive facilities and wide choice of accommodation to suit the needs of all visitors. Purchased by the late George Jeffery in 1975, Cofton Holidays was transformed from what was a basic operation into the stunning landscaped grounds that it is today. The beautiful gardens and established plants that you can see around the multi award-winning holiday park were created by George. Now, Cofton Holidays continues to run under the Jeffery name, with George’s children Roger, Helen, Mellony and Christopher firmly at the rei ns. Cofton Holidays, Holiday Park of the Year at the Visit Devon Tourism Awards 2018, offers a range of accommodation, entertainment and facilities for the whole family to enjoy. When guests drive through the gates of Cofton, they can immediately escape to a tranquil world, leaving the mundane routine of everyday life behind. Guests are greeted by the newly refurbished reception area with the friendly team on standby, ready to check-in visitors to their home away from home. From stylish holiday homes to indulgent hot tub cottages and luxury Georgian apartments, Cofton Holidays offer a wide range of accommodation for guests to choose from. Cofton’s selection of holiday homes is like no other. With two or three bedroom holiday homes available which can sleep up to six guests, there’s plenty of space for the whole family. The dog friendly Dart holiday home is a great example of the high-quality accommodation available at the South Devon holiday park. The Dart features one double bedroom and one twin and also has an additional sleeping space in the lounge with a fold-out bed. Furry, four-legged guests will feel right at home with the addition of a pet mat, small pet blanket and stainless-steel water and food bowls. Suitable for all seasons, the Dart has full central heating and double glazing, ensuring that the family is kept warm and cosy throughout the winter months.
HOT TUB COTTAGES
Embracing the popularity of hot tub holidays, Cofton launched its range of hot tub cottages in 2016. The three exquisite homes can be found on the Eastdon Estate, set away from the main park yet close enough to enjoy its facilities and entertainment. Each cottage has breath-taking views including classic Devon farmland and beautiful views of the Exe Estuary. Newly refurbished for 2018, Cofton’s five holiday apartments are located within the Georgian Eastdon House on the Eastdon Estate. Interior designer Julie Jeffery transformed the apartments into highend, luxury accommodation complete with elegant furnishings, 55” TVs and high-specification kitchen areas. For those who prefer traditional camping holidays complete with roasted marshmallows and their own home comforts, Cofton Holidays offers a range of camping and touring pitches to suit guests needs. Rated number one for Dawlish campsites on Trip Advisor and holding the coveted AA 5 Pennant Gold Award for its caravan and camping facilities, Cofton Holidays offers grass, hard standing and fully serviced pitches perfect for tents, caravans or motorhomes. The fantastic range of facilities on offer at the family-run holiday park is just one of the reasons why guests return year after year. With two pools, one outside and one indoors, guests can enjoy splashing around whatever the weather.
The heated indoor pool includes a fun splash pad area and hydrotherapy loungers, perfect for parents to relax on whilst the kids play. Other on-site facilities include a gym, restaurant, pub, steam room, sauna, fitness studio, soft play area, playground, sports wall, outdoor pools and much more. Guests also have access to five coarse fishing lakes, miles of cycle paths and nature trails that take visitors through woodland to the golden sands of Dawlish Warren beach and nature reserve. Cofton Holidays has recently invested £20,000 in its indoor cycling studio in addition to adding brand-new classes to the gym’s timetable, located within Ashburn Springs Spa and Leisure. Widening its kid-friendly activity offering, Cofton Holidays has also invested £50,000 in a new Woodland Adventure Area which features a 25m zip line, a climbing cage, rope ladders, balance beam, balance lines and scramble nets. Free kids’ club take place each day throughout the school holidays, from Easter through to the October half term.
South Devon is home to an abundance of picture-perfect landscapes and attractions. Famous for its beaches, Devon is THE place to go for sand, sun and fun. Cofton Holidays is only a short walk away from the golden sands of the Blue Flag beach at Dawlish Warren and its fascinating Nature Reserve. Also close by is Teignmouth, the location for the 2017 film The Mercy, starring Colin Firth and Rachel Weisz. Cross the bay and you will end up in the picturesque village of Shaldon where the ‘Smugglers Tunnel’ is located. Walk through the tunnel and discover the secluded Ness Cove beach, perfect for a relaxing picnic by the water’s edge. Speaking on behalf of the family, Director Helen Scott is incredibly proud of how Cofton Holidays has developed over the years: “As a family business that’s been running for over 40 years, we know how imt98009portant it is to create a customer experience that guests want to share. We invest in our facilities so that our customers can have an even richer experience, encouraging them to return year after year, generation after generation. Throughout 2019, we will continue to add to our offering which includes expanding our dog friendly accommodation offering.” With so much to see and do in this glorious corner of Devon, it’s no wonder that Cofton Holidays has such a loyal customer base. The Warren family said of their recent visit: “We have had a wonderful experience. The site is very clean, all the staff were friendly and helpful, especially the bar supervisor and the entertainment was second to none. We’ll 100% return.” Peter from London said: “The best holiday park we’ve been to in our motorhome. Our children aged two and four love it. Great facilities, entertainment and activities in one of the best parts of Devon.” Cofton Holidays has secured a number of accolades in the last 12 months including Gold Holiday Park of the Year and Silver Responsible, Ethical and Sustainable Tourism awards at the Visit Devon Awards 2018, as well as the Hoseasons Diamond Award for Family Run Lodges and Parks. In February 2019, Cofton Holidays will attend the South West Tourism Excellence Awards as a finalist. It looks like 2019 will be another memorable year for the family-run, South Devon holiday park.
Tel. 01626 890111
Serving Up Lobster Dressing
Shell clothing has taken on a whole new meaning at Ladram Bay Holiday Park in Devon, which has just launched its own exclusive range of casual wear. Lobster Blue is the brand name of the park’s first-ever collection of t-shirts and hoodies. Made from top-quality pure cotton and designed for easy care, the garments have a relaxed style and comfortable feel with a very distinctive look. The clothing’s striking logo isn’t just the creative inspiration of Ladram Bay’s graphics designer, for it recalls an eye-opening incident at the park a few years ago. It occurred when one of the directors of the family owned business, Robin Carter, landed an actual blue lobster from one of the pots he had tended in the bay for over 60 years, sparking a media frenzy.
Labour Of Welsh Love
The much-anticipated Maes Mynan development in Afonwen, near Caerwys, is to open this September after receiving planning permission from Flintshire County Council. Acorn Leisure – which also owns holiday parks in nearby Lloc and Cilcain – has approval for 47 luxury lodges and more than 130 static and touring caravans on the old quarry site, which has lain empty for more than 20 years. Recently named one of the top 10 ‘biggest property stories in Wales’, the Denbigh Road scheme is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and will inject new life into the region, blending into the stunning Flintshire scenery with added landscaping and protection for nature and biodiversity. Owners Peter and Louise Barlow have also earmarked a section for boutique glamping, and one of three beautiful lakes – already home to swans and cygnets - will be used for conservation and ecology research.
Flushed With Success
Donkey Creek Farm Caravan Park on Lancashire’s Fylde coast is officially one of the best place to ‘go’ in Britain, according to judges of the annual Loo of the Year awards. The park’s washrooms have been named as top platinum winners in the latest Loo of the Year awards, bringing a chain of honour to the family-run business. The prestigious accolade was made to Donkey Creek after the shower and toilet facilities provided for guests were ‘mystery shopped’ by inspectors. Celebrating the news of the award are Paul Lancaster and his wife Jane who opened the park last summer in a quiet rural location near the market town of Freckleton. One of their first tasks was a built a state-of-the-art washroom facility for guests pitching up at the park with motorhomes, touring caravans and tents. Paul and Jane also know that their success is not just a flash in the pan because, they say, advance bookings for 2019 are ‘way beyond our expectations.
The Hoburne Group has acquired a new holiday park on the edge of Bodmin in Cornwall, which will boast a new range of bespoke luxurious Hideaway lodges. Established in 1912, Hoburne is an expert in providing UK holiday breaks and holiday home ownership already owning seven holiday parks across the most picturesque counties in Great Britain, Hampshire, Dorset, Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and the Cotswolds. Hoburne acquired the new 17-acre site in the village of St Mabyn for its eighth park. With a primary focus on holiday home ownership, the new development at Hoburne St Mabyn will house ‘Hideaway’ lodges and aims to create an idyllic lodge escape for owners and holiday makers, enabling them to relax and unwind in an environment which offers a tranquil quiet space without the busier traditional park facilities and can be used as a base from which to explore the local area. The first phase of the new Hideaway lodges development includes 25 plots, 17 of which are available for ownership and eight for holidays, as well as a lodge reception for two full-time park management personnel.
Green Motorhomes Deserve Red Carpet
Fragile areas such as the Lake District should be doing all they can to woo visitors in motorhomes, according to the owner of a major Cumbria holiday park. Henry Wild of the 130 acre, Skelwith Fold, in Ambleside, says that people using such vehicles are helping to drive up the use of transport considered more environmentally friendly. Buses, bicycles and two legs are the preferred ways of exploring Lakeland for many of Cumbria’s thousands of motorhome users each year, says Henry. As such, he says, motorhome visitors help reduce congestion on the roads, and minimise the release of harmful greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. Last summer, Henry reports, motorhome visitors to his park grew by 8% compared with the previous year, and are fast gaining ground with many younger couple and families. But despite their size, he believes, motorhomes should be hailed as green holiday heroes – as long as they opt for holiday park pitches and not roadsides or public car parks.
Much of the tourism traffic seen on Lake District roads is likely to belong to people who have already checked in to their destination, and who are now enjoying the sights,” said Henry. “By contrast, motorhomes will often spend the entire duration of their stay parked-up whilst their users find alternative ways to tour around and get to where they want to go. “The same will apply in many other rural areas, and suggests that we should be encouraging motorhome visitors in parts of Britain where the countryside is deemed to be at risk,” added Henry.
Generating £9.3 Billion Spending
Holiday parks and campsites around the UK generate £9.3bn in visitor expenditure and support 171,448 full-time employees, a major report has revealed. The independent report, ‘Pitching the Value’, is the first time holiday parks and campsites across the UK have been analysed to show the value of the sector to the nation’s economy. ‘Pitching the Value’, which focusses on the economic impact of the sector together with the health and wellbeing benefits of such holidays, was carried out by Frontline Consultants on behalf of the UK Caravan and Camping Alliance (UKCCA). The alliance is an umbrella group comprising The National Caravan Council, The Camping and Caravanning Club, the Caravan and Motorhome Club, and the British Holiday & Home Parks Association. Bob Hill, who led the UKCCA joint working group, said: “This is a ground-breaking report that clearly demonstrates the important benefits to the economy brought by the UK’s many holiday parks and campsites. “Pitching the Value will help the industry attract more investment and ultimately improve opportunities for it to grow, develop and create new jobs. Our findings reinforce the importance of holiday parks and campsites to the country’s tourism economy. That will help us to improve holidaymakers’ on-site experiences and choice, which in turn will also attract more overseas visitors to these shores.”
Holiday Park and Campsite operators also support local communities through capital and operating expenditure, and wages. Nearly half of those companies and organisations that took part in the report cumulatively spend nearly £303 million per year in this way. The research also found they engage with local communities through support for events such as fundraising activities, participate in recycling and environmental initiatives, and promote healthy active lifestyles in the great outdoors through pastimes such as walking and cycling. The four sponsoring organisations of the UKCCA own or are affiliated to 6,243 holiday parks and campsites across the UK with a combined total of 438,076 pitches. Those sites offer holidaymakers a diverse range of accommodation such as touring pitches for tents, caravans and motorhomes, rented holiday homes, lodges, and chalets, plus glamping units like tipis and yurts, together with a wide selection of on-site facilities. Bob added: “We want to use this compelling evidence to ensure key influencers and decision-makers support the development and growth of our industry at a national, regional and individual business level for the benefit of our economy and for holidaymakers themselves.”
Visit www.ukcca.org.uk for further information or to download a copy of the Pitching the Value report.
Sites Celebrate Blooming Success
Black Knowl Club Site in Hampshire and Englethwaite Hall Club Site in Cumbria fought off stiff competition to win the Caravan and Motorhome Club’s ‘Sites in Bloom’ 2018 Awards. The Sites in Bloom Awards were introduced in 2003 by Caravan Club Life Member, the late Alan Payne OBE, who wished to recognise the creative and horticultural skills of site staff and volunteers, and to showcase their success in making their sites colourful and welcoming. The displays were evaluated using criteria including layout and creative use of space, variety, innovation, flair and colour coordination, with particular attention being paid to economy and low maintenance. The geographical location of the site is also taken into account by the judges and the fact that plant species are chosen to suit the local environment. Located within walking distance of the village of Brockenhurst in the New Forest National Park, the recently redeveloped Black Knowl site is one of the Caravan and Motorhome Club’s most popular. The Hampshire site took the prestigious Sites in Bloom award in the ‘multi-couple’ category (a set of site wardens and a set of assistant site wardens). First place in the ‘single couple’ category, the Englethwaite Hall site is a tranquil oasis scattered with rhododendrons from the garden of the former Old Hall.
North Wales’ Premier Park Named
Craiglwyd Hall Caravan Park, the flagship of the Thornley Leisure group, has been named by judges in the regional tourist board awards as the top holiday park destination in North Wales. Situated on the north coast of County Conwy, between Anglesey and the Menai Straits, the park provides tranquil landscaped grounds in a picture-postcard setting. The park is owned and run by the family owned Thornley Leisure Group that, established 55 years ago, now comprises nine parks in total with facilities which include holiday homes to buy and rent, glamping, and touring pitches. The park’s many awards include a top five star tourist board grading – but according to managing director David Thornley, this latest Go North Wales accolade has an extra significance: “The award is especially important to us because it recognises not just the quality of the park’s facilities and surroundings, but also the levels of hospitality and service provided to guests. “It’s our staff team which deserves the lion’s share of the credit for this, and they do a great job in making everybody feel welcome and helping them enjoy their stay. “It’s been a superb year for Craiglwyd Hall Caravan Park and the group as a whole, and I hope the publicity from this award will help benefit all tourism businesses here in North Wales,” added David. The Go North Wales event was organised by North Wales Tourism which represents more than 1,500 tourism-related businesses across the region, including scores of holiday parks.
Seaside Lodge Ultimate Location
Speculation is rife as to whether an ultimate fantasy escape at Sandhills Holiday Park in Dorset, is the most expensive holiday lodge in the UK. It takes the form of a high-tech £420,000 bespoke luxury lodge with one of the most picturesque beach-side settings to be found anywhere in Britain. This autumn, the keys to the holiday home were officially handed over to its extremely proud new owner. The visually striking and lavishly equipped lodge is the result of a design collaboration with Prestige which was sparked by Park Holidays UK earlier this year. It arose when Sandhills had to opportunity to develop a new holiday home on the sea-facing front of the park, just a few paces from the sandy beach at Mudeford near Christchurch. According to Park Holidays UK director Tony Clish, it was agreed that the breathtaking position warranted the creation of a unique and very special holiday home: “Only very rarely do pitches become available on Sandhills’ front row, and we wanted the new owners to enjoy surroundings that were just as amazing as the views,” he said. “Together with Prestige, we developed a blueprint which included large areas of glazing to give the outlook star billing from the interior, but maintained a warm and homely feel. “Natural materials, including timber, are a big feature together with ocean-inspired colours and decoration to evoke the glorious seascape vista,” added Tony.
Substantial investment in Sandhills by Park Holidays UK has introduced many new modern-day facilities to the park including a country club, gymnasium, and a heated outdoor pool. The split-level 40ft x 20ft lodge has a large elevated lounge, two spacious bedrooms, modern kitchen and bathrooms, and a 3502 ft decking surrounded by infinity glass. Its new owner is haulage entrepreneur John Dean who, with his partner Carol can now spend leisure time away from their Salisbury home in surroundings he describes as “simply stunning”. John, aged 79, founded his distribution company almost 50 years ago with a single truck, and grew the business to serve both national and international customers. His love of the sea led him to acquire a 65ft motor cruiser and then, last year, a holiday home at Sandhills Holiday Park with a view of Christchurch Harbour. Having made new friends at the park and found a relaxed and peaceful atmosphere very much to his liking, John was quick to seize his chance when the sea-front lodge became available. For buyers on a more modest budget, holiday homes at the park start from around £150,000 – in an area where wooden beach huts are regularly reported as changing hands for up to £300,000. Meanwhile, the park has just released a second bespoke holiday home on its front row which features a roof-top garden – and a slightly more accessible price tag of £399,950.
Tel. 01425 200744
Strong Motorhome and Caravan Show
The 2018 Motorhome and Caravan Show closed its doors after six days of new product launches, live theatre entertainment and other attractions for all the family, making the show a destination for those looking for new leisure vehicles and holiday inspiration. The annual show at the NEC, held by NCC Events, covered 11 halls of the exhibition centre. More than 96,000 visitors confirmed the show’s appeal as the one-stop destination for all the new-for-2019 leisure vehicles: over 1,000 motorhomes, touring caravans, campervans, caravan holiday homes and trailer tents, with a combined value of more than £36.5 million were displayed by more than 400 exhibitors. The Motorhome and Caravan Show is at the NEC from 15 to 20 October 2019 and the Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show from 19 to 24 February 2019.
Wish You Were Here - Craiglwyd Hall Caravan Park
Located at the foot of the Penmaenmawr Mountain, overlooking the spectacular coastal views from Llandudno and across to Anglesey, Puffin Island and beyond, Craiglwyd Hall Caravan Park is truly a holiday location that stands out from the crowd.Surrounded by natural beauty, this secluded luxury park is perfect for a peaceful get away, but at the same time is close to popular resorts and attractionsand has easy access to lovely mountain walks. On site,Craiglwyd Hall offers visitors a play area, on site bar, games room, gym and is a dog-friendly location.The flag ship of the Thornley Leisure group, the park’s many awards include a top five-star tourist board grading – but according to managing director David Thornley, the latest Go North Wales accolade has an extra significance “The award is especially important to us because it recognises not just the quality of the park’s facilities and surroundings, but also the levels of hospitality and service provided to guests. “It’s our staff team which deserves the lion’s share of the credit for this, and they do a great job in making everybody feel welcome and helping them enjoy their stay. “It’s been a superb year for Craiglwyd Hall Caravan Park and the group as a whole, and I hope the publicity from this award will help benefit all tourism businesses here in North Wales,” added David. Situated on the north coast of County Conwy between Anglesey and the Menai Straits, the park provides tranquil landscaped grounds in a picture-postcard setting. It has long proved popular with families wishing to own a caravan holiday home in one of North Wales’s most popular areas for lovers of natural scenic beauty.
Craiglwyd Hall Caravan Park
Tel. 01492 623355
Holiday Snaps - Nick Lomas - The Caravan & Motorhome Club
Nick Lomas is Director General of the Caravan and Motorhome Club, the UK’s largest club for owners of Leisure Vehicles, representing one million users. The Club operates over 200 UK campsites and provides 2300 exclusive CL locations for members. It also provides travel services to over 330 sites throughout Europe.
What was your career path into the industry?
My first job in hospitality was working behind the bar in a local pub. I graduated from University and worked in Financial Services for 17 years. I worked on the sales and marketing side promoting insurance, pensions and banking. My last job was at LV where I worked in their affi nity business providing discounted insurance and credit products to members of national motoring, travel and membership organisations and trade unions. That’s when I came across the Caravan Club, now the Caravan and Motorhome Club. The outdoors held much more appeal to me and I ended up becoming Marketing Director in 2005 and subsequently Director General in 2010.
How has market changed during your time in the industry?
The market grows ever more sophisticated. Consumers want higher quality accommodation and service delivered much faster through technology like booking apps. More people are buying motorhomes and spending short breaks glamping.
How do you predict things will change in the next five to ten years?
The shift to motorhomes and growth of shorter breaks over longer holidays is likely to continue. I think the changes to vehicles with electric cars replacing diesel and petrol vehicles will be important to cater for. Also wider ranges of experiences in terms outdoor activities in the day, matched with relaxing food and drink and pampering experiences in the evening will continue to grow.
What are the biggest challenges you face in your working life?
Supporting the Club staff of over 1000 people to give consistent, reliable quality service day in day out is the driving force of the club. Helping everyone to see how change is necessary and constant keeps me interested and excited. The future is bright but bringing it to life is hard work.
What is the best piece of business advice you have been given and by whom?
Be true to yourself and do what you believe is the right thing based on sound research – advice from a well-respected colleague.
What do you most like to spend your time out of working hours?
I love walking and cycling in the Peak District. Spending time there with friends and family restores my soul. When it’s dark, you can’t beat a good fi lm at the cinema, or a rock concert - I really enjoy watching a live gig.
If we could give you three guests? Who would like most like to sit down to dinner with and why?
Winston Churchill - he’s a hero but also a hugely complex and controversial character, Meryl Streep an amazing actress well placed for the gossip of Hollywood, and Prince Harry - youth and passion for helping others makes me think he’d be an interesting dinner guest, given his mental health and military veteran charity interests.
Do you have any claims to fame?
The Club’s Patron for over 66 years has been The Duke of Edinburgh - it’s been a pleasure meeting him and dealing with the Royal Household from time to time. Especially for our Club Centenary Garden Party at Buckingham Palace.
Where do you prefer to take your holidays?
I go skiing in Austria - snowy mountains and blue skies are a tonic in the gloomy depths of winter. I’ve driven a caravan through Greece and a motorhome to Istanbul. I love the challenge and adventure of getting somewhere new.
Playing It Cool
Having experienced the warmest summer on record in 2018, Britain is facing the coldest winter in living memory according to experts, with the weather set to bite right up until the end of February. The UK’s notoriously unpredictable weather can be a turn-off for would-be holidaymakers who aren’t willing to brave the elements, especially during the winter months. But savvy holiday park owners have got it covered when it comes to weather-proof activities for all the family, and providing indoor play facilities to keep the kids entertained is top of the list. Indoor play can take many forms, from conventional soft play zones to indoor rides, amusements and water leisure areas. Parks that offer exciting indoor entertainment are sure to stand out from the crowd. At Hendra Holiday Park in Cornwall, offering all-weather activities for children is a top priority. The fi ve star park invested in a new soft play area in 2017 and is reaping the benefits.
“Offering indoor play is a huge benefi t to parents holidaying in the UK. It is good to have an indoor weather attraction for children, so there is always something to do,” comments Clare Jackson of Hendra Holiday Park. The park’s soft play area, known as Henry's Play Loft is designed for children from the ages of 0-10 years old and has a tots area for the under twos. Meanwhile parents and families can relax in the comfortable seating area and there are refreshments available too. “We continue to update and maintain the areas as required to keep them clean and in tip-top condition,” says Clare. “The soft play area is generally popular among the smaller children, as is our Oasis indoor pool, which is one of the reasons we get many repeat bookings. There is a small charge for guests to use the pool facilities, but the soft play area is free.” According to the Play Providers Association (PPA), there are well over 600 independently operated indoor play sites across the country, with an increasing number of pubs, restaurants and holiday parks now offering indoor play equipment. “Over the last few years there has been a considerable increase in the number of indoor soft play areas. At the same time the scope of activities in these areas has increased and more adventurous items are constantly being introduced,” comments a spokesperson for the PPA.
Steve Sylvester, Managing Director of KOMPAN UK and Ireland agrees: “A cleverly designed indoor play space will have the end result of happier, more positive visitors who will thrive in your environment and forever long to return.” He adds: “Your play area can be part of your success story, inspiring great tales of the perfect family holiday or day out.” KOMPAN is a leading supplier of playground equipment for play areas, parks and sports areas. The company specialises in the design of innovative equipment for all ages and abilities. “Young children love a space filled with bright colours, friendly shapes and rounded edges. A well-planned play area can be one big play invitation to role-play; firefighter or princess one day and pirate captain the next" says Steve.
HENDRA HOLIDAY PARK
Tel. 01637 875 778
Tel. 01908 201002
PLAY PROVIDERS ASSOCIATION
Tel. 02476 414 999
WORLD OF RIDES
Tel. 01914 920999
Protect Your Assets
With so much of its notorious jargon and fine print to review, insurance can be a minefield of confusion for holiday park owners. But beware. Uncertainty over coverage can come at a heavy cost – especially if oversights are only spotted after events occur. “Park owners should seek out specialist brokers that offer cover specifically designed and tailored to suit the diversity of the parks industry,” advises of Compass Insurance. “Adequate cover will address both common, everyday losses and the more substantial losses that can be sustained in the event of a major disaster.” According to Compass, the most common holiday park claims involve:
• Tripping and slipping incidents
• Use of playground and activity equipment
• Material damage to third party property
• Injuries to employees
• Damage to holiday home stock
• Damage to communal buildings.
Claims are also impacted by major weather events from time to time. In early 2018, the Beast from the East and Storm Emma resulted in a high rate of weather-related damage claims. For owners, matters are made more complicated as no two park businesses are the same: every business’ insurance requirements are unique. “Your customers will want the reassurance of extensive insurance cover for accidental damage, fi re, theft, storm, flooding and vermin,” advises Liz Harrison from Leisuredays. “Severe flooding, storms, or fire can cause signifi cant damage to a holiday park and if you’re in the unfortunate situation where many units are written off, then you’ll want these quickly removing from your park,” Liz continues. “The Leisuredays policy automatically includes £10,000 for each damaged unit to be removed, and for a new unit to be resited and connected to utilities.” Many industry brokers operate a network of local account executives who can support you in identifying your individual insurance needs.
Tim Smyth, MD of Compass: “A good account executive will take time to fully understand your business and how it operates – and will support you in deciding on the appropriate levels of cover you need accordingly. “They will look for hidden and not-so-obvious risks which, left undetected, may pose a threat to your park. Sometimes optional/additional covers may be necessary, and your AE should be able to fi nd what best suits YOUR needs.” In addition, a good account executive should also be committed to regularly visiting your park and building a good relationship with you. Tim suggests: “They should aim to carry out an insurance review at regular intervals to check whether the insurance needs of your business have changed. If they have, your cover may need to be adjusted to reflect this.”
Some other key areas to consider when arranging insurance cover include the adequacy of your Sums Insured, the changing needs of your business and the terms, conditions and exclusion attached to your cover. Tim explains: “We sometimes see new clients whose previous cover or sum insured would not be adequate should an incident impact their income over a long period of time (e.g. longer than just 12 months). Protecting any Liability to the public through products or activities provided on the Park is also crucial.” At Wilby, holiday park insurance specialists through their Park Protect scheme, a campaign has been launched to help businesses protect themselves by raising the limits of their liability insurance. Wilby is recommending that businesses increase their indemnity limit for employers’ public and products liability cover to at least £30m. The company of trusted independent chartered insurancebrokers argue that recent cases mean that the bar has been raised, and businesses and individuals need to increase their level of protection.
Wilby’s Managing Director Richard Blackburn explains: "It can be hard to imagine that when you have employers’, public or products liability cover of £5m, £10m or even £20m that there may be times this can be insufficient. “However, we live in an age where levels of litigation have never been higher. Businesses and individuals have an increased awareness of their legal rights, coupled with the relative ease of accessing the UK legal system to pursue a compensatory award where negligence is alleged.” The issue has been made worse by the fact that the costs attached to claims are also being driven ever higher, with previous awards used as a basis for future settlements. Changes to the discount rate, the figure used to help set compensation pay-outs when people suffer serious injuries, made in March 2017 mean the potential for even higher personal injury settlements is even greater. The British Insurance Brokers' Association (BIBA), one of the leading UK insurance bodies which issues periodic advice to its members, now recommends a minimum indemnity limit of £23m. But, with the legal environment continually evolving, Wilby recommends that serious consideration is given to purchasing liability limits of no less than £30m.
Tel. 0344 274 0277
Tel. 01422 396 772
Tel. 01422 358 525
Best in Britain
Judges in the annual AA holiday awards have told the family owners of North Norfolk's Searles Leisure Resort they are the UK's champion holiday providers. Awards given by the AA – based on guest reviews and a ‘secret shopper’ visit by inspectors - are regarded as the ‘Oscars’ of the holiday parks industry. The park fi rst began welcoming campers over 60 years ago onto what was then a farm, and it has since grown to become one of Eastern England's largest and best-loved holiday centres.
Searles' provides more than 800 holiday home and touring pitches, including luxury lodges to buy and rent, plus a raft of family-friendly attractions and outdoor activities. Attractions at Searles include an innovative new indoor ‘splash zone’ with a host of different water play features, a new outdoor gym, and an adventure play park plus nightly entertainment.The citation from the AA's award judges noted that Searles: “Never stands still, and every year offers something new to delight visitors seeking a truly memorable and high quality experience. "The park's success and popularity is thanks to the vision, passion and hard work of four generations of the Searle family, and their quest for ever-rising standards,” they continued.
"All the resort's facilities are spotlessly clean, and there is a general feeling of pride from the friendly and hard-working staff. Searles is a very worthy winner," the judges concluded. Searles is also a highly-regarded local employer with around 200 staff, and provides valuable training and skills development opportunities especially to younger workers. Speaking on behalf of the family, managing director Paul
Searle said that the AA award celebrates not just the park, but also the entire workforce: "Standards of customer service are an important criteria for these awards, so our team at Searles can take a major share of the credit for this achievement," he says. "So many of the reviews we receive from customers mention the great atmosphere here, and delivering this is very much in the hands of our park team. "We hope the publicity from this AA award will also benefit other local tourism businesses by putting the spotlight on north Norfolk as an amazing holiday destination," adds Paul. Earlier this year, the park was crowned as the region's perfect park destination in the holiday parks category of the Norfolk and Suffolk Tourism Awards 2018.
Searles Leisure Resort
Tel. 01485 534211
The Inside story on the rise and rise of Bridge Leisure..
Founded in 2008 by Andrew Howe and Simon Williams as a holiday park consultancy and management business, Bridge Leisure initially focused on operating holiday parks for third parties. Both Andrew and Simon worked in the holiday park industry before setting up the company and both shared the vision of wanting to own a portfolio of individual holiday parks across the country. Andrew has worked in the leisure industry for 16 years, within both independent and plc companies including Talarius PLC, the UK’s largest High Street slot machine operator, and UK holiday parkoperators, Park Resorts. He shaped Sandy Balls Holiday Centre into the UK’s benchmark independent park and developed Park Resort’s lodge strategy. Equally at home on the park or in the boardroom, he expertly bridges the gap between the two. With 20 years’ experience of holiday parks, including at Bourne Leisure’s and Park Resorts’ leading locations, Simon has extensive industry knowledge. He heads the operations of our parks, both owned and managed.
Their first office was based in the spare bedroom of Andrew’s house where they spent two years building the business and looking for an opportunity to work with financial backers to help them purchase their first park. In 2010, with the backing of Kings Park Capital, the pair expanded into the operation of owned parks with the acquisitions of Trevella Park in Cornwall and Sand Le Mere Holiday Village on the Yorkshirecoast, followed by Turnberry, in Ayrshire, at the end of 2012. The recent acquisition of Yorkshire’s Bowland Fell takes Bridge Leisure’s estate to nine parks as it continues to consolidate the fragmented UK holiday park market. The Milton Keynes based company has now trebled the number of parks it owns since completing a management buyout supported by Phoenix Equity Partners (“Phoenix”) in 2015. Bowland Fell is a beautiful park set in an expanse of countryside between the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the Forest of Bowland – an area of outstanding natural beauty.
Andrew comments: “We are excited about the prospects for the park under Bridge Leisure’s ownership and plan to invest to further improve and grow the park in the coming years. “The park is run by a great team with lots of experience and enthusiasm, so we are really looking forward to joining forces and working together to take the park from strength to strength.” Bridge Leisure already own parks in Cornwall, Scotland, The Peak District and a second Yorkshire based park in Tunstall while in addition provides operational consultancy services to other park operators. Other key team players include Richard Hunt, chairman of the restructured Bridge Leisure Management, who boasts 20 years of board and executive level experience in senior general management roles in the leisure sector, with both private equity-backed businesses. Operations Manager, Alison Watson, has worked in the holiday park industry for more than 25 years, starting in 1989 as a children’s entertainer at Rockley Park in Dorset and then working across the country in roles covering retail, caravan sales and general management, running holiday parks in North Wales, Yorkshire and Scotland. As operations manager, Alison works closely with holiday park owners so that Bridge Leisure can help grow their business fi nancially and ensure a superb experience for their holiday home owners and holidaymakers. Andrew concludes: “It’s been a very successful few years for the company with a sustained period of growth and investment. “When we undertook the management buyout in 2015 we owned three parks but had a clear and ambitious plan to grow the group through acquisition and organic growth. “A little under four years later, with the backing of Phoenix, we have been able to add a further six parks and substantially grow both our existing and acquired parks.
Tel. 01908 067900
Hot Tub Breakthrough Products Triumph
National hot tub supplier Park Leisure Solutions has won the UK Pool & Spa Awards 2018 for Spa Product of the Year and Energy Efficient Product of the Year for its ground-breaking Climacube heat system. The arrival of the UK designed Climacube is set to revolutionise the commercial hot tub and spa industry, say creators, Park Leisure Solutions. In test results against current conventional heating systems the Climacube saved on average just under 60 per cent less time to heat up a Hot Tub and a massive 85.7 per cent reduction in energy cost, which is great news for both customers and the environment. With major UK Park Operators already using or ordering the energy effi cient design, saving them energy, time and money. Backed by a worldwide patent the Climacube works off a standard 13 amp power supply and can either be supplied from new or retro fitted to any contemporary hot tub or spa.Park Leisure Solutions, Managing Director, Stuart Mulcahy commented: “Our design offers the very latest energy saving heat technology, dramatically reducing running costs, reducing the carbon footprint and enables customers to use their hot tubs and spas all year round, at the desired temperature without the concern of cost.”
Co-winners of the Spa Product Of The Year Gold Award at the recent UK Pool & Spa Awards in Birmingham marked the latest milestone in the rise of Darlly Europe’s unique and ground-breaking SaniStreamTM Direct Line Filtration system. The SaniStreamTM Direct Line Filtration system, it is a high quality Darlly hot tub filter, combined with an adjustable and refi llable chlorine or bromine tablet erosion feeder, called SpaPodTM to make a highly effective combined, integrated hot tub water treatment system. The SaniStreamTM system offers a solution to the problem posed to holiday let owners and operators by Section 76 of health and safety guidelines, HSG282, which states that hot tubs installed in a setting where used ‘... as part of a business activity (eg in a holiday park rental unit or hotel bedroom(s) with their own dedicated spa, or as part of a rental agreement for a single family or group use)’ must be ‘disinfected using bromine or chlorine through the use of an inline disinfectant feeder’. The big issue with Sec. 76 of HSG282 is that few hot tubs sold on the UK market feature inline disinfectant feeders. Worse still, HSG282 made no legacy-exemption provision, meaning many thousands of hot tubs already in the fi eld became non-compliant overnight. Following much investment by Darlly Europe in R&D and fi eld-testing over the last eighteen months, the launch of the SaniStreamTM system at the Spatex 2019 expo heralds the solution to this issue. Heather Gilmore of Paith Holiday Cottages owns three holiday lets with hot tubs near Aberystwyth and sources the SaniStreamTM system from local supplier, Welsh Hot Tubs. Heather says: “The SaniStream gives me great peace of mind knowing my customers are in safe hygienic water conditions, and inspection and maintenance for us is easy and painless.”
Park Leisure Solutions
Tel. 01202 691166
Young Picking Up Park Habit
On-trend experiences, such as glamping and motorhomes, are wooing more younger first-time visitors than ever before onto parks, according to the Best of British consortium. The 2018 rise in ‘park novices’ was among the subjects discussed when BoB members met in November for their annual conference in Ely, Cambridgeshire. Comprising over 50 independent family-run parks, the group also welcomed six new members, and heard of plans to step up its successful digital marketing campaign. BoB’s online activity, reported chairman Richard Legg, had this year generated a raft of bookings and enquiries from holiday guests seeking top-end park experiences: “This is an important emerging market of younger guests who are likely to underpin our future by providing tomorrow’s customer base of visitors and holiday home buyers. “There’s every reason to believe that the growth of new park customers will remain on an upward trajectory as long as we continue to meet their quality expectations,” said Richard
£7.5m Winter Investment
The Camping and Caravanning Club will invest £7.5 million into its network of 106 UK Club Sites in the coming months, with large-scale capital works taking place at seven sites, including Wyeside near Rhyader in the Cambrian mountains of mid-Wales and West Runton on the north Norfolk coast. Money has been spent as part of the Club Sites investment programme which improves facilities for the future enjoyment of campers; both members of the Club and non-members. Proceeds raised by the Club through camping on Club Sites over the course of the year are invested into the site network annually as part of the programme. Bob Hill, Sites Director, said: “The site investment programme has been running in its current form since 2010 and in the last five years alone we’ve increased the number of hard-standings on our Club Sites by 7%, helping more members to enjoy camping year round – plenty to keep us busy.”
Holiday Park Pool Of The Year Title For Plas Coch
Plas Coch Coastal & Country Retreat has scooped the title of Holiday Park Pool Of The Year in this year’s UK Pool & Spa Awards. The Leisure Complex, part of an outstanding holiday resort in Anglesey, has recently undergone some remodelling, in order to offer more privacy for guests and to improve the exterior pool area. This year has seen the addition of an even wider variety of water based activities to our calendar, such as kayaking, underwater explores and birthday pool parties Exclusive to Plas Coch members, Plas Coch’s luxury hydrotherapy pools are designed to provide state of the art hydrotherapy treatments. Being immersed, buoyant or massaged in water relieves the body in a variety of different ways, ensuring guests feel fully relaxed. The pools use varying temperatures and speeds of water, allowing a different pampering experience as guests travel through the pool. The facility is overseen by Leisure Complex Manager, Luke Mitchell, Assistant Complex Manager, Cole Whittle and Complex Supervisor, Chris McNaught with Estelle Loynd as Activity Coordinator.
Luke says: “Each year, we invest in the development of the team in various ways. We ensure that our team members are Pool Plant Operator qualified, in order to guarantee that all technical aspects involved in the running of the pool are taken care of.” Luke adds: “We invest heavily in training our team members in activity instruction, with industry leading providers In2Action - who deliver a number of exciting and exhilarating activities such as; Archery, Underwater Explorers, Body Zorbs and much more.” The judges, that included category sponsors, BioChemica Leisure, commented: “The quality on display at Plas Coch was astonishing; words and pictures did not do it justice. “The pool was quite clearly well-kept and had a really clean nonchlorine smell. The hydro pool was a great extra and the treatment rooms were out of this world. We were all left purring over the features of this amazing pool.”
Rich Harvest For Farm Diversification
Outdoor holiday accommodation specialist Pitchup.com has reported the strongest year to date for farm bookings on its website. The business, which represents more than 300 farms across the UK, has reported that 53,000 bookings on farm sites were taken in the last year, a whopping 32% annual increase. One site on Pitchup books took £90,000 in accommodation bookings in the last 12 months. Given that average Farm Business Income (FBI) is just £33,000, this is a real opportunity for farmers to invigorate their business and reap the rewards diversification brings. “Parts of the farming industry have struggled in recent years and large numbers have now embraced diversification to sustain their agricultural businesses,” said Dan Yates, founder of Pitchup.com. “Many farmers’ main asset is their vast swathes of land, much of which can lie unused. We want to encourage farmers to use the space for creating camp and glamping sites. It’s relatively inexpensive to set up a basic site - planning permission and licences are not always required - and the returns are immediate. “With our help these last few statistics can change. Farming is vital to the economy of Britain and to supplement core income from agriculture, we are actively encouraging more farmers to consider diversification. “The British domestic camping and caravan market is worth £2.2bn per annum and we’re encouraging farms to get on board and enjoy a slice of this income. Farmers already own the land in most cases – why not put unfarmed parts of it to use?
Brexit Boom For UK Holiday Sector
The UK holiday sector looks set to be in line for a Staycation boom as families steer away from overseas holidays, part of the Brexit effect. Fears over the stability of the pound, medical cover in Europe and travel concerns have led to a fall in bookings. And, it was revealed by The Sunday Times recently, that families will be advised not to book holidays after next March, according to contingency plans being drawn up to prepare for a no-deal Brexit. The proposed guidance, which will shock the travel industry, was expected to be discussed at our cabinet level, after civil servants were told to ramp up emergency planning. According to a leaked report, steps are being considered to protect holidaymakers who have yet to book trips, amid fears a no-deal Brexit will see fl ights grounded and spark chaos at airports and ports. The European Regions Airline Association, which represents 50 airlines, wrote to the European Commission warning a no-deal Brexit could have ‘disastrous consequences’, affecting routes, aviation safety and border security. The Ryanair boss, Michael O’Leary, said in September that a hard Brexit could lead to fl ights being grounded and that its likelihood was underestimated. Its rival, easyJet, has registered more than 100 aircraft to a newly created airline based in Vienna and switched pilot licences to German and Austrian permits, according to the Times. Meanwhile, the hottest new trends, from menopause, divorce, and grief retreats to ‘mumcations’, are forecast to make wellness one of the most infl uential holiday trends in 2019. With mental health being such a hot topic, fi nding ways to combat issues such as anxiety, stress and depression has become more important than ever before. According to specialists, Health and Fitness Travel, the global wellness industry is now worth $4.2 trillion with wellness tourism experiencing a 6.5% annual growth; more than double the growth rate for overall tourism.
Making It Count
Never under estimate the value of first impressions, advises Ashleigh Bissett…
You’ve heard it said that you never get a second chance to make a good, first impression. Not only are first impressions registered with lightning speed, but they also last a surprisingly long time. As we head into winter, what better time to evaluate your outdoor areas and carry out the necessary modifications to make your guests’ first impressions count in time for the 2019 season. Quick fixes could be something as simple as adding more benches or sprucing up your garden displays.
If outdoor spaces are well maintained, they will encourage user-participation by inspiring visitors to be outdoors in the grounds, making full use of the facilities. “We believe it’s important to keep outdoor spaces well maintained as this is one of the first impressions visitors will experience at your park,” comments Stephen Toone, Managing Director of Fordingbridge – a leading manufacturer of canopies, walkways and inspiring buildings. “Your clientele are more likely t o return to your site and recommend to their friends and family if the external appearance is tidy and up together.” He adds: “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.”
Experts in creating communal spaces, Fordingbridge has supplied the holiday and leisure sector for many years. Their range of canopies and walkways provide rain and sunshine protection, to ensure that outdoor areas can be used all year round. “Downpours are not a problem with our canopies and walkways,” explains Stephen. “This will provide you with a competitive advantage and provoke word of mouth about how versatile your park is in all weathers. “Likewise, our statement buildings can be designed and built to any purpose. For instance, if you are planning an on-site café or perhaps a crèche for children, one of our buildings will fulfil that criteria.
With offsite construction methods, it shortens the lead time over traditional bricks and mortar.” Hoburne Holidays operates seven holiday parks in the South East, the outdoor areas of which are maintained by in-house teams of maintenance and leisure staff. Hoburne’s parks with activity areas were re-designed in time for the 2018 season and the company regularly monitors customer feedback to ensure its parks meet customer expectations. “A Hoburne holiday is about doing what you want at your own pace and we want to provide outdoor spaces where there is plenty to keep everyone busy and bring families together in one area to have fun,” explains Jake Harrison, Group Operations Manager for Hoburne Holidays.
“Therefore it’s essential to keep these areas well maintained so customers want to use them and feel safe whilst on holiday. We also ensure all our planting and green spaces are well maintained at all times to ensure a lasting impression.” The company maximises the outdoor space available at each park to its full potential by putting all the activities in one area and having a mixture of activities for all ages. The younger children can be entertained in the play areas whilst not far away the teenagers can be using the adventure golf or the multiuse games areas for football or basketball. The spokesperson explains that the biggest challenges faced with the parks’ outdoor spaces is the unpredictable weather, staffing, and making them low maintenance but suitable for high usage. “Our objective has been to make sure there is plenty to keep everyone busy but in one area meaning something for the whole family. We wanted our outside spaces to provide a fun and healthy environment for our guests,” says Jake. “My advice is to offer food and drink amenities where possible and make sure you have plenty of seating available.”
In contrast to some of the larger holiday operators, Park Owner Victoria Bowrey runs Back of Beyond Touring Park in Dorset and does all of the grounds maintenance herself to keep costs at a minimum. “To employ landscapers is costly, so I am learning as I go along and have taken advice from professional landscapers and garden centre staff along the way who have made suggestions as to what to plant,” says Victoria. “Well-kept outdoor areas are essential as it reflects the overall image of the park. If the flowerbeds and grounds are not maintained to a high standard then that immediately suggests that the park is not cared for or well managed.” Open to adults only,
Back of Beyond Touring Park is set in rural Dorset and boasts 80 pitches with electric hook-ups, 40 camping pitches and a glamping village, as well as an amenities block, reception and shop. Victoria takes pride in the park’s outdoor areas and keeping them well looked after is a high priority all year round. She comments: “As we are 30 acres we can't possible compete with beautiful natural foliage, however, we make the most of the busy areas of the park, such as the reception and shower blocks by planting carefully selected flowers, bushes and trees.
“We have learned to choose plants that blend into the environment and that come back every year. We are also particularly conscious of helping the bees at our park. We plant very few bedding out plants in favour of lavenders, alliums, verbena, ornamental grasses and easy care plants such as sedums. My advice is to go for plants that make a statement and also not to be scared to try out new things - even if they don't work!” Victoria says that time is the biggest challenge she faces in maintaining the park’s outdoor spaces: “Having enough time to keep the park’s outside areas ship-shape can be difficult, which is why we tend to choose easy-care plants that come back each year. At the moment we are still new so we are building up on what we have but we do try and add new plants to the landscaped areas every year.”
BACK OF BEYOND TOURING PARK
Tel: 01202 876968
Tel: 01243 554455
Tel: 01789 400 044
Tel: 01425 689293
NBB Recycled Furniture
Tel: 0800 1777 052
THE UK RAMP CO.
Tel: 01923 678432
Real People In The Frame
Pride of place in a new £1.5 million investment at Plassey Holiday Park in Wrexham has gone to a ‘glampers paradise’ of super-luxury guest accommodation. But when the 250-acre park organised a photo-shoot of its development this autumn, there were no professional models to be seen delighting in the hot tub lodges. Instead, the two families pictured had been selected from among the scores of customers who responded to Plassey’s website appeal to become its shooting stars.
The idea, said park director John Brookshaw, was to put ‘real people’ in the frame – and to capture their genuine reactions to the pampering experience on offer. The families are shown exploring the glamping lodges and their long list of top-end features including a glass balcony and a bubbling hot-tub from which to enjoy distant views. “We’re delighted that so many people applied to become the models for our photoshoot, and our two families did a fantastic job in showcasing them with real enthusiasm!” said John.
Sky No Limit For Hoseasons Team
Team members at Hoseasons in Lowestoft have braved a skydive, taken on the Tour de Broads cycling event and tackled a Tough Mudder, with more plans to climb Snowdon and hold their own Golf Day later this month in their efforts to reach their £10,000 fundraising target. The product team at Hoseasons are taking on this series of fundraising challenges to raise money for the Family Holiday Association, the only national charity providing seaside breaks and day trips for families struggling with issues such as severe and long-term illness, mental health issues, bereavement, domestic violence and disability.
Angie Watson, Head of Fundraising and Comms at the Family Holiday Association, said: “We are thrilled that Hoseasons have set themselves such a fantastic target, and the energy and ambition of the staff involved has proven to be simply wonderful! The support has been fantastic and the money raised will help many, many more families for whom a holiday is a lifeline – giving them relief from daily struggles, a chance to smile together and create precious memories to last them a lifetime. What a gift to give!” Scott Drew, Head of Product at Hoseasons, said: “We’re delighted to work with the Family Holiday Association and support such a worthwhile charity. Taking a break can make a real difference when it comes to family wellbeing and there’s no better place than the seaside to put a smile on people’s faces.”
Christmas Switch On
Shrewsbury’s glowing reputation for its Christmas lights display has rubbed off on a popular caravan park in the town. Every year, Oxon Hall Touring Park and Oxon Pool Holiday Home Park have an official switch-on of their own impressive Christmas lights a few days after the town’s lights ceremony. The 2018 switch-on will be celebrated with a hog roast on November 17, which is free for holiday home owners on the park and people staying on the touring park. In return, the managers will ask for a donation to the Motor Neurone Disease Association, the charity chosen by parks owner Morris Leisure and sister company Morris Lubricants in 2018. Last year, the parks raised £2,865 for The Alzheimer’s Society.
New Year Destination
For those thinking of adding a swimming pool or hot tub, the UK’s only dedicated wet leisure exhibition, SPATEX 2019, is a must-attend. SPATEX is a shop window on all that is new and happening in hot tubs, swimming pools, spas, saunas, enclosures, steam rooms, all under one roof, at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena, from Tuesday to Thursday, January 29th to 31st. The exhibition offers a unique platform for free professional training and education and repeating last year’s success of a double parallel programme, seminars will run on all three days of the show.
Tel. 01264 358558
Senior executives from the Caravan and Motorhome Club took a behind-the- scenes look this autumn at a major Lake District holiday park which is meeting new staycation opportunities. Skelwith Fold in Ambleside was the venue for the visit following a study tour earlier in summer to the Club’s Coniston Park Coppice by members of BH&HPA’s Cumbria branch.The delegation was headed by the Club’s director general Nick Lomas, and the aim was to see how one of the organisation’s commercial counterparts was adapting to an evolving market. Skelwith Fold director Henry Wild, who led the tour of the 130-acre grounds, said there was ample evidence this year that the demand for holidays in the UK was continuing to rise. The trend, he believes, is helping to introduce more families to the notion of a British park holiday, especially via “glamping” with its appeal to a very broad spectrum of visitors.
Tel: 01539 432277
Smallest Rooms Present Biggest Challenges
The smallest rooms in the building can lead to the biggest frustrations, but the Cubicle Centre team is working hard to make your life as easy as possible. Porthdinllaen Caravan Park is located on the beautiful coast of North Wales. The site is next to spectacular Nefyn Championship golf club and the famous Ty Coch Inn. The Ty Coch Inn was recently voted in the ‘World’s Top Ten Beach Bars’ by a recent survey. In 2016, Porthdinllaen secured planning to almost double the size of the park from 36 touring units to 60. The expansion also included a brand new amenities block which includes, showers, washrooms, a canteen area and a shop. The Cubicle Centre provided the shower and toilet cubicles, wall panels and the vanity units. All of these were constructed in Compact Grade Laminate (CGL) which is water resistant, vandal-proof and extremely durable. It is important that the panels are a higher quality for shower blocks, so they can withstand the high volume usage and constant cleaning. “The new cubicles and vanity units look fantastic. Our visitors love the quality of the washroom block,” said Siôn and Sian Williams, the Park owners. With a wide choice of ranges, contact the Cubicle Centre to discuss your washroom challenges.
Tel. 01924 457600
Fit For Purpose
Look before you leap on holiday let hot tubs…
Educated estimates put the number of hot tubs in a holiday let setting, throughout the UK and Eire, at between 3,500 and 5,000 installations. Good news for some, with seven out of ten bookers looking for a hot tub with their holiday let while accommodation promoted as being supplied with a hot tub will generally sustain increased rates of around 30%.
The bad news is that any of those hot tubs, installed pre 2018, are probably out of date and do not comply with current regulations of HSG282. Not a problem, some would say, fiercely clutching their risk assessment paperwork. Not a problem, that is, until there is a high profile incident which will send the prospects for hot tubs and their non-conforming holiday park operator, down a rather large drain. “If you speak to any online booking agent they will usually place a hot tub in the top three options search or ticked; people really do want one,” says Dan Johnson of Marquis Spas, that markets a fully-compliant range of hot tubs for the holiday let market. “While some dealers have been specifying or retro-fitting continuous feeders to outdated models, the bather capacity and water turn over rates, will still make many hot tubs fall foul of HSG282,” explains Dan. “I think the big operators are paying attention as they understand the power of the HSE and thus the importance of following guidelines – it is built into their management infrastructure,” adds Dan.
“My worry is people are getting poor advice from companies who are unaware or choose to ignore the guidelines because their product does not comply,” agrees Gareth Jones, of UK Leisure Living, the reigning UK Hot Tub Retailer Of The Year. “I would emphasise that 95% of our customers take the advice we give but there is a small percentage who disregard them dismissing them as just guidelines. “Some companies change their hot tub stock every two years however, we believe, between five and ten years is achievable, if they are properly looked after and investment has been in a quality product from the start,” Gareth emphasises.
Jessica Anthony of Award Leisure, UK distributors of Coast Spas, agrees. She warns of false economies: “If you think its expensive buying a better spa, wait until you find out how much it costs in the longer term, to buy a cheap equivalent.” Jessica also believes passionately that knowledge is power and that properly trained staff are essential. “Consistent attention to water quality that is clean and well-balanced is important,” she says. “Over-chlorinated water, which is a solution to inefficient system, effects the user’s skin, respiratory system and even their bathing costumes. “Over chlorination also has a detrimental effect on the plastics of the spa and erodes the filters,” warns Jessica. “It causes skin issues, upset stomachs, eye and ear infections, sickness and serious illness.”
The award-winning Rotospa currently have units fitted in excess of 110 holiday parks throughout the UK and Eire. “There are several important criteria when considering which spa would be best for you,” emphasises Rotospa’s Jason Smith. “If your spa isn’t fully HSG282 complaint, or you aren’t sure how to make it compliant, you really need to discuss this with the supplier as it is key when providing spas in a holiday setting.” Buoyed by 15 years’ experience supplying to the holiday park sector, Rotospa have now developed a fully compliant HSG282, holiday park specific spa.
“As a manufacturer we have a responsibility to ensure people have a product fit for purpose and that our customers are trained in product use and ensuring safety of their customers,” Jason says. “In the early days, it seemed that people paid little attention to the compliancy and people were selling domestic spas for a commercial setting with little or no guidance,” he adds. “Since the introduction of HSG282, businesses now need to be more aware of their responsibilities and as a company this is something we shout about, as it is a major considerate when purchasing a holiday spa.” Jason believes it is imperative that site owners are informed of the benefts and opportunities that offering a hot tub as a part of their accommodation, can bring. He says: “Not only can they drive out-of-season bookings, but increasing occupancy levels by at least 25% and increasing revenue is essential.”
Dan Johnson of Marquis Spas agrees and warns: “I am aware that cases of infection are ongoing now, but are being settled out of court with NDA’s – I can only hope those who fall foul of poor operational controls learn from their mistakes. “I am seeing truly ancient hot tubs in situ, which is understandable as operators try to wring every last penny out of them and recoup their ROI, albeit as a false economy not only in running costs but also client experience,” says Dan.
“The real worry is someone will lose their life, that’d be tragic and pointless,” warns Dan and adds: “The damage would impact the whole sector as the HSE will come down on everyone hard and the Press will be extremely negative on hot tubs as a whole.”
AWARD LEISURE (COAST SPAS)
Tel. 07387 140283
Tel. 07722 187272
Tel. 0121 354 3428
UK LEISURE LIVING
Tel. 08450 343550
Verdant Leisure is on the acquisition trail…
Verdant Leisure’s strapline - Relax, Enjoy, Experience – is key to understanding the company’s focus and why its parks are located where they are. Destination and service are the key pillars of its business strategy to deliver the best possible customer experience. A bespoke holiday park operator, Verdant Leisure offer self-catering holidays and holiday home ownership at eight holiday parks across stunning countryside and coastal locations in Scotland and the north of England. The company was founded in September 2010 following a management buy-in of Dunham Leisure Limited, owners of Pease Bay and Thurston Manor leisure parks in South East Scotland. Verdant went on to purchase Viewfield Manor Leisure Park in Ayrshire in July 2011 and Riverside Leisure Park in Northumberland in 2012. Kingfisher and Heather View holiday parks in Wear Valley and Coldingham Bay and Scoutscroft in Berwickshire were then acquired as part of an ongoing buy-and-build strategy.
When holidaymakers visit any of Verdant Leisure’s holiday parks across Scotland, Northumberland, and County Durham they can expect fantastic on-site facilities, outstanding customer service, excellent holiday accommodation and a superb range of holiday homes for sale.
Verdant’s holiday parks provide the perfect environment for families to spend precious time together, creating memories that will last a lifetime. Scoutscroft Leisure Park is located a couple of minutes’ walk ideally located from the breathtaking Coldingham Bay beach. Just under an hour’s drive from Edinburgh and close to the Scottish Borders, the park is ideally located for holidays and weekend retreats for all, with an abundance of attractions. Situated on the Berwickshire Coast, just an hour’s drive from Edinburgh, we then find Coldingham Bay Leisure Park. With 22 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds, the park offers the peaceful tranquillity of a countryside setting. With the beach and a host of activities and attractions just a stone’s throw away, it is a wonderful holiday retreat.
Nearby, Pease Bay offers an idyllic beachfront location, the perfect place to enjoy time with family and friends. For those seeking a little more adventure, there are great water sport opportunities and a wealth of attractions available in this spectacular corner of Scotland.
Still in Scotland, Thurston Manor is nestled at the foot of the Lammermuir Hills near the stunning East Lothian coastline, amid 176 acres of breathtaking countryside. This beautiful holiday park is under an hour’s drive from Edinburgh so visiting the capital is easily done. Set in the heart of the beautiful Ayrshire countryside, Viewfield Manor provides an ideal base from which to explore the historic attractions, thriving market and seaside towns and world famous sporting locations that Ayrshire has to offer. Viewfield Manor is situated only 20 minutes from Ayr, and with attractions such as Culzean Castle, Kelburn Park, and Irvine, Troon and Ayr beaches all within a 30 minute journey.
Move down to the heart of the stunning Northumberland countryside, Riverside Leisure Park, sits on the edge of the Wooler Water. For those looking for a base to explore all that Northumberland has to offer, or those simply wanting to relax and unwind in a tranquil hideaway, Riverside combines superb facilities with a wonderful woodland setting and an abundance of wildlife to create a truly unique holiday location. Meanwhile, Heather View is the perfect base from which to explore everything that County Durham has to offer. Within a few miles you can be exploring the outstanding Durham Dales or the beautiful Hamsterley Forest with its endless walking, cycling and horse riding routes.
The local area is steeped in history with an abundance of castles and museums to discover. There are so many picture-perfect villages in the region, full of quaint shops and tearooms. Kingfisher Leisure Park is an exclusive holiday home ownership location. Ideally located on the banks of the River Wear, Kingfisher is the perfect base to explore the breath-taking scenery, historic attractions and miles of walking and cycling routes that County Durham has to offer. Onpark facilities include a children’s play area and exclusive fishing rights on a section of the River Wear, making Kingfisher the perfect location for fun-filled family holidays.
Verdant Leisure offers a wide range of holiday options to suit all budgets, whether guests want to buy or rent a holiday home or caravan. The company has invested over £6 million in its portfolio in the last two years and customer service is very much at the heart of the Verdant Leisure ethos. All Verdant Leisure’s holiday park locations have Tripadvisor ratings of 4 out of 5 and Heather View and Coldingham Bay have Facebook review scores of 5 out of 5 and 4.3 out of 5, respectively.
Recently Verdant Leisure has, this year, been awarded membership into the Green Tourism scheme; the world-leading sustainable certification for the tourism sector. Membership gives Verdant Leisure access to specialist advice and support for its business and recommendations for future improvements. All Verdant’s parks have recently been awarded the Bronze Green Tourism Award and company is looking to improve on this over the next 12 months.
This year Verdant Leisure is supporting the Teenage Cancer Trust following its success last year in raising money for When You Wish Upon a Star. Verdant Leisure aims to raise £30,000 for the charity by hosting fundraising activities at its head office and charity open days throughout the year at all eight of its parks. The company has also been shortlisted for a total of seven awards in the last 18 months – including both the Lloyd’s Bank Business Awards and the Amazon Growing Business Awards this year. Verdant has also been shortlisted for several customer service awards, in recognition of the hard work put in by the whole team to deliver exceptional customer service at all its park locations. Last month Verdant Leisure celebrated its eighth anniversary and the company is due to announce its ninth holiday park acquisition in the coming weeks. It looks like 2019 will be another pivotal year for the bespoke holiday park operator.
Tel: 03300 535524
The Extra Factor
Under new ownership at Scottish resort…
Summer has seen the launch of a substantial investment project at Callander Woods Holiday Park, following its acquisition earlier this year by Wood Leisure. Located in the popular tourist town of Callander, the Scottish holiday park is at the Eastern gateway to the Trossachs National Park and the dramatic Loch Lomond. It is also on the Rob Roy Way and the Birds of Prey Trail and is close to the famous Bracklinn Falls and the stunning Loch Katrine – meaning holiday makers can enjoy a great range of activities in the area. Within the upgrade plan, the majority of older static caravans have been upgraded to meet the high standards set within the holiday park group. In addition, brand new 2018 caravan holiday homes were introduced to the park. Boasting an airy open plan living and dining area, spacious double bedrooms, modern kitchen and ample storage space, these modern homes are providing luxurious holiday experience to families from the UK and beyond. To meet the ever-rising demand in glamping and camping in Scotland, brand new camping pods have been installed on the park sleeping up to four and up to six people. These pods are fully insulated and come complete with a small fridge, microwave, toaster and kettle. They are well suited to couples and families looking for a little break in nature away from hustle and bustle of busy cities.
The park is set to benefit from further investment as Group’s Operation Manager Bruce Thomson explained: “We are excited to be upgrading facilities at the park. We will create 10 new fully serviced pitches with new state-of-the-art touring bollards as well as increasing the number of hard standing pitches available for use throughout the Winter months. “We would like to welcome families from Scotland and beyond to come and make this park their second home,” adds Bruce. Guests seem to have appreciated the makeover. This is what Steven said in his review on TripAdvisor having stayed at the park in July: “Having only stayed at Lomond woods holiday park before we were sceptical about trying somewhere new. But were we delighted with our stay in Callander. “We were greeted by Cameron, really friendly and he explained all about the park and the area. Our caravan was brand new and it was perfect, stocked with everything you could need. “The park is large and the caravans are sited in a lovely spot at the back of the site, really quiet and peacefully, perfect for a relaxing stay. We travelled into Sterling on the bus which stops just outside the park, also travelled to the safari park which is just a short drive from the park. A wonderful site that we will visit again, good luck and best wishes to the Wood family on their new site.”
Some of touring guests have chosen to put down roots at the park. This is what a lady called Lynn said in her review on TripAdvisor after she stayed at the park in July: “We came here for two weeks in a tourer and loved it so much that we bought a static from the new owners. The site is extremely clean and well ran. The shower block is lovely and lots of showers so u don’t have to queue. The play is wonderful for the kids - they had a ball. I would very highly recommend this caravan park, you will come back again and again. Within the proposed plan for 2019, in line with other Wood Leisure holiday parks, the family are enthusiastic to extend the opening at Callander Woods to give holiday guests greater flexibility. They will be adding ten extra weeks to the holiday year and remain open until the end of December, instead of closing for the season in mid-October. Wood Leisure is a family-owned holiday park group that has been welcoming visitors from the UK and beyond since 1981. Committed to maintaining and upgrading their holiday parks to meet customer expectations, Wood Leisure’s efforts have been recognised with a number of awards including ‘Family Business of the Year’ at the Scottish Outdoor Leisure Awards, Best Caravan Park Group and Best Glamping to name just a few.
Callander Woods Holiday Park
Tel. 01250 878123
AT A GLANCE
Location: Stirling Rd, Callander FK17 8LE
Season: March - December
Accommodation: Caravan rental, glamping, touring and camping pitches, residential park homes, lodges.
Amenities: Bar and bistro, small shop, children's outdoor play area, salmon and trout fishing, dog walking area, cot hire and high chair hire, laundry facilities, putting green, heated pool from March to October. Attractions: Nearby historic castles, swimming pools, Red Kite nature reserve, golf, fishing, Adventure Planet, children’s activities.
Greens Park homes are snapped up on recommendation…
With a career spanning some 35 years, Bill Green has seen a lot of changes in the residential parks industry but like all successful park owners he knows that customer satisfaction is key. Bill explains: “I always say to prospective purchasers, ‘Don’t ask me, my job is to sell homes. Go and have a walk around the park and chat with the residents to find out how they feel about living here.’ The people who live on your park are the best advertisement for your business.” As a young man, Bill spent many years working in Canada before returning to the UK and investing in rental parks. Today, Greens Park Homes owns two residential park home estates: the Wolds Retreat in Lincolnshire, and Pine Hill in Cambridgeshire. An exclusive, luxury estate for the over 50s, Green’s flagship park, Wolds Retreat, is set in 40 acres of beautifully-landscaped grounds in the heart of the Lincolnshire Wolds. Tranquil and scenic, the surrounding countryside is full of outstanding natural beauty and wildlife, and is popular with walkers, cyclists and bird watchers. The Roman town of Caistor is situated just a couple of miles away and provides many visitor attractions, shops, restaurants, fishing, and a choice of golf courses. Bill originally bought the site as a holiday lodge park 15 years ago but decided to apply for planning permission for a change of use to residential after repeated requests from customers wanting permanent homes. “It took over a year to get the planning permission in place,” explains Bill. “Our original application was refused and following a visit by the Secretary of State, and a number of agreed conditions, we were granted the licence.”
Two years of re-development later and the Wolds is now a shining example of a park planned with the customer very much in mind. At the centre of the park, a three-acre carp fishing lake is a popular attraction and there is a minibus service to Caistor (one of the conditions of the planning permission) for residents. “We have a large site here but have deliberately chosen not to cram in as many homes as possible,” says Bill. “We have permission for 60 homes but the land could easily take 100 or more. We wanted to retain a feeling of space and privacy. On a lot of parks the homes are laid out in rows, which feels like an army camp! Our plots are twice the size of those at most other parks and dotted around the parkland in a freeform and natural way.” Out of the 60 homes, 25 are already inhabited, and the remaining 35 pitches are available for sale, including five show homes.
“We are very lucky to have a steady stream of enquiries,” says Bill, “but the attractiveness of the park really sells itself. Each home has a block-paved driveway for two cars and many have sheds, decking and even garages. Visitors to the park are always surprised at the size of the properties saying they are larger and better equipped than their traditional brick-built bungalows. All homes on site are also set up for mains utilities, which puts the control back into the resident’s hands and helps keep their expenditure low. This way is more economical for the home owner and the park owner too.” Having pre-booked slots with the major manufacturers is a key selling point, which expedites the process for buyer and seller. “There can be as much as a year long wait on many parks,” explains Bill, “but we have moved a cash buyer in as little as six weeks from home order before now. On average, from point of deposit to moving in date is two to three months for most of our residents.” Greens’ second park is Pine Hill, situated in a pretty location in open countryside between St Ives and Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire.
This site has been in the Green family for 50 years, originally being used for temporary accommodation for Council tenants. 15 years ago, Bill and his four sons, who all work in the family business, set upon a complete renovation of the park including new roadways, the provision of mains utilities, and major landscaping. Pine Hill now boasts 48 residential park homes; all are occupied and are quickly snapped up on the rare occasion that one is up for sale. Greens Park Homes is currently in negotiations to purchase a third park in the East Anglian area and Bill says that they are always looking for interesting opportunities to either invest in existing parks, or land that is ripe for housing development. Like most Park Operators, Bill expresses some frustration with the limitations of the current planning framework and legislation. “The parks industry is steadily being cleaned up and rogue operators are thankfully few and far between nowadays,” says Bill, “but the negative profile of parks in the public eye still needs some work.” “Sadly, it’s a lot easier to get permission to develop holiday parks with many unwitting customers buying ‘holiday homes’, mistakenly thinking that they can live in them all year round. Making it more difficult to open residential parks, means not only a shortage of homes for the 50+, but prevents the mainstream housing market freeing up larger ‘brick and mortar homes’ for families and younger people. Things are moving forwards, slowly, but there is still a long way to go,” adds Bill.
Make 'Em Laugh
Entertain to gain, advises Karen Cotton…
With more Britons choosing to holiday in the UK, according to research from Travelodge, the pressure is on park operators to attract and retain this new business. Guests expect great facilities and food, but they also are hoping for great entertainment. For many, it’s the nightlife and shows which add value to their break – making it truly memorable. Nowhere is this truer than at Bunn Leisure in Dorset, where four parks on one combined site cater to different tastes and budgets. Head of Entertainment Adrian Douthwaite explains: “Our clients expect a consistent, high quality and diverse range of entertainment.” He adds: “As technology has drastically advanced in recent years, so have expectations as to the ‘look and feel’ of the entertainment, especially when it comes to marketing and advertising.”
In recent months, the Dorset holiday park has hosted names including Pop Idol alum Gareth Gates and X-Factor star Sam Bailey. Names like these deliver real value, as Adrian explains. “Big named artists and shows that create a ‘buzz’ have more impact than ever before, as the use of social media amplifies the desired value of the entertainment.” Careful planning is essential to ensure you hit the right note with all your guests. Stephen Pearce, Marketing Manager at Beverley Holidays says: “Entertainment really is the most subjective thing in the world, as trends and people’s expectations and perceptions of entertainment change… “Whilst not everyone will absolutely love everything we do, by having an exciting range on offer we aim to ensure that whilst somebody may not like something, there will, within the product, be something they do like.”
The aim for the park on the English Riviera, is to keep its entertainment fresh and current… but there is a space for oldies-but-goodies, too. Stephen continues: “There will be nostalgic moments, games and concepts, however these must be delivered appropriately to an audience in 2018. A knobbly knees contest doesn’t go down as well now as it may have done in the ‘80s.” At Beverley Holidays, near Torquay, guests have a wide range of daytime activities to choose from. Its ‘Be-Active’ umbrella houses high-energy sessions that are popular with guests of all ages, with soft archery, Water Walkerz and body Zorbing. The Kids Be-Active programme allows younger guests to find their inner princess, pirate or superhero. “These sessions aim to capture the creativity and imagination of our younger guests,” says Stephen. “For our older guests, we offer something a little bit more laid back – whether it be a poolside quiz, coffee morning, line dance or darts tournament, we have it all covered.” Bunn Leisure also sources a wide range of entertainment spanning all areas and tastes. For Head of Entertainment Adrian, this can be tricky. He says: “The teenage and young adult market consistently proves difficult, whereas the children and 50+ age group are much easier to cater for as there is much more product to choose from when buying in.”
Working with an annual budget of approximately £1.5 million, Bunn Leisure’s in-house product offering is generated and produced internally – with little to no outsourcing of services. “This, in turn, helps to control quality and costs,” adds Adrian. “Routing and increased frequency of appearances for outsourced artists and shows can also help a little with regards to value – but isn’t paramount when devising the product offering.” At Beverley Holidays, the secret to getting the most from your budget is simple. Stephen reveals: “The best way to get value for money is to invest in the people who are most passionate about the performance. It is the individuals that are responsible for the delivery of the product, and of course the delivery of the product, on the whole, that creates that experience guests remember forever. “By far, alongside great show concepts and animated daytime activities, bottom line is the ‘coat-style’ entertainer and their approach to the role – as the ‘face of the holiday’ – builds relationships with guests, making them feel welcome and appreciated.”
While planning at Bunn Leisure begins 18 months in advance, at Beverley Holidays the team plans for the following year each September. By reviewing and evaluating the uptake and successes of the previous year, the team can make the informed decisions necessary to develop their product moving forward. Where visiting acts are involved, timing is everything according to Stephen from Beverley Holidays. He says: “To ensure we are able to book what we want and not just what is available, [our] process is on-going.” This is especially important when operators are looking to secure big-name attractions. Sometimes bookings are required as far as 18 months in advance.
With 20 years’ experience booking acts for holiday parks, Live Music Management has worked with numerous operators across the UK and suggests that bookings be made at least nine months in advance and promoted as part of the offer Managing Director Rick Baines explains: “It’s increasingly difficult to get people into club houses as home drinking has become the norm. But people will come out if there is consistently good entertainment on.” Budgets will differ depending on the size of the venue. If you’re working with smaller budgets, he sagely advises: “It’s better to have a high-quality act once per weekend, then two ‘pub-quality’ acts!” It’s important to widen your scope, too.
Rick suggests: “Look at who the national companies are booking with and consider them, as well as local agents. You might find better quality at similar prices.” One of the most popular trends he’s spotted is Bandeoke, which is also known as live band karaoke. He says: “It’s still massive. It allows all the family to join in and brings Instagram moments that will stay with the guests.” He adds: “Pop-up entertainment, not necessarily fixed to a stage area, also brings an immersive experience which will thrill guests and lead to social media sharing.”
Which Trip Advisor Reviews Would You Prefer This one?
“Park lovely… entertainment awful” - Natasha L
“Great views, awful entertainment” - Superdave10uk
“Nice grounds, perfect caravan, poor entertainment” - Gwen L.
“Best entertainment, great stay!!!” - Pixie G.
“Entertainment team were amazing!” - Andreacleaton60
“Night life was very good can’t wait to book again for next year” – Janetholmes2724
“Brilliant [80’s] weekend. Everyone dressed up. Looking forward to the next one…” - Biff0r
BEVERLEY HOLIDAYS www.beverley-holidays.co.uk
BUNN LEISURE www.bunnleisure.co.uk
LIVE MUSIC MANAGEMENT www.lmmuk.co.uk
Niall Norris is the sales director at CampManager
(www.campmanager.com), a company that provide Park Management and Booking Systems to campsites and holiday parks throughout the UK & Ireland.
What was your career path?
Having spent 29 years in sales within corporate banking, developing client relationships and providing added value solutions for their businesses, the opportunity arose to leave the banking world and work with my brother in CampManager. That was 10 years ago, and the business has grown to have over 400 campsites and holiday parks using the CampManager software solution.
What changes have you seen?
10 years ago, most bookings were being made via the telephone. We have seen significant growth in the number of online bookings, with some of our customers receiving up to 90% of their bookings online. With CampManager you take commission-free bookings on your own website, saving staff valuable time, automating the booking process, and generating more bookings for your business.
How do you predict things will change in the next five to ten years?
Customers are tending to go away on breaks more regularly but for shorter periods and are booking last minute. The Glamping market has seen considerable growth with a great selection of luxury and different accommodation types attracting the younger generation.
What is the best piece of business advice you have been given and by whom? My first sales director said, “Sales are important, but customer retention is more important.” Customers will remain customers if you provide a quality product which is competitively priced, with excellent customer service and always be available to speak to them.
What do you most like to spend your time doing out of working hours?
A good walk in the countryside followed by a few pints of Guinness. I enjoy good food, having the ‘craic’ and spending time with my family (4 children and three grandchildren).
Your dream dinner guests?
Jack Reacher and his creator, the thriller author Lee Child and Keith Floyd a restaurateur and food writer. I love his humour and alternative approach to cooking. Do you have any claims to fame? Sat beside and chatted to Faye Tozer on a flight from London to Belfast nearly 20 years ago and only realised when I got home and saw them on TV that she was in the band Steps. My daughter didn’t forgive me for some time for not getting her autograph.
Where do take your holidays?
I love the outdoors and have been tenting for over 40 years – nothing better than heading off with my wife in the car with our tent and going where the mood takes us. If I need to get away to the sun – Majorca in the mountains with a good bottle of red wine.
Wish You Were Here
More postcard views from our UK tour…
A Welsh holiday park is in the pink after scooping a top floral accolade. Judges have described as ‘inspirational’ a North Wales holiday park which landed a gold honour in this year’s keenly contested Wales in Bloom awards. Tree Tops Caravan Park at Gwespyr, near Holywell, seized the top spot for the 26th year running in the caravan park category of the competition. The family-owned North Wales caravan park of luxury caravans and lodges overlooks the Irish Sea and Dee Estuary, out towards the majesty of the Snowdonia park. Offering competitive pitch fees, the park has a children’s play area, outdoor gym and a handy launderette. In family ownership for six decades, Director Andrew Walker, runs Tree Tops alongside his parents Maureen and Harry. “We pride ourselves on our landscaped gardens, and stay with us,” said Andrew. new blooms and extra touches such as an arbour seat. “As we’re open for nine months of the year, we plant for the seasons with an array of spring flowers at the start before moving on to a riot of summer colour which carries on into autumn. “Tree Tops has always prided itself on being an oasis of calm, somewhere to relax and unwind, and the gardens are central to that experience,” added Andrew. Some 16,000 plants a year are used throughout the park grounds, and Tree Tops’ gardening team has its own shrub nursery and grows the blooms on site. The Wales in Bloom judges commended the park’s ‘inspirational’ approach to design and plant selection, and said it had set the standard for other park businesses to emulate.
Tree Tops Caravan Park
Tel. 01745 560279
Blooming Triple Triumph
Helping visitors to enjoy a truly colourful stay, Park Cliffe in Windermere has won three top prizes in the 2018 Cumbria in Bloom awards. The family-run business scooped gold accolades in the best in district, and overall tourism categories of the closely-fought annual contest. Park Cliffe, said the judges, had created a colourful, creative and superbly designed floral setting which is bound to enhance the pleasure of holiday guests. The awards mark the achievements of business owners Susan and Derek Dickson, and their ground staff at 25-acre Park Cliffe which sits above the eastern shores of Windermere. Susan and Derek have owned the park for just over a decade, and have made its flower displays a major feature to which many guests regularly return.
Staff Recruitment In Overdrive
Following a record year for visitors, Silverdale Holiday Park says it’s now putting staff recruitment plans into overdrive in readiness for an even more full-on 2019. In order to help woo applicants, the park is offering free membership of its exclusive leisure club which includes a 17m swimming pool, sauna, steam rooms and a spa pool. Staff will also be given use of the park’s gymnasium, re-fitted this year with the latest exercise technology to help everyone keep in tip-top condition. The family-owned park currently has 20 full-time positions to fill after end-season figures showed this summer to have been the busiest by far in its 60-year history. But business owner Michael Holgate says is keen to give priority to applicants from south Cumbria, and will only be announcing the posts locally and on his website. At present, he states, around 95% of the 160-strong workforce have been drawn from the immediate area – and that in his experience, recruiting locally works best for everyone. Silverdale is the flagship park of the Holgates group and was founded by Michael’s grandfather in 1956, and has since grown to six multi-award winning park businesses. The new job opportunities are available both across the parks, and at The Royal gastro-pub in the village of Silverdale which was bought by Holgates almost three years ago. Positions include roles in operations such as food and beverage, housekeeping, customer services, technical support and groundwork.
Park Mascot Meets Her Match
When three-year-old Amber Kibbey fell in love with a hedgehog at Park Holiday’s Riviera Bay resort in Devon earlier this year, her mum Claire knew that it was the real thing. So when they made a return visit to the park this autumn, the family had a big surprise in store for Amber – a matching mini-version of the pretty pink outfit worn by her heroine! It was presented to the star-struck toddler just before she set off for the Brixham park’s daily children’s show where mascot Penny Prickles was due to be on stage. In front of a cheering crowd, Amber went under the spotlights to receive the admiration – and a big hug – from the hedgehog which had won her heart.
£10 Million Investment
UK holiday park operator Away Resorts is investing £10 million into creating and landscaping a new development of 108 new accommodation units in its woodland retreat of Sandy Balls Holiday Village in the New Forest, continuing the evolution of this famous UK holiday destination. The new accommodation will be a combination of cottage-style lodges and new treehouse-inspired accommodation, many of which will have car-charging points, and will be able to sleep up to eight guests. The development will have landscaping that is native to the New Forest and will also feature new additions such as mini kitchen gardens that could be used for educational purposes. It is estimated that half of the new development will be ready by Easter next year with the remaining holiday homes welcoming guests by Whitsun. The new investment comes hot on the heels of a £1 million investment into The Zen, which is exclusive accommodation to Sandy Balls. It is an innovative type of holiday home designed to be calm, relaxing and simply a perfect space to chill out with friends and family in the woodland retreat of Sandy Balls Away Resorts has also made significant investment in facilities at Sandy Balls, spending £400,000 earlier this year on rebranding and re-launching Aubrey’s Forest Kitchen, giving it a new look inspired by its forest sitting with restyled seating in the restaurant, a new bar area and a new outdoor dining space and a Starbucks coffee offer. The restaurant’s name pays homage to one of the original founders of Sandy Balls, Aubrey Westlake.
The Family Holiday Association has launched a new strategy and umbrella campaign called ‘Together’ with the goal of doubling the number of families offered a break annually by the end of 2020. The two year ‘Together’ campaign includes new initiatives such as Adopt a Caravan – inviting individuals and organisations to fund one of their owned caravans for a year – and building on existing successes such as their annual Shades Day awareness day in May. As part of the new approach, the charity is also looking to grow the number of donated accommodation, attraction and travel tickets they receive to UK destinations. Commenting on the campaign, Angie Watson, Head of Fundraising and Comms, said, “So many families are trapped in terrible situations, and they desperately need our help. They need a reason to smile. “That’s why we’ve set ourselves the goal of doubling the number of families offered a break annually by the end of 2020. “It’s ambitious, but by working together with colleagues in the travel and tourism industry we can reach our target and change even more lives. Together, we can help families find sunshine through the rain.”
Praise For Secret Wood
A Somerset holiday park which has helped release hundreds of birds and animals into its woodlands has been praised by the charity behind the scheme. Holiday Resort Unity in Brean Sands has been working this year with Secret World Wildlife Rescue to give crisis-stricken creatures a fresh start in life. Each has been cared for by the charity following injury, sickness, or being abandoned by its parents – and then put back into their natural habitat on the park. Now Holiday Resort Unity has celebrated its successful partnership by naming its two acres of woodland after the volunteer-led charity. From now on, it will be known at the park and on local maps as Secret Wood. Holiday Resort Unity, which has been family-run for over 70 years, is one of the Somerset coast’s largest and most popular parks with holiday homes to let and buy.
Avoid Huge Out-Of-Hours Claims
An Appeal Court ruling on out-of-hours pay has triggered concerns that the holiday park industry could face substantial claims from employees. Traditionally, holiday parks have provided a 24 hour on-call service as part of their daily role but staff may have only been paid for part of that time. Employment Tribunals have, in the past ruled that employees should be paid at least the minimum wage for the time they are on-call even if they are sleeping. That decision has been recently reversed by the Appeal Court for cases involving the care sector but it may not apply to the holiday park industry who could be open to significant compensation claims. It is estimated it could cost park operators more than £20,000 a year per employee and claims for compensation could go back several years. Now, Hull-based SJP Law, who provide a specialist legal service to the caravan and holiday park industry, have launched a dedicated service to help and advise holiday park owners. Alistair Latham, Director of SJP Law, said: “The Appeal Court ruling applies to the care sector and therefore should be used with great care. Ignoring the law in this area may still have dire consequences for the holiday park industry.” He explained that most holiday parks employ wardens to carry out a range of day time duties and to be on-call during the night should an emergency arise and he urged operators to review their employment contracts and working methods to safeguard against any potential liability. Mr Latham said: “This is a serious situation for park operators and we have set up a dedicated service to help them to assess their risk and to provide them with revised employment documentation and adapt their working requirements where necessary. “If park operators believe that this may be an issue for their business they need to take action sooner rather than later so that steps can be taken to reduce any potential liability.”
Naked Ambitions For Caravanners
Twelve months of bare-it-all bravery by a group of friends at a Flintshire holiday park, are set to swell the funds of the charity Breast Cancer Care. The feisty females stripped-off for a fundraising 2019 calendar at Tree Tops Caravan Park. Ranging in age from 30-plus to over 70, the inspiration for putting the fun into fundraising came from two of the group who own holiday homes at the Holywell park. Rachel Anchors and Wendy Wild said it was back in summer this year when they hit upon the idea of helping a good cause about which they both felt strongly. “Breast cancer is a disease which affects so many women, and Breast Cancer Care does a wonderful job in providing expert information to anyone diagnosed with the illness.” Andy Walker, who runs the park alongside his parents Maureen and Harry, was known by the group to be a talented amateur photographer, whose pictures feature on the park’s website. Andy agreed to photograph the courageous caravanners who posed with carefully placed props ranging from tractors to balls of knitting wool. With advance orders worth over £2,000, copies of the initial calendar print-run are available for £6.50 each. The group has a JustGiving page and a Facebook page @CaravanGirls providing more information.
Great Outdoors 'On Prescription' Call
Camping, caravan and motorhome holidays can encourage people outdoors and towards a potentially healthier lifestyle, says TV’s Dr Hilary Jones, who appeared at October’s Motorhome and Caravan Show 2018 at Birmingham’s NEC. Dr Hilary says there’s many aspects of camping and leisure vehicle activities that support both mental and physical well-being. “Camping and leisure vehicle holidays provide the perfect opportunity to get up and go on shorter trips and adventures, and encourage family time as well as getting outdoors, exercise, a change of scenery, new adventures and socialising. Dr Hilary suggests scientific evidence shows people also benefit from getting closer to nature, which is a fundamental connection for humans and the opposite of connecting to screens and electronic devices. “The outdoors even impacts on recovery after surgery, concludes Dr Hilary Jones. “In a gall bladder surgery experiment, half the patients post-surgery had a view of hospital walls only, half had a view of the outdoors. The latter group reported less pain during recovery than those looking at just hospital walls.”
The Holiday Park & Resort Innovation show beckons…
The Holiday Park & Resort Innovation Show 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. The event has grown considerably since 2016 and is set to be the most exciting and comprehensive instalment yet! 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! Whether you’re relatively new in the holiday market and looking for inspiration and advice or an established business looking for new and exciting ways to improve your offering, the event covers everything you need to run your holiday business more efficiently.
Discover all the latest technology and trends from within the sector and find out more about current marketing and business strategies. The industry’s most innovative and influential figures will pass on their peerless knowledge and advice and ultimately help you stand out from the competition and increase your occupancy rates. Join some of the industry’s most progressive and ambitious suppliers and find absolutely everything you need to develop your holiday business whether it’s accommodation, marketing, booking systems, food and drink services, leisure equipment or energy companies. Running alongside the Holiday Park & Resort Innovation show again this year is the Farm Business Innovation Show, the Family Attraction Expo, and the Country House Innovation show. New for this year, we have the Public Space Innovation show, and Destination Hotel. Register for free tickets to attend via the website. Looking forward to welcoming you to the event on the November 7th & 8th, NEC Birmingham.
Aqua Spa Supplies: Stand 1232
Aqua Spa Supplies are suppliers of accessories and equipment for spas and swim spas. They will be showcasing their End 2 End Covers - Roll on, Roll off covers for spas and swim spas and a host of other equipment. Look out too for spa brands including American Whirlpool, Vita Spas and the Villa Tub.
Aqua Spa Supplies
Tel. 01245 477 400
BusinessesForSale : Stand 1802
If you’re looking to sell your business, BusinessesForSale can cost-effectively help market your business to over 1.2 million buyers every month. They connect business buyers and sellers. There are 4,000 leisure and holiday related businesses on the site, as well as thousands more businesses and franchises for sale in every sector imaginable. We’ll be displaying a handpicked selection of current businesses for sale at the stand. Come and find the inspiration for your next business venture.
Forbo Flooring : Stand 1556
The impact of the interior scheme and the overall ambience of a building can play a crucial role in a visitor’s experience to any holiday park or attraction. As such, on stand 1556 at this year’s Holiday Park & Resort Innovation Show, Forbo Flooring Systems will be highlighting the benefits its range of flooring solutions, which are suitable for a wide range of applications across the leisure sector, can offer to improve visitor experience.
Tel. 0800 0935 258
Gem Park : Stand 1636
The GemaPark management system is web based Park Management and booking system that allows you to manage all your customers and bookings easily. Take online bookings and payments. Record meter readings and invoice owners. Email booking confirmations, balance reminders and welcome letters automatically. Manage your availability from our interactive chart. Link with other systems to increase bookings. Access from multiple computers, Low monthly fee instead of a large purchase price with full training and support.
Tel. 01983 282420
Holiday Park Scene : Stand 1950
Don’t miss the Holiday Park Scene magazine team who will be exhibiting on stand 1950. Call by to tell us about how your business stands out from the crowd or to discuss promotional opportunities for your products and services through the industry’s biggest and best magazine for park operators.
Holiday Park Scene
Tel. 01353 666663
Light Sauce : Stand 202
Light Sauce is the leading importer and distributor of light-up, flashing LED and glow novelties in the UK. Trade suppliers for over 15 years to family attractions, holiday parks, theatres, local government, schools and charities. With long term partnerships in China and the Far East they are able to design, brand, source and manufacture products that complement and promote your organisation. Light Sauce specialises in the volume supply of light-up toys to order but with large UK based stocks and a wide choice of products for next day delivery throughout the UK.
Tel. 0845 470 6060
Marquis Spas : Stand 10-710
Marquis today is one of the leading manufacturers of hot tubs and swim spas in the United States, with distribution around the world. Long noted for our product quality and unique high-flow therapy systems...Marquis’ dealer network around the world annually rates it with SpaCertified as among the very best suppliers. A UK network of dealers present a full range of Marquis products and offer UK consumers excellent sales and service experiences as well. Marquis’ three dedicated holiday park models, the ‘Relax’, the ‘Getaway’ and the ‘Escape’, offer an array of sizes and features to give you the perfect hot tub for a perfect holiday.
NBB Recycled Furniture : Stand 1012
NBB Recycled Furniture manufacture an expansive range of outdoor furniture using 100% recycled plastic. There are many advantages of the material: the non-porous properties mean that it will never rot, splinter or corrode; it is graffiti proof and easy to clean; and it does not require annual upkeep in fact it is completely maintenance free! Recycled plastic is extremely robust and hardwearing making it great for heavy use areas such as holiday and leisure industries; public parks and gardens; schools and businesses! All of products are guaranteed for up to 25 years, more reason to replace your old timber furniture today!
NBB Recycled Furniture
Tel. 0800 1777 052
Park Leisure Solutions Ltd : Stand 1230
National suppliers, Park Leisure Solutions launched their brand new Climacube Hot Tub Heat System earlier this year. The Climacube Heat System offers the very latest energy saving heat technology, dramatically reducing running costs, increasing usage, reducing the carbon footprint and enabling customers to use their hot tubs all year round, at the desired temperature without the concern of cost. Customers are already benefiting with installations producing significant reductions in their energy bills. Unlike conventional heat systems, Climacube will heat your Hot Tub in around 4-5 hours from cold with a consumption of only 1KW per/hour with a COP of over 3.5 in minus temperatures.
Park Leisure Solutions Ltd
Tel. 01202 691166
Pitched : Stand 1742
Pitched are the smart choice for the holiday park industry, from online booking management software to website, brochure and email design as well as management of social and email campaigns, SEO content and data analysis. The new name in booking software, suitable for independent and holiday park groups of all sizes. Built specifically for caravans, lodges, cottages, glamping, touring and camping pitches and management of owners and holiday home sales - our GDPR ready software comes with stylish customer steps and is simple and easy to operate. Unlimited users working simultaneously with individual security rights. Securely hosted, and all data encrypted and backed up. Convert browsing to booking, giving you more time to run your park. Arrange a demo either by calling today or at the show.
Tel. 01726 418 118
Portrait Pools : Stand 3406
The multi-award winning, Portrait Pools team specialise in the construction, build and design of home indoor swimming pools, commercial swimming pools, spas and saunas, pool refurbishment, pool maintenance and pool accessories. A swimming pool says so much. Especially when it is built to your precise specifications and to exacting standards.. Most people will have a vision of their own swimming pool in their mind`s eye. Portrait Pools have the experience and expertise to open up the countless possibilities, and to capture the essence of your lifestyle. Portrait loves nothing better than to take what you thought an impossible dream and turn it into stunning reality.
Tel. 01625 466200
Suntrap Systems : Stand 1444
Specialists in supplying lifts and hoists providing disabled access into swimming pools, spas and hot tubs, the team will be displaying three different models from its extensive range of lifts, all of which are suitable for both commercial and private use so whatever the size, shape or type of pool and whatever the budget, we can offer a suitable solution. Suntrap Systems is a long established company with more than 20 years’ experience which offers a specialised service to both private and commercial customers, and enjoys a reputation for quality, reliability and a personal service you can depend on.
Tel. 0121 428 1155
Superior Spas : Stand 10-703
Add a touch of luxury to your holiday home or letting business, and boost your revenue by up to 60% with a Superior Spas Holiday Let Hot Tub, while ensuring you stay firmly within the parameters of the HSG282 guidelines. Established in 2009, Superior Spas are the UK’s largest distributor of hot tubs and spas. We pride ourselves on quality craftsmanship, commitment, reliability, and competitive pricing. Hailed as one of the best Holiday Let Spas retailers on the market, we have been named as the official supplier to Sykes Cottages. Our range of Holiday Let Hot Tubs is specifically designed for heavy usage and minimal maintenance. They come in a variety of sizes, making them the ideal choice for any garden, decking or outdoor area.
Tel. 01246 559071
The UK Ramp Company : Stand 1424
The UK Ramp Company provides design, supply and installation of Modular Pumptracks and Skate Ramps throughout the mainland UK. The company’s core customers are holiday parks and councils. We pride ourselves on providing second to none customer service from the initial enquiry until the end of life of the products.
The UK Ramp Company
Tel. 01923 678432
Trimax Mowing Systems : Stand 1330
Trimax Mowing Systems design and produce tractor-powered mowers with the highest level of finish and minimal maintenance. It is this that makes them a turn- to equipment manufacturer. The company began in New Zealand in the 1970’s with tractor-mounted mowers to cut grass beneath kiwifruit vines. Innovative developments, pioneered in flail blades and multi-spindled rotaries meant rapid advancement into amenity and sports surface mowing and exporting well beyond down-under. The Trimax name is now known everywhere by professionals who maintain grassed sports facilities, golf courses, public amenities and holiday parks.
Trimax Mowing Systems
Tel. 01933 652235
Wilby Ltd - Park Protect : Stand 1440
The Park Protect policy has been specifically designed for Holiday and Caravan Parks and provides outstanding cover and value for members of the scheme. As a park insurance specialists, Wilby currently arrange insurance for more than 100 parks across the UK, from the North of Scotland to the South coast of England. As well as providing insurance to caravan parks across the country, as members of The National Caravan Council we are actively involved in the industry and know the challenges faced by parks. We have a team of advisers with a wealth of experience in dealing with touring, holiday and residential caravan and park home resorts of all shapes and sizes, so you can be sure you are dealing with a company that knows the needs of your business. As the scheme is developed specifically for the park industry it offers a range of extra benefits including Stock of holiday and residential homes £250k. Landscaping following a loss £5,000. Site services, inc underground pipes £10k. Contract works cover £25k.
Wilby Ltd – Park Protect
Tel. 01422 358 525
World Leisure UK : Stand 1841
World Leisure (UK) is a multi-award winning provider of design, technical and installation services for the water leisure industry. Offering full turnkey packages, from design and installation through to commissioning and continued maintenance support, World Leisure`s extensive industry experience and a proven track record provide peace of mind to contractors and clients. Providing tailored solutions to meet the exact needs of each individual project, World Leisure partners with manufacturers and specialist equipment suppliers of the highest quality to ensure projects are completed on time and to the highest industry standard. Recent projects include the London Olympic Aquatic Centre, Lagan Valley Leisureplex (Northern Ireland), Ellesmere Port Sports Village, De Vere Scottish Urban Leisure Resorts, Brookfield Multiplex Centre Point, and the Defence & National Rehabilitation Centre`s new world class facilities at Stanford Hall.
World Leisure UK
Tel. 01722 284883
World Of Rides : Stand 3441
For nearly 50 years, World of Rides has been the leading UK manufacturer of children’s leisure rides in the United Kingdom. From premises in County Durham the company supply major shopping centres, retailers, visitor attractions, fun farms, holiday parks, garden centres, family entertainment centres and hospitality centres that include national and single-site operators. The company boasts vast knowledge and experience ensures that every ride we manufacture is rigorously tested both in the factory and on-site before being released for sale. Customers receive the very best advice on the profitable and safe operation of their rides.
World of Rides
Tel. 0191 49 20 999
Key Seminar Sessions
Theatre 13 - Wednesday 13.15 - 13.45
Maximising food and beverage in the holiday park industry One of the areas within the holiday park sector that has always been a struggle to maintain, is the food and beverage operation. The issue has been how to manage and carefully balance the gap between seasonal business, your offerings, and if you allow external business on park to contribute towards the success of your F&B. During my talk, I will discuss how you can look at simple options within your business, how to maintain out of season trade, and how to keep control whilst making a healthy profit.
Theatre 10 Thursday 11.00 - 11.30
Online Booking: Win and keep the customers you want Taking Online bookings may feel like losing control but this seminar will show you how you can use it to gain more control over the type of customer you attract. Repeat customers are the mainstay of most holiday park businesses. We will cover how you can use automation to set off on the right foot to create a lasting profitable relationship with each customer.
Theatre 10 Thursday 13.15 - 13.45
Marquis – The Ultimate Holiday Park Hot Tub Program Holiday Park guest turnover and high hot tub usage create unique requirements for a safe and effective low-maintenance program for hot tub owners. Get a complete overview of the Marquis Holiday Park program and models which address these unique requirements with specific features and designs.
Book your free tickets today - visit www.holidayparkshow.co.uk
Boosted by what was the hottest summer on record, the UK’s holiday park sector has never been so appealing. More Brits each year are continuing to enjoy all that the country’s parks have to offer - and what an offering it is. From quirky wigwams and shepherds tents to deluxe lodges and cabins, today’s holiday parks and campsites are better equipped than ever before for their increasingly discerning guests. Accommodation features that were once considered luxurious are now seen as the norm. Take glamping as an example. Nobody needs to be reminded of the rise and rise of glamping, but what is noteworthy is how such accommodation is fast moving from fringe to mainstream. Rather than just providing a handful of pods alongside their traditional holiday homes, some parks are now dedicating large sections of their grounds to a variety of glamping modules, creating in effect a mini-village for guests seeking this type of experience. There are also instances of parks swapping a number of their seasonal or touring pitches for this style of accommodation, purely as a response to customer preference.
Glamping is also broadening the appeal of taking a holiday on a park to couples and families who might otherwise not have considered the option. In many cases, this might have been because they hadn’t quite grasped the concept of what a park offers in terms of its rented accommodation, or simply because the guests weren’t keen on camping. By contrast, the idea of staying in a shepherd’s hut, safari tent or hobbit house is easy to understand, and provides an element of adventure and fun with which it is easy to engage. “If glamping is an example of camping on an upward trajectory as far as quality is concerned, then the same can also be said of caravan holiday homes,” comments Jon Boston, a spokesperson for the British Holiday & Home Parks Association (BH&HPA). “Many of these now have levels of refinement far beyond what a customer would expect as standard a decade ago, including features such as en-suite bathrooms, exterior decking, wide-screen TVs and sophisticated sound systems.” Jon adds: “UK manufacturers have proved themselves adept at constantly refining their product, but there may be some evidence that holiday lodges will become more dominant in the future. Some park groups are now favouring lodges over holiday caravans when developing new pitches, both for sales and rental.”
The extra space in a lodge can make for a more comfortable stay, especially if the customer is holidaying with an extended family or friends. For rental purposes, lodges also enable parks to offer a more luxurious experience. Some lodge breaks are now being styled along the lines of a boutique hotel with added features such as robes and slippers, upscale toiletries, bubbly in the fridge, and even fresh croissants delivered in the morning. Says Jon: “The trend towards more highly specified caravan holiday homes and lodges is also consistent with the move by many parks to extend their opening seasons. Local authorities would appear to be increasingly more accommodating when faced with such requests from parks, recognising the wider economic benefits to be gained from lengthening the holiday year, not least among the many businesses in their area which depend on visitor spending.” He adds: “With modern holiday homes now providing highly efficient central heating systems as well as double glazing and increased levels of insulation, holidays throughout the four seasons become much more practical.”
At Skelwith Fold caravan park in the Lake District, new accommodation trends are enabling park owner Henry Wild to broaden his customer base. The Ambleside park has around 450 pitches for holiday home owners and touring guests – but camping is not permitted: “This once meant that Skelwith Fold was only open to people with a touring caravan or motorhome, so we were limiting our guests to people who already understood the park product,” comments Henry. “A few years ago, however, we decided to remedy that by introducing top-end glamping modules for hire, based on the Swift S-Pod. This immediately extended our appeal to couples who might never before have considered using a park for a holiday.” He adds: “Their success encouraged us this year to invest in two safari tents, fully furnished and kitted-out, which are also proving immensely popular, especially with younger families.” While glamping is great for generating additional revenue, Henry believes that the real value of this accommodation is in generating interest in holiday home ownership. At least fifteen sales of holiday homes on the park over the past few years can be attributed to glamping stays.
“Many people typically book for three or four nights and that is sufficient for them to get an idea of what life could be like for them as owners. It’s surprising just how many on their last day ask if they can just take a quick look at one of our show homes before they leave!” says Henry. He adds: “As an industry, we have always known that a better understanding by consumers of what we offer could widen considerably our market potential. Glamping is doing the job far more effectively and economically than any amount of advertising could achieve.”
Switched on park owners who want to keep abreast of the everevolving world of park accommodation can get a first glimpse of the new 2019 models at the HERCMA Shows at The Lawns and Beaulieu this Autumn. Some 300 models of touring caravans, holiday homes, lodges and park homes will be on display at the shows, which run from September 4th – 6th (The Lawns) and September 21st – 23rd (Beaulieu).
“The industry overall is enjoying a good year with retail sales on the rise in all sectors, in particular with holiday homes and park homes,” explains Michael Ritchie, Event Manager of the Hull and East Riding of Yorkshire Caravan Manufacturers’ Association (HERCMA) Shows. “Customers want more and more creature comforts in their holiday homes and manufacturers strive to keep pace. Electronic gadgetry is now common in many of the higher priced units and in recent years there has been a rise in the popularity of twin units for both holiday and residential use. In fact, there will be a record number of twin units on display at The Lawns show this year – nearly 40 of them from 13 different manufacturers.”The Lawns show has been running for more than 40 years at The Lawns in Cottingham. It is run by HERCMA, which comprises five manufacturers from the region: ABI, Carnaby, Coachman, Swift and Willerby. Open to the public, the show attracts well over 20,000 visitors each year. “There will be numerous new product launches – as always at The Lawns,” promises Michael. “ABI and Swift are unveiling additional twin units with highly imaginative layouts; Willerby will be unveiling its range of park homes; and companies such as Pathfinder, Prestige-Homeseeker and Omar-Wessex always have stunning new designs on show and are promising the same this time.” Commenting on the future of holiday park accommodation, Michael adds: “I think that holiday caravans, lodges and park homes will continue to evolve, according to customer requirements, becoming, along with parks, more and more energy efficient, providing some of greenest and most environmentally holidays and residential accommodation available. While there may be short-term problems with issues such as Brexit, the longer-term future looks pretty good.”
Tel. 01452 526911
Tel. 01452 511430
THE LAWNS AND BEAULIEU SHOWS 2018
Doncaster-based park homes operator Serenity Parks might be a relative newcomer to the industry but they have ambitious plans for the future.
The Company was established in 2016 by Directors Gary Burns and Andrew Wilson, who already co-own a successful and longestablished civil engineering business – the NMC Group. After many years of working on engineering projects that included residential and holiday park developments, Gary and Andrew decided to take the plunge and invest in their own parks. “Through our civil engineering contracts we have long been involved with infrastructure and development works for many residential park home estates throughout the country,” explains Gary. “Given the steady increase in this market and the changing perceptions of park home living, we identified a strong opportunity to diversify our business interests and this has proved successful.” Gary and Andrew launched Serenity Parks by taking the opportunity to acquire two existing residential parks in Cheshire that were ripe for re-development.
Chester’s Croft is situated in the leafy Stockport suburb of Cheadle Hulme, and was acquired by Serenity Parks in November 2016. Its highly desirable location, just over two miles from Stockport itselfand seven miles from Manchester, makes it a popular choice with residents. The park offers plenty of green outdoor space, as well as excellent travel links, including two nearby rail stations and the ease of Manchester Airport just a few minutes drive away. Since taking on Chester’s Croft, Gary and Andrew have completely redeveloped the park and its infrastructure, investing heavily in surfacing, drainage, curbing and landscaping. They have bought back a number of plots in order to upgrade with new homes for sale. Out of a current 47 plots at Chester’s Croft, just three remain available. Serenity Park’s second Cheshire-based development, Alvanley Park, has also undergone a major upgrade. Many new homes have been added to the site and just one remains for sale out of a total of 40. The park sits in a prestige location in pretty Cheshire countryside and next to National Trust woodland, but with easy access to amenities in the nearby market town of Frodsham.
Both Chester’s Croft and Alvanley Park offer high-end, one and two bedroom park homes from leading manufacturers including Prestige, Oakgrove, Stately Albion and Omar. Both parks cater exclusively for over-55s and offer residents a thriving social scene and a supportive environment in which to spend their later years.
Gary and Andrew did not found Serenity Parks with the intention of just ‘owning parks.’ For them, the business represents an opportunity to create and develop communities.
“We really believe that moving to a park home should not just be a decision of where to live, but also of how,” explains Gary. “We pride ourselves on the lifestyle we enable our residents to lead. By providing attractive, accessible and well-equipped homes, in an environment that actively facilitates positive interaction, we create the perfect park home environment with a real community feel.”
SAFETY AND SECURITY
“Our homes offer an increased level of safety and security compared to city centre or suburban living, as well as encouraging residents to manage a more independent way of life in their later years. When you own a park and see new residents coming to make their home here, you can really see the positive difference in people after just a few months living amongst like-minded new friends.” Serenity Parks was born out of an absolute belief in the huge potential of park home living and its tremendous benefits, not only for park residents, but also for park owners, developers, and local authorities.Gary says: “There has been a seismic change in perceptions of park home living, especially among the over 50s who are placing more importance on leisure and the freedom that park home living can offer. The recent changes to housing policy also mean that residential park homes are now accepted as a dedicated form of housing, which gives us greater confidence in planning policy for more plots.” It’s clear that the tides are turning favourably for park home living but Serenity Parks believe much more needs to be done to educate the Government and local authority planners about the wider benefits of residential park home communities.
With this in mind, Gary and Andrew have created a detailed resource document that they are proactively sharing with local authority planning departments that explains the social, economic and environmental advantages of the park home trend.
Gary says the potential saving to the public purse from park home developments is massive, not to mention the solution they can offer to aid the national housing supply crisis.
“Cheshire, where we already have two parks, is an area of really high demand for homes and there is simply not enough accommodation to go around,” says Gary. “Many areas of the country have the same situation and frustratingly, I believe that not enough is being done to pass off sites for development.”
Gary and Andrew see this challenge as a unique opportunity to change out-dated misconceptions about the park home lifestyle.
With two successful re-developments under their belt in the Northwest, Gary and Andrew are now turning their attentions to other opportunities.
“We are interested in developing more high-end parks in the North but our interest remains national,” says Gary.
“We are ready and able to invest in redevelopment opportunities where we can transform tired sites to offer prestige park home communities in desirable areas. We have plans to double the size of our portfolio year on year over the next three years and promote the Serenity Parks brand UK-wide.”
On Your Marks For Trade Events
A busy show season lies ahead packed with a wealth of business ideas to help with your winter planning...
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Landscape Show - 18th-19th September
Evolution Centre, Battersea Park, London SW11 4NJ www.landscapeshow.co.uk
The key trade show for the industry LANDSCAPE is back for another year, uniting Garden Designers, Landscape Architects and Contractors under one roof for two days, dedicated to sourcing the latest innovations and technologies in the landscaping industry. Come down to Battersea Park onTuesday 18th and Wednesday 19th September 2018 to select, sourceand network. LANDSCAPE 2018 promises to deliver a range of both new andreturning exhibitors showcasing everything from Outdoor Furniture,Living Plants and Trees, Planters, Stone and Decking to mention justa few. The event is the go-to for any professional designer looking tosource new product ranges to use within their projects. Andrew Fisher Tomlin from Fisher Tomlin & Bowyer says: “The thing that distinguishes the LANDSCAPE Show is that you always find new trade suppliers and new products that you would never find elsewhere.” Alongside the main exhibition is a free to attend Seminar Programme hosted across four seminar theatres. Each session is CPD accredited and addresses current topics integral to the industry
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Beaulieu Trade Show - 20th September
Hides Field, Beaulieu,Brockenhurst, Hampshire SO42 7ZN www.lawnsandbeaulieushows.com
The annual HERCMA Southern Trade Show at Beaulieu takes placethis year on Thursday 20th September, from 10am until 5pm. More than 150 of the latest caravan holiday homes, lodgesand park homes will be displayed in the splendid setting of theBeaulieu Estate in the New Forest in Hampshire. Leading brandson show include manufacturers such as ABI, Atlas, Carnaby, Delta,Pathfinder, Pemberton, Prestige-Homeseeker, Regal, Stately-Albion,Swift, Tingdene and Victory. Other exhibitors range from decking companies to software and furniture suppliers. Parking and entry are free for bona fide trade visitors who can register to attend on www. hercmatradeshows. com. Trade visitors are also welcome on Friday21st September, the opening day of the annual Caravan Holiday Home and Park Home Show. This continues over the weekend of 22nd and23rd September from 10am until 5pm each day. Details of the public event are on www.lawnsandbeaulieushows.com
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Be My Guest - 2nd & 10th October
Torquay, Carlisle & Skegness www.bemyguest.live
Following a successful launch earlier this year, the Be My Guest event series has announced its autumn dates. A UK roadshow for independent accommodation providers including holiday parks, camping sites, glamping experiences and holiday rentals. Theevents are supported by partners like The AA,Google, Expedia, local DMOs and media partnersincluding Holiday Park Scene. The one-day business development eventswill be visiting Torquay (2 Oct), Carlisle (10 Oct) and Skegness (13 Nov). The events are free to attend for providers and feature a fantastic speakerline up to help businesses improve their performance by mastering topicslike digital marketing, local networking, supplementary incomes throughinitiative like electrical vehicle charging ports. Visitors to the show will also be able to take advantage of theMarketplace exhibition which showcases the latest products and servicesfor providers and is packed with show-only offers. As an example, theBe My Guest team provide a 20% subsidy for any new accommodationproviders looking to undertake The AA Quality Assessment Scheme forthe first time. For more information and to register your FREE place at the show justvisit the website.
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Saltex 2018 - 31st October - 1st November
NEC, Birmingham B40 1NT www.iogsaltex.com
Those working within the holiday park and campsite management industry will have the opportunity to learn from leading opinion formers, further their career prospects and see new products and services fromprominent suppliers when SALTEX opens its doors at the NEC,Birmingham on October 31 and November 1. This year, the show floor will be bursting with everything avisitor needs to increase their efficiency and improve operations andwill contain a plethora of exhibitors representing the likes of playequipment and services, turf maintenance equipment, fencing andlandscaping, sports surface design, research and consultancy, seeds,turf, aggregates and treatments, and facilities services management. As well as a wide range of innovative products on display within the three large halls, visitors to SALTEX will have the chance to see many of these products in action. The outdoor demonstrations will take place on a grassed area directly outside the SALTEX halls 6, 7 and 8. There will also be a number of education opportunities through Learning LIVE - SALTEX’s all-encompassing, free-to-attend education programme. Learning LIVE will take place in four dedicatedseminar theatres situated on the show floor and willfeature a wide range of expert speakers discussingrelevant topics. SALTEX 2018 is free to attend. To register yourattendance and beat the queues visit www.iogsaltex.com
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Holiday Park & Resort Innovation Show - 7th & 8th September
NEC, Birmingham B40 1NT www.holidayparkshow.co.uk
The Holiday Park & Resort Innovation Show is back at the NEC, Birmingham on the 7th and 8th November providing holiday and leisure entrepreneurs with an unparalleled opportunity 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! Whether you’re relatively new in the holiday market and looking for inspiration and advice or an established business looking for new and exciting ways to improve your offering, the event covers everything you need to run your holiday business more efficiently. Discover all the latest technology and trends from within the sector and find out more about current marketing and business strategies. The industry’s most innovative and influential figures will pass on their peerless knowledge and advice and ultimately help you stand out from the competition and increase your occupancy rates. Tickets to attend are free and you can register via the website. We look forward to welcoming you to the event.
No Quick Fix
I will start with a confession. Wisper it quietly, but there is no ‘quick fix’ that will instantly fill your holiday park with customers, especially in the quieter months. That magic button for your website – the one that will send bookings through the roof is, well, I’m afraid just a myth…
So, it’s time for a reality check. The only way to ensure your park is best placed to turn those clicks and enquiries into bookings and sales is to have a proper strategy in place. It can be really frustrating to see large volumes of traffic coming to your website but so few of those continuing to book their holidays. Abandoned bookings and poor conversions rates are an obvious sign that all is not well somewhere in the online booking process.
Whether you own a large group of holiday parks or you’re just starting out with a few touring pitches, your online booking platform is arguably the most important piece of the jigsaw. You can spend thousands of pounds per month on marketing but, if it’s all let down by a process that inhibits the booking process then you’re wasting all your hard-earned cash. Online booking systems vary greatly from one another - and the most expensive one may not necessarily be the best for your park. You need a system that not only fulfils your requirements from a park management perspective but is, crucially, easy for your customers to navigate and book online.
It is too easy to forget the customer booking journey with parks too often spending more time focusing on the back-office functionality of an online booking system. But these online booking steps are, potentially, far more important than whether the system can produce all your different financial reports. Most systems (but not all) on the market will come with a set of online booking steps that will be the link between your website and booking system. It is crucial that you choose a system that has booking steps that are clear, straightforward and easily navigable for your customers.Why not take the journey yourself, as a customer would (we recommend trying this on a mobile too). If you find yourself getting frustrated then multiply this by the average number of people who visit your website and you’ll soon see why so many people abandon their bookings.
hate to be the bearer of bad news but complying with GDPR wasn’t just sending out a few re-subscribe emails to your database at the end of May. It’s fair to say that it’s had (and will continue to have) a big impact on the holiday park industry. One thing’s for sure – it’s already had a big impact on the online booking sector, with many changes having been made to systems to comply as best they can with the new regulations. A cornerstone element of GDPR is customer data. Your online booking system is, potentially, storing thousands of customer records, accounts and, in some cases, payment details too.
Do you know for sure where all that customer data is? Is it stored directly on the computer in your office – and is this vulnerable to hackers? Or is the data stored in the cloud? Is it encrypted to the highest level? Are your online booking steps collecting marketing information even from those who don’t complete a booking? If so, what’s being done with all that data? All these are vitally important questions you should ask your current provider or ask yourself before changing to a new system as you will be liable, should the worst happen.If your online booking is the final part of the jigsaw, then getting your customers into that booking process, is the first. How do you attract the right sort of customer to your park to begin with?
Before you commit to spending hundreds or thousands of pounds per month on a Google AdWords PPC campaign or such like you need to ask yourself one fundamental question – who are your customers? How old are they? Where do they live? What interests do they have? What do they spend on an average holiday? Once you have a clear idea of the people you’re targeting then you’re more likely to achieve the desired result. Depending on the sort of customer you’re targeting, your marketing can be grouped into various activities, including your website, email, social media, pay per click (PPC) or printed media. All of this will filter back to the online booking process.
A good website that’s well optimised for all the relevant keywords is certainly a good start and will be integral for just about everything you do but it will not, necessarily, be the huge driver of traffic on its own, that it once was. Things are ever-changing in the world of the web and the level of competition has gone from stiff to fierce, especially in popular holiday destinations such as the South West of England.
That being said, there are some key things to consider with your current website to help it work best for you:
• Does it stand out from the crowd? Does it have a ‘wow’ factor?
• Is it quick and easy to use on a mobile device?
• Do the images properly showcase your setting and accommodation range?
• Are your CTAs (calls to action) clear and consistent – ‘book now’ ‘check prices & availability’ ‘call now’
How much do you spend on your marketing and what sort of Return on Investment (ROI) are you getting? Do you know? If the answer to this last question is a resounding ‘no’ then it’s time to take stock of your current activity…and think again. If, for whatever reason, you are not able to apportion revenue against your marketing then you are working with one hand behind your back.
E-commerce tracking really is the cornerstone of measuring a campaign’s success, whether it be a promotional email or a Google AdWords campaign. Without this knowledge it’s almost impossible to know if what you’re doing is right. So many people are obsessed with the volume of clicks and traffic that a campaign sends to their website but this can often be very misleading. Always think – quality over quantity! You’re aiming for ‘qualified’ clicks; those that come from an audience who are in-tune and interested in your product, not those who may have clicked your banner ad by mistake. To this end, your external marketing should follow the same premise. As mentioned, know your audience and aim your marketing at this focused bunch of people, don’t waste your time and money on a scattergun approach because it simply won’t work.
Tel. 01726 418118
When it comes to holiday parks, Shorefield Holidays may be one of the UK’s best-kept secrets. For 60 years, the family-run company has been offering stunning gateways to some of the most spectacular scenery in the country. Eight parks in two counties offer five different ways to stay (luxe holiday lodges, beautiful family houses, premium caravans, and camping or touring pitches), all set amongst some of the best countryside the British Isles has to offer, from the beautiful New Forest National Park to the heritage Jurassic coastline. Each park has its own individual character and different facilities, which variously include indoor and outdoor swimming pools and aqua fun, imaginative children’s play areas, gyms, vibrant restaurants and bars, great entertainment and a spa offering a range of treatments.
Parks are an easy drive from either the beach or the unique New Forest National Park with its ancient, wild landscape and famous roaming ponies. Cycle the trails of the New Forest and the Isle of Purbeck, walk down hidden pathways to the south coast, or use your time to get fit or learn a new activity and then come home to your own lodge or holiday home. All parks are pet friendly, so there’s no reason to leave anyone behind. Ever since company founder, Dr Robert Pollock, bought a workedout gravel pit on the south coast in 1958 because he couldn’t find anywhere to park his caravan, the directors have never lost sight of why people choose to spend their precious downtime at a Shorefield Holiday park and continue to invest in new ways to deliver happy family holidays. The gravel pit was transformed into Shorefield Country Park and, since then, the company has grown to offer a portfolio of seven premium, award-winning parks across Hampshire and Dorset. The acquisition of Wilksworth Caravan Park at the start of 2018 became Shorefield’s eighth park and an ongoing investment in quality accommodation saw 80 brand new caravan holiday homes installed at Oakdene Forest Park in Dorset ensuring no caravan on the park is more than a few years old.A community of 12 luxury boutique lodges launched this year at the New Forest Lodge Retreat, on the edge of both the New Forest National Park and the beach at Milford-on-Sea. Lavender House, set in stunning private grounds close to Shorefield Country Park, has been completely refurbished and sleeps up to 14 people in six en suite rooms. In addition to this Rose Cottage, a historical property at Wilksworth, will soon be available to holidaymakers. Shorefield Holidays’ chairman and Managing Director Simon Pollock says: “2018 is a really exciting year for Shorefield Holidays, as well as our holidaymakers and home owners. “Not only are we celebrating six decades delivering happy holidays, we’re also investing in some significant improvements and introductions which we hope our customers will love.” “We are so proud of what Shorefield Holidays has achieved over the last 60 years. We wanted to show our appreciation to all our staff for the dedication they have shown to our company, whose family values are as strong today as they were when my father opened our first park in 1958. “Every member of staff is valued and encouraged to understand how they can make a difference to the success of our business,” he continues.
“In the last 60 years, we have seen significant growth - both for holidays and holiday home ownership,” adds Simon. “With more and more post-Brexit vote Britons opting to holiday at home instead of travelling abroad, we are anticipating this growth will continue and lead to even more exciting developments for the future. “As a forward-thinking business, we spend millions of pounds across all eight of our parks to keep us at the forefront of the family holiday market, and are continually looking for more opportunity for growth. We have exciting times ahead of us!” Shorefield Holidays is a major local employer in Hampshire and Dorset, employing just under 250 full-time employees. Some 95per cent of employees come from within a 10-mile radius of each park. Senior employees in the business are experts in the hospitality industry; many have worked for several decades in the sector and held positions in key industry associations and governing bodies. A number of the senior management team have been with the business for more than 20 years and have progressed from general roles in the business up through to senior manager level. The team has expanded to include new members, all highly experienced in their fields of responsibility, leading to numerous business awards for the team and the company’s Financial Director, Sara Bertin. The business stands out as a first-class employer because of its strong family culture. Shorefield Holidays is a proud member of the local community, and sponsors a range of local events, including Bournemouth Air Festival with Wave 105.
Shorefield Holidays Limited
An ‘adults only’ holiday park in the New Forest which promises tranquil stays in a child-free environment is celebrating a clutch of national awards. Owned by husband-and-wife team, Martin and Victoria Bowrey, Back of Beyond park near Ringwood, can now boast four accolades for the excellence of its grown-up surroundings. They include a top conservation award from botanist David Bellamy, a gold pennant from the AA, and a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for its consistently glowing reviews. Back of Beyond was also voted as being among the top 100 of Britain’s 3000-plus holiday parks by the readers of top-selling Practical Caravan magazine. The honours have provided a fantastic start to the 2018 holiday season according to Martin Bowrey who runs Back of Beyond with his wife Vicki. It was just over four years ago that the couple sold their successful London photography business and took a gamble on their future in rural Dorset.The aim, said Martin, was to run an eco-friendly holiday park for nature-loving guests in a part of the country where they, as a family, often went camping. It was decided to place an 18-plus age requirement on guests so that adults could enjoy stays guaranteed free from the patter of tiny feet. The park, said Martin, appeals especially to people who spend their working lives with children – such as teachers and child-care professionals – and to more mature guests. Covering 30 acres of quiet countryside, over half of which is woodland, Back of Beyond provides 80 pitches for camping, touring caravans and motorhomes.
The couple now also offer ready-erected tents, yurts and timber lodges for glamping guests with comforts such as full-size double beds, heating and kitchen areas. Back of Beyond’s guests also include a quarter of a million honey bees in its hives, and which thrive on the high pollen-bearing blooms of the park’s many wild flowers. Their honey is sold in the park’s shop, and Martin and Vicki have imposed a total ban on herbicides which, say nature experts, are causing a worrying decline in bee populations. Other natural attractions at Back of Beyond include two picturesque lakes and a stretch of the Moors River where the wildlife includes otters, dragonflies, and many different bird species. Martin said it was wonderful to be able to enter the summer season with so many awards, and that a lot of the credit must go to the park’s staff: “The feedback we receive from holiday guests, and which helped contribute to these awards, often highlights the park’s friendly atmosphere and the hospitality provided,” said Martin. “Delivering this is very much in the hands of our team as well as Vicki and me, so we owe them a big thank-you for helping to create so many memorable experiences. “I hope these awards will benefit not just us, but also other tourism businesses in the New Forest area by showing what a great part of Britain this is for taking a holiday,” added Martin.
Back of Beyond Touring Park
Tel. 01202 876968
Holiday Snaps From Gary Molloy
What was your career path into the industry?
Leaving school at the age of 15, I undertook an apprenticeship in mechanical engineering and tool-making before moving to Portugal to sell properties. On my return to the UK, I joined the Haven sales team for eight years, until . I felt I’d gained enough industry knowhow and confidence to go it alone. In 1997, I set up my own company, Park Leisure 2000 Ltd. It’s amazing to think that I started the business from my spare bedroom and ended up selling it 20 years later when we were operating 12 5-star parks and employing more than 350 people across the UK.
What is your current role in the industry?
I set up Leisure Resorts in May 2017. Just over a year later and we have three parks in operation with a fourth scheduled to join the Leisure Resorts portfolio later this year. My mission is to develop Leisure Resorts into a small but perfectly formed group that will concentrate on delivering the very best that the industry has to offer.
How has the market changed during your time in the industry?
As customers’ expectations have increased, the market has listened and adapted. Holiday homes now offer an incredible range of options to suit every taste and budget. Located across the UK in the most desirable and picturesque locations they offer spacious accommodation within easy access of fun things to do, whether you’re eight or 80.
How do you predict things will change in the next five to ten years?
Holiday home manufacturers are producing some amazing designs and it’s great to see how far they’ve come and what they’re planning next. The ‘staycation’ is certainly helping our industry and I expect this trend to continue. As more private equity money enters the market, I see the holiday park market going from strength to strength, particularly as the UK is constantly improving its position as a world-leading tourism destination.
What are the biggest challenges you face in your working life?
The biggest challenge is staying ahead of the competition - the better we get, the better they do. What is the best piece of business advice you have been given? I have two pieces of advice that have always been important to me. One, never ask anybody to do something you wouldn’t be prepared to do yourself. Two, always pay suppliers on time and if you have the cash to hand, pay them early.
How do you most like to spend your time out of working hours?
Family and friends are, and always will be, the most import thing to me. Work commitments often make it hard to spend as much time with them as I’d like, but I ensure I make the most of the time we do have. I am also a huge Manchester United fan and have followed them through thick and thin ever since I was a little boy in the early 70’s.
If we could give you three guests, who would you most like to sit down to dinner with and why?
My first would be Margaret Thatcher. Love her or loathe her, a truly amazing lady. As a Manchester United fan, how could I not invite Sir Alex Ferguson? In my opinion, the greatest sporting team leader of all time. My final choice would be Carl Pilkington, The Idiot Abroad. He just doesn’t realise how funny he is.
Where do you prefer to take your holidays?
If I am staying in the UK, there’s no better place than the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales. I guess it’s my love for these places that has heavily influenced the locations of our Leisure Resorts’ sites.
Wish You Were Here - Brenda House Touring Park
Brenda House touring park is a labour of love...
It had always been Fiona and Neil Sidebottom’s ambition to run a touring caravan park.
They purchased Brenda House, a mile or so from the historic town of Howden, in the East Riding of Yorkshire, that was built 1900 by the local brickyard owner. Through the years the site had been developed into a smallholding.
The park now has 24 hard-standing pitches, of which ten are designated as seasonal. These have been fully occupied since 2007 and most of the current occupiers have been with the park since then. All the work to develop the park and modernise the property was undertaken by the owners.
Brenda House Touring Caravan Park is exclusively for adults only, which includes all visitors to the site. Well-behaved dogs are always welcome, and the park offers a secure fenced off walking area at the very top of the site where dogs can be allowed off the lead.
Fiona and Neil take pride in having produced a peaceful and secluded caravan park located in idyllic countryside at the foot of the Yorkshire Wolds. It is set in three acres of land and has regular visits from barn owls, deer, kestrels and a myriad of bird species.
The touring park is open each year from March to October and sees many visitors repeatedly returning. It is such a popular site that Easter 2018 was fully booked by the first week in January.
Brenda House Touring Caravan Park
Tel. 01430 431189
Hot Tub Revolution
We have all been there. It is the height of the season. The clock is ticking on your holiday lets. Just a six-hour changeover window to dump the old hot tub water and heat the fresh water in time for the new arrivals who are chomping at the bit to take the plunge. This typical scenario is generally a twice-weekly race against the clock; the quickest of rollovers that needs to be completed seamlessly if we are to side-step the inevitable complaints and money-back claims. As an industry standard, using conventional methods, a holiday hot tub, with a normal 3kw heater, will heat water on changeover at one degree an hour, that is up to 24 hours to get up to optimum temperatures.
So take note of a ground-breaking new state-of-the-art product, called the Climacube that will heat a hot tub at seven to eight degrees per hour. The Climacube will heat hot tubs in around 4-5 hours from cold with a consumption of only 1KW per/hour with a COP of over 3.5 in minus temperatures. If I then told you the Climacube can cut heating costs by up to 70 per cent and this technology can be used to provide hot water and heating to your holiday lodges themselves....yes, keep calm and form an orderly queue. Available as a stand-alone unit, the ClimaCube can be retro-fittedto all makes of hot tubs. It is also available as a pre-installed feature in a bespoke range of hot tubs by ClimaCube’s creator, Park Leisure Solutions. Launched at the start of the 2018 season; good news travels fast. Forward thinking companies like Parkdean Resorts were amongst the first to snap up the new technology that already features on over 70 hot tubs at holiday parks in Poole, Norwich and Skegness. Based on a thermo-dynamic patented technology, working off a 13 amp supply, the all-singing, all-dancing Climacube is a refrigerant-based product.
In essence, it is the next step for heat pumps – heaven-sent for parks who can cut their reliability on piped or bottle gas supply lines and switch to reliable off-grid sources.
What Trevor Baylis was to the wind-up radio, so is Climacube creator, Stuart Mulcahy, for the holiday hot tub sector. Having over 20 years’ experience in the hot tub industry, Stuart dipped a toe into the holiday park market some five years ago and began searching for a product that would both solve problems and cut running costs. “I had worked in the industry long enough to understand the problems facing holiday lets with hot tubs,” says Stuart. “The solution, to supply quality built, energy efficient, commercial hot tubs that customers can rely on,” says Stuart.
“So many holiday park operators have been sold domestic tubs or modified tubs that are not easy to maintain, have domestic spa covers and present a serious amount of problems when it comes to customer care,” he adds. The lightbulb moment came with a variation on proven heat The Climacube Heat System offers the very latest energy saving heat technology, dramatically reducing running costs, increasing customer usage, reducing the carbon footprint and enabling customers to use hot tubs all year round, at the desired temperature without the concern of cost. Customers are already benefiting, with installations producing significant reductions in their energy heating costs.
Unlike conventional heat systems, Climacube will heat hot tubs in around 4-5 hours from cold with a consumption of only 1KW per/hour with a COP of over 3.5 in minus temperatures – meaning a dramatic reduction in your annual hot tub energy costs. pump technology that is now backed by a worldwide patent. Much more than a heat pump, significant techniques include the way air is brought into the unit and distributed via a compressor. Supplied with the appropriate European wide accreditations, the UK designed Climacube is in full production and is supplied and serviced nationwide. “This is very new and different way of heating that has been developed over three years with tests and proto-types in the factory and on site,” explains Stuart. “It would be very easy to say, I will buy that heat pump and see if I can adapt it,” he says. “Rather than do that, we have started from scratch to ensure the system draws minimum current but produces maximum results.”
Developments are already in the pipeline to offer remote control and apps to refine monitoring and diagnostics by the 2019 season. “Much more than heat pumps, this bespoke-designed system has been developed to specifically to speed the heating of hot water in the tub while drawing only 1kw of energy to put 7kw into the water. “ Offering their own nationwide team of hot tub installers and offering training to both the hot tub and holiday park industries, Park Leisure Solutions already has its system working on nearly 70 sites even though it is its launch year. They are working with leading suppliers on the strategic changeover of redundant hot tub stock, replacing them with the super energy-efficient and time-strategic alternatives. “Time after time, we are meeting with exasperated holiday park operators who find themselves with hot tub issues not of their making. “All too often running with out-dated product, or domestic units, trying to get as much rental income as possible out of them before making changes. “Often those tubs have been supplied with no back-up or service,” says Stuart, who warns that some operators are falling out of love with holiday hot tubs and a bucket-load of problems and potential client complaints.
“Having recognised the issues and developed commercial built, reliable solutions we are now working with leading industry names, including Parkdean Resorts, to re-invest in hot tubs. “For all the positives with encouraging bookings, we all know the pitfalls with hot tubs with customers tampering with controls, tearing covers that look terrible and do not insulate properly. “We are offering the right product that ticks all boxes,” emphasises Stuart. Made in Canada the Park Leisure Solutions hot tub range is made up of a five hand-picked models, specifically adapted for holiday park market. Stuart points out. “Our hot tub range is supplied with a strong white acrylic finish with luxurious silver and grey marbling, polysteel cabinetry with galvanized SureSteel Frame plus layered ROXUL® Insulation and industry leading warranties as standard.”
RESEARCH AND DESIGN
The Park Leisure Solutions team has worked with specialist health and safety consultants to ensure their models not just meet but exceed HSE hot tub guidelines. The company has invested ignificantly in research and design, questioning some industry advice, such as erosion feeders, which they believe are not right for the holiday park marketplace. “There is so much misinformation out there,” Stuart despairs. “We have carried out extensive research, development and testing over three years before launch.”
“We can either adapt existing stock or simply supply alternative stock.” Stuart adds: “We can sell on the technology but the biggest bonus is avoiding the complaints that accompany changeovers,” As well as the positives it brings to holiday hot tubs, the Climacube offers huge promise for the improvement in energy efficiency of swim spas with impressive reduced running costs The technology is also available for swimming pools with scope to link to hot water and heating systems for holiday lodges and caravans – all offered off the national gas grid. Quick. That queue is getting longer!
Park Leisure Solutions
Tel. 01202 69 11 66
Leading providers of tailored IT and Wi-Fi solutions to the UK holiday park, leisure resort,marina and festival sectors. Infinium, a Preston based specialist in IT and Wi-Fi solutions have announced ambitious expansion plans. The £5m turnover business has completed two significant strategic acquisitions to help push the business towards becoming a national provider with scale and reach. The acquisition of Affinity Wi-Fi in Cambridgeshire and Qubix Technology in Bristol will support the business to provide a focus on local sales and service but with a national footprint.
The company has over 16 years’ experience of providing IT and Wi-Fi services throughout the UK and works with over 300 holiday parks and provides services to top UK festivals such as Car Fest, Pub in the Park and The Handmade Fair. Infinium, founded by the now Group CEO Peter Miles, employs 53 people in 4 UK locations with plans to grow to a £10mcompany within the next three years.
Holiday park group Bridge Leisure has completed a project to add electric car charging points at eight holiday parks across the UK. The company, which owns parks and provides professional management and consultancy for the industry, teamed up with Lincolnshire-based electrical distribution systems specialist Caravan Park Electrical to install the charging points in time for the summer season. Parks that benefited from the development are Trevella Park, Seaview Holiday Village and Hengar Manor in Cornwall; Hedley Wood in Devon; Ashbourne Heights in the Peak District; Sand le Mere on the Yorkshire coast; Turnberry Park in Ayrshire and Silver Sands in Moray. Simon Williams, Bridge Leisure commercial director says: “The future of driving is electric, so having our own charging points will help us provide a better holiday experience of our electric-car driving customers. “We are already seeing high use of the charging points, particularly at our Peak District and Cornwall parks, so there is clearly demand for this kind of facility.”
Five Star Short Break Holidays
Leading luxury holiday home company Park Leisure has introduced five-star short breaks and longer stays as it embarks on its next phase of expansion. The announcement follows an increase in guest demand for first-class, luxury escapes closer to home and sees the premium holiday home company welcome holiday makers looking for a little rest and relaxation in a Lodge or Caravan holiday home at three of its parks:
• Brynteg Coastal & Country Retreat,North Wales
• Par Sands Coastal Holiday Park, Cornwall
• Pentire Coastal Holiday Park, Cornwall
Park Leisure has also introduced five-star glamping at its Littondale Country & Leisure Park, in the Yorkshire Dales, this summer, with a range of serviced luxury safari tents and mega pods – stylishly simple wooden huts,for those looking to sleep under the stars. Speaking on the announcement, CEO of Park Leisure Miles Dewhurst said: “With more people looking to holiday in the UK than ever before the demand for luxury short stays and longer breaks has never been greater. Combining first-class facilities and services in some of the UK’s most stunning locations,we’re perfectly placed to respond to the demand and are delighted to provide guests with the opportunity to enjoy five-star holidays closer to home.”
Wellness Support Act At Welsh Park
Talacre Beach Holiday Home Park, in Prestatyn, is an award winning seaside holiday park with an on-site swimming pool and leisure facilities.
When upgrading their sauna and steam rooms, they turned to Preston’s Crystal Leisure. Crystal Leisure recommended Golden Coast’s sauna and steam room due to the high quality, good looks, and ease of installation. The initial stage of the project was done over two days, with taking down the current facilities, isolating the electrics, and retiling the floor. For the new setup to be installed took around a week, including fitting a new steam generator and sauna control.
Leading holiday park operator Argyll Holidays has announced the completion of its brand-new Drimsynie Estate Hotel. Located in the award-winning Drimsynie Estate Holiday Village overlooking Loch Goil in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, the multi-million pound investment officially opens its doors to guests at the end of September. A total of £6.5million has been invested in the new hotel by Argyll Holidays. The company, still run by the Campbell family who set it up in 1967, opened its first holiday park on the site just over 50 years ago and the new development doubles the size of the existing hotel.
Compulsory Risk Assessment Warning
Taking steps to keeping your water systems safe should be done in line with a Legionella risk assessment. It’s not just advisory; if you are an employer or in control of premises, you are responsible for understanding the health risks of Legionella. Failure to risk-assess water systems for Legionella is punishable by fine and a prison sentence. More often than not, when outbreaks occur, there is a serious risk to human health often resulting in fatalities.
The seasonality of holiday parks, caravanning sites and summer camps mean they are typically used less frequently throughout winter months. Because of these quieter periods, stored and stagnant water can become a breeding ground for Legionella bacteria, especially when temperatures start to rise. Shower blocks, laundry rooms, swimming pools and spa pools, therefore, all require risk assessing and adequate servicing to ensure any risk of Legionella is managed and mitigated. The risk of Legionella extends to any hot and cold water system and cooling tower as well as irrigation systems and interactive water features in public spaces which – in warmer weather – attracts the public. Guidance on the legislation around interactive water features can be found here.
Ground maintenance in public spaces, parks and grounds also require careful consideration. Like any other water accessory, dispenser or system, hose pipes can store stagnant water and therefore Legionella bacteria has the potential to grow. When next used, these hose pipes have the potential to release the airborne bacteria in tiny water droplets for inhalation, posing a risk to the user and anyone nearby. With hotter weather often seeing an increased risk of Legionella proliferation, there are a number of precautions to take to ensure that you minimise the risk of cases of Legionnaires’ disease, ensuring that you are compliant with HSE’s ACoP L8. Ensuring staff are appropriately trained in Legionella awareness, risk assessment and their responsibilities can support in effective Legionella management and control. Not only that, suitable and sufficient training of all staff involved in Legionella risk management is a key requirement of the regulations. No matter what the season, you can read more about who is responsible for managing your water systems here. If you require support in managing Legionella, conducting your Legionella risk assessments or want general advice on what to do, please seek advice.
Tel. 0845 603 2112
Park Acquisition Trail
The famous Somerset tourist attraction Wookey Hole Caves has expanded its business with the purchase of its second caravan park. Wookey Hole Ltd has bought Homestead Caravan Park in Wells – a residential park with campsite and holiday lodges. The move comes just over a year after Wookey Hole bought Bucklegrove Holiday Park in the Cheddar Valley – a seven acre mixed holiday park. The site has been extensively upgraded and business has doubled since Wookey Hole bought the site. Wookey Hole is a popular tourist attraction with over 20 attractions, including the famous caves, a 4D cinema, circus shows and a mirror maze. The business also runs a 58 bed hotel and 10 lodges at its Wookey Hole site. Stephens Scown LLP advised Wookey Hole Ltd on the six figure deal and funding came from Handelsbanken
Wookey Hole Ltd
Holiday Habits Revealed
New survey data reveals the truth behind the nation’s holiday habits, and exposes exactly just how and what we’re spending on those all-important holidays. When it comes to holidays, the people of the UK certainly aren’t holding back on their spending. Ocean Florida’s data reveals that 16% of people in the UK are splurging between £3,000 and £10,000 on their summer getaway. It’s not just money, but time that people are willing to give as just under a third of holiday makers (31%) are opting to go on holiday, not once, but twice a year. Those with children are actually far more likely to take multiple holidays a year, with 34% of families taking two holidays a year, as opposed to only 28% of households without children. Millennials were also taking less holidays each year compared to families with kids, as only 32% stated they take two holidays a year. So, although it may be thought that millennials have more disposable income and time, it’s not always being spent on holidays. When it comes to spending money on holiday accessories, such as clothes, it’s those without children who are spending more. A third (30%) of respondents without kids spent between £101 and £250, compared to only a quarter of those with children.
For more information please visit www.ocean-florida.co.uk
Camping On NHS Prescription
The managing director of a multi award-winning caravan dealership believes doctors should be prescribing camping and caravanning as an alternative to medication for stress related conditions. Mark Bebb from Shrewsbury-based Salop Leisure has welcomed a pledge by Government’s new Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, o reduce people’s reliance on ‘unsophisticated drugs’. The comments came after it was revealed that 7.3 million people in the UK were given antidepressant drugs last year and 70,000 of them were children. Mr Hancock plans to give GPs alternatives and pledged to expand schemes to treat patients with mental health problems through social activities. “Evidence has shown the potential benefits of approaches like social prescribing, which addresses people’s physical and mental wellbeing and has been shown to both improve patients’ quality of life and reduce pressure on other NHS services.”
Social prescribing, which aims to improve people’s overall health and wellbeing rather than medicating a single condition, entails referring patients to community activities, volunteering, arts groups, gardening and cooking classes. Now Mr Bebb wants camping and caravanning added to the list, as he believes that both have been proven to possess therapeutic benefits. Salop Leisure has developed its Love2Stay caravanning and glamping resort in Shrewsbury to be “at one with nature” and to instil a feeling of well-being and tranquillity in visitors.
Experts have said that medicine is being used a first resort too often in mental health care and doctors must explore more options before handing out pills. One in six adults took antidepressants last year, according to NHS figures, which is 500,000 more than in 2015. Previous research has suggested that that while nearly two thirds (57%) of non-campers are stressed or anxious on an average day, just a third of campers (35%) are stressed out.
A study by outdoor holiday specialists Camping in the Forest found that campers (77%) are much more satisfied with their quality of life than noncampers (59%), while research by the Camping and Caravanning Club discovered that 93% of campers say camping can make you happier. Bob Hill, from Camping in the Forest, said: “With the advent of technology in all aspects of our personal and professional lives, the reality is that it can be very difficult for people to switch off. Unfortunately, this can make life very stressful as we need time out to relax, rejuvenate and just be.”
Researchers at the University of Essex found that nine out of 10 patients suffering from depression felt ‘higher self-esteem’ after a walk through a park. Almost three-quarters reported feeling less depressed and the researchers found that people recovered faster from illnesses through an ‘immunising’ effect that protected them from future stresses. Ecotherapy is the name given to a wide range of treatment programmes which aim to improve mental and physical wellbeing through doing outdoor activities in nature.
Brexit Bonus For UK Holiday Sector
A record number of Britons are choosing to take their holidays in this country, early reports on 2018 trends suggest. The Brexit decision fall-out, implicit in the the falling value of the pound, means holiday makers are being turned off the stress and strain associated with overseas trips. A survey published last month suggested that more than four out of five Britons would rather stay at home than suffer the stresses of traveling abroad. At the same time, they are being lured to stay closer to home by the extended spell of sizzling summer weather. Research, by Barclays, has found that more than a third of Britons will have taken holidays closer to home this year, with 21 per cent using this as their main holiday. Rural areas are expected to benefit most, with southwest England attracting 30 per cent of holidaymakers and Scotland drawing 22 per cent. This growing trend for staycations has led to a nine per cent rise in revenue at Britain’s biggest holiday parks, according to research by the lender Ortus Secured Finance. Turnover at the 100 largest operators reached £2.7 billion last year, up from £2.46 billion in 2012. “Caravan, camping and holiday parks are going from strength to strength,” Jon Salisbury, OSF’s managing director, told The Times.
Parkdean Resorts, which was the UK’s largest holiday park operator, was sold to Onex, a Canadian private equity company, for £1.35 billion in December. Rivals, Park Leisure 2000, was sold for £103 million to a consortium led by Midlothian Capital Partners in February, and Intermediate Capital bought Park Holidays for £362 million last year. A rise in overseas visitors and the growing popularity of staycations have helped boost UK tourism. Inbound tourism to Britain is also booming, with foreign tourists attracted by the weak pound. According to Visit Britain, inbound flight bookings for April to September surged by 21 per cent compared with the same period last year. Patricia Yates, strategy and communications director of Visit Britain, said that there was “particularly strong demand from our long-haul, high-spending markets, China and the US”. However, foreign visitors prefer city breaks, with 67 per cent visiting only London while in the UK. About 30 million British citizens holiday in other EU countries every year, accounting for 76 per cent of the outbound travel market. However, John Lennon of Glasgow Caledonian University has forecast that the costs of flying, travel insurance and mobile data usage could soar after Britain leaves the EU. A legal framework for flights after Brexit has yet to be agreed and airlines warned that with more than 60 agreements to be renegotiated, planes could be grounded until a deal is reached.
Planning For A Successful Succession
Planning and managing a family succession can be fraught with emotion and impact on relationships away from the business, so if passions are running high or it is difficult to take the challenging decisions needed for a successful handover, Howe recommends bringing in outside help to remove emotion from the decision-making process and help all parties focus on making choices that benefit the long term health of the business.
Recognising this challenge is what led Andrew to join forces with other industry experts to create Bridge Leisure Management in 2008. 10 years on, the company provides day-to-day management of holiday parks for owners who want to successfully step away from their business.
He says: “As professional managers we can focus on the park, its success and development. We don’t have an emotional attachment so we can focus on what is good for the business and good for the owner.” Discussing the transfer of the business from one generation to the next can often unearth unresolved conflicts between family members, such as arguments over business direction, perceived family favouritism, or lack of confidence in abilities.
Rather than confronting and discussing these families are more likely to bury their feelings and beliefs, eroding trust and increasing their stresses during the succession process.
At this point, outside support can be invaluable in helping the process of handing control from one generation to the next, when any changes made by the younger group keen to make its mark can be seen as a criticism of the work done previously by family.
“We work alongside families to help get the best from everyone and maintain an absolute focus on the business Holiday park owners are spending so much time working that they are failing to plan for a successful retirement. Andrew Howe, chief executive of Bridge Leisure Management says that one of the biggest mistakes park owners make is to ignore questions of succession.
He says: “If your goal is to handover to family members, there can be many tricky questions to answer, made more difficult by the close relationships of those involved.
“For example, what if the next in line is not ready, not up to the task of running your business, or if there are several family members vying to take over a small park where there’s really just one job to fill?” Howe’s belief is that successful succession planning must start years in advance so business owners can identify and address the weak spots and potential problems of handing over to family members.
DEVELOP AND THRIVE
By clarifying the skills that your business needs to develop and thrive, you can decide who is best placed to take over responsibility for running the park and put in a place a training or coaching plan to account for areas where they are lacking. Giving family members a long-term view of the park’s potential can help them understand what is expected of them for a successful
handover, but for park owners who have grown their operations as the sole person in charge, it can be a difficult change in mindset to start having open and honest conversations about their business. Howe’s advice is to make family members responsible and accountable for the park’s growth by showing them the business challenges and future opportunities.and success. All parks are different and so our role is to find a management solution that works for each individual owner.” In many instances, holiday park owners may discover that their children don’t share their same enthusiasm for succession, and so their next step may be to look at selling.
Yet the emotional ties of a family business can often make this simply too difficult a decision; who wants to be the generation that sold the family business? Additionally, the commercial realities of a sale can create additional issues, especially when an owner has over-estimated the value of, and interest in, their business. Bridge Leisure worked with a caravan park owner who expected his son to take over when he retired. But after completing university, his son decided on a different career path. Says Andrew: “They thought of selling but were in for a shock when the agent’s guide price was far below what they expected and was at a level that the owner felt neither reflected his hard work nor the true value of the park.” Their response was to bring in Bridge Leisure to take over the park operations in return for a management fee and a bonus to grow the business, while the owner kept the profi ts and retained ownership of the park, ready to benefit from a future sale when profits and market conditions get better. “By bringing a degree of flexibility and freedom to the park owners, they could step away from park operations but still benefit from the true value of their business,” says Howe. “Wrestling with the ‘whys and wherefores’ of succession or a sale can put a stop to owners successfully retiring from their business, and making a decision on what next can be heartbreaking. “Putting a plan in place early, and taking control of the different options and outcomes, is the simplest way to make your next steps a success.”
Bridge Leisure Management
Tel: 01908 067 900
The Fun Factor - Water Play
Think swimming, then think fun, with water leisure attractions one of the biggest draws for the modern holiday park destination.
Consistently one of the top holiday choice markers, a resort that offers the additional splash appeal, will reap the rewards, with not only a booking but those all-important repeat bookings. “More and more facilities are looking for resorts that offer more than just a pool,” explains Simon Smith of World Leisure. “Knowing how crucial it is to customer appeal, pools should be offering so much more than a basic swim,” he emphasises. World Leisure recently completed a £1.5m overhaul of the swimming pool facilities at Ribby Hall Village Holiday Park in Lancashire. Last December Ribby Hall won an unprecedented four Gold Awards at the UK Pool & Spa Awards. The new pool features new slides including a 48m interactive play slide. Swimmers can 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. Scores can be uploaded to social media platforms, with the top three scores displayed in the pool area. World Leisure also refurbished the splash pool and added an interactive aqua deck play structure, with tipping buckets and integral slides. A themed GRP (Glass Reinforced Polyester) toddlers’ pool links into the splash pool, with a slide and steps to open the pools up to all ages. World Leisure also installed a new sauna, steam room and feature showers, with all new filtration and controls. Mark Leech, senior manager of Ribby Hall Village, said: “It is important as a business to continually invest and improve the facilities we offer to our customers" Mark added: “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.”
Park operators need to provide appealing facilities for all age groups, with a typical water leisure offering including cannons, waterfalls, rain curtains, fl oor volcanoes and wall-mounted massage jets to add more attractions to the pools. Achieving this – and still providing an acceptable return on investment – requires very careful planning at the design stage, particularly where space is limited. Water slides and flumes have always been popular, but they require a significant capital investment, huge amounts of energy to drive massive pumps and constant life guarding.
PLAY OFFERS WATER FUN
The main aim of aquatic play equipment is to allow kids to have fun in a safe environment. Playing with water is also a vital part of a child’s development. Hippo Leisure’s modular play equipment, including Water Factories, Interactive Masts and Play Platforms are all extremely versatile products and can be expanded or updated to help to encourage regular, repeat visitors.
“What you’re aiming for in your facility is a way to keeping the whole family entertained, regardless of age or ability,” comments Teresa Metherell, Marketing Coordinator for Hippo Leisure. “This can be achieved by installing a variety of interactive water play features that provide both low level sensory play for toddlers as well as high level anticipatory and big splash play for older children and even adults,” she adds.
“It’s important to keep water play areas fresh and appealing.”
Tel. 01752 771740
SPLASH PADS OFFER FAMILY APPEAL
The naturally inclusive and adaptable nature of a zero-depth splash park makes it an excellent amenity for holiday parks seeking to increase family attendance. Ustigate is a partner of Vortex International of Canada, offering a product portfolio of over 300 aquatic structures specifically designed to meet any specification, from low water consuming products for once use systems to super soaking buckets which create tidal waves.
The range includes many interactive free-standing products, the Water Journey collection, inspired by nature’s streams, and the Elevations range, are play structures that provide great combinations of water features between platforms of varying heights, encouraging children to climb and move between levels while engaging with children on and off the unit. The Elevations can be installed inside or outside, as part of a splash pad scheme or in a wading pool – They are designed to take fun to the max and are offered with a choice of water slides for the ride down.
Vortex is a world leader in aquatic play solutions, having completed 7000 installations in 45 countries, all of the products are renowned for being robust and innovative. Vortex recently announced the Explora collection has won two International Design awards, taking Gold in Leisure Games and Fun and Silver in the Social Impact category. Like all Vortex products, the Explora collection integrates a strong active play component that keeps children moving, pushing, pulling, spinning and exploring. The price of a typical splash pad depends mainly on three factors; size of the scheme, the type of water system – either a once-use or recirculating – and finally the selected water features. A typical once-use system would cost about £100,000 and the majority of recirculating systems are priced from £250,000.
Ustigate’s splash pad designers divide all waterplay installations into three bays; toddler, family and teen, in which they place specific products that are designed for each age group, therefore increasing play value and popularity. “By effective selection, combination and positioning of aquatic play features for your scheme, it will speak for itself and attract and retain customers naturally,” says Ustigate’s Ernie Hemming. “In addition, by using a range of colours, sensations of water and sleek designs, there won’t be any member of the family who will be able to resist playing!”
Tel. 01322 424445
Balancing Act - Security
Security is a precarious balancing act for holiday park operators. Holiday makers arrive on site, ready to have a good time, ultimately taking away some precious memories when they set off for home, safe and sound and without incident. One of the greatest challenges each season is managing visitor expectations and enjoyment during peak periods.
Security measures need to be almost invisible until they needed with security staff, particularly, a reassuring presence for guests.
Specialist suppliers like Ramtech completely understand that as a holiday park operator you need robust yet discreet security solutions that enhance the leisure experience you provide to your customers.
Ramtech’s alarm monitoring system is tailored to meet the specifi c challenges faced by the caravan and holiday park market, enabling you to offer additional peace of mind to your customers that their investment in their holiday homes and valuable contents is protected all year round.
“Our wireless alarm system provides reliable, effective security that also delivers a valuable additional selling point and revenue generation tool for your park. Once installed, the alarm systems can be operated and monitored by your own security teams, putting you in complete control,” says Ramtech’s Cat Widdowson.
“We’re currently the trusted security system provider for over 200 parks that have over 100,000 holiday or residential park homes on their sites, including Bourne Leisure, Park Resorts, Parkdean and Park Holidays UK.”
Touring caravans left on sites, and even static caravans can be a target for thieves. All caravans manufactured in the UK since 1992 have a 17-digit vehicle identifi cation number (VIN) etched onto the vehicle chassis and windows. Mark your VIN number with a security marker inside cupboards and other places to help you identify your caravan if it’s stolen.
Although North Wales is one of the SAFEST PLACES to live, work and visit, the regional force works pro-actively to remind caravan owners and holidaymakers of these simple steps to help reduce chances of becoming a victim of crime including: • Immobilising the caravan with an approved clamping or locking system once on site.
• Fit a tracking device so the caravan can be traced if stolen • Fit a reliable alarm and always switch it on “Holiday park theft is becoming a big issue as caravans,lodges and holiday homes increasingly have more valuables in them,” agrees Roy Williams of security provider Crosby Intruder Alarms.
“It is commonplace these days to have two or more televisions, Sky boxes and other audio and video entertainment systems. It can be lucrative for a thief to target these units, particularly in the closed season when there is less chance of being disturbed.
While alarms and CCTV can go some way in tackling crime on parks, often much simpler and inexpensive steps can be taken to prevent theft. One such product from Cardea Solutions – the Buggy Lock - is becoming widespread at holiday parks across the country. The device is designed for families and allows prams and essential transportation equipment such as scooters and bikes to be secured safely. Stores of agricultural equipment and often vehicles for maintenance use around the premises need to be kept secure. These can range in value but hold an appeal to criminals as items that are easily sellable. It is important for site owners to protect these items by storing them correctly and securely in locked buildings or compounds, with keys removed and stored in a safe place.Many caravan and holiday home parks suffer from some form of vandalism from time to time. Installing Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) can help to combat this problem. There is some very high quality CCTV equipment these days that doesn’t cost the earth that can provide clear images in both day and night situations. From an insurance point of view, commercial insurance is a two way street whereby insurers will do all they can to provide a safety net to protect a company’s assets and their ability to trade. In turn, insurers may provide clients with guidelines to adhere to which they hope will serve to limit the potential for claims. Holiday Parks are well accustomed to having the correct physical security in place, barriers, CCTV, alarms are all common to protect a park from traditional thefts. However the threat of a digital attack or loss is ever increasing in the modern world. With the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into effect it’s concerning that according to Government Statistics only 38% of businesses are even aware of this new data protection act. Unfortunately, we operate in a world where cyber attacks of one form or another have become a common part of everyday life – 46% of businesses reported a cyber security breach in 2017 (Source – UK Government Cyber Breaches Survey 2017).
This combination of increased regulation and more regular breaches means that it’s more important than ever that your business takes steps to protect itself in the digital world, even if you don’t operate online it’s likely that your systems are connected to the internet and therefore could be vulnerable. Most businesses in this sector will have an electronic booking system and/or hold customer data electronically; access control may also be digitalised. All of this could leave your business exposed to signifi cant costs and expenses and importantly loss of income, in the event of a system failure, fraudulent or not! Businesses should look at their IT infrastructure to ensure they have robust security in place to minimize the risk of a breach however it is not possible to guarantee any system is completely secure – user error or a determined hacker can often still cause a breach. Therefore, parks are recommended to look at Cyber Protection.
Commercial combined policies for holiday parks should provide an option to include the contents of the business, any holiday lets and the owners’ personal effects. At Towergate, for instance, an extension is available to cover plant and machinery used to maintain the property. In addition, it is understood that many sites, particularly those of a larger scale, will use agricultural or commercial vehicles, which can also be included on a combined policy. Insurance provider Leisuredays recently dealt with a report of eight break-ins at a holiday park in south east England during the closed season after thieves gained access in a vehicle and stole property from a number of holiday caravans. “We carried out a survey of the park and the park owner has increased security by installing a 24 hour security guard and a number plate recognition system,” explains Gareth Walker, head of Leisuredays Development. “We have always aimed to reward the security conscious parks with lower premiums. Many parks will employ a series of security measures, such as perimeter fencing, thick prickly hedging, CCTV, light sensors, guarded barriers and security lighting. It can be a tricky balancing act for park owners to protect their customers but also not create a heavily controlled environment.” Theft and vandalism cover is included as standard on all Leisuredays holiday caravan policies as well as cover for replacement locks and keys in the theft or damage. The company offers advice on safeguarding property, as well as supporting initiatives such as the Caravan Park Watch, where associations and parks work together to share information and develop crime prevention campaigns. We know you are busy. But, we cannot advise strongly enough to take the time out, and risk-assess the effectiveness of measures in place, to ensure and to be able to demonstrate that your park is as security-proof as possible
American influences on a Lancashire group of residential parks...
A trip to Florida in 2003 with a group of fellow park owners proved pivotal to Michael and Julie Ward, owners of four residential park homes in Lancashire.
“We travelled to the States to enrol in two courses at the Disney Institute including ‘The Disney Approach To Quality Service’ and spent time visiting parks and manufacturers, including a park in Sebring,” Michael explains.
“At its centre was a huge leisure complex with swimming pools, tennis courts, a function suite, computer rooms… the park owners were promoting an active retirement and we were hugely inspired.”
This American park became the catalyst for Michael’s vision for a new development: Acresfield.
Acresfield Park opened in 2010, an exclusive development of just 43, easily maintained, two bedroomed, detached bungalow-style properties, specifically designed for the over 55’s. The park is ideally located close to the historic market town of Garstang, where residents can enjoy shopping, golf, fishing, bird watching, as well as beautiful fell, canal and riverside walks. Acresfield is also situated just 30 minutes from the brighter lights of Blackpool and the coast.
Nevertheless, Acresfield residents need never leave the park as it provides everything they need for entertainment on-site. Four years ago Acresfield Health Club & Spa opened. The club boasts a 15m swimming pool, sauna, steam room, Jacuzzi, a state of the art gym, a multi purpose hall for dance and fitness classes, indoor bowls, badminton and table tennis. There is also a bistro, hair studio, and a spa with three luxurious treatment rooms.
The Club is open for membership to the general public, however fi rst time purchasers of new homes on Acresfi eld Park receive free membership and homeowners on the other parks receive highly discounted membership. Michael refers to Acresfi eld Park and its attendant Health Club & Spa as the ‘jewel in the Residential Parks portfolio crown’. He is justifi ably proud. Last year, Acresfi eld Park and its adjoining sister park, Wyre Vale, featured on a Channel 5 documentary series. The episodes featuring the parks attracted between 1.2 and 1.4 million viewers, and resulted in many converts to the park home lifestyle.
“The TV series really showcased park home living at its very best,” says Michael. “We were inundated with enquiries and I think that this is probably one of the best pieces aired on TV, which depicts the excellent sense of community which park home living affords.”
It’s not all gloss and no substance… the Ward family are committed to providing their residents with ‘homes for life’. The parks, and their homes have been developed with a constant regard for the fact that the British population is an ageing one. The family is not only keen to promote an active retirement for residents, but they have also taken steps to ensure that they are providing homes that are accessible for those who suffer from disabilities, or the infirm. “To meet this challenge we designed, in association with two leading park home manufacturers, Prestige and Stately Albion, the Acresfield collection of homes,” explains Michael. “The homes have been very subtly adapted with wider doorways and turning circles for wheelchairs. Walls have been strengthened so that grab rails can be fitted if required, now or in the future, and low threshold shower cubicles or wet rooms are fitted as standard.”
The homes also come with a 24-hour emergency call system and each home is fitted with a key safe to assist emergency access. Care for the environment and resulting cost savings have also been taken into consideration in the design and installation of the homes. “All of the homes are economically heated by mains gas; additionally, some have solar panels with under fl oor heating,” says Michael. “They are incredibly energy efficient and exceed the British Standard. Homeowners are also free to purchase their utilities from the supplier of their choice to find the best deal possible.”
The Ward family purchased their first residential park home estate in 1968. Michael and Julie are the second generation, becoming involved in the business in 1985. Winning Residential Park Owners of the Year, an unprecedented three times, over the years, their Parks have also won numerous Gold David Bellamy Conservation Awards including a Special Distinction Award. Michael and Julie own and operate four residential parks, one Holiday Park and a Health Club & Spa with the help of their daughter Sophie and son Alex. Their parks are all located in Lancashire: Gawthorpe Edge Park in Burnley, Lodge Park, Wyre Vale and Acresfield Parks in Garstang, and Merlewood Country Park, which is situated in the picturesque village of Little Eccleston.
Together, the parks extend to some 475 pitches. The close proximity of the parks means that the family can take a very personal interest in their day-to-day operation. They are supported by a loyal team of almost 40 people, many of whom have worked on the parks for over 30 years. “We really understand the importance of offering a quality service to our homeowners,” says Michael. “In this day and age, people are eager to criticise and less keen to commend, which is why we are so proud of our multiple resident-nominated awards.” The Ward family believe strongly that park homes such as these represent the perfect solution for customers of a certain age. As the demand for park homes increases, Michael believes that the Government needs to change its attitude towards park living.
Residents recognise park homes as acceptable, affordable housing and it’s time that the powers-that-be did too,” says Michael. “Park homes are an important provision within the housing sector for an ageing population and offer considerable flexibility, energy efficiency and cost savings. Local authorities need further encouragement to allow parks to expand and new parks to develop.”
Wish You Were Here - Seven Oaks in Wales
One of the most picturesque caravan holiday home and luxury lodge parks in the UK can be found on the Welsh border with Shropshire. Overlooking the River Severn, Seven Oaks Holiday Park at Crew Green, between Shrewsbury and Welshpool, has been awarded the Visit Wales five star “exceptional” rating.
Most caravan holiday homes and lodges on the 40-acre park have river views and are bordered by mature trees, banks of planting and immaculately kept grass down to the riverside.
River fishing is available and there are two coarse fishing lakes for the exclusive use of owners. Non anglers are able to relax on one of the many benches dotted around the lake and enjoy watching the abundant wildlife.
The park’s facilities include a dedicated reception, laundry, a state-of-the-art fitness suite, crown green bowling green complete with pavilion and pitch and putt golf.
Twenty riverside pitches were added on an elevated terrace three years ago, taking the total to 119. Open from March to January every year, the park is especially popular with caravan owners from the Midlands and North West England.
“We are not just selling a caravan holiday home here, we are selling a new way of life,” says Margaret Brace, who manages the park with her husband, Ron.
Seven Oaks Holiday Park
Holiday Snaps From Alison Watson
Operations Manager At Bridge Leisure Management - a company that provides professional management and consultancy for the caravan holiday park industry.
What was your career path into the industry?
In 1989 my friend and I decided that we would do a summer season as children’s entertainers for a bit of fun and I ended up never leaving. I have worked in every department from Entertainment to Retail but mainly in Caravan Sales and General Management
How has market changed during your time in the industry?
The biggest thing I have noticed is that holiday guests are looking for more breaks per year and the seven or 14 day holiday in the UK has pretty much disappeared, to be replaced by more, shorter breaks.
How do you predict things will change in the next five to ten years?
One of the things I love about this industry is its resilience in the face of economic adversity. Private letting is one to watch as there has been a bit of a shift to external booking agents such as Airbnb and Booking.com, which could become even more prominent moving forward.
What is the best piece of business advice you have been given and by whom?
“Invest wisely now to save later.” I think of this anytime I am deciding on a major purchase.
What do you most like to spend your time out of working hours?
I love spending time with my family, eating out and keeping fit.
My favourite past time is cooking, whether it’s baking fresh bread to cooking for friends.
Who would like most like to sit down to dinner with and why?
I like variety so probably Tina Turner who would belt out a tune, Peter Kay as he is one of a few comedians who makes me laugh out loud and probably my Great Aunt Elizabeth, who was an inspiration to me from an early age.
Do you have any claims to fame?
I am a grade 8 musician and have played the trumpet, cornet and flugelhorn since I was around eight years old.
Where do you prefer to take your holidays?
Anywhere hot. I love the Canary Islands, a good beach holiday with a few day trips suits me down to the ground. I also love the US and would love to explore there - Route 66 is on my bucket list.
Pooch Power - Dog Friendly Parks
Dogs are one of the biggest winners of Britain’s holiday park boom with many more pooches now enjoying holidays, as part of the family, rather than being left at home in kennels. Park Holidays UK, for instance, confirms it welcomed more than 5,200 dogs in 2017, and is on target for even bigger figures this year. Overall, it says, guests bringing pets have risen by over 60% in the past three years. Now the group, which boasts 26 seaside holiday parks in southern England, has also decided that Rex will no longer have to ‘ruff’ it in budget Bronze accommodation. This year, the doors of selected Silver and Gold standard holiday homes are being fl ung open so that owners and their pets can enjoy their stay in style Park Holidays UK director Tony Clish said the move is designed to provide a wider choice for the growing number of people who are now opting for a UK holiday: “Staycations might be providing a big boost to Britain’s tourism economy, but it’s the nation’s dogs which have the biggest smiles on their faces,” he said. “Many families tell us they hated being separated from their pets when they went abroad, and felt guilty that their four-legged friends weren’t with them. “Our holiday parks are also a great place to exercise a dog on a lead as the grounds are virtually traffic-free, and all have nearby countryside and coastal footpaths. “Dogs benefit as much as humans from a change of scenery, and owners won’t be fretting that their pets are pining for them in expensive boarding kennels far away,” added Tony.
Holiday Resort Unity also offers a range of pet-friendly accommodation which equates to 15% of its total fl eet, as well as accepting pets on touring and camping fields. Last year, HRU say 9,432 dogs stayed with them. The company also allows holiday home owners to fence in their own gardens and this is a big draw when a dog-owning customer is looking to purchase a holiday home, so having a dog friendly venue is really important for the business. “Our location is a draw for customers with pets as we are a short walk from the sandy beaches of Berrow and Brean which stretches for nearly fi ve miles and from the other side of the park there are numerous footpaths that head out into the country side,” says Director Alan House. “We also have a designated dog walk area on the park which is very popular with guests and owners,” Alan adds. “With our pet friendly units, on our hiring fl eet, we have switched out carpets and replaced them with vinyl floor coverings to help with cleaning and we also have a number of units with fenced gardens.” With a new stretch of the England Coast Path just opened alongside Brean Leisure Park, an increase in the number of dog walkers would be inevitable. All pet owners would be welcome, said Alan, whether staying on the holiday park or not. Backing their pet-friendly mission, HRU’s Brean Somerset holiday park recently opened a new café, called Coast, which is welcoming both humans and hounds. HRU is putting pooches on a pedestal by offering them their own food and drinks menu when they visit with their owners.
Alfie and Poppy’s special menu includes starters, main courses and desserts – plus, of course, a selection of drinks such as Pawsecco and Bottom Sniffer Beer, both made for dogs. Instead of being forced to lie on a hard floor, Tysons, Milos and Max’s will have their creature comforts provided for by a soft blanket on which to recline. “We listen very carefully to our customers all the time, and their feedback on this issue was that they didn’t want their four-legged friends separated from the family at meal-times,” says Alan. “So when we created Coast, we decided to go the extra mile and not only invite dogs in to the café, but to present them with their own three-course menu to chew over. “Now we have solved everyone’s doggy dilemma at a stroke, and customer reaction has been brilliant!” he adds. Park Leisure, know that many of its owners see their pets as another member of the family, and there’s nothing worse than the prospect of having to leave your four-legged friend behind whilst you head off to make memories. That’s why every single one of their 12 parks are pet friendly, creating the perfect luxury home-from-home experience. Beautifully located across the UK in stunning country and coastal settings, many of our parks are perfectly placed just minutes away from spectacular dog-friendly beaches, pubs, and picturesque walking trails, creating an idyllic base for a getaway for the whole family. Home owners can obtain information about nearby dog-friendly destinations by popping into their owner’s lounge.
Approximately 50% of Park Leisure holiday home owners have dogs, and feedback demonstrates that the parks’ dog friendly facilities have been a real attraction when prospective customers are making a purchasing decision. Park Leisure ensures all facilities accommodate pets and their owners, with the following facilities currently available to dog owners: • Exclusive dog walking areas, offering a safe place for dogs to play freely • Disposal bins situated throughout the parks for easy dog-waste disposal • Designated drinking areas for dogs • An array of walking paths and routes to choose from, ranging from long adventurous walks to relaxing strolls • On-park convenience store offering dog related products Just recently, Malvern View Country & Leisure Park has added a custom-built, five-star treat and water station for the abundance of dogs on-site – one of Park Leisure’s most popular destinations for animal lovers, a whopping 60% at Malvern View are pet owners. For those who want to dine with their four-legged friends in tow, both Brynteg and Plas Coch Coastal and Country Retreats offer dog friendly restaurant and bar options. We hope you get the message. Holiday parks need to not just be Fido-friendly but specifically cater for our canine customers. For there is no doubting the pulling power of pooches when it comes to attracting and retaining a special breed of customer. Those who fail to heed the doggy command are truly missing out.
FOUR LEGGED FRIENDS
Whitehill Country Park in South Devon has set tails wagging with the launch of extra dog-friendly features for four-legged guests. Further fanning the Paignton Park’s pooch appeal are new ‘dogs welcome’ caravans, including a boutique range for hounds looking to holiday in style. Better still, the family-run holiday park has also introduced a warm doggy shower which offers Fido a nose-to-tail makeover after a muddy walk. The new sprinkle-spa is one of many dog-friendly facilities found at the park with its dedicated pet exercise area and complimentary doggy bags available to owners. Whitehill Country Park marketing director Claire Jeavons says there has been a steady rise in demand for dog-friendly accommodation over recent years: “It’s estimated that around twelve million households in the UK own pets, including over eight million dogs of all shapes and sizes. “Dogs are always regarded as very much part of the family, and our aim at Whitehill is to make them feel just as welcome as their human counterparts by introducing more dog-friendly caravans, and features such as our new doggy showers.” The wide range of dog-friendly accommodation includes caravan holiday homes, luxury lodges, and touring and camping pitches. In addition, all guests holidaying with dogs are given a Whitehill Doggy Information Guide on arrival which highlights delightful dog-friendly walks and attractions found in Devon.
SETTING DOGGY TAILS WAGGING
Family-run Beverley Holidays in Paignton set tails wagging with a Bring Your Dog To Work Day. Staff were joined in the workplace by their canine companions to support two top animal welfare charities as part of a nationwide initiative of which Beverley is an offi cial sponsor. Highlights of the day included a Crufts-inspired parade of pooches, a series of challenges to fi nd which pets had the Rex-factor, and a ‘Beverley’s Best in Show’ fi nale. The fundraising initiative coincides with news that the group has opened its doors to man’s best friend with a range of dog-friendly holiday caravans and facilities on Beverley Bay for 2017. Pet owners can now choose from a range of holiday caravans kitted-out for hounds who like to holiday in style, coupled with a dedicated dog exercise area. Its warm doggy shower is also proving a ‘pooch-tastic’ hit, providing dogs with privacy while they clean their muddy paws, plus an ‘A-la-bark’ menu, and Beverley Doggy Holiday Guide for guests. Beverley Holidays director Claire Jeavons, said: “Dogs are very much part of the family, and our aim at Beverley is to make them feel just as welcome as their human counterparts. “Our introduction of our dog-friendly caravans and facilities for 2017 is already proving very popular among owners and dogs alike,” she added.
FIDO-FRIENDLY HOLIDAY FACILITIES
Over several years the Bridge Leisure owned Hedley Wood site, in Bridgerule, on the Devon and Cornwall border, has introduced a wide range of outdoor equipment to appeal to pet owners. New dog kennels have been introduced for 2018, with outside showers also available to help owners clean their pets after walks along the park’s own nature trail, or on the region’s many pet-friendly beaches. Dog bins are located across the park, helping guests keep the setting clean and tidy. The park has complemented the outdoor developments with the addition of new dog beds for every caravan, and doggie welcome packs including biscuits, bags and information about local pet-friendly attractions. Bridge Leisure has also turned an empty field into a dog agility course at its Hedley Wood It’s the latest in a series of developments that the business hopes will help it become the South West’s most popular pet-friendly holiday park. The new development was the brainchild of general manager Paul Murphy, who believes the addition of specialist dog agility equipment will create a talking point that encourages guests to spread the word about the park’s pet friendly credentials. Says Paul, “It’s not unusual for holiday parks to have a dog walking area for guests, but how many pull out all the stops to make this part of their park memorable? “Around 90% of visitors to Hedley Wood come with dogs, so we’ve decided we’re going to tailor our outdoor spaces to suit them. The feedback from pet owners has been terrific – they love the fact that we are putting them first.”
Test Pilots - Outdoor Essentials
Let your guests be the judge of your outdoor improvements...
What better time than peak season to carry out an audit of your outdoor amenities. From weather-proofing al fresco entertainment areas, to checking the popularity of new playground features; your guests are the ultimate test pilots. It is your customers who will ultimately decide on the return on investment of your winter improvements; voting with their feet, this year’s – and crucially – next year’s holiday budget. Now is the time to start the appraisal process, You need to spot what look like winners or losers. Modifications may be needed and some may have to wait until the winter months. But it may not be prudent to wait when a stitch in time could reap rich rewards in the form of repeat business and maximising spend.
Quick fix amendments could be something as simple as adding more bins or sprucing up your signage, or garden displays. If outdoor spaces are well maintained, they will encourage user-participation by inspiring visitors to be outdoors in the grounds, making full use of the facilities,” points out Christine Virginie, Marketing Manager for Fordingbridge, who are key suppliers when it comes to maximising outdoor space. “This can create great word of mouth and repeat business from visitors having just had a great experience at your park,” Christine continues. “Word of mouth is the most powerful form of marketing and the best aspect is, it’s free! “If your equipment is covered by a canopy, it also increases the life span and therefore reduces maintenance and replacement costs,” adds Christine.
Offering customer-friendly outdoor dining is a no-brainer. An inviting al fresco experience with smart furniture and heaters for chilly evenings will increase the number of covers you can serve and ultimately increase your bottom line. One of the key decisions when planning to utilise external areas, is whether the space is for activities, that can generate income or that simply add value to your overall offering. “Presentation of all areas is important, whether a playground, a dining area or a wild flower meadow – they all need to be maintained,” says Simon Williams, Commercial Director at Bridge Leisure Parks. According to Simon there is also a growing trend of people wanting to reconnect with nature and to be active outdoors – and this has been an area of focus for Bridge Leisure Parks. “Our recent outdoor developments include foot golf, archery, dog agility courses, pitch and putt and crazy golf. At Ashbourne Heights in Derbyshire, we’ve recently invested in a foot golf course for one of the fields and developed a nature trail through the woods.
Bridge Leisure not only provides active areas on its parks – the operator also promotes ranger activities to take advantage of their parks’ surroundings, providing expert knowledge about the local landscape and wildlife. This is complemented with on-park signage providing more detail about the plants and animals that can be found. There is no better way of enhancing and enriching an outdoor space than by investing in play equipment. Creating an innovative play space that fi res a child’s imagination and creates a pleasant environment for parents to get together is a winning formula for holiday parks. If you are looking to breathe new life into your play offering then HAGS boasts a huge portfolio and bucket-loads of experience. The company provides a turnkey solution with services including landscaping, fencing, decking and even artificial rock faces. The play specialists manufacture a vast range of products including play equipment for all ages, outdoor gym and fitness equipment, multi-use games areas, skating, ‘parkour’ and furniture. Camber Sands Holiday Park is a typical example. The park owners wanted separate areas for toddlers and juniors and a wide range of equipment. HUGE HIT 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 fairytale castles you can add real play value to your areas by engaging a child’s imagination,” comments Simon Wright, Head of Sales at HAGS. Simon advises: “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.” Specialists in recycled furniture, NBB’s furniture designs are enjoying unprecedented interest this season. “They not only look great and are eco-friendly, but they’ll also will save the park owner money in the long run!” exclaims the company’s Group Marketing Manager David Dean. “In today’s world we all need to be more aware of the materials we use and ensure sustainability is on the agenda. “All of NBB’s recycled furniture products are manufactured in the UK from recycled plastic milk bottles. Purchasing a standard A-frame picnic table, for example, will save over 2,000 milk bottles from entering our waste chain,” adds David.
Maximising Your Outdoor Space :
Provide weather protected outdoor spaces.
Offer safe and secure bike storage for visitors.
Have all weather sports facilities such as MUGAs and covered green gyms.
Provide shaded areas for seating and dining.
Use walkway canopies to offer weather-protected connections between buildings.
Specialist design and built contractors, Fordingbridge is a one-stop shop when it comes to outdoor weather-proofi ng solutions. A typical installation recently took place at the Cotswold Country Park and Beach provides water sport activities on a wide expanse of lake. The owners wanted to create a weather-protected, outdoor dining/spectating space where friends and family of those participating in the water sports could dine and watch in comfort, sheltered from the elements. After conducting a free site survey, Fordingbridge proposed a twin-span, barrel-vaulted timber canopy to provide 128m2 of covered space overlooking the lake. The Opal 60 fabric roof covering was designed exclusively for Fordingbridge and is known for its longevity, high tear strength and UV resistance. The install team delivered the project in four days, keeping disruption to a minimum.
Tel: 01243 554455
PLANET FRIENDLY FURNITURE
Great for park operators and the planet, increasingly the holiday sector is choosing recycled plastic furniture over traditional wooden furniture. The reasons are clear. Not only will it never rot, splinter or rust but it is guaranteed against rot for 25 years. There are no long-term maintenance commitment such as painting or sanding down. It’s waterproof and not affected by exposure to chemicals, severe weather or intense sunlight, meaning it can be left outside all year round without any effect on its look and feel – and no unsightly green algae. New for this season from NBB is its London Dining Set – a contemporary table and bench set manufactured in grey plastic, seating up to six guests and saving nearly 4,000 plastic milk bottles from going to landfi ll.
Tel. 0800 1777 052
CHARGING POINTS DEMAND
Rolec Leisure is seeing a growing number of parks installing charging stations for electric vehicles. Something that park operators are probably encountering more and more are visitors with electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (EVs and PHEVs). “Demand for EVs and PHEVs is at an all-time high in the UK, with year-on-year sales having increased by more than 27% explains,” explains Martin Georgeson, Sales Director of Rolec Services, the award-winning company is widely recognised as one of Europe’s leading designers, manufacturers and suppliers of EV charging points and accessories. “We are aware of a number of disgruntled visitors to other leisure parks around the country who have aired their disappointment at the lack of EV charging points on EV internet forums, highlighting the fact that demand is out there,” warns Martin. Rolec’s EV charging points are specially designed to be easy and economical to install, safe, and adaptable to a holiday park requirements.
Tel. 01205 724754
Award-winning holiday park business Bunn Leisure has announced new plans for its 300-acre holiday complex on the stunning Selsey Peninsula in West Sussex.
Midway through a £17m investment programme, the family-run holiday park company is continuing to reap the rewards of a buoyant domestic tourism market, reporting a five per cent increase in turnover from 2016 to 2017.
Split into three holiday villages and a touring park, Bunn Leisure has already built a £5m new head office and reception building and is due to open a £12m new state-of-the-art entertainment complex at the end of the year, which will include a Riviera-style swimming pool and changing village, fully covered multi sports zone, numerous restaurants and bars and an exclusive lounge, a full size 10-pin bowling alley and a new entertainment venue seating 1,250. Boasting a beautiful seaside location in Selsey on the West Sussex coast, happy campers can pitch a tent or roll up in a caravan or camper and enjoy the park’s luxury 5-star facilities – perfect for when the weather doesn’t play ball. Warner Farm offers blue skies and fresh air, backed up by a host of children’s clubs and activities, and a fun leisure complex.
Bunn Leisure’s mile-long stretch of sand and shingle beach runs in front of the park, perfect for sandcastle-building, swimming and sunset strolls.
All of the holiday park’s villages and attractions are linked by a free bus service and Bunni Express road train, and there are plenty of activities to make the week fl y by, from a fun leisure pool and spa to tennis, football, go-karts and fairground rides.
Bunn Leisure spends nearly £2m on its entertainment every year, with headline acts such as Billy Ocean, Gareth Gates, Heather Small, Right Said Fred, Robin Windsor and many more.
Managing Director John Bunn has now announced plans for the holiday park’s exclusive mile of private beach, which will include a new fi sh and chip shop, a beach side café and a beach shop to be built next year.
Continued investment across the parks will also see an extended go kart track, introduction of branded quick service restaurants, and further holiday homes sited on a new 92-base development on Claudia’s Field.
John Bunn said: “With the continuing growth of domestic tourism and the rise of the staycation, we are busier than ever, and 2017 was a record-breaking year for us.”
“We are investing in fantastic new facilities across all our parks - clearly demonstrating our ongoing commitment as an innovative leader in the UK family holiday sector.
“The money we are putting into these latest improvements takes the total reinvestment in the parks to over £40m since 2012.”
AT A GLANCE
Location : Selsey, West Essex
Season : March To January
Accommodation : 2500 static caravan pitches on a 300 acre site
Owner Occupied : Over 2000 Holiday homes
Other Attractions : Kids's clubs, evening entertainment and access to the Oasis pool complex is completely free.
Smart Meters Compliance
Meters installed by Landlords and Property Managers for submetering must now conform to the exactly the same standards as meters installed by the Electricity Supply Companies. Every new electricity meter or gas meter installed for billing purposes must be approved to MID (Measuring Instruments Directive) regulations. The use of unapproved meters is and to bill electricity or gas with a non-approved meter is classed as a criminal offense. A list of governing bodies, together with the instruments they have been designated to approve, is available on-line. MID approved gas and electricity meters can be identified by their specific markings, as required under the directive.
Fundraising Cyclists Saddle Up
An intrepid team of 20 staff from Caravan Guard and Leisure Days took part in the 70 mile Great Yorkshire Bike Ride from Wetherby to Filey recently.
The bike ride aims to raise £10,000 for some outstanding charities including:
• Yorkshire Cancer Research
• Epilepsy Research UK
• Heart Research UK
• The Candlelighters Trust
Any amount you can donate, big or small, would be really appreciated. Caravan Guard will match any business donations over £50 and any individual donations over £10. You can find their fundraising page via uk.virginmoneygiving.com
Face-To-Face With Industry Experts
The Holiday Park & Resort Innovation Show is back at the NEC, Birmingham on the 7th and 8th November providing holiday and leisure entrepreneurs with an unparalleled opportunity 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, unrivaled networking and live features all under one roof - these two days are truly unmissable for anyone in this sector!
Whether you’re relatively new in the holiday market and looking for inspiration and advice or an established business looking for new and exciting ways to improve your offering, the event covers everything you need to run your holiday business more efficiently.
Discover all the latest technology and trends from within the sector and find out more about current marketing and business strategies. The industry’s most innovative and influential figures will pass on their peerless knowledge and advice and ultimately help you stand out from the competition and increase your occupancy rates.
Tickets to attend are free and you can register via the website at www.holidayparkshow.co.uk
Next Chapter In Park Success Story
North Wales MP David Jones has opened a new country club at a holiday park near Rhyl, and praised its contribution to Wales’s tourism economy.
Mr Jones, who is MP for Clwyd West, was at Caeran Caravan Park near Abergele to see how the award-winning business plays its part in attracting thousands of visitors each year to the region.
During his visit, David Jones took time out to cut the ribbon on The Mill, the park’s recently built country club where guests can meet and relax when staying.
The MP commented: “I was delighted to see how investment in the new facilities at Caeran Caravan Park is helping the business go from strength to strength.
“Our area is one of the most attractive in the country, and high quality parks such as Caeran give holidaymakers access to the very best that North Wales has to offer.
“Wales Tourism Week helps focus attention on a vitally important industry for our local economy, and I am very pleased to show my support,” he added.
Bounded by the River Elwy in a picture-postcard valley, Caeran was founded around 1960 and provides more than 50 privately owned caravan holiday homes in its seven acre grounds.
Scottish Honours For Perthshire Park
Blairgowrie Holiday Park in Perthshire has been named as Scotland’s Best Caravan Site of the Year at the Scottish Hospitality Awards which took place at Crowne Plaza, Glasgow.
The annual awards highlight hospitality enterprises which offer exceptional standards of facilities and services, and take into account the feedback given by customers.
Wood Leisure started life just almost 40 years ago when husband and wife Colin and Margaret Wood acquired picturesque Blairgowrie Holiday Park. The couple invested much time, effort and resources to create what is now one of Scotland’s most highly regarded and multi-award winning holiday parks.
Building on their success, Colin and Margaret then went on to develop five other parks using the same business formula of combining high quality surroundings with excellent customer service. Their other parks are Corriefodly Holiday Park in Perthshire, Deeside Holiday Park near Aberdeen, Lomond Woods Holiday Park in Ballock, and Campsie Glen near Stirling.
The family’s portfolio was added to earlier this year with the acquisition of Callander Woods Holiday park - formerly Gart caravan park – in Perthshire. At Blairgowrie Holiday Park, guests have the choice of a wide range of accommodation options including luxury lodges with private hot tubs as well as touring pitches.
The Wood family are not strangers to receiving accolades for their parks, as all have been graded by VisitScotland at the top level of excellence
A Touch Of Hot Tub Luxury
Superior Spas has become the preferred hot tub supplier to the UK’s leading and fastest-growing independent holiday home provider, Sykes Holiday Cottages.
Supplying hot tubs to Sykes’ vast portfolio of more than 10,000 properties, Superior Spas is a UK leader in the holiday hot tub sector and is committed to customer services, reliability, and delivering products that are of exceptional quality.
The partnership follows the introduction of new regulations1 for commercial properties and holiday lets which came into force last year. The regulations provide essential guidance on controlling potentially harmful bacteria in spa-pool systems.
Superior Spas created their signature Holiday Let Hot Tub to help accommodation providers ensure all regulations are met effortlessly – a fact that made it a natural choice for Sykes Holiday Cottages. The latest product from the brand means holiday cottage owners can operate with the highest standards and complete peace of mind, so many more beautiful properties could be tempted to add a hot tub to their destination.
Rob White, Marketing Manager of Superior Spas commented: “Hot tubs are the ideal way for property owners to catch the eye of holidaymakers looking for accommodation that offers something a bit special.
“They immediately add a touch of luxury and a relaxing feel to any stay.
Our newest product is designed to meet all the regulation demands for commercial properties and ensure that the highest standards are always met.”
Telephone: 01246 559071
School Focus On Tourism Business
Owners of a picturesque Welsh border caravan holiday home park invited children and teachers from the local primary school to pay a visit during Wales Tourism Week.
Pupils of Brynhafren Primary School, Crew Green, between Welshpool and Shrewsbury, spent the morning at Seven Oaks Holiday Home Park where they were given a guided tour before enjoying a picnic in May sunshine yesterday (Thursday).
The 119-pitch park is owned by caravan and
motor-home dealership Salop Leisure and the company’s managing director Mark Bebb and marketing manager Ed Glover joined park managers Ron and Margaret Brace in welcoming the school party.
Mr Bebb spoke to the children about the aims of Wales Tourism Week and the importance of tourism to the Welsh economy. He explained that the five star park is popular with people living in the West Midlands who like to escape from urban areas to relax in the beautiful countryside of Mid Wales.
He explained that the school and the park had a longstanding relationship, as pupils had planted the first seven oaks there when it opened and then returned to plant more oaks on a new section a few years ago. The trees are now well established.
Most caravan holiday homes and lodges on the 40-acre park have views of the River Severn and are bordered by mature trees, banks of shrubs and immaculately kept grass down to the riverside.
Mr Bebb said: “Tourism is one of the major employment sectors in Wales and it’s absolutely vital that we engage with young people and make them aware of the exciting career opportunities that are available within the industry.”
Swim Star Opens Devon Splash Pad
Olympic Gold-medallist swimmer Liam Tancock took time out from the fast lane recently to open the new Splash Zone at Ladram Bay Holiday Park in East Devon. Set alongside the park’s main swimming pool, the 160m2 zone includes interactive water features, spray guns, and even a sea serpent that sprays water. The ocean-themed Splash Zone is part of a £1 million investment made by the family-owned park in the run-up to the 2018 summer season when its 75 anniversary is being marked. With its own private beach and longstanding appeal to young families, Ladram Bay has prided itself on continually expanding its range of attractions.
In 2017 Ladram Bay Holiday Park approached Ustigate Waterplay to request a design and build program to establish a splash zone outside their indoor pool complex. The splash pad consists of 19 products to please all ages. There is a low level interactive fi sh, six jet stream geysers and six wave geysers to tickle small children and a boat feature, tipping bucket, cannons and a sea serpent to cater for all those that love nothing more than being soaked in splash. One of the wonders of a splash pad with zero standing water is the creation of an environment where children of all ages and abilities can access aquatic recreation and play together safely.
Ladram Bay director Zoe House, who is a member of the parkowning Carter family, said it was a great privilege to welcome Exeter-based Liam to Ladram Bay: “Although the Splash Zone is all about having fun, Liam knows that youngsters just enjoying themselves in the water can be a great introduction to swimming as a sport,” she said. “We have many guests which return here year after year, and we’re often told that one big reason is the wealth of things to do for all ages, no matter what the weather. “Our main aim has always been to create amazing holiday memories with fi rst-class facilities, and I think that our new Splash Zone comes right up to the mark,” added Zoe.
Telephone: 01322 424445
Fairy Tale Story - Wyldecrest Parks' Alfie
The story of Alfie Best’s rise from a humble childhood to multimillionaire businessman reads like a modern day fairy tale. Born into a Romany Gypsy family in 1970, Alfie started working at the tender age of eight, labouring and laying tarmac alongside his father. By 14, he was buying and selling vehicles and just a few years later, he already owned several mobile phone shops across London. By 2001, entrepreneur Alfie had made enough money to invest in his heritage, purchasing his first mobile home park in Romford – Lakeview Residential Park – for a significant £1.7million. Lakeview Park, with its 132 homes, is still one of the most popular parks in Alfie Best’s portfolio - the Wyldecrest Parks Group, now valued at over £230 million. As one of the most successful park operators in the UK, the award-winning Wyldecrest portfolio includes 52 residential parks for the over 50’s and six holiday parks offering homes for rent and sale. As the only ISO 9001 accredited operator within the parks sector, Wyldecrest Parks is also the only parks group to have nationwide coverage in 24 counties across England, Scotland and Wales.
The phenomenal growth of Wyldecrest Parks is undoubtedly a product of Chairman Alfie Best’s personal drive to succeed. Although numerous, his park investments are testament to quality over quantity with carefully chosen locations, safety and security provided by on site staff, and the highest operational standards. Saltmarshe Castle Park is a particular jewel in the Wyldecrest crown. Homes are set amongst the picturesque grounds of a former 19th century country house and estate close to the market town of Bromyard in Herefordshire. The original castle was demolished in the 1950s but parts of the outer walls and turrets remain, alongside several outbuildings and stables. All are being restored to their former glory to add to the park’s unique atmosphere. Saltmarshe Castle Park started life as a holiday park and was acquired by Wyldecrest Parks in 2015. It still has some 300+ holiday homes but the park is currently in the midst of a massive upgrade with 60+ residential plots being developed in the initial stage.
According to Alfie Best, Saltmarshe Castle Park’s many natural assets made it a natural choice for residential development. “The park’s premier location and its outstanding beauty are impossible to deny,” says Alfie. “It would have been a shame not to take full advantage of that. Now people can live in this astonishing site permanently, and enjoy its beauty full-time.” Out of the initial plots being developed in the Tower Court area of the park, more than half are ready to receive happy new owners, whilst further availability is limited, especially for those plots which offer exclusive and unrestricted country views.
Adding to their investment in the local region, last year Wyldecrest Parks also acquired the nearby Sapey Golf Club. Alfi e Best believes that the popular Club offers huge potential as a lifestyle venue. The rebranded Sapey Golf and Country Club is shortly going to be offering a select number of exclusive golf lodges. “Our main goal is to bring the golf club up to its former glory, at the same time we create more jobs, invest in the region and bring revenue to the local community,” explains Alfi e. Giving back to its communities is at the heart of Wyldecrest Parks’ ethos and to this end, the company recently launched the Wyldecrest Parks Charitable Trust. The aim of the Trust is to deliver family support, equipment and health care to those who are facing life-threatening health conditions in and around their park communities. The charity will also be supporting holiday breaks for families in need. Through the Trust, the Wyldecrest Parks Group hopes to inspire some of its 120 staff and many thousands of homeowners to organise their own fundraising activities and get involved in volunteering opportunities within their own communities. “As a company, we are really excited about this development. We feel it’s our duty as a successful, growing company, to make a positive contribution to worthy causes and this is our expression of that deeply held commitment”, says Alfie Best. If Wyldecrest Parks’ recent growth (30% expansion over two years) is anything to go by, the business is assured of a bright future. Over the years, Alfi e has also built up a number of other successful businesses within the hospitality and leisure, events, trading and finance industries including Vinyl Bar, Best Park Home Finance, Kyoto Clearance and Wylde Events.
We dip a toe into Haven’s award-winning Hafan y Môr resort…
Boasting a continuous re-investment schedule into its 36 nationwide locations, Haven is the UK’s leading provider of family holidays. Part of Bourne Leisure, the company is the Sunday Times’ sixth ‘Best Big Company to Work For in the UK’ and Haven was the winner of the Best Family Holiday Company of the Year 2017 at the British Travel Awards. Bourne Leisure’s main ethos is to simply give guests a great time, with memories that last a lifetime. Hafan y Môr gets that customer seal of approval with in excess of 200,000 visitors every year between March and November. If you think, with such high visitor numbers, that the park feels crowded then you would be mistaken. Hafan y Môr is spread over 500 spacious acres with a stunning beach and coast line, offering guests an irresistible great escape from and a fantastic launching pad to explore the local area, which boasts rich culture and awarding-winning tourist attractions. Hafan y Môr is the largest single self-catering holiday provider in North Wales and is the biggest employer in Gwynedd.
The park is critical to the success of the local economy and the tourism industry. At peak times, the park doubles the population of the local town Pwllheli. The park employs 430 team members at peak, with over 50% of them being native Welsh speakers. The holiday resort is home to an outstanding array of great family friendly activities and facilities including 1,400 caravan pitches. This is combined with a whole host of on-site activities from an Aerial Adventure high ropes course down to the relaxing boating lake and fun indoor SportsDrome to expert led outdoor Nature Rockz sessions. The Old Butlin’s Starcoast World closed in 1998 and was refurbished and re-opened as Haven’s Hafan y Môr in 1999 transforming it into a stunning family park on Llyn Peninsular. Featuring extensively in the latest Haven television commercials, Hafan y Môr’s fl agship pool complex, Splashaway Bay, has undergone a £4million transformation over the last two years, culminating in the completion of the new £1million Changing Village.
Recently winning the coveted UK Pool & Spa Awards’ Holiday Park Swimming Pool Of The Year, the pool serves as an all-weather venue where families of all ages and abilities can feel safe. The holiday park pool is often the first time families will have been in the water together and this memory is one that lasts a lifetime. The refurbished water complex hosts a brand new fresh design alongside an array of exciting family friendly water features. These include an exhilarating new flume slide, exciting wave machine, a fully-fited, themed children’s pool with fun features such as tipping buckets and new water slides together with a multilane pool for committed swimmers. To top it all off guests can enjoy a new Milly’s coffee and cookie bar. There is no question of Hafan y Môr resting on its award-winning laurels. The management team has just unveiled its next ten year Strategic Development Plans that include over £21million of investment, including additional facilities, restaurants, Owners Club and more caravan and lodge developments as well as the demolition of the remaining apartment accommodation. This is in addition to the continual investment in the park environment and landscaping, and supporting the diverse ecology on the park.
Dare To Be Different - GLAMPING
With glamping bookings already up by 50% this year, the drive to provide something different has never been more urgent. Typical glamping offerings include wooden pods, safari tents, yurts and bell tents. Out of the box options are as likely to include fl oating houseboats, treehouses, converted airplanes and double decker buses, Dan Yates, who founded Pitch-up.com in 2009, says that right blend of accommodation mix is crucial in this increasingly competitive market. According to Dan, success in glamping depends on staying ahead of the game and choosing something that makes your accommodation ‘stand out from the crowd’. Ensuring superior facilities and customer service is key to keep up with increasing quality accommodation. And don’t forgo technology! “While some sites promote an ‘off-grid’ retreat, this is a small niche market and for the vast majority of customers, fast and stable Wi-Fi is a ‘must’,” advises Dan. In the 12 months to November 2017, Pitchup’s bookings for cabins were up 102%, micro-lodges up 114% and pods up 73%, says Dan. Rent-a-tents were up 151%, bell tents 77%, safari tents 73%, yurts 52% and domes 26%. “Many site owners fi nd that a combination of traditional pitches and glamping units that appeal to a new audience work well,” he explains, “Not least to reduce dependence on the weather!” Open for three years and constantly evolving, Wardley Hill Campsite offers guests a unique camping and glamping experience from a six-acre site in the picturesque Waveney Valley.
Owner, Joe Putman honed his camping skills working on campsites on the Isles of Scilly and in Dorset before putting down roots with his wife Holly and son in Norfolk. There are no neat rows of accommodation at Wardley Hill. Glampers can choose from a stunning Lotus Bell Stargazer tent, a huge Family Emperor Bell Tent, a locally crafted Sheperd’s hut, home-made Hammock hut and a Tentsile Connect tent suspended in the trees. “We wanted to offer a real ‘Swallows and Amazons’ experience,” explains Joe. “We have made a conscious decision not to have two of the same of any type of accommodation and in doing so, we’ve created something far removed from the typical holiday park.” “We have deliberately taken a very low-key approach to glamping,” says Joe. “As an industry, glamping is the trend that everyone has jumped on and it’s already becoming overcommercialised.” At Wardley Hill, the ethos is a very definite decision to celebrate the unregimented.
Wild flowers and grass are left to grow to encourage wildlife and the facilities offer an authentic back to- basics experience with composting toilets and open-topped showers. The family is constantly on the lookout for the next quirky addition to Wardley Hill. Joe is currently converting Camelot, an Eventide 26 sailing yacht to offer two-berth accommodation for those with a nautical bent, on land. Camelot is to be surrounded by a wooden deck with an outdoor fi re pit, whilst the interior will boast a wood burner and BBQ via the rear hatch.
Wish You Were Here - Sandhills in Dorset
With its stunning seafront position near Christchurch on the Dorset coast, Sandhills is a holiday home location like no other...
Little wonder that discerning buyers are willing to pay up to £400,000 to own a luxury lodge at the Sandhills, located near Mudeford Quay. However, such prices still compare very favourably with smaller and less well-appointed cottages in this property hot-spot. And buyers don’t have to be in the super-rich bracket, for it’s also possible to secure a holiday home here for under £150,000.
Owned by Park Holidays UK, Sandhills’ associations with holiday escapes for the privileged go back almost two centuries. The impressive manor house at the heart of the park was once the holiday home of MP Sir George Rose (1744 – 1818) whose close friends – and frequent guests at his property – included Prime Minister William Pitt and King George III.
Blue Flag sandy beaches and coastal paths abound, and inland the unspoiled countryside also provides endless opportunities for exploration on foot or by cycle. There’s no shortage of either of fi rst-class restaurants and pubs, plus many specialist shops in surrounding towns and villages. Easily accessible too are the New Forest National Park, larger resorts such as Bournemouth, the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site and activities from sea cruises to golf and water-skiing. Its beautiful outdoor pool, adjacent to the manor house, is maintained at a comfortable 30C. There is also a country club and a gymnasium, and attentive staff at Sandhills are always on hand to give advice and help owners get the most out of their stays. The park is open all year, with only February restricted to day-time visits only.
Gates Tops Bunn Leisure Entertainment
Pop star Gareth Gates is one of the top acts in West Sussex holiday park Bunn Leisure’s 2018 entertainment line-up. On May 12 this year, the 33-yearold singer will be heading to the south coast holiday park to perform an eclectic mix of pop classics including Spirit In The Sky, Summer of 69, and Suspicious Minds. It’s been 16 years since Gareth Gates won the hearts of the nation on the UK’s first Pop Idol, wowing the judges and finishing a close runner-up to Will Young. Since then, the Bradford-born star has carved out a hugely successful career, selling over 3.5 million records worldwide, with four UK No1 singles. He’s starred in West End musicals, come fourth in Dancing On Ice, made a TV documentary about the struggle faced by people who stammer – and has recently launched the world’s first range of coconut teas!
Unmissable Show Dates
Offering possibly the biggest collection of Park Homes and Leisure Lodges on display at any event, the World of Park & Leisure Homes takes place next month at the Stoneleigh Showground from June 7 to 10th inclusive.
Leading UK manufacturers are lined up to transform Stoneleigh into a huge luxury park with some 60 styles of the latest lodge homes on display.
The event is an unmissable opportunity to meet up with other park owners and operators as well as meeting industry specific exhibitors from a vast array of core specialist suppliers from insurance providers to indoor and outdoor furniture.
Open from 10 am daily, Thursday June 7th is an exclusive Trade Preview Day. The show opens to the public as well as the trade on Friday, Saturday and Sunday June 8th, 9th and 10th. For those planning for extended visits, a wide variety of accommodation is available locally at neighbouring towns like Kenilworth, Leamington Spa and Stratford-Upon-Avon.
Sat navs should be set for CV8 2LG but for all other information and updates, visit the event’s new website at www.parkhomeandleisure.co.uk