All About The Swag !
A visit to the amusement arcades has been a much-loved part of the Great British holiday for decades. Who can resist the pull of the retro coin pushers or the anticipation of the prize cranes? “Amusement machines add to the mix of attractions for customers at holiday parks,” says James Anderson, Sales and Commercial Director of BANDAI NAMCO Amusement Europe Ltd (BNAE). “There is a long history and heritage of coin-operated games at the coast and people playing them on holiday. “Parents are nostalgic about the fun they had as kids playing in arcades, whilst children love the chance to play the latest games and to win prizes on redemption machines,” he adds. “The amusement arcade at a holiday park is often one of the aspects most loved by children and it offers a chance for he whole family to play together.” According to Graham Bray, Marketing and Business Development Manager of Searles Leisure Group in Norfolk, the onsite arcade at Searles Leisure Resort in Hunstanton is perennially popular with guests, young and old.
“The Arcade is not the main reason for families to choose a holiday at Searles, but it certainly adds another family-friendly activity, especially when the weather is inclement,” says Graham. With around 90 machines, the arcade games are extremely lucrative for Searles and the vendor. Graham says: “The arcade is the number one income stream for any activity on the park. “It also helps to keep guests ‘on-park’ rather than visiting the other numerous arcades in the Hunstanton town and promenade area. The arcade offers hours and hours of entertainment on-site.” Whilst older visitors might be content to gamble their cash and accept losing as part of the fun, younger visitors are not so keen to walk away from arcades empty-handed. The industry trend for redemption games shows no signs of abating. As Graham says, “It’s all about the SWAG!” A spokesperson for Parkdean Resorts, which has over 70 holiday parks across the UK, say the most popular games at their parks are “cranes, pushers and redemption games. The company also ensures that its adult holidaymakers have a relevant offering via over 18 facilities within licenced Family Entertainment Centres (FECs).” Parkdean Resort’s arcades feature prominent redemption prize shops and enhancements are currently underway across some parks, which will see prize shops refurbished and extended. A spokesperson said, “New cranes, redemption pushers and other redemption equipment are being installed ahead of the 2018 season. There will also be new video pieces at some parks.”
New machines are purchased in conjunction with leading arcade operator Playnation at the start of each holiday season. Part of Novomatic UK, Playnation operates more than 20,000 amusement machines throughout 1,534 locations including Parkdean Resorts and Bourne Leisure’s Haven, Butlins and Warner parks. As a Parkdean Resorts’ spokesperson says, “Arcades are an integral part of the traditional British beach holiday and continued growth demonstrates that there is still very much a strong demand for these facilities from Parkdean Resorts’ holidaymakers and owners.” James Anderson shares the view that ticket redemption is key to both popularity and therefore financial success. “The market for these products has exploded of late. Locations can use the machines as a loyalty scheme with players collecting tickets over the space of a season and coming back to buy prizes with the tickets. Some locations offer high value prizes like quad bikes that players have to save for over a long period of time,” says James. BNAE, whose clients are some of the leading national holiday park operators in the UK, is a one-stop shop for out of home entertainment. They offer everything from state of the art VR and motion ride attractions, through to video and redemption machines, Embed cashless and loyalty card systems, and prizes from retail quality soft toys to covetable electronics. According to James, another key trend in the amusements and arcades business is licensing: “The market is moving more and more to using licensed products such as video games, ticket games and prizes, which can give a higher income. We feel this is due to the money spent on licensed goods in general and the marketing of the brands.” Best sellers for 2017 included Space Invaders Frenzy, a twoplayer game featuring blasters and a giant 108-inchs creen and redemption ticket payout, and World’s Largest PAC-MAN, another arcade centrepiece with a whopping 108-inch screen.
New for 2018 include Injustice Arcade, a collectable card game using DC Comics licensed characters, Rabbids Hollywood, a 120inch screen shooting game and Despicable Me Jelly Lab, a coin-roll game with collectable card feature.
“Also new is the latest green-screen photo booth technology in the Scene Machine 2 from Apple Industries, which allows holiday parks to brand their location on the images… and, new titles on the WePlayVR Virtual Reality units,” reveals James. The speed at which modern technology is moving forward is enough to leave most of us feeling past-it, but holiday parks that want to move with the times are increasingly looking to invest in video content with VR and AR-enabled attractions. Customers are going on holiday and expecting entertainment facilities that are a step up from what they have at home and with the growth in VR home gaming, parks need to appeal to an progressively sophisticated market. Speed to market is key, not only in terms of fast moving technology, but a few weeks delay in delivery and installation could potentially mean thousands in lost revenue, especially with a seasonal business. The high initial investment can seem prohibitive but much of the latest video technology offers considerable advantages in terms of low operating costs, low space requirements and the ability to update and change content, almost at the touch of a button. Most holiday parks prefer to hire arcade games and amusements, ensuring that their entertainment offerings are both up to the minute and also that any maintenance is covered by their supplier. Matt Wells of Frontgrid says that park operators need to ensure they understand fully what the deliverables are before committing to any new contract: “Ensure you’re clear on the charges for installation, set-up, content development and on-going costs – and who will be responsible for these. For most holiday parks, a fully turnkey solution where everything is handled by the vendor will be the ideal solution.” “However, with VR-enabled attractions, the ability to change content makes buying a more attractive commercial proposition,” adds Matt. So should parks buy or hire equipment? “It really depends on the individual park and what they are looking to achieve with their arcade, as well as the type of guests they attract,” says James Anderson. Parks with a high ratio of repeat guests may find an income share agreement with a supplier managing the arcade and renewing the machines the best way forward.
All the machines at Searles are hired. “We rely on the vendor’s specialist knowledge and experience of knowing which games/prizes are trending and we completely outsource it for cost and operating efficiencies,” says Graham Bray. Other parks may want to be more hands-on in running their arcade and better suited to acquiring their own new or used machines. Whatever the chosen path, the after-sales service is critical. “If you are offered machines at a price that is significantly lower than others on the market, then it could be that the after-sales service will reflect that. There is nothing worse than a game that is not working and can’t be fixed, especially during the busiest times of the year,” says James Anderson. “A company such as BNAE provides spares for a machine for 5-7 years on average, sometimes more, and therefore our advice would be to always choose a trusted supplier for peace of mind; otherwise, you may find in the long-term it is a false economy.” One of the biggest technology and gaming trends of the moment is the use of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). VR creates digital worlds whilst AR enhances reality with digital content. In short, you’re not playing PAC-MAN, you are PAC-MAN… “With holiday parks increasingly looking for ways to differentiate and offer an outstanding experience to guests, the latest VRenabled attractions make it possible for even small and medium sized holiday parks to offer fully immersive, innovative and exciting experiences,” says Matt Wells, co-founder and Chief Executive of Frontgrid Ltd. Frontgrid specialise in bringing innovative, adventurous experiences to everyday environments and launched their worldfirst, immersive paragliding attraction ParadropVR in September 2017.
ParadropVR gives riders a realistic paragliding experience, while offering compelling commercial returns for leisure and tourism providers. The attraction is available in a range of configurations from 4-20 people and it offers low operating costs, a high hourly capacity and the ability to refresh and upgrade content. VR-enabled attractions such as ParadropVR offer many advantages that can help to outweigh any costly initial investment. “Thanks to VR, holiday parks don’t need a huge space to offer exciting experiences to visitors. New VR-enabled attractions can deliver big thrills in a fraction of the space of traditional rides, giving you a competitive edge,” says Matt Wells. They also mean leisure providers can offer new gameplay and experiences on a regular basis, simply by refreshing VR content, rather than replacing the entire unit. “With VR enabled attractions, content can be changed seasonally. Offering a Halloween experience at October half-term or sleigh ride experience at Christmas could be easier than you think,” adds Matt.
Giving Visitors value for money pays off, reports Damien Corbet
With the holiday park market as robust as it is, the biggest mistake operators can make is to cut corners. “Customers are increasingly aspirational and are looking for a ‘better than home’ experience” says Jon Moxon, Hoseasons’ Business Development Manager. “People are happy to pay for their UK short break or summer holiday but want to know they’re getting value for money. “So, to ensure the longevity of your cabin or lodge – and to sustain the price – I’d advise any owner to buy on quality, not price and furnish the unit to the highest standard they can.” This sentiment is echoed across the industry. The popularity of the UK ‘staycation’ has been on an upward trend for many years and shows no sign of slowing down. Less travelling time, no language issues, no currency exchange – and safety – are all factors encouraging increasing numbers of Brits to holiday at home. “All these factors have increased demand, with a trend emerging for shorter but more frequent breaks. With all this, guests are also expecting a lot more from their accommodation,” adds Pathfinder Homes’ Kelly Martyr.
In 2018, the winners will be those owners who meet the value for money proposition. Jon Moxon again: “Typically, I would expect these units to be open plan, light and airy with a great sense of space – and packed with features. The accommodation should be fitted out with branded equipment, large TV in the lounge and TVs in the bedrooms, and ideally a hot tub on the deck! Other features customers are looking for are wine coolers, wood burners and of course free wi-fi.
“We know space is at a premium on a park, but privacy is a rare commodity and the more space that can be provided between neighbours the better. There are several parks that are comfortably achieving this across the country, from the smaller quirky boutique sites such as Mallory Meadows in Leicestershire and Blossom Plantation in Northumberland, to sites offering activities such as shooting and fishing. Westlands Country Park in Scotland is a great example of a new site mixing traditional outdoor pursuits and contemporary comfort. Overall, it’s a combination of factors that make any unit and park stand out from the crowd. It’s about having a sense of identity and providing a quality lodge experience that is as good, if not better, than home,” added Jon. Another trend Pathfinder Homes is seeing is a strong rise in ‘romantic style’ designs. “We have recently created a bespoke Tuscany design specifically for the romantic rental market,” says Kelly. “This cabin measures at 40 x 22 and is a luxurious onebedroom home with an open plan layout featuring a freestanding bath sharing the same room as the huge super king size bed.” Operators should always be thinking about new ways to market their parks. If your park is situated in the right kind settings, you should certainly consider adapting a proportion of your site to meet this growing romantic break market.
The growing demand for better value for money, with guests expecting more from their accommodation, are just some of the factors that should encourage operators to consider switching from caravans to lodges. According to Robert Sheridan, Managing Director of Finlog, their log cabins are always more popular than other types of accommodation: “They get more repeat bookings, always book out first and demand higher rents. “From an ecological point of view, you also can’t beat a log cabin. They last for generations, so you won’t need to waste money, time, energy and down-time replacing them every five years or so. As they never go out of fashion, revenues stay strong; they are also far more-energy efficient than a standard holiday mobile home.” Robert also stressed that log cabins don’t really have a ‘season’ and are not influenced by current trends, so their ‘shelf life’ is far longer than a factory-made cabin or lodge. When it comes to payback for your investment, it’s not always a straightforward calculation and there are many factors to take into consideration. The purchase price of lodges varies tremendously depending on model and finish, and the addition of key features for the rental market such as hot tubs. “For the rental market we would typically target a four-year ROI, possibly less given the continued buoyancy in the market,” added Jon Moxon.
“With the rental market being as robust as it has been, the main pitfall is not to cut corners,” explains Jon. “As already mentioned, customers are increasingly aspirational and looking for a ‘better than home’ experience. So, for the longevity of the product and sustaining the price, I’d certainly advise any owner to buy on quality, not price, and furnish the unit to the highest standard they can. “It’s also important that the accommodation has a sense of place and fits its location. A white-washed, beach-style lodge in the Yorkshire Dales, flor example would feel out of place! Similarly, if your park has great views, take advantage of them – have a gable window or a central living layout so the bedrooms have an equally good view as the lounge. “Remember the accommodation is a rental unit, so fit it to the highest standard possible and use branded products, but also make sure it can take the hard work of two changeovers a week for 32+ weeks a year.” The message coming from the industry is loud and clear: Don’t cut corners, give visitors value for money and provide the best quality you can afford. The payback will be handsome.
Raising The Bar
More than 20,000 people have stayed at Shropshire’s new £6 million caravanning and glamping resort since it opened last year and advance bookings continue to pour in. Although managers of the Love2Stay at Emstrey, Shrewsbury were expecting an initial surge of interest, they have been overwhelmed by the positive public response to the new resort, particularly to the range of activities on offer. The resort, which aims to raise the bar for quality UK holidays, has 124 touring caravan pitches and a village of 11 luxury glamping lodges opened last month. Each safari lodge has its own private hot tub and fire pit. Developed by Salop Leisure, one of the UK’s premier caravan and leisure companies, the resort offers visitors a luxurious natural retreat within easy reach of the pretty market town of Shrewsbury. “The response has been absolutely phenomenal,” said Laura Plumridge, who manages the resort with her husband, Geoff “We opened the weekend before Whitsun and the resort has been full every weekend since,” adds Laura, praising the teamwork of the resort’s 14 full and part-time staff and activity suppliers who all live locally. “Forward bookings were full for half term in October and filled up fast for Bonfire Night, New Year’s Eve, as well as Easter and August this year. In fact 65 per cent are rebooking before they leave,” Laura continues. “One of the things that has surprised us most is the demand for activities. We had no idea just how popular they would be – our record to date is 220 children in one day and we had 60. “We arrange up to 12 activities a day and have families staying with us just to participate. Our guests have really embraced the ‘back to nature’ ethos and there is a hunger for parents to be able to facilitate that for their children. “Children are on the go all the time they are here and we’ve had some that don’t want to go home after their holiday. Parents also find time for themselves to relax and enjoy the facilities. “We are privileged to be chosen for people’s holiday, especially when they have young children. They look forward to spending two weeks of quality time together, so we have an obligation to make their stay the best it can be.”
Guests have predominantly been young families or active grandparents with grandchildren this summer. The resort is also hoping to provide twoday packages for the corporate hospitality market. As daily lives become dominated by technology and children are easily glued to i-pads and the Internet, Love2stay aims to create an environment which is in harmony with nature and where guests can experience the grass between their toes. The stunning centre piece is a natural swimming pool which is flanked on three sides by spacious teak decking and thermal hot tubs, sunbeds and seating, where guests can enjoy light refreshments from the in-house coffee shop. This pool was designed and supplied by Poolscape Ltd in collaboration with multiple RHS Gold Medal winning landscape design practice, MOSAIC. The team used the latest technology from Austrian natural pool specialists BIOTOP to offer swimmers crystal clear, chemical free water, which is naturally filtered. During the evening, the indoor and outdoor area turns into a trendy Italian eatery, with most dishes being cooked in the huge woodfired pizza oven. There’s also a cinedrome where guests can relax and watch films. For more energetic guests, complementary access to the on-site fitness suite is available and a marine style assault course is a must for adrenaline seekers. Regular yoga, pilates and meditation classes are available together with a menu of spa treatments for a more holistic experience. Upon placing a booking, guests receive an activity diary offering the opportunity to pre-book activities such as paddle-boarding, kayaking, raft building and a range of sports. They can learn a wide range of bush-craft skills with an in-house forest ranger, including foraging, survival skills and there’s even a teddy bears picnic. A recreational fishing lake, an adventure playground for children, craft activities, animated storytelling, super hero yoga, a barefoot sensory walk, den building and a woodland hideout are also on the list of things to try.
Love2Stay aims to provide holidays with facilities and levels of customer service akin to a luxury boutique hotel. There is a separate reception and concierge service desk, food delivery service and even the opportunity to book private dining with a personal chef at one of the pre-bookable outdoor kitchens and barbeques The resort is set in 22 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds with panoramic views across to Wales from one side and over to the Shropshire Hills from the other. Salop Leisure’s managing director Mark Bebb, explained the thinking behind the resort. “We know that we need to put effort into the re-generation of our industry and it’s our vision that Love2stay will accomplish this,” he said. “We have been mindful when developing the park that we needed to create an offering which appeals to a younger, fresher audience, in order to ensure the success and longevity of the business. “The location of the park, adjacent to one of the premier dealerships in the UK, works well too – there’s a huge accessory shop and access to the aftersales and service team for any advice customers may need,” Laura continues. “We want to breathe fresh air into the industry and this is the next step in staycations. “We know it’s cliché to say we want to put the quality back into family time, but it really is the vision we’re working towards and we hope that others will follow suit and help us regenerate the industry for everyone’s future.” The Love2Stay Tel: 01743 583124
Kent Seaside Park Reveals £4m Revamp
Holiday home owners and staff at a popular Kent holiday park are celebrating after the curtains went up on a £4 million makeover which took place over winter.
It means that New Beach Holiday Park near Dymchurch is now ready for the 2018 season with facilities described as ‘wholly unrivalled’ in South East England. Park Holidays UK, which owns New Beach, said the on-time completion of such a major project was a fantastic team effort for which everyone deserved credit.
In just a few months, the park’s former clubhouse has been demolished and replaced with a modern new complex, fully equipped with the latest showbiz technology. The high-tech lighting and sound systems will allow New Beach to stage West End standard live shows as part of the free entertainment provided to guests. Park Holidays UK has also equipped the complex’s arcade area with world-class video and electronic gaming systems suitable for all ages and levels of skill. There’s also a complex bar with supersize TV screens, a restaurant serving meals throughout the day and evening, a mini-supermarket, and a sales administration centre. Also just opened is a new development of leisure homes to buy, ranging from starter caravan holiday homes at around £15,995.00 to fully specified extra-wide luxury lodges. According to Park Holidays UK director Tony Clish, the decision to invest substantially in New Beach is a reflection of the confidence the company has in the park’s future: “New Beach has long been one of the most popular of our 28 parks, and we are determined to ensure it continues offering guests the best possible experience,” he said. “The park is open for 50 weeks of the year for leisure homeowners, so there’s always a great holiday atmosphere and plenty of indoor activities such as a swimming pool. “Park Holidays UK is especially well known for the quality of our free entertainment, and we spend literally millions each year securing first-class acts.
“I am confident that our investment will help attract even more visitors in the future, and this will also benefit the many other businesses in this part of Kent which rely on tourism.”
Put Fun Into Fundraising
Big-hearted team members at Paignton’s Beverley Holidays are being celebrated as charity champions after creating a £7,500-plus windfall for good causes in 2017.
They raised not just cash but also smiles a-plenty through a raft of fun activities in which staff and often holiday guests took part.
The charity total will be split between the park’s chosen charities which include Macmillan Cancer Support, Cancer Research UK, the Marfan Trust, and Ovarian Cancer Action.
Receptionists, entertainers and other members of the holiday park’s award winning team all took part in a series of imaginative money-raising initiatives.
Camping Education Boost
A recent study for The Camping and Caravanning Club reports four out of five parents believe camping has a positive effect on their children’s education, with 59 percent agreeing it should be added to the national curriculum.
The One Poll Survey revealed one in three adult campers believe children are happier when camping, and 64 percent agreeing camping holidays can improve a child’s social skills and mental health.
Geography, history and science were flagged as the subject areas most likely to be positively affected by nights under canvas, a result of children experiencing time closer to nature.
Encouraging youngsters to experience camping first-hand, The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) gives 14 to 24 year olds the chance to explore the great outdoors, learn valuable skills and enjoy life-enhancing experiences.
Argyll Park Hits Golden Half-Century
As a West Highlands holiday park prepares to mark its golden anniversary, the family owners have been praised for achieving the gold standard in countryside care. Resipole Farm Holiday Park in Argyll will now be celebrating its 50-year milestone with the David Bellamy Conservation Award at its top gold level. The world-famous botanist said that the Sinclair family have shown themselves to be true friends of wildlife and the natural world with their many green initiatives. Managed today by Rory Sinclair and his partner Karin, it was Rory’s grandfather Archie who first started welcoming camping guests on his farm in the early 1950s.
Deer, red squirrels, badgers, and a myriad of bird species are drawn to the 15-acre grounds which includes an ancient woodland with a nature discovery trail. In addition, the Sinclairs have planted hundreds of native trees and shrubs which provide valuable nesting and breeding habitats as well as food resources.
Motorhome Lifestyle Trend Continues
A Somerset touring park, which saw motorhome visitors leap by almost20 percent last year, predicts the passion for freewheeling lifestyles will continue in 2018.
But Bath Chew Valley Caravan Park, set in the tranquil Mendip Hills, says the on-trend image of motorhomes is not just driving up bookings. It’s also bringing down the average age of guests as younger couples increasingly view them as a way of making holidays more of an adventure at any time of the year.
Now the family-run park has moved to make itself even more motorhome friendly by providing pitch facilities for campervans and motorhomes up to nine metres long.
It’s also introduced its own by-the-hour car hire facility so that guests can explore the countryside in greater comfort, and park more easily in nearby destinations such as Bath and Cheddar Gorge.
Director Keith Betton says that in contrast to when the park first started, almost half of his park’s pitches are now occupied each night by motorhomes: “Motorhomes enjoy a very chic image, and I’m sure that’s helped by their association with music festivals, film sets, and the spirit of laid-back living,”said Keith. “Add to this the fact that motorhomes are all about discovery with ever changing horizons to enjoy, and you can see why they appeal especially to younger couples.
“And there’s no need to sacrifice comfort these days, thanks to recent design innovations. Even compact motorhomes now boast home comforts such as full-size beds, luxury shower-rooms, fully-equipped kitchens and central heating.
“We’re seeing an ever-widening range of ages on the park, and motorhome owners are just as keen as our touring caravan guests to enjoy socialising together!” added Keith.
Based in picture-postcard countryside near Bishop Sutton, five-star Bath Chew Valley is an adults-only park which has scooped a raft of awards for its quality standards. They include previous firsts in the adults-only category of the annual “Top 100 Sites” survey, as voted for by readers of Practical Caravan and Practical Motorhome. World-famous botanist David Bellamy has also praised the park’s care for its abundant wildlife, and honoured Bath Chew with his Conservation Award at its top gold level. The park’s 45 pitches are spread across more than four acres of landscaped grounds, and has been owned by the Betton family for over 20 years.
Parkdean Resorts Pledge £42 Million
Parkdean Resorts is to invest £42 million across its parks this year with a primary focus on new accommodation.
Following a record £50 million worth of investment last year, the 2018 roll out takes Parkdean Resorts’ investment total to £130 million since 2016. The business now has 72% double glazed and central heated caravans due to an increase of over 1,450 in the last three years. The company is spending £13 million on 800 new caravans to meet higher demand for holidays and ownership opportunities. In response to customer feedback, these models will include the introduction of more one and four-bedroom caravans – and particularly those with a higher specification. Features include en-suite bathrooms, new and upgraded entertainment units, spacious seating and homely touches to ensure a really enjoyable stay.
“This year our £42 million investment plans really show our commitment to continually developing our parks, and creating the best possible holidaymaker and owner experiences,” comments John Waterworth, chief executive at Parkdean Resorts.:“In 2018 we have a focus on bringing in new caravans and lodges to follow the growth in consumer demand. We also regularly collect guest feedback, and from this made the decision to introduce more one and four-bedroom models. “
Vauxhall in Great Yarmouth, one of the company’s biggest parks, has enjoyed an extensive replacement programme since its acquisition by Parkdean Resorts in 2016. The park will welcome 60 modern double glazed and centrally-heated models to upgrade the caravan offering on park. New lodges including a range of four-bedroom models are also set to be added to a variety of parks offering wider choice following a£1.3 million investment.
Nodes Point on the Isle of Wight is receiving 11 new lodges in a£0.75 million investment – six for holidaymakers and five for ownership opportunities. Meanwhile £0.52 million will bring four luxury lodges with hot tubs to the popular Fallbarrow Holiday Park in the Lake District. A further £3.9 million has been allocated to refurbishing existing accommodation to enhance holidaymakers’ experience. Additionally,upgrades to retail and leisure facilities will be completed for the 2018season, as well as extensions of touring and camping areas at key parks.
Says John: “As we look ahead to peak season, work is underway at the majority of our parks to boost their offering, making for an even more enjoyable time whilst staying with us. We hope this is well-received by our customers, and look forward to welcoming them throughout the course of the year.”
Carry On Glamping
Award-winning sites in the annual camping and glamping awards ....
Good work deserves recognition and each of the award winning sites in the 2017 Campsites.co.uk camping and glamping awards has offered something above and beyond to their guests. We bring you the sites that offered guests something extra special in 2017. The judges cherry-picked the very best glamping sites, the campsites that welcome four legged friends with open arms, and much, much more besides.. It’s high time to say thanks and give credit where it’s due, so well done to all the winners - and here’s to more of the same in 2018!
POPULAR CHOICE AWARD
When it comes to camping, the overall experience matters for a boost that will stay with you long after you return to daily life. The chosen sites were not only immensely popular on the website, but also generated a buzz from their happy campers.
WINNER: Park Cliffe, Cumbria Set in gorgeous countryside just a short distance from Lake Windermere’s eastern shore, this park offers gorgeous fell-side pitches and range of quality glamping options. With locally sourced delicious dishes in its restaurant, a dog-friendly bar terrace and the undeniable luxury of private bathrooms for hire, Park Cliffe is the perfect base for a tour of the Lakes!
South West Winner: Golden Cap Holiday Park, Dorset Commended: Cofton Country Holidays, Devon
South East Winner: Long Meadow Campsite, Hampshire Commended: Aldridge Hill Campsite, Hampshire
West Midlands Winner: Alton, The Star C&CC Site, Staffordshire Commended: Greenway Touring and Glamping Park, Shropshire
East Midlands Winner: Wolds View Touring Park, Lincolnshire Commended: Crowden C & CC Site, Derbyshire
East of England Winner: Searles Leisure Resort, Norfolk Commended: King’s Lynn Caravan and Camping Park, Norfolk
North West Winner: Baystone Bank Farm Campsite, Cumbria Commended: Waterfoot Park, Cumbria
North East Winner: Buckden Camping and Pods, North Yorkshire Commended: York House Caravan Park, North Yorkshire
Scotland Winner: Highfield Holidays, Argyll Commended: Loch Ness Shores C&CC Site, Highlands
Wales Winner: Penrhyn Bay Caravan Park, Anglesey Commended: Fishguard Bay Resort, Pembrokeshire
BEST GLAMPING SITE AWARDS
It’s time to really put the glam in glamping! When holidaymakers book a glamping break, they’re looking for something extra special - the experience factor, a high standard of service, and those allimportant luxury touches that bring your stay to life. These sites deliver the best of the best, so give them a big hand for understanding exactly what makes you tick!
WINNER: Melody Farm Shepherd’s Huts, Cornwall Escape to an idyllic glamping retreat in a secluded beachy area of Cornwall, with these two heart-warming shepherd’s huts for company. Not only can visitors indulge in their own romantic haven, with a double bed, your own en-suite and a rustic kitchen area, you can also make full use of the site’s boutique facilities. Residents be well entertained with a swimming pool, tennis court, state-of-the-art gym and five luscious acres to wander in.
South West: Winner: Caalm Camp, Dorset Commended: Enchanted Valley Yurts, Cornwall
South East Winner: Plush Tents Glamping, West Sussex Commended: Woodside Spa and Glamping, East Sussex
West Midlands Winner: Woodhall Farm, Worcestershire Commended: Canvas and Clover, Worcestershire
East Midlands Winner: Glamp in Style, Lincolnshire Commended: Country Bumpkin Yurts, Northamptonshire
East of England Winner: Happy Days Retro Vacations, Suffolk Commended: Brambells Glamping, Norfolk
North West Winner: Samlesbury Hall Shepherd’s Hut Hamlet, Lancashire Commended: Lantern & Larks Bleasdale, Lancashire
North East Winner: Yurtshire Fountains, North Yorkshire Commended: Camp Katur, North Yorkshire
Scotland Winner: Craighead Howfs, Perthshire Commended: Harvest Moon Holidays, Edinburgh and the Lothians
Wales Winner: Cosy Under Canvas, Powys Commended: Ceridwen Centre, Carmarthenshire
TOP DOG AWARDS
Not much matters more to us Brits than our four-legged friends, and we need their company on holiday just as much as when we’re snuggled at home. These pooch-pampering sites know that dogs are a part of the family, and make sure that they feel like it! From dedicated dog walks, to on-site groomers and pet friendly pods, man’s best friend has never been made more welcome! When you get peckish and head to the site’s restaurant, your four-legged friend is welcome too. And even if you decide to explore on two wheels, you can rent a doggy trailer locally and bring your pooch along for the ride. Talk about a dog’s life!
WINNER: Sandy Balls Holiday Village Sandy Balls Holiday Village in Hampshire has been running for more than 95 years and in that time tens of thousands of guests have enjoyed its superb customer service, luxury facilities, quality accommodation and an abundance of activities in a breath-taking setting. Five-star Sandy Balls has something for everyone, so whether it’s a long weekend, mid-week break or longer, it offers the perfect holiday destination.
South West Winner: Portesham Dairy Farm Campsite, Dorset Commended: Deanwood Caravan and Camping, Gloucestershire
South East Winner: Rye Harbour Holiday Park, East Sussex Commended: Long Acres Caravan and Camping Park, Surrey
West Midlands Winner: Poston Mill Park, Herefordshire Commended: The Green Caravan Par k, Shropshire
East Midlands Winner: Cakes and Ale Holiday Park, Suffolk Commended: Old Brick Kilns, Norfolk
East of England Winner: Billing Aquadrome, Northamptonshire Commended: Grace Park, Lincolnshire
North West Winner: Elm Cottage Touring Park, Cheshire Commended: Dalston Hall Holiday Park, Cumbria
North East Winner: Crows Nest Caravan Park, North Yorkshire Commended: Brenda House Touring Caravan Park, East Yorkshire
Scotland Winner: Barnsoul Caravan Park, Dumfries and Galloway Commended: Castlewigg Holiday Park, Dumfries and Galloway
Wales Winner: Graig Wen, Gwynedd Commended: Bryn Gloch Caravan and Camping Park, Gwynedd
MOST UNIQUE SITE AWARD
These sites offer something truly quirky and unique, allowing the visitor to experience the most unusual accommodation ever dreamed of - for memories that last a lifetime.
WINNER: Blackberry Wood, East Sussex
Situated within the South Downs National Park, only 10 miles from Brighton, Blackberry Wood is a truly unique camping and glamping site with private camping glades in a woodland setting, each with their own fire pitch for the essential campfire. Glamping options include a double-decker London bus, a converted Wessex helicopter, a gypsy caravan, an ‘Eco Perch’ log cabin and two incredible treehouses.
Commended: Glamping Thorpe, Oxfordshire
Commended: Stonehenge Campsite and Glamping Pods, Wiltshire
GREENER SITE AWARD
These environmentally friendly sites are top of the leaderboard when it comes to working in harmony with nature and finding ways to save the planet and preserve our beautiful countryside without diminishing your holiday experience.
WINNER: Wild Boar Wood Campsite, West Sussex
Get away from it all and discover the freedom of wild glamping with a visit to Eco Camp UK’s Wild Boar Wood Campsite. Set in a private five-acre woodland near Haywards Heath in West Sussex, our small off-grid glamping site offers a fantastic option for those looking for glamping near London. The campsite has just nine bell tents tucked away among the trees and opens from April to October. Here, you can enjoy the simpler things in life as you relax around the campfire, enjoy the natural surroundings and make a hobby of waving at steam trains passing on the nearby Bluebell Railway.
Please get in touch to see the full feature!
Browsing To Booking
In today’s competitive market, holiday parks must to do everything they can to stand out from the crowd. It’s not enough just to have a website, for example – it has to be well designed, Google-friendly and optimised to drive bookings. An online brochure is so 2008. “A strong online presence is vital to success,” says Pitched Director Andrew Hampton. “It’s essential to have a website that stands out from the crowd; one that ranks well in Google for a park’s key search terms; and one that also offers a slick user experience for those browsing on a mobile phone – which is becoming ever more important.”
“The aim is to get people from browsing to booking as quickly and easily as possible,” continues Andrew. “A website needs clear calls to action and a straightforward and simple booking process. Mixed messages and convoluted online booking steps are prohibitive to this – but are so often seen on holiday park websites. “Make the customer’s journey an easy one (especially on a mobile device) and you’ll see far less drop-off in the booking process.” “Don’t create any barriers to booking,” adds SuperControl’s Marketing Executive Jo Blaylock. “Be flexible with your start days and enable short breaks (even if that’s only at certain times during the year). Most people want to book and pay online, so let them, but make sure the booking and management software you choose is established, safe and secure.” Jo also stresses that it’s vital to add your prices as far in advance as possible. “If people are searching for their big holiday for 2019, they can’t book it if you haven’t entered your prices yet, so get them added. “The further away the start date, the higher you can put your prices because guests are less price sensitive when they are planning ahead.”
In addition to a hassle-free online experience, Andrew stresses that it’s also important not to forget the role of traditional printed material like brochures, mailers and postcards. “Sent out ahead of key booking periods, they still have a vital role to play. Where an email can be deleted, or a social media post ignored, a brochure will be picked up time and again. The key is to let your personality show through in your holiday park marketing.” Relationships are important in the holiday park business and your guests are one of your best resources. Stay in touch. Use their feedback to continuously improve, share photos and testimonials on your social media platforms, engage with them and encourage conversations. A happy guest can be your number one ambassador!
Rooms With A View
Guests to the real-life Jurassic Park on the scenic Dorset coast are unlikely to get bored of the scenery in a hurry. Even after the sunset, Golden Cap Holiday Park have some of the most breathtaking views from their popular stargazer tents. Golden Cap Holiday Park has a picturesque location on the Jurassic Coast, just 150 yards from Seatown Beach and surrounded by 2,000 acres of National Trust Land. Ideally situated for walkers, dog owners and families, the park is nestled in a quiet valley next to a stream and is surrounded by footpaths. One of West Dorset Leisure Parks five sites, General Manager Martin Cox advises: “Explore the coast path that runs past the park to reach the top of Golden Cap, the highest cliff on the south coast of England, and enjoy incredible views over 99 miles of coastline from Portland Bill to Start Point in Devon.”
Served by three quality pubs within a 10-minute walk of the park, including the popular and award
winning 2017 Visit England Tourism Pub of the Year, The Anchor Inn at Seatown, guests have plenty of opportunity to unwind after enjoying the famous landscape. “The 96-mile Jurassic Coast is the UK’s first natural UNESCO World Heritage Site, ranking it alongside the Grand Canyon and the Great Barrier Reef. The Jurassic Coast is a walk through time with its rocks and fossils revealing 185 million years of the earth’s geological history,” comments Martin.
Golden Cap Holiday Park 01308442139
E-Bike Hire Scheme Launch
Luxury holiday homes provider Park Leisure has introduced an exclusive complimentary electric bike hire scheme at its Oyster Bay park. The partnership will see 12 Park Leisurebranded VOLT™ e-bikes available to guests, offering an exciting, environmentally friendly way to explore the surrounding North Cornish countryside. For a personalised touch, the initiative will see each bike named after a local beach in the area, including ‘Crantock’ and ‘Tolcarne’. Holiday home owners will be able to enjoy up to 60 miles of perfectly assisted cycling in one journey, making light work of any adventures, even a ride to Newquay and back. With the extra power provided by an electric motor, the steepest of hills can be tackled with ease, providing riders the opportunity to sit back, relax and take in the beautiful surroundings. The initiative has seen a £22,000 investment from Park Leisure, with Oyster Bay being the fi rst park to trial the bikes. One of Cornwall’s most exclusive holiday home parks, Oyster Bay is just minutes from the beach and offers fi rst-class facilities, as well as some of the most luxurious lodges in Cornwall and beyond.
Vital Scot Holiday Park Tourism Role
Tourism minister Fiona Hyslop MSP has told holiday park owners that their businesses are a vital component of Scotland’s tourism industry. The minister made her remarks at November’s annual conference of the British Holiday & Home Parks Association Scotland which was held at Edinburgh’s Our Dynamic Earth.
Fiona Hyslop, cabinet secretary for culture, tourism and external affairs, was welcomed as chief guest speaker at the conference by Scottish association chairman Colin Fraser. The event was attended by delegates from many of Scotland’s 200-plus park businesses which offer holiday options from camping and glamping to luxury lodges to rent and own.
In her address to delegates, Fiona Hyslop said that her department recognises the important role played by parks in producing visitor income and sustaining employment: “Holiday parks offer visitors to Scotland both great value and a wide range of high quality accommodation options, as well as helping to sustain employment in some of our most remote and rural areas,” she said.
Picture Caption: Above- Fiona Hyslop MSP (centre) is welcomed to the conference by director general of BH&HPA, Ros Pritchard OBE, and retiring chairman of BH&HPA Scotland Colin Fraser
Jewels In The Crown
A neck and neck contest, which left judges unable to separate two short-listed entries, has resulted in the pair sharing the coveted 2017 title of Holiday Park Pool Of The Year. Devon’s Lady’s Mile Holiday Park did not just shine for its investment in water leisure facilities. The Park’s outstanding team of lifeguards drew unanimous applause from the judges following the dramatic rescue of a young girl in distress in the outdoor pool. She was lifted from the water, and the team carried out CPR and saved the young girl’s life. The team acted professionally and responded to the incident with great care and compassion. Their efforts have been recognised by the Royal Lifesaving Society for outstanding bravery with a certificate of merit. Meanwhile, part of the Bourne Leisure group, Haven Holiday’s Hafany Môr Holiday Park, in North Wales, was named as co-title holders following an outstanding £3m refurbishment earlier this year. The upgrade featured an impressive makeover including the addition of three flume slides, play areas for young children, a multi-lane slide, bubble pool, Lazy River and wave pool, plus a lane pool for those wanting to just swim.
The Holiday Park Pool of The Year contest was one of 30 categories contested at the UK Pool and Spa Awards held at the Vox Conference Centre at Birmingham’s NEC last month. The organisers, Waterland Media, were joined by former Apprentice winner and TV personality, Michelle Dewberry, and over 200 representatives from all aspects of the pool and spa industry. The judges commented on the impressive standard of provision across the holiday park sector for swimming pools, hot tubs and wellness. Prepare to be impressed, as we bring you this year’s short-listed pools.
Rainy Day Planning
Luckily, 80-year-old park home resident Alan Smith was not injured in a devastating fire that wrote off his Essex Park Home and destroyed all possessions and contents inside. Even more luckily, Mr Smith had the extensive cover and benefits of residential park home insurance policy with leading specialists, Leisuredays, one of the leading holiday caravan and park home insurance specialists in the UK The Leisure days team was able to quickly pick up the pieces for their customer by co-ordinating the removal of the badly damaged property and then helping with the ordering of a brand new park home, replacing his contents and having a brand new unit sited, connected to services and creating suitable access. “Our team is best at making customer insurance easy,” says Gareth Walker, of Leisuredays whose in-house claims liaison team worked closely with the loss adjusters and a specialist team at our underwriters, RSA, to handle this high value claim. “The expert claims team always works hard with all parties to make sure claims are handled efficiently, guiding customers and park owners through the process so claims are settled as quickly as possible,” Gareth continues. “In this case, the park home owner was also quickly given some money to pay for replacement clothes and toiletries as most of his possessions were damaged in the fire.”
As customers await their replacement park homes, a robust insurance policy can also pay for emergency short term accommodation for family and pets that usually live with them. Other costs involved in this claim include demolition and site clearance, local authority charges for delivery of the new park home and the cost of a new park home. Customer insurance rates vary from park to park. When calculating a premium, insurers take into account the type of unit being insured, its value and the value of its contents.
Kids That Play, Stay
The UK’s notoriously unpredictable weather means that indoor play and amusement facilities can provide an essential ‘get out of a jail’ card for holiday parks. From soft play zones to amusement arcades, parks that offer exciting indoor entertainment are sure to stand out from the crowd. “For our commercial customers we have, for many years, had a mantra ‘kids that play, stay’ because when kids enjoy the play offering, the parents will stay longer and come back more frequently,” advises Mike Black SLKids – a division of Sound Leisure Ltd. “Where you increase the dwell time, you increase the pro rata spend per head,” he adds. David Robinson of World of Leisure agrees but cautions: “The price of play is very important in holiday parks, as a captive audience, who have to pay over and over again during their holiday, will choose to leave the park each day to fi nd their amusement and fun elsewhere, especially if park prices are seen as being too high. “Three to twelve year old children are still the biggest influence on a family holiday destination, and if holiday parks cater for this age group by giving them exciting and fully interactive rides, then they will always enjoy being fully booked,” David continues. “If the weather is inclement, then all our rides can be operated either indoors or outdoors, so no disappointed younger children, whatever the weather.”
World of Rides has been involved with the delivery of battery operated parent and child rides since 1969. “Always buy the best rides and play equipment that you can afford, as cheap equipment will always breakdown during your busiest periods,” advises David Robinson of World of Rides.
Winning Park Is Wildlife Magnet
Woodside Lodges Country Park’s green policies have made it a magnet for wildlife. The world-famous botanist, David Bellamy, has presented Woodside Lodges Country Park in Ledbury with his prestigious Conservation Award at its top gold level. Professor Bellamy said the park’s owners, Ken and Janet Davies and their family, have shown themselves to be true friends of the countryside through their careful eco-management policies.
It’s the thirteenth year in succession that the park has scooped the award – but this year David Bellamy announced a bonus accolade. He also designated Woodside as an official “Honey Bee Friendly” park as part of his new initiative to help protect the threatened insects.
The family, said David Bellamy, have created a ‘wildlife wonderland’ on the 28-acre park which was originally bought as a smallholding by Ken and Janet 50 years ago. Today it provides luxury Scandinavian log cabins for hire, plus camping pods and facilities for holidaymakers with their own touring caravans, motorhomes and tents. One of the lakes has been designated for ‘wild swimming’ by guests, and holidaymakers are also invited to help themselves to the old-variety apples and damsons in the park’s orchard. A converted barn on the park has also been provided with a special roof which will allow the resident bats to flourish and encourage nesting swallows.
Cornish Meet For Best Of British Parks
Members of the Best of British parks group were meeting for their annual conference at Hendra Holiday Park, just outside Newquay in Cornwall. Members enjoyed a tour of Hendra Holiday Park which was this year named as Holiday Park of the Year for Cornwall and for South West England. The family-run business, which has a host of attractions including an award-winning pools complex, provides a wide range of accommodation to rent plus touring pitches. On the agenda was a review of BoB’s 2017 activity which saw the consortium of independent family-run parks reach record numbers of new customers. A successful digital marketing campaign, members heard, had generated a raft of bookings and enquiries from holiday guests seeking top-end park experiences. The two-day conference heard from a number of specialist speakers on different ways in which they could help promote and market their businesses in the digital era. The conference was also an opportunity for BoB to welcome additional new park members to the group – and to usher in a new chairman for the consortium.
Bunn Leisure Entertainment Investment
Award-winning holiday park operator, Bunn Leisure, is continuing to invest heavily in a new state-of the-art entertainment complex and a purpose-built main reception and head office facility. The 300-acre holiday park on the stunning Selsey Peninsula is split into four villages and is mid-way through an ambitious £16m refurbishment programme replacing the 60-year-old White Horse entertainment complex.
“The White Horse was a much-loved feature at Bunn Leisure, but some parts date back to 1959 when the park was created,” Managing Director John Bunn said. “The new complex will be a very modern 21st century entertainment venue – much larger and with fantastic new facilities for our parks. With Bunn Leisure’s entertainment budget at around £2million each year, the new club will be able to welcome twice as many guests, and is expected to quadruple turnover.
“We continue to re-invest heavily in our facilities and Parks which clearly demonstrates our ongoing commitment as an innovative leader in the UK family holiday sector,” adds John. “The money we are investing into these latest improvements takes the total reinvestment value in the parks over the last 20 years to £75m.” Bunn Leisure’s new head office and visitor reception is now complete, and staff are currently relocating in stages to their new offices. Bunn Leisure employs 350 full-time and a further 350 seasonal staff, and welcomes more than 100,000 holidaymakers every year. It generates more than £60m for the local economy and the new developments will create future employment opportunities for the region.
Sara Scoops Prestigious Business Award
Sara Bertin, Finance Director at Shorefield Holidays, has been named Board Level and Senior Executive of the Year at the prestigious Women in Business Awards. Now in its fourth year, The Business Magazine’s 2017 WiB Awards aim to celebrate, encourage and inspire successful and aspiring business women in the south.
Simon Pollock, Chairman and Managing Director of Dorset and Hampshire-based Shorefield Holidays, says: “We are delighted that Sara’s commitment and dedication have been recognised with this award. “Two-thirds of our management team and half of our whole team are women, and learning and development are encouraged at all levels throughout the business.”
Sara joined the family-run company specialising in holiday homes and holidays on the south coast in 1980, after qualifying as a chartered accountant with Grant Thornton, and is the daughter of Dr Robert Pollock, who founded the park in 1958. At that time, Shorefield owned one park and over the years this has grown to seven parks.
In a sector still dominated by family-run businesses, the Barton Homes Group is the very definition of a close-knit family concern. Managed by a father and son team, the group has 40 years’ experience of managing high quality residential parks across the UK.
Their parks in Devon, Somerset and Lancashire are well run havens of peace, convenience and security for a retired and semiretired clientele. Barton Homes Group also has significant plans for expansion, recently adding the prestigious Seascapes Park, at Clevedon, to their portfolio. Barton Park Homes was established in 1978 when the Barton family opened their first residential park in Morecambe, Lancashire. At that time, there were just 20 traditional static caravans on the site.
The family completely redeveloped the site, replacing the caravans with stylish residential park homes. Since 1978, Barton Park Homes has gone from strength to strength, acquiring and developing residential parks all over the country. The current portfolio of parks consists of four parks (one currently undeveloped), each in a carefully chosen location in Devon, Somerset, Lancashire and North Yorkshire. The company head office is located in Lancashire, reflecting their roots in the North West.
The Barton family enjoys building personal relationships with all their clients. Father and son owners of the Barton Homes Group, Charlie Senior and Charlie Junior, personally visit each park on a regular basis to ensure that everything is up to standard and, most importantly, that their residents are happy. “I have been visiting the parks with my father since I was a boy. Now I am proud to have taken over the reins and work alongside Charlie Senior keeping up the family traditions,” says Charlie Barton Junior.
Willowgrove Leisure Park and Fishery in Lancashire is Barton Park Homes’ northern flagship park, situated in the attractive Wyre Valley on the Fylde Coast. Voted one of the top ten places to live in the North West, this area is close to the shops and facilities of picturesque Preesall and Knott End-On-Sea, and only ten minutes drive from the attractions of Blackpool. The scenery of the beautiful Lake District is just an hour away.
Holiday Pools Shortlisted For Awards
Entrepreneur, television celebrity and former winner of The Apprentice, Michelle Dewberry, will be the VIP guest at the UK Pool & Spa Awards at the NEC, Birmingham on December 4th.
With record-breaking entries, the Holiday Park Pool category is shaping into one of the most hotly-contested groups with ten shortlisted entrants vying for success. Last year’s category winners, Tydd Giles Golf & Country Club, return to defend their title. They are joined by 2016’s gold standard winners; Lady’s Mile Holiday Park, Brean Leisure and Holiday Park Unity, and Plas Coch Holiday Homes.
New entrants this year include Bourne Leisure, Ladram Bay Holiday Park, Ribby Hall Village Holiday Park, Seashore Holiday Park, Calypso Cove Waterpark, and Kelling Heath Holiday Park make up the ten parks battling it out to be crowned ‘Holiday Park Pool of the Year 2017’.
With entries for the hotly-anticipated UK Pool and Spa Awards closed, and votes pouring in across over 30 categories, the tenth anniversary of the awards are shaping up to be most tightly contested yet.
Log on to www. ukpoolandspaawards.com to see this year’s entrants, cast your vote and book your place at the awards show.
British Tourism Oscars
Contenders for the British Travel Awards - which include entries from the leading holiday parks nationwide – have now been whittled down to the finalists. The awards, dubbed Britain’s ‘Tourism Oscars’ attracted 1.3 million public votes last year, with Devon’s Beverley Holidays amongst the select final seven in the “Best UK Family Holiday / Holiday Park Operator” category. Director of Beverley Holidays, Nicola Furneaux, said news of its shortlisting is a thrilling climax to a very successful summer at the park: “Here at Beverley we have been welcoming guests to the English Riviera for almost sixty years, and our big-hearted team are passionate about providing holiday memories that last a lifetime.
“We are committed to offering our guests a seaside escape like no other, and have invested heavily in our accommodation and facilities this year to ensure we offer the best possible holiday experience,” said Nicola.The British Travel Awards are the largest and most influential poll of consumer opinion on tourism providers, with high quality standards and service being the main criteria.
Holiday park entertainment has significantly evolved from the first Redcoats of the 1930 and the Hi-De-Hi era of the Sixties. Operators of parks, large and small, still agree that getting the entertainment recipe right remains crucial to ensure happy, satisfied customers.
Celebrating their 75th year in 2018, Ladram Bay Holiday Park in Devon offers a packed family entertainment programme that would put any corporate chain to shame. “We do our best to make sure there’s plenty for families to enjoy all together,” explains Carla Newman, Marketing and Events Manager at Ladram Bay.
“As a family-run business, we know that spending quality time as a family is what really matters.” An entertainments team of five plus and an Entertainments Manager run all the daily entertainment at the park. This includes kids’ club sessions, activities and a full programme of family friendly entertainment from six until midnight in high season. Most evenings end with a spectacular team show.
As a former Entertainments Manager at Ladram Bay herself, Carla is well placed to explain how their entertainment ethos works. “We audition for team members in November and rehearsals start in January,” explains Carla. “We like to get our team in place early and design our shows around their skills. In this, our approach at Ladram Bay is very different to a corporate group.” Personalising the shows around the team is a positive step for both customers and staff. “We develop the programme together. All the team are involved in the creative process which helps everyone to perform at their best for our customers,” says Carla. Entertainments Manager Kelly works with an agency to source external acts such as bands, cabaret, singers and magicians that perform at the park every Saturday night and on Tuesdays in peak season.
The team at Ladram Bay work so closely with the Vern Allen Group that the park even hosts the agency’s Showcase event each November. Management teams from other parks often visit the Showcase to select their own acts for the new season. “We do get a good return on investment but it’s really not about the money,” says Anna. “It’s about creating an enjoyable experience for all of our guests. If we didn’t have this level of entertainment, Ladram Bay wouldn’t be the five star park we are today.” Searles in Norfolk, owned and managed by the same family for 83 years, boasts an entertainment programme created and managed by Entertainment Manager Anna Hallard of Resort Entertainments. She oversees an in-house entertainments team and is responsible for booking external acts. Through this connection, Searles also benefits from close links to the Princess Theatre in Hunstanton of which Anna’s father-in-law Brian Hallard and Paul and Andrew Searle are Directors.
To find out more about putting on a show, subscribe to Holiday Park Scene here.
Stitch In Time - Landscaping Focus
They say planning is the key to success and in the case of outdoor space and landscaping – a well thought-out strategy will pay huge dividends not least by avoiding costly mistakes. A useful starting point is to focus on the ‘unique selling point’ of your park or for types of clientele.
If a significant proportion of your guests are young adults on a short stay, you will want to provide ‘robust’ spaces with plenty of secure seating. Clever use of security-style planting such as prickly or thorny plants, will deter access to other protected areas. On the other hand, if the bulk of your long-term residents are more mature, ensure that there are safe and attractive ornamental spaces immediately around the living areas and communal spaces, but keep them clear from debris and obstacles and use non-slip surfaces.
DUTY OF CARE
For younger guests, preparing suitable landscaping options can prove even more challenging, ensuring that play areas are safety compliant and you can demonstrate appropriate ‘duty of care’. “People often stay in a holiday park to feel more connected with the local outdoor environment, explains Martin Howe of Wykeham Mature Plants, “But it is the holiday park itself that will bring repeat custom.
“A holiday park business cannot rely solely on their location or the surrounding countryside and must provide attractive, functional spaces,” advises Martin. “Why would you stay on a site, even if there are amazing views of the surrounding countryside, if the site itself is untidy, unloved, looks unprofessional, and even potentially dangerous?” Martin encourages holiday parks to have a clear idea of what they want to achieve and how it will benefit the business and customers alike.
“Prioritise key areas and the timescale in which you need to address them,” he advises, “Large planting schemes, as well as needing significant initial outlay, will also require maintenance, so plan for this from the start and don’t take on more than you can handle in one go,” he continues.
“Balance this with the logistical benefits (lower transport costs, less disruption in the long term, etc) of larger jobs and decide whether to undertake a single, major project or whether to break it into smaller, more manageable chunks,” Martin adds.
Knowledge of site conditions are also essential before preparing large scale landscaping works, specifically the growing conditions in each location (drainage, soil type, exposure, etc) as well as any other limiting factors, such as access by children and proximity to grazing animals. “Select plants accordingly – planting the right plant in the right place will avoid problems later,” warns Martin.
There is often a wider, or cheaper, selection of suitable plants available during the traditional planting season, which is during dormancy (November to March); for many holiday parks this coincides with the off-season, so this is the ideal time to plant horticulturally, commercially, and logistically to minimise disturbance to your customers. Naturally, demand for planting services at this time of year is high so plan ahead.
To read more about prepping and planning for landscaping work please subscribe to Holiday Park Scene here.
FORDINGBRIDGE Tel.01243 55 44 55 www.fordingbridge.co.uk
WOODLAND HORTICULTURE LTD Tel. 01458 441122 www.woodlandhp.co.uk
WYKEHAM MATURE PLANTS Tel. 01723 862406 www.wykehammatureplants.co.uk
Tingdene Parks have installed an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) at their 80-home Bedwell Park residential site in Witchford, near Ely, Cambridgeshire. Defibrillators are simple to use and can restart someone’s heart if it stops. They will not work if there is a pulse.
Bedwell Park is one of the first residential parks within Tingdene’s 20 sites and 1500 homes, to see the installations of defibrillators. The unit is due to be officially unveiled by local MP Lucy Frazer in the near future, however, the potentially life-saving kit, easily accessible at the park office, is already available for use.
Founded in 1969 the Tingdene Group of companies first established itself as the leading Park Home manufacturer in the country and since then has expanded its range of operations into becoming one of the UK’s largest operators and owners of residential Park Homes Estates, Inland Marinas, Caravan Parks, Lodge Parks and Chalet Parks.
Really Wild Show For Elms Residents
Elms Retirement Park enjoyed a safe and informative fundraising experience. With the Lincolnshire park finding a touching way to aid animal welfare, the addition of exotic guests helped raise vital funds at the packed wildlife discovery day. Residents at the Torksey Park were joined by friends and family, with meerkats, pythons and skunks among the centrepiece critters on show. Visitors enjoyed a hands-on experience, petting and holding the animal in return for a small donation for pictures.
Tracey Coulson, a director of The Elms and a member of the park-owning family, said the day had proved a fantastic success for all ages: “It was a great experience for everyone,” said Tracey, “And the animal experts present did a superb job in telling us about the different species, and how they were working to protect them,” she added. “We have around 300 homes on the park, and many of the residents came along and also invited other members of their families, including lots of children. “Residents and guests were also very generous with their donations, and the park has received a big thank-you from the organisers for supporting their work,” added Tracey. The animals were brought along by Meercats And More which visits schools and other institutions to provide education about wildlife and some of the threats it faces.
Look Before You Leap
Watch out! Watch out! There is a plethora of non-compliant holiday hot tubs about. And with the onus on park operators and holiday let landlords to show duty of care, the holiday sector is being urged to look before you leap and check those hot tub credentials.
Currently acknowledged as the must-have search criteria for holiday bookers, there are potentially hazardous pitfalls that many holiday park operators are falling into when offering the hot tub experience to guests. In recent years, a significant number of holiday park operators and holiday let owners have purchased and operate portable spas which are in fact, domestic hot tubs, only designed for home use, and not intended for commercial markets. Often these hot tubs are not suitable for rental lodges and do not comply with the guidance within the Health & Safety Executive’s control of Legionella and other infectious agents in spa-pool system (HSG282), which was released in January 2017.
Although the HSG282 is not statutory law, it is considered best practice and is viewed as an approved code of practice. The standard would be used in a court of law as a measure of whether or not a risk holder has complied ‘as far a reasonably practical’ to meet the requirements of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974. “A lot of holiday parks are not aware, or worse still, ignore the health and safety guidance that is published relating to hot tub use and control of Legionella in spa pools in business and commercial settings,” comments Chris Brady of 1 Stop Spas, Lincolnshire, whose sister company, SpaTech also runs training for holiday park operators and holiday let landlords.
“This poses the greatest risk to the use of hot tubs, particularly in a business setting like a holiday park.” In accordance with regulations made by the Health & Safety Executive, regular testing of both pH and disinfection should be made at least three times a day and the results logged and kept for at least five years. A monthly microbiological test is also required, testing for Legionella every quarter. The Management of Spa Pools booklet insists that the tub ‘needs to have a continuous chemical feeder built into the spa to continuously treat it with disinfectant’. These devices are not always installed into a hot tub at the point of manufacture and would therefore have to be retro-fitted at a later stage.
Says Chris: “The release of HSG282 is very particular for all the right reasons, however, there were little or no hot tubs available on the market that ticked all of the criteria that HSG282 recommends. “Now that the industry has taken time to digest the detail released in HSG282, we are starting to see manufacturers designing and producing hot tubs which will be fit for purpose and comply with HSG282 in the very near future.”
For more unmissable advice on hot tub rentals please subscribe to Holiday Park Scene here .
1 STOP SPAS/SPATECH TRAINING Tel. 01522 300737 www.1stopspas.com
SPA SOLUTIONS Tel. 01536 540122 www.spasolution.co.uk
URBAN CEDAR HOT TUBS Tel. 01934 833 844 www.urbancedarhottubs.co.uk
Fun For The Family
When Bert House, a Somerset dairy farmer, opened his farm to a group of scouts in the summer of 1948, it started a trend which continues to grow to this day. From its humble beginnings, the family-led team of Holiday Resort Unity have been aiming to get people smiling for over 65 years.
Grandson, Alan House, says: “Guests still enjoy many of the same things which that troop of scouts loved about their pioneering visit here fresh air, fantastic views and the sandy beach of Brean”. Today the four-star resort incorporates Brean Leisure Park and Golden Sands Holiday Park under the name of Holiday Resort Unity. “We have continued to develop the facilities of the resort with Brean Play Indoor Softplay centre, Brean Splash Waterpark and Brean Golf Club; and did we mention that we’re just 200m from the beach,” adds Alan.
As well as scooping numerous awards, including five in 2016 alone, Holiday Resort Unity boasts a vast array of on-site facilities and catering options which includes ten restaurants and a supermarket for guests. With such a large footprint on the Somerset countryside Holiday Resort Unity spreads its 76 static caravans and 445 touring pitches across three sites. The original Holiday Resort Unity is perfect for families with easy access to entertainment and facilities; Brean Leisure Park is closer to the action and onsite fun; and Golden Sands, the quietest site, with five miles of golden beaches. “As one of Somerset’s top camping and caravan parks, we have a great choice of accommodation to suit your needs and budget. Whether you’re a seasoned camper, wannabe glamper or looking for high-end luxury,” comments Alan.
With on-site facilities such as the state-of-the-art gym and indoor and outdoor splash zones with views overlooking the Mendips, there is plenty for the whole family. The indoor and outdoor splash zones feature slides, interactive water features, tipping buckets, mini-slides, and a 25m six-lane swimming pool with male and female gym exclusive changing and sauna and steam room. Kids are also encouraged to enjoy the soft play centre, and big kids have the options of Brean’s Golf Course – open to beginners and pros – or Brean Theme Park with over 40 rides and attractions including rollercoasters and dodgems.
Brean Golf Club’s 18-hole course is set in 120 acres of lush green meadowland, the course is interspersed by several water ways and ponds that make formidable hazards around the flat landscape. “With the course being so close to the sea, you’ll find the fresh winds and breezes can change a hole dramatically from one day to the next. We also offer a range of services including coaching, club repairs and a selection of golf equipment to buy and rent,” adds Alan.
“If great fishing and beautiful surroundings are what you’re looking for, Holiday Resort Unity is the place for you. On the edge of yellow field nestled beneath the willow trees you will find our fishing lake.” Adding to the extensive list of attractions in 2017 was Sunshine Farm, a delightful experience for kids to meet and learn about some of the resident farmyard favourites with lots of animals to hold and pet.
Holiday Resort Unity
Tel. 01278 751235
Luring Activity Lovers
An all-action holiday park near York, Thornton Lodge Country Retreats says its planned 20 bespoke lodges, to own and rent, are designed to satisfy the growing appetite for outdoor challenges among guests.
The park, based on a 220-acre farm owned by the same family for over 70 years, is winning a national reputation for the excellence of its country sport activities. Its extensive fishing lakes and clay pigeon shooting facilities provide the opportunity for all ages to learn traditional sporting skills under expert tuition.
There are equestrian facilities on offer including stabling, cross country, show jumps and regular events, plus instant access to some of North Yorkshire’s finest cycling and walking routes. The new lodges will sport luxury features such as hot-tubs, high-end furnishings, glass-fronted decking, and spectacular views across the park’s lakes and the surrounding Howardian Hills.
Tackling Booking Fraud
Haven, the holiday firm that runs the Craig Tara site, said it had recently introduced state-of-the-art software that seeks to target and report suspicious pages and listings across social media sites. This follows a report from BBC Scotland which highlighted that dozens of people had paid for holidays in caravan parks, only to discover the real owner knew nothing about their booking.
Fraudsters using fake identities have been using social media channels to book families into caravans they do not own and claiming the money. Jane Clark, from Stevenston in Ayrshire, advised people not to believe what they read and make proper checks after she booked a bank holiday weekend at the Craig Tara caravan and paid £180 plus a £50 deposit – all through Facebook.
A Haven statement said: “Whilst we have only experienced a relatively small number of people who have been duped into making fraudulent bookings, we are committed to proactively targeting these sites where we can.” Haven advised customers to only book through “trusted channels” such as official websites, ABTA agents or affiliated third parties. It said: “We would urge customers not to attempt to make bookings through social media channels.”
Surfing At Arnside
Hundreds of households across south Cumbria have received a broadband boost thanks to a local holiday park group. Silverdale Park near Arnside were switched on to ultra-fast fibre broadband in October, with the community-led broadband provider B4RN installing junction chambers along the five-mile route.
This meant that instead of struggling with poor speeds, sometimes less than 1MB, local homes can now surf the web one thousand times quicker. The speeds they are getting are much higher than what the most efficient BT line can provide, at a fraction of the cost too.
Parks owner Michael Holgate said the much greater speed will make a vast improvement to the efficiency of his business - and will be welcomed by holiday guests: “Like many rural businesses in Cumbria, we rely on the internet to generate sales, communicate with customers, and keep our website up to date,” he said.
Figures released by the National Caravan Council (NCC) reveal the total number of new motorhome and caravan owners had risen to over 56,000 nationwide.
The ‘staycationing’ boom was reflected at the recent West Midlands Caravan and Motorhome Show with motorhome registrations in the year to the end of June up by 14 per cent to 13,162; new caravan holiday homes and lodges were up by nine per cent to 21,214, and touring caravans were up by seven per cent to 22,185.
The nine-day show, which ran from September 30th to October 8th, attracted around 15,000 visitors with displays at award winning Shrewsbury dealership Salop Leisure showcasing the latest innovations for 2018 with the launch of exciting new models.
Tourism Tax Is Backwards Business Step
The owner of a major holiday parks group in Wales has told ministers they risk devastating the visitor economy if they push ahead with a tourism tax.
Thomas Scarrott, owner of Vale Holiday Parks, said that such a move would undermine all the fantastic work done by the Welsh Government to encourage tourism.
Thomas warned that a visitor levy would hit not just accommodation providers such as his seven parks but would also have a damaging knock-on effect on the many businesses which rely on the tourism industry such as pubs, shops, cafes and visitor attractions. “Many of these are smaller family-owned businesses such as Vale Holidays which sustain thousands of jobs throughout Wales,” said Thomas.
“Reported industry figures show that tourism is worth around £5bn to the Welsh economy, with more than 10 million overnight stays being recorded annually.” He highlighted this year’s £5m Visit Wales’ Year of Legends campaign which, he said: “Did a great job in promoting the many different experiences on offer to Wales’ holiday visitors. The only possible consequence of a tourism tax, would be fewer visitors and an additional administration burden on tourism businesses.”
Thomas’s family has been involved with the parks industry for almost 50 years, providing holiday homes to rent and to own, and pitches for touring caravans, motorhomes and tents. Ministers say they will decide early next year on which of the four possible taxes they would prefer to implement, subject to go-ahead from the UK Government. Meanwhile, the park industry body BH&HPA and many of its park members in Wales are making urgent representations to Welsh ministers and assembly members.
FHA Saves Much-Needed Holidays
The Family Holiday Association has unveiled a replacement caravan that will enable the organisation to safeguard seaside breaks for hundreds of children and their parents.
The new caravan, based at Combe Haven Holiday Park, in St Leonards-on- Sea in East Sussex, was funded by travel insurance provider Citybond Suretravel after the charity’s previous van was taken out of service at short notice due to wear and tear.
The association, which provides breaks and day trips for families coping with problems such as long-term illness, bereavement, mental health issues, disability and domestic violence, officially opened the new caravan alongside Citybond managing director and FHA patron, Mansukh Ganatra. John McDonald, FHA director commented: “Mansukh and Citybond Suretravel have been generous supporters of the Family Holiday Association for many years.
“We are extremely grateful for their intervention, which not only helped us with a short-term problem but has also ensured that hundreds more children and their families will get a break in the coming years.”
Acclaim For Former Dairy Farmers
Red Letter Event
Mark off two crucial red letter days in the diary this month that are truly unmissable for anyone involved in the delivery of holiday parks. Wednesday and Thursday November 8th and 9th should be strictly reserved for the Holiday Park & Resort Innovation show; simply Europe’s leading event dedicated to providing the country’s most ambitious holiday park and resort owners and managers. Promising the best advice, services and products needed to make holiday businesses stand out from the crowd – get set for a lodge-load of information, inspiration and practical know-how – and all delivered to you completely free.
We bring you a round up of some of the must-see exhibitors...
Tel. 01772 284883
Tel. 01452 840234
Tel. 01934 833 844
Tel. 01983 282420
Tel. 01452 511430
Tel. 01616 418926
Tel. 01205 724754
Tel. 01353 666663
Milestone For Family Insurance Firm
A leading leisure insurance provider, Caravan Guard, incorporating static caravan insurance specialist Leisuredays, is celebrating insuring more than 90,000 customer at over 900 UK Holiday Parks.
The milestone was reached as the Halifax-based company celebrated being shortlisted for a trio of national insurance awards. “This is down to our fantastic team of positive people who are all committed to delivering exceptional customer service,” explains Ryan Wilby, Caravan Guard’s Managing Director, “Plus our great value insurance policies, which are amongst the most comprehensive on the market.”
So far this year, Caravan Guard and Leisuredays have reached the finals of the prestigious British Insurance Awards, and earlier this month they were shortlisted in three categories at the forthcoming UK Broker Awards.
Ryan added: “We’re absolutely thrilled and proud to have more than 90,000 caravan, motorhome, holiday caravan and park home customers on cover. As we continue to deliver brilliant customer experiences and grow our workforce we have our sights firmly set on insuring 100,000 customers in the coming years.”
Caravan Guard was established in 1995 by Ryan’s father Peter Wilby and along with Leisuredays has remained a family–run business and one of the leading insurance providers for static caravans, touring caravans, motorhomes and park homes. Their static caravan insurance policy is also independently rated as five-star by financial researcher Defaqto.
Quick Service For UK Parks
Quick Move Properties has teamed up with some of the biggest leisure home manufacturers to offer a turn-key solution for independent leisure park operators. Their Stock Support service is designed to shorten the timescales usually associated with lodge purchases, speeding up the process to bring forward completion dates and aid cash flow.
The service is available for no charge to any UK leisure park operator when their customer uses Quick Move Properties’ house buying services to help fund their holiday property purchase. The units on offer are ordered from manufacturers such as Prestige, Homeseeker and Pathfinder.
Top Scoring Shropshire Parks
Five touring caravan parks owned by Shrewsbury-based Morris Leisure based have all achieved a Certificate of Excellence from the traveller review website TripAdvisor.
Stanmore Hall Touring Park at Bridgnorth, Ludlow Touring Park in Ludlow, Oxon Hall Touring Park in Shrewsbury, Riverside Touring Park in Betws-y-Coed and Llanberis Touring Park in Llanberis have all been recognised by TripAdvisor after receiving consistently great reviews from caravanners and motorhome owners over the past year.
Rural Business Award Celebrations
The best of the country’s rural tourism sector – from fully disabled-accessible cottages to the best in-farm visitor education – have been rewarded by being named finalists for Best Rural Tourism Business in the Rural Business Awards (RBAs) 2017. The awards, run in partnership with the CLA and Amazon, are the only UK-wide programme dedicated to showcasing the success of rural businesses. Now in their third year and with nearly three times as many entries as in 2016, they are split into 13 sections across the industry. The five finalists for Best Rural Tourism Business:
• Hoe Grange Holidays, based in Matlock, Derbyshire
• Barleylands Farm Park and Craft Village, based in Billericay, Essex
• The Rookery, based in Roughlee, Lancashire
• Ceridwen Centre Ltd, based in Llandysul, Carmarthenshire
• Humble Bee Leisure, based in Scarborough, North Yorkshire
MP Speaks Out On Commission Fees
Park home operators across the Vale of Glamorgan are being urged to participate in a consultation on the commission rate paid on the sale of homes. The Welsh Government is consulting on whether there should be moves to halt the ten per cent commission rate paid. Speaking on a visit to Ham Manor Park in Llantwit Major, Andrew RT Davies AM and leader of the Welsh Conservatives, explained it was vital everyone had the opportunity to have their say and urged park residents and park owners to get involved.
“It was great to visit Ham Manor Park and have the opportunity to speak with residents of the site,” said Mr Davies. “It was really beneficial to meet some people who love their community and enjoy park living,” he added. “Among those is the Welsh Government’s latest consultation on the park homes commission rate and I’d urge all park home residents and park owners to participate and make their views known.”
Wish You Were Here - Highlands End Holiday Park
For TV drama fans, Highlands End Holiday Park is spectacularly located on the clifftop overlooking West Bay, the setting of ITV’s Broadchurch.
The lodges and some of the touring caravans and motorhome pitches on the park have views out over Broadchurch while some of the other caravans, and camping pitches overlook the ‘Broadchurch Hut’ and Eype Beach. Part of West Dorset Leisure Holidays, a family run group, Highlands End Holiday Park is located on the clifftop near West Bay in Dorset and enjoys panoramic views across 99 miles of World Heritage Jurassic Coastline.
Highlands End has been providing memorable holidays for families, friends and couples for decades and todays accommodation includes luxury lodges, glamping pods, caravan holiday homes, apartments, bungalows and pitches for touring caravans, motorhomes and tents – many of which enjoy fantastic views over the surrounding coast and countryside. The park is particularly popular with star gazers and dog owners, who enjoy the clear night skies and mile after mile of footpath to explore.
The Park has a newly refurbished bar and restaurant with one of the largest and most important private collections of fire service memorabilia in the country. The collection has been built up over three decades by Martin Cox, a member of the family who have owned Highlands End – and its four sister parks – for 45 years.
As well as ‘Martin’s Bar & Restaurant,’ the parks highly-praised facilities include a Leisure Club which incorporates a pool, sauna and steam room, a shop specialising in fresh Dorset produce and a pitch and putt course that is great for the whole family.
Highlands End Holiday Park
Tel. 01308 422 139
Holiday Show Season Round Up
As summer draws to a close, the Holiday Park industry enters its busy show season with a series of exhibitions and trade seminars. Shows cover all aspects of park life from accommodation to outdoor essentials and from hot tubs and swimming pools to catering equipment. With so many dates to pencil into your diaries we bring you a shortlist of the biggest industry shows coming up this autumn and what you can expect from each one…
The Caravan Extravaganza (The Lawns)
Sept 5th – 7th from 10am
The Lawns, Harland Way, Cottingham, East Yorkshire HU16 5SQ
September sees the 42nd annual HERCMA (the Hull and East Riding of Yorkshire Caravan Manufacturers’ Association) Caravan Trade Show in Cottingham, near Hull. Major manufacturers will be unveiling their 2018 models to park owners, dealers and distributors from across the UK and to international visitors from other countries. There will be more than 150 holiday homes, lodges and park homes and over 130 touring caravans on display along with many other supplies and service stands.
The trade show is preceded by The Caravan Extravaganza where there is a fun and friendly atmosphere, where parks and dealers and accessory stalls along with bands and other entertainment are present. www.hercmatradeshows.com
BodyPower Fitness Trade Show 2017
Sept 12th and 13th from 9am
NEC, Birmingham B40 1NT
BodyPower Fitness Trade Show is the new name for Leisure Industry Week, the trade event that has dominated the UK’s leisure landscape as a calendar staple for the past three decades. The focus of the event is to explore the fitness and leisure industries. BodyPower Fitness Trade Show promise over 100 innovative brands, in the wet and dry sectors, including pools, spas, saunas and gyms. Offering fitness solutions to various markets, including holiday parks, means BodyPower will provide the options for the perfect addition to your resort. BodyPower Fitness Trade Show will offer the opportunity to network with the leading industry experts and explore the one stop shop of leisure needs to upgrade your resort. www.bodypower.com
The Landscape Show 2017
Sept 19th and 20th from 10am
Evolution Centre, Battersea Park, London SW11 4NJ
The award winning, multi-media supported industry trade show, Landscape, returns to Battersea Park for two days. The Landscape Show promotes the latest products, technologies and innovations to the very best Garden Designers, Landscape Architects, Contractors, Groundsmen, Facilities Managers and Local Authority Landscaping Professionals from across the UK and beyond.
The show is supported by over 40 different media titles and trade associations. Landscape also hosts a free to attend, industry leading seminar programme which addresses a diverse range of topics integral to the industry. Topics being discussed this year include: ‘How Green Infrastructure Can Change the Horticulture Industry’, Choosing or Commissioning Relevant Artwork for Exterior Spaces, ‘Successful Small Spaces’ and ‘What Happened Next? Successful Aftercare for Great Garden Designs’. These sessions will be led by speakers from all backgrounds and career paths. www.landscapeshow.co.uk
Holiday Caravan (Beaulieu) 2017
Sept 21st from 10am
Beaulieu, Brockenhurst, Hampshire, SO42 7ZN
HERCMA’s Southern Trade Show takes place at Beaulieu and is set in the grounds of the National Motor Museum in the New Forest. More manufacturers will be exhibiting their brand new models although there are no tourers at Beaulieu. Following the trade day there are three days where the public are invited to see the new seasons’ models and meet representatives from parks and dealers in the hope of purchasing their next holiday home or lodge. The venues are outdoor events and sensible footwear is a must as ground conditions are greatly affected by the weather. www.hercmatradeshows.com
Nov 1st and 2nd from 9am
NEC, Birmingham, B40 1NT
Last year’s SALTEX (Sports, Amenities, Landscaping Trade Exhibition) was an unprecedented success with 292 exhibitors and 8,754 unique visitors spanning 45 different nations. Building on that success, SALTEX 2017’s improved show features and unrivalled industry support are set to work together to create the most exciting holiday park industries event to date when the doors open at the NEC. With three large halls containing many of the major players from across the industry, SALTEX 2017 is the ideal place to see products and services which could improve the daily operations of holiday parks. Visitors can also expect to see new products being unveiled, new unique services and some exciting guest appearances on the exhibitor stands. www.iogsaltex.com
Holiday Park and Resort Innovation
November 8th and 9th from 10am
NEC, Birmingham B40 1NT
Holiday Park & Resort Innovation is an unparalleled opportunity for holiday and leisure entrepreneurs to make the most of their resorts, holiday parks and attractions by delivering first-hand the very best in advice, products and services. Combining world class experts, face-to-face advice, 150 inspirational seminars, 350 leading suppliers, workshops, unrivalled networking and live features all under one roof - these two days are truly unmissable for anyone in this sector.
2017 also sees the launch of the Family Attraction Expo running directly alongside, designed as a one-stop-marketplace for an owner or manager of a visitor attraction or tourism enterprise this vibrant and diverse event will open a host of opportunities to visitors this November. Running alongside again is the Farm Business Innovation Show which took home ‘Best Trade Show of the Year’ at the 2016 UK’s EN Awards. www.holidayparkshow.co.uk
Jan 30th – Feb 1st 2018 from 9.30am
Ericcson Exhibition Hall, The Ricoh Arena, Coventry, CV6 6GE
SPATEX, the UK’s only dedicated water leisure exhibition and designed with the holiday park sector in mind. The show attracts well over a hundred big name manufacturers and suppliers from the UK and abroad, and showcases the very latest in swimming pools, enclosures, wet and dry safety flooring, saunas, spas, steam rooms, water features and everything under the wet leisure umbrella. Discover new ways of saving time, money and energy and see for yourself the very
latest models for 2018. SPATEX also hosts an impressive double seminar programme, topics such as effective commercial spa operation, how to prevent Legionnaires’ disease and cryptosporidium and the latest guidance on health and safety. Certificates of attendance and CPD points are available for all attendees. www.spatex.co.uk
Return On Searles Leisure Investment
Norfolk’s Searles Leisure Resort says investments of over £1 million have helped put the park on course for the busiest ever summer in its 60-plus year history. The multi-award winning Hunstanton venue met its deadline of adding the extra facilities by the start of the school holidays with the investments in a raft of new activities, including an innovative new indoor splash zone.
Managing Director, Paul Searle, Chairman of the BHPHA says providing first-class facilities and experiences for touring guests is still the park’s core aim. He commented: “I think that many people now realise that, compared with going abroad, British park holidays offer great value and a far more relaxing time for the whole family.”
The site is also celebrating receiving AA’s Gold Pennant after meeting the stringent conditions of a five-pennant rating – and then going on to achieve a quality score of over 90 per cent in that band. “The AA’s awards put a strong emphasis on the hospitality which qualifying parks provide, and here we are indebted to our hard-working staff team at Searles,” said Paul adding: “Our thanks go to them, and to our many loyal touring customers.”
New Seaside Star For Park Holidays UK
Park Holidays UK has completed the acquisition of Pevensey Bay Holiday Park near Eastbourne in Sussex. Formerly known as Martello Beach Holiday Park, the site boasts private beach access and a jetty for boats and jet-skis, and is the 28th park to join the Park Holidays UK group.
The site presently provides 265 holiday homes, both privately owned and available to rent, all set in picturesque landscaped grounds amid the countryside of the Sussex Weald. Owners and holiday guests are provided with a long line-up of leisure facilities including an indoor swimming pool, spa pool and sauna, and a fully equipped gym and fitness centre. Park Holidays UK director Tony Clish said the Pevensey Bay’s previous owners had done a magnificent job in creating a park which provides a true sense of privilege: “The lovely setting obviously gives Pevensey Bay a head start, but the park and its superbly high standards is a perfect match for its surroundings,” said Tony.
“As a group, we have always been committed to operating parks which offer only the very best customer experiences and the best value in their class. “That’s why we will ensure that Pevensey Bay continues as an ideal base for families and those who enjoy activities such as sailing, rowing, jet-skiing and sea fishing. “All of our parks make important and substantial contributions to the local economies where they are based by generating millions of pounds of visitor spending,” said Tony. “Our intention is that Pevensey Bay will build even further on the support it already provides to many local small businesses and the people they employ,” he added.
Web Wise - Online Bookings
The sense that many potential customers are just looking, not booking is common. Web visitors often just want to get a picture of what’s available. At other times they’re unable to commit to plans until they’ve settled on exact dates with friends and family.
Whatever the reason, conversion rates in the travel industry are surprisingly low, and that’s why it is crucial for holiday park owners to get the booking process right. More people are using the web to shop around for holidays than ever before, and this means they’re only a swipe away from comparing prices with a competitor.
Research has shown that 37 per cent of consumers abandon travel purchases at the last minute because they want to do further research or find a cheaper price. But when margins in the industry are low, competing on price is difficult. Instead, holiday park owners should focus on delivering a streamlined shopping experience and a fuss-free checkout process. With so many holiday options on offer, it’s vital that potential customers don’t vanish at the finish line.
Choosing the most appropriate booking system requires park owners and managers to match their needs with the features of a product. But no two holiday parks are identical and it might seem difficult to find a system with all the necessary functions and flexibility. This is why CampManager, a leading Park Management Software provider, assists more than 300 campsites and caravan parks throughout the UK and Ireland with an online booking solution suited to the individual parks’ requirements.
“There are many different booking systems in the market, some of which have been adapted from hotel booking systems, which may not provide you with the pricing functionality that you require,” says Niall Norris of CampManager. “It’s important to select a booking system which is specifically designed to manage all your different pricing requirements – season dates, minimum stays and set arrival dates – and all your different rental accommodation and touring pitch characteristics.”
However, park owners should realise that the best solution may not come right out of a box. Sometimes choosing a booking system is more about modifying an existing offering to fit a park’s individual specifications. For Dafydd Lawrence, head of information systems at Bluestone National Park Resort, an award-winning retreat in the rolling Pembrokeshire countryside, it was important to create a bespoke solution that would fit with the park’s existing digital infrastructure.
“Having a web API in our main booking system allowed us to write our own online platform that talks directly to our booking system,” Lawrence explains. “Any system that makes you use an ‘off-the-shelf’ website or their own web booking engine can severely limit how much you can customise the experience for your guests.” The most obvious step to making booking on your site easy is to ensure that it works well on mobile devices.
To read more about getting 'Web Wise' please subscribe to Holiday Park Scene here.
Peas In A Pod
One in four holidaymakers are now choosing to stay in the UK rather than travel abroad. So, having compromised on flights, when it comes to booking closer to home, the calibre of accommodation is undoubtedly the decision maker or the deal breaker for potential holiday park guests.
From lodges to hobbit holes and from safari tents to yurts, holiday parks offer multiple levels of accommodation, with both varied quality and pricing. Of these, it is the fast-moving pod sector that currently stands out from the crowd.
The explosion of interest in pods is one of the key factors behind the rejuvenation of British camping with increasing numbers of young people and families opting to experience ‘the great outdoors’ while still appreciating the comforts of home. Since its first appearance in 2008 the pod has become a well-established and much enjoyed alternative to the tent and the caravan holiday home and is now a widely available feature on many sites throughout the UK and Ireland as well as most of the countries in Europe.
Although selling the idea of the new concept pods to holiday park operators was a challenge ten years ago, owners are now seeing the perks and can create an interesting setting with the added benefit of using ground that may be unsuitable for camping or tourers. “Pods can and will provide a good stream of income as they are set up nicely to offer an exclusive visitor experience,” says Ian Bone, Director of the Original Pod Company. Creators of the trademarked Pod range, Newfoundland Lodges are the originators of the pod concept.
Ian says the growth in the industry is a cause for innovation. “Our recent wet summers have tempered the ‘canvas holiday’ to some degree which has certainly been to our advantage, plus the pods are an all year round option and will see occupancy outside of the traditional camping season,” comments Ian. The Cowshed - a ‘boutique bunkhouse’ hostel in Uig on the Isle of Skye - highlights where the Pod is well placed, and how to make the most of this sector of the industry.
The Cowshed site was initially transformed by the new owners and quickly became a highly popular stopping off point for visitors to Skye and the Western Isles. To increase capacity and add interest an area of ground was developed at the back of the hostel which offered excellent views down to the harbour and the island seascapes beyond.
Says Ian: “The north-west coast of Scotland is a tough place when it comes to weather so it was decided to use Thermowood as external cladding on all seven of the MegaPod-S units as well as using double skinned outer walls.” The hostel is open all year and comfort levels need to be maintained.
“Overall, I think the diversity on offer is healthy and gives this sector energy,” says Ian. “We have been here from the start and have seen ideas come and go but it does seem to be the case that you have come to the market with something original if you want to survive” Although the glamping experience may be usurping the traditional camping holiday, there are still a variety of options for visitors hoping to have a break under canvas.
To find out more about accommodation options, please subscribe to Holiday Park Scene here.
Duty Of Care
With no laws, regulations or British Standard concerning swimming pool water, it is not always obvious how to demonstrate to customers and staff that you pool is fit for purpose. Since 2012 there has been a free online Code of Practice in the authoritative book Swimming Pool Water published by the Pool Water Advisory Group. (PWTAG).
The publication provides pool operators with a structured plan for the technical operation of their pool. Last year PWTAG introduced Poolmark, available only to pools that meet the Code of Practice. Poolmark certification gives public assurance that your pool meets the essential healthy pool operational standards.
With it, bathers can be assured – by you and by the Poolmark plaque – that the pool is approved. You can rely on the authority of the organisations that endorse PWTAG – Public Health England, Health and Safety Executive etc. Staff have to be adequately trained to meet the Code of Practice and achieve Poolmark status. There are several hidden benefits behind the scheme too.
New members will be sure that the pool is safe and comfortable for bathers – and this will be fully authenticated – plus users will have the reputation and authority of PWTAG behind them. If anything does go wrong at the pool, you will be able to demonstrate - in court if necessary – that you were following the best available guidelines. Without this protection, you are vulnerable.
It is incumbent on everyone involved in the provision of holiday packages and accommodation to ensure that pools and spas at their destinations are fit for purpose. The alarming increase in the number of media reports on entrapment accidents, highlights the fear that many pools and spas remain unsafe ticking time bombs for unsuspecting swimmers. The danger is escalated when you realise how poorly management and lifeguards at many holiday resorts and hotels are trained to avoid entrapment risks.
Looking at international media coverage, it appears that most entrapment accidents and deaths have taken place while families are holidaying abroad where perhaps regulations are less rigorously enforced than in the UK. There are hundreds of thousands of pools installed at hotels and holiday resorts across continental Europe that may not conform to the correct safety standards, often because they are very old pools and do not have the prerequisite two main drains at the bottom of the pool.
Pools with a single drain, poorly-fitted or with faulty parts pose grave dangers, as does the lack of understanding of the risk to life if a swimmer gets trapped in a drain. Pool operators must exercise full responsibility and enforce rigorous safety measures to guard against accidents including entrapment. This includes regular testing of the pool structure and the water chemistry through to the provision of experienced lifeguards who are trained to deal with all types of incidents promptly.
Put simply, entrapment is when part of the body becomes trapped in the powerful suction of a pool’s only drain. This is not a risk that a swimmer can see and thus cannot take care to avoid.
Whilst entrapment can occur because of a damaged outlet in a pool or spa, the root cause is the lack of two drains – a known and solvable problem. A single drain can create intense pump suction as the water system is regulated.
Getting too close to a single main drain leaves bathers at risk of being dragged into this vacuum which is almost impossible to break free of without the pool system being turned off, and that can take far too long. Sadly these incidents are continuing to result in people drowning or sustaining terrible physical problems such as disembowelment – and children are seemingly at greatest risk of such incidents.
UK regulatory standards (BSEN 15288 and SPATA) are already in place to ensure that all new pools are equipped with two main drains, as this reduces the demands that circulating water places on a single drain. While operators of holiday accommodation may not wish to close lucrative facilities for adaptation, doing nothing puts people’s lives at risk and is unjustifiable especially given that an anti-entrapment device such as the MSI Vac-Alert eliminates the danger and can be installed in half a day.
Hoteliers and the travel trade have a duty to ensure clients are able to enjoy pools and spas without coming to harm, and preventing entrapment is a significant part of that responsibility. Poolmark looks like being an ideal way of demonstrating that duty of care.
To find out more about Poolmark, visit www.pwtag.org.uk/poolmark
According to a 2017 report from the Office of National Statistics, Britons are spending more on eating out and short breaks than ever before. Great news for holiday park owners who, post-Brexit, are already reaping the benefits of the staycation trend. Increasingly demanding, UK holidaymakers want a whole lot more than a home away from home.
The trend for greater sophistication and refinement in holiday home design is filtering through to modern catering solutions too. A fine dining restaurant might not be the first thought when you think of a holiday park but Islawrffordd Caravan Park is no ordinary holiday park. Owned and run by the Evans Family since 1957, award-winning Islawrffordd provides the very best in quality facilities for its 201 holiday home bases, 75 fully serviced hard standing touring caravan/motorhome plots and 30 camping pitches.
Situated in the village of Talybont, at the southern end of the magnificent Snowdonia National Park coastline, Islawrffordd has seen considerable recent investment. In a park blessed with luxurious leisure facilities, even the toilet block of the touring area boasts under-floor heating. In 2015, a £500,000 investment brought to life a new fine dining experience, Nineteen57 restaurant.
“It was important to give the park bar and restaurant facilities that match the high standards of the rest of the site, explains Jane Evans. “Nineteen57 offers both formal and relaxed areas, and menus that appeal to the widest selection of customer tastes.”
A glance at the fine dining menu is enough to make your mouth water with such delights as pheasant with potato and thyme gratin and Welsh lamb, served with leek and cheddar croquette. Meals are prepared using locally sourced items and a 24 hour notice period for table bookings ensures the absolute freshest ingredients.
Jane Evans says; “The project has been incredibly successful for both the park and the local area. The park leases the building to chef Sion Wellings. We don’t have the expertise to run such an operation ourselves and outsourcing has given the chance for Sion, a talented local young chef, to have his own business.”
Outsourcing to catering professionals or franchises may be the norm but keeping catering services in-house can have benefits too. “The case for franchising a park’s catering operation can be quite compelling admits Michael Holgate of the Holgates parks group. “For a start, you can say goodbye to a whole host of admin issues, not to mention staffing headaches…but franchising will never happen at Holgates.”
To find out why, and to read more about making the most of 'Haute Cuisine' subscribe to Holiday Park Scene here.
Pick Of The Crop
Beginning life as farmland, the Orchards took its name from the array of apple trees on the land. It began its transition into a holiday park in 1952 when eight caravans were added to the site.
After 15 years in charge of Orchards Holiday Park, Tim and Julie Gray are continuing to improve the Isle of Wight based business, with the help of long serving staff and loyal employees. Situated in Newbridge, a small village on the west side of the island, the site covers roughly 13 acres on the edge of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that the Isle of Wight can offer. “You can’t fail to be impressed with our facilities centre,” says owner Julie Gray, “It houses all of your touring needs with amazing views.
“It has a very spacious washing up, ironing and laundry area, accessible facilities, all with the luxury of under floor heating, to make your holiday more comfortable.”
To read more about our Orchards Holiday Park, subscribe to Holiday Park Scene here.
Would-Be Owners Can Try Before They Buy
A Shropshire Holiday Park site has started its expansion project following increased demand from staycationers and is offering a new ‘try before you buy’ scheme for potential customers. The scheme allows customer who decide to buy a holiday home or luxury lodge on the park following a two-night stay, to have the cost deducted from the purchase price.
25 pitches are being created a Bow House Country Park, near Bishops Castle, which already has 62 caravans and 15 luxury lodges. 14 new pitches are being created in the first phase of the expansion with the picturesque caravan holiday home park in the South Shropshire Hills already popular with guests who live within two hours travelling distance of Bishops Castle.
Three of the new pitches have already been reserved and 15 holiday homes and lodges had been sold in the past 12 months. Many of the sales were secured from buyers who had been tempted to stop at the park whilst driving past. “Bow House Country Park is a wonderful place to get away from the stresses and strains of modern living, an idyllic, secluded location for a holiday retreat.
“We appreciate that buying a holiday home is a big deal and we want to ensure that customers make the right decision,” said Edward Goddard, managing director of Morris Leisure. “That’s why we offer them the opportunity to experience holiday home ownership at Bow House Country Park before they invest their hard-earned money.”
Sub-Let Owner Pay Outs
People who turn their holiday homes into cash generators during the school summer holidays are now scooping pay-outs of more than £5,500 each, according to research undertaken by Park Holidays UK.
The group says that many owners let go of just six weeks in July and August to maximise income, and then enjoy well over 40 weeks of their own exclusive use. But such people aren’t necessarily missing out on a summer break, says Park Holidays UK, because what they earn can more than cover the cost of a holiday abroad.
Others simply prefer to make use of their holiday homes outside the main summer season, and to leave the busier weeks to fun-loving families and children.
Nation Of Happy Campers
Almost half of Brits set off on a camping holiday in the UK this summer, with 43 per cent of holidaymakers looking forward to sleeping under canvas, according to research by Halfords the camping and leisure equipment retailer.
A survey of 2,000 people revealed that for 54 per cent, exploring the great outdoors is their main motivation, while half of Brits said they’ll be camping because it’s a more affordable option than holidaying abroad. A total of 41 per cent describe camping as ‘the perfect way to spend time with family’, while one in four look forward to switching off from the stresses of modern life.
Negative comments included having to go outside to use the toilet – 42 per cent cite this as the most annoying part of their camping trip – and 34 per cent said disruptive neighbours tend to get on their nerves.
“Our sales across camping and outdoor leisure were up 45 per cent on April to May last year, and it’s no surprise that Brits are choosing to holiday in the UK rather than travelling abroad, which can be expensive and stressful,” comments David Howell, Halfords’ motoring and leisure accessories expert. “It’s really easy to forget that we live in one of the world’s top tourist destinations – and summer is a great time to get out and explore.”
The owners of the Copper Pot Campsite near Callington, in Cornwall, are hoping to raise £50,000 through a crowd funding scheme.
Local businesses in the area are already stepping forward to help support the couple by offering their services, but funds are desperately needed to buy materials.
Husband and wife owners, James and Laiana Lankester say once open, the campsite will give back by supporting the local economy - providing custom to local businesses and jobs.
Rondeau Leisure is backing the effort to recycle plastic waste that is often dumped in the worlds’ ocean.
The business is supported by its own range of Pacific Ocean outdoor furniture which is produced from recycled plastic cartons that would otherwise find their way back to the seas. The aim of Pacific Ocean furniture is to turn plastic waste into durable garden additions with a lifespan of 10 years and beyond.
The range of chairs, tables, stools, loveseats and benches are made from milk cartons but are moulded into the same grain as wood – without the worry of rotting, splitting, cracking, fading or being burnt by cigarettes.
Rondeau Leisure’s managing director, Stuart Cooke, says: “The plastic waste issue is about more than just water bottles. “Sports, leisure and hospitality providers – even care homes and hospitals - need to get on board by not buying plastic furniture that has to be scrapped after a season or two."
Green Footprint Scheme For Parks Trio
Scottish holiday parks group Abbeyford Leisure is encouraging guests to help safeguard South East Scotland’s natural heritage. Guests at Elie Holiday Park, St Andrews Holiday Park, and St Monans Holiday Park are being asked to add a voluntary £1 donation when booking their stay. Money raised will go towards the Big Green Footprint Scheme, an initiative that was recently launched across the region by the Fife Coast and Countryside Trust.
Peter Davies, sales and marketing manager for Abbeyford Leisure, said the work of the Fife Coast and Countryside Trust was especially close to its heart. “The Fife Coastal Path, which connects our three parks, is one of the charity’s main responsibilities, and is enjoyed by many of our guests every year,” he said. “It’s a hugely important and much-loved feature of our coast, and it’s essential that the path and the surrounding wildlife habitats are properly cared for and safeguarded. The Big Green Footprint Scheme is an exciting and imaginative way to ensure this happens, and we’re delighted to become one of its founding champions,” added Peter.
Training Park Leaders Of The Future
Shorefield Holiday Park has launched an innovative academy training scheme aiming to recognise outstanding staff and develop the tourism and leisure ‘leaders of the future’. The academy, which celebrates the company’s 60th anniversary in 2018, will be known as the Dr Pollock Academy in honour of the company’s founder, and is leading the way in the tourism industry by providing training and recognition to nominated staff. HR manager Sue Lilley said the academy had been set up to recognise and nurture outstanding employees, and emphasise the company’s dedication to its staff. The inaugural members of the academy were nominated by their park managers and peers. “We wanted to set up this new initiative to reward our talented staff members with an ongoing training programme that will enable them to progress as far as they can within the business,” Sue said.
Christmas Present Hopes For Debra
In the summer of 2014, Debra Drew was enjoying a holiday at Woolacombe Bay, Devon, with her family when disaster struck.
After spotting a nine-year-old boy struggling in the choppy waters she plunged into the sea in an attempt to save the youngster. The boy survived – but Debra suffered catastrophic brain injuries when sand was swept into her mouth by the seawater, stopping her breathing. The 48-year-old from Stourbridge, Worcestershire, was in a coma for six months and doctors believed she would be unlikely ever to move again without assistance.
Although still paralysed, Debra is putting up a brave fight – and is determined to be back home in time for Christmas this year. Park Holidays UK are now helping to raise funds to deliver Debra’s dream of returning home for Christmas. For this to happen, however, her friends and family need to raise £25,000 to buy a range of different medical equipment, including a specially built wheelchair.
Tony Clish, director of Park Holidays UK, said that Debra’s story is truly inspirational: “Debra has undergone many operations since the horrific incident and defied doctors’ expectations that there would be little chance of her surviving. She has shown remarkable spirit and now it’s time for us to do our bit by helping her return home full time to be among her treasured friends and family.”
Park Holidays UK operates 24 holiday parks in Southern England, including five in seaside Devon – and have offered Debra and her family a free stay whenever she feels able to take up the offer.
Wish You Were Here...
Picture postcards from Tretham Mill Touring Park in St Just-in-Roseland, Cornwall…
The award-winning Trethem Mill Touring Park is situated in an area of outstanding natural beauty on the stunning Roseland Peninsula on the south coast of Cornwall.
Set in 12 acres of landscaped grounds it provides 84 individually hedged pitches. The park caters for touring caravans, motorhomes and tents with a choice of fully serviced, all-weather and grass pitches. Trethem Mill is owned by Ian and Jane Akeroyd, their son Jake and Ian’s father Derek.
This year they are celebrating their 25th anniversary at Trethem Mill, having moved to the Park in 1992. The family are all involved in the running of the park along with Theo Forman who has joined the team full-time.
Over the years, the family have invested much time and money into transforming the park from an open field with basic facilities into a multi-award winning five-star park. “We are very proud of our park and what we have created as a family,” explains Jane.
“Providing a warm welcome and a friendly and relaxing atmosphere in which people can enjoy their stays has always been high on our list of priorities.” Amenities include a laundrette, licensed shop, WiFi, children’s playground, disabled facilities, individual shower rooms, dog walk and nature field, a pick your own herb garden and a games room with amusements.
Tretham Mill Touring Park
Tel. 01872 580504
English Tourism Winners Raise The Bar
VisitEngland celebrated the best of English tourism with the announcement of the 2017 winners of its Awards for Excellence.
The prestigious awards, now in their 28th year, celebrate those businesses and individuals who continuously raise the bar of England’s tourism offer. Some 25 award winners were selected from the 600 applications in this year’s competition. The winners were announced at a special ceremony in London, hosted by British comedienne and broadcaster Sue Perkins. Trethem Mill Touring Park in Cornwall was named the Holiday Park of the Year and The Dandelion Hideaway in Leicestershire scooped the Glamping Provider of the Year Award.
Other notable winners included Blakelow Farm Holiday Cottages in the East Midlands, which was named Self-Catering Holiday Provider of the Year and Letheringham Water Mill Holiday Cottages in Suffolk won the Dog Friendly Business of the Year Award.
VisitEngland Chief Executive, Sally Balcombe, commented: “This year’s awards were fiercely contested and we had some terrific applications, showcasing not only the excellence on offer within English tourism but also the outstanding innovation and the sheer diversity of experiences throughout the country. “From afternoon tea in a railway carriage to ‘Alice in Wonderland’ boutique hotel rooms, from great family friendly animal attractions to cottages for one, all well deserved the recognition of their quality and service.”
Park Holidays UK has just completed a £2million investment into new leisure facilities at Vale Holiday Park in Kent.
The 100-acre park now has at its heart a brand new complex, which includes a 150m2 swimming pool, shop, cafe-restaurant, and arcade area. Outside, a newly built patio area provides barbecues, super-size TV screens, seating and tables.
Elsewhere on the park an additional 97 leisure homes will be developed, adding to the current 280 holiday caravans and luxury lodges which are available to buy and to let.
Tony Clish, director of Park Holidays UK, said he was confident that his company’s investment in Birchington Vale would pay dividends for the whole region: “The Margate area has long been a holiday favourite for many families, and a top quality holiday park such as this will do much to further bolster its popularity.”
It has been a record year so far for inbound tourism to Britain, with visits up by six per cent on last year.
In the first two months of the year there were with 5.2 million visits to the country from overseas visitors and visitor spend reached a record £2.7 billion in January and February, up 11 per cent on the previous year.
Tourism Minister Tracey Crouch said: “This record-breaking start to the year once more underlines the strength of our tourism industry.
“Our fantastic welcome and world-class attractions are continuing to attract huge numbers of visitors from across the globe, which is great news for the whole country.” There were 3.6 million visits from the EU in January and February, up five per cent on the previous year. VisitBritain’s forecast predicts that growth is set to continue in 2017 with 38.8 million visits and with spending reaching £23.9 billion
Post-Brexit Boom In Holiday Home Sales
With holiday caravans and lodges being more affordable than traditional houses, but certainly no less of a second-home in terms of space and style, sales at South West Holiday Parks’ two sites in Cornwall and their flagship park in Devon, have surged in the past 12 months.
The company has put the increase in sales partly down to more Brits opting to stay closer to home for their holidays, as the uncertainty of Brexit looms. “While Brexit has cast uncertainty over the economy, it is evident to us that people are still buying holiday homes, but here in the UK times have changed,” commented Josh Donald, Managing Director of South West Holiday Parks.
“Rather than watching their savings devalue month by month due to poor interest rates and rising inflation, our owners are buying a great holiday home, in a beautiful location and can sit back and relax knowing we take care of everything for them.”
He added: “Many people either have cash in the bank and are ready to buy a holiday lodge or caravan, or they use equity release so they can buy a holiday home without having to sell their main home and downsize. With a range of finance deals also on offer and more developments planned, we feel the holiday park is on the rise.”
Keeping Up Appearances
From weather-proofing picnic areas, to investing in new playground equipment and waste recycling systems, holiday park owners that take pride in their park’s exterior appearance and make the most of their outdoor appeal will ultimately reap the rewards.
If you’re considering transforming your outdoor areas it needn’t be a daunting task. In fact, investing in a few simple and cost effective measures can go a long way in improving aesthetics, comfort and facilities for your guests. “It’s important to keep outdoor spaces well-maintained as this is one of the first impressions visitors will experience at your park,” says Stephen Toone, Managing Director of Fordingbridge Plc – a leading manufacturer of canopies, walkways and sustainable buildings.
“Your clientele are more likely to return to your site and recommend to their friends and family if the external appearance is tidy.”
Maximising the use of outdoor spaces all year round by weather-proofing your facilities can not only improve your customers’ experience, but also set your park apart from the competition.
“We are seeing an increase in demand for weather protected activity areas and dining spaces. Popular designs include the soft aesthetics of timber, which blend nicely into forest parks. Alternatively, tensile structures which can be applied to all types of parks in any setting,” says Stephen.
Fordingbridge work in partnership with parks to maximise customer experience and increase revenue potential. The experienced in-house design team assists by designing a canopy, walkway or queuing area pertinent to a park’s individual requirements or brand consistency at different sites. “Canopies can be used for increasing dining and picnic areas, which improve dwell time and all year round usage. Further uses include aesthetically pleasing storage facilities, such as secure bike shelters or outdoor activity equipment,” says Stephen.
“With more competition than ever before within the holiday park and leisure sector, attracting customers with new and engaging ideas are vital to achieve this. One of the many innovative ideas is the inspiring and engaging butterfly exhibit, which provides an attraction to suit all ages in all weather conditions.” A comprehensive outdoor play area is a winning formula for hospitality venues looking to appeal to young families.
Camber Sands Holiday Park in Sussex required a large new play area as part of a refurbishment project earlier this year. The park owners wanted separate areas for toddlers and juniors and a wide range of equipment. They enlisted the help of HAGS-SMP to design and install the scheme, which included themed multi-play units, dynamic equipment, a zip line, sunken trampolines and a trail with an 8m traverse wall.
The play area has proven to be a huge hit with customers, and according to HAGS, the only complaint from site has been to ask how to keep the adults off the equipment! “Theming seems to be a constant favourite with our clients. From pirate ships to fairy-tale castles you can add real play value to your areas by engaging a child’s imagination,” comments Simon Wright, Head of Sales at HAGS.
“With something to suit all budgets, our products are built to last, providing better value over a longer period of time. A small play area suitable for approximate six to ten children might start from £10k and increase from there.” Simon add: “Remember though, if your budget is tight you might consider planning your scheme in phases, this way you can add to the playground over a period of time that suits.”
To find out more about maximising your outdoor space, subscribe to Holiday Park Scene
Fordingbridge Tel. 01243 554 455 www.fordingbridge.co.uk
HAGS-SMP Tel. 01784 489109 www.hags-smp.co.uk
IvyLiving Tel. 08448 002215 www.ivyliving.co
Rolec Services Tel. 01205 724754 www.rolecserv.com
Trimax Tel. 01933 652 235 www.trimaxmowers.co.uk
Coastal Breaks Top Holiday Wish List
‘Seasiding’ is the most popular way to spend your holidays in 2017 according to holiday park operator Parkdean Resorts.
The new term has been coined by the company to describe a trend in holidaymakers booking up to take a trip to the seaside, either for their children to share in the same experiences they have enjoyed years ago or simply to appreciate the wonders of a holiday by the sea. The UK staycation market has grown steadily over recent years, with many people opting for domestic holidays over going abroad.
As a result, Parkdean Resorts welcomed over 500,000 holidaymakers in 2016, a figure which is set to increase this year - with real demand for coastal breaks in particular emerging. John Waterworth, chief executive of Parkdean Resorts, said: “This year will see more and more people reliving memories of childhood holidays at the sea, reflected by an uplift in our booking figures for 2017 breaks across our coastal parks.
“While nostalgia and tradition play an important part in the trend, ‘seasiding’ is all about holidaying at the coast in new ways. The seaside offering has evolved considerably over the decades since my parents visited as children, not least on our parks which now provide caravans with central heating and double glazing, and often with indoor pools and adventure play areas, making it comfortable to holiday both sides of the peak summer months.” John added: “We have made a significant investment of £50m across our parks on accommodation, retail and leisure facilities this year, where families can create memories that will last a lifetime.”
Suffolk Park Under New Ownership
Park Holidays UK has become the new owner of Carlton Meres Country Park in Suffolk. he company’s acquisition of the long-established business near Aldeburgh brings the number of parks operated by the group in Southern England to 27. Carlton Meres has long been a popular choice for holiday home buyers, and more than 200 lodges and caravan holiday homes are located in its extensive grounds. There are also holiday homes to rent, and pitches for touring caravans and motorhomes. Facilities include an outdoor swimming pool, a fully-equipped gym and spa suite, tennis courts, an adventure playground, plus restaurant, bar, and games and snooker areas.
Park Holidays UK now owns four parks in Suffolk, and director Tony Clish says that Carlton Meres is an exciting new addition to the existing portfolio. “Our plan is to start rolling out an extensive investment programme which will benefit both existing holiday home owners and new customers,” he said. “Park Holidays UK always aims to ensure that its parks provide the very best in their class, and we’ll be applying exactly the same principles to Carlton Meres. “We’re very proud to welcome a park of such character and distinction to our group, and to broaden even further the range of experiences we can deliver,” added Tony.
In light of recent events, security in the UK is at an all time. While we are assured that the chance of a security breach or incident is highly unlikely, holiday park owners and facility managers are right to be cautious and take appropriate measures to safeguard themselves, staff and visitors.
When the owners of Hampshire-based touring and caravan park Sunnydale Farm were looking for a solution to reduce uncontrolled vehicle access to the site, it was the Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) system from IDS Group that caught their attention. Open all year round, the park is visited by many campers, tourers and suppliers each day. Having previously tried traditional gates and overhead height barriers to control access to their site, owners Stella and Bill Matthews were looking for a more secure, efficient and automated solution.
For the entrances, IDS Group installed two electronic barriers and two ANPR cameras for incoming vehicles. They also incorporated 1080p HD resolution IP CCTV cameras with infrared night vision to automate the access to the site and give a general overview. As the vehicles are typically caravans and longer than the average car, it was important to strategically position the ground loops effectively to avoid the barrier coming down too soon, due to the length of the vehicle.
The exit required more consideration, such as the safety of children, cyclists and proximity to the main road so IDS Group installed an electronic barrier with a longer loop for the delayed exit. The ANPR cameras provide barrier control and create time log recordings of length of stay.
“In a lot of cases holiday parks have several entrances and exits and receptions desks are not always located at either of them - this makes it difficult to monitor who leaves or exits their sites. So many holiday parks are having to deal with unwanted guests, as such, this can lead to theft, vandalism and a threat to customer security,” explains Tas Kyriacou, Head of Business Development at IDS Group.
ANPR and barrier solutions have been growing in popularity over the years and the control this security solution provides to staff can significantly reduce risks to the park. According to IDS Group, an ANPR solution can start from around £6,500 up to £12,500 depending on many variables. CCTV solutions can start from £4,000. “Just like anything else in life, you get what you pay for, so if you invest in the right technology, you will be sure to enhance the safety of your customers and property and since your customers are what generates revenue, you will need to protect your assets,” says Tas.
“However before thinking about the technology, it is important to find a security company that can understand your requirements and have the ability to deliver what is required. A good security company is imperative to the delivery of the right solution.”
Earlier this year a caravan was stolen from Bynea’s Gateway Caravan Park in South Wales. The high-value caravan was taken in broad daylight between 9am and 11am in the morning. Elsewhere in the country, offenders gained access to a window of a static caravan at a holiday park in Dorchester and stole valuable items of diamond jewellery. And in Scotland, police appealed to the public for more information after two mountain bikes were stolen from a caravan park in Peebles in August last year. The bikes had been taken along with the chains that had been used to secure them to a tree.
Unfortunately, cases of holiday park crime like these are not uncommon. And worryingly, crime levels across the country are on the rise. The Office for National Statistics said that recent police data showed a nine per cent rise in overall crime in 2016. Last year Avon and Somerset police pledged to increase resources in Burnham, Brean, and Berrow after a number of incidents at holiday parks over the summer months. Police officers and holiday park owners met to discuss ways of cracking down on crime in the area. Owners of holiday parks in Burnham, and its surrounding areas, said they had to deal with a number of caravan thefts, as well as drunk and disorderly behaviour on a regular basis.
This prompted the police to upgrade their Pubwatch scheme - a partnership where independent groups of licensees work with police to pre-empt crime and antisocial behaviour in licensed premises. The scheme saw the installation of more high-quality radio systems and more staff onsite who are able to connect directly with the police. In Lincolnshire, the local police force offers a Caravan Park Watch Scheme to tackle caravan related crime across the county.
Caravan site owners, Lincolnshire Police and other representatives from the caravan industry meet regularly to discuss caravan related issues. The initiative was set up initially to tackle a growing number of burglaries occurring on holiday parks, especially during the winter close down period. Since the Caravan Park Watch scheme was implemented in 2014, caravan related crime rates in the area have dropped by over 45 per cent.
To find out more about security measures subscribe to Holiday Park Scene
Crosby Intruder Alarms Tel. 0800 917 1441 www.crosbyintruder.co.uk
IDS Group Tel. 0208 819 1044 www.idsgroup.uk.com
Leisure Days Tel. 01422 396 770 www.leisuredays.co.uk
Wilby Tel. 01422 358 525 www.wilbyltd.co.uk
The UK's Finest Holiday Park Pools
Entries are now open for the hotly-contested Holiday Park Pool of the Year Award, part of the 2017 UK Pool & Spa Awards.
The Holiday Park Pool of the Year category is open to all parks in the UK and Eire with water leisure facilities, regardless of trade affiliation or association. Past winners of the award have said how much they value the competition as an opportunity to raise the profile of their park, both within the industry and most importantly to their target customers.
Returning for the ninth consecutive competition, the UK Pool & Spa Awards showcase the very best of the companies involved in the provision of water leisure in Great Britain. Parks wishing to take part can now enter via the UK Pool & Spa Awards website www.ukpoolandspaawards.co.uk. All entries must be submitted online by Monday September 4th, and an entry fee of £30 plus VAT (£36 total) for each entry is payable via PayPal at time of entry submission.
All entries need to be accompanied by at least one, but ideally three, digital images at 300 dpi or more. This year’s awards presentation evening will once again return to The Vox Conference Centre within Resorts World on the Birmingham NEC site.
The networking event will take place on Monday December 4th, and will begin with a business networking style drinks reception, followed by dinner and the presentation of the awards. Tickets for the business networking style prize-giving event are now available to book online.
Tickets are priced at £50 +VAT, which includes drinks on arrival, dinner and entertainment. With limited seats available, early booking is advised. An informal event and opportunity to celebrate its many successes; the dress code for the evening is smart casual
TV Drama Draws A Crowd
Fans of TV drama series Broadchurch have helped set a record year for visitors to West Dorset, according to a major holiday parks group in the region.
West Dorset Leisure Holidays says bookings are currently up 25 per cent on last year’s figures as families go in search of the picturesque vistas and seascapes seen on screen.
The final series of the award-winning drama finished in April, and the parks’ General Manager, James Cox, said that enquiries began to swell from the first episode: “We experienced similar uplifts during the first two series of Broadchurch, and many of those guests became repeat visitors – so obviously the county lives up to expectations!
“Now with this latest wave of demand, we are expecting to see the busiest year yet for our business, and will be helping to point families to some of the locations seen on television.
“So overall, Broadchurch has proved a massive boom for Dorset’s visitor economy,” added James.
Family-owned West Dorset Leisure Holidays owns five holiday parks in the region, including its flagship Highlands End Holiday Park in Bridport. All parts of the business have seen booking figures rise, says James, and there has also been an uplift in sales of new and pre-owned caravan holiday homes.
Centre Parcs Ireland's First Employee
Center Parcs has appointed Daragh Feighery as the first General Manager of Center Parcs Longford Forest, near Ballymahon in County Longford.
Daragh becomes the company’s first employee in Ireland and will be the most senior role at the new site. As General Manager, Daragh’s main responsibility will be to oversee the safe and successful operation of Center Parcs Longford Forest, which includes the 1,000 employees and approximately 2,500 guests per break.
Daragh will also work closely with the local community once operational to ensure that Center Parcs remains a long term, sustainable partner within County Longford and the wider Midlands region. Daragh commented: “I am extremely excited to join the Center Parcs team and look forward to what will be a fantastic opportunity for families like my own to enjoy a unique family break in Ireland. I believe my experience, skills and beliefs will be a great match in the role of General Manager in Center Parcs Longford Forest.”
Martin Dalby, CEO of Center Parcs, added: “Daragh brings with him a wealth of industry experience in Ireland as well as the drive and personality that are crucial to the role of General Manager at Center Parcs. This appointment represents another key milestone in our journey to bring Center Parcs to Ireland.”
Devon MP Recieves A Warm Welcome
Staff and the family owners of a popular Devon holiday park recently marked the opening of a new reception building with the help of their local Member of Parliament.
Neil Parish MP was the VIP guest at Oakdown Holiday Park near Sidmouth where the £140,000 project was completed in time for the summer season. The five-month project involved 20 local tradespeople and the use of many traditional craft skills and natural materials during the construction.
One of the features of the eco-friendly project is a large oak desk area made from timber which was reclaimed from an ancient fallen tree on the park’s farmland. Stone tiles and natural floor-coverings are incorporated, together with low energy lighting and high levels of thermal insulation to further reduce the park’s carbon footprint.
The building also includes a meeting room, seating areas, and washroom and toilet facilities for people with limited mobility. Alastair Franks, who runs the park with his wife Andrianna and parents Doreen and Roger, said they were thrilled with the new reception building: “It is always important to us that new developments on the park are a match to the quality of the natural surroundings of Oakdown,” he said.
“We were also pleased to be able to find local builders and craftspeople to carry out the work, and their skills have achieved just the high standards we were seeking”.
Some 72 per cent of dog owners consider their dogs to be family member when it comes to booking a holiday. With eight and a half million dogs kept as pets in the UK; that is a customer focus group not to be barked at!
So no wonder that many UK holiday parks now offer options to bring along Rover and Patch with a dog-friendly levy attached. Manager of the North Devon safari tent glamping site, Daisy Meadows; Tina Walters, knows how difficult it can be for dog owners and since taking over the North Devon site in 2013, has aimed to make the park more enjoyable for dogs and owners alike.
The strategy is paying off. In 2016, 80 per cent of Daisy Meadows guests were accompanied on their summer break by their pooch. Visitors can enjoy a spectacular glamping experience as well as including the dog as a special guest, with its Happy Hounds Doggy Day Crèche.
“We created Daisy Meadows as just the right mix for guests, particularly those who have dogs,” says Tina. “We can provide a doggy day crèche so that you can still bring your dog on holiday. We realise that sometimes you might want to spend the day shopping or go to a show and still come back at the end of the day to your happy hound.”
Tina adds: “They are always cared for as if they are our own. On site, dogs are free to roam in the meadow, but we always ask guests to check with their neighbours, and pick up their dog’s poo and pop it in the bins provided, of course!”
The family-run business is situated in two-and-a-half acres of land in the Blackdown Hills area of Outstanding Natural Beauty - also known as the ‘Gateway to Devon’ - and offers a back to nature safari tent experience. The site is set in a secluded corner of the county, but within easy access of the M5, linking it to Exmoor and Dartmoor National Parks.
“This is a great base to explore areas of outstanding natural beauty,” says Tina, “And it’s a doggy-walking paradise. Guests can set off in a different direction every day and be at a beach or place of interest within minutes.” Not only do their owners enjoy the amenities laid on for pampered pooches, but it is also cost-effective. The average cost of a kennel is around £140 per week, whilst many holiday parks allow pets for free – or a nominal fee, often to cover cleaning costs and supplies – although one in four are happy to pay the same amount to take their dog on holiday, as it would cost to take another adult.
Dennis O’Connor, Tourism Liaison Manager of Pembrokeshire Tourism says: “Increasingly, visitors are looking for dog-friendly destinations to avoid the distress of leaving their pets in kennels. “The wonderful coast and countryside is a very special place for visitors, and we are delighted to have been able to recognise the work of dog friendly businesses throughout the county as well as our fantastic towns and beaches.”
Coastal Wood Camping was crowned ‘Best Dog Friendly Campsite’ in May. The Pembrokeshire site is rapidly becoming a first-choice holiday destination for dog owners – not only for its beautiful coastline but for the many facilities that now welcome holiday makers with their dogs.
This status was celebrated at the inaugural Dog Friendly Pembrokeshire Tourism Awards ceremony to recognise businesses, villages and locations going the extra mile, and awarded by Pembrokeshire Tourism and Burns Pet Nutrition. The judges assessed a wide range of criteria to decide the winner, but most specifically; an area dogs can enjoy safely with exceptional dog litter facilities, facilities to wash dogs if they got muddy and excellent dog friendly facilities and supplies.
Although the majority of campsites, holiday parks and beaches allow dogs, vacations in caravans and motorhomes are usually accessible for pet owners, perfectly tailored for their animal’s needs. With some of the most beautiful national parks, forests and beaches in the world, the UK is perfect for a caravanning dog-friendly holiday. Woodhill Park in East Runton, Norfolk has been dog-friendly since its owners took over the site in 1988, but the park has noticed a steady increase in the number of guests bringing their pets with them in the last 18 months. “
To read more about Dog Friendly Holiday Parks subscribe to Holiday Park Scene
Daisy Meadows Tel. 07852 544219 www.daisymeadowsafaritents.co.uk
Coastal Wood Camping Tel. 01994 453214 www.coastalwoodholidays.co.uk
Thornley Leisure Centres Tel. 01606 861043 www.thornleyleisure.co.uk
Whitehill Country Park Tel. 01803 782338 www.whitehill-park.co.uk
Woodhill Park Tel. 01263 588181 www.woodhill-park.com
Thrills And Spills
Water play is sure to keep guests returning year after year…
There’s no better time for enjoying the thrills and spills of water play than on a family holiday.
A holiday park that can offer a unique and exhilarating swimming experience is sure to score over it’s nearest rivals. Through smart design and a clever selection of features, any holiday park can transform their swimming pool into an exciting aquatic play space that guests will enjoy and want to return to on repeat visits. “Water play installations offer a range of benefits when compared to standard swimming or paddling pools,” explains Ernie Hemming of Ustigate Waterplay.
“Firstly, a water play installation uses water on demand, which is a more economical and cheaper solution as water will be consumed only when someone touches one of our activation bollards using considerably less water. Moreover, a water play installation provides countless hours of fun for all the family.”
Ustigate installed a bespoke splash zone at Dinosaur Adventure Park in Norfolk last year.
The allocated splash area had previously been home to long-standing old wooden outdoor play equipment which had become outdated so the park owners took the decision to reinvest in the area and give it a new lease of life. The new splash zone takes inspiration from the famous Dippy the Dinosaur, the mascot and one of the Dinosaur Adventure Park’s most popular attractions in order to attract and retain more customers on site.
The splash zone was divided into three bays which have range of play items designed for each age group - toddler, teen and family. The focal point is the huge ‘supersplash’ elevation consisting of a bucket that tilts over crashing onto a platform creating a mini-tidal wave soaking everyone in its spray zone. The fully PWTAG compliant filtration and recirculated water system ensures highest quality of water for children to play in.
Ustigate’s Vortex sourced products offer the latest designs and features which are premium quality and competitively priced. The price of a typical splash pad depends mainly on three factors; size of the scheme, the type of water system that will be used - one use or re-circulating - and finally the selected water features. According to Ustigate, a typical once use system would usually cost between £50,000- £100,000 and a recirculating system costing £300,000- £500,000.
“Ensure you have explored all possible options as water installations can be expensive and time consuming,” comments Ernie. “Remember that the cheapest option may not always be the right decision in the long term as a significant drop in quality may lead to additional repair or alteration costs in the future or even worse closing of the water play installation. “Even though initial setup costs for a high quality and robust water system may be excessive this will be cost effective in the long run as the water system will be able to stand the test of time and demands of excited children.”
Leyland-based World Leisure recently completed a £1.5m overhaul of the swimming pool facilities at Ribby Hall Village Holiday Park in Lancashire, in just 12 weeks.
The holiday park’s pool is well-known for its water slides and is used by members and visitors alike. It was given a refurbishment eight years ago but bosses at the attraction decided the time was right for a complete revamp, with added facilities to maintain interest for visitors. The new pool features new slides including a 48m interactive play slide. Members and guests are able to climb a tower to the top of the slide, which then takes them out of the building and back inside again. As they come down the slide, they can play an interactive touchpad game on the inside of the slide, with scores recorded once the ride is complete.
To find out more about water play facilities please subscribe at Holiday Park Scene
Certikin Tel. 01993 778855 www.certikin.co.uk
Hippo Leisure Tel. 01752 771740 www.hippoleisure.com
Ustigate Waterplay Tel. 01322 424445 www.ustigatewaterplay.co.uk
World Leisure UK Tel. 01777 284883 www.worldleisureuk.co.uk
Into The Woods
For over 35 years Blairgowrie Holiday Park was the Wood family’s flagship site, but after the expansion of the company – extending to a further four parks – the 2008 purchase of Deeside has since changed the landscape.
The Deeside site boasts exquisite hot tub lodges, contemporary holiday homes and en-suite glamping pods. The Woods’ also welcome campers with large areas of hardstanding and fully serviced pitches available. Says Park Manager Shona Stewart: “The park provides a peaceful and tranquil environment for its guests to have a relaxing stay while enjoying picturesque countryside views with nature on your doorstep. The area is popular among visitors from Scotland and further afield who come to explore Royal Deeside.”
As the parks have spread across the country, so too has the family’s involvement in running the company. Colin and Margaret, who started the business three decades ago have since been joined on the team by their daughters, Rachel, Kirsty and Sarah.
The eldest, Rachel, is in charge of the administrative and financial side of the business. Middle daughter, Kirsty, manages the HR and Health & Safety sectors, and the youngest, Sarah, is the head of the Marketing and Sales department.
The girls are also joined by their husbands, who oversee the parks operations, and most recently Shona Stewart who — two years ago — was promoted to Park Manager after six-years as the Administrator for Deeside Holiday Park.
Tel. 01250 878123
To read more about Wood Leisure and Deeside Holiday Park subscribe to Holiday Park Scene
Making A Splash
The swimming pool facilities at Ribby Hall Village holiday park in Lancashire have undergone a £1.5million transformation. The pool was refurbished eight years ago but bosses at the attraction decided the time was right for a complete revamp, with added facilities to maintain excitement and interest for visitors.
The work was carried out by World Leisure and the pool now features new slides including a 48m interactive play slide. World Leisure also refurbished the splash pool and added an interactive aqua deck play structure, with tipping buckets and integral slides.
A themed Glass Reinforced Polyester toddlers’ pool links into the splash pool, with a slide and steps to open the pools up to all ages. Mark Leech, Senior Manager at Ribby Hall Village, said: “It is important as a business to continually invest and improve the facilities we offer to our customers. We believe the new interactive slide and new splash pool features will be real talking points that will bring family visitors back again and again.”
Gas Meter Checks
Property owners could be liable for prosecution if their gas meters do not meet new safety standards. The Measuring Instruments Directive (MID) replaced the old Ofgem legislation in 2016 and governs the manufacture and accuracy standards for electricity and gas meters in the UK.
The aim of the legislation is to ensure that customers and users are protected by ensuring that all meters comply with safety and accuracy standards. “This is particularly important for property managers as it could mean your existing meters are illegal,” says Chris Smith, Managing Director for Energy Controls – a leading supplier of SMART meters and Pre-payment metering systems. “If so, consumers may have a right to refuse to pay for their electricity and as landlords you could be liable to prosecution.”
You can check the meter itself for an MID stamp of approval or you can ask your supplier to provide an MID certificate. Your meter supplier is legally required to provide supporting evidence that their meters conform to MID standards; if they are unable to do so then it is highly likely your meter does not conform.
Pool Upgrades At Campsie Glen
Campsie Glen Holiday Park in Stirlingshire has invested £80,000 into upgrading its outdoor swimming pool facilities. The new development, which launched in April, features an enclosure over the existing outdoor pool, plus the installation of a brand new children’s pool and new changing and toilet facilities.
The new Perspex enclosure, model Endless Summer in Moss Green, is an aluminium and acrylic structure that offers safety by taking away the danger of broken glass, and functionality by sheltering the pool area from cold drafts and making it more weatherproof.
The new children’s pool is a 2.5m x 4m NIVEKO one-piece pool, which was supplied and installed by Eagle Leisure from South Lanarkshire, Scotland. Both swimming pools run on energy efficient air-source heating system contributing to the environment-conserving focus of the park. Bruce Thomson, Operations Manager at Wood Leisure, commented: “We are committed to investing in our parks and facilities to deliver value to the families from Scotland and beyond. This significant investment supports our long-term growth and development plans while benefiting our customers, wider community and Scottish economy.”
As any holiday park operator will tell you, happy and entertained children mean happy and relaxed parents. An exciting and challenging play area for all ages and abilities gives children somewhere to let off steam and make new friends as well as giving them some independence on holiday. Mike Harris, Director at Warren Farm Holiday Centre in Bream, Somerset invested in new playground facilities last year, designed and supplied by HAGS. He said: “We are known as a child friendly park, and people purposefully book plots near the play areas.
The initial outlay was definitely worthwhile and we have a large number of repeat visitors because of this, as well as many new ones.” “The more attractive, enticing, challenging and fun the outdoor play equipment is, the more likely it will be that visitors to the play area will continue to visit and enjoy all the facilities on offer and it could be the deciding factor on choice of holiday destination,” comments Stuart Wetherell for Wicksteed Playgrounds. Wicksteed was recently commissioned to create an impressive and imaginative playpark at Wilton Lodge Park in Hawick, Scotland. Reflecting the history of the area, a large bespoke timber castle-inspired feature takes pride of place at the centre of the play area. The custom-built castle is adorned with turrets, slides, climbing nets and monkey bars as well as a bridge over a moat and portcullis entrance.
The £300k play facility was developed as part of a £3.64m park regeneration project, funded by Scottish Borders Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund. “Local children were involved with creating the designs and ideas for the play area and came up with the idea of incorporating Hawick’s history and scenery into the design. The play park proudly features a castle, river design, horse artwork and a common riding flag as part of the surface design,” commented Gordon Webber, Wilton Lodge Park Events Manager.
RANGE OF FEATURES : The play park features a range of different zones with play equipment suitable for a variety of age groups and abilities. A timber fenced area features sensory sound and visual items as well as a central carved timber totem pole. Wicksteed has become the go to for cleverly designed bespoke playgrounds which can reflect the history of the site or have a theme running throughout. The company has also developed an award-winning range of outdoor gym equipment, the FLZ, which is ideally suited to the holiday park environment and suitable for those aged 14 plus.
“Prices do of course vary depending upon the type of equipment, landscaping and installation but a product from Wicksteed’s Toddlers’ range might start at around £500 with individual, interactive panels from around £590,” explains the Stuart. “An entire playground which could contain multi-play, modular units together with fitness products would obviously require greater funds, so it all depends on the project in question. To achieve a ‘wow’ factor a new green site fully supplied area should have a budget of around £70K.”
Apart from keeping your play equipment and areas regularly checked to meet health and safety standards, there are no guidelines stipulating when a playground requires updating, this is solely down to playground owners. However, updating your equipment regularly to stay ahead of the competition will certainly help attract and retain customers, providing a greater return on investment.
It is recommended that any equipment purchased for unsupervised use is certified as compliant to EN1176 (the European Playground safety standard), this ensures that the equipment is designed and manufactured to a high standard and will provide an exciting and challenging experience while minimising risk. The safety of children on their playgrounds doesn’t just depend upon the initial design of the area and the selection of equipment within it. Its continued management and the delivery of high quality inspection and maintenance schedules are crucial if the safe opportunities for children to play creatively are to be preserved. Mark Rands, Head of UK Installation and Service at HAGS comments: “We know that a good maintenance regime will significantly extend the life of your equipment and reduce the likelihood of accidents. Regular servicing and replacement of worn out parts is essential to keep your play area safe and compliant.
“Remember it is the responsibility of the owner to keep the play area safe, delaying needed repairs not only shortens the life of the equipment but increases the risk of an accident. The inspection should cover the whole of the site - not just the play equipment. Pathways, fences and seats all need to be checked.”
HAGS is a global company with a product offering that stretches over an extensive range of thousands of play products– designed for people of all ages. They have gained over 50 years’ experience in providing both landscaped and traditional outdoor areas. The best-selling UniPlay and UniMini ranges from HAGS offer a vast number of play functions and games within a unique modular system.
HAGS offer a wide range of standard ready-made units for every size and budget, and additionally, all units can be customised by adding special features or games to create your ideal play space.
Liz Townsend, Head of UK Proposals for HAGS says: “Our customers want a play area that is visually striking and attractive – something that immediately captures the imagination of children and becomes memorable so families have a great time and want to return again. The design details are what holds a child’s attention for longer than a few minutes, for example: tower structures are very popular with all ages, even more so when they have interactive games and imaginative activities that can involve all generations.” Liz continues: “At HAGS we focus on a ‘cost per user’ model during the design process, this helps eliminate single user items that can be expensive to own for little return in place of items that offer great play and financial value for users and owners alike.”
“Play facilities are vital in holiday parks, in order to both attract and retain the family spend,” says David Robison of World of Rides. “2017 is going to be a milestone year for the UK’s holiday parks, as Brexit and the fluctuating exchange rates are making more and more families stay at home in the UK for their holidays. However, if operators do not invest in new equipment to entertain their visitors and guests during this exceptional year, then they may not return in future years.” World of Rides have served the holiday park industry with a fully comprehensive range of coin-operated leisure rides and equipment for nearly five decades, ranging from battery rides and static rides to quadricycles and rowing boats. “For the past few years our Go-Karts, Super Hero Trikes and licensed character static rides have been the firm favourites with children, but for 2017 holiday park operators are suddenly asking for our driving school cars and above ground pools with bumper boats, in order to satisfy the demand of their customers for new experiences,” says David.
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Under New Management
Stanmore Hall Touring Park in Shropshire has appointed a new management team for the new season. Gary and Tania Smith have been promoted to managers of the Bridgnorth park and will be supported by new assistant managers Nick and Sandra Bellinger.
The Smiths have worked for park owner, Morris Leisure, for five years, having previously served at Oxon Hall Touring and Holiday Home Park, Riverside Touring and Holiday Home Park and Ludlow Touring Park. Before becoming caravan park managers, Tania worked as a chef for 32 years and Gary worked as a landscape gardener for 27 years for Birmingham Council. “We were at that time of life when we both wanted a change of lifestyle,” explains Tania, who has two children and five grandchildren.
“Gary was working nine to five while I was working evenings and weekends and we hardly saw each other” “We now see each other 24-7 and absolutely love being park managers.” Assistant Manager Sandra Bellinger added: “Morris Leisure is a great company to work for and our only regret is that we had not stayed at one of their parks before we started to work for them. It’s definitely something everyone should try.”
New Yorks Park
Park Leisure has unveiled a state-of-the-art new development at its Yorkshire Dales park. The Hawkswick development will boast seven new lodges and is the result of a £1.3m investment at the park. Yorkshire Dales General Manager Mike Clappison said: “The new lodges will be a great and vital asset to our park as it continues to grow and welcome new customers.
“As well as the site’s various family facilities including a children’s playground, Yorkshire Dales is a gateway to some of the best country walking trails, bridal paths and cycling routes in the UK and we’re at the very heart of that.” The news comes just weeks after Park Leisure announced a £103m partnership deal with Midlothian Capital Partners (MCP) as the luxury holiday company embarks on its next phase of expansion.
We’ll Meat Again
Hollins Farm Camping and Caravanning Park near Silverdale is offering youngsters the chance to learn about the food cycle. The farm raises traditional breeds of sheep, cows and chickens in its picturesque Lakeland setting, and then supplies the meat to local dining establishments.
“Surveys suggest that many children have a disconnect with farming, and some don’t know that bacon comes from pigs, or eggs are produced by chickens,” said Park Owner Michael Holgate. “That’s why we’re encouraging mums and dads who stay with us to regard Hollins Farm as a place where youngsters can really have their eyes opened. “As well as discovering more about nature and the countryside, youngsters can also make that important connection between farming and the food they eat,” added Michael.
Moving On Up
With a host of extensive improvements completed in 2016 and further plans on the table for the future, Coast View Holiday Park in Devon is going from strength to strength. The park is the flagship site for South West Holiday Parks and is nestled in the hills overlooking the pretty seaside village of Shaldon. Bought by the company in 2012, Josh Donald, and his team, has turned the tired, dated park into a modern site with first class facilities, excellent customer service and strong links with the local community.
“We see an average of 7,000 guests a year and that figure is growing year on year” reveals Josh Donald, Managing Director of South West Holiday Parks. “Moving forwards we hope to see that number rise, especially with the improved infrastructure and facilities in place as well as our new luxury lodges with their boutique hotel feel.” Last year saw the opening of Coast View’s new heated indoor swimming pool, complete with a toddler pool and boasting sea views. The park also launched a new restaurant in 2016 - ODE&CO at Coast View - with celebrated local chef and restaurateur, Tim Bouget. The bright, contemporary Italian restaurant is at the heart of the park and is proving to be a popular addition with guests.
BRIGHT FUTURE : “We have already carried out extensive changes at the park over the last few years, but we aren’t stopping yet. We have plans for more luxury lodges to be created and have already had great interest from potential owners about these,” explains Josh. “To compliment the swimming pool, we plan to add a luxurious spa and beauty rooms as well as a state-of-the-art fitness suite and envisage this being in place by 2018. Our much-awaited Portland Drive development is now open and we are currently working the new phase of lodges.” At Coast View there is a mixture of accommodation on offer to suit all tastes and budgets, including spacious luxury lodges, modern wooden chalets and static caravans. The park is open 365 days a year for holiday home owners and holidaymakers can visit between April 1st and November 1st. This year is shaping up to a busy year for the park, with bookings already up on last year. “We have a range of clientele at the park and everyone is welcome. Our choice of accommodation means there is something for everyone and every budget,” says Josh.
EYE ON THE BALL : “We also run a number of promotions during the season that are very well received and are perfect for catching that much needed, last minute break.” He adds: “There is no denying that we are facing challenging times as a country and Brexit means many businesses are being cautious. While we are seeing a steady rise in visitors across all of our parks as more people are holidaying on home soil, we are aware we have to keep our eye on the ball at all times.” In terms of local attractions, Coast View is situated next to a golf course and owners receive free membership at Teignmouth Golf Club, which is a short drive from the site.
The city and the moors are all on the doorstep so guests can be as active as they wish. The reception team is on hand with information and suggestions of places to visit and free Wi-Fi throughout the park means guests can easily look up local attractions. Says Josh: “For us, the park can only be a success if our guests are happy. We are a family business and pride ourselves on offering value for money holidays and a first class experience. From the moment they drive into Coast View, to the moment they wave goodbye, we want guests have had a great time and we would love to see them return for another holiday. “We believe our attention to detail, excellent customer service and flexible approach are all deal breakers, but it’s the stunning views across the Jurassic coastline that really put this park on the map.”
Coast View Holiday Park Tel. 01626 818 350 www.southwestholidayparks.co.uk
Lodge Bookings Soar
Lodge-style holiday homes have leapt into pole position as Britain’s favourite self-catering accommodation. Outdoor accommodation provider Pitchup.com has reported a 139 per cent growth in lodge bookings since the beginning of the year, equating to a 70 per cent increase year on year. Growth in demand for glamping accommodation options, such as yurts, is up 13 per cent compared with 89 per cent last year.
“This summer is all about lodges,” says Pitchup.com founder, Dan Yates. “We’ve seen a huge growth in lodge bookings for 2017 as they outsell all other types of glamping accommodation in the UK by 38 per cent.” “Families in particular are rediscovering this more traditional style of accommodation, which is enjoying a resurgence as people look for relatively inexpensive accommodation, following the Brexit vote, that is weatherproof and offers all of the comforts of home and more.”
He continued: “Cabins, a more basic form of lodge-style accommodation, have also performed well, up 135 per cent year on year as budget-conscious holidaymakers search for affordable accommodation options.”
Hidden Entrapment Danger Strikes
Holiday park owners are being urged to show duty of care when it comes to the swimming safety of their guests. Earlier this year, a four-year-old British girl was seriously injured after being sucked into a spa pool filter at a holiday complex in Bulgaria. Thankfully, doctors were able to save the girl’s life and she is now recovering from severe injuries to her bowel and intestines. An incident of this kind is known as ‘entrapment’ and is entirely preventable, and only happens because what appears to be a perfectly safe outlet is, in fact, a potential death trap.
Every year incidents of entrapment – where limbs and other body parts are caught via strong suction from drains at the bottom of either private or public pools – are reported in the media, tragically because the event often results in drowning. But worryingly many incidents are also going un-reported. The Blue Cap Foundation in the Netherlands conducted an investigation into swimming pool entrapment at 100 hotels and aqua parks in popular European holiday destinations. They found at least one hazardous circumstance in every swimming pool that could cause an injury and 31 of the pools were condemned to be dangerous and even life-threatening.
“The problem is that there is nowhere to report this type of incident and most holiday companies are nervous about action been taken against them from over reactions,” comments Craig Valentine, Health & Safety Manager at Bourne Leisure. “I think that there should be a confidential hotline or email address that such incidents and other pool-related issues could be reported without reprisal. In turn this would help stop dangerous incidents happening by using industry best practice with learning outcomes.” Many UK companies have been campaigning to raise awareness of the dangers of entrapment for years. These include Mineral Supplies International (MSI), which has supplied the Vac-Alert anti-entrapment device to UK and European markets since 1996.
Installed on both pools and hot tubs, the Vac-Alert responds within a millisecond to any increase in filter pump suction; spring-loaded pistons open the pipe to atmosphere, freeing a person trapped by life-threatening suction. “Entrapment is a serious issue globally,” comments MSI’s Amanda Slade. “But what’s concerning is that many cases of entrapment are going unreported and are being put down to ‘accidental drowning’. After all, no pool operator wants that type of bad publicity.” Amanda adds: “This is why we have been working with major holiday operators and cruise liners who want to demonstrate that they will put duty of care first every time when it comes to their customers.”
Washrooms are one of the most-used facilities at a holiday park or campsite and are all too important to be left to chance. From design layout to lighting and cleanliness, it’s often the smallest rooms that can have the biggest impact on a customer experience. Modern washroom designs continue to become ever more stylish, sophisticated and eco-friendly, from urinals with television screens to all-in-one toilet, sink and vanity table units. “Washrooms don’t have to be boring and grey,” comments Ged Hirst of design specialists Cubicle Centre.
“Vibrant cubicles and walls brighten the washrooms and create a better environment. There are many coloured and woodgrain panels available to match any theme or design choices you might want.” Cubicle Centre is an award-winning, family-run business that manufactures and supplies washroom panel products. These include toilets cubicles, shower cubicles, vanity units, and wall panels. The company has supplied dozens of holiday parks with durable washroom facilities. Most recently, Cubicle Centre provided shower and toilet cubicles for the newly renovated washroom block at Glan Morfa Mawr Caravan Park on the Welsh coast.
VITAL INGREDIENT : “Holiday park toilet and shower facilities are vital for attracting repeat visitors,” says Ged. “Guests want to be as comfortable as possible during their stay. A dirty, smelly or out-of-order washroom will damage their experience. “My advice is to ensure facilities are well signposted, well-lit, heated and cleaned at regular intervals. It is also important to make sure you provide enough toilet cubicles, washbasins and showers - this will reduce the chance of visitors having to wait to use the facilities.” Ged advises that a properly planned and maintained washroom can last between ten and 20 years, depending on the quality of the fittings, panels and sanitary products.
Exploring the different types and qualities of materials on offer is essential. Heavy duty locks and legs will keep your shower and toilet cubicles in working order and water-proof wall and cubicle panels will be able to resist distortion and damage from moisture. Says Ged: “Buying cheaper products to begin with will end up costing you more later on. For example, MFC cubicle panels are a cheaper option but they can swell and distort when exposed to too much moisture. Whereas Compact Grade Laminate (CGL) panels will cost more initially but are water-proof and vandal resistant, which means they will be durable enough to last the heavy use environment of a holiday park washroom block.”
Another key consideration is the safety of the guests who use the facilities. Visitors will use the washroom block in different weather conditions. On rainy days users might walk in wet and mud, which can be a slipping hazard so the flooring should be non-slip to avoid these types of falls. The facilities should also have good lighting for safe use a night and adequate heating. It’s also important to consider less physically able visitors. There should be easy access to the washroom via ramps if needed and clear circulation routes at 1500mm wide for wheelchairs should be provided. Larger sized shower and WC cubicles with grab rails may also be required. The increased demands placed on heavily used facilities require careful consideration and professional planning. It goes without saying that well-designed washrooms should at least be clean, dry, well ventilated and user friendly. hygiene in kitchens and other back of house areas which the customer cannot see. Poorly maintained washrooms can easily damage the wider reputation of a business.
DUNHAMS WASHROOM SYSTEMS Tel. 01603 424855 www.dunhamswashrooms.com
LOO OF THE YEAR AWARDS Tel. 01531 640715 www.loo.co.uk
ARMSTRONG COMMERCIAL LAUNDRY SYSTEMS Tel. 01635 263410 www.armstrong-laundry.co.uk
CUBICLE CENTRE Tel. 01924 457600 www.washroomcubicles.co.uk
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Hey Big Spenders!
Growth in demand for glamping accommodation options, such as yurts, is up 13 per cent on last year according to Pitchup.com. Meanwhile bell tents, which bridge the gap between glamping and camping, have enjoyed a 101 per cent growth in bookings as holidaymakers search for more affordable glamping options. A North Herefordshire activity centre is reaping the benefits of its highly successful glamping villages, which have seen year on year growth of over 100 per cent.
Business is booming for Oaker Wood Leisure near Leominster, since it launched its first woodland glamping village in 2014. The park quickly reached maximum capacity, so over the winter of 2014/15 they built a second village. Each village is made up of nine wooden pods, made locally by Jaques International Ltd, and can be booked exclusively by groups which has proved popular with corporate team building groups and stag and hen parties. School and youth groups visits have also increased year on year with the second glamping village meaning Oaker Wood can now accommodate groups of up to 120 young people.
Kate Tudge of Oaker Wood Leisure explains: “We have two glamping villages that each sleep between 12 and 50 people in wooden pods. We only take exclusive bookings so the groups have private use of all the village facilities, including the fire circle, dining and kitchen hut, Scandinavian style barbecue hut, showers and toilets.” She continues: “Our Glamping & Activity weekend package is very popular. This includes two nights glamping and two outdoor activities at a package price of £160 per person. We could sell our weekends in spring and summer several times over, so there is definitely a growing marketing for packaged activity and glamping weekends.”
HOME FROM HOME : Glamping has changed markedly in the last few years, with a definitive move into more luxurious interiors, higher specification facilities and the provision of individual toilets and showers. New designs and innovations are constantly evolving and premium quality components and interiors are now the norm, rather than the exception. “Around 65 per cent of the enquiries we get from people who are thinking about adding glamping to their parks or farms never go beyond the initial thought stage. The usual issues include planning considerations, lack of identifiable locations within the parks or lack of understanding within the old guard,” reveals Mark Scott of Clear Sky Safari Tents. “Holiday parks are all about selling caravans and lodges and it is often difficult for existing management structures to fully understand the revolution that is happening throughout the holiday park industry with the UK and Europe.” He adds: “Glamping is a revolution that will continue to grow and develop in all sorts of directions, this is not a fad, it’s a movement led by the networked generation, fuelled by social media and experienced by younger families for a more adventurous holiday experience.”
CHANGING MARKET : Anouk Wanders of Outstanding Safari Tents agrees: “Glamping has not only proved to be a trend, it has changed the holiday industry. “The level of comfort that guests have come to expect is getting higher and higher. For example, private bathrooms was a rare luxury just a few years ago, but nowadays most glamping accommodation features built-in bathroom facilities.” Anouk adds: “The market is going through major changes and we have to adapt very fast. We need to keep developing new structures and need to be innovative to keep up with this increasing demand.” Inspired by the African experience, safari tents are fast becoming one of the most popular forms of glamping accommodation. Great for families, couples or groups, tents offer something extra special for holiday makers and many parks are reaping the rewards of a safari tent investment.
BOLDSCAN Tel. 01823 665849 www.albioncanvas.co.uk
CLEAR SKY SAFARI TENTS Tel. 0845 299 6484 www.safaritents.net
FUTURE ROOMS Tel. 01452 501455 www.futurerooms.co.uk
OUTSTANDING SAFARI TENTS Tel. +31 (0)318 575056 www.safaritents.co.uk
OAKER WOOD LEISURE Tel. 01568 780111 www.oakerwoodleisure.co.uk
YURTS FOR LIFE Tel. 01803 762370 www.yurtsforlife.com
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Fit For Purpose - Holiday Hot Tubs
Hot tubs are the must-have ingredient in the recipe to holiday booking success it has been revealed. According to self-catering specialists Hoseasons, a private hot tub is the number one searched for item on the website, accounting for more than 100,000 searches each month. With thousands of models to choose from, selecting the right hot tub for a holiday let can be a potential minefield. Holiday home owner Lucy Dawson recently invested in two new hot tubs for her two rental properties at Easter Ellister Farm, situated on the Rhinns of the Isle of Islay - an island off the west coast of Scotland.
CEDAR HOT TUBS : Lucy first invested in a circular cedar hot tub for her property – An Linnean – in 2008. The hot tub proved to a be a very popular addition with guests, so Lucy decided to upgrade the hot tub this year and has also purchased a second hot tub for her other property – Easter Ellister. “Having run the two self-catering houses of similar standard and in the same location, I can say without doubt that the house with the hot tub is more popular than the one without. I would say I get at least 25 per cent more bookings for An Linnean and the property is booked up most of the year round,” says Lucy. “This is the main reason why I have decided to install one at Easter Ellister too.
People just want that little added bit of luxury on holiday and for some reason a hot tub hits those buttons!” Lucy purchased the hot tubs from Eagle Leisure, based near Glasgow. She opted for the seven-seater Freedom model and the six person Vantage model out of the Coast Spas stable. Both have full foam insulation and insulated covers to help retain heat. They also feature Coast Spas’ 50sq ft cyclonic pressurised filtration to ensure the guests are sitting in the cleanest possible water. Each of the hot tubs cost around £7,000, but Lucy estimates that she can make most of this money back within ten weeks of rentals of the property.
“It is a big investment to install hot tubs but I believe them to be an essential part of my business in attracting customers,” says Lucy. “I would always advise other holiday property owners to do their research before taking the plunge though. I paid the price in choosing an internet ill-researched purchase the first time around and had countless problems with the tub over the years. It was very costly to maintain and run. She continues: “You need to make sure you are buying good quality, well made tub that is well insulated and good filtration system. “I would advise going to a reputable spa retailer who knows their stuff. I was incredibly impressed with the customer service and installation service from Eagle Leisure, something you just don’t get when you order online.” Eagle Leisure recommend the Coast Spas range of hot tubs for holiday properties. Their bestselling models for this market are the 7ft and 8ft options, which seat up to six and eight adults respectively and are available from £6,995.
TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE
“There will be some customers looking for a low end hot tub just to say that they have one,” explains Debbie Ekins, Commercial and Communications Manager at Eagle Leisure. “These usually retail between £2,000 - £3,000, but personally I don’t think there are any great quality holiday hot tubs on the market place within this price range. If something seems too good to be true it probably is.” Debbie continues: “On the other hand, we get some holiday owners who realise that a hot tub purchase of £7,000 - £8,000 is an investment. Adding a hot tub allows the property owner to a) charge a higher rental rate and b) rent out the property to full capacity – so should be able to quickly make their money back. Plus they get the peace of mind knowing they have a quality hot tub that the guest will be happy with and that will last them a long time.”
Over the past ten years, a significant amount of holiday park operators and holiday let owners have purchased and operate what are in fact domestic hot tubs only designed for home, and not intended for commercial use. Commercial spas, the type found at health clubs and spas, are generally much larger than the average portable spa with bigger and better filtration and sanitation systems along with other features that suit much heavier bather use. “It can be tempting to purchase cheap imported tubs but it can be a very expensive mistake if you experience service issues,” reveals Jason Smith, Sales Director at RotoSpa. “Holiday hot tubs drive revenue so they need to be reliable. If they are not you will regret it. My advice is to buy quality, buy once and buy British.”
The British-made RotoSpa range is ideal for holiday use given its durability, low cost, UK support and the ability to specify bespoke features tailored to the individual risk assessment for the site. The RotoSpa Quatrospa and DuraSpa are among the UK’s bestselling holiday let units, which feature Individual auto dosing sanitiser systems and individual sand filters. The autofill and quickdrain system is operated by the touch of a button and enables the water to be completely changed in less than ten minutes.
In terms of life expectancy, RotoSpa recommend that hot tubs are changed every five years, however, the company has installed tubs on holiday park sites that are still going strong some ten years later. When selecting a hot tub supplier, Jason advises: “Choose a hot tub supply partner with a long pedigree of manufacture and service - someone who will listen to your needs and offer solutions to them rather than try and force you into an overpriced unit from their stock with features unsuitable for high demand use. Use someone who will work with you as a partner not just sell you a tub.”
HOT TUB HAZARDS
From an insurance claims perspective, hot tub-related slip and trip injuries are not uncommon. If a holidaymaker slips in a wet area, or even inside the hot tub itself, there’s a potential for them to be quite seriously hurt. “Skin irritation claims are also quite high up on the claims list, from minor rashes to quite serious skin conditions,” says Tom Dallow, Customer Claims Manager at Compass Insurance. “We were particularly surprised by a claim made in relation to a baby getting a rash from a hot tub - but this is certainly not the only claim we’ve received relating to an individual who shouldn’t have been in a hot tub in the first place!”
Further highlighting the vital importance of managing water health and safety correctly, Compass has had one allegation of Legionnaire’s Disease having being ‘caught’ from a hot tub on record, as well as several claims made related to injuries sustained by suction from hot tub outlets. Says Tom: “Thankfully for all involved, Compass doesn’t receive hot tub related claims in high numbers. Of those we have dealt with, park owners will be interested to note that in many cases no negligence was found, so no pay-out to the claimant was made. “However, we must stress that insurers will struggle to defend parks where written evidence of appropriate hot tub management is not available. A compliant, common sense approach is critical.” If parks carry out appropriate risk assessments, follow relevant health and safety regulations to the letter, keep relevant documentation up-to-date and display clear rules on safe usage for users to adhere to, then there’s no reason why hot tubs should be considered a commercial hazard. You should speak to your insurance advisor to discuss your individual circumstances.
COMPASS INSURANCE Tel. 01452 511 430 www.compass.co.uk
EAGLE LEISURE Tel. 01355 264466 www.eagleleisure.co.uk
ROTOSPA Tel. 0121 354 3428 www.rotospa.co.uk
WELLIS Tel. 01246 559071 www.wellis.eu
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Holiday Snaps - Alex Saul, General Manager at Greenacres, Cardigan View and Garreg Wen holiday parks.
Alex is the General Manger of three holiday parks North Wales. His career began in the nightclub industry, before a brief spell managing health clubs and then joining the holiday parks industry at parks in Cornwall and South Wales. He now looks after more than 1,400 holiday homes across the Greenacres, Cardigan View and Garreg Wen sites. Alex’s downtime is spent with his wife Claire and two children, Annabel and Barnaby. During the summer he enjoys kitesurfing and in the winter he likes to go shooting with his Labrador Floyd.
How is the summer season shaping up for your parks? The 2017 season is looking fabulous; double digit growth in holiday bookings and strong caravan sales mean we are in a great place. I keep seeing reports that it will be the hottest summer in years which would be the icing on the cake.
What are you most looking forward to about the summer season? I think the parks look a bit lost and forlorn when they are closed. I am looking forward to seeing families enjoying themselves, venues full of people having fun, kids riding around on their bikes and the smell of BBQs in the air.
If you had to identify one element, what is the most crucial aspect to the success of the parks? The team - it’s a cliché but so true. Without your team you do not have a business. Even in the age of the internet, people buy from people and relationships are important. They are also the parts of the holiday families remember long after the photos of a sunny day have faded.
What challenges are currently facing the holiday park sector? Competition between parks and the drive to create value for customers will always be a challenge. Things like a weak pound are on our side but we cannot take it for granted, we have to provide great service and high standards if we are going to maximize on the opportunities in front of us.
What is the best piece of business advice you have been given and by whom? A coach and phycologist called Martin Perry made us do an exercise involving throwing tennis balls around. You stand in a circle throwing to each other and keep adding balls until they start to drop. The lesson is that you can do loads to get a successful catch and it taught me that the responsibility for a successful catch lies with the thrower. In business this means that the responsibility for a team successfully implementing projects, lies with the management.
What has been your most interesting experience in the holiday industry? The variety that I am faced with in a single day is staggering and definitely keeps me on my toes. The best part is getting to know the different types of people we encounter, from the successful entrepreneur who is looking to buy a holiday home to the young family taking a well-earned weekend away.
Where do you see yourself and the park in ten years’ time? I think the next ten years are going to be very exciting and a fabulous time for the industry. New players will come in and for the companies that get it right, great rewards and success will come. I love this industry and in ten years’ time I hope to be doing pretty much the same, enjoying the challenge, working with great people and helping families get the most out of their recreation time.
Where do you go on holiday? I am a keen kite surfer so anywhere there is sun a wind. This year as a family we went to Cape Verde which was amazing.
Wish You Were Here...
Picture postcards from Cringoed Holiday Park in Llanbrynmair, Mid-Wales…
Cringoed Holiday Park sits alongside the river Twymyn one mile from the small village of Llanbrynmair in the heart of Mid-Wales. A gem of a site in the Twymyn valley between Snowdonia National Park and the Brecon Beacons, the area offers a terrific opportunity for bird watching, walking and cycling.
The park itself is owned and run by husband and wife team Paul and Sue Mathers, who have made many improvements to the campsite for tourers, statics and campers since they took over ownership in 2001. “Having owned our own caravan for some years, we decided that we liked the idea of owning our own park and one day we came across an advert in Daltons Weekly – Cringoed was for sale,” explains Paul Mathers. “It was just what we were looking for. Inspiration mixed with overwhelming enthusiasm - we were sold and the deal was done there and then.”
16 years on from a bare field and a near nonexistent income, Cringoed has matured into a successful and well-presented caravan park. It now boasts over 40 static holiday homes, 20 seasonal pitches, casual camping, camping pods, extensive landscaping and modern facilities and even a 4 star badge. The site provides toilets, hot showers, washing-up facilities and a launderette for guests and there is a large children’s play area and a games room with amusements.
Cringoed Holiday Park
Tel. 01650 521237
Devon Park Embarks On A Green Safari
Visitors to Ladram Bay Holiday Park this year are being invited to enjoy a ‘green safari’ of the grounds where a raft of new wildlife-friendly initiatives are taking place. Last year the park was named by world-famous botanist David Bellamy as a winner of his prestigious conservation award at its top gold level.
Now Ladram Bay’s family owners say they intend to move up another gear in their efforts to make the park a haven for flora and fauna, including endangered species. Holiday guests, it says, will notice many new plantings of native trees, shrubs and flowers – including foxgloves flourishing in fallen trees which have been allowed to naturally decay. At the same time, the park will be removing various non-native species such as laurel – and bolstering its historic hedgerows with new plants such as blackthorn, spindle and hazel.
Credit for much of the work, says Ladram Bay, is due to head gardener Scott Rowe who leads a four-person grounds-keeping team tasked with putting the park’s plans into action. Park director Zoe House says the latest initiatives will add an extra dimension of discovery for holiday guests to enjoy during their stays: “Our family first started welcoming holidaymakers to Ladram Bay Holiday Park more than seventy years ago,” said Zoe. “It was then a farm, and we have never forgotten our agricultural roots and the importance of managing the land in a sustainable way. “Protecting the natural world and its inhabitants is even more important now than it was then, and we try to ensure that the park is as welcoming to wildlife as it is to guests.”
A leading UK playground inspection and maintenance company is urging holiday park owners to check the condition of outdoor play equipment before the start of the season to avoid costly repairs during the busiest time of the year. RSS (Playground Inspection and Maintenance) advises that failing to check equipment could lead to equipment failure rendering the play area out of action during peak periods.
In the worst case, a failure could cause an accident resulting in a personal injury claim, a fine and bad publicity. “Play equipment is like any item with moving parts - they suffer wear and ultimately they break or decay,” says Andy Readman, Managing Director of RSS. “You wouldn’t leave your car in the garage for five months and then take it for a long journey without first checking it over!”
Andy adds: “Not only will regular inspection and maintenance keep your equipment safe, it will also extend the life of your play area giving you the best return on your capital investment.”
BH&HPA Welcomes New Chairman
Paul Searle, managing director of Searles Leisure Resort in Hunstanton, North Norfolk, has become the new national chairman of the British Holiday & Home Parks Association (BH&HPA). The organisation brings together the owners and managers of some 3,000 park businesses which, according to tourist board statistics, accommodated 13.5 million holidays in 2015.
The figure equates to 30% of all holiday nights spent by domestic holidaymakers in Britain that year. Paul believes that the association he now chairs is stronger today than at any other point in its 60-plus year history: “Ours is an incredibly diverse industry, bringing together businesses of all types and sizes,” he says. “The sector includes many long-established family-owned enterprises, which form the majority of BH&HPA’s membership, as well as major holiday park groups with a national presence.
COMMON GOAL “What binds us together, however, is a common goal – and it’s that of constantly evolving, and refining the standard of the services and facilities we offer to customers. “An important way to achieve this is by parks coming together to share their knowledge and experience, and the association is the perfect platform for facilitating this,” said Paul. Paul heads one of Norfolk’s largest and most popular holiday centres which he manages in partnership with his brother Andrew and sister Joanna.
The family business was founded in 1954 by Paul’s grandfather, Geoffrey, and began life as a modest touring park serving visitors to the popular coastal resort of Hunstanton. Today, Searles provides more than 500 privately owned and rented caravan holiday homes and lodges, as well as 300-plus touring pitches plus luxury timber camping pods. Paul follows his father, Richard, who served as BH&HPA national chairman from 1995 to 1997, and who was appointed MBE for his services to tourism in 2001.
When Andrew Thornley’s parents diversified from running a bakery to running caravan parks in the 1960s, the ingredients were set for a family-run business that is still going strong almost 50 years later. Olympic Park Homes, as the company is now known, has been in operation for six years although Andrew Thornley has been in the residential park homes business for at least 17 years. Now in his sixties, Andrew is still very active in the business but is gradually passing over the reins to step-daughter Sam Leigh-Jones and her husband Darren Jones.
Six years ago, Sam and Darren took an increased role in the company, initiating a stronger commercial focus that led to them re-branding as Olympic Park Homes. Today, Olympic operates three residential parks - Delamere Grove and Meadow Home Park in Cheshire and Carrwood Park in Lancashire. All three Olympic parks are exclusive to people 50 years or older, are pet friendly and crucially, are set in stunning locations. Meadow Home is the newest and smallest of the three parks, but Sam considers it to be the family’s flagship park. “We bought Meadow Home from another family in June 2015,” explains Sam. “At the moment we have 18 homes there, but we already have planning permission for another seven. I don’t think you could find a more picturesque and peaceful location.”
THIRD TIER Meadow Home Park lies beside the River Weaver and the layout of the park takes full advantage of its natural topography. The development, which will add in a third tier of new homes to replace older models, is planned to start this May. Sam hopes that it will be completed by September. “We’re really excited about this project and also keen to get it completed,” says Sam. Darren, Sam and their two daughters live on the site and take a strong personal interest in their residents.
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Finger On The Pulse
Staying ahead of your competition and showing off your best assets through strategic marketing is an increasingly essential element for a thriving holiday business. Carefully balancing the elements of a successful marketing strategy to suit the tastes of your target audience is key. For that reason, marketing for all businesses, regardless of size, needs to be carefully thought through, and often requires a multi-pronged approach.
“A good marketing strategy is essential for any holiday park, regardless of size or scale,” comments Mark Warnes, Property & Portfolio Director at Hoseasons. “We recognise that owners take much pride in the operational management of their parks and want to ensure that occupancy is at its highest throughout the year. To achieve this, a fully integrated marketing strategy which includes digital and traditional channels is required to fully showcase and promote the USP’s on each park, to the desired audience.” Hoseasons by Wyndham Vacation Rentals is one of the UK’s leading self-catering accommodation specialists, with over 28,000 places to stay in coastal and countryside settings throughout Britain and Europe including lodges, parks, boats, cottages and apartments.
The brand sells well over a million holidays each year on behalf of its partners, who also benefit from year-round, multimillion pound, multi-media promotional campaigns. Says Mark: “Knowledge, recognition and trust are the most important benefits for any park when partnering with Hoseasons. “The brand is led by people with a flair for marketing and desire to push the boundaries of traditional UK holiday perceptions.
“We realise that customer attitudes to marketing are constantly changing and we ensure that our marketing is fresh, engaging and embraces technology.” He adds: “Our marketing strategy is fluid and we utilise digital methods to drive website traffic and create targeting campaigns that work alongside ecommerce initiatives and traditional channels of print and offline strategies.”
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The vagaries of the Great British weather can play havoc with outdoor pool time. While outdoor pools are often the main attraction in the summer, during the cooler months they tend to be a no-go area for holidaymakers and can ultimately cost the pool operator, with little or no return on investment. By weather-proofing an outdoor pool owners can not only benefit from year-round pool usage but can also extend the swimming day; a win-win situation for both park owners and their guests.
Commercial swimming pool enclosures offer new opportunities and increased profitability to venues by extending the season, increasing throughput and reducing costs. There are two main types of swimming pool enclosures; telescopic or fixed. A fixed pool building remains in place and ventilation is provided via lift up sides and access is via doors at the end of the building. Changing rooms and shower facilities can easily be incorporated if required. In contrast, a telescopic pool enclosure enables you to fully open the pool and enjoy warm sunny days whilst rolling it back either by hand or using solar powered motors when it turns colder. Both types of pool building can be freestanding or attached to an existing adjacent building.
PLANNING REQUIREMENTS “It’s important to remember that a swimming pool enclosure is not a temporary building and will require planning in sensitive locations as will the swimming pool,” advises David Lawrence, Managing Director of Telescopic Pool Enclosures, who has been marketing retractable enclosures throughout UK since 1991. He adds: “We always undertake all planning and if requested building regulations for our enclosures and accept full responsibility.”
The company has held sole exclusive rights for the ROLAL retractable or fixed swimming pool enclosure for the UK, EIRE and the Channel Islands since 1998 and has installed hundreds of enclosures throughout the UK. The enclosures are the only retractable enclosures designed for glass of either 6mm safety or 16mm sealed units. They are also the only retractable enclosures in the UK using as standard 16mm triple walled polycarbonate, which makes them the most insulated enclosures that offer all year use without any additional heating other than the pool water. Since 2006, the company has also offered another complete range of retractable enclosures with low to medium heights and high, smaller enclosures.
These are not glass, but glazed with either eight or 10mm of twin walled polycarbonate or clear or bronze solid 4mm transparent polycarbonate. “All our enclosures are constructed on site by our own skilled fitters and are done so usually within a two to three week period. Larger enclosures can take longer especially when using glulam beams to allow incorporation of walls, chalets and other buildings,” says David.
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A paperless initiative by insurance provider, Leisuredays, has helped the company raise more than £15,000 for national charity, Heart Research UK.
Leisuredays donates £1 to the charity every time a customer chooses to receive their insurance documents by email rather than in the post. The Paperless Policies initiative has raised a whopping £62,908 in the last eight years.
This year, Leisuredays’ Managing Director Ryan Wilby presented the charity with a cheque for £15,163 during Healthy Heart day. The money will help to prevent and treat heart disease across the UK by funding the charity’s work.
“We thought we’d written our biggest cheque last year, but once again I’m delighted that our customers have helped to raise the most money yet to support Heart Research UK’s very valuable work,” said Ryan. “Plus, customers not only receive their insurance documents quicker but they’re also helping to protect the environment too.”
New Income Stream For Caravan Parks
A revolutionary EV charge point management system which means that EV drivers no longer have to pay any membership, subscription or connection fees and the caravan park operator does not have to pay a licence fee, has been developed by one of the UK’s electric vehicle charge point manufacturers.
The EV Charge Online from Rolec enables EV drivers to simply pull up to a charge point and, using their mobile phone, login to the charge point and pay-to-charge using Visa, MasterCard, American Express or PayPal via Rolec EV’s secure back office. GPRS connectivity to the back office is provided by Rolec’s network partner Vodafone, who supply roaming SIM cards designed to lock onto the strongest signal in the area, regardless of network provider. Over 200 businesses have already installed EV charging pedestals complete with the EV Charge Online system.
Rolec EV’s Managing Director Kieron Alsop commented: “These charging pedestals, when used by an EV driver, immediately begin paying money back directly into the caravan park operator’s bank account.” He added: “These self-managing pedestals are easy to install, requiring only an electricity supply in order to provide EV drivers with charging facilities.”