Memory Makers – Hafan y Môr

We dip a toe into Haven’s award-winning Hafan y Môr resort…

Above : New investment will include significant accommodation choice upgrade.

Above : New investment will include significant accommodation choice upgrade.

Boasting a continuous re-investment schedule into its 36 nationwide locations, Haven is the UK’s leading provider of family holidays. Part of Bourne Leisure, the company is the Sunday Times’ sixth ‘Best Big Company to Work For in the UK’ and Haven was the winner of the Best Family Holiday Company of the Year 2017 at the British Travel Awards. Bourne Leisure’s main ethos is to simply give guests a great time, with memories that last a lifetime. Hafan y Môr gets that customer seal of approval with in excess of 200,000 visitors every year between March and November. If you think, with such high visitor numbers, that the park feels crowded then you would be mistaken. Hafan y Môr is spread over 500 spacious acres with a stunning beach and coast line, offering guests an irresistible great escape from and a fantastic launching pad to explore the local area, which boasts rich culture and awarding-winning tourist attractions. Hafan y Môr is the largest single self-catering holiday provider in North Wales and is the biggest employer in Gwynedd.

Above : The resort boasts 1400 caravans across its 500 acres.

Above : The resort boasts 1400 caravans across its 500 acres.

The park is critical to the success of the local economy and the tourism industry. At peak times, the park doubles the population of the local town Pwllheli. The park employs 430 team members at peak, with over 50% of them being native Welsh speakers. The holiday resort is home to an outstanding array of great family friendly activities and facilities including 1,400 caravan pitches. This is combined with a whole host of on-site activities from an Aerial Adventure high ropes course down to the relaxing boating lake and fun indoor SportsDrome to expert led outdoor Nature Rockz sessions. The Old Butlin’s Starcoast World closed in 1998 and was refurbished and re-opened as Haven’s Hafan y Môr in 1999 transforming it into a stunning family park on Llyn Peninsular. Featuring extensively in the latest Haven television commercials, Hafan y Môr’s fl agship pool complex, Splashaway Bay, has undergone a £4million transformation over the last two years, culminating in the completion of the new £1million Changing Village.

 

AWARD-WINNING

Memory Makers FOUR

ABOVE: The flagship attraction at Hafan y Môr is its award-winning pool complex.

Recently winning the coveted UK Pool & Spa Awards’ Holiday Park Swimming Pool Of The Year, the pool serves as an all-weather venue where families of all ages and abilities can feel safe. The holiday park pool is often the first time families will have been in the water together and this memory is one that lasts a lifetime. The refurbished water complex hosts a brand new fresh design alongside an array of exciting family friendly water features. These include an exhilarating new flume slide, exciting wave machine, a fully-fited, themed children’s pool with fun features such as tipping buckets and new water slides together with a multilane pool for committed swimmers. To top it all off guests can enjoy a new Milly’s coffee and cookie bar. There is no question of Hafan y Môr resting on its award-winning laurels. The management team has just unveiled its next ten year Strategic Development Plans that include over £21million of investment, including additional facilities, restaurants, Owners Club and more caravan and lodge developments as well as the demolition of the remaining apartment accommodation. This is in addition to the continual investment in the park environment and landscaping, and supporting the diverse ecology on the park.

 

 

Jewels In The Crown

Jewels In The Crown

ABOVE: Lady’s Mile Holiday Park was named as joint winner of the Holiday Park Pool Of The Year title.

ABOVE: Lady’s Mile Holiday Park was named as joint winner of the Holiday Park Pool Of The Year title.

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.

For More on Park Pools Of The Year Click Here

Hidden Entrapment Danger Strikes

Hidden Entrapment Danger Strikes

A four-year-old British girl is recovering after being sucked into a spa filter at a hotel complex in Bulgaria.

A four-year-old British girl is recovering after being sucked into a spa filter at a hotel complex in Bulgaria.

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.”

Fresh Approach

Fresh Approach

Peter Bull Resorts purchased Newquay View Holiday Park in 2014 and have since invested £2 million in upgrades to the facilities and general appearance of the park.

Peter Bull Resorts purchased Newquay View Holiday Park in 2014 and have since invested £2 million in upgrades to the facilities and general appearance of the park.

Purchased as a run-down park with a bad reputation for attracting the wrong sort of crowd to Newquay, Peter Bull Resorts has achieved a complete 180° turnaround at Newquay View Holiday Park in just three seasons. The group purchased the park in 2014 and has invested over £2m to improve the holiday fleet, refurbish and introduce new facilities and completely upgrade the general appearance of the park.

 

In fact, last year the park welcomed almost 19,000 holidaymakers and there are plans to further expand and enhance the facilities in the next 12 months. “Our ambition is to become a five star park, with all of the modern facilities and activities that guests expect from a resort,” reveals Barry McGregor, Managing Director at Peter Bull Resorts. “Having replaced every single hire fleet caravan since 2015, we now have planning in for a modern fully landscaped touring park with 85 fully serviced pitches and top notch amenities.”

He adds: “Newquay is all about outdoor living and we want to champion Porth as a top class destination.” Newquay View has the benefit of being very close to Newquay and all that it has to offer in the way of restaurants, pubs, clubs, beaches and attractions; but the park is set back in a peaceful valley with beautiful surrounding countryside, allowing our guests to enjoy the best of both worlds.

The park is managed on a day-to-day basis by General Manager Sue Hogg, who has over 30 years’ experience in improving customer experience and sales for top leisure brands

The park is managed on a day-to-day basis by General Manager Sue Hogg, who has over 30 years’ experience in improving customer experience and sales for top leisure brands

HIRE FLEET : On the park is a hire fleet of 75 caravans, ten glamping pods and over 100 touring and camping pitches. In addition there are over 110 holiday home owners on-site and 60 seasonal tourers. For the 2017 season, the park will be adding two Swift S Pods to its offering as a luxury glamping option. “We now have a strong base of holiday home owners and touring customers, a new holiday fleet and glamping accommodation too.

Situated near the beach at Porth, just outside the main town of Newquay, the park is popular with the outdoor family market,” comments Barry. “Ultimately the most important thing is that people enjoy their holidays with us so that they want to come back year after year. To achieve this it is vital we work well as a team and also listen to our guests to ensure that we are providing them with everything that they need to make their time with us special and memorable.”

CORE TEAM : The park is managed on a day-to-day basis by General Manager Sue Hogg, who has over 30 years’ experience in improving customer experience and sales for top leisure brands including Bourne Leisure and Park Leisure. Sue leads a core team of 25 staff with the support of a Leisure Manager, Operations Manager, Entertainment Manager and Housekeeping Manager. Amenities on the park include a 22m indoor pool, sauna, steam room, an endless elite training pool, café, amusements, a nightclub, two playgrounds, an outdoor heated pool, a convenience store, a fitness facility and specialist sports coaching.

The park boasts an indoor and an outdoor pool, which are popular hotspots for holidaymakers

The park boasts an indoor and an outdoor pool, which are popular hotspots for holidaymakers

There’s also an on-site surf school, Blue Surf, which gives lessons at nearby Watergate Bay. The park also supports the local community by making its facilities available to all neighbours. The indoor pool is used for weekly training and lessons by several local schools, the surf rescue services, local swimming clubs and the emergency services. Many Cornish organisations use the Venue Club to host their presentations or awards dinners, theatre productions, weddings and local events. “The bulk of our customers are families during the peak seasons, but we are increasingly seeing a growth in the couples and very young family market during the shoulder seasons and this is something that we are keen to encourage as we are now open all year round,” Barry explains.

He adds: “The biggest challenge that the park faces is providing high quality holidays to increasingly discerning customers, some of whom have never stayed in Cornwall before. Newquay View has required record levels of investment, which is challenging for owner managers, and higher staffing levels to manage facilities that will be flat out.”

Holiday Snaps

Holiday Snaps

snaps

Neil Ainsworth
Head of Operations & Retail at Bunn Leisure

After spending eight years working for Bourne Leisure and three years with Bridge Leisure, Neil moved to Bunn Leisure in West Sussex in January 2016 to become Head of Operations and Retail. His responsibilities include oversight of all retail experience at the Bunn site; bars, catering, shops and the Oasis pool complex.

You’ve spent most of your career working in holiday parks, how have they changed?

Without a doubt it’s our visitors’ expectations – they have risen enormously. The difference in expectation when I started with Rank in the early 1990s to now almost can’t be compared. What visitors expect to see in their caravan; anything from double-glazing to central heating, plus the basic functionality of them has risen and so has their expectation of how their children will be entertained, both during the day and the evening.

What’s the most important aspect of your job?

It’s got to be the ability to understand the business from the customer view. I think it helps that I’ve spent a number of my holidays in the past either on holiday parks. If you’ve enjoyed this type of holiday it gives you invaluable experience to bring to the job.

Anything specific you’ve taken from your own experience at these places?

I remember being at Disney and noticing that the team there all had name badges which wasn’t particularly innovative but then they’d include the place they came from, such as ‘Jake from Denver, Colorado’. I introduced that at one of the parks I used to work on for Bourne Leisure. Little things like that can make a big difference – critical non-essentials, I like to call them!

What is the main focus of the retail side of holiday park work?

Ensuring good and consistent working practises and looking at everything we sell and how we sell it. I’m always looking into new ways and new products to retail – what do our customers really want to see in our shops, bars and restaurants – and how we can help our guests buy our products at the best possible price.

Is live entertainment still important?

Absolutely. I think we’re miles ahead on this - we spend more than £1.5 million a year on entertainment at Bunn Leisure and our guests and owners really appreciate it. They love the idea that they are getting world-class performers, such as Billy Ocean or Heather Small, as well as the activities we produce for teens and children.

 It sounds as if children and young people are increasingly the key?

If they are it’s because we attract so many families and one of the reasons for that – and for UK holiday parks still being so popular - is because it’s a safe and secure environment for children. There’s a feeling here that you can allow your children to roam free and enjoy a wide range of activities and facilities. When I was a child you could go out and play in the street but parents are far less likely to let their children do that now so it’s great they can still do this in holiday parks.

Swim To Win

Swim To Win

swim

Even parks with the most basic of wet leisure facilities can maximise the potential their offering with a few simple measures that will broaden appeal.

With water leisure at the top of many visitor priority lists, it is vital for holiday parks to continuously not just meet but exceed demands for safe and fun aquatic facilities.

Even parks with the most basic of wet leisure facilities can maximise the potential their offering with a few simple measures that will broaden appeal and keep the guests coming back time and time again.

“The pool is a vital tool in attracting and retaining new customers,” explains Kevin Christopher, leisure manager at Swanage Bay View Holiday Home Park in Dorset. “We do our utmost to provide an extensive range of pool-based activities, and are continually improving these to ensure that guests are more than satisfied with the offering.”

The indoor heated swimming pool at Swanage Bay View is open to guests and the public, and sees around 50,000 users on average each year. The pool plays host to an assortment of water activities as well as swimming sessions, including snorkelling, aqua fit classes, pool parties and the increasingly popular Waterwalkerz, which can be hired by guests on request.

Kevin comments: “We run Waterwalkerz sessions every weekend for our younger guests between the ages of five to sixteen, at a cost of £5 per session. “We have had the two Waterwalkerz for just over year now and they are certainly one of the most popular activities we run at the pool.”

swim2

The Waterwalkerz at Swanage Bay View Holiday Park are a popular attraction at the poolside.

Haven holiday parks make the most of their swimming facilities by offering swimming lessons for children, amongst other pool-based activities. In partnership with the Swimming Teacher’s Association (STA), Haven provide Learn2Swim sessions for guests aged four and above, as well as parent and child Water Confidence sessions for youngsters between six months and three years of age.

Gordon Bush head of sports and leisure for Haven comments: “Many of our parks offer sessions to team members and their families and have also worked in partnership with local communities by inviting local schools onto park to access our lessons and facilities.

“Last year we taught nearly 18,000 guests in just one of our lessons. We trained a further 75 swimming teachers in 2014 and will look to train a further 60 in 2015 so that we can deliver this life skill to our guests of all ages.”

The indoor teaching pool at Haven Holiday Park in Burnhamon- Sea was recently transformed into a highly interactive water play area aimed at increasing water confidence among youngsters. Supplied by Hippo Leisure, the pool now features a short mast which supplies two interactive water channels with a flow of water. There are also large tipping buckets, water wheels and shark showers, which are suspended above the pool on a span pipe, with high level water spraying, tipping and showering at regular intervals.

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Campaign Calls For Tourism VAT Cuts

VAT Cuts

Findings by the Cut Tourism VAT campaign reveals that the UK’s tourism industry would be significantly better off if VAT was reduced from 20 per cent to five per cent. Pic: VisitBritain.

Campaign Calls For Tourism VAT Cuts

Pressure is mounting on the government to cut VAT on UK tourism, after thousands of businesses and politicians signalled their support for a nationwide campaign.

The Cut Tourism VAT campaign believes the industry would be £4bn a year better off, and lead to the creation of up to 120,000 new jobs, if Britain fell into line with Europe and reduced the levy from 20 per cent to five per cent.

A cut in VAT would also increase the appeal to visitors from overseas already struggling with a strong pound, campaigners claim, helping the British tourist industry to compete with low-taxed European and American attractions.

Graham Wason, chairman of the Cut Tourism VAT Campaign, said: “This new research is the economic proof the Treasury has asked for to prove what every other country in Europe knows – that cutting VAT on holidays is profitable for governments.

“Many of our coastal towns are ignored but cutting VAT would help them thrive. More than 60 cross-party MPs have signed our parliamentary motion and more than 1,000 companies and groups are backing the campaign.”

Campaign supporter Dermot King, managing director of Bourne Leisure commented: “As the pound continues to strengthen against the Euro, the gap in price competitiveness between the UK and her European partners widens. Outside of the London bubble, UK tourism continues to try to compete with not just one but increasingly two arms tied behind its back.”

Tourism is one of the UK’s largest industries – employing over 3.1 million people and generating £127bn for GDP in 2013 – and campaigners say a cut in VAT would give a vital boost to regional businesses and economies reliant on the industry.

Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the British Hospitality Association said: “As the driving force behind our recovery, it’s vital we help smaller firms grow. No one denies the cut would dent tax revenues initially but only briefly, so this is a chance for politicians to prove they are really in it for the long by making an investment in an industry which is the UK’s biggest employer of young people.”

Net Gains

Net Gains

Net-Gains

The caravan and holiday park sector is recognising the value of cashless card systems like Embed.

Startling figures from internet giants, Google, show that more than 80 per cent of Brits use the internet to research their holidays.

With more holidaymakers than ever then going on to book their holidays; from holiday and touring parks to caravan and campsites.

Sharp and effective websites with user-friendly online booking systems, search engine optimisation, e-blasts, apps and cookiebased promotion – the e-marketing revolution is here and is ignored at your peril.

“In today’s day and age, it’s more important than ever that park operators keep pace with technology – especially when it comes to maximising online bookings and sales,” urges Niall Norris of management software CampManager.

Net-Gains-google

E-marketing is not just about selling holidays, but also about user-friendly booking systems.

“There are basic principles, which if adhered to can really make a difference to a park’s online booking service,” Niall adds.

For a visitor to the website, the online booking system should be straightforward and easy to use, and clearly provide the visitor with all the information they need to book their stay. It must be logical, with quality pictures and descriptions so that customers can make their preferred selection.

“Customers like to feel comfortable and secure as they navigate around the website booking pages. Having the booking page designed in the same style as the website and having the payment taken directly from the website page considerably helps this, and directly increases the number of online bookings made,” advises Niall.

MAKING IT EASY

Equally, the system should be just as simple for the reservation team to use, making it easy for them to carry out tasks such as taking payment, amend bookings, calculate tariffs, generate arrival and departure reports and undertake online marketing initiatives.

“A common mistake that park owners make is using a system more suited for hotels,” says Niall. “A more flexible booking system is required for campsites and caravan parks, as the accommodation options are far more complex, plus all of the added extras available.”

“A key advantage of having a web based booking system that operates from one platform, is that when an online booking is made it immediately goes into the management system, therefore avoiding mistakes and errors.”

CampManager is fast becoming a popular choice for campsites and caravan parks looking for a complete management and booking system that is efficient and easy to use.

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Families Claim They’re Held To Holiday Ransom

ransom

Travel and teaching associations are proposing a shake-up of the school calendar so that holidays are more evenly spaced, to relieve the demand for holidays during peak times. Pic: VisitBritain.

Families Claim They’re Held To Holiday Ransom

Holiday providers have been accused of ‘holding parents to ransom’ in a flurry of media controversy surrounding the higher cost of holidays taken during school holidays.

In a price check survey, Holiday Park Scene compared the costs between ten leading holiday parks for a family of four on a week’s break in the first week of July and the first week of August. All of the breaks Holiday Park Scene looked at were more expensive during the school holidays, with most costing between 17 per cent and 78 per cent more when taken in August.

James Silvertone of Bourne Leisure comments: “We offer a very different experience on our school holiday breaks, compared to our term time breaks. It is misleading to compare the price of a school-holiday break and term-time break without understanding that two break types are very different,” he explains.

“We design our school holiday breaks around families with school-aged children which means we can offer a greatly expanded and enhanced range of entertainment and activities. We also pride ourselves on making sure that on every break we provide a range of options to families with different budgets.”

Dismayed consumers are less than happy about the out of term increases with many taking to social media and online blogs to vent their frustrations. A complaint from Paul Cookson, a father to three, drew masses of support on Facebook earlier this year and an e-petition calling for the rule on term time holiday fines to be reversed attracted more than 200,000 signatures.

Parents trying to save money by travelling in term time have faced hefty fines from education authorities for removing their children from school. Justine Roberts CEO of online family resource Mumsnet told Holiday Park Scene: “Three quarters of our users told us they think holiday companies are exploiting parents who have no other choice about the dates they travel.

“Obviously it’s hard to refute the laws of supply and demand but equally looking at it from a cost plus basis, holiday companies seem to be happily making extraordinary profits out of families and not surprisingly many feel they are being ripped off as a result.”

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Butlins Defends Holidaymakers’ Legal Action

BUTLINS

Over 200 holidaymakers are suing Butlins after suffering a gastric illness while staying at the Bognor Regis resort between May and July 2011.

Butlins Defends Holidaymakers’ Legal Action

Butlins’ parent company Bourne Leisure says it will ‘robustly defend’ legal action being taken by more than 200 holidaymakers in relation to problems at their Bognor Regis resort in 2011.

Legal firm Irwin Mitchell is representing more than 215 holidaymakers following a denial of liability by Bourne Leisure. Court proceedings relate to an outbreak of illness at the Bognor Regis resort between May and July 2011.

The holidaymakers are said to have cited a range of issues at the resort, including undercooked food, flies seen on and around food, pigeons on tables, rude staff, managers ignoring requests for help and asking ill guests to leave early, sewage smells around the resort, a cloudy swimming pool with slime around the edges, and failure to clean communal areas.

Elizabeth Tetzner, at Irwin Mitchell, who is representing the holidaymakers said: “Our clients have given us worrying accounts of their stays, including concerns regarding cleanliness, standards of food preparation and service as well as their treatment by staff.

"Bourne Leisure has denied liability and as such our clients have been left with no other option than to issue court proceedings as they seek justice for their ruined holidays.

“Gastric illness can have a devastating impact on people’s health and the effects of it cannot be underestimated,” she said.

In response, Butlins issued a statement, which read: “We will robustly defend this speculative action raised at the High Court in Birmingham. We operate our resorts to the highest health and safety standards and work closely with the Health and Safety Executive to ensure that our guests’ safety takes priority.

“Our standards of cleanliness and hygiene are recognised throughout the tourist industry worldwide. Such is our reputation on health issues that environmental officers from around the UK have described our policies and procedure as outstanding.”