Making It Count

Making It Count - Title Pic

Making It Count

Never under estimate the value of first impressions, advises Ashleigh Bissett…

You’ve heard it said that you never get a second chance to make a good, first impression. Not only are first impressions registered with lightning speed, but they also last a surprisingly long time. As we head into winter, what better time to evaluate your outdoor areas and carry out the necessary modifications to make your guests’ first impressions count in time for the 2019 season. Quick fixes could be something as simple as adding more benches or sprucing up your garden displays.

If outdoor spaces are well maintained, they will encourage user-participation by inspiring visitors to be outdoors in the grounds, making full use of the facilities. “We believe it’s important to keep outdoor spaces well maintained as this is one of the first impressions visitors will experience at your park,” comments Stephen Toone, Managing Director of Fordingbridge – a leading manufacturer of canopies, walkways and inspiring buildings. “Your clientele are more likely t o return to your site and recommend to their friends and family if the external appearance is tidy and up together.” He adds: “With more competition than ever before within the holiday park and leisure sector, attracting customers with new and engaging ideas are vital to achieve this.”

Making It Count 2WEATHER-PROOF

Experts in creating communal spaces, Fordingbridge has supplied the holiday and leisure sector for many years. Their range of canopies and walkways provide rain and sunshine protection, to ensure that outdoor areas can be used all year round. “Downpours are not a problem with our canopies and walkways,” explains Stephen. “This will provide you with a competitive advantage and provoke word of mouth about how versatile your park is in all weathers. “Likewise, our statement buildings can be designed and built to any purpose. For instance, if you are planning an on-site café or perhaps a crèche for children, one of our buildings will fulfil that criteria.

With offsite construction methods, it shortens the lead time over traditional bricks and mortar.” Hoburne Holidays operates seven holiday parks in the South East, the outdoor areas of which are maintained by in-house teams of maintenance and leisure staff. Hoburne’s parks with activity areas were re-designed in time for the 2018 season and the company regularly monitors customer feedback to ensure its parks meet customer expectations. “A Hoburne holiday is about doing what you want at your own pace and we want to provide outdoor spaces where there is plenty to keep everyone busy and bring families together in one area to have fun,” explains Jake Harrison, Group Operations Manager for Hoburne Holidays.

Making It Count 3LASTING IMPRESSION

“Therefore it’s essential to keep these areas well maintained so customers want to use them and feel safe whilst on holiday. We also ensure all our planting and green spaces are well maintained at all times to ensure a lasting impression.” The company maximises the outdoor space available at each park to its full potential by putting all the activities in one area and having a mixture of activities for all ages. The younger children can be entertained in the play areas whilst not far away the teenagers can be using the adventure golf or the multiuse games areas for football or basketball. The spokesperson explains that the biggest challenges faced with the parks’ outdoor spaces is the unpredictable weather, staffing, and making them low maintenance but suitable for high usage. “Our objective has been to make sure there is plenty to keep everyone busy but in one area meaning something for the whole family. We wanted our outside spaces to provide a fun and healthy environment for our guests,” says Jake. “My advice is to offer food and drink amenities where possible and make sure you have plenty of seating available.”

In contrast to some of the larger holiday operators, Park Owner Victoria Bowrey runs Back of Beyond Touring Park in Dorset and does all of the grounds maintenance herself to keep costs at a minimum. “To employ landscapers is costly, so I am learning as I go along and have taken advice from professional landscapers and garden centre staff along the way who have made suggestions as to what to plant,” says Victoria. “Well-kept outdoor areas are essential as it reflects the overall image of the park. If the flowerbeds and grounds are not maintained to a high standard then that immediately suggests that the park is not cared for or well managed.” Open to adults only,

Making It Count 5Back of Beyond Touring Park is set in rural Dorset and boasts 80 pitches with electric hook-ups, 40 camping pitches and a glamping village, as well as an amenities block, reception and shop. Victoria takes pride in the park’s outdoor areas and keeping them well looked after is a high priority all year round. She comments: “As we are 30 acres we can't possible compete with beautiful natural foliage, however, we make the most of the busy areas of the park, such as the reception and shower blocks by planting carefully selected flowers, bushes and trees.

“We have learned to choose plants that blend into the environment and that come back every year. We are also particularly conscious of helping the bees at our park. We plant very few bedding out plants in favour of lavenders, alliums, verbena, ornamental grasses and easy care plants such as sedums. My advice is to go for plants that make a statement and also not to be scared to try out new things - even if they don't work!” Victoria says that time is the biggest challenge she faces in maintaining the park’s outdoor spaces: “Having enough time to keep the park’s outside areas ship-shape can be difficult, which is why we tend to choose easy-care plants that come back each year. At the moment we are still new so we are building up on what we have but we do try and add new plants to the landscaped areas every year.”

COMPANY CONTACTS

BACK OF BEYOND TOURING PARK
Tel: 01202 876968
www.backofbeyondtouringpark.co.uk

FORDINGBRIDGE
Tel: 01243 554455
www.fordingbridge.co.uk

GREENMECH
Tel: 01789 400 044
www.greenmech.co.uk

HOBURNE HOLIDAYS
Tel: 01425 689293
www.hoburne.com

NBB Recycled Furniture
Tel: 0800 1777 052
www.recycledfurniture.co.uk

THE UK RAMP CO.
Tel: 01923 678432
www.modularpumptracksuk.com

Christmas Switch On

Christmas Switch On 2Christmas Switch On

Shrewsbury’s glowing reputation for its Christmas lights display has rubbed off on a popular caravan park in the town. Every year, Oxon Hall Touring Park and Oxon Pool Holiday Home Park have an official switch-on of their own impressive Christmas lights a few days after the town’s lights ceremony. The 2018 switch-on will be celebrated with a hog roast on November 17, which is free for holiday home owners on the park and people staying on the touring park. In return, the managers will ask for a donation to the Motor Neurone Disease Association, the charity chosen by parks owner Morris Leisure and sister company Morris Lubricants in 2018. Last year, the parks raised £2,865 for The Alzheimer’s Society.

Morris Leisure
info@morris-leisure.co.uk
www.morris-leisure.co.uk

Growing Market

Growing MarketGrowing Market

Senior executives from the Caravan and Motorhome Club took a behind-the- scenes look this autumn at a major Lake District holiday park which is meeting new staycation opportunities. Skelwith Fold in Ambleside was the venue for the visit following a study tour earlier in summer to the Club’s Coniston Park Coppice by members of BH&HPA’s Cumbria branch.The delegation was headed by the Club’s director general Nick Lomas, and the aim was to see how one of the organisation’s commercial counterparts was adapting to an evolving market. Skelwith Fold director Henry Wild, who led the tour of the 130-acre grounds, said there was ample evidence this year that the demand for holidays in the UK was continuing to rise. The trend, he believes, is helping to introduce more families to the notion of a British park holiday, especially via “glamping” with its appeal to a very broad spectrum of visitors.

Skelwith Fold
Tel: 01539 432277
www.skelwith.com

Fit For Purpose

Fit For Purpose - Title Pic

Fit For Purpose

Look before you leap on holiday let hot tubs…

Educated estimates put the number of hot tubs in a holiday let setting, throughout the UK and Eire, at between 3,500 and 5,000 installations. Good news for some, with seven out of ten bookers looking for a hot tub with their holiday let while accommodation promoted as being supplied with a hot tub will generally sustain increased rates of around 30%.

The bad news is that any of those hot tubs, installed pre 2018, are probably out of date and do not comply with current regulations of HSG282. Not a problem, some would say, fiercely clutching their risk assessment paperwork. Not a problem, that is, until there is a high profile incident which will send the prospects for hot tubs and their non-conforming holiday park operator, down a rather large drain. “If you speak to any online booking agent they will usually place a hot tub in the top three options search or ticked; people really do want one,” says Dan Johnson of Marquis Spas, that markets a fully-compliant range of hot tubs for the holiday let market. “While some dealers have been specifying or retro-fitting continuous feeders to outdated models, the bather capacity and water turn over rates, will still make many hot tubs fall foul of HSG282,” explains Dan. “I think the big operators are paying attention as they understand the power of the HSE and thus the importance of following guidelines – it is built into their management infrastructure,” adds Dan.

Fit For Purpose 2POOR ADVICE

“My worry is people are getting poor advice from companies who are unaware or choose to ignore the guidelines because their product does not comply,” agrees Gareth Jones, of UK Leisure Living, the reigning UK Hot Tub Retailer Of The Year. “I would emphasise that 95% of our customers take the advice we give but there is a small percentage who disregard them dismissing them as just guidelines. “Some companies change their hot tub stock every two years however, we believe, between five and ten years is achievable, if they are properly looked after and investment has been in a quality product from the start,” Gareth emphasises.

Jessica Anthony of Award Leisure, UK distributors of Coast Spas, agrees. She warns of false economies: “If you think its expensive buying a better spa, wait until you find out how much it costs in the longer term, to buy a cheap equivalent.” Jessica also believes passionately that knowledge is power and that properly trained staff are essential. “Consistent attention to water quality that is clean and well-balanced is important,” she says. “Over-chlorinated water, which is a solution to inefficient system, effects the user’s skin, respiratory system and even their bathing costumes. “Over chlorination also has a detrimental effect on the plastics of the spa and erodes the filters,” warns Jessica. “It causes skin issues, upset stomachs, eye and ear infections, sickness and serious illness.”

Fit For Purpose 5

The award-winning Rotospa currently have units fitted in excess of 110 holiday parks throughout the UK and Eire. “There are several important criteria when considering which spa would be best for you,” emphasises Rotospa’s Jason Smith. “If your spa isn’t fully HSG282 complaint, or you aren’t sure how to make it compliant, you really need to discuss this with the supplier as it is key when providing spas in a holiday setting.” Buoyed by 15 years’ experience supplying to the holiday park sector, Rotospa have now developed a fully compliant HSG282, holiday park specific spa.

CUSTOMER SAFETY

“As a manufacturer we have a responsibility to ensure people have a product fi t for purpose and that our customers are trained in product use and ensuring safety of their customers,” Jason says. “In the early days, it seemed that people paid little attention to the compliancy and people were selling domestic spas for a commercial setting with little or no guidance,” he adds. “Since the introduction of HSG282, businesses now need to be more aware of their responsibilities and as a company this is something we shout about, as it is a major considerate when purchasing a holiday spa.” Jason believes it is imperative that site owners are informed of the benef ts and opportunities that offering a hot tub as a part of their accommodation, can bring. He says: “Not only can they drive out-of-season bookings, but increasing occupancy levels by at least 25% and increasing revenue is essential.”

LEARNING CURVE

Fit For Purpose 3Dan Johnson of Marquis Spas agrees and warns: “I am aware that cases of infection are ongoing now, but are being settled out of court with NDA’s – I can only hope those who fall foul of poor operational controls learn from their mistakes. “I am seeing truly ancient hot tubs in situ, which is understandable as operators try to wring every last penny out of them and recoup their ROI, albeit as a false economy not only in running costs but also client experience,” says Dan.

“The real worry is someone will lose their life, that’d be tragic and pointless,” warns Dan and adds: “The damage would impact the whole sector as the HSE will come down on everyone hard and the Press will be extremely negative on hot tubs as a whole.”

COMPANY CONTACTS

AWARD LEISURE (COAST SPAS)
Tel. 07387 140283
www.sellhottubs.co.uk

MARQUIS SPA
Tel. 07722 187272
marquishottubs.co.uk/holidaypark

ROTOSPA
Tel. 0121 354 3428
www.rotospa.co.uk

UK LEISURE LIVING
Tel. 08450 343550
www.ukleisureliving.co.uk

Customer Satisfaction

Customer Satisfaction Title Pic

Customer Satisfaction

Greens Park homes are snapped up on recommendation…

With a career spanning some 35 years, Bill Green has seen a lot of changes in the residential parks industry but like all successful park owners he knows that customer satisfaction is key. Bill explains: “I always say to prospective purchasers, ‘Don’t ask me, my job is to sell homes. Go and have a walk around the park and chat with the residents to find out how they feel about living here.’ The people who live on your park are the best advertisement for your business.” As a young man, Bill spent many years working in Canada before returning to the UK and investing in rental parks. Today, Greens Park Homes owns two residential park home estates: the Wolds Retreat in Lincolnshire, and Pine Hill in Cambridgeshire. An exclusive, luxury estate for the over 50s, Green’s flagship park, Wolds Retreat, is set in 40 acres of beautifully-landscaped Customer Satisfaction - Bill Greengrounds in the heart of the Lincolnshire Wolds. Tranquil and scenic, the surrounding countryside is full of outstanding natural beauty and wildlife, and is popular with walkers, cyclists and bird watchers. The Roman town of Caistor is situated just a couple of miles away and provides many visitor attractions, shops, restaurants, fishing, and a choice of golf courses. Bill originally bought the site as a holiday lodge park 15 years ago but decided to apply for planning permission for a change of use to residential after repeated requests from customers wanting permanent homes. “It took over a year to get the planning permission in place,” explains Bill. “Our original application was refused and following a visit by the Secretary of State, and a number of agreed conditions, we were granted the licence.”

MINIBUS SERVICE

Two years of re-development later and the Wolds is now a shining example of a park planned with the customer very much in mind. At the centre of the park, a three-acre carp fishing lake is a popular attraction and there is a Customer Satisfaction Title Picminibus service to Caistor (one of the conditions of the planning permission) for residents. “We have a large site here but have deliberately chosen not to cram in as many homes as possible,” says Bill. “We have permission for 60 homes but the land could easily take 100 or more. We wanted to retain a feeling of space and privacy. On a lot of parks the homes are laid out in rows, which feels like an army camp! Our plots are twice the size of those at most other parks and dotted around the parkland in a freeform and natural way.” Out of the 60 homes, 25 are already inhabited, and the remaining 35 pitches are available for sale, including five show homes.

STEADY STREAM

Customer Satisfaction 4“We are very lucky to have a steady stream of enquiries,” says Bill, “but the attractiveness of the park really sells itself. Each home has a block-paved driveway for two cars and many have sheds, decking and even garages. Visitors to the park are always surprised at the size of the properties saying they are larger and better equipped than their traditional brick-built bungalows. All homes on site are also set up for mains utilities, which puts the control back into the resident’s hands and helps keep their expenditure low. This way is more economical for the home owner and the park owner too.” Having pre-booked slots with the major manufacturers is a key selling point, which expedites the process for buyer and seller. “There can be as much as a year long wait on many parks,” explains Bill, “but we have moved a cash buyer in as little as six weeks from home order before now. On average, from point of deposit to moving in date is two to three months for most of our residents.” Greens’ second park is Pine Hill, situated in a pretty location in open countryside between St Ives and Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire.

This site has been in the Green family for 50 years, originally being used for temporary accommodation for Council tenants. 15 years ago, Bill and his four sons, who all work in the family business, set upon a complete renovation of the park including new roadways, the provision of mains utilities, and major landscaping. Pine Hill now boasts 48 residential park homes; all are occupied and are quickly snapped up on the rare occasion that one is up for sale. Greens Park Homes is currently in negotiations to purchase a third park in the East Customer Satisfaction 5Anglian area and Bill says that they are always looking for interesting opportunities to either invest in existing parks, or land that is ripe for housing development. Like most Park Operators, Bill expresses some frustration with the limitations of the current planning framework and legislation. “The parks industry is steadily being cleaned up and rogue operators are thankfully few and far between nowadays,” says Bill, “but the negative profile of parks in the public eye still needs some work.” “Sadly, it’s a lot easier to get permission to develop holiday parks with many unwitting customers buying ‘holiday homes’, mistakenly thinking that they can live in them all year round. Making it more difficult to open residential parks, means not only a shortage of homes for the 50+, but prevents the mainstream housing market freeing up larger ‘brick and mortar homes’ for families and younger people. Things are moving forwards, slowly, but there is still a long way to go,” adds Bill.

Smart Hook-Ups

Smart Hook UpsSmart Hook-Ups

Rolec Services, one of the UK’s leading specialists in caravan electrical distribution and hook-up systems, has confirmed that its MID approved Smart Card metered hook-up systems for static and touring caravans are proving exceptionally popular. As a result of its bulk buying policy, Rolec is able to provide the lowest priced MID approved Smart Card hook-ups in the UK. In addition to providing Smart Card metered hookups, Rolec also supply individual MID approved Smart Card meters and MID approved credit meters for retro-fitting into existing static and touring hook-up units. For more information about Smart Card metering and MID approved meters in general, please contact the team.

Rolec
Tel. 01205 724754
www.rolecserv.com

Wish You Were Here – Brenda House Touring Park

Wish You Were Here - Brenda House Touring Park

Brenda House 3Brenda House touring park is a labour of love...

It had always been Fiona and Neil Sidebottom’s ambition to run a touring caravan park.

They purchased Brenda House, a mile or so from the historic town of Howden, in the East Riding of Yorkshire, that was built 1900 by the local brickyard owner. Through the years the site had been developed into a smallholding.

The park now has 24 hard-standing pitches, of which ten are designated as seasonal. These have been fully occupied since 2007 and most of the current occupiers have been with the park since then. All the work to develop the park and modernise the property was undertaken by the owners.

Brenda House Touring Caravan Park is exclusively for adults only, which includes all visitors to the site. Well-behaved dogs are always welcome, and the park offers a secure fenced off walking area at the very top of the site where dogs can be allowed off the lead.

Fiona and Neil take pride in having produced a peaceful and secluded caravan park located in idyllic countryside at the foot of the Yorkshire Wolds. It is set in three acres of land and has regular visits from barn owls, deer, kestrels and a myriad of bird species.

The touring park is open each year from March to October and sees many visitors repeatedly returning. It is such a popular site that Easter 2018 was fully booked by the first week in January.

Brenda House Touring Caravan Park
Tel. 01430 431189
www.brendahouse.co.uk

Young Entrepreneur Acquires Second Site

GraysYoung Entrepreneur Acquires Second Site

Best Park Homes has expanded its property portfolio with the acquisition of a mobile caravan park in Dunstable, following a funding package from HSBC. The site, which currently has around 40 residential units, joins Best Park Homes’ already well-established flagship park in Crays Hill, Essex.

The deal will fund improvements to the park, including approximately ten new homes and a renovation of the site’s grounds and communal spaces. Best Park Homes, based in Grays in Essex, is run by 20-year-old Alfie Best Junior, who has ambitious plans for the new park and for the business.

“The residential park homes sector is on the up and it’s an exciting time to be involved in the industry,” says Alfie. He adds: “This latest acquisition is the next step on the ladder for Best Park Homes and I’m looking forward to developing the park further over the coming year.”

Alfie established Best Park Homes in 2014, when he purchased his first residential park in Crays Hill at the age of 17. “The primary goal is to deliver high quality residential parks to the communities that we currently serve,” comments Alfie. “The long term plan is to continue to grow the business further with the addition of more parks to the portfolio in the future.”

Site Takes Shape

Site Takes Shape

Site Takes Shape

Work has begun on a new caravan holiday home park on the edge of the historic market town of Ludlow in Shropshire.

Morris Leisure is investing £200,000 in developing the new park for 36 caravan holiday home alongside its successful Ludlow Touring Park.

First phase work is expected to be completed in the spring and will see 20 pitches created. “It’s great to be able to develop a caravan holiday home park alongside the touring park and we now feel the time is right to press ahead with the work to bring even more sustainable tourism to Ludlow, which is a very popular destination,” said Edward Goddard, Morris Leisure’s Managing Director.

“We believe the new park is going to further enhance the local tourism offer and generate extra income for Ludlow and the surrounding area, which has got to be good news for the local economy.”