Homes For Life

HomesForLifeAmerican influences on a Lancashire group of residential parks...

A trip to Florida in 2003 with a group of fellow park owners proved pivotal to Michael and Julie Ward, owners of four residential park homes in Lancashire.
“We travelled to the States to enrol in two courses at the Disney Institute including ‘The Disney Approach To Quality Service’ and spent time visiting parks and manufacturers, including a park in Sebring,” Michael explains.
“At its centre was a huge leisure complex with swimming pools, tennis courts, a function suite, computer rooms… the park owners were promoting an active retirement and we were hugely inspired.”
This American park became the catalyst for Michael’s vision for a new development: Acresfield.
Acresfield Park opened in 2010, an exclusive development of just 43, easily maintained, two bedroomed, detached bungalow-style properties, specifically designed for the over 55’s. The park is ideally located close to the historic market town of Garstang, where residents can enjoy shopping, golf, fishing, bird watching, as well as beautiful fell, canal and riverside walks. Acresfield is also situated just 30 minutes from the brighter lights of Blackpool and the coast.
HomesForLife2Nevertheless, Acresfield residents need never leave the park as it provides everything they need for entertainment on-site. Four years ago Acresfield Health Club & Spa opened. The club boasts a 15m swimming pool, sauna, steam room, Jacuzzi, a state of the art gym, a multi purpose hall for dance and fitness classes, indoor bowls, badminton and table tennis. There is also a bistro, hair studio, and a spa with three luxurious treatment rooms.

Club Membership

The Club is open for membership to the general public, however fi rst time purchasers of new homes on Acresfi eld Park receive free membership and homeowners on the other parks receive highly discounted membership. Michael refers to Acresfi eld Park and its attendant Health Club & Spa as the ‘jewel in the Residential Parks portfolio crown’. He is justifi ably proud. Last year, Acresfi eld Park and its adjoining sister park, Wyre Vale, featured on a Channel 5 documentary series. The episodes featuring the parks attracted between 1.2 and 1.4 million viewers, and resulted in many converts to the park home lifestyle.

“The TV series really showcased park home living at its very best,” says Michael. “We were inundated with enquiries and I think that this is probably one of the best pieces aired on TV, which depicts the excellent sense of community which park home living affords.”
It’s not all gloss and no substance… the Ward family are committed to providing their residents with ‘homes for life’. The parks, and their homes have been developed with a constant regard for the fact that the British population is an ageing one. The family is not only keen to promote an active retirement for residents, but they have also taken steps to ensure that they are providing homes that are accessible for those who suffer from disabilities, or the infirm. “To meet this challenge we designed, in association with two leading park home manufacturers, Prestige and Stately Albion, the Acresfield collection of homes,” explains Michael. “The homes have been very subtly adapted with wider doorways and turning circles for wheelchairs. Walls have been strengthened so that grab rails can be fitted if required, now or in the future, and low threshold shower cubicles or wet rooms are fitted as standard.”
HomesForLife3The homes also come with a 24-hour emergency call system and each home is fitted with a key safe to assist emergency access. Care for the environment and resulting cost savings have also been taken into consideration in the design and installation of the homes. “All of the homes are economically heated by mains gas; additionally, some have solar panels with under fl oor heating,” says Michael. “They are incredibly energy efficient and exceed the British Standard. Homeowners are also free to purchase their utilities from the supplier of their choice to find the best deal possible.”

Award Winners

The Ward family purchased their first residential park home estate in 1968. Michael and Julie are the second generation, becoming involved in the business in 1985. Winning Residential Park Owners of the Year, an unprecedented three times, over the years, their Parks have also won numerous Gold David Bellamy Conservation Awards including a Special Distinction Award. Michael and Julie own and operate four residential parks, one Holiday Park and a Health Club & Spa with the help of their daughter Sophie and son Alex. Their parks are all located in Lancashire: Gawthorpe Edge Park in Burnley, Lodge Park, Wyre Vale and Acresfield Parks in Garstang, and Merlewood Country Park, which is situated in the picturesque village of Little Eccleston.
Together, the parks extend to some 475 pitches. The close proximity of the parks means that the family can take a very personal interest in their day-to-day operation. They are supported by a loyal team of almost 40 people, many of whom have worked on the parks for over 30 years. “We really understand the importance of offering a quality service to our homeowners,” says Michael. “In this day and age, people are eager to criticise and less keen to commend, which is why we are so proud of our multiple resident-nominated awards.” The Ward family believe strongly that park homes such as these represent the perfect solution for customers of a certain age. As the demand for park homes increases, Michael believes that the Government needs to change its attitude towards park living.
Residents recognise park homes as acceptable, affordable housing and it’s time that the powers-that-be did too,” says Michael. “Park homes are an important provision within the housing sector for an ageing population and offer considerable flexibility, energy efficiency and cost savings. Local authorities need further encouragement to allow parks to expand and new parks to develop.”

High Water Demand

HighWaterDemandHigh Water Demand

A Rinnai HDC 1500e external unit, fuelled by LPG, was recently installed at a site in rural Herefordshire as part of regular upgrades on the complex the hot water was for a very specific function - the disabled, laundry and dog wash rooms providing, and it needed to supply more than 940lt/ hr at times of high demand. The unit has a maximum output of 54kW and weighs just 31kG. As this is a pre-manufactured unit, no additional flue or ancillaries required, aside from standard pipe and electrical connections. The installation was easily completed in less than a single day.

Rinnai UK
Tel. 01928 531 870
www.rinnaiuk.com

Under The Sea

UnderTheSeaUnder The Sea

Hippo Leisure has installed an ‘under the sea’ themed water factory and splash toys at the new children’s pool at Basingstoke Aquadrome. Hippo have provided a range of eye-catching, interactive water play features including a waterball, water wheels, tipping buckets, fish water squirts and interactive sensory wall panels. The features are designed to encourage children to learn through play and increase their water confidence as they explore and discover their aquatic environment. The new play features are sure to attract both returning and new visitors to Basingstoke Aquadrome this summer and provide ‘splashtastic’ fun for young children and toddlers.

Hippo Leisure
Tel. 01752 771740
www.hippoleisure.com

Pooch Power

Pooch Power - Dog Friendly Parks

Pooch Power

Dogs are one of the biggest winners of Britain’s holiday park boom with many more pooches now enjoying holidays, as part of the family, rather than being left at home in kennels. Park Holidays UK, for instance, confirms it welcomed more than 5,200 dogs in 2017, and is on target for even bigger figures this year. Overall, it says, guests bringing pets have risen by over 60% in the past three years. Now the group, which boasts 26 seaside holiday parks in southern England, has also decided that Rex will no longer have to ‘ruff’ it in budget Bronze accommodation. This year, the doors of selected Silver and Gold standard holiday homes are being fl ung open so that owners and their pets can enjoy their stay in style Park Holidays UK director Tony Clish said the move is designed to provide a wider choice for the growing number of people who are now opting for a UK holiday: “Staycations might be providing a big boost to Britain’s tourism economy, but it’s the nation’s dogs which have the biggest smiles on their faces,” he said. “Many families tell us they hated being separated from their pets when they went abroad, and felt guilty that their four-legged friends weren’t with them. “Our holiday parks are also a great place to exercise a dog on a lead as the grounds are virtually traffic-free, and all have nearby countryside and coastal footpaths. “Dogs benefit as much as humans from a change of scenery, and owners won’t be fretting that their pets are pining for them in expensive boarding kennels far away,” added Tony.

Holiday Resort Unity also offers a range of pet-friendly accommodation which equates to 15% of its total fl eet, as well as accepting pets on touring and camping fields. Last year, HRU say 9,432 dogs stayed with them. The company also allows holiday home owners to fence in their own gardens and this is a big draw when a dog-owning customer is looking to purchase a holiday home, so having a dog friendly venue is really important for the business. “Our location is a draw for customers with pets as we are a short walk from the sandy beaches of Berrow and Brean which stretches for nearly fi ve miles and from the other side of the park there are numerous footpaths that head out into the country side,” says Director Alan House. “We also have a designated dog walk area on the park which is very popular with guests and owners,” Alan adds. “With our pet friendly units, on our hiring fl eet, we have switched out carpets and replaced them with vinyl floor coverings to help with cleaning and we also have a number of units with fenced gardens.” With a new stretch of the England Coast Path just opened alongside Brean Leisure Park, an increase in the number of dog walkers would be inevitable. All pet owners would be welcome, said Alan, whether staying on the holiday park or not. Backing their pet-friendly mission, HRU’s Brean Somerset holiday park recently opened a new café, called Coast, which is welcoming both humans and hounds. HRU is putting pooches on a pedestal by offering them their own food and drinks menu when they visit with their owners.

Dog MenuAlfie and Poppy’s special menu includes starters, main courses and desserts – plus, of course, a selection of drinks such as Pawsecco and Bottom Sniffer Beer, both made for dogs. Instead of being forced to lie on a hard floor, Tysons, Milos and Max’s will have their creature comforts provided for by a soft blanket on which to recline. “We listen very carefully to our customers all the time, and their feedback on this issue was that they didn’t want their four-legged friends separated from the family at meal-times,” says Alan. “So when we created Coast, we decided to go the extra mile and not only invite dogs in to the café, but to present them with their own three-course menu to chew over. “Now we have solved everyone’s doggy dilemma at a stroke, and customer reaction has been brilliant!” he adds. Park Leisure, know that many of its owners see their pets as another member of the family, and there’s nothing worse than the prospect of having to leave your four-legged friend behind whilst you head off to make memories. That’s why every single one of their 12 parks are pet friendly, creating the perfect luxury home-from-home experience. Beautifully located across the UK in stunning country and coastal settings, many of our parks are perfectly placed just minutes away from spectacular dog-friendly beaches, pubs, and picturesque walking trails, creating an idyllic base for a getaway for the whole family. Home owners can obtain information about nearby dog-friendly destinations by popping into their owner’s lounge.

Approximately 50% of Park Leisure holiday home owners have dogs, and feedback demonstrates that the parks’ dog friendly facilities have been a real attraction when prospective customers are making a purchasing decision. Park Leisure ensures all facilities accommodate pets and their owners, with the following facilities currently available to dog owners: • Exclusive dog walking areas, offering a safe place for dogs to play freely • Disposal bins situated throughout the parks for easy dog-waste disposal • Designated drinking areas for dogs • An array of walking paths and routes to choose from, ranging from long adventurous walks to relaxing strolls • On-park convenience store offering dog related products Just recently, Malvern View Country & Leisure Park has added a custom-built, five-star treat and water station for the abundance of dogs on-site – one of Park Leisure’s most popular destinations for animal lovers, a whopping 60% at Malvern View are pet owners. For those who want to dine with their four-legged friends in tow, both Brynteg and Plas Coch Coastal and Country Retreats offer dog friendly restaurant and bar options. We hope you get the message. Holiday parks need to not just be Fido-friendly but specifically cater for our canine customers. For there is no doubting the pulling power of pooches when it comes to attracting and retaining a special breed of customer. Those who fail to heed the doggy command are truly missing out.

FOUR LEGGED FRIENDS

4 legged friendsWhitehill Country Park in South Devon has set tails wagging with the launch of extra dog-friendly features for four-legged guests. Further fanning the Paignton Park’s pooch appeal are new ‘dogs welcome’ caravans, including a boutique range for hounds looking to holiday in style. Better still, the family-run holiday park has also introduced a warm doggy shower which offers Fido a nose-to-tail makeover after a muddy walk. The new sprinkle-spa is one of many dog-friendly facilities found at the park with its dedicated pet exercise area and complimentary doggy bags available to owners. Whitehill Country Park marketing director Claire Jeavons says there has been a steady rise in demand for dog-friendly accommodation over recent years: “It’s estimated that around twelve million households in the UK own pets, including over eight million dogs of all shapes and sizes. “Dogs are always regarded as very much part of the family, and our aim at Whitehill is to make them feel just as welcome as their human counterparts by introducing more dog-friendly caravans, and features such as our new doggy showers.” The wide range of dog-friendly accommodation includes caravan holiday homes, luxury lodges, and touring and camping pitches. In addition, all guests holidaying with dogs are given a Whitehill Doggy Information Guide on arrival which highlights delightful dog-friendly walks and attractions found in Devon.

SETTING DOGGY TAILS WAGGING

Setting Doggy Tails WaggingFamily-run Beverley Holidays in Paignton set tails wagging with a Bring Your Dog To Work Day. Staff were joined in the workplace by their canine companions to support two top animal welfare charities as part of a nationwide initiative of which Beverley is an offi cial sponsor. Highlights of the day included a Crufts-inspired parade of pooches, a series of challenges to fi nd which pets had the Rex-factor, and a ‘Beverley’s Best in Show’ fi nale. The fundraising initiative coincides with news that the group has opened its doors to man’s best friend with a range of dog-friendly holiday caravans and facilities on Beverley Bay for 2017. Pet owners can now choose from a range of holiday caravans kitted-out for hounds who like to holiday in style, coupled with a dedicated dog exercise area. Its warm doggy shower is also proving a ‘pooch-tastic’ hit, providing dogs with privacy while they clean their muddy paws, plus an ‘A-la-bark’ menu, and Beverley Doggy Holiday Guide for guests. Beverley Holidays director Claire Jeavons, said: “Dogs are very much part of the family, and our aim at Beverley is to make them feel just as welcome as their human counterparts. “Our introduction of our dog-friendly caravans and facilities for 2017 is already proving very popular among owners and dogs alike,” she added.

 

FIDO-FRIENDLY HOLIDAY FACILITIES

Fido-FriendlyOver several years the Bridge Leisure owned Hedley Wood site, in Bridgerule, on the Devon and Cornwall border, has introduced a wide range of outdoor equipment to appeal to pet owners. New dog kennels have been introduced for 2018, with outside showers also available to help owners clean their pets after walks along the park’s own nature trail, or on the region’s many pet-friendly beaches. Dog bins are located across the park, helping guests keep the setting clean and tidy. The park has complemented the outdoor developments with the addition of new dog beds for every caravan, and doggie welcome packs including biscuits, bags and information about local pet-friendly attractions. Bridge Leisure has also turned an empty field into a dog agility course at its Hedley Wood It’s the latest in a series of developments that the business hopes will help it become the South West’s most popular pet-friendly holiday park. The new development was the brainchild of general manager Paul Murphy, who believes the addition of specialist dog agility equipment will create a talking point that encourages guests to spread the word about the park’s pet friendly credentials. Says Paul, “It’s not unusual for holiday parks to have a dog walking area for guests, but how many pull out all the stops to make this part of their park memorable? “Around 90% of visitors to Hedley Wood come with dogs, so we’ve decided we’re going to tailor our outdoor spaces to suit them. The feedback from pet owners has been terrific – they love the fact that we are putting them first.”

Smart Meters Compliance

Smart Meters Compliance

smart meters compliance

Meters installed by Landlords and Property Managers for submetering must now conform to the exactly the same standards as meters installed by the Electricity Supply Companies. Every new electricity meter or gas meter installed for billing purposes must be approved to MID (Measuring Instruments Directive) regulations. The use of unapproved meters is and to bill electricity or gas with a non-approved meter is classed as a criminal offense. A list of governing bodies, together with the instruments they have been designated to approve, is available on-line. MID approved gas and electricity meters can be identified by their specific markings, as required under the directive.

Dare To Be Different – GLAMPING

Dare To Be Different - GLAMPING

Dare 2 B Different - Title Pic

ABOVE: Tentsile's best selling signature model is the Stringray Tree Tent, Photo: Tom Kahler

 

With glamping bookings already up by 50% this year, the drive to provide something different has never been more urgent. Typical glamping offerings include wooden pods, safari tents, yurts and bell tents. Out of the box options are as likely to include fl oating houseboats, treehouses, converted airplanes and double decker buses, Dan Yates, who founded Pitch-up.com in 2009, says that right blend of accommodation mix is crucial in this increasingly competitive market. According to Dan, success in glamping depends on staying ahead of the game and choosing something that makes your accommodation ‘stand out from the crowd’. Ensuring superior facilities and customer service is key to keep up with increasing quality accommodation. And don’t forgo technology! “While some sites promote an ‘off-grid’ retreat, this is a small niche market and for the vast majority of customers, fast and stable Wi-Fi is a ‘must’,” advises Dan. In the 12 months to November 2017, Pitchup’s bookings for cabins were up 102%, micro-lodges up 114% and pods up 73%, says Dan. Rent-a-tents were up 151%, bell tents 77%, safari tents 73%, yurts 52% and domes 26%. “Many site owners fi nd that a combination of traditional pitches and glamping units that appeal to a new audience work well,” he explains, “Not least to reduce dependence on the weather!” Open for three years and constantly evolving, Wardley Hill Campsite offers guests a unique camping and glamping experience from a six-acre site in the picturesque Waveney Valley.

Owner, Joe Putman honed his camping skills working on campsites on the Isles of Scilly and in Dorset before putting down roots with his wife Holly and son in Norfolk. There are no neat rows of accommodation at Wardley Hill. Glampers can choose from a stunning Lotus Bell Stargazer tent, a huge Family Emperor Bell Tent, a locally crafted Sheperd’s hut, home-made Hammock hut and a Tentsile Connect tent suspended in the trees. “We wanted to offer a real ‘Swallows and Amazons’ experience,” explains Joe. “We have made a conscious decision not to have two of the same of any type of accommodation and in doing so, we’ve created something far removed from the typical holiday park.” “We have deliberately taken a very low-key approach to glamping,” says Joe. “As an industry, glamping is the trend that everyone has jumped on and it’s already becoming overcommercialised.” At Wardley Hill, the ethos is a very definite decision to celebrate the unregimented.

Wild flowers and grass are left to grow to encourage wildlife and the facilities offer an authentic back to- basics experience with composting toilets and open-topped showers. The family is constantly on the lookout for the next quirky addition to Wardley Hill. Joe is currently converting Camelot, an Eventide 26 sailing yacht to offer two-berth accommodation for those with a nautical bent, on land. Camelot is to be surrounded by a wooden deck with an outdoor fi re pit, whilst the interior will boast a wood burner and BBQ via the rear hatch.

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Top Of British Holiday Survey Pops

Top Of British Holiday Survey Pops

Above : The Away Resorts Survey showed Brits still want to head for their annual holiday getaway.

According to a recent survey by market-leading holiday park operator Away Resorts, 55% of Brits are taking their main holiday at a UK lodge or caravan park this year. Away Resorts is a UK holiday park operator, with six parks in Lincolnshire, Isle of Wight, North Wales, Hampshire, Hayling Island & Essex. It was the 35 – 44 and 45 – 54 age groups that picked lodge and caravan parks the most, suggesting that families and empty nesters are interested in an experience where the facilities and entertainment within easy reach. Carl Castledine, the Chief Executive of Away Resorts, said: “It’s great to see that the great British holiday continues to go from strength to strength. We British are taking more and more domestic short breaks throughout the year, but to see that a third of consumers are taking their main holiday in the UK just goes to show that our fabulous island can inspire people to stay here over far-flung destinations. “Away Resorts has six lovely resorts in stunning locations throughout the UK. From the vibrant coastal surroundings at our Mersea Island park to the luxury leafy tranquillity at our New Forest resort and from the serene waterscapes at Tattershall Lakes to the dramatic landscape of Barmouth Bay in Wales, it’s easy to see why we’ve seen an increase in visitors to our resorts too.”

BEACH LOCATION

In terms of where Brits will be holidaying, 44% of respondents will be taking their holiday next to the beach. So, if your holiday park is right near a beach, you’ll likely attract more bookings. Location has also proven to be a determining factor, with 60% saying the local area influences their decision to book in a certain place, followed by the accommodation type and thirdly, the facilities. This suggests that although accommodation is important for holiday makers, where they stay is mostly used as a base to explore the local area and get the most from their holiday. The majority of holidaymakers are willing to travel over four hours to reach their destination and most will be staying for six nights. Considering the beach is where most will be heading, this suggests Brits are willing to travel further to reach a beauty spot. Over 43% of those having a staycation return regularly to where they’ll be heading in 2018. Unsurprisingly, most respondents said they will be going away in the summer months. When asked how much their UK holiday will cost, most respondents, 32%, said they will pay £250 - £500 per person, excluding spending money. With only 14% of respondents saying their UK holiday will cost up to a maximum of £100 per person.

Sixty Years And Still Shining Bright

Sixty Years And Still Shining Bright

The Jeavons family celebrate six decades in business.

Reaching the major milestone of 60 years is no easy feat for any business, but family run Beverley Holidays is bucking the trend as it celebrates six decades of shining bright on the holiday park scene in 2018. Situated on the sunny English Riviera, Beverley Holidays was founded by Joseph Stanley Jeavons and his wife Marion in 1958 after they transformed 20 acres of farmland into their holiday park dream. Born in Wolverhampton, ‘Stan’ crowned the site Beverley in homage to his beloved Wolverhampton Wanderers FC who’s then captain Billy Wright was married to a member of the ‘Beverley Sisters’. Regarded as Britain’s first female pop group, the ‘Beverley Sisters’ became familiar faces at the Paignton-based holiday park where they regularly performed to its growing number of guests. Fast forward nearly half a century and while you won’t find the singing sisters treading the Beverley Holidays boards today, the forward-thinking philosophy of its founder ‘Stan’ remains the same. Now in its third generation of the Jeavons family, its owners continue to provide guests with the same holiday magic as it did more than six decades ago by constantly refining the guest experience. The last few years have been no exception, with a cool £3million invested in a fleet of super stylish hot tub holiday lodges and caravans for those seeking a seaside staycation with a sprinkling of glamour. As a fitting tribute to its 60 years of success, family run Beverley Holidays was officially named one of the top three best holiday parks in Britain at the prestigious 2017 British Travel Awards.

Calling Time On Single-Use Plastics

Calling Time On Single-Use Plastics

Park Cliffe's cafe has brought in paper straws and replaced sauce sachets while takeaway coffees and teas will now come in compostable cups.

Park Cliffe's cafe has brought in paper straws

A Windermere holiday park has become one of the first resorts in the industry to call time on plastic waste. Pre-empting even governmental moves, the forward-thinking Park Cliffe has announced a crackdown on plastic items which are designed for single use, including straws, bags, bottles, sauce sachets and coffee cups. From now on, holiday guests will be asked to join the park in helping to tackle the mountains of waste plastic accumulating in our oceans and rivers. Old fashioned paper drinking straws are being drafted in, and items once sold in plastic bags will be handed over in a biodegradable paper bags. Park Cliffe’s cafe has squeezed out sauce sachets in favour of condiments in glass bottles, and takeaway coffees and teas will now come in compostable cups. Or if customers bring their own reusable cups, a 25p discount will be offered.

BLUE PLANET

It is also pulling the plug on water sold in plastic bottles, and installing a filtered water dispenser so that guests can fill their own bottles free of charge. The park has taken delivery of a plastics recycling station so that the waste can be disposed of without causing pollution. Based on the shores of Windermere, Park Cliffe provides luxury holiday homes to rent and buy, glamping pod accommodation, and pitches for touring caravans, motorhomes and tents. “Thanks to programmes such as the BBC’s Blue Planet series, I think we’re all much more aware of the threats posed by plastic, and not least to wildlife,” said park co-owner Susan Dickson. “Footage of turtles and other marine animals trapped in plastic bags has made a big impact on many people, and we all know that a solution must be found. “Park Cliffe tends to attract those with a concern for the natural world, and they are very supportive of our steps to become more environmentally friendly,” added Susan. Waging war on plastics is not the park’s only move to protect the natural world, and Park Cliffe’s many awards include accolades for its care of the countryside. Earlier this year, the business also announced it was ditching diesel for many of the journeys made around the 25-acre park by parking up its Land Rover in favour of an electric vehicle.

British Tourism Oscars

British Tourism Oscars

Contenders for the British Travel Awards - which include entries from the leading holiday parks nationwide – have now been whittled down toBritish Tourism Oscars 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.