FAMILIES STILLWANT TO ENJOY traditional playground facilities

Independently commissioned research by leading outdoor play and sport provider Proludic has shown that the public still wants to see high-quality outdoor play facilities at leading leisure attractions across the UK. In 2018 Proludic researched what adults thought about play facilities at leisure and hospitality venues. The results were revealing and showed a clear relationship between the availability of play facilities and time spent at leisure venues. Furthermore, it led to greater loyalty.

There is a clear desire to see play as an integral part of the offering. Three years have passed since the last research. We wanted to revisit it to see the current situation, particularly in the aftermath of the global pandemic. We, therefore, asked the same questions to a randomly selected representative sample of 1000 adults. Over half (51%) of the respondents said play areas were an important consideration for them when visiting a pub, holiday park, or visitor attraction. Furthermore, 41% said they were more likely to book a UK holiday park vacation if they had made good provisions for children’s play.

As you would expect, this was more of a factor for families (83%) with children under the age of 16. The results clearly show that, despite the pandemic, families are keen to get out and about to tourist and leisure attractions with play facilities.

Tel. 0115 982 3980



DUE TO THE COVID crisis, UK holiday parks are attracting a new group of higher- spending consumers.

The revenue of the UK’s top 25 holiday parks has increased by 65% in the past five years, validating major investment in a sector that has performed strongly during the pandemic, says New Street Consulting Group, the leadership and people solutions consultancy. The incomes of the Top 25 holiday park groups have increased from £1.61bn in 2014/15 to £2.67bn in 2019/20. Even before the lockdown, warmer summers and a weaker pound are factors that have contributed to the rise in popularity of staycations in the UK, increasing by 14% between 2014 and 2019*. New Street Consulting Group says this long term rise in staycations has been one of the major factors behind the investment of private equity firms in this sector. Blackstone, the private equity giant, recently acquired Bourne Leisure, the UK’s largest holiday parks provider, whose estate includes Butlins. US based private equity fund KKR purchased Roompot, one of Europe’s leading holiday parks providers, in June last year, whilst Away Resorts is now owned by UK based private equity house Bregal Freshstream. New Street Consulting Group says holiday parks have been a surprise winner of the Covid crisis, having attracted a new group of higher- spending consumers who have been unable to or opted against going on cruise holidays or travelling internationally. The low density of guests at holiday parks makes them particularly suitable for social distancing, with groups being able to stay in separate buildings from other holiday-goers.

Several private equity houses that own holiday parks are embarking on large scale capital investment programmes in order to cater for increased demand. Parks are undergoing significant programmes of premiumisation in accommodation, food service and activities to ensure that clients gained in 2020 are retained when the market for cruises and other overseas holidays reopens. Investment is also being made into apps and digital enablement that allow customers to order food and book activities/entertainment without having to leave their lodges or mix with other guests. Richard Lindsay, Director at New Street Consulting Group, says: “Despite its fair share of challenges and impacts on income, the UK staycation sector is booming, with the holiday park industry in particular being one of the strongest performing parts of the leisure sector during the Covid crisis.” “Private equity funds’ interest in the sector is only going to continue. PE houses see holiday parks as a long- term growth prospect and not just a flash in the pan during the year of coronavirus.” “The changing demographics of those who visit holidays parks is likely to increase the speed of change in the sector. The opportunity to improve the perception of parks for the long term through major capital investment programmes is now likely to accelerate as we head towards summer 2021.”

Holiday Snaps – ft Graham Hodgson

Holiday Snaps - featuring Graham Hodgson

Founder and Chief Executive of Verdant Leisure Limited and runs a group of 10 parks in North East England and Southern Scotland. Born in Morecambe, Lancashire, Graham is married to Louise and they have two sons, Martin and James.


As an HSBC Bank Manager I had several caravan park operators as customers, one of whom was John Morphet and his business, South Lakeland Caravans. In 2001, John tempted me away from the bank to join him as Chief Executive and so started my second career in the caravan industry. We quickly set about improving and professionalising the business before selling it towards the end of 2007, just before the financial crash, at a handsome profit. This enabled me, alongside Bev Dixon, who was then Operations Director, to set up Verdant Leisure in 2010, with a new Finance Director, Andrew Wall.


The quality of both the parks and the accommodation that we offer in this industry has improved on all levels. Fundamentally, our customers still want the same thing, a place of their own to relax and get away with family and friends and our strap line ‘Relax, Explore, Experience’ remains as relevant now as it was when I started.


I think our industry has reacted fantastically to the pandemic to date. There was a lot of work going on collaboratively between the larger park operators including ourselves, and our trade bodies including the BH&HPA, NCC and UK Hospitality. I think that this coordinated approach was instrumental in enabling parks to re-open quite quickly following Lockdown.


Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.” While I think that this applies to life in general, it is equally appropriate to anybody in business. Too many people are focused on an end goal but that is just one moment in time. Whilst I certainly have a plan, I try to enjoy each experience as it comes, and, with hard work, success has followed.


I have always enjoyed lots of sports although playing has been replaced by watching over recent years! I spent 22 years as a Director of Morecambe Football Club, and this remains a big passion of mine


Winston Churchill – A flawed leader who achieved the most amazing things; Peter Kay – Always hilarious and would lighten the mood if the conversation became too intense; Mohammad Ali – One of the greatest sports personalities ever – and much more besides


Often ridiculed! I enjoy the classic groups from years ago – Dire Straits; Fleetwood Mac; Queen and the like. The music I grew up with has never really left me – some would say I should move on


I can juggle!


Barbados is my ‘go-to’ destination. I love it and hope to be able to return there soon.



HIT THE RIGHT TARGETS with your social media campaigns

Social media should form a key part of marketing your campsite or glamping business. Using Lisa Bullen’s personal experience of running a successful campsite, you’ll learn how to identify your target customers and promote your business to them using social media. Lisa understands how important it is to market your business to the right crowd, but also how time consuming and overwhelming it can feel. So, without further delay, Lisa Bullen presents a new course available to you for just £149! Please get in touch to discuss in more detail.

Social Media Sussex



Bespoke holiday park operator Verdant Leisure recently celebrated its 10th birthday in style with gifts for staff and holiday homeowners. Through its social media pages, Verdant gave away 10 holidays to one lucky family who has a child that turned 10 years old in September. Verdant Leisure runs ten UK holiday parks in spectacular locations across South East Scotland, Ayrshire, Dumfriesshire, Perthshire & North East England offering a wide range of accommodation from self-catering caravans, deluxe lodges to camping pods, glamping pods and touring pitches at selected parks.


Customers and staff have been at the heart of the business since it was born in 2010 – the brainchild of founders CEO Graham Hodgson, Commercial Director Bev Dixon and Finance Director Andrew Wall. The company employs over 300 staff and is passionate about building a solid team, who are invested in the brand and deliver exceptionally high customer service. As a testament to their engaged and happy employees, Verdant Leisure were awarded 13th Best Company toWork For in the Sunday Times 100 Best Companies List in 2020, 3rd in the North East and 9th Best Company in Scotland. “We value all members of the Verdant Leisure team and really treasure the people who make our company what it is. It has been the same since 2010 and each and every one of them has played a large part in our success, today is really about them and our customers – both new and existing,” says CEO Graham Hodgson. Verdant Leisure’s service levels ensured that 2019 saw 60% of guests booking again and the latest customer satisfaction survey results show that 95% of holiday guests would recommend Verdant Leisure to family and friends. “The 2020 customer base has shifted slightly, we’re welcoming lots of new customers into the Verdant family, many of whom may not have enjoyed a British holiday park break for a number of years,” continues Graham.

A significant number of new customers are also deciding to purchase holiday homes on Verdant Leisure’s parks as the post-Lockdown staycation uplift sees no signs of abating. Verdant Leisure was founded in September 2010 following a management buy-in of Dunham Leisure Limited, owners of Pease Bay and Thurston Manor Leisure Parks in South East Scotland. Verdant went on to purchase Viewfield Manor Leisure Park in Ayrshire in July 2011 and Riverside Leisure Park in Northumberland in 2012. Kingfisher and Heather View Leisure parks in Wear Valley, and Coldingham Bay were then acquired. Scoutscroft Leisure Park was purchased in February 2018 followed by Queensberry Bay in Dumfriesshire in October 2018. In January 2020 Verdant Leisure purchased Erigmore in Perthshire bringing Verdant Leisure’s portfolio to ten parks across Scotland and North East England. This deal continued the company’s growth strategy to create a strong regional group with significant scale, and Verdant Leisure remains keen to add further parks to its group over the next 18 months.

Verdant Leisure
Tel. 03300 535524




Pembrokeshire‘s Bluestone Resort, turned to KOMPAN to come up with a timber-based play design for an underused area of its Welsh resort. The task was to create a play area that had adventure but also a village theme for the village green area. As this was to attract people into the area, the play area had to be aesthetically pleasing and exciting to draw people into the area time and again. The client wanted an area where they could put on a show and children could watch it from the play equipment. The play area had to be constructed in three weeks, in limited hours of working, and with challenging access.

KOMPAN designed a village area that centred around a raised stage. The stage had pipework in it so that electrical cables could be channelled. The play area was constructed in three weeks by KOMPAN installers, on budget and on time. The village houses cater for very young children and children up to the age of 12. There are small houses as well as a large house with a 3m high net! The village coffee shop and public house has seen an increase In popularity and sales since the installation. The artificial grass surfacing made it inviting for people to sit or lie on. It has become the focal point of the village, where parents and caregivers can enjoy a coffee or two whilst the children play in the village green



WYBOSTON has invested in 24 charger points for its Bedfordshire resort

As Bedfordshire’s Wyboston Lakes Resort continues to search for opportunities and to introduce initiatives to be more sustainable, it has installed ten more electric car supercharger points for guests to encourage electric car usage. There is now a total of 24 charger points on the site. This latest development supports Wyboston Lakes Resort ‘2020 Green Objectives’ initiative, which includes reducing its carbon footprint by 50 per cent by 2025. The resort recently partnered with The Energy Check, specialists in minimising energy usage costs and CO2 to increase energy efficiency and reduce its carbon footprint as part of the strong commitment to its sustainability strategy.

Some of the initiatives already in place include the reduction of energy consumption throughout the venue by upgrading the lighting across site to the latest energy efficient LEDs which are turned off by movement sensors when a room is not in use, and ensuring energy ratings are considered as part of the purchasing decision for all new heavy equipment. The resort recycled over 20,000kg of cardboard waste in the last year, is continuing to fulfil its ‘Zero waste to landfill’ promise for the fifth consecutive year and actively supports the #20percentless campaign to cut back on single-use plastics each year




The Caravan and Motorhome Club has unveiled the winner of its Certificated Location of the Year Award 2020 as Woody Kiln Farm, near Milford Haven in beautiful Pembrokeshire. Certificated Locations (CLs) are privately-owned, maximum five- pitch sites found across the UK, open exclusively to Caravan and Motorhome Club members. The sites entered for the CL of the Year Awards are nominated by Club members, recognising the very best sites and rewarding hard-working owners who pull out all the stops for guests. Set on a small farm in the heart of the Pembrokeshire National Park, the only coastal National Park in the UK, Dean and Sharon Philpin opened Woody Kiln Farm CL in 2015. “Our aim is for visitors to be enjoying their holiday, relaxing and to be connected to all services within 20 minutes of arrival,” commented Dean and Sharon Philpin. “Visitors tend to really enjoy the farmland, which can be accessed for a daily stroll, or to exercise dogs and totals over 10 acres which is all lawned. “This includes a large pond, which has ducks, moorhens and swans at different times of the year.” All pitches are surrounded by peaceful paddocks where horses and sheep graze. There is a small orchard adjacent to the park and guests are welcome to sample the fruit. The site operates with hardstanding pitches which are well maintained.


Dean and Sharon Philpin continued, “We have continued diversifying from agricultural activities and in August 2019 set up a hair and beauty salon in a traditional stone building just outside the grounds of the CL. This has been incredibly popular with visitors – to the degree that a number of our visitors book on the CL and stay to coincide with hairdressing appointments.” Nick Lomas, Director General of the Caravan and Motorhome Club said: “The Certificated Location (CL) of the Year Awards celebrate owners who truly go above and beyond to give visitors the very best holiday experience. “Our network of around 2,300 CLs provide Club members with the opportunity to stay at unique locations throughout the UK. CLs are the jewels in the crown of our nationwide campsite network and we are delighted that over 80 new CLs have joined the network this year. “I’d like to congratulate all of the winners and wholeheartedly thank our CL owners for their hard work and dedication that helps to make lifelong holiday memories for our members.”



Spas clinch the holiday booking deal...

LADY’S MILE HOLIDAY PARK say payback on a hot tub can be as little as six months

Open 365 days a year and based in the picturesque location of Dawlish in South Devon, Lady’s Mile Holiday Park currently offers 90 hot tubs on its lodge and mini lodge accommodation. The multi-award winning, family-run park knows that hot tubs are a key component when sealing the booking deal. “Customers are asking for hot tubs as part of their booking requirements,” says Stephen Brown Lady’s Mile Holiday Park’s Operations Manager. “It is now getting to be an expectation rather than a luxury add on,” Stephen continues. Stephen confirms accommodation offering hot tubs are returning value for money. “Lodges with hot tubs command a 20% premium in the peak weeks and up to 80% premium in low income weeks due to increased levels of demand,” he confirms. “Payback on a hot tub can be as little as six months,” he adds. “We certainly will be looking to increase our hot tub range on lodges and high-end caravans for the foreseeable future.”


Lady’s Mile Holiday Park’s preferred spa supplier is Sunbeach Spas offering the holiday park sector five models in a ‘plug and play’ range, designed to run from regular household electricity supplies and starting from £1,995. “Whilst these tubs tend to be at the lower end of the price range we offer, they are not lacking in features and have everything holidaymakers need in a hot tub – easy to operate with space for all the family, and offer powerful jets, music and lights,” explainsWayne Green, Managing Director of the UK- wide Sunbeach team. “Holiday park operators also appreciate the fact that all our plug and play spas come with our R10 insulation, providing massive reductions in incidental heat loss over standard insulation, with savings of over 70% in test conditions.”


Sunbeach Spas also build their hot tubs with two separate pumps – one for circulation and one for jets, instead of the oft-used solitary twin-speed pump which performs both tasks with a single unit. “Whilst this has a marginally higher outset cost, it will allow for significant savings on overall costs – as holiday park hot tubs see significantly more use than general, the circulation pumps are running at maximum frequency to unsure the water is reheated and retreated at all times,”Wayne explains. This range has additional convenient features for the holiday park, including built in/non-removable headrests (no pillows to get damaged or stolen) and twin filters with inline chemical dispensers allowing for superior water cleansing, even whilst the tub is in use. “We have also developed an acrylic control panel housing to prevent unwanted tampering with the controls on systems which don’t have a user lock-out built in,” addsWayne. When considering large numbers of hot tubs running on the same site, the question of running costs becomes all important; even a small saving on a single spa will prove significant when multiplied across an entire holiday park, and so it is vital that any recommendation takes this into account. Wayne points out: “The common perception of the unbranded, low- cost hot tub was one of “cheap to buy, expensive to run”, with better insulation and power saving technology reserved for high-end hot tubs from well established brands. “Sunbeach Spas philosophy is that you can have the best of both worlds - the R10 insulation we build into each of our hot tubs won us the Spa Energy Efficiency Award at the 2019 UK Pool and Spa Awards and we continue to innovate to improve on that baseline.”


For holiday lets, simplicity the key, both from the perspective of the park and of their guests. The average holidaymaker does not want to have to wade through pages of instructions, so it is important that the chosen hot tubs are simple to operate, but also come with the features that make having a hot tub so appealing – relaxing jets, a good music system, fun lighting and so forth. SaysWayne: “From the park’s point of view, simplicity of installation, using plug and play systems to avoid unnecessary and expensive upgrades to the park’s electrical grid system.” All Sunbeach Spas holiday park customers are offered free training days, which are held on their own site (so as many of their employees as they wish can attend easily) and are conducted by one of the leading chemical supply companies in the UK. “We also offer on-site training with our own staff for hot tub operational training, as well as all year round, out- of-hours telephone support,” adds Wayne.


“CUSTOMERS ARE ASKING FOR HOT TUBS AS PART OF THEIR BOOKING REQUIREMENTS.” LADY’S MILE HOLIDAY PARK say payback on a hot tub can be as little as six months. - Stephen Brown, Lady’s Mile Holiday Park


“In our opinion, having a well-trained, on-site team is key for any holiday park; a hot tub breakdown, even if caused by the guests themselves, can sour an otherwise perfect holiday experience. Having an on- site team minimises downtime and will also be available for preventative maintenance,” Having hot tubs which are easy to maintain is vital to getting things up and running again smoothly. It’s equally important that the regular maintenance (cleaning, sterilising etc) is a hassle-free job, to ensure that the tub can be made ready for the next party of holidaymakers to use. “All our hot tubs have inline chemical dispenser options to keep the spa water clear and safe during their stay and minimising the impact on the clean down crew at the end of the stay,”Wayne continues. “In the last couple of years alone, we have seen the technology available on hot tub control systems jump forward.” New control systems are being developed all the time, with new features and ways of managing the spas more efficiently. But not all changes are suited to all cases, and it is easy to get excited about new features which are not of true benefit. One of the pitfalls of a hot tub at a holiday let is guests having the correct information on how to use the hot tub safely. “Most guests just want to just get in it and use it but if they don’t shower beforehand, rinse their costumes, not walk around in bare feet, drunk too much alcohol then their experience and safety can be at risk,” advises Sunbeach dealer John Threadgall of Yorkshire Spas. “We encourage holiday let owners to clearly display a user guide both next to the hot tub and in their welcome pack also giving users reasoning behind guidelines. “This information can prevent guests contacting the owners regarding dirty water, help quicker changeovers and help keep guests safe.”

Sunbeach Spas
Tel. 01623 706185



THE VISIONLIFT positions the hot tub cover to the back of the spa.

Specialist suppliers, Golden Coast has an extensive range of accessories designed to make the most out of hot tubs no matter what the season. When it comes to heating, costs can soar, but with the Dura Pro heat pump owners can cut bills by thousands. The inverter-driven air source pump heats water up to 40°C and maintains the desired temperature while operating on a lower current. This means it uses less energy compared to electric hot tub heaters, and the nominal current removes the risk of overloading the park’s power supply. Tried and tested even in cold temperatures as low as -15°C, Dura Pro is a high-efficiency pump that ensures consistent, year- round performance. If your hot tubs overlook picturesque scenery, be sure to maximise the impact by hiding the cover out of sight. The VisionLift hot tub cover lifter positions the cover to the back of the spa where it rests on the deck or patio — giving users an unobstructed view of their surroundings. The lifter is built from aluminium and high-strength galvanized steel with corrosion- resistant power-coating for long-term, maintenance-free use. When space is a premium, why not try the easy-to-install Cover EX lifter, which requires only 254mm of clearance space. It is suitable for most square and rectangular hot tubs and is built to last with robust aluminium brackets and reinforced double tubing on the bends. Adding steps to a spa can make access easier and safer for users. The Waterway step is made of durable UV-protected polypropylene, has large 838mm wide non-slip treads, and a sturdy 363kg weight capacity. It is perfect for all sizes of hot tubs and comes in a range of colours to suit the spa’s aesthetics.

Golden Coast
Te. 01271 378100