GREAT EXPECTATIONS

great expectationsGREAT EXPECTATIONS

Boosted by what was the hottest summer on record, the UK’s holiday park sector has never been so appealing. More Brits each year are continuing to enjoy all that the country’s parks have to offer - and what an offering it is. From quirky wigwams and shepherds tents to deluxe lodges and cabins, today’s holiday parks and campsites are better equipped than ever before for their increasingly discerning guests. Accommodation features that were once considered luxurious are now seen as the norm. Take glamping as an example. Nobody needs to be reminded of the rise and rise of glamping, but what is noteworthy is how such accommodation is fast moving from fringe to mainstream. Rather than just providing a handful of pods alongside their traditional holiday homes, some parks are now dedicating large sections of their grounds to a variety of glamping modules, creating in effect a mini-village for guests seeking this type of experience. There are also instances of parks swapping a number of their seasonal or touring pitches for this style of accommodation, purely as a response to customer preference.

BROAD APPEAL

Glamping is also broadening the appeal of taking a holiday on a park to couples and families who might otherwise not have considered the option. In many cases, this might have been because they hadn’t quite grasped the concept of what a park offers in terms of its rented accommodation, or simply because the guests weren’t keen on camping. By contrast, the idea of staying in a shepherd’s hut, safari tent or hobbit house is easy to understand, and provides an element of adventure and fun with which it is easy to engage. “If glamping is an example of camping on an upward trajectory as far as quality is concerned, then the same can also be said of caravan holiday homes,” comments Jon Boston, a spokesperson for the British Holiday & Home Parks Association (BH&HPA). “Many of these now have levels of refinement far beyond what a customer would expect as standard a decade ago, including features such as en-suite bathrooms, exterior decking, wide-screen TVs and sophisticated sound systems.” Jon adds: “UK manufacturers have proved themselves adept at constantly refining their product, but there may be some evidence that holiday lodges will become more dominant in the future. Some park groups are now favouring lodges over holiday caravans when developing new pitches, both for sales and rental.”

COMFORT FACTOR

Great Expectations 2The extra space in a lodge can make for a more comfortable stay, especially if the customer is holidaying with an extended family or friends. For rental purposes, lodges also enable parks to offer a more luxurious experience. Some lodge breaks are now being styled along the lines of a boutique hotel with added features such as robes and slippers, upscale toiletries, bubbly in the fridge, and even fresh croissants delivered in the morning. Says Jon: “The trend towards more highly specified caravan holiday homes and lodges is also consistent with the move by many parks to extend their opening seasons. Local authorities would appear to be increasingly more accommodating when faced with such requests from parks, recognising the wider economic benefits to be gained from lengthening the holiday year, not least among the many businesses in their area which depend on visitor spending.” He adds: “With modern holiday homes now providing highly efficient central heating systems as well as double glazing and increased levels of insulation, holidays throughout the four seasons become much more practical.”

PARK PRODUCT

At Skelwith Fold caravan park in the Lake District, new accommodation trends are enabling park owner Henry Wild to broaden his customer base. The Ambleside park has around 450 pitches for holiday home owners and touring guests – but camping is not permitted: “This once meant that Skelwith Fold was only open to people with a touring caravan or motorhome, so we were limiting our guests to people who already understood the park product,” comments Henry. “A few years ago, however, we decided to remedy that by introducing top-end glamping modules for hire, based on the Swift S-Pod. This immediately extended our appeal to couples who might never before have considered using a park for a holiday.” He adds: “Their success encouraged us this year to invest in two safari tents, fully furnished and kitted-out, which are also proving immensely popular, especially with younger families.” While glamping is great for generating additional revenue, Henry believes that the real value of this accommodation is in generating interest in holiday home ownership. At least fifteen sales of holiday homes on the park over the past few years can be attributed to glamping stays.

TASTER BREAKS

Great Expectations 3“Many people typically book for three or four nights and that is sufficient for them to get an idea of what life could be like for them as owners. It’s surprising just how many on their last day ask if they can just take a quick look at one of our show homes before they leave!” says Henry. He adds: “As an industry, we have always known that a better understanding by consumers of what we offer could widen considerably our market potential. Glamping is doing the job far more effectively and economically than any amount of advertising could achieve.”
Switched on park owners who want to keep abreast of the everevolving world of park accommodation can get a first glimpse of the new 2019 models at the HERCMA Shows at The Lawns and Beaulieu this Autumn. Some 300 models of touring caravans, holiday homes, lodges and park homes will be on display at the shows, which run from September 4th – 6th (The Lawns) and September 21st – 23rd (Beaulieu).

RETAIL SALES

“The industry overall is enjoying a good year with retail sales on the rise in all sectors, in particular with holiday homes and park homes,” explains Michael Ritchie, Event Manager of the Hull and East Riding of Yorkshire Caravan Manufacturers’ Association (HERCMA) Shows. “Customers want more and more creature comforts in their holiday homes and manufacturers strive to keep pace. Electronic gadgetry is now common in many of the higher priced units and in recent years there has been a rise in the popularity of twin units for both holiday and residential use. In fact, there will be a record number of twin units on display at The Lawns show this year – nearly 40 of them from 13 different manufacturers.”The Lawns show has been running for more than 40 years at The Lawns in Cottingham. It is run by HERCMA, which comprises five manufacturers from the region: ABI, Carnaby, Coachman, Swift and Willerby. Open to the public, the show attracts well over 20,000 visitors each year. “There will be numerous new product launches – as always at The Lawns,” promises Michael. “ABI and Swift are unveiling additional twin units with highly imaginative layouts; Willerby will be unveiling its range of park homes; and companies such as Pathfinder, Prestige-Homeseeker and Omar-Wessex always have stunning new designs on show and are promising the same this time.” Commenting on the future of holiday park accommodation, Michael adds: “I think that holiday caravans, lodges and park homes will continue to evolve, according to customer requirements, becoming, along with parks, more and more energy efficient, providing some of greenest and most environmentally holidays and residential accommodation available. While there may be short-term problems with issues such as Brexit, the longer-term future looks pretty good.”

Company Contacts

ASSOCIATION
Tel. 01452 526911
www.bhhpa.org.uk

COMPASS INSURANCE
Tel. 01452 511430
www.compass.co.uk

THE LAWNS AND BEAULIEU SHOWS 2018
www.lawnsandbeaulieushows.com

Sibling Support

Sibling Support

LamalechResidents at Lamalech Park Estate have helped raise over £800 for Macmillan Cancer Support. They backed the owners of the park, Ruth Ross and Paul Lancaster, as they decided to tackle a gruelling 26-mile charity trek through the Lake District.

The journey took the brother and sister duo 11 hours, all of which off-road, but upon reaching their destination in Ambleside, they knew they had reached their goal with the help of donations from the residents’ social club and from individual owners of the 120 homes on the estate. Fundraising activities for good causes are an important part of social life at Lamaleach explains Ruth. “Having received such amazing support from so many kind-hearted people, we knew there was no way we could go back having thrown in the towel,” she added.

Lamalech Park Estate have also won a Gold Award from North West in Bloom, and Ruth says that residents also play a big part in helping to create a real community atmosphere on the park. Ruth and Paul’s Lake District trek was organised by Macmillan Cancer Support, one of Britain’s largest charities which is dedicated to assisting people affected by the disease.

Four Season Appeal

Four Season Appeal

Ashleigh Bissett presents ideas for boosting your all-year-round appeal…

Nowadays the ‘out of season’ period only sees a minor let-up in the volume of holidaymakers choosing to enjoy a park break during the cooler months. Pic: Potters Resort.

Nowadays the ‘out of season’ period only sees a minor let-up in the volume of holidaymakers choosing to enjoy a park break during the cooler months. Pic: Potters Resort.

In days gone by, the winter season signalled a sharp decline in the number visitor bookings. But nowadays the ‘out of season’ period only sees a minor let-up in the volume of holidaymakers and holiday homeowners choosing to enjoy a park break during the cooler months.

When Silverdale Holiday Park first opened 60 years ago, only a few hardy caravanners would ever consider a winter stay on a beautiful but elevated sea-facing location in South Cumbria.

But today, says Michael Holgate – grandson of the park’s founder – it’s very different scene. Silverdale continues buzzing throughout the winter months, and the prospect of cold bright days in the Lake District is more likely to inspire than deter visitors. Silverdale has around 500 caravan holidays homes, including a small letting fleet, and provides a range of activities and facilities which, like the park itself, are open all year round.

Michael believes that a parks industry with fewer peaks and troughs throughout the calendar is good for business in more than one sense: “Our six parks in Cumbria and North Lancashire employ around 135 people, and each year we find ourselves less reliant on seasonal staff and better able to provide more fulltime positions.

HIGH CALIBRE

“This allows us to attract higher calibre recruits, and to be able to invest in their personal training and development, which benefits both them and us in the longer term. “Increased continuity also means that permanent staff gain a more intimate knowledge of our business, and can play an even greater part in helping customers and driving us forward.

The start of the 2016 season saw Michael’s business put the finishing touches to a £1m investment in its indoor attractions, and he predicts that this is likely to bolster even further the appeal of the park to winter visitors. Silverdale’s leisure complex now includes a swimming pool with spa and sauna, a professional gymnasium, a high-tech US-style bowling alley, soft play areas, and a café, bar and restaurant.

“Although our leisure complex does give the assurance of something to do whatever the weather, I don’t think our winter guests would necessarily name it as the number one attraction,” says Michael. “Most people’s motive for buying here is the outstanding scenery, and winter in Cumbria presents all those familiar picture-postcard views in a different light, so walking is very popular. “Winter also seems to inspire a desire for change, and we’re delighted to find that increasing numbers of our customers also choose this time to make an upgrade!” he adds.

Skelwith Fold has around 300 privately-owned caravan holiday homes and some 150 touring pitches.

Skelwith Fold has around 300 privately-owned caravan holiday homes and some 150 touring pitches.

UNFAIR ADVANTAGE

Henry Wild, director of Skelwith Fold Caravan Park in Cumbria, believes the Lake District has an unfair advantage over some other traditional holiday honeypots in winter: “Seaside destinations really need sunshine and warm weather to bring out their best, but here the lakes and mountains become even more breathtaking under a winter sky,” he says.

“We’ll be kept busy right through November before the park closes with both owners and touring customers, and the atmosphere is always decidedly relaxed. I think one reason is that, unlike in summer, people don’t feel compelled to be out and about all the time, and are happy just taking things easy on the park.”

Skelwith Fold has around 300 privately owned caravan holiday homes and some 150 touring pitches. This winter, the park will also be providing the option of renting one of its two-person hideaway glamping pods located in a quiet forest glade. Their central heating and high levels of insulation mean cold snaps stay strictly outdoors

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All-Star Cumbria Park

All-Star Cumbria Park

Johnny Vegas takes a break from filming in the company of holiday park owners Barbara and Philip Carr.

Johnny Vegas takes a break from filming in the
company of holiday park owners Barbara and Philip Carr.

Comedian Johnny Vegas has been trying his hand at holiday home living on a Cumbrian park as part of a new BBC comedy show.

The actor was at Skiddaw View Holiday Park, leading the cast in Home from Home, the pilot of which will be shown this summer.

The plot revolves around a family man, played by Johnny, who has long cherished the dream of buying a lodge in the Lake District – and finally achieves his ambition.

Featuring alongside Johnny Vegas will be Gavin and Stacey star Joanna Page, along with Silent Witness actress Emilia Fox.

Park owners, Philip and Barbara Carr said they greatly enjoyed playing host to Johnny Vegas and the cast during the filming which was based around two of the lodges on the park.

Triple Treat For Cumbria Tourers

Triple Treat For Cumbria Tourers

Castlerigg (pictured) is one of three lakes to offer new breaks.

Castlerigg (pictured) is one of three lakes to offer new breaks.

Three of Cumbria’s most celebrated lakes are shortly to be joined up for the benefit of campervan owners seeking a totally immersive holiday experience.
Ullswater, Derwentwater and Windermere are all combined in a three night lake-lovers break which has been created by a trio of multi-award winning parks; The Quiet Site, Park Cliffe and Castlerigg.
For just £60.00 all-in, guests will be able to awake each morning to different views of spectacular lake and mountain scenery made world famous by poets and artists.
The deal, say the parks, will not just save money but also ensure that holidaymakers get the most from their short breaks by enjoying the best seats in the house.
The three independent parks hope that their lake lovers’ dream tour will meet with the same success as another initiative they launched two years ago for cyclists.
Called Pod ‘n’ Pedal the break provides camping pod accommodation for one night on each park as guests follow a 70-mile route on mainly quite country lanes through the Lake District.

Holiday Parks In Multi-Million Buy Out

Holiday Parks In Multi-Million Buy Out

South Lakeland Parks, which operates nine holiday parks in the Lake District and Morecambe Bay area, has been acquired by Electra Partners, the majority shareholder of Park Resorts, in a £47m deal.

Park Resorts and Electra Partners worked in partnership to secure the takeover deal of the Cumbrian-based business from White Ocean Leisure and its lenders. The acquisition comes only two months after Electra Partners led the refinancing of Park Resorts which will provide significant further investment in the parks to improve facilities across existing holiday parks.

The addition of South Lakeland increases Park Resorts’ portfolio by nine holiday parks, making it the largest holiday parks operator in the UK with 48 sites across England, Scotland and Wales.

South Lakeland Parks was founded in 1988 and was previously known as South Lakeland Caravans until June 2006. Its sites range from traditional caravan parks to larger holiday villages complete with leisure facilities and direct access to Lake Windermere.

David Boden, CEO of Park Resorts commented: “South Lakeland’s nine parks are all high quality and will perfectly complement our existing portfolio. The parks are ideally located for owners and holiday makers to experience some of the most spectacular scenery the UK has to offer.”