Holiday park owners who improve the quality and choice of their accommodation and facilities are most likely to reap the rewards from increasing demand, particularly for UK short breaks.
Staycation specialist Hoseasons, which this year celebrates its 75th anniversary, is predicting a positive outlook for the industry for the rest of 2019 following an 11% Year-on-Year surge in bookings across its lodges and parks portfolio.
Mark Warnes, Vice President of Property Services at Awaze UK, Hoseasons’ parent company, says keeping up with changing customer habits has always been at the heart of the company’s success over the years, and that those who invest in ‘wowing’ their guests now are the ones most likely to benefit in the longer term.
“Standards of UK accommodation and facilities have made such a huge leap over the last 10 years that holidaymakers are now actively seeking out luxury, hassle-free short breaks closer to home at a time when they may have concerns about going further afield,” Mark says.
“Customer expectations have rocketed at the same time, though, so it’s no surprise that the locations we see performing best are the ones where owners have been prepared to invest and improve their offer.” Locations sold through Hoseasons that have recently invested in their offer include Go Active Holidays location Hemsby Beach Holiday Park, in Norfolk, which has had a £10m overhaul of accommodation and facilities.
The new look ‘super park’ features brand new luxury lodges with hot tubs, a Show Bar, Yacht Club Bar and a whole range of Go Active activities, including archery, zorbing, sea scooters, crazy golf and bowls.
Set just 350 yards from the golden sands and rolling dunes of Hemsby Breach, and close to the Norfolk Broads, the park also now boasts a Traverse Climbing Wall, an all-weather multi-sports court, soft play for the little ones, a Go Juniors activity programme for three to seven year olds and an amusement arcade.
Fellow Go Active location Cheddar Woods Resort and Spa, in Somerset, has also invested – unveiling 23 new properties earlier this year to cope with greater demand for quality short break staycations.
The mix of one, two, three and four-bedroom properties all offer spectacular views of the Cheddar countryside and have been purposely placed to maximise privacy and enhance guests’ sense of getting away from it all.
Each of the lodges comes with either a private garden, enclosed decking or an outdoor patio area, as well as non-reflective windows that allow the properties to blend into the Cheddar landscape.
Nine of the new units are one-bedroom lodges – a response to growing off-peak demand for couples’ romantic breaks.
Ninety minutes down the road Finlake Holiday Resort, in North Devon – another Go Active Holidays location - has a multimillionpound new facilities complex with waterpark and flume rides, spa and treatment rooms, and a state-of-the-art gym.
Finlake’s refurbished Retreat Bar and Restaurant offers lunch and à la carte evening meals and the nearby Cabin Café & Farm Shop offers a fantastic takeaway menu. Nature trails, outdoor tennis courts, two coarse fishing lakes and horse riding are also available, providing sporting opportunities for everyone.
All the parks have seen a rise in bookings since investing in their offer, with Warnes encouraging others to follow their lead.
“Capital investment is not something the owners we work with rush into,” he says, adding: “It’s a considered thought-though strategic approach, designed to make the most of a strong market and keep pace with what the public want when it comes to a short break.”
Lead Designer, Sue Brodie has worked with Willerby for almost seven years having previous worked on executive homes located in the prestigious London boroughs of Knightsbridge, Kensington and Chelsea.
Sue says you need to strike a balance between the design aesthetics and the practicality of the home.
“There is a balance between the two – clever storage solutions can be aesthetically pleasing and enhance the interior,” Sue emphasises.
“It’s no good if the unit looks beautiful but fails to function as a living space, we always ensure there is enough seating, storage and the layout flows.
“We try to create furniture with a freestanding appearance so it appears more domestic but still includes that vital storage.” Sue stresses that owners are looking for comfort, a real home from home experience, although they are not looking to replicate their own homes.
“Their expectations are high along with their desire for better features and décor,” she says.
Many of Willerby’s unique designs grow from an innovative layout, offsetting the linear roof line and introducing an appliance bank allowed us to create a nearside corridor and internal bathroom. These internal bathrooms were made possible by the introduction of the ‘sun tube’ which in effect is ecofriendly mini skylight.
Willerby were also the first to introduce a larder unit into the kitchen with sliding baskets drawers and open shelving the unit is now available in two sizes. Other features include the Sheraton fireplace and bed surround shelving which were influenced by the New England, American interior designs.
Says Sue: “We now have access to some wonderful materials and finishes which allow us to create authentic looking interiors and are no longer constrained by our manufacturing capabilities.
Because we manufacture our own furniture, elements are completely bespoke and produced to our specification in just the right style, size and colour to complement the unit. Adds Sue: “We can co-ordinate our finishes though out the unit so the finished product looks cohesive and resolve.”
Previously static caravans adopted styling used in touring caravans, with lots of wall to wall storage and clunky furniture. We are now looking to popular high street brands for our Styling cues.
Fabrics were supplied by manufacturers to the caravan industry, we are now using domestic fabrics you would find on the high street.
With the improvements in LED lighting, we have substituted decorative wall and ceiling lighting for integrated spotlights bringing a cleaner modern look to our units.
We have introduced improved MP3 players with integrated speakers and USB sockets for phone charging and ipads.
We are seeing recent trends shift and evolve as oppose to completely new trends emerging. The Country Heritage trend is still strong with the addition of new colours, pebble greys and truffles.
Black fittings are popular this year and we have introduced Graphite handles and light fittings in birdcage deconstructed styles.
The colour trends are teal, blue terracotta, warm grey and sage with gold accents while authentic woods, sit alongside luxury fabrics, windowpane checks and pinstripe fabrics.
Pathfinder Homes have over 25 standard homes customers can choose from, however, the company offers a fully bespoke service giving the opportunity to create homes as unique as they are.
The Pathfinder Homes team is fully trained and committed to providing customers with not just a memorable selection process but a home that suits every requirement and desire.
“All standard home start their life with me,” explains Creative Manager, Kelly Martyr. “I am constantly listening to feedback from customers and keeping up to date on fashion and trends.
“Creating a new standard home initially starts with seeing a gap in the market, inspiration from other industries or even a popular request. Initially, I will sit down with our Architectural Technologist and Technical Manager and discuss the sometime outlandish ideas that occur to me.
“I try to take all advice on board and then start to sketch out initial ideas and mood boards,” reveals Kelly. “Once I am confident with the design I will present to our directors, along with rationale, budget and where this sits in the market place.
“As soon as approved all the technical drawings are completed, we pass over to our production team and begin the build.” The whole process from inception to completion can be about six months, and offering a fully bespoke service is something Pathfinder Homes is particularly proud of.
“We understand everyone is different as is their customisation,” Kelly asserts. “For those who know
exactly what they want, our Selection Studio is like heaven.
From carpets to curtains, decking to door handles, the Selection Studio is the perfect place to be inspired and the Pathfinder team can help dreams come true. For those who want a little more guidance, then that’s exactly what they get.
Kelly explains: “I can meet the customer at the Selection Studio and walk them through the whole process and offer advice and assistance every step of the way. Customers can start from a blank canvas or from a preselected, standard design.”
One thing is for certain, there’s no shortage of inspiration, the studio overlooks the famous Haytor in Dartmoor’s National Park, is fully equipped with all the aesthetic examples you might need, from kitchen units to soft furnishings, all to make sure that the new home is exactly how they want it,” says Kelly.
“Pathfinders’ Selection Studio really gives presents a tangible design experience,” she continues. “Customers can touch and feel the fabrics, walk through the kitchen and enjoy a coffee on the couch.
Kelly says Pathfinders’ suppliers play a significant part in the company’s design success. She says: “Over the years we have built up a base of fabulous, supportive and loyal suppliers.
“The relationship we have built together is so important. There are a select few who I work with on almost a daily basis and consider them part of the team here at Pathfinder Homes.
“Our suppliers are constantly sending over innovative products, new samples and exciting developments within their industry – this allows us to continue to lead ours!”
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