KEEPING YOUR CAMPERS HAPPY

KEEPING YOUR CAMPERS HAPPY

Neil Campbell, a veteran traveller, offers some friendly campsite feedback...

BOTH CANTERBURY AND HENLEY campsites have merited return trips. Pic. The Camping and Caravanning Club

 

As I scooped out the huge pool of rainwater in the middle of our collapsed inflatable tent with an old ice cream tub, I thought to myself “I absolutely love camping!” Ridiculous as this may sound, given that we were racing against time to bail out and re-inflate the tent before a fresh deluge, campsites always give you an adventure, memories to treasure and something to laugh about.

They are a truly analogue experience in a digital world, are eco-friendly, cheap and — especially after the pandemic — offer a huge dose of freedom. We have used campsites and holiday parks all over Britain, from the Isle of Skye to the Jurassic coast, from Snowdonia to Essex’s Mersea Island. And they have been infinitely varied — from little more than a farmer’s field with six pitches and a neighbouring bull (but a view of the Highlands) near Loch Ness, to brilliantly-run and comprehensively- equipped holiday parks in Norfolk.

 

WE LOVE TO MAKE the most of on-site opportunities like pond dipping. Pic Kelling Heath

 

MAKE OR BREAK
But the good ones all have several things in common that can make or break a camping holiday. From a veteran camper’s point of view, what is an ideal campsite? A speedy check-in process is a massive bonus and gets the holiday off to the right start, particularly after a long journey with everyone a bit grumpy. Most of the form-filling of checking-in and payment can be done online in advance, so it should be a straightforward matching of you to your pitch number and off you go.

Our most recent trip, to the Graffham campsite in Sussex in June, had check- in down to a tee — we didn’t even have to leave our car, and were checked in and being shown to our pitch within a minute or two. The staff greeting you are also critical — a cheery welcome makes a vast difference and costs nothing. And if the numbering of pitches is clear and the directions to facilities are easy to understand, you’re off to a good start. An early check-in and late check-out time is always good.

 

If the previous occupant has left by mid-day, there is no reason why the new one shouldn’t arrive at 1pm — really, what needs to happen in that hour? It makes a big difference if you have set up camp and are sitting down with a cuppa by 4pm rather than toiling at 6pm when painfully delicious barbecue smells start to waft around. Compare this to a lengthy check-in at 3pm, surly or indifferent staff and a confusing layout, and the difference between a well-run campsite and its opposite is clear.

I’ve also developed something of an allergy to “sign-usitis”: signs with information or warnings are fine in moderation, but a plethora of signs with rules outlawing a long list of activities have me wondering if I’m a customer or an inmate. One rule I am keen on, though, is quiet after 10.30pm — camping can be tiring! I’m glad to say that the vast majority of sites these days are well run — word gets out about the bad ones, and they tend to go out of business.

 

GOOD DRAINAGE is key if the elements conspire against you.

 

ON THE LEVEL
Pitches obviously vary hugely, and campers have different expectations depending on what type of campsite and what level of pitch you have booked — but the cost and the pitch should match. A normal-size grass pitch is not the same as a jumbo pitch with electricity and a water tap. But it is reasonable to expect all pitches to be clean, newly mown if appropriate and — my pet bugbear — decently level, or the means to make it so (such as stones to level up a motorhome, as we were able to use on a campsite in Skye).

At Graffham we had a secluded forest pitch with electricity, and it was level and large enough both for a tent and pop-up gazebo — we also had a lovely soundtrack of birds. In terms of proximity to facilities, I think a one or two-minute walk is fine — and we always take our bikes, so that can speed things up. No-one wants to be pitched right next to facilities. I would never want a pitch within earshot of washrooms — we’re talking hand-dryers and hairdryers, and with screening it’s possible to keep them out of everyone’s eyeline too.

 

HELPFUL SIGNS ARE FINE, but too many can leave you feeling a bit put upon.

 

It hardly needs to be said that facilities need to be kept clean and appropriately equipped, that is just a fundamental of a decently-run campsite. If there are coin-operated hairdryers, that is probably worth mentioning at check-in, and if there have to be time-limited button-operated showers, please can that be at least 20 seconds and not less than ten? This seems like a fairly lengthy wish- list, but campers do return to well-run sites. We’ve been back to Kelling Heath holiday site in Norfolk a couple of times over the past decade, and I remember it well from a trip when I was ten — several decades ago!

It’s a large holiday site, well-run and friendly with a great shop, and close to the coast, cycling routes and a steam railway. It’s also a fabulous site for kids, with acres of space. Canterbury and Henley campsites have also merited return trips — as well as being great sites, they are close enough for a weekend trip, and just a short drive or walk into the city. We’ve also done quite a few one-off trips to campsites for particular reasons — at Bala, in Snowdonia, we were doing an outdoor activity week including zipwiring, kayaking and coasteering, so a quiet and peaceful campsite with a great view was ideal at the end of each day.

 

A SPACIOUS, SHADY and secluded pitch — with added birdsong.

 

PREMIUM SPACE
At Norman’s Bay in Sussex, we wanted to be right by the beach. Of course, there is a premium on space at seaside sites, but this was well run by friendly staff, with a good shop and — heaven-sent given its coastal location — a visiting fish and chip van. It also had a railway station within ten minutes’ walk for car-free trips to Hastings and Brighton. Camping is pretty cheap at any time of the year, and so is great for young people — dare I mention the word “festivals”?

If you’re on a budget, it is perfectly possible to get a basic grass pitch for a tent for £12-17 per person per night, and with a coolbox it’s fine. If you go slightly out of season, you can still get great weather but lower prices, perhaps in or around summer half-term or mid-September. Larger sites with a wider range of facilities such as swimming pools do cost more, as is reasonable — you do get what you pay for. We paid about £20 per person per night (pppn) at Graffham in June and at Norman’s Bay in August, for instance, but for a basic pitch without electricity at Bala in mid-September it’s about £12pppn.

I’ve found it worth joining one of the camping, caravanning or motorhome clubs, both for their reviews and online communities, but also as a source of expertise — and for easy booking. The AA’s camping guides I’ve also found to be reliable, and I’ve used pitchup.com and Cool Camping as well to book. I will say that a set of good photos and an accurate description can often swing a decision to reserve. We tend to go away for four or five nights if we’re tent camping and go a couple of times a year. That feels like the right length given that camping is quite intense — you’re outside most of the time, and at the mercy of the elements. When we’ve motorhomed we’ve gone for one to two weeks, as you’re more self-contained and setting up and touring is easier. You even get a decent bed!

AT YOUR CONVENIENCE

AT YOUR CONVENIENCE

Jane Herbert on well-spent investment in washroom facilities…

THE CUBICLE CENTRE’S Cairngorm range is the perfect solution for high traffic areas such as Pillaton Hall Farm.

As the UK staycation boom continues, the focus has never been so intense on the need for holiday park and campsite operators to provide top quality facilities. Footfalls are higher but the customers also ever more discerning, as the industry attracts a new level of clientele. Lee Robinson of Yorkshire based Cubicle Centre who have manufactured, supplied and installed many thousands of bespoke washroom cubicles all over the UK.

Lee advises: “Robustness and longevity of product is key to ensuring your washroom stays in tip-top condition throughout the season. “The smallest rooms in the building really can lead to the biggest frustrations,” Lee explains. “The main pitfall we see in washroom design is when someone has chosen an unsuitable material for cubicles and they end up being completely unfit for purpose.” The Cubicle Centre’s Cairngorm range is the perfect solution for high traffic areas and the ideal choice for many busy campsites, such as Pillaton Hall Farm in Staffordshire.

The Cubicle Centre designed the waterproof, hardwearing and easy to clean cubicles and matching vanity units, made from CGL (Compact Grade Laminate). The facilities at Pillaton were also made to be child-friendly, with low profile wash basins and urinals. “We were pleased with the completed washrooms in our new facilities block. Our customer feedback since the opening has been amazing,” says Pillaton Hall Farm owner, Dave Pearce.

FAMILY FRIENDLY

Appealing to everyone in the family, as well as the needs of less able visitors, is an increasingly important design consideration. According to Lee, washrooms are now much more likely to include family facilities, as well as privacy screens. Having a specific dry area within shower cubicles is also a necessity. “Our washroom panels at a recent caravan park installation in Snowdonia are a good example of dry area provision within a shower cubicle,” says Lee. “The design includes custom bench seating within the units for both practicality and cleanliness.” Dorset-based Commercial Washrooms offer a full turn-key washroom refurbishment and cubicle installation service.

Managing Director, Andy Seddon, highlights their refurbishment of the washrooms at Oakdene Holiday Park in Dorset as an example of how design excellence means combining key functionality with aesthetics. “The main entertainment building at Oakdene is a busy environment with a high footfall,” explains Andy. “The owners were conscious that the new washrooms must be durable, hard wearing and easy to clean, but also knew how important it was to make these washrooms a warm and inviting space.” “Products must be robust and long lasting, whilst at the same time offering a top end look and feel. With large volumes of users in a short amount of time, cleaning, maintenance and replenishment of consumables are all key factors in washroom planning and design.”

HYGIENE ALERT

A consequence of the Covid pandemic has been the huge increase in awareness and standards of hygiene in all public (and private) spaces. “The biggest uplift we have seen is the use of sensor taps and flush controls in order to make washrooms “touch free” and thus more hygienic,” says Andy. “Sensor taps are becoming more prevalent, and with the majority of these now being available as battery powered, they can easily be retrofitted into existing washrooms as an upgrade, without the need for electrical feeds to be installed.”

Commercial Washrooms were also responsible for a recent refurbishment project at Cofton Holiday Park in Devon. A dedicated shower and changing area was needed for non-resident guests using the outdoor swimming pool. New easily-maintained shower enclosures were installed with hygiene and waterproof performance taking prime consideration. The design features sensor flush controls on the toilets and urinals, sensor taps, and a sensor operated hand dryer.

A new PIR lighting system with low energy LED lighting was also installed. Removing touchpoints helps improve hygiene but as Andy explains, the use of sensor operated equipment also delivers other benefits too. “Sensors only let the water or electricity flow for a set period of time; this eliminates the risk of taps being left on, preventing flooding and accidental water wastage, and therefore generating huge water savings.”

ENERGY EFFICIENT

As energy bills increase and we look for ways to save both money and the environment, eco-efficient and energy saving products are becoming more prevalent. Small changes can reap big dividends in washrooms, without the need for a complete refurbishment. Smarti Environmental, the UK’s leading waterless urinal provider, is urging holiday parks to play their part in the battle against water wastage.

The company is offering large organisations with 100 or more urinals, a free washroom trial for 3-months, including free installation of its retro-fit waterless valves. Smarti Environmental’s research shows that there are currently around 3.5 million water-supplied urinals in the UK, which collectively waste 217 billion litres of water each year, equivalent to 87,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools. To put this into an individual perspective, Smarti Environmental says its waterless urinal valve cuts the annual cost of running a water flush urinal by more than 50%, even before plumbing costs associated with blocked pipes and floods caused by calcium build-up are taken into account.

Made from fully recyclable materials, the valves fit 98% of standard urinals with no need to change urinal bowls, and reduce the annual running cost of a typical three bay urinal by between £630 and £1,230 a year. Kimberley Hill, Sales Manager at Smarti Environmental, comments: “Businesses have a key part to play in reducing needless water waste, and one of the simplest and most cost effective steps is to switch to waterless urinals. This not only saves 100,000 litres of water per urinal, per year, but it also cuts related costs by more than half, and CO2 by 105kg per urinal. If all urinals in the UK went waterless, that would be the equivalent of removing 100,000 diesel cars from the road.”

ECO-CREDENTIALS

Eco-credentials are becoming an increasingly important differentiator for modern holiday makers, as well as for those organisations who assign quality ratings and awards. Managing Director of The Loo of the Year Awards, Becky Wall, says that she has noticed a trend for both eco facilities and an increased level of hygiene provision in award entrants. Encouraging the highest possible standards across all ‘away from home’ washrooms throughout the UK and Ireland has been the objective of the annual Loo of the Year Awards since they began in 1987.

A Loo of the Year Award is an established benchmark of washroom provision and compliance to national standards. The Loo of the Year Awards has 61 different categories and the Holiday Parks division is always well-supported with many entrants taking part year after year. Many of the parks have been receivers of the higher grades within the Awards, and according Becky, as new grades have been introduced, the parks have replied by providing even better standards.

THE TEAM FROM PENCELLI CASTLE Caravan and Camping Park with their certificate at the Loo of the Year Awards.

TOILET TWINNING

“In the 2021 Awards, 5.5% of the entrants were from holiday parks and they all received the higher grades - 79% Platinum and 21% Diamond grade,” says Becky. “The 2021 National Category Award Winners for Holiday Parks was won by Broadhembury Caravan and Camping Park for England, Llanberis Touring Park for Wales and Ord House Country Park for Scotland. The National Awards for Baby Changing Facilities in England and Wales were also won by Holiday Parks - Ludlow Touring Park and Pencelli Castle Caravan and Camping Park respectively.

Pencelli went onto win the overall UK trophy too.” Entrants for the 2022 Awards have until 31st July to throw their hat in the ring. Park or site owners wishing to further distinguish themselves, could follow in the footsteps of parks such as Broadhembury and consider Toilet Twinning. This charitable venture raises funds to provide clean water, safe toilets and hygiene training in some of the poorest communities in the world. In return for a £60 donation, toilets can be twinned with a family’s household loo in a vulnerable community overseas. Twinners receive a certificate to display, and the satisfaction of helping transform the lives of those in need.

Cubicle Centre
01924 930854
www.washroomcubicles.co.uk

Commercial Washrooms
01202 650 900
www.commercialwashroomsltd.co.uk

Loo of the Year Awards
01531 640715
www.loo.co.uk

SMARTi Environmental
01392 311 202
www.smartilimited.com

Toilet Twinning
0300 321 3217
www.toilettwinning.org

Holiday Park Operator Focus featuring Haulfryn Group

Holiday Park Operator Focus featuring Haulfryn Group

The 20-strong Haulfryn Group is celebrating its 85th birthday…

THE WARREN’S PRIVATE BEACH LOCATION boasts golden sands and soul-reviving views of Cardigan Bay and Snowdonia

The origins of the Haulfryn Group date back to the early 20th century when Frank Minoprio, the son of an Italian immigrant entrepreneur, invested in the beauty of the North Wales coastline. Having spent holidays enjoying the outstanding scenery of the region, Frank invested in his very own piece of land on which he built a fine granite house. He called it Haulfryn, meaning ‘sunny hill’. Over the years, Frank continued to invest and build up his estate in North Wales. He believed strongly in giving back to the community and with this in mind he built the primary school in Abersoch alongside many other philanthropic activities. In 1935, The Haulfryn Estate Company was officially founded with the aim of developing the land at TheWarren, just down the road from the family holiday home at Abersoch.

By the start of the 1960s, TheWarren had become a popular destination, setting the standards for holiday parks across the country. Replicating the success of The Warren elsewhere, The Haulfryn Group continued to invest in holiday parks in outstanding locations. The 1970s and 80s were years of further expansion with Gimblet Rock and Crugan added to the portfolio, among others and further investment at The Haulfryn Group’s flagship park, TheWarren. Expansion beyondWales followed, including strategic moves into the South West of England. Today, the Haulfryn Group’s estate includes 20 holiday parks throughout England andWales. The Haulfryn Group’s CEO since February 2020 is Echo Lu.With an impressive CV spanning over 20 years and senior experience within national and global brands including Tesco, Homebase and Holland & Barrett, Echo oversees the Group’s 500 team members. David John, Group Operations Director joined The Haulfryn group back in 2013, bringing with him a wealth of experience in Leisure and Hospitality, most notably Nutfield Heath, De Vere Hotels and Leisure, as well as early years spent in Local Authority.

caption: David john, Group Operations Director

The Group continues to invest in its portfolio to ensure Haulfryn resorts continue to meet the high expectations of its growing and loyal customer base. The Group’s leisure and entertainment venues, facilities and services are widely renowned as among the best in the business. David John comments: “The 85th birthday of the founding of the company is a fantastic milestone to achieve and testament to the company ethos and the hard work of every member of our team at every level. “As a company we’re extremely proud of everything we have achieved so far and look forward to welcoming holidaymakers new and old to our parks to create more special memories to last a lifetime,” he adds. “When you strip everything back to basics, the core of what we do today is the same as it was 85 years ago. The family values on which Haulfryn was established are as relevant today as ever, and these coupled with our outstanding locations is what brings holidaymakers and buyers back to us time and time again,” he emphasises. “Our main driver is to bring joy to every moment of a customer’s stay with us and we’re proud to have been doing that since 1936!” The Haulfryn Group offers a wide choice of accommodation for all tastes and for all ages. Popular holiday lodges provide home-from-home comfort, many with added luxuries such as wine coolers and hot tubs.

caption: Haulfryn Group Locations

For those seeking a modern twist, a selection of glamping pods provide quirky, comfortable accommodation bringing you closer to the outdoors. Some of Haulfryn’s long-standing suppliers include Lissett, Prestige and Omar whilst more recently they have partnered with Aspire and Armadilla Pods. The Group’s original site, TheWarren, is often thought of as Haulfryn’s flagship park but David insists: “We firmly believe each and every one of our parks are flagships. “Whether it’s ancient woodland, lakeside living, beautiful beaches as well as charming scenic settings - we always provide the accommodation and facilities to complement the surroundings environments.” TheWarren’s private beach location boasts golden sands and soul-reviving views of Cardigan Bay and Snowdonia. A boat launch ramp accesses internationally recognised sailing waters alongside first class leisure, sports and spa facilities. Haulfryn’s Delamere Lake offers a beautiful oasis in the midst of the Cheshire plains. Situated in Cheshire’s largest area of woodland, with incredible views over the sparkling lake, Delamere is located within easy reach of Manchester and Liverpool. Finlake Holiday Resort is set within 130-acres of Devon woodland, Finlake is an exclusive Devon holiday home destination for all the family. On-site facilities include a gym, spa, sauna, swimming pools, including flumes, slides and fountains, a restaurant and bar, tennis courts and more. Praa Sands is situated on the edge of turquoise waters and golden sands on the furthermost tip of west Cornwall. The resort is ideally located to make the most of the spectacular local area including beautiful beaches, walks, and cycle tracks. On-site facilities include a gym and heated indoor swimming pool. Before 2020, the Haulfryn Group’s biggest challenge would have been continuing to exceed customers’ expectations. Since the pandemic hit, Haulfryn’s overriding objective has been the safety of local communities, their teams and owners.

 

caption: contact the Haulfrun Group today

Wish You Were Here – Tree Tops Caravan Park

Wish You Were Here 1Wish You Were Here

More postcard views from our UK tour…

A Welsh holiday park is in the pink after scooping a top floral accolade. Judges have described as ‘inspirational’ a North Wales holiday park which landed a gold honour in this year’s keenly contested Wales in Bloom awards. Tree Tops Caravan Park at Gwespyr, near Holywell, seized the top spot for the 26th year running in the caravan park category of the competition. The family-owned North Wales caravan park of luxury caravans and lodges overlooks the Irish Sea and Dee Estuary, out towards the majesty of the Snowdonia park. Offering competitive pitch fees, the park has a children’s play area, outdoor gym and a handy launderette. In family ownership for six decades, Director Andrew Walker, runs Tree Tops alongside his parents Maureen and Harry. “We pride ourselves on our landscaped gardens, and stay with us,” said Andrew. new blooms and extra touches such as an arbour seat. “As we’re open for nine months of the year, we plant for the seasons with an array of spring flowers at the start before moving on to a riot of summer colour which carries on into autumn. “Tree Tops has always prided itself on being an oasis of calm, somewhere to relax and unwind, and the gardens are central to that experience,” added Andrew. Some 16,000 plants a year are used throughout the park grounds, and Tree Tops’ gardening team has its own shrub nursery and grows Wish You Were Here 2the blooms on site. The Wales in Bloom judges commended the park’s ‘inspirational’ approach to design and plant selection, and said it had set the standard for other park businesses to emulate.

Tree Tops Caravan Park
Tel. 01745 560279
www.treetopscaravanpark.co.uk

 

 

 

Award-Winning Welsh Park For Sale

Award-Winning Welsh Park For Sale

The Willows, a multi-award winning caravan and camping park near North Wales’ seaside resort Abersoch, is up for sale.

Offers close to £1.375m are being sought for The Willows, a multiaward winning caravan and camping park near North Wales’ seaside resort Abersoch.

The 9.2-acre (3.7 hectare) park has 54 pitches including four exclusive ‘glamping’ or glamorous camping units, a static holiday hire caravan, reception/office, three-bedroom owners’ accommodation and another 3.7 acres for development subject to planning. Located beside the village of Mynytho and overlooking the Llyn Peninsula and Cardigan Bay, the park offers easy access to Abersoch and Pwllheli, some of Europe’s best beaches and activities including walking, sailing, water sports, golf courses, Surf Snowdonia and Snowdonia Zip Wire.

Being offered through Colliers International, The Willows continues to benefit from ongoing investment by the owners, achieving a turnover in excess of £115,000 and ‘very strong profits’ in the financial year to the end of February 2017. The park has won numerous awards including 5 Star Visit Wales & Britain accredited, the National Tourism Awards ‘Best Place to Stay’ (Touring and Camping), Top 100 Practical Caravan, Top 10 Glampsite and Premier Parks Award.

Five-Star Family Break Winners

Five-Star Family Break Winners

Rob & Hilary Hedison with Holiday Sales Co-ordinator Rhiannon Morris, left.

Rob & Hilary Hedison with Holiday Sales Co-ordinator Rhiannon Morris, left.

Lucky couple Hilary and Rob Hedison are celebrating after winning a luxury break at Park Leisure’s fivestar holiday home park, Brynteg, a popular holiday park with exclusive owners-only communities, nestled in the foothills of Snowdonia and surrounded by spectacular scenery.

The couple, from North Killingholme, took part in the leading holiday home provider’s nationwide competition to ‘Win A Luxury Break’ at last year’s Motorhome and Caravan Show at Birmingham’s NEC.

Retired teacher Hilary (56), her tanker driver husband Rob (56), their daughter Katie and her partner Reece, enjoyed a two-night stay in a beautiful holiday home, which comprises of three bedrooms, a spacious open plan living area, modern kitchen with integrated appliances and large outdoor decking area with a hot tub as well as an array of on-site leisure and pleasure facilities.

High Hopes For New £1 Million Park

High Hopes For New £1 Million Park

LlanberisWales’ Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Ken Skates, will officially open a new £1 million touring caravan park in the heart of Snowdonia in March.

Llanberis Touring Park, which has 54-pitches on eight acres of land on the edge of the popular village of Llanberis, is now accepting bookings for the opening. Owners, Morris Leisure anticipates high demand from touring caravan and motorhome owners because of the park’s prime location in Snowdonia, which attracts more than 10 million visitors a year.

Morris Leisure’s managing director Edward Goddard said: “Llanberis Touring Park is an exciting development for the company and we’re sure that caravan and motorhome owners are going to enjoy the stunning location.

“We expect the touring park to generate in excess of £400,000 a year for the local economy, which has got to be positive news for Llanberis.”