From Humble Beginnings…

From Humble Beginnings..

The rise of park champions, Berkley Parks

Cauldron Barn Farm Park occupies an idyllic 14-acre site among the Purbeck Hills with outstanding views

Cauldron Barn Farm Park occupies an idyllic 14-acre site among the Purbeck Hills with outstanding views

It was back in the 1950s when teenage entrepreneur John Berkley, rented a piece of land for £1 a week and started selling touring caravans on sale or return. For 12 years, seven days a week, John grafted to build the Yeovil Caravan Company into a respected, local business. Over time, he was well placed to take advantage of the demand for holiday accommodation in the beautiful Somerset countryside. It wasn’t long before John also spotted a gap in the market for residential mobile homes and in 1955, Berkeleyparks precursor, Mobile Home Parks Ltd, was born. The name change to Berkeleyparks came later and any resemblance to John’s own surname is somewhat coincidental. Berkeley Coachworks was a well-known caravan manufacturer with an exciting sideline in racing and sports cars. Sadly, when the bottom fell out of the caravan market in the 1960s, the company went into liquidation but John Berkley purchased the rights to the name.

HALF CENTURY

The Berkeley Leisure Group Ltd, trading as Berkeleyparks, has grown substantially over the years to become one of the most prolific park operators in the UK. The Group’s portfolio now stands at 50 parks in 21 counties of England and Wales, with around 6,000 homes and 10,000 residents. Founder John Berkley, now Chairman and Managing Director, is still firmly at the helm, steering the Berkeleyparks business into the future with the aid of his wife and fellow Director, Anne Berkley. Other Directors include David Curson (Operations), Paul Tarr (Sales and Marketing) and James Leese (Projects and Development). The Berkeley Leisure Group Ltd employs around 200 staff in total across all of their parks. At least 30 of the team are based at the magnificent listed building, West Coker House, on the outskirts of Yeovil, which has been the company’s Head Office since 1968.

Residents of New Park in Bovey Tracey, Devon, benefit from its stunning location on the doorstep of Dartmoor.

Residents of New Park in Bovey Tracey, Devon, benefit from its stunning location on the doorstep of Dartmoor

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Kent Seaside Park Reveals £4m Revamp

Kent Seaside Park Reveals £4m Revamp

Holiday home owners and staff at a popular Kent holiday park are celebrating after the curtains went up on a £4 million makeover which took place over winter.
It means that New Beach Holiday Park near Dymchurch is now ready for the 2018 season with facilities described as ‘wholly unrivalled’ in South East England.  Park Holidays UK, which owns New Beach, said the on-time completion of such a major project was a fantastic team effort for which everyone deserved credit. Kent SeasideIn just a few months, the park’s former clubhouse has been demolished and replaced with a modern new complex, fully equipped with the latest showbiz technology. The high-tech lighting and sound systems will allow New Beach to stage West End standard live shows as part of the free entertainment provided to guests. Park Holidays UK has also equipped the complex’s arcade area with world-class video and electronic gaming systems suitable for all ages and levels of skill. There’s also a complex bar with supersize TV screens, a restaurant serving meals throughout the day and evening, a mini-supermarket, and a sales administration centre. Also just opened is a new development of leisure homes to buy, ranging from starter caravan holiday homes at around £15,995.00 to fully specified extra-wide luxury lodges. According to Park Holidays UK director Tony Clish, the decision to invest substantially in New Beach is a reflection of the confidence the company has in the park’s future: “New Beach has long been one of the most popular of our 28 parks, and we are determined to ensure it continues offering guests the best possible experience,” he said. “The park is open for 50 weeks of the year for leisure homeowners, so there’s always a great holiday atmosphere and plenty of indoor activities such as a swimming pool. “Park Holidays UK is especially well known for the quality of our free entertainment, and we spend literally millions each year securing first-class acts.

“I am confident that our investment will help attract even more visitors in the future, and this will also benefit the many other businesses in this part of Kent which rely on tourism.”

Bunn Leisure Entertainment Investment

Bunn Leisure Entertainment Investment

Bunn LesiureAward-winning holiday park operator, Bunn Leisure, is continuing to invest heavily in a new state-of the-art entertainment complex and a purpose-built main reception and head office facility. The 300-acre holiday park on the stunning Selsey Peninsula is split into four villages and is mid-way through an ambitious £16m refurbishment programme replacing the 60-year-old White Horse entertainment complex.

“The White Horse was a much-loved feature at Bunn Leisure, but some parts date back to 1959 when the park was created,” Managing Director John Bunn said. “The new complex will be a very modern 21st century entertainment venue – much larger and with fantastic new facilities for our parks. With Bunn Leisure’s entertainment budget at around £2million each year, the new club will be able to welcome twice as many guests, and is expected to quadruple turnover.

“We continue to re-invest heavily in our facilities and Parks which clearly demonstrates our ongoing commitment as an innovative leader in the UK family holiday sector,” adds John. “The money we are investing into these latest improvements takes the total reinvestment value in the parks over the last 20 years to £75m.” Bunn Leisure’s new head office and visitor reception is now complete, and staff are currently relocating in stages to their new offices. Bunn Leisure employs 350 full-time and a further 350 seasonal staff, and welcomes more than 100,000 holidaymakers every year. It generates more than £60m for the local economy and the new developments will create future employment opportunities for the region.

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.

Stitch In Time – Landscaping

Stitch In Time - Landscaping Focus

Stitch In TimeThey say planning is the key to success and in the case of outdoor space and landscaping – a well thought-out strategy will pay huge dividends not least by avoiding costly mistakes. A useful starting point is to focus on the ‘unique selling point’ of your park or for types of clientele.

If a significant proportion of your guests are young adults on a short stay, you will want to provide ‘robust’ spaces with plenty of secure seating. Clever use of security-style planting such as prickly or thorny plants, will deter access to other protected areas. On the other hand, if the bulk of your long-term residents are more mature, ensure that there are safe and attractive ornamental spaces immediately around the living areas and communal spaces, but keep them clear from debris and obstacles and use non-slip surfaces.

DUTY OF CARE

For younger guests, preparing suitable landscaping options can prove even more challenging, ensuring that play areas are safety compliant and you can demonstrate appropriate ‘duty of care’. “People often stay in a holiday park to feel more connected with the local outdoor environment, explains Martin Howe of Wykeham Mature Plants, “But it is the holiday park itself that will bring repeat custom.

“A holiday park business cannot rely solely on their location or the surrounding countryside and must provide attractive, functional spaces,” advises Martin. “Why would you stay on a site, even if there are amazing views of the surrounding countryside, if the site itself is untidy, unloved, looks unprofessional, and even potentially dangerous?” Martin encourages holiday parks to have a clear idea of what they want to achieve and how it will benefit the business and customers alike.

“Prioritise key areas and the timescale in which you need to address them,” he advises, “Large planting schemes, as well as needing significant initial outlay, will also require maintenance, so plan for this from the start and don’t take on more than you can handle in one go,” he continues. Stitch In Time 2

“Balance this with the logistical benefits (lower transport costs, less disruption in the long term, etc) of larger jobs and decide whether to undertake a single, major project or whether to break it into smaller, more manageable chunks,” Martin adds.

Knowledge of site conditions are also essential before preparing large scale landscaping works, specifically the growing conditions in each location (drainage, soil type, exposure, etc) as well as any other limiting factors, such as access by children and proximity to grazing animals. “Select plants accordingly – planting the right plant in the right place will avoid problems later,” warns Martin.

PLANTING SEASON

There is often a wider, or cheaper, selection of suitable plants available during the traditional planting season, which is during dormancy (November to March); for many holiday parks this coincides with the off-season, so this is the ideal time to plant horticulturally, commercially, and logistically to minimise disturbance to your customers. Naturally, demand for planting services at this time of year is high so plan ahead.

To read more about prepping and planning for landscaping work please subscribe to Holiday Park Scene here.

COMPANY CONTACTS

FORDINGBRIDGE Tel.01243 55 44 55 www.fordingbridge.co.uk

WOODLAND HORTICULTURE LTD Tel. 01458 441122 www.woodlandhp.co.uk

WYKEHAM MATURE PLANTS Tel. 01723 862406 www.wykehammatureplants.co.uk

Fun For The Family

Fun For The Family

Fun For The FamilyWhen Bert House, a Somerset dairy farmer, opened his farm to a group of scouts in the summer of 1948, it started a trend which continues to grow to this day. From its humble beginnings, the family-led team of Holiday Resort Unity have been aiming to get people smiling for over 65 years.

Grandson, Alan House, says: “Guests still enjoy many of the same things which that troop of scouts loved about their pioneering visit here fresh air, fantastic views and the sandy beach of Brean”. Today the four-star resort incorporates Brean Leisure Park and Golden Sands Holiday Park under the name of Holiday Resort Unity. “We have continued to develop the facilities of the resort with Brean Play Indoor Softplay centre, Brean Splash Waterpark and Brean Golf Club; and did we mention that we’re just 200m from the beach,” adds Alan.

 

CATERING QUALITY

As well as scooping numerous awards, including five in 2016 alone, Holiday Resort Unity boasts a vast array of on-site facilities and catering options which includes ten restaurants and a supermarket for guests. With such a large footprint on the Somerset countryside Holiday Resort Unity spreads its 76 static caravans and 445 touring pitches across three sites. The original Holiday Resort Unity is perfect for families with easy access to entertainment and facilities; Brean Leisure Park is closer to the action and onsite fun; and Golden Sands, the quietest site, with five miles of golden beaches. “As one of Somerset’s top camping and caravan parks, we have a great choice of accommodation to suit your needs and budget. Whether you’re a seasoned camper, wannabe glamper or looking for high-end luxury,” comments Alan.

HUGE ATTRACTIONS

Fun For The Family 2With on-site facilities such as the state-of-the-art gym and indoor and outdoor splash zones with views overlooking the Mendips, there is plenty for the whole family. The indoor and outdoor splash zones feature slides, interactive water features, tipping buckets, mini-slides, and a 25m six-lane swimming pool with male and female gym exclusive changing and sauna and steam room. Kids are also encouraged to enjoy the soft play centre, and big kids have the options of Brean’s Golf Course – open to beginners and pros – or Brean Theme Park with over 40 rides and attractions including rollercoasters and dodgems.

Brean Golf Club’s 18-hole course is set in 120 acres of lush green meadowland, the course is interspersed by several water ways and ponds that make formidable hazards around the flat landscape. “With the course being so close to the sea, you’ll find the fresh winds and breezes can change a hole dramatically from one day to the next. We also offer a range of services including coaching, club repairs and a selection of golf equipment to buy and rent,” adds Alan.

“If great fishing and beautiful surroundings are what you’re looking for, Holiday Resort Unity is the place for you. On the edge of yellow field nestled beneath the willow trees you will find our fishing lake.” Adding to the extensive list of attractions in 2017 was Sunshine Farm, a delightful experience for kids to meet and learn about some of the resident farmyard favourites with lots of animals to hold and pet.

Holiday Resort Unity
Tel. 01278 751235
www.hru.co.uk

Luring Activity Lovers

Luring Activity Lovers 

Luring Activity LoversAn all-action holiday park near York, Thornton Lodge Country Retreats says its planned 20 bespoke lodges, to own and rent, are designed to satisfy the growing appetite for outdoor challenges among guests.

The park, based on a 220-acre farm owned by the same family for over 70 years, is winning a national reputation for the excellence of its country sport activities. Its extensive fishing lakes and clay pigeon shooting facilities provide the opportunity for all ages to learn traditional sporting skills under expert tuition.

There are equestrian facilities on offer including stabling, cross country, show jumps and regular events, plus instant access to some of North Yorkshire’s finest cycling and walking routes. The new lodges will sport luxury features such as hot-tubs, high-end furnishings, glass-fronted decking, and spectacular views across the park’s lakes and the surrounding Howardian Hills.

Booming Sales

Booming SalesBooming Sales

Figures released by the National Caravan Council (NCC) reveal the total number of new motorhome and caravan owners had risen to over 56,000 nationwide.

The ‘staycationing’ boom was reflected at the recent West Midlands Caravan and Motorhome Show with motorhome registrations in the year to the end of June up by 14 per cent to 13,162; new caravan holiday homes and lodges were up by nine per cent to 21,214, and touring caravans were up by seven per cent to 22,185.

The nine-day show, which ran from September 30th to October 8th, attracted around 15,000 visitors with displays at award winning Shrewsbury dealership Salop Leisure showcasing the latest innovations for 2018 with the launch of exciting new models.

Tourism Tax Is Backward Business Step

Tourism Tax Is Backwards Business Step

Tourism Tax Is Backwards

The owner of a major holiday parks group in Wales has told ministers they risk devastating the visitor economy if they push ahead with a tourism tax.

Thomas Scarrott, owner of Vale Holiday Parks, said that such a move would undermine all the fantastic work done by the Welsh Government to encourage tourism.

Thomas warned that a visitor levy would hit not just accommodation providers such as his seven parks but would also have a damaging knock-on effect on the many businesses which rely on the tourism industry such as pubs, shops, cafes and visitor attractions. “Many of these are smaller family-owned businesses such as Vale Holidays which sustain thousands of jobs throughout Wales,” said Thomas.

“Reported industry figures show that tourism is worth around £5bn to the Welsh economy, with more than 10 million overnight stays being recorded annually.” He highlighted this year’s £5m Visit Wales’ Year of Legends campaign which, he said: “Did a great job in promoting the many different experiences on offer to Wales’ holiday visitors. The only possible consequence of a tourism tax, would be fewer visitors and an additional administration burden on tourism businesses.”

Thomas’s family has been involved with the parks industry for almost 50 years, providing holiday homes to rent and to own, and pitches for touring caravans, motorhomes and tents. Ministers say they will decide early next year on which of the four possible taxes they would prefer to implement, subject to go-ahead from the UK Government. Meanwhile, the park industry body BH&HPA and many of its park members in Wales are making urgent representations to Welsh ministers and assembly members.

Acclaim For Former Dairy Farmers

Acclaim For Former Dairy Farmers

Acclaim For Former Dairy FarmersA family-run holiday business has claimed a double victory at this year’s Rural Business Awards (RBA’s).
Not only did Hoe Grange win the Best Rural Tourism Business category, it also pipped 12 other category winners to be crowned as the Champion of Champions. The Derbyshire farm, which specialises in high quality disabled access, was awarded the prize by Harper Adams University, ahead of runners-up Barleylands Farm Park and Craft Village in the only UK-wide programme dedicated to showcasing the success of rural businesses.
David Brown from Hoe Grange Holidays said: “We started out as dairy farmers but spotted an opportunity to diversify our business and offer a positive experience for people to enjoy the Derbyshire countryside.
“To have our success acknowledged at the Rural Business Awards is testament to all our hard work and to the people who have supported us along the way. It’s obviously a great honour to be named as Champion of Champions at this year’s ceremony and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for our business.”
When David and Felicity Brown first investigated self-catering tourism to supplement their dairy farm income in 2005, market research showed there was a large supply of standard self-catering properties in the Peak District but a lack of accessible accommodation. Over the past decade Hoe Grange Holidays has become a specialist in accessible accommodation, winning many national awards.