RETURN ON INVESTMENT
All aboard for the Brean Leisure development journey...
Regularly attracting over 500,000 visitors annually, Brean Leisure is a 200-acre resort that is reaping. Over the last 10 years over £15 million has been invested to improve the holiday experience of guests at both Brean Leisure Park and its sister sites. The group has a cluster of four parks at its Somerset base, Holiday Resort Unity, Golden Sands, Brean Country Club and Brightholme.
The combined offering boasts 165 hire fleet caravans and lodges, 750 private holiday home owners and a small matter of 400 touring and camping pitches. Not surprisingly, 150 employees work across the year while the overall number swells to 250 in peak summer months. The team’s main focus since 2021 has been on sustainability, adopting the slogan ‘Sustainability at Heart’.
The move has seen the company achieve some outstanding outcomes through mixed recycling, food recycling and energy initiatives. Although the founders, the House Family, remain the driving force behind the business, they could not have manage it alone. They gratefully acknowledge the help and support from past and present management and team members and hope they have enjoyed being part of the family-run enterprise in Somerset. Alan House comments: “The family are committed to reinvesting heavily into the park and the facilities to make it even better.
Planning permission has been received for an expansion to Brean Splash Waterpark and a flagship new entrance and entertainment complex at Holiday Resort Unity. “There’s an annual investment into new hire fleet accommodation of around £1m which keeps standards high and generates good used stock to then sell onto the private owners areas. “We are always planning at least two years in advance and looking at how we can enhance the experience and satisfaction of our guests.
The Brean story started when Albert and Marie House bought Unity Farm in 1946 and for the next 30 years ran the farm primarily as a dairy farm with a herd of 140 cows. They then supplied the local area with milk that was bottled on the farm. The farm grew to include a number of pigs and sheep and a milk round. Bert also had a passion for horse racing and enjoyed success with a number of winners in both flat and national hunt races.
As far back as 1946, camping was a very popular past time and Fry’s Chocolate Factory, from Bristol, pitched large tents on three fields of the farm for a two-week period during the summer so that their employees could have a holiday by the sea. What we know today as Holiday Resort Unity, spread its early roots there, and it wasn’t long before many groups including Boy’s Brigade Troops from across the country were coming to Brean for holidays.
In 1948, planning permission was granted to change the use of some of the farmland to caravans and camping and 20 acres were converted to this use. During the 50’s and 60’s caravan and camping became a bigger part of the business and slowly the number of cows, pigs and sheep decreased. In the late 60’s ‘Bert’s Bar’ was opened on the resort and became one of the parks first main facilities. During the 70’s and 80’s the beginnings of Brean Leisure Park was created and the Mid Somerset Golf Centre which included Target Golf, driving range, pitch and putt and also an eight-hole golf course opened.
Through the years additional recreation activities were added including greyhound racing, a swimming pool, donkey derbies and open-air markets to name just a few. The park was now attracting a lot of visitors from the Birmingham, South Wales and Bristol areas and in the late 1970’s the House family bought out the other directors so that they could concentrate on their passion of developing leisure and holiday facilities for local residents and holiday makers. The directors of the park from this point forward were Mr and Mrs House Senior and also Richard and Bridget House.
The original golf course was expanded to 18 holes and Brean Golf Club was created. The course hosted a number of pro and celebrity amateur tournaments as well as becoming a members club and a facility for holiday guests to use. In 1980, the complex known today as the ‘Tavern’ was opened and was then known as the ‘Farmers Tavern’ providing a venue for evening family entertainment, functions and weddings. The complex also included an Amusement Arcade and fast food outlets.
The greyhound track was closed in 1984 and to improve the look of the park a significant landscaping project was undertaken across both Brean Leisure Park and also Unity Farm. Further facilities were added during the 90’s including a river tyre ride at the swimming pool complex and also the addition of two, ten-pin bowling lanes at Unity Farm in 1994. One of the biggest projects the team has undertaken was the RJ’s Entertainment complex, a £1m investment with an American theme that replaced Bert’s Bar and Chicks Roost with a 700 people venue capacity in 2000.
Over the next 10 years the development of the facilities continued and included a new toilet block in green field and also an extension to RJ’s called ‘Berties’. Always looking for fresh opportunities, in 2003 the company acquired the neighbouring ‘Golden Sands Caravan Park’ with an additional 20 static caravans available for hire. 2005 saw the opening of the Costcutter supermarket as well as a refurbishment to the Yellow Field toilet block.
With Holiday Resort Unity now providing holidays for hundreds of people every year the old reception and office building became outgrown and a new facility was opened in 2006 to improve the check in procedure of our guests. The old reception building was then converted into the over 18’s arcade at Unity Bowl. In 2008, a new toilet block was constructed at Brown Field and also the Caravan Sales building was constructed and opened.
The Resort was also awarded a 4 star holiday village for the first time by the English Tourism Board. Work to improve Brean Golf Club was completed in 2009 including the creation of the longest hole in Somerset. A family nine-hole pitch and putt was opened. A Subway franchise and a family restaurant were opened during 2010 following the purchase of a former pub just 100 metres from the entrance to Brean Leisure Park which is now the home of the Bay of India.
In 2011, the first phase of a multi-million pound project to create Brean Splash; a new pool and entertainment complex, was completed. The £2m investment in Brean Splash saw the opening of a new indoor 25m swimming pool, indoor children’s splash park and a seaside themed outdoor children’s play structure with three waterslides. Three years later the team completed the final phase of Brean Splash to include a new indoor pool area with mini slides.
Meanwhile, Brean Play, our new indoor soft play attraction opened, offering an all year round play facility and cafe. The concession at Fun City changed hands and will now be called Brean Theme Park. There was no question of resting on any laurels as in 2016, a new gym, sauna and steam room opened at Brean Splash as well as Rainbow Rings Waterslide, rapidly followed by a new Baby Pool and Disco Slide at Brean Splash Waterpark.
In 2018, work was completed on a new £4m golf and lodge development, marketed as the Brean Country Club; a premium venue for dining, weddings, events and lodge development for sales. Coast, a new dog-friendly café, opened in the former Legends bar. A year later, saw the addition of new hire fleet and a refurbishment of Wimpy restaurant, into The Pavilion Food Court, plus a new central stock distribution centre.
The Covid-19 breakout caused major disruption at the resort. This delayed new projects and inhibited operating across the year. Nevertheless, a new Ninja Warrior course was installed on the mezzanine at Brean Play with a new sandwich shop replacing Subway and the launch of ‘The View’ restaurant at Brean Country Club.
Installation of a new outdoor play equipment at the outdoor play area in 2021. Still open to opportunities, Brightholme Holiday Park, 300m from Holiday Resort Unity, was purchased a couple of years ago, adding 70 privately owned static caravans and a bar and restaurant to the combined offering.