Holiday Parks in the UK
Holiday Parks in the UK
The UK Holiday Park has become one of the great national institutions. Generations of families, from the turn of the century onwards, have left the UK’s cities to head for their two weeks summer holidays on the British coastline.
The Holiday Park had a fairly humble beginning, essentially offering accommodation, entertainment and food all under one roof, more often than not on the edge of a large traditional seaside town like Blackpool, Skegness or Great Yarmouth.
These holiday parks were very popular with families looking for affordable holidays, at a time when overseas travel was expensive and unobtainable for a large percentage of the general public.
However as overseas travel became more affordable Britain saw the rise of the package holiday in the 70’s and 80’s, which meant that the UK holidays no longer offered the value that was such a unique selling point for many of the popular parks. With the new found competition from guaranteed sun, cheap accommodation, food and drink, UK holiday parks came under increasing pressure.
The challenging times that faced the industry were definitely compounded by a change in perception of the holiday park experience. When you mentioned holiday parks people began to think of the popular TV series Hi-de-Hi and never ending rounds of knobbly knees competitions, donkey rides and red coat style entertainment. Unfortunately combined with cold and windy chalets and indifferent food!
The holiday park has however come a long way since its humble beginnings and in the last ten years the industry has seen a massive revolution in the breadth, quality and style of holiday parks available in the UK.
Like many UK tourism business the independent and multiple holiday park owners began to see a decrease in the interest in their holiday offering. The park owners came up with a number of solutions to counter the perception and the improve the quality of the holiday park experience.
Firstly the accommodation was upgraded. Customers were no longer happy with basic facilities, so holiday parks spent millions on improving accommodation facilities, from upgrading the standard rooms to developing penthouse apartments with plasma TV’s, four poster beds and room service. This resulted in holiday parks giving a more upmarket feel to all their accommodation and provided customers with a much greater range of choice.
Secondly the entertainment offering changed enormously. Some UK parks began to specialise in just offering specific entertainment breaks. Top comedians, shows and musical acts have begun to top the bill and themed weekends specialising in entertainment like county western, 60’s revivals and dance and sport breaks. Parks have also become better at targeting key groups like adult weekends, family activity holidays or special nights for stag and hen groups.
Thirdly the traditional three meals a day offering of parks has probably seen the greatest change. To adapt to the change needs of holiday makers more and more parks have began to offer self catering options rather than providing full or half board and charging extra for meals. Some of the larger chain parks have gone even further and don’t offer any catering, just inviting the restaurants and fast food places to offer food on the Park. However, as the parks themselves have diversified, offering different things to different holiday markets, so has the catering, and some holiday parks now make a virtue of the fact that they offer three top quality meals all day.
One example of a company who stayed ahead of the game was Potters Leisure Resort (http://www.pottersholidays.com/). As the UK’s only Five Star Independent Park they had long been investing to top quality infrastructure, entertainment and catering and the initial costs of the project have been rewarded with a reputation for top quality holiday park experience.
But Potters aren’t the only company offering top quality park style holidays. More and more developments in the UK are building the lodge style accommodation away from the traditional holiday park centres of seaside towns. The inland lodge style developments have specifically moved away from the ‘park’ image and now offer champagne and hot tubs style breaks in a quiet and secluded rural environment.
Parks are springing up right across the UK on the coast and inland and more than ever before the UK holiday park experience offers something for everyone from traditional entertainment in Great Yarmouth, to five star luxury in the Cotswolds. With so much innovation in the industry holiday parks will continue to offer more of what the holidaymaker wants and needs – a top quality holiday experience.
Peter JoynerThe UK’s only 5 star Holiday Park is Potters (http://www.pottersholidays.com/)