From pensioners to hipsters – The changing face of the holiday park industry

From pensioners to hipsters – The changing face of the holiday park industry

What do you think of when you picture a UK holiday park? Most people envisage a traditional family destination filled with noisy young families or pensioners who are looking for a quiet place to spend time during their retirement.

Often these are populated by bog standard static caravans and characterised by traditional family ‘entertainment’ and crowded, cold swimming pools.

Well, all of this is now changing with UK holiday parks being given a much more luxurious feel designed to appeal to a more affluent customer base made up of style conscious social influencers and successful city based business people keen to have their own countryside hide away from their hectic weekday lifestyle.

This revolution is being led by ever expanding brands such as Darwin Escapes who now own 20 holiday resorts across the country in regions including North Wales, Cornwall and Somerset. Each of their destinations have their own unique character designed to appeal to varying sections of the market. Those looking for a romantic escape can head to the quirky hot tub equipped beach huts on offer at Beach Cove Coastal Retreat in Devon, whilst the busy city business people can purchase their own home away from home in the midst of the Somerset countryside right next to the iconic Cheddar Gorge when they buy a lodge at the 5 star Cheddar Woods Resort & Spa.

The Darwin Escapes business model revolves around purchasing these run down traditional UK holiday parks and turning them into contemporary 5 star destinations which offer outstanding levels of luxury in terms of the accommodation on offer as well as a wide range of high quality facilities and activities made up of tranquil spas, saunas, steam rooms, mouth-watering restaurants and in some cases in door entertainment areas. The facilities and activities offered vary by park so as to ensure that the destinations are very much tailored to their own specific target market.

Eight of these Darwin Escapes holiday resorts offer holiday home ownership options so that customers can purchase their own retreat in which to escape to whenever they so please throughout the year. Options available include modern and well equipped holiday lodges as well as more traditional static caravan options. This is designed to appeal to stressed out inner city business customers who can just pack their bags on a Friday night and escape to their own slice of the countryside; enjoying the tranquillity on offer for a weekend away whenever they so please.

This is all big business. On the back of Brexit, two of the UK’s largest holiday park operators where purchased as part of big money deals from international companies who were keen to get in on this growing market. This included the sale of Parkdean to Canada’s Onex Company for £1.35 billion and Park Holidays being sold to the Intermediate Capital Group (ICG) for £362 million.

Growth in this industry is anticipated owing to the plummeting value of the sterling against international currencies and the potential increased difficulties involved in European travel, both of which are making domestic staycations a far more attraction proposition for the majority.

It isn’t all about money levels however. The fact that Brexit was voted for highlights the growing Pro-British bias amongst the population, with a study conducted by TravelZoo last year revealing that 27% of Brit’s were choosing to spend their main summer holiday in the UK. This was a higher percentage than those who were choosing to holiday in other popular European destinations including Spain, Italy and France. Indeed, the study suggested that a growing number of our population are beginning to gain a bigger appreciation for the attractions on their doorsteps as well as the added ease of domestic travel compared to stressful airport experiences.

Amidst the backdrop of this, Darwin Escapes is continuing its expansion with the news that it has recently acquired The KP Club in Yorkshire. Expect to see further growth from these brands as the market for staycations and holiday home ownership continues to gain momentum.

Sarah Twist, Holiday Home Industry Expert, Darwin Escapes.

Tel: 01745 858010




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