The days of cheap and cheerful camping holidays may seem part of a bygone ‘Carry On’ era when the masses holidayed by the seaside in Blighty whilst only the mega rich travelled long haul. But Britain’s long-forgotten caravan parks and camp sites are founding a surprise return to vogue as the current credit pinch, high fuel costs and environmental concerns are collectively causing many holidaymakers to go back to basics.
Haven Holidays, for example, has reported an increase of around 30% in bookings over the last three weeks for breaks in June and July.
And the industry is casting aside its cheap and cheerful image with increasingly improved facilities and sophisticated accommodation. Whilst many parents express nostalgia for the seaside holidays of their childhood, they are also looking for higher levels of comfort, more to do and better facilities.
Haven Holidays invested more than £40 million across their 35 UK caravan parks last winter saying ‘We aim to meet and exceed guest expectations on our parks and re-investing in our product is at the heart of our business.’
Haven’s Rockley Park overlooks Poole Harbour is just around the corner from Sandbanks, the renowned millionaire’s housing development. The holiday park, which also offers boat storage and mooring facilities, has recently opened a luxurious spa offering health and beauty treatments and relaxing hot and cool spa experiences.
A similar spa at Devon Cliffs, near Exmouth, has already proved its popularity with holiday makers and caravan owners.
Other parks have professionally designed golf courses, horse-riding, well-stocked fishing lakes, tennis courts and bowling with organised activities that range from Learn2Swim lessons to fencing and archery.
The caravans themselves have ditched basic fixtures and fittings in favour of contemporary styling, modern kitchens - often complete with range-style cookers - comfortable lounge areas, central heating, two or three bedrooms and even ensuite showers. If you’re new to caravanning you might well be in for a pleasant surprise!
Haven invest significantly in landscaping to maximise the views and minimise the impact on the environment. They say ‘more and more of our caravans are arranged in attractive ‘communities’ - surrounded by trees and bushes.’
Self-catering is a far-cry from the camp-stove meals of yesteryear with a choice of food outlets, take-away options and sit-down restaurants -along with well-known high street brands such as Starbucks and Papa Johns.
And caravan holidays remain fantastic value for money with a wide range of activities on their holidays at no extra cost and a full entertainment programme to keep all the family happy without having to dig deeper into your pocket once you’ve arrived.