Twelve-month holiday parks are becoming more and more popular, offering permanent residencies to home owners and the opportunity for holidaymakers to make the most of their caravans or holiday homes. However, it’s the local economy – including your park – which could really benefit from the winter trade. Here, we find out how year-round opening is changing the industry for the better...
A huge part of closing down for the winter is, let’s face it, the good old British weather. Storms, ice and snow are to be expected – but this needn’t mean a complete shutdown. Holiday homes require winter maintenance whether someone is living in them or not.
Presthorpe Grange Residential Park Homes – an exclusive development which is open all-year-round – advise the following measures should be taken as winter approaches, saying that with careful planning, you can maximise the efficiency of your park homes, whether guests are staying in their park home for the duration of winter or leaving it to enjoy sunnier a climate.
“Underfloor heating can work wonders for energy efficiency and general comfort. Advanced systems will even work on a timer system or can be programmed using a smartphone or device and can be adjusted according to individual heating needs.
“If the park remains in use in winter months, leaving the central heating system set at the manufacturer’s recommended temperature should avoid frost damage. Carrying out simple precautions such as these also ensures any relevant insurance cover remains valid throughout the winter months.
“External cladding requires more of a financial investment initially, but the insulation will keep a park home thoroughly protected from the elements. The money saved in reduced energy costs will certainly make the cladding more affordable in the long-run.
“Additionally, clearing external gutters and trimming back any nearby or overhanging foliage will ensure that you minimise the opportunity of moisture getting inside the park home and causing any damage.”
Drainage issues solved
Jason Paul, MD of the automated Floë Induratec Drainage System, is an advocate of extending the season – for the benefit of your business as well as your guests’ holiday experience.
He said: “As a caravanner of 39 years, the biggest impact is on the local economy. Most caravan parks are around the coasts, lakes or areas of natural beauty. These are quaint little places, which more often than not are literally at the end of the road with absolutely no passing traffic.
“People choose to caravan there and the sites exist because of these places. It’s a two-way agreement. The residents want the area for the locality and the pubs, restaurants, shops and tourist attractions, but the difficulty is that the local economy comes to depend on the caravanners, through the summer season.
“However, when the winter comes, local trade collapses, as the caravanners are forced to stay at home. As a caravanner at the beautiful Co Fermanagh lakes in Northern Ireland, sadly we have seen many restaurants unable to weather the winters financially and close before the following season. But, what if we could change this?
“Say a caravan owner were to use Floë for a few winter weekends, what could this be worth to the local economy? Well, if a pub meal including a couple of drinks costs about £60 and then say £40 for some groceries and wine for day two back at the caravan, or you could choose a take-away or go out again the next evening.
“Either way, a weekend costs at least £100, plus fuel etc. If the owner were only to use the caravan five times over the winter, this would be worth £500 back into the local economy. If even 100 people were to do this, it’s worth £50,000. To keep these places alive, it’s time we all did our bit.”
Jason has spoken to economic development departments in local councils said they are “thrilled” with the prospect of caravaners returning for winter weekends. He added: “With most caravans being near residential spec, as a matter of fact, some believe it could be worth relaxing the closing down winter window altogether.”
The sites that are on board
Whitehouse Leisure Park opens for 12 months, and its website looks at the benefits for caravan owners: “For owners that rent their caravans out for most of the year, this is a great benefit. It allows them to take their own holidays out of the main rental seasons. Whilst winter is usually cold in the UK there are some days with clear skies and of course, spending Christmas on a family orientated holiday park is great.
“Winter breaks can also be ideal to get away on your own when the park is relatively quiet. Another benefit is that you won’t need to go through so many winterization tasks as owners do on closed season sites. These tasks are essential if a caravan is going to be left empty over the winter when the holiday park isn’t open.
“A caravan that is used all year means the central heating will be used frequently. Continuous use of the water means no frozen pipe to contend with or the ensuing damage caused by them.”
And Longbeach Leisure Park in Hornsea also offers year- round facilities, inviting guests to “enjoy your holiday home whenever you like and you can even join us for the Christmas and New Year parties”.
In conclusion, if you aren’t already on board with 12-month opening, these are some of the factors worth considering. It’s worth consulting with your local community, staff, visitors and holiday home owners. Each site has its reasons for closing over winter – obviously it’s got to be profitable for your park – but with a few tweaks and some extra investment, you too could be reaping the benefits of year- round trade.