Getting on with our new store and talking about planning…….
The construction of our new garage and store is getting on fine with the exception of yesterday when it rained all day. During the rainstorm we had a fire in one of the main electric boxes which meant the our staff had to quickly adapt to make temporary supply cables to keep all the touring units connected. Why does it happen when it rains?
Yesterday afternoon, James and I attended a meeting of the Tourism Group set up by the District Council to look at the tourism issues which may have an impact on the new Local Plan being developed. The discussions covered many aspects of planning and tourism including the cost of applications, the process and the many planning and related policies which control the system. Hopefully, some of the questions and topics raised will have an influence on the officers writing the draft policy which is to be published in the new year.
The meeting was held at the Council Offices in Dorchester which are soon to be closed when the council staff move to new offices in the town which has been a very controversial decision. You can understand the reason why questions are being asked about spending money on modern offices in the town centre during the current economic climate.
We are having a fairly busy half term weekend at Highlands End while Golden Cap and our smaller parks are quiet and with the falling leaves it is clear that winter is approaching.
However, at Highlands visitors are having some wonderful autumn views of the coastline with some very heavy rainstorms. Last night Robert came running back home to get a spade to clear the drains in the drive when the water came over the bonnet of the Land Rover – a reminder to all of us to get the vehicles equipped for the winter weather.
Last Saturday our fireworks filled the sky over the town and it as worth the 2 hours it took to complete the risk assessment and implement the guidelines. This was followed by a very busy Sunday and like many family businesses we were all involved in the bar to keep up with the meal orders and the washing up! Some visitors were surprised to see me behind the bar again – fourth time this season…..I may have to decide whether to arrange more training on the new tills for next season.
We are always pleased to see something at Highlands and this week one of talking points was a 60 year old touring caravan in excellent condition.
Happy memories……makes our job worthwhile
Some days when I am surrounded by more paperwork, rules and regulations I have to question is it all worthwhile and then my enthusiasm and energy is re-generated when I receive a note from a visitor who really enjoys the park. Below is an extract of a note I received last week together with a selection of views which mean so much to them…..
Hello Highlands End
My wife and I have just returned from spending yet another glorious holiday on your Park in caravan H2.
We first started coming to Highlands End in 2000 when our son owned a caravan and we had unlimited use of it until 2008 when he sold it as the children were growing up and becoming very involved in their various activities which limited their use of the caravan. As we drove out of the site that September we never thought that the call of Highlands End and the scenery would mean as much to us as it does and we did not return until 2010 but the magic of that view to Thorncombe Beacon was still there in our memories and we have been coming twice a year ever since.
My wife is welcomed in the Pool by the local ladies whilst I continue to enjoy walks to The Beacon, Hive Beach and on a good day Golden Cap. We have over the years introduced numerous friends to the Park and in May 2012 it will on holiday with four of your caravans being occupied by us and our friends.
What prompted this mail? – well it was reading the flyer “Celebrating 40 Years at Highlands End”. It epitomises the spirit and vision of your company and its employees and we felt we had to say a big “Thank you” to you all. It has given our family and friends many happy holidays which we hope to continue well into the future.
Many thanks and Best Wishes to everyone at Highlands End.
Best of British meeting in Dorset
Following the defeat of England in the World Cup we had a very successful owners evening on Saturday evening with owners from Highlands End, Graston and Larkfield enjoying a wonderful buffet prepared by Sally and her team followed by Steve’s disco
On Sunday, Vanessa and I travelled to the Portland Heights Hotel for our annual Best of British meeting which was jointly hosted in Dorset by Highlands End and Wood Farm Holiday Parks – both parks being long standing members of the group. The Best of British group promotes independently owned touring caravan sites and holiday parks UK.
With 45 of our colleagues we enjoyed the welcome dinner in the restaurant overlooking the chesil beach and the fleet – what a unique welcoming view for all the delegates.
The conference quickly covered all the routine annual procedures and the Directors then introduced a speaker from the company responsible for the park grading assessment. He explained the proposed changes in the grading scheme for holiday parks and the impact on parks this year. Members were given the opportunity to ask questions and express opinions about some of the proposals and contribute to the final review which will take place over the next few weeks. The grading scheme is a useful tool for both the industry and our customers, but to be successful the scheme has to be cost effective and give out the right information and impression of the park to potential customers.
Another busy week…….
Travelled to Derby with the Director General and Chair of the BH&HPA to attend a meeting of the Caravan Holiday Home Supply Chain with the manufacturers and suppliers. This meeting is always a useful debate to help improve the quality of the caravans and service given to our customers.
On the way home on Tuesday evening I made a detour to a small hotel on the edge of Dartmoor to join other representatives of SW tourism for a dinner with James Berresford, the Chief Executive of Visit England, who gave an interesting talk on his work and the current position with regard to tourism support and marketing.
For the rest of the week I have been catching up on all the paperwork which has piled up on my desk which has included many of the end of season routines and looking forward to 2012 and beyond.
I did have a 3 hour break from the paperwork to attend a refresher on how to use our Defibrillator and we had a very good meeting today to review the procedures linked to the Caravan Holiday Home insurance scheme which has once again proved to be one of the best on the market particularly the service provided in the event of a claim.
Big day tomorrow with the England World Cup game against France followed in the evening by our Owners Evening which is fully booked……should be a good evening
Lots of sunshine
Last weekend must have been the best October weather for many years – the parks were very busy and like many tourism business we had to quickly get ourselves back into gear for the rush with high demand for ice cream and drinks.
On a personal note we took the opporutnity to have a quick trip around the bay in our boat before taking it out of the harbour for the winter. I had to take a picture of the crowded beach – a rare opportunity in October.
It was good to have a couple of hours away from the businesses and tourism discussions after a very busy week. On Monday 26 September I attended a meeting of the Bridport and District Tourism Association. The Tourism Officer of the District Council outlined the excellent work being done on the www.visit-dorset.com website and the increasing time being spent on promoting ‘Dorset’ and not just West Dorset. It was good to hear confirmation that the district councils will gradually be spent more time on promoting Dorset over the next 5 years …….a very slow journey, but at least we are going in the right direction.
On Tuesday we attended the meeting of the Southern Branch of the BH&HPA and on Wednesday I left for London to attend the Board meeting on Thursday. The work of the Association is becoming increasingly important with so many issues facing tourism and our sector at European, National and Local levels.
With this in mind, we were very happy to show a leading civil servant around the parks in West Dorset on Friday 30 September to show him how important holiday parks are tourism are to the economic recovery and discuss some of our concerns.
On Saturday we visited the Exeter Caravan Holiday Home Show – an excellent opportunity for our exisiting and potential customers to view the 2012 models.