Jurassic Cliffs featured in “Broadchurch”
“Broadchurch” Jurassic Cliffs at West Bay
I would like to begin this blog with thanking all of our customers at West Dorset Leisure Holidays over the 2014 season. Every time we take a booking we have asked the customers if they would like to make a small donation to the Jurassic Coast Trust. I am very pleased to announce that we have raised £6,177.75 across all the holiday parks and our grand total raised now stands at £43,000 since 2008. This is a phenomenal amount and it is all down to our very generous customers.
James Weld the Jurassic Coast Trust Chairman was recently quoted as saying:-
“We inspire people to appreciate and learn more about the significance of the Jurassic Coast and to safeguard it for future generations by supporting projects that enhance and expand the understanding of world heritage, and the international importance of this unique coastline”.
It has also been a very exciting couple of weeks with the release of the trailer for the next “Broadchurch” series on ITV. If you take a look at our webcam you will be able to see the coastline in which this great series is being filmed. The release date for the programme has not yet been announced but we hope it is going to be a nail biting series like the last and most importantly is raising awareness of our stunning coastline here in West Bay. You can view the trailer on YouTube be clicking this link “Broadchurch”.
This Sunday we are hosting the annual Eype Makers Market in the restaurant and bar at Highlands End Holiday Park. Starting at 10:00am this is always a very well attend event and a great opportunity for you to pick up some local crafts, perfect for Christmas presents.
Next week is our final open week for touring at Highlands End, the extension to the season has proved popular and has given us a lot to discuss for 2015.
Extension to highlands end touring season
We are looking to extend the season for the holiday parks, and our research appears to be pushing us towards a 9 month season, rather than the 7.5 months that we are currently open.
It would appear that visitors are now looking for spring and autumn breaks, with November and March becoming more popular for various activities, particularly walking and enjoying the countryside. I have always considered that we have an important role to play in the contribution to the visitor economy, as well as making the best return on the infrastructure that we have on the holiday parks.
The business has to be feasible and this November we have opened the touring area for longer at Highlands End; so far we have had a good response – we have had a few challenges and as always it is impossible to satisfy all expectations – for instance we are not opening the bar every evening; However, every customer will bring economic benefit to the area and hopefully more trade at local pubs, restaurants and shops, especially during the traditionally quiet periods of November, February and March.
I am expecting it to be a slow start and very typical of 25 years ago, when we applied to stay open in October and we were told it was not viable. We now have a reasonable month of bookings and the half-term week at the end of October is becoming a key holiday week particularly with the increasing popularity of Halloween events
We believe that the extension to the opening period will have not only give visitors the opportunity to stay and explore Dorset out of the main season which will be a positive effect on our business, but will also be a positive factor for the visitor economy of West Dorset, and will include employment opportunities along with other beneficial factors; with all these key points in mind we felt we had to give the extension a go……….
To view our 2015 price lists ‘click here’
Fundraising and Community events
This October the team at West Dorset Leisure Holidays has been making an extra effort to raise money for Cancer Research. In early October we hosted two ‘Caravan Holiday Home Owners Evenings’ and on both nights we had a raffle and auction with donated prizes, the two events raised £495.30.
The team at WDLH also wanted to be involved in the Breast Cancer Campaign, ‘Wear it Pink’ day last Friday. We have now tallied up all the funds raised on this day and between the staff and customers we managed to raise £124.96. I would like to say an extra thank you to Ben’s Mum for baking some delicious pink fairy cakes that we were able to sell and to Penny, our Pool Attendant for all her extra efforts.
Last Sunday (26th October) was the Winniford Water Voles Trail. The rain held off and there was a good turnout of nature enthusiasts, visitors and local families. The group sang songs and had a story read to them by Martin Maudsley, a professional storyteller. The trail started from the Anchor Inn in Seatown, opposite our Golden Cap Holiday Park and the group walked along the river bank looking for voles and any signs of vole trails. Unfortunately no voles came forward for an interview! But it was good fun and very interesting. The volunteers have been doing an excellent job in preserving the area and it is great to see how much effort is being made to protect the intriguing Winniford voles.
Tomorrow night (Saturday 1st November) at Bridport Leisure Centre, the ‘Bridport Round Table’ will be putting on their annual Fireworks Display. The fireworks will start at 8pm but I would recommend getting there early with your family, as they have a BBQ and mini fun fayre for the children. It is also a great opportunity to meet the volunteers of the Round Table and find out just how much they do to support our local community.
Finland, Hull & Beaulieu
The group from Finland
11 September we welcomed a group of holiday park owners from Finland to view Golden Cap, Highlands End and Larkfield Holiday Parks for the day. It was a very interesting visit with us being able to ask questions about how holiday parks are managed in Finland and they were very interested in the way we manage holiday parks in the UK. The group are staying in the UK for a couple of days and have planned to view some other holiday Parks within the BH&HPA for research before returning home.
We also accompanied the group to Freshwater Holiday Park in Burton Bradstock and the holiday park team were very accommodating. It was a very interesting tour and gave us the opportunity to discuss how the tourism season had been this year and view new developments on the park. We would like to wish the Finland group a good onwards journey and maybe one day we will be able to go to Finland and view their holiday parks.
At the beginning of this week a group of us from WDLH attended the Lawns Show – The Caravan Extravaganza Weekend in Cottingham near Hull. At the show there were over 100 caravan holiday homes to view and the models for 2015 were very exciting. The show gave our CHH sales team a great insight into the models to expect next year.
We are now looking forward to the Beaulieu Show – Holiday Caravan 2014, from the 26th – 28th September where we will have our own WDLH trade stand.
To view our current holiday homes sales list please click ‘here’.
Meet the new team members
Jasper Phillips who is our new Holiday Homes Sales Co-ordinator who joins us with over 25 years’ experience on holiday parks and Mike Hale, Sales Advisor, who has worked for two of the leading dealers in the South West. They bring to our parks the knowledge and experience to help and advise our customers on the best options for finding their holiday home in Dorset.
Jenny Talbot, Park Manager at Golden Cap Holiday Park, has taken on this new role to improve the operation of the park and our customer service. Jen will also be available to advise owners wishing to purchase a new Caravan Holiday Home. I am sure that they will become very familiar faces to our customers and we are all looking forward to working together for 2015.
With our larger team we are moving into more activities and the photo shows our new team members manning our stand at the West Bay Fun Day where we had the opportunity to speak to new and existing customers.
This weekend just gone was Bridport Carnival and the very popular Torch Light Procession. I was assisting on the burger stand for the Bridport Rotary club on the Saturday night and we sold out of all burgers! The whole weekend was well attended by locals and tourists and there was even mention of a couple of Broadchurch celebrities!
We are now looking forward to the Melplash Show on Thursday 21st August and we will have our first West Dorset Leisure Holidays trade stand at the show. If you are around come and say hello, it will be a chance for you to meet the team.
South West Holiday Park of the Year
I was very pleased to find out that we had won ‘Holiday Park of the Year’ at the South West Tourism Awards last Thursday evening, below is a press release with further details …
Bridport holiday park takes “Best in South West” title
Highlands End Holiday Park in Bridport, Dorset, took the top Gold award in the holiday park category of the South West Tourism Excellence Awards, held last week (30th January) in Plymouth.
Stepping up to receive the award from ITV West Country news presenter Ian Axton were Hilary Selway and Valerie Walbridge, two long-serving members of the team at the park.
The couple represented Martin and Vanessa Cox, directors of the family-owned business who were unable to attend the ceremony.
The park will now go on to represent the region, with other category winners, at the National Enjoy England Awards for Excellence in May.
Highland End’s success in the South West awards comes just three months after the park scooped the top Gold accolade in two categories of the Dorset Tourism Awards.
It took both the Holiday Park of the Year title, and the Sustainable Tourism award.
At the same awards ceremony, held in October, Martin Cox was also revealed as having won a special honour for Outstanding Contribution to Tourism.
With a commanding cliff-top position and breathtaking sea views, Highlands End provides luxury holiday caravans to buy and rent, plus pitches for touring caravans, motorhomes and tents.
Its highly-praised facilities include a leisure club which incorporates a pool and fully-equipped gym, plus a quality restaurant, bar and cafe, and a shop specialising in fresh Dorset produce.
The park has received a number of additional awards for its care for the natural world, including the recently-received David Bellamy Conservation Award at its top gold level.
A raft of environmental initiatives at Highlands End have included imaginative energy-saving measures and successful moves to protect wildlife with the creation of animal and bird habitats.
The park has also been praised for its links with the local community, and its charity work which includes raising over £36,000 for the Jurassic Coast Trust over the past five years.
Martin Cox said that park staff and other family members were delighted when they discovered that Highlands End had taken South West England’s biggest tourism honour.
He said that everyone now has their fingers crossed for success in the national finals in spring.
See what really happens in our head office at Christmas!
Happy Christmas from all the staff at West Dorset Leisure Holidays.
Watch this brilliant video for a bit of Chistmas Cheer.
Last minute holidays available during the festive season
Highlands End Holiday Park has some great offers available over the Christmas period.
Contact us today for further information
It’s all systems go at WDLH
I haven’t written in my blog for a couple of weeks because we have been so busy with the closing of the holiday parks for the winter period, saying goodbye to our caravan owners and preparing for the arrival of new hire caravans, pods and lodges. The camping and touring fields are now closed and the caravans are being drained down by the maintenance team for the winter.
We are now starting work on various enhancements around the park so that we are ready to welcome our guests when we re-open on the 21st March 2014 – of course, the Highlands End Apartments, Bungalows and Lodges remain open for hire over the winter if you know of anyone who would like a break and enjoy our views and the freedom of walking the coastal path.
The Highlands indoor swimming pool is open for our local members throughout the year and we’re currently getting the renewals ready with some very competitive membership fees to encourage more local residents to become members and take full advantage of the indoor heated swimming pool, sauna, steam and gym.
On the 31st October Highlands End Bar and Restaurant hosted the annual Halloween Party. There was an excellent turn out with visitors and many local families, with most of the children and some of the adults in fancy dress. The dance floor was packed with toddlers parading in scary costumes. Steve Smith the ‘Vampire’ DJ judged the fancy dress competition and had the children and parents doing the conga up and down the restaurant.
This November I was very pleased when 13 members of staff showed willing to learn about using the Defibrillator. For some of the staff it was a yearly update but the few that hadn’t tried it before all showed great enthusiasm and competency – it is good to know we have a team that could assist if faced with an emergency.
The websites have had a recent update; we have added new films to a number of the pages which I hope will encourage people to visit the area and show just how much there is to see in Dorset. During the very strong winds a couple of weeks ago we were very lucky to pass unscathed, the only ‘emergency’ that was brought to our attention by a regular customer was the Highlands End webcam that always faced South towards the coastal views had spun round and was now showing Bridport town centre!
We are now looking forward to the Dorset Business Awards on the 28th November.
Dorset Tourism Awards
Today has been a very proud day for all of us at Highlands End Holiday Park. Last night we attended the Dorset Tourism Awards Ceremony at Bovington Tank Museum, where over 160 people attended and 39 awards were presented.
The awards had attracted 60 business entries in 12 different categories, each undergoing a rigorous three stage judging process including initial scoring, visits by a team of mystery shoppers and final assessment by an independent judging panel.
The Dorset Tourism Awards were launched in June this year, following extensive liaison between founder Robin Barker and local tourism leaders. Mr Barker said: “Dorset offers something special, yet for various reasons has not always punched its weight as a top destination – that’s why some 10 months ago my colleagues and I started liaising with the industry here in Dorset to assess the demand for your own Dorset Tourism Awards”
We had entered Highlands End Holiday Park into the competition back in August this year. I selected the 2 categories that I believed Highlands End would have a good chance in making to the final, ‘The Holiday Park of the Year’ and ‘Sustainable Tourism’ category.
The first to be announced of the categories that we had entered were ‘The Holiday Park of the Year’; being one of the top 3 finalists was already a great success and knowing our competitors I knew we were against 2 of the best holiday parks. When it was announced that we were first and being awarded the Gold Award I couldn’t hide my surprise and was extremely proud.
When our second category was called out for the ‘Sustainable Tourism Award’, Highlands End Holiday Park was in the final competing against one other Hotel. Again when we were announced as the winner I was very proud to collect our Gold Award. The award confirmed to me how well our business and staff have embedded sustainability into the operation of the park.
Finally to my complete surprise Robin Barker announced a special award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Tourism’. As Robin spoke of this nominee and the 30 years of contributions that he had made, it dawned on me very quickly that he was talking about me and my work in Dorset tourism and with the trade association. It was an honour to accept the award, recognising work which I have enjoyed undertaking and it has been a privilege to make a contribution to an industry which is so important to the economy of my county.