A sunny and busy easter
Local teachers attending a Jurassic Coast Trust course
We were very pleased that all our Easter arrivals were able to enjoy the sun last weekend; this included our spring lambs which were all born towards the end of last week with a total of 42. The new born lambs have now been released into the field overlooked by our Holiday Homes for hire and are beginning to enjoy running around together.
We have been very pleased with the positive feedback we are receiving from guests staying on the new gravel pitches at Highlands End. The grass seed is growing rapidly in the warmer weather and the pitches are starting to look smart for the peak season.
Martin’s Bar & Restaurant was very busy over the Easter weekend and we were fully booked on Easter Sunday. The kitchen is in its second stage of refurbishments and the catering team are looking forward to the new equipment.
I am very pleased to report that the Jurassic Coast Trust invited teachers from the local primary schools to come for a training session here at Highlands. The Trust wished to provide the teachers with more information about the geology of the Jurassic Coastline and for them to incorporate the Jurassic coast into their lessons. At West Dorset Leisure Holidays our visitors have risen over £40,000 for the Trust and were very pleased to see the money being put into the community.
Teachers Training Day
This week the team have had the opportunity to update their First Aid qualifications including the defibrillators which we now have on Highlands End and Golden Cap. The defibrillators are essential life-saving equipment in these holiday areas. Our team members are always very interested in the courses and recognised the importance of being prepared for a difficult situation.
Bridport and West Bay have been very busy over Easter and it makes a very positive feel to the town with people strolling around Bridport Market and West Bay.
Tourism Council and the Value of Tourism
As a member of the Tourism Council I have recognised further the value of tourism in the UK and the importance of our industry to the economy and employment. The Council recognises that the importance of the industry is not appreciated by many levels of government, businesses and in the community.
One of the working parties of the Council was asked to look at how communication could be improved and more awareness created about the sector which is taken for granted. However, many local plans do not fully adopt the visitor economy and it is interesting to see that under Employment the industry is frequently overlooked and a job in tourism is not considered to be a ‘proper job’.
Hospitality is a great industry and we need to raise the awareness of the importance of our sector and over the last 30 years we have made some progress but there is a long way to go. The working group has prepared the document below about the value of tourism in the UK and as you would expect I have added the Holiday Park industry to complete the picture!
Click here to view the document in pdf format BritishTourismInfoGraphicPlusHolidayParks
Shepherds View Lodge Opening Ceremony
Friday 20th March was the opening ceremony of ‘Shepherds View Lodge Area’ here at Highlands End Holiday Park. The sun was shining after the eclipse and we welcomed over 30 guests to the ceremony. Oliver Letwin our MP cut the ribbon on the Lodge area and referred to the benefits of tourism to the local area.
We were graced with the company of local Councillors, the Bridport Mayor, representatives from the Local Tourism Associations, and Paula Skelton from Pinelog who we have worked with very closely in the design of the Lodges.
In 2012 the local planning department approved the lodge development and in 2013 the first Pinelog Lodge arrived at Highlands End.
In March 2015 we accepted delivery of our 6th Lodge ‘Merry Weather’. The Lodges have proved to be very popular and with a stunning view over West Bay also known as ‘Broadchurch’ from the ITV drama series; their popularity is growing from strength to strength.
The opening ceremony was a great success with an excellent buffet put on by our staff at the newly named ‘Martin’s Bar and Restaurant’. A lot of photos were taken by the local press and we look forward to spreading the ‘word’ about our new project.
If you click on the following link you will be able to read the write up from the Bridport News Business Journalist, David Bol about the Lodge Ceremony.
Martin’s – Rebranded for the 30th Anniversary
The Bar and Restaurant at Highlands End Holiday Park opened in 1985 and ever since there has been numerous discussions about what to name the building. This year we will be celebrating the 30th year that the Bar & Restaurant has been open, and it was agreed between the family that we must now finally decide on a name.
I have been working for the family business for 31 years and it seemed very appropriate to tie in the two celebrations and call the Bar & Restaurant ‘Martin’s’. Many of you that will have visited the Bar & Restaurant will know that I have quite an accomplished collection of fire engine memorabilia, of which I am always keen to add to. When we were thinking of a logo for the new ‘Martin’s’ Bar & Restaurant it seemed only right to include a picture of a fire engine.
We will be having an official launch for ‘Martin’s’ and further details will follow soon.
Martin’s will be open every night and weekend from the 20th March, serving food and drinks to the holiday park customers and the general public. We will be showing live sports with our Sky Sports TV and our games room with pool tables will be available to all.
If you are thinking about where to book your next Sunday lunch ‘Martin’s’ is a great choice. Where possible we cater with local produce and all our staff are very knowledgeable about the local area. We welcome all different forms of functions from Weddings to Business Conferences and Private Parties.
Martin’s is a great family choice with a beer garden that has stunning views over the South West Coast. We have recently updated our children’s play area which has a secure surrounding fence and is clearly visible from the Beer Garden.
Dogs are welcome, and we are a great pit stop if you are planning on walking along the Jurassic Coast cliff top and need light refreshment.
For further details you can contact Martin’s Bar & Restaurant on 01308 426919 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
win a long weekend in a Lodge at Highlands End Holiday Park
Lodges at Highlands End Holiday Park
Over the last few weeks we have been analysing our website and have been looking at ways to make it even more user friendly and informative. After a great meeting with David and Adam from Keymultimedia it looks like we are almost there with the updates and the improved site should be live within the next couple of weeks. One very clever new option is the way in which the website will respond to screen sizes particularly mobile devices.
The ‘Broadchurch’ competition that we have been running since the 5th January will soon be coming to a close on the 23rd February, when the final episode will be shown on our TVsWe have had a great response and look forward to announcing the winner on the 24th February. The prize is a long weekend in a 3 bedroom lodge overlooking West Bay “Broadchurch” and worth over £500. There is still time to enter, all you have to do is click this link ‘Competition’ and follow the simple instructions, good luck.
The final drafts of our holiday home owner’s newsletter are being printed today and will be posted within the next couple of days. We have some great new updates for our owners, including confirmation of a longer opening season from 2016 and the dates for the next Owners Evenings.
The 2015 Caravan & Motorhome Show has started at the NEC in Birmingham. Our sales team arrived there on Monday and will be working on the ABI, Willerby, My Dorset Parks and Best of British stands, if you are going to the show please do stop by and say hello. If you would like to make an appointment to meet with one of the team please email email@example.com or call 01308 426917.
We will soon be welcoming back our seasonal staff to the holiday parks. Christine and Anthony, the wardens at Golden Cap Holiday Park, have already returned and are helping to get the park ready for opening on the 20th March.
a busy february and a great special offer
On the 22nd January I attended the Bridport and District Tourism Association, social evening at Haddon House in West Bay. The annual social is always a great opportunity for meeting with other members, and allows the chance to share experiences within the local tourism industry. Stephen Banks a local photographer who works for Watershed PR received the annual award for ‘Contribution to Tourism’ presented by Scott Condliffe the Chairman of the association. Stephen is an inspiration to the young business minded in the area, and for this I am pleased he was recognised and received the award.
The BDTA is always looking for new members who are willing to join the committee and support the local tourism industry. If you are interested in finding out more about the association you can email firstname.lastname@example.org
Last week I attended the BH&HPA Conference in Cardiff for two days, with Speakers and presentations on tourism and holiday trends, marketing, accommodation and many aspects relating to the management of holiday parks.
Next week (17-22 February) we are looking forward to the ‘2015 Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show’ at the NEC in Birmingham. All of our holiday home sales team will be attending the show, and representing WDLH on the My Dorset Parks, Willerby and ABI stands. If you’re attending the show at the NEC and would like to discuss owning a holiday home at WDLH, you can make an appointment to meet one of our team by calling 01308 426917.
On the 7th & 8th February our team organised a Holiday Home Open Weekend and we had a great response, meeting with many potential and current holiday home owners. The holiday home show ground at Highlands End seems to be working very well and is proving to be a great opportunity for customers to view Caravan Holiday Homes.
On the 6th February we opened the Touring Area at Highlands End Holiday Park. This is the first time we will have opened the touring area so early in the year, and already we have welcomed a number of visitors taking advantage of the February sunshine. We are currently running a great special offer; if you book for 7 nights in February a Hard Standing Serviced Touring Pitch, it will cost only £99 for 2 people; If you would like to find out more call 01308 426947.
The Cowshed Café at Highlands End Holiday Park is now open and we are stocking even more local produce in the Shop. The staff are very excited about the new Panini machine which is being tested at the moment. I am sure our visitors will enjoy sitting in the Cowshed Café with a cappuccino and a hot panini, whilst soaking up the views of Eype Downs and the Jurassic Coast.
In preparation for the 2015 season, we are advertising a number of job vacancies. More details can be seen on our website www.wdlh.co.uk/jobs
This week I have a meeting with the Tourism Council working group and on Thursday day a meeting in Paris with the management committee of the European Association – so a busy few days ahead ……….
Burton Bradstock Beach as Top Holiday Destination
2015 has started with a big PR response for us at West Dorset Leisure Holidays. We were in the newspapers on the 1st January for our financial contribution towards the Jurassic Coast Trust; and now with the release of the second series of ‘Broadchurch’ on ITV, our social media interaction and customer enquiries are increasing by the day.
At the beginning of the year we were featured in the local newspapers because we had agreed with the Jurassic Coast Trust how to spend the £6000 that we had fundraised for them. The Trust is going to use the money to fund educational projects for the students from local primary schools about the Jurassic Coast, and the World Heritage site that we are so privileged to live next door to.
On the 3rd January Visit Dorset publicised on their website a very exciting article about Dorset being featured in an article by the Guardian Newspaper, the feature was called ‘Holiday Hot Spots: where to go in 2015’. After viewing the article I I was pleased to find that amongst the list of worldwide beautiful locations like Cuba, California and Morocco at number 8 there was a picture of Burton Bradstock beach in West Dorset which is on the doorstep of two of our holiday parks (Graston Copse & Larkfield) . To view the article click on this link ‘Guardian’.
The second series of ‘Broadchuch’ started last Monday and the next episode is tonight on ITV. It looks like the first episode was enjoyed by the majority and social media in the area has become overwhelmed with ‘likes’ of coastal pictures and interest in visiting the area.
To join in with the interest in ‘Broadchurch’ we have created a ‘Broadchurch’ competition, giving the chance to win a short break in one of the lodges that we have overlooking West Bay which is the location for the fictional Broadchurch. If you would like to enter our competition ‘Click here’.
We are all looking forward to the next episode of ‘Broadchurch’ tonight and it is great fun for us locals to try and decipherer where the shots are taken. Click on our webcam if you would like to have a look at West Bay/ Broadchurch ‘Webcam’.
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.