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.
Halloween and the Bridport Arts & Craft Video
Highlands End Bar is getting ready for Halloween night, starting from 7:30pm on Thursday 31st October. Spooky Steve Smith will be providing the family disco and the kitchen staff will be organising a freaky feast! Children are welcome, come in fancy dress if you wish and join in with the ghostly fun.
I also wanted to bring your attention to another great video that is well worth watching and captures the ‘Spirit of Bridport’ concentrating on the arts and crafts of this vibrant town VIDEO
Memories of Highlands End
Last Saturday I stopped in the Bar for a coffee and met with Peter and Christine Felton.
Peter and Christine were having breakfast before leaving the park after a week’s holiday in one of our Caravan Holiday Homes. Peter told me that he has been coming to Highlands End since 1955 when he first stayed with his parents. Peter has continued to bring his family regularly to the park and his great grandson aged 6 had recently started swimming in the Highlands End Pool.
When camping in the late 1950s, Peter was proud to tell me that he used to cycle from Watford to the holiday park. In fine weather with a tail wind it would take 10 hours and with a head wind the longest journey was 22 hours!
Whilst we were sitting in the bar Peter could recall the old showers in the cow shed, they have since been demolished and turned into the Highlands End Bar. Peter said they were probably eating their breakfast very close to the location of an old shower. The couple had memories of Mr & Mrs Whiffin who owned the holiday park until 1971 and who they got to know very well during their frequent stays.
Christine reminded Peter of their honeymoon on the holiday park in 1965 and that when they had arrived in a Second World War Jeep. Christine said as they were checking in at reception Mrs Whiffin asked them to remove what she considered to be ‘inappropriate words’ that had been written on the side of the jeep by their wedding guests. Mrs Whiffin the holiday park owner thought the wording might offend the other campers!!
Peter and Christine still enjoy their holidays at Highlands End Holiday Park. They have witnessed many changes to the park over the years and I was pleased to hear that they believed that the development of the modern facilities had not destroyed the ‘peace and quiet’ of the location and area.
My conversation with Peter and Christine reminded me of the importance of ensuring each of our visitors enjoys their stay and that the holiday parks can be the foundation of so many precious memories. When I left Mr and Mrs Felton and returned to a mountain of paperwork, their happy memories gave me a burst of enthusiasm and reminded me that the paperwork is all very worthwhile.
The 1940s takes over Highlands End Holiday Park
The Highlands End 1940s Weekender was a great event, the weather behaved and there was a good turnout of exhibitors and visitors. It had been 70 years since the American GI’s arrived in Bridport and the weekend was a re-enactment and tribute to the brave soldiers of that time.
Around the holiday park we had allowed the re-enactors to get to work. They set up base with a USA military check point at the entrance to the holiday park. The check point was manned by re-enactors holding fake guns and saluted you as you passed. I hope our holiday customers enjoyed this and hopefully realised we were hosting a themed weekend and not our new park security!
At the entrance to the Bar the Women’s Land Army had set up base and had a washing line attached to the building, with large 1940’s bloomers blowing in the wind!
The games room of the Highlands Bar was used for a large display of Bridport and the surrounding areas 1940s memorabilia, along with many photos and maps showing where the officer’s mess was located and other fascinating facts about the area during the war.
The Highlands End kitchen staff soon got into the spirit of the weekend and prepared a special food menu with options of many 1940s dishes. On the Saturday night we welcomed the singer ‘Miss Luna Nightingale’ to the club house, who sung all the old classics including Vera Lynn and Doris Day. A few of the re-enactors showed us all how the dancing used to be, with very energetic jives and twists on the dance floor. It was wonderful to sit and watch the re-enacting soldiers enter the room and immediately remove their hat and move elegantly to the bar for a well-deserved tipple. The evening finished with a raffle which raised £229 for the ‘Help the Hero’s’, it was a great weekend enjoyed by all.
Dorset Tourism Awards, Dorset Business Award and 5 David Bellamy Gold Awards
It’s been a very proud week at Highlands End Holiday Park, firstly with being told that we had made it to the final for the Dorset Tourism Award. Then a few days later being contacted by the Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry, to be told we were through to the next stage of the Dorset Business Award. Then to top it all off being told all 5 of our Holiday Parks at West Dorset Leisure Holidays had been awarded David Bellamy Gold Awards.
Within the Dorset’s Tourism Awards we had entered 2 categories – Holiday Park of the Year and Sustainable Tourism Award. A press release was published by the Dorset Tourism Award stating:
“There are 12 categories in the competition which attracted great interest across the county with 60 entries and nominations. Finalists came from across the county with Hotels, Pubs, Attractions, Festivals, Holiday Parks and B&Bs amongst the list of winners. Several entrants are up for more than one award, including Bridport’s Highlands End Holiday Park”. (http://www.dorsettourismawards).
The Dorset Tourism Award Ceremony is being held on the 24th October at the Tank Museum in Bovington, we’re looking forward to the black tie extravaganza and fingers crossed when the winners are announced. If we do well at these awards it could then progress further:
“Successful businesses in the Dorset Awards will automatically be considered for the South West Tourism Excellence Awards in January 2014 and then possibly go on to represent Dorset at the National Enjoy England Awards later in the year” (http://www.dorsettourismawards.org.uk/).
And finally now that we are through to the next level of the Dorset Business Award, we will be welcoming the judges to our holiday park in October for a viewing of Highlands End Holiday Park, if we do well in this assessment we could again be invited to another Gala dinner at Poole Lighthouse in November, when the winners will be announced.
The 5 Gold David Bellamy Awards are a wonderful achievement for all the holiday parks within West Dorset Leisure Holidays and it helps us to prove just how important conservation of the environment and sustainability are to us as a company. David Bellamy comments that:
“The variety of work being done by these parks is phenomenal – from the creation of new wildlife meadows and woodlands to the construction of solar-powered shower blocks and energy-efficient lodges made out of recycled plastic, parks are active across the country” (David Bellamy http://www.bellamyparks.co.uk/about.html).
As West Dorset Leisure Holidays is located in the stunning West Country and fortunate enough to have 2 of our holiday parks located along the Jurassic Coast, sustainability is one of our most important factors along with happy customers and productive holiday parks.