Palmer’s Brewery Tour
We had the pleasure of going on a Brewery Tour yesterday as part of a Palmers visit. It was great to be shown around the production line by the Head Brewer Darren Batten and owner Cleeves Palmer and learn about the history of the brewery, the beers it brews and how the business has had to change and adapt since 1794.
Brewing 5 Ales all year round and a seasonal each quarter we learnt about the brewing process and how each beer is made to taste different. We were treated to a few samples while learning about new products in the Palmers Range which includes a Dorset Haze Cider which we now stock at Martin’s.
After lunch we had a talk from Cask Marque regarding keeping the cellar, beer and glasses at a high quality and we are pleased Martin’s has the highest award possible for this.
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End of Season Meeting
It’s been a busy few months since our last blog and we apologise! We have decided to rename the blog to be a general West Dorset Leisure Holidays blog so that we are able to update it more often with news and events from around the 5 Holiday Park and the local area.
We start with our ‘End of Season’ meeting this morning, attended by around 50 members of the team. As well as reviewing the year, we discussed the work the maintenance teams will be undertaking over the winter, as well as looking forward to future changes to the day-to-day operation of the parks.
We introduced staff awards, starting off with Sandyholme Holiday Park winning Park of the Year for 2017. Fez and Tracy the new wardens have worked hard all year with plenty of fresh ideas. They have improved the park greatly and will continue to do so in 2018 and we look forward to seeing the changes!
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Tourism Pub of the Year!
This week we were all reminded that it’s not just the investment and development of the parks, the high standard of customer service or the accommodation we offer that keep our guests (new and old) visiting us. It is in fact our beautiful surroundings, attractions and of course the wide range of food and drink on offer in the local pubs and restaurants.
We were proud to hear that The Anchor Inn at Seatown, which is just 150 yards from the entrance of our Golden Cap Holiday Park, won the title of Tourism Pub of the Year at the well-known Visit England Awards of Excellence this week. The traditional country pub located pretty much on Seatown Beach and the Jurassic Coast serves Palmers Ales and fantastic food with ingredients sourced from some of Dorset’s best local suppliers.
Being named the top pub in this category out of 600 applications (the highest number ever received) is no mean feat and Paul and his 20 strong team provide what we would describe as an experience rather than your traditional pub grub.
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£57,000 raised for the Jurassic Coast Trust
It’s been a busy couple of weeks for everyone at West Dorset Leisure Holidays. The 17th March saw the rest of the Touring, Camping and Glamping areas open at Highlands End, Golden Cap and Sandyholme and we have enjoyed a busy month with some excellent weather for the time of year. It’s great to be able to take Harry our Golden Retriever for an evening walk down the Park and see all of our guests enjoying warm evenings and beautiful sunsets.
The maintenance teams have been hard at work keeping the holiday parks up to the high standards they set and have also been working on gravel pitches and surrounds for our new Safari Tent and Stargazer Bell Tents at Golden Cap, Graston Copse and Sandyholme. These are available from the 7th April and we can’t wait to see the reaction and feedback we get from the first guests who try this new offering.
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With only 24 hours until we officially open all of the WDLH parks for the season we held the pre-season meeting yesterday for both new and existing team members. It was great to be able to update them on some of the main pieces of work we have all been carrying out since our last team meeting in October.
Today we welcome a crane to Golden Cap to pitch the 4th and final lodge of the 2016/17 winter works and I look forward to getting in them all next week or the week after once siting is complete.
Across the parks this week is a hive of activity with tidying, taking down gates and turning the services back on to pitches and buildings.
I expect many of you have enjoyed the first episode of the final series of Broadchurch last night,
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It’s been another busy week our Dorset holiday parks. February half term has been our busiest yet since we started opening earlier 3 years ago. The sunny days have helped and James had to make a decision to open 19 gravel pitches on top of the 37 Hard Standings we already had open, which were full at the weekend. These will now stay open for the season and will be joined by the remainder of the pitches during March. We are on target for the 1st of March opening and the pre-season meeting is just being confirmed for both existing and new team members, who all start in the next week or so.
An update on Martin’s Bar & Restaurant
The kitchen extension is now up to roof height and the wooden trusses started to go up this morning which is exciting and also shows we are on target.
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In Martin’s Bar this week we have completed (we think) the plans for all the changes and the building team have enjoyed working with a family most of the time as we ducked and dived and made changes. Who would of thought how much work is involved to choose where to put TV’s, speakers, CCTV and Electric sockets not to mention the main bits and pieces. Taking weekly pictures is becoming hard, as unless you are here the changes look minimal but believe me there is a lot so this week so no pictures – sorry.
What I can tell you is that we have chosen the light fittings, the furniture and the layout of the bar is completed. Talking about the bar, Sally and Zoe have really enjoyed attending trade shows, who wouldn’t when you can try Cider, Wine and Beer. I am looking forward to their suggested stock but we need to keep the old favourites.
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Changing the Experience
This week we have chosen to concentrate on how changing our offering and experience as a family business is important to keep up with our customers expectations and a changing tourism market.
Last Friday, I was pleased to serve the last drink over our bar after serving the first in 1985. This brings to an end the 32 years of Martin’s Bar and Restaurant as we know it and the contractors have already started stripping the ‘old’ bar out. We are keeping the wooden top although we don’t have a use for it as yet… ideas are welcome!
Our siting team have been busy with the caravans I mentioned last week. Many are now sited, including these two stunning ABI Amblesides which will be handed over to their new owners in March.
C G Fry,
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Martin’s Bar Refurbishment
Today sees the last function in the bar as we know it before we hand the full building over to the contractor. Tonight I plan to attend the function as a customer but then slip behind the bar for the last hour or so. I wish to serve the last drink over the existing bar, particularly as I served the first in 1984. The investment into the building this winter will make the bar nearly 10 times larger than it was in 1984 and I am pleased as a family of what we have achieved.
We took Sally and Zoe to the Hospitality Show at the NEC this week, it was great to see everything on offer and now they are busy putting mood boards together to cover a range of products we need to purchase. These include glasses, cutlery, boards, plates and furniture to name just a few.
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It has been an exciting and busy January at Highlands End. The biggest project we have undertaken for a few years has started. Our building contractors C G Fry arrived after the Christmas break to undertake the refurbishment of Martin’s Bar and Restaurant. Over the next four months we will see a full transition from what you have all come to know as the Bar and Restaurant at Highlands End.
The refurbishment includes two separate extensions. One for the back of house which includes increasing the size of the kitchen and storage to double the size it is now. The other extension sees the ‘main room’ being extended and the flat roof being replaced by a pitch roof. Plus a complete refit including the bar, new furniture and colour scheme. Don’t panic we aren’t losing the Fire Memorabilia!
The team have been planning for the coming months and we are moving into the Cowshed Coffee Shop for the month of February.
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