Nina Blanchard

Published: 18 articles

The Lego Caravan

A life-size caravan which holds the Guinness World Record as ‘the largest caravan built with interlocking plastic bricks’ has gone on display in the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu.

Built by 12 model makers using 215,158 Lego bricks, this astonishing creation may use plastic components from the toy box but does almost everything a real cLego-caravanaravan can do, with electric lights, running water and even seats that fold into a bed.

The brick brilliance continues inside, with incredible details such as eggs, mushrooms and tomatoes cooking in a frying pan on the two-hob burner, a vase full of flowers on the table, toothbrushes and a tube of toothpaste by the sink, a milk carton in the fridge and even a complete chess set.

Measuring 3.6 metres long, 2.2 metres tall and weighing in at 1200kg, the project took over two months to build and more than 1,000 man-hours. Layers of Lego bricks were built on top of a conventional caravan chassis, proving how strong and versatile the plastic pieces can be. Only standard off-the-shelf Lego pieces were used, with no custom-made components.

Visitors to the National Motor Museum can see up-close how this caravan stacks up. It was designed to mimic a classic T@B 320 teardrop-style caravan and created two years ago by LEGO building specialist Bright Bricks as part of the National Caravan Council’s Freedom to Go campaign.

The campaign aims to change the public perception of leisure vehicles, inspire and educate them about holidays in trailer tents, motorhomes, touring caravans, caravan holiday homes and lodges. It also provides inspiration and advice to decide what type of leisure vehicle to choose and to help plan a holiday adventure.

 

 
The unique LEGO caravan is now on show next to the Caravan and Motorhome Club collection display in the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu.

Dan Connolly, the Freedom to Go Campaign Director, said: “Freedom to Go is delighted to have the LEGO caravan on display at the National Motor Museum, Beaulieu until October. The LEGO caravan was built with the intention of building awareness of leisure vehicles and the great adventures you can have with them.”

Entrance to Beaulieu includes admission to the National Motor Museum, the World of Top Gear, On Screen Cars, the 13th century Beaulieu Abbey and grounds and Palace House, which has been home to the Montagu family since 1538. Tickets can be bought in advance online or on the door. For tickets or more information see www.beaulieu.co.uk or call 01590 612345.

Find us on Twitter @Beaulieu_Hants, on Facebook at /nationalmotormuseum or on Instagram @national_motor_museum.

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Devon’s largest biomass hub unveiled at Cofton Holidays

Cofton Holidays, the multi award-winning holiday park near Dawlish.

South Devon, has taken its green credentials to new heights with the launch of a state-of-the-art biomass hub that will provide heat and hot water to Cofton’s 4,800 sq ft leisure and dining complex, its cottages, major shower and toilet blocks.

Officially opened by Anne Marie Morris, Member of Parliament for Newton Abbot, Cofton’s biomass hub is the largest of its kind in Devon, and is expected to produce on average 1.9 million kWh of energy that will constantly charge four 5,000 litre thermal stores of hot water, heating its indoor pool, cottages, outdoor pools during the summer months, 24 showers and Cofton’s amenity blocks.

Funded by a half million pound loan from Natwest Bank and installed by Devon-based Treco, the four new biomass boilers and district heating solution means that multiple locations across Cofton can be heated from the one hub.

Saving around 40% on Cofton’s existing annual fuel bill the new boilers, which burn locally sourced woodchip, are set to not only cut CO2 by at least 750 tonnes per year, but to provide pay back on the installation costs in under 5 years, aided in part by the government backed  Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme.

Commenting on the new biomass boiler hub, Chris Jeffery, director at Cofton Holidays, said: “Here at Cofton, we’re surrounded by an amazing natural habitat, which we’ve nurtured over the years resulting in numerous conservation awards including over 15 years’ of Gold Awards from the David Bellamy Conservation Award Scheme.

“Each year we challenge ourselves to be part of the environmental solution rather than the problem.  That’s why we’ve introduced green initiatives such as compostable Vegware at The Swan Pub, a 30kW solar panel system on our pool hall roof and our new biomass hub and district heating system, which has been installed by the fantastic team at Treco, who also assisted with the planning application, making the entire project possible.”

Commenting on the ceremonial unveiling of the hub Anne Marie Morris, Member of Parliament for Newton Abbot said: “Cofton Holidays has been a leader in the field of green initiatives and sustainability for a number of years, and so it is heartening to see that they are once again investing not only in their future, but all our futures, using technology that will significantly cut Cofton’s impact on the environment.”

Rufus Bellamy, head of the David Bellamy Conservation Award Scheme and national adviser on conservation and environmental management to the British Holiday & Home Parks Association, said: “We’re delighted to hear about Cofton Holidays’ latest green initiative.  Over the years they’ve introduced some great schemes to improve and enrich the environment.  The introduction of the new biomass boiler hub demonstrates once again their ongoing commitment to increasing their use of green energy sources and to improving sustainability on site.”

Daniel Messenger, project manager for Treco, commented: “We are delighted Cofton Holidays appointed Treco to oversee the biomass heating system.  With reduction in Carbon emissions becoming more and more important to businesses both large and small, it was a great opportunity to be involved in a local scheme of this scale.

“The project centred around the replacement of a series of individual fossil fuel boilers, all of which were replaced with a central wood chip boiler system, which comprised three Lindner and Sommerauer 250kW boilers, all housed in a state of the art boiler house. The site’s existing biomass boiler was relocated to this building, providing the site with one central biomass hub.

“With CO2 savings of over 750 tonnes annually, and fuel sourced locally from sustainable forestry, the scheme helps both national carbon reduction targets and supports local jobs.

“As the central boiler house is located some distance from the holiday complex, the heating water is distributed through 1,300 meters of highly insulated underground pipe, linking the main leisure complex including indoor pool and restaurants, six cottages, four shower blocks and the laundrette.

“While installing a biomass system is fairly straightforward, the linking of the numerous buildings, with various heat requirements and differing uses from pool heating to space heating, showers to launderette requires careful calculation, and it is very satisfying to see the system operate exactly as modelled!

“It has been a pleasure to have the opportunity to work with a local business which places as much importance to conservation and the local environment as financial reward.”

Sharon Mann, Senior Relationship Manager Commercial & Private Banking, NatWest, added: “NatWest has long supported our customers to meet their sustainable energy ambitions. Last year we lent more than £1bn to support UK customers in their sustainable energy aspirations in renewables and energy efficiency.

“Our goal is to support customers’ ambitions around energy efficiency and low carbon generation to accelerate the transition to a low carbon economy. As a long-standing customer of NatWest we are pleased to support Cofton Holidays in their bid to use green technology to its fullest potential.”

Cofton Holidays is set in 80 acres of parkland with miles of nature trails and cycle paths.  Guests have access to an on-site complex with steam room, sauna, gym, restaurant, pub, fitness studio, soft play area, pool tables, an entertainment zone and heated indoor pool.  Outside facilities include a playground, sports wall, woodland adventure area, outdoor pools and five well-stocked coarse fishing lakes.

Cofton provides a host of free daily activity clubs for children including forestry adventure and skills, sensory play times for toddlers, scavenger hunting, music, games, face painting, circus skills, pantomime and a family sports day.  These clubs run from Easter through to the end of October.

Cofton achieves national recognition for caravan and camping facilities

Cofton Country Holidays, the multi award-winning holiday park near Dawlish, South Devon, has received one of the highest accolades in the world of camping and caravanning at the AA’s Caravan and Camping Awards.

AA-Caravan-Camping-Awards-2017 The holiday park, which has 450 caravan and tent pitches, including over 50 hardstanding pitches, received the coveted AA 5 Pennant Gold accreditation at the official ceremony, held on Monday 20th March at Norton Park.

Each year the AA visits over 900 camp sites, and only the crème de la crème make it to the annual awards. Each are visited by one of the AA’s campsite inspectors who look at touring pitches, facilities and hospitality before grading the site from one to five pennants, including the Gold Pennants, which are awarded to only the very best parks.

The inspections include a thorough assessment of customer care, quality and cleanliness of facilities, standard of public areas, range of amenities, size and layout of pitches and quality of grounds and landscaping.

Cofton achieved a 90% approval rating with particular mention for:
·         its extremely high standard park set in attractive surroundings with mature landscaping
·         the attractive outdoor pool and excellent indoor pool with fun splash area
·         its newly refurbished toilet block, which was described as ‘stunning, with hotel quality fixtures and fittings’, and a ‘most impressive  bathroom cubicle in the ladies’
·         excellent and easy to use motorhome service points with access for large units
·         extra hardstandings being added
·         the restaurant and bar facilities with outdoor seating area

Regional AA inspector Chris Pike commented: “Cofton Country Holidays never fails to impress with its first class customer care and the year-on-year investment programme to improve the excellent facilities.

“Owner Roger’s enthusiasm for the park is infectious.  He, along with his fellow directors, is always thinking of ways to improve the park.  The investment for the 2016 season was massive, notably including the installation of a new biomass boiler system, which will heat all the facilities on site. The whole park is maintained to a very high standard and it’s a first-class location for the complete family holiday.”

Helen Scott, Director at Cofton Country Holidays added: “We’re extremely pleased to have received the 5 Pennant Gold award, which recognises all the effort and investment that we’ve made to make Cofton a premier destination for campers and caravaners looking to stay in South Devon.

Cofton Country Holiday is set in 80 acres of parkland with miles of nature trails and cycle paths.  Guests have access to an on-site complex with steam room, sauna, gym, restaurant, pub, fitness studio, soft play area, pool tables, an entertainment zone and heated indoor pool.  Outside facilities include a playground, sports wall, woodland adventure area, outdoor pools and five well-stocked coarse fishing lakes.

Cofton provides a host of free daily activity clubs for children including forestry adventure and skills, sensory play times for toddlers, scavenger hunting, music, games, face painting, circus skills, pantomime and a family sports day.  These clubs run from Easter through to the end of October.

National Caravan Council welcomes the launch of “exciting” Tribeca from Away Resorts

National Caravan Council welcomes the launch of “exciting” Tribeca from Away Resorts and ABI at the Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show

away-resorts-camping-caravan-motorhome-showThe National Caravan Council welcomed the launch of the Tribeca from pioneering UK holiday park operator Away Resorts and leading holiday home manufacturer ABI at the Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show at Birmingham NEC yesterday.

Applauding Away Resorts’ vision to develop a new caravanning concept for the modern family, NCC group marketing director Jenny Summers said: “It’s exciting to see new product launches such as the TriBeCa, which have the lifestyle appeal to bring new visitors to holiday parks, This is exactly the objective of our Freedom To Go programme, which is all about attracting newcomers to leisure vehicle ownership and holidays.”

Away Resorts has made an investment of £1.2 million to create the Tribeca and install 15 at its Tattershall Lakes Country Park and a further 5 at its Whitecliff Bay Holiday Park on the Isle of Wight, in time for the Easter and summer seasons.

The ‘boutique-style’ caravan was the result of opinion polls, focus groups and a wide range of research.

What is it?
‘Tribeca’ is the future of caravans.  The humble caravan has been updated and reinvented to create a solution for the modern family: a groundbreaking ‘boutique-style’ caravan.

The Tribeca will do for caravanning what glamping has done for camping – is quite unlike any other caravan on the market, past or present.

Who invented it?
British holiday park company Away Resorts has teamed up with leading holiday home manufacturer ABI to create this.   Over a two year period, Away Resorts listened to its guests, developing the futuristic concept using opinion polls, focus groups a wide range of research, and, most importantly, mums!

Why is it different?
It’s cool!  The Tribeca has a New York loft hotel feel (hence the name), with industrial-style lighting and wall coverings, but with soft, plush furnishings.

It has a central, light-filled, airy living space with the adults’ and children’s bedrooms either side. The open-plan kitchen and living area has an apartment feel: with timber-effect walls; a 55-inch screen; American-style fridge/freezer; and panoramic bifold doors.

The adults’ bedroom has boutique hotel features, such as a flatscreen TV, sumptuous bedding, and a stand-alone bath-tub, as well as a separate ensuite.  The children’s bedroom has bunk-beds complete with dens underneath, screens and power points for charging their tech, and astro-turf-inspired flooring.

No other holiday park has any caravans like this in their fleet. The timber-effect walls and huge windows create a jungle feel and the astro-turf-inspired flooring carries on the theme of bringing the outside in.

The Tribeca also has its own deck, for watching the world go by on, glass in hand, mind switched off, and some come with a private hot tub.

The cool caravan has arrived, and it’s fit for all the family.

How to book: awayresorts.co.uk

The Tribeca is the labour of love of Away Resorts CEO Carl Castledine, and is inspired by the loft-style apartments of the trendy Tribeca district in New York City. Carl personally visited every caravan manufacturer and walked through every model ever produced in the last 15 years to create the concept for the new caravan, and worked with ABI to turn this into reality.

Castledine says: “More than 51 million nights are spent in the UK in caravans each year, a figure I suspect will rise as the impact of Brexit kicks in over the coming years.  The caravan industry contributes more than £6bn a year to the UK economy, so it’s got no shortage of fans.  But, it’s never really been cool, until now.

“First of all, we know that the lifestyle and leisure needs of the modern family have changed drastically – especially in the past decade.  Twelve years ago Facebook didn’t exist, let alone Instagram and Snapchat, and just five years ago primary school aged children didn’t carry their own tech around with them.  Add to this the massive rise in the popularity of boutique hotels and glamping – both of which have raised the expectations of families in terms of the comfort and aesthetics of their surroundings when on holiday.

“And we know from research that women are often the main decision makers when it comes to family holidays, and they know what the family needs. So we used valuable feedback and opinions from hundreds of mums as well as dads, and then teamed up with a woman designer to create the Tribeca.  We are really proud of this new concept in family accommodation, which puts the modern family at the heart of its design.”

Talking about working with Away Resorts, Mel Copper, ABI chief executive, said: “We are really excited to be able to work with such an innovative holiday park operator like Away Resorts to showcase our design capabilities on such a groundbreaking project.”

The first guests will stay in the Tribeca caravans (which can be booked online from now) at Easter in Tribeca Villages’ at Away Resorts’ Tattershall Lakes and Whitecliff Bay (in Lincolnshire and the Isle of Wight).

The grand unveiling of the first Tribeca will take place at the Caravan and Camping Show at Birmingham NEC on 22nd Feb.

The cool caravan has arrived, and it’s fit for all the family.

To book: awayresorts.co.uk

Main features of the Tribeca:


A New York loft hotel feel

A central living space

A children’s bedroom that kids will go gaga for

An adults’ bedroom that is like a boutique hotel

Its very own deck

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Visitor Numbers Up On the First Day

VISTORS NUMBERS ON THE UP FOR THE OPENING DAY OF THE CARAVAN, CAMPING AND MOTORHOME SHOW 2017

This week until Sunday 26 February Birmingham NEC is home to the leisure vehicle and holiday homes industry as The Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show 2017 rolls into town.

Visitors to the show, with figures up on last year, walked the five halls of the NEC on the show’s opening day looking at the latest products from caravans, modern motorhomes, cosy campervans, luxurious holiday homes and lodges to spacious tents.

The show was officially opened by The National Caravan Council Director General John Lally alongside a celebrity line-up including Ben Fogle, Julia Bradbury, Barney Harwood and Matt Allwright.

Families tried out the many free features available at the show, including the Bounce Zone, learning how to build a shelter in the bushcraft workshops and challenging the indoor Woodland Assault Course in partnership with the Woodland Trust.

The Discovery Theatre hosted insightful talks from industry experts and celebrity question and answer sessions as well as cooking demonstrations from Paul Da Costa Greaves.

The Caravan Club announced a name change to The Caravan and Motorhome Club, reflecting growing motorhome ownership.

Launches at the opening day show included Omar Park and Leisure Homes unveil of the Hideaway by Wessex, Swift’s S-Pod 4, The Mulberry and The Canterbury by Willerby and the Frontier Scout by Auto-Trail.

The show offers holiday inspiration for lovers of the great outdoors and luxury seekers. Celebrity guests appearing across the remaining days author of The Caravan Cookbook Monica Rivron and TV and radio personality Rowland Rivron; wildlife presenter Kate Humble; Britain’s Got Talents winners Ashleigh and Pudsey; the banker turned baker Selasi Gbormittah; and Olympic gold medallist Sam Quek*.

Tickets can be bought the door and children 15 and under for free*.

Have A Tent Will Travel

HAVE TENT WILL TRAVEL IN 2017: NEARLY FOUR OUT OF TEN ADULTS ‘WENT CAMPING OR CARAVANNING’ IN LAST THREE YEARS AS MARKET CONTINUES TO GROW.

As the UK heads towards the annual Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show at Birmingham’s NEC from 21 to 26 February 2017, just under four out of ten UK adults had experience of camping or caravanning in the past three years according to a Mintel report*.

A total of over 17 million camping and caravanning trips are estimated to have been taken by UK adults in 2016, over 15 million of which were in Great Britain, and include a spectrum of accommodation options from yurts, safari tents and shepherd’s huts to tiny two-berth mini and large luxury caravans, sophisticated motorhomes and holiday lodges. The total trips taken figure is expected to rise to 17.9 million in 2017 and to over 21 million in 2020, and Mintel forecasts Great Britain’s camping and caravanning market will be worth over £3.2 billion by 2020.

Of those camping in a tent in the last three years^, ‘getting away from it all’ is one of the key attractions (42%) as well as ‘connecting with nature’ (41%). Just 14% overall of those camping would welcome the opportunity to be disconnected from technology with no WiFi or internet, although surprisingly 32% of music festival campers claimed they would welcome the lack of connection!

Among those interested in such leisure holidays, 16% plan to buy a tent from 2016 onwards, 9% a towed caravan, 12% a motorhome or campervan, and 10% a static caravan or mobile home. Motorhomes are seen as adventurous and fun, comfortable and family-friendly, with secure, spacious, high quality accommodation. A multi-destination European trip attracted 55%, while 34% would aim for a North America tour and 37% would use a motorhome to see a sports event.

Market drivers for camping, caravanning and motorhomes trips in recent years include a reduction in petrol prices and a desire for families to reconnect with their environment. A report published by The Wildlife Trust** found that children have become increasingly separated from nature, highlighting that fewer than 10% of children play in natural areas, with 78% of parents concerned their children don’t spend enough time interacting with nature and wildlife.

The government’s Climate Change Risk Assessment report 2012 (produced every five years) predicts that future climate change is likely to improve the appeal of the UK as a holiday destination for both UK and overseas visitors with increased summer temperatures and a longer summer season.

The NCC (National Caravan Council), the event arm of which runs the Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show, estimates in the UK at present there are approximately 550,000 touring caravans, more than 205,000 motorhomes and 330,000 static caravan holiday homes in use, totalling over one million leisure vehicles.

From Tuesday 21 to Sunday 26 February the Birmingham NEC will be home to the Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show 2017, with over 350 leading leisure brands exhibiting caravans, motorhomes, campervans, trailer tents, folding campers, tents, caravan holiday homes, camping equipment and accessories.

This year’s show has plenty of free, have-a-go features including an indoor children’s assault course and mobile climbing mountain. A towing and manoeuvring skills area offers expert tuition for those new to caravanning and motorhome holidays as well as those who want to brush up on their techniques. For pet lovers there is the much-loved dog agility arena.

Throughout the six days of the show the Discovery Theatre plays host to celebrity guests including Countryfile, and more recently New Lives in the Wild presenter, Ben Fogle; Kate Humble and Julia Bradbury discussing their love of the great outdoors; celebrity chefs including baker Selasi Gbormittah performing live cooking demonstrations; and the professionals sharing their top tips on owning leisure vehicles and camping holidays. New for 2017 are bushcraft workshops where visitors can learn essential survival skills.

On the door price for adults is £10.00/seniors (60+) £9.00. Children 15 and under go FREE.

Celebrity line-up may be subject to change.

The secret to warm and happy guests all year round

In the depths of winter we all long for those halcyon, warm days of holidays.

Find out how one glamping site in rural Wales has used innovative renewable technology to provide warmth to its guests all year round, minus the high heating prices and servicing costs, and gets a nice return through a Government incentive on the side.

Background

The Phillips’ run www.thesecretyurts.co.uk, a holiday business in the heart of the Welsh countryside offering visitors the option to stay in a recently refurbished holiday cottage or experience ‘glamping’ in their own luxury yurt complete with underfloor heating, private bathrooms and showers.

They were looking to replace the old oil-fired boiler heating their family farmhouse and holiday cottage as it was expensive to run and they had problems getting supplies in bad weather due to their rural location. The Phillips’ had also recently built a luxury facilities block for their guests, including a fully fitted kitchen, plus a hot tub, for which they also needed a heating solution.

The Phillips’ had heard about Kensa Partner Installer Ground Sun from an architect and contacted the firm to discuss renewable heating options. They were keen to develop their green credentials, which already included a rainwater harvesting system, so that their customers could enjoy a holiday in the UK with a low carbon footprint.

Mr Phillips said:

“Living where we do, surrounded by rolling Welsh hills, we are very conscious that our luxury holiday accommodation should strive towards being eco-friendly. To do this we decided we wanted a heating system that paired technological innovation with natural resources. It is also very important for our guests to be comfortable during their stay with access to a constant supply of heating and hot water.”

The Phillips’ decided on a ground source heat pump because it offered low running costs and a reliable heat supply. In order to meet the amount of heat required across the multiple buildings, a Kensa 21kW Hybrid Twin ground source heat pump was specified, capable of delivering high levels of heating and hot water.Sunrise at The Secret Yurts

How it was done

Due to the development being located on the side of a hill on which trees had been planted in the last five years, there was not enough flat land available in which to dig trenches for slinky pipe. Their appointed groundworks contractor, Ground Sun, was able to use a non-disruptive and efficient borehole drilling method which has been adapted from techniques used to create utility networks for powerlines and gas mains. A radial drilling rig was used to drill four 127m horizontal closed loop boreholes up to 9m deep, from which heat energy stored in the ground could be extracted.

For this pioneering method, Ground Sun used a specially adapted drilling rig with ‘no dig’ technology, which meant that all the drilling was done from one chamber thus avoiding potentially disruptive excavations. The rig also allowed Ground Sun to use sonar to steer along the water level and navigate through challenging geology made up of clay, gravels and large boulders that had to be drilled straight through!

Overall, the installation process was fairly quick, taking a total of just five days.

A plantroom houses the Kensa ground source heat pump, plus a 1250l hygienically safe hot water and buffer tank.

The Phillips’ family farmhouse is a 200 year old stone cottage with minimal insulation, so to ensure that the heat pump achieved the required temperature, Ground Sun advised the Phillips’ to replace some of their existing radiators with oversize versions. They also took care to ensure all heat loss calculations were correct and that the hot water tanks were properly sized to ensure a consistent flow temperature across the system. It was particularly important to ensure that the hot water never ran out, as the Phillips’ are a family of six, plus guests staying in the holiday cottage and yurt campsite created a high demand for hot water.

In order to further increase the efficiency of the system, Ground Sun also installed solar thermal panels on the roof to collect solar energy, which contributes to servicing the heating and hot water load all year round. Underfloor heating was also installed into the newly built facilities block which further enhances the efficiency of the ground source heat pump.

As the development features multiple properties which are rented out separately, it is eligible for the Non Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). This enabled the Phillips’ to receive 20 years’ worth of quarterly payments from the Government based on the buildings’ metered heat usage.

The Phillips’ are delighted with their heat pump which compliments the green credentials of their holiday business:

“Our Kensa heat pump is now in operation for its second winter and has experienced external temperatures down to -6°C. Our family and guests staying at ‘The Secret Yurts’ have always had ample hot water, our house is warm throughout the year for the first time ever and we don’t have to worry about buying oil! The underground pipe installation was great with virtually no disruption to our land and no messy trenches to fill in!

Above all the support from Ground Sun and Kensa during installation, set up and beyond has been fantastic. We would recommend such an installation to anybody considering moving to a renewable heating system.”

Kensa’s Marketing Manager Stephanie Gregory explains:

“A typical holiday lodge with availability to rent all year round might expect to generate over £13,000 in RHI income over the 20 year lifetime, while actually the cost to run the heat pump itself is less than half the cost of the associated RHI income (per kilowatt hour), meaning park operators can cost effectively keep lodges warm even when unoccupied, helping to mitigate problems with damp and providing a warm welcome for the next set of guests.”

With energy costs and environmental sustainability important issues for those in the leisure sector, holiday parks operating over the autumn, winter and early spring would do well to consider the profitable opportunities of renewable, ground source heating for their property portfolio.

Castlerigg Hall best in North West says AA

A picture-postcard holiday park in Cumbria – Castlerigg Hall in Keswick – has been named by the AA as the top spot in the North West to pitch a tent.

The family-run business beat hundreds of other eligible parks to take the title of the Campsite of the Year for the North West in the AA Caravan and Camping Awards 2017.

Multi-award winning Castlerigg Hall – which last year was the winner of the Cumbria Tourism Park of the Year accolade – has been owned by the Jackson family since 1938.

A former farm which began by welcoming campers, it is today one of the Lake District’s most highly regarded parks attracting visitors from across the UK and overseas.

As well as camping facilities, Castlerigg Hall provides luxury caravan holiday homes for hire, plus eco-friendly camping pods and pitches for touring caravans, motorhomes.

Guests enjoy spectacular Lakeland views over Derwentwater and the surrounding fells, and the picturesque surroundings on the park itself which the AA describes as “idyllic”.

Castlerigg-Hall Caravan and Camping

Judges praised too the park’s raft of facilities including “top-notch amenity buildings, fully equipped campers’ kitchen, large shop with local specialities, and stylish Jiggers Bistro”.

In order to qualify for the AA award, Castlerigg Hall had to undergo a rigorous inspection process which examined closely at all aspects of the business and what it offered. Park owner David Jackson said that as well as looking for high standards, inspectors were especially keen to find evidence of the quality of hospitality on offer:

“Providing a warm welcome to guests, and a friendly and relaxing atmosphere in which they can enjoy their stays, has always been high on our list of priorities,” said David.

“A lot of the credit for providing this must go to our park team members who are often mentioned in guests’ reviews for their helpful and caring attitude.

“We have been extremely pleased this year with the popularity of our franchised restaurant, both with local people and visitors, where the emphasis is on locally sourced food.

“Our park shop too focuses on items produced in Cumbria, and we’ve introduced a pet animals viewing area which is proving a big hit with children and grown-ups.

“In addition, we’ve seen demand grow for our eco-friendly cycling holidays based in glamping pods which are run in conjunction with two other award-winning Lakeland parks.

“It’s been an amazingly busy year for us at Castlerigg Hall, and it’s fantastic to see it topped off with this prestigious AA award,” added David.

This year the park was also praised by botanist David Bellamy when he announced that Castlerigg Hall had once again gained his prestigious conservation award at its top gold level. Professor Bellamy highlighted the many initiatives taken by the Jackson family to safeguard its flora and fauna, and the part it plays in supporting local good causes. With the help of visitor donations, it has facilitated footpath repair work with Nurture Lakeland, the Calvert Trust Public Art “Go Herdwick” Trail, and Keswick’s Fitz Park Trust.

David Bellamy also designated Castlerigg Hall as an official “Honey Bee Friendly” park as part of his new initiative to help protect the threatened insects.

More about Castlerigg Hall Caravan and Camping Park can be found at www.castlerigg.co.uk

Rare Gold among Dales Park’s hat-trick of Awards

Riverside Caravan Park in High Bentham, North Yorkshire, has joined a small elite of holiday parks judged by tourist board inspectors to be among England’s very best.

Just 36 out of more than 3000 caravan and camping parks in the UK currently boast the prestigious Gold Award given out by VisitEngland to its highest rated parks, now including Riverside.

The accolade is among three national honours being celebrated by the park this autumn, including awards for the Riverside’s environmental responsibility – and the quality of its washrooms.

VisitEngland says the body’s gold standard can only be achieved if a park demonstrates exceptional quality standards during its annual grading inspection.

Even then, a subsequent “mystery shopper” visit by a VisitEngland quality assessment area manager must be made before the award is officially confirmed.

Riverside’s Gold Award comes on top of the maximum five-star grade it achieved, and business owner Thomas Marshall says that park staff deserve a big share of the credit:

“To achieve gold, a park must out-perform its star rating on the excellence of its facilities and, most importantly, on the quality of the hospitality it provides,” said Thomas.

“Responsibility for this is largely in the hands of our hardworking park team who always go the extra mile to make guests feel welcome and at home.

“It’s their friendliness and commitment to customer service which has been crucial to our success in achieving the gold award,” said Thomas whose business employs around 30 staff.Riverside-Caravan-Park-High-Bentham

Following the VisitEngland award this autumn, news came through that Riverside Caravan Park had once again taken the David Bellamy Conservation Award at its top gold level.

The accolade recognises the raft of initiatives taken at the park to safeguard wildlife and protect the natural environment, including its planting of many high nectar-bearing flowers.

The blooms provide valuable foraging for bees and butterflies, and Professor Bellamy has now designated Riverside as an official “Honey Bee Friendly” park as part of his new initiative to help protect the threatened insects.

But that wasn’t the end of Riversides’ accolades this autumn, for the park has also won a top platinum prize in the 2016 Loo of the Year awards for its outstanding shower and toilet facilities.

Thomas, whose father Bateman first started welcoming camping guests on his farm in 1969, said that all these latest awards would give the business a flying start to 2017.

He said he also hoped that the publicity they achieve will help other local tourism businesses by highlighting the region as a perfect holiday destination.

Thomas and his wife Jane are helped in the running of their business by their daughter Isabel. There is more information about the park at www.riversidecaravanpark.co.uk David Bellamy Conservation Gold Award

SPATEX 2017 – your loyalty means a lot

As a much-valued SPATEX visitor, who has in previous years visited the Exhibition on a Sunday, we would like to assure you that we will make your visit to the 2017 Show as smooth as possible.

As you will doubtless already know, SPATEX 2017 is moving to a mid-week slot (Tuesday January 31st to Thursday February 2nd) to bring it in line with the other European wet leisure Shows.

If you need office services such as printing or faxing or the use of a computer, the fully equipped SPATEX office is at your disposal. The office will be manned at all times so please just pop in and you will be assured of our attention. The kettle is, in any case, always on so feel free to pop in and rest your legs and have a chat!Spatex 2017

Celebrating 21-years of service to the Industry, makes 2017 a special year for SPATEX so this is a bumper edition with a few surprises.

Alongside all the traditional topics you would expect to find in the double seminar and workshop programme, we have thought out of the box and are planning some new titles. Here’s a taster

*         Legal advice – Specialist International Personal Injury lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, Simon O’Loughlin is giving a talk on what to do when things go legal including pursuing a civil case, proving negligence etc. (Wednesday, February 1st 12.30-13.00 in Arena 1)

*          Of particular interest to rugby fans, Wasps Rugby Club Deputy Chairman, Nick Eastwood is giving a talk on Tuesday January 31st at 2pm in Arena 2 on Increasing Your Profitability – maximising leisure facilities and building a brand: the Wasps story.

*         Natural swimming ponds – Following much interest in the national press, owner and managing director of Gartenart Swimming Ponds and board member of the British Association of Natural Swimming Pools, Tim Evans, has been invited to give an introductory talk on swimming ponds and natural swimming pools (Wednesday February 1st 12.30-13.30 in Arena 2)

Further details on these and the extensive programme of seminars and workshops can be found at www.spatex.co.uk.  Attendees of the workshops receive CPD points and certificates of attendance.

Make sure you don’t miss out on the biggest wet leisure event of 2017 by registering now for free at

www.spatex.co.uk

SPATEX 2017 Tuesday, January 31st to Thursday, February 2nd at the Ericsson Exhibition Hall, Ricoh Arena, Coventry. For further information, please contact Michele or Helen in the SPATEX office T: 01264 358558helen@spatex.co.uk  michele@spatex.co.uk

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