August 29 2014 Latest news:
Ben Woods, Business writer
Thursday, February 20, 2014
A Norfolk leisure company is pitching its holiday parks at the glamping market by investing £1.2m in luxury lodges.
Blue Sky Leisure is scaling up Kelling Heath Holiday Park and Woodhill Park in East Runton while committing a further £300,000 to improving its gym and swimming pool facilities.
The demand for up-market camping holidays, or glamping, has strengthened since the recession as people search for a cheap break that offers a lavish experience, an industry analyst said.
It comes as 38pc of Norfolk firms were predicted to increase the amount of money they spend on improving their offer last year, according to the Larking Gowen Tourism Survey.
Mark Durrant, operations manager at Kelling Heath Holiday Park, said: “There has certainly been a big boom in the luxury market. People still want to experience the outdoors with all the home comforts that glamping or a woodland lodge offer.
“This also caters for busy families – they just want to pitch up and have everything provided for them so they can get straight into their holiday.”
Blue Sky Leisure – winner of the EDP’s Business of the Year Award 2013 – said the plans, which will cost £1.5m in total, are set to increase the capacity of Kelling Heath Holiday Park by 10pc.
Bases for twenty new luxury lodges will be built by the spring, while part of a two-year refurbishment of Kelling’s health and fitness club will be finished this month.
Chris Scargill, tourism and leisure partner at chartered accountants Larking Gowen, said holidaymakers are willing to pay a higher price for camping, but demand a high-value experience.
“When the recession started there was a big trend in UK camping holidays because people were looking to cut costs,” he said.
“And now that we are out of the recession two things are happening. The resurgence of camping has continued, but there are greater demands from the consumer. They want the luxury as well as the outdoor activities, which is an area where investment will lead to growth. People have higher expectations for their spend. Therefore, it is essential that businesses invest in higher-spec facilities because people are willing to pay a premium for it.”
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A Norwich-based business which started as a “man with a van” operation is eyeing further expansion after seeing its predicted turnover increase from £6,000 to £340,000 within five years.