Caravans Getting Trendy Says Industry Giant

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Shorefield Country Park

Caravan and park home holidays are booming says the boss of one of the UK’s biggest park owners, Parkdean Resorts. John Waterworth says his massive new company, the result of a merger of Park Resorts and Parkdean Holidays, is benefitting both for the demand for cheaper holidays and the trend towards more comfortable “glamping” breaks.

Waterworth certainly loves his jobs. He met his wife while working on a caravan park and the couple held their reception on a park before honeymooning there he told The Daily Telegraph. He’s been in the industry since helping to set up Parkdean Holidays in 1999 at the popular Trecco Bay park in south Wales.

Parkdean’s recent creation was worth nearly £1 billion, and the new company has 72 sites in operation, making it the biggest owner of parks in the UK. Parkdean parks can be found north of Iverness and on the Lizard in Cornwall; on the west coast of Wales to Great Yarmouth in Norfolk.

They are part of a story of continuing growth in the caravan and park home sector. The business, including sales of vans, holiday bookings and related spending, is worth around £6 billion-a-year. Motorhome registrations went up by nearly a quarter last year, with a 10% rise in new vehicle sales.

It’s not so long ago that caravanning seemed desperately unfashionable – loved by those in the know, but hardly likely to boom. So what’s happened?

The big financial crash of 2007-08 forced lots of people to cut back their spending, and expensive overseas holidays were among the first things on the budget list.

There’s also a trend for families to take a series of shorter breaks rather than splurging on one big holiday, and that’s also helping caravan and park home holidays.

Waterworth sees another side to the current boom, though. It’s not all about cutting back, it’s about things getting bigger, better and more luxurious.

He said: “It’s quite hard to get across to those people who haven’t holidayed in a caravan for a long time how much it’s changed. Glamping’s been a big part of it.”

The term “glamping” was first used in the UK in 2005, to put a name on a modern version of the glorified camping experience that has a lineage running back through the luxury safaris of the 1920s, the hunting trips of the 16th century, and even the super-luxurious tents of the sultans of the Ottoman Empire!

For most people these days it doesn’t quite extend to that level. But enjoying the great outdoors and the brilliant value of camping, caravanning and park homes without sacrificing any of life’s little luxuries is becoming ever more popular.

““If you look at a caravan 20 years ago to one today, they’re considerably different,” Waterworth said.

While many of Parkdean’s customers are over-50s, the company also sees lots of young families looking for convenience and value in great British holidays. And they intend to spend a lot of money on their parks to further spruce up facilities.

These are exciting times in the UK caravan and park home industry and there’s no sign of a let up in the quantity and quality of British parks.


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