Away Resorts, a leading UK holiday park operator, has made one of the industry’s biggest ever investments in a single UK holiday park, with the redevelopment of its Tattershall Lakes park in Lincolnshire.
The £8m Tattershall Lakes project is part of a significant £12m investment programme across the Away Resorts portfolio of five locations throughout the UK, a strategy implemented when leading mid-market private equity firm LDC backed the secondary buyout of the business in April 2015.
The redevelopment was marked with the official opening of a new £4m state of the art entertainment complex called The Merlin. The focal point of The Merlin is a life size replica of a Battle of Britain Spitfire suspended from the ceiling, celebrating the heroes from the RAF, who have a base located near Tattershall Lakes.
In addition to The Merlin, a further 250 pitches and accommodation units will added to the resort over the next two years, to meet the demand for UK holidays, including picturesque lake side holiday homes, lodges and caravans that are available to buy.
The Tattershall Lakes redevelopment has boosted the local economy in Lincolnshire, with much of the £4m spent on The Merlin supporting local trade and construction businesses in the area. Over 75% of the workers involved in the redevelopment project were from local companies, while the addition of The Merlin and new amenities has also created 21 new jobs on the resort as a result.
The Merlin was officially opened on 28 June by Battle of Britain Spitfire pilot, Flying Officer Ken Wilkinson – with the livery and tail number on the replica model bearing the same details of the exact aeroplane he flew: P7404 Q-VE.
Carl Castledine, Chief Executive Officer of Away Resorts said: “The Tattershall Lakes redevelopment is part of a long-term investment and development plan across our estate, with the aim of providing a range of accommodation options and the latest must-do activities, facilities and entertainment.
“It’s clear that more Brits are holidaying in the UK than ever before so we need to move with the times and provide them with the memorable experiences that will make them want to come back again and again. We’re bringing holiday parks into the modern day as we constantly improve on our offering and deliver the experiences consumers are demanding.
“We’re striving to bring something different to the market and continue to grow our business, through a combination of development of our existing locations and potential acquisitions of locations which fit into the Away Resorts ethos and business model. Bringing elements such as our state of the art entertainment systems and covered outdoor play areas to our consumers is something that is really setting us apart to the rest of the market.”
Richard Whitwell, investment director at LDC, said: “Away Resorts’ expertise and understanding of what its guests are looking for is clear to see in the new Tattershall Lakes park development. We will continue to work closely with Carl and the management team to identify new avenues of organic and acquisition led growth that will cement the business’ position as a leading provider of high quality UK-based holiday experiences.”
Founded in 2008 by third generation holiday park entrepreneur Carl Castledine, Away Resorts has a current annual turnover of £30m and has five resorts: Whitecliff Bay (Isle of Wight), Tattershall Lakes (Lincolnshire), Mill Rythe (Hayling Island), Barmouth Bay (Wales) and the newly acquired Mersea Island Park (Essex).
Across its UK resorts the business employs over 300 staff and annually hosts over 150,000 holiday makers in its caravans, lodges, glamping accommodation and camping pitches.
As more UK holiday makers are staying within these shores to explore the country, bookings for Away Resorts are up 35% year-on-year to date, helped by its competitive pricing that appeals to all budgets and its continued innovation in its product offering. With £1.9bn spent by consumers on holiday parks and caravanning in the UK in 2015*, there is fierce competition to attract the new generation of millennials, glampers and holiday makers keen to try something different.
* VisitEngland data 2016