The phones started ringing in June and they haven’t stopped. Homeowners at Britain’s top holiday parks are seeing bookings hit record levels this summer.
‘I could have rented our lodge three times over,’ says Lyndsey Lake, 47, who owns a large two-bedroom lodge with en-suite bathrooms and a private garden at Holiday Resort Unity in Somerset.
The opening of the park two weeks ago was a godsend to Lyndsey and her businessman husband Dean, as their six-bedroom villa in Florida, which they rent out, remains closed due to the pandemic.
Good investment: Bookings at holiday parks, such as Praa Sands in Cornwall, are booming
The lodge they bought three years ago, which is just a two-hour drive from their home near Coventry, is surprisingly proving the better asset.
Renting it out for ten to 15 weeks a year means they can cover their costs and holidays with their 13-year-old son Alfie.
More than a third of the park’s 570 holiday homes are sub-let by their owners, who can charge up to £1,800 a week in summer.
Of course, holiday parks look different now. There are sanitiser stations, receptionless check-ins and one-way systems.
But, happily, there is no ban on sandcastles, fish and chips, bike rides or cliff-top walks.
Andy Mitchell, 71, a retired engineer who lives in Southampton with his partner Sue, bought a repossessed lodge last year at Haulfryn Devon Hills holiday park, near Torquay.
Before lockdown he had netted £12,000 from rentals. He installed a hot tub (worth £55 a week extra), fridge-freezer and dishwasher, and added decking.
‘Being able to sub-let made it possible for me to buy a bigger lodge,’ he says.
While profits took a hit in lockdown, bookings have gone through the roof and he is thinking of buying another.
He paid just £55,000 for his home plus a refurbishment, and believes it is now worth in excess of £70,000.
‘There’s a fantastic team at Devon Hills,’ he says.
‘It’s well maintained and the lodges are spread out so you don’t feel on top of one another.’
There is also an indoor pool, a gym, a 15th-century pub, and Paignton Beach to enjoy.
‘Rental prices have gone up,’ he admits, ‘but so have standards.’ Deep cleans are now the norm and safes have been fitted so there is no handing over of keys.
Haulfryn has parks all over England and Wales, ranging from the opulent The Warren in Abersoch, where a three-bed lodge costs from £225,000, to Praa Sands in Penzance, Cornwall, where a similar home starts at £140,000. Seven-night rentals start from £1,341 at high season.
‘We are seeing a growing number of people enquire about both holiday-home ownership and letting,’ said a spokesman.
Most firms, such as Hoburne, which has eight holiday parks in England, offer a full letting service.
‘You can let your home for just a few weeks or the whole 48-week season,’ says Alex Day, head of group sales.
‘We charge a commission of 22 per cent plus VAT, plus cleaning and linen which costs from £30.’
Michael Maginness, 52, sub-lets his home in Hoburne Naish, on the Hampshire coast. ‘I used to let it myself, but now I let Hoburne do it. It’s less hassle.’
The new 78-pitch development includes three pools and a fitness suite. ‘Our leisure amenities give this extra appeal over a traditional second home,’ says managing director Rod Tucker.