We love sharing photos of the Best of British member parks, usually featuring the location, the accommodation and local tourist spots. The stories behind the scenes are often just an interesting, so we've decided to introduce you to some of the owners. Taking part in our first feature is South Lytchett Manor Caravan and Camping Park. Based in Dorset, they are in a prime spot for tourism. Behind the scenes, there's a lovely group of people waiting to welcome you. We had a chat with the team about the history of the park and how they're preparing to re-open, hopefully in the near future.
Q: Tell us about South Lytchett Manor
A: We actually originally came to stay at South Lytchett Manor back in the 80’s, a lifetime ago! When we decided to come down in our motorhome again for a break in the early 2000’s, we found most of the campsites fully booked. We remembered that 'campsite with the grand gates' and re-discovered it all those years later. When the time came to move on from our transport business, and with a joint passion for motorhoming, we approached the family who ran the campsite and asked if they were interested in selling.... and they were! We have been running the campsite for 14 years now alongside our son Matthew who joined us two years later and our current managers Deb and Phil who do an excellent job. Guests absolutely love them!
Q: What was your aim with South Lytchett Manor?
A: When we took on the campsite it was a fairly run-down, three star park that was still empty, even on bank holidays. We wanted to change that and NOT be the best-kept secret in Dorset anymore! So, we began our journey to shape the park into a 5 star family friendly affair that people remembered for our friendliness, cleanliness and hospitality.
Q: How do you approach the experience for your visitors?
A: Experience is the primary driver of our business. We want our guests to have those wonderful memories that stay with them beyond their holiday with us and we love when guests return to us time and time again. We make sure to really listen and engage with our guests in all aspects and we implement improvements and changes directly as a result of this feedback.
Q: What makes South Lytchett Manor a 5 star experience?
A: Cleanliness and friendliness! We take pride in our park and we take even more pleasure from hearing guests stories and experiences after a long day out exploring Dorset. We are all family at South Lytchett and we try our best to make sure every guest feels right at home.
Q: What awards have you won?
A: Our best achievement was AA Campsite of the Year 2016. That was such an incredible honour! Most recently, in 2019, we received a Gold Award at the Dorset Tourism Award, Silver Award at the South West Tourism Awards, Platinum Award for Loo of the Year and the renewal of our Platinum AA rating.
Q: How have recent events affected you?
A: We were only able to open for a couple of weeks pre lockdown and have been closed for business ever since. We have managed to retain all our staff thanks to the furlough scheme and a large proportion of our guests have been so understanding and helpful in moving their bookings rather than asking for a refund. We had just finished big winter projects such as building seven brand new shepherd huts, so money has been a big concern and we are so thankful for all the support we have received from our wonderful guests and the council through this period.
Q: Have you been able to start planning to re-open for holidays at South Lytchett Manor?
A: The government have not yet come out with guidelines for our industry on what we should be doing regarding social distancing and so we will not have any definitive answers until then. However, we take the safety of our guests incredibly seriously and we will be doing everything we can to make the park a safe yet happy environment for guests to enjoy a well deserved holiday! Our current plans include measures such as an outside reception, markings on the floor, signing up to government led safe practice schemes, enhanced cleaning routines, extra signage, screens for staff and so on.
We know that the team at South Lytchett Manor are very keen to welcome back holiday makers and we know that when they do, Dorset will be ready and waiting in all its glory. In the meantime, enjoy planning your next trip, and let's make our first holidays of 2020 wonderful ones! Your happy place is waiting for you.