Lockdown Gamble Pays Off For Dorset Glamping Park
An intrepid pair of Best of British holiday park owners who took a risk on giving their glamping park a major makeover during lockdown say they are delighted that the gamble has paid off. Joanne and David Bridgen, who run South Lytchett Manor park in Dorset, invested much time and money on the project despite their income having dried up.
But as soon as they were allowed to re-open on 12 April, the couple said, holiday bookings "went wild" with customers voting the makeover a fantastic success.
Now the five-star park, which Joanne and David have owned for almost 15 years, is almost at capacity during some summer weeks and has reservations through to autumn.
"We decided that we had a choice during lockdown – to just sit it out, or to try and make the park fighting fit for when we could open again," said Joanne.
"The makeover put a lot at stake as our business had suffered badly over the previous twelve months with our income completely drying up over the lockdowns.
"But we decided to go ahead, and with the help of our son Matt added six new luxury four-person pods to our existing glamping accommodation of shepherd's huts and Romany caravans.
Above: Matt Bridgen, son of park owners Joanne and David, puts the finishing touches to one of the new luxury pods.
"At the same time, we set to work on enlarging the park's cafe – and searching out more local suppliers for the food and drink we sell there and in our shop.
"We also added twenty new fully serviced pitches for motorhome and touring caravans, and planted more honey-bee and butterfly friendly flowers and shrubs in the grounds.
"David and I were encouraged that bookings were still coming in during lockdown, but we knew the true test would come once we were able to welcome back guests.
"In the event, we needn't have worried – and in fact our phones have been ringing virtually off the hook during the past fortnight with people wanting to book stays.
Glamping, she said, is proving especially popular this year – particularly with those looking for a top-end experience in the UK in place of an overseas holiday.
In keeping with their "buy local" policy, Joanne said that as much of their lockdown work as possible was based on materials and skills sourced from within Dorset.
As well as the top VisitEngland award, South Lytchett Manor has received a raft of other accolades in recent times including the prestigious AA five pennant platinum award.
View more about South Lytchett Manor here.