Sussex holiday parks get ready to welcome back guests
Staycations in self-contained accommodation will be allowed in England from April 12.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the plans in his road map out of lockdown back in February as long as the indoor facilities are not shared with other households.
Across Sussex there are a number of venues that are looking forward to welcoming back guests.
Park Holidays UK has five holiday centres in the county - Pevensey Bay, Rye, Winchelsea, Chichester and Hastings, and provides luxury lodges and caravan holiday homes to hire.
Although government restrictions will apply to some facilities normally provided, company director Tony Clish believes that guests will take these in good heart.
He said: “I think that what families have all been looking forward to is simply getting away for a proper break where they can enjoy a sense of freedom and a welcome change of surroundings.
“We have worked hard to ensure that comprehensive safety measures are in place to give our guests peace of mind, and there are also specific restrictions in place between April 12 and May 16. These include our being able to accept holiday bookings only from one household or support bubble for the foreseeable future.
“Indoor communal areas will be closed between these dates, but most of our restaurants will be open for outdoors service and takeaways, details of which are still being finalised and will of course be subject to the rule of six and weather limitations. We are also hopeful that our indoor pools will be able to open from 12 April, but this will be subject to any further government announcements.”
It is hoped that many of the restrictions will ease further on May 17 meaning holiday parks in the area can open their restaurants, bars and entertainment.
The team at Butlin’s in Bognor Regis has decided to postpone opening until May so that guests can enjoy the full range of services it offers.
A spokesperson said: “The Butlin’s team at Bognor Regis has been working hard to ensure that the show will go on come May.
“Guests can enjoy our entertainment in a new state-of-the-art indoor venue ‘Studio 36’, which has been designed with social distancing in mind, whilst the holiday experience has been streamlined thanks to the new Butlin’s app which allows families to pre-book activities, shows and pool sessions to ensure the fun can be maximised during their stay, but in the knowledge that guests’ safety is paramount.
“We’re also pleased to introduce new shows to our line-up from family favourites including Peppa Pig and Thomas & Friends™, to live entertainment from Diversity and Fleur East.”
Also included in the easing of restrictions are holiday lets.
Andrew Gardner is the director of Amberley House Cottages which has 200 properties across Sussex, he said: “We feel far more confident looking at 2021 than we did after March 24 last year.
“The release of the ‘roadmap’ detailing the stages out of restrictions with holidays for one household being permitted in self catering accommodation from April 12 has kick started the market again and we know there will be strong demand again for accommodation right across Sussex and The South Downs area. There will be very little overseas travel.
“However we will still be instructing the exact same protocols with regards to property presentation and cleanliness as we did last summer to ensure that all properties are as Covid safe as they can be for both guests, housekeepers and property owners.”
Gill has a four bedroom holiday home in the South Downs near Chailey.
She said: “During these challenging times in the pandemic, I had the cancellation of seven existing bookings that could no longer proceed which totalled 49 days of letting. In addition I lost out on new bookings that would normally have been placed were we not subject to lockdown restrictions. As a consequence my rental income was severely impacted but I still had the ongoing maintenance and other associated running costs on the property.
“My letting agent, Amberley House Cottages has been very proactive in making me aware of business support grants that are available, and as in most cases the onus is on the property owner to apply. I would not have benefitted from these had it not been for the alerts from Amberley House Cottages. More recently during the current period of lockdown, they have secured for me a short term booking for a family in between house purchases so that in addition to my previous grant was a considerable help. I am now starting to see new holiday bookings for this summer which is reassuring”
Bunn Leisure has a site in Selsey near Chichester, Danny Kaye, Bunn Leisure Resort director said: “As we gear up to welcome back our owners and holiday guests in a matter of weeks the excitement is palpable.
“We have used the closed period to design a great programme of family oriented activities and entertainments as well as investing considerable sums in improving the park’s facilities.
“All our internal and external areas are laid out to ensure customer safety and we will have sanitizing stations, one way in one way out routes and our team has undergone specialist training to ensure our park is as Covid-safe as possible. We can’t wait to reopen our doors.”
Haven holidays has two sites in Sussex - Haven Church Farm Holiday Village in Pagham, Bognor Regis and Combe Haven Holiday Park in St Leonards on Sea.
A spokesperson said: “We’re delighted that the roadmap has considered self-contained accommodation to reopen at Stage Two and as it stands, we look forward to getting families back on our English parks from April 12 to enjoy a much-deserved coastal break.
“This news also means that we’re able to start welcoming our teams back onto parks immediately and over the next five weeks, we’ll continue to work diligently to ensure we have everything in place to best look after our guests, owners and team.
“We appreciate there will be disappointed guests who were booked to stay with us during March and in early April, but we will continue to follow the guidance laid out by the Government, as we have throughout the pandemic and hope we can welcome these guests back at a later date.
”We would like to thank our guests for their patience and continued understanding whilst we work through the stages as quickly as we can and will continue to provide information via our website and social media channels.”
Now we just need to choose where to go and hope for some sunny weather.