Domestic tourism is reaping the rewards of a growing demand for themed breaks and active holidays. Jo Cooke reports
So much for us being a nation of couch potatoes. Increasing numbers of Britons are looking to use their down time to try a new activity or practise a favourite sport, while reality TV shows such as Britain’s Got Talent have inspired an interest in good old-fashioned entertainment.
To target this growing market, the travel trade is offering an increasing number of themed breaks at parks and resorts.
From marvelling at top psychics performing live on stage to learning to fine-tune the palate on cooking courses and wine-tastings, there are reasons aplenty for your clients to leap off their sofas time and again.
Here are just some of the wide range of active breaks and weekend getaways on offer in key locations in the UK that will appeal to different types of client, from young to old and from foodies to music fans.
The UK specialist’s programme of themed breaks includes line dancing, big bands and salsa, as well as old favourites such as netball, darts and snooker breaks.
New for this autumn is a Big Blues Festival at Prestatyn Sands Holiday Park from September 3-6 and a Girls Just Wanna Have Fun weekend at Brean Sands Holiday Park on November 5-7. It combines beauty treatments with exercise classes, chick flicks and cabaret shows. Prices start at £25 for two nights’self-catering.
“The event is ideal for hen parties and mothers and daughters,” says travel trade and tours manager Jackie Taylor. “We are also offering concessions to travel agents who would like to come along. They can get a 50% discount on brochure prices by quoting GIRLS1.”
pontins.com/agents, 0844 576 5959
Grand UK Holidays
Grand UK Holidays and its sister brand Glenton Holidays specialise in the over-55 market and host Murder Mystery weekends. Guests join in role-playing scenarios with staff where clues are given to solve the ‘murder’.
The company also offers bingo and ballroom dancing holidays. New for 2011 is an Antiques and Collectibles break, based at the County Hotel in Skegness.
Guests will be taken to the best antique centres and shops in the area. Antique experts will also be on hand with advice on how to bag a bargain. The break commences on April 11, 2011, with five days’ half-board priced £215. There is no single supplement.
grandukholidays.com, 01603 619933
If you are making a booking for a party of hens or stags, Attraction World sells a range of experiences from adrenaline-fuelled activities to make-up lessons. For example, a 300ft bungee jump costs £79 and is commissionable.
attractionworld.com, 0871 700 8888
Those who aren’t afraid of things that go bump in the night might jump at the chance of a Haunting Break.
Superbreak has a series of spooky getaways planned throughout the winter months at haunted country-house hotels, castles and manor houses in Oxfordshire, Yorkshire and Shropshire.
Guests join a team of real-life ghostbusters, while those who are a bit more daring can try their hand at dowsing and table tipping, or join in a seance. Prices start at £170 for one night based on two sharing.
New for 2010, Superbreak is holding tribute breaks for the Father Ted comedy series. Fans of the show can step into a recreation of the Parochial House on Craggy Island and experience a cast of actors performing classic sketches such as the fixed raffle and Father Ted’s Riverdance class.
This follows on from the success of Superbreak’s Fawlty Towers tribute break, which is held at a selection of locations including the actual hotel, the Gleneagles in Torquay, that inspired John Cleese to write the hit comedy.
Prices for these one-night breaks start at £89 per person.
superbreak.com/agents, 0871 221 4444
Hoseasons has dedicated five of its parks to activity breaks under the Go Active banner: Great Glen Water Park in Kinlochlochy, Brynteg in Gwynedd, Crowhurst Park Lodges in East Sussex, Finlake in Devon and Gurnard Pines on the Isle of Wight.
Between them they offer a range of sporting activities including white-water rafting, rock climbing, fencing and kayaking.
hoseasons.co.uk/agents, 0844 847 1144
Short breaks themed by musical taste are becoming increasingly popular and Butlins is hosting a range of adult-only Big Weekends, including Festival of the 60s, Disco Inferno and 80s Madness, the latter featuring Kim Wilde. These are particularly popular with groups of friends celebrating special occasions and eager to relive their youth.
At the beginning of December, Butlins will also host the first Great British Folk Festival, at Skegness. Live acoustic acts include Sandi Thom, and the Dylan Project will perform on-site in a festival atmosphere where the only thing missing is the mud. Guests at all the Butlins musical events can also enjoy more than 50 free activities, such as tenpin bowling and archery, during their stay.
bourneleisuresales.co.uk, 0845 070 4742
While Butlins focuses on helping clients relive their musical memories, Haven is keen to create the music stars of tomorrow with its School of Rock and Pop.
Haven provides the instruments and the music teachers for children aged eight to 16 once a week during peak season at Presthaven, Primrose Valley and Marton Mere holiday parks.
havenagents.com, 0845 070 4742
Warner Leisure Hotels
Adults can learn everything from flower arranging to wine-tasting at Warner Leisure Hotels. The operator offers activities as a range of add-ons that can earn agents additional commission when they book a Warner break for their clients.
For more active types, options include an off-road Land Rover experience, Mini Cooper treasure hunt, hot-air ballooning and rambling. Experiences cost from £15.
In addition, Warner is offering golf clinic breaks for players of all levels keen to improve their swing. Courses are available at four of their country properties – Alvaston Hall, Holme Lacy House, Nidd Hall and Thoresby Hall.
Allan Lambert, head of retail sales for Bourne Leisure, operator of Butlins, Haven and Warner Leisure Hotels, says the group has seen rising demand for themed breaks and activities at its parks and hotels over the past few years.
“Butlins’ themed Big Weekends have experienced a 24% growth in the last 12 months and demand for our Warner experiences continues to soar following a 31% increase in bookings over the same period last year.”