Fast-growing UK holiday operator Away Resorts has acquired the Sandy Balls Holiday Village in the New Forest.
Carl Castledine, Chief Executive Officer at Away Resorts, says:
“Sandy Balls has been a family-owned business run with passion and feeling for almost 100 years, so we are very mindful of retaining the heritage and essence of what makes Sandy Balls such a well-loved holiday village. We know guests will be happy to hear that whilst we plan to invest in Sandy Balls and improve certain areas, we want to reassure that we will not be changing the overall feel of the place that so many guests love”.
“Sandy Balls complements our strategy of providing our existing customer base with a range of very different types of holidays, avoiding the chainlike feel of our major competitors. We now have parks that meet the needs of a wide variety of guests, whether they are seeking a lakeside retreat, a coastal experience, a holiday packed full of entertainment, an outdoor adventure break situated in remote areas of outstanding natural beauty, or a peaceful escape within a short drive from London. And now with Sandy Balls we have a park that is forest-based with extensive central facilities.”
Sandy Balls has welcomed hundreds of thousands of guests to the village since opening its doors nearly 100 years ago, its name dating back to the reign of King Henry VII when ‘sandyballas’, domed sand and gravel outcrops on the site’s western boundary, first appeared on historic maps.
It brings the Away Resorts family to six parks with Sandy Balls joining Tattershall Lakes in Lincolnshire, Whitecliff Bay on the Isle of Wight, Mersea Island in Essex, Barmouth Bay in Wales and Mill Rythe on Hayling Island.
Away Resorts is passionate about providing memorable and affordable British holidays. 2016 was a record year for the business as overall bookings across its parks rose significantly against 2015’s figures. This comes as the number of people taking a holiday in the UK increased from 64% to 71%*, with domestic holidays proving more popular than a trip overseas.
*12 months up to August 2016, ABTA Holiday Habits Report 2016
What changes will you make to Sandy Balls?
We aren’t planning any substantial changes to Sandy Balls at the minute. We know that it is a much loved holiday village and we don’t want to change the essence of what makes it special.
What improvements will you make?
We will make improvements where we think they are needed, for example refurbishing some of the older accommodation. We also plan to invest in enhancing some of the existing facilities to give a better guest experience. Some of these projects take time but there are others that we will get on with quickly so customers can enjoy the benefits in 2017. However, none of these transformations will change the personality of Sandy Balls.
Will the staff be the same?
Yes, the Sandy Balls staff are a special group of people who have worked hard to make it a great holiday village. The previous Directors have decided to move on to new ventures but all other staff have chosen to stay with us.
Will prices be going up?
We pride ourselves on offering a fantastic, memorable holiday in the UK to our guests and their families, at an affordable price, and we will continue to be committed to do that, so we don’t have any plans to raise the prices.
What will happen to the booking I have already made for 2017?
Absolutely nothing will change – your booking will stay the same and you can be reassured that the full facilities and services that you were expecting will still be part of your holiday.
Why did the owners sell Sandy Balls?
The Westlake family have put their heart and soul into developing Sandy Balls into the successful and much-loved holiday village that it is today. They decided that it was time for Sandy Balls to move to new ownership, and they have been very diligent in making sure that the new owners remain as committed to its success and ethos as they have been. They were selective about who the acquirers were and that it was not all about money. They have asked us to maintain the heritage of the park, which we are committed to doing.
Why has Away Resorts bought Sandy Balls?
Away Resorts has been actively looking to grow the business by acquiring specially selected parks in the UK that we think complement and enhance our offering to the UK holiday-taking public. Sandy Balls is a fantastic addition for us; it is a well-known five-star holiday village with award-winning facilities. It has a great reputation, loyal customer base and a location second to none being situated in an area of outstanding natural beauty, within a national park. Our company is in a growth phase, which Sandy Balls becomes an important part of. It is a very well run business that we felt added value to our estate.