As we approach the end of the year yet again, it’s nice to look back on everything that’s happened. We’ve had awards, new developments and every kind of weather imaginable! Here’s our summary of everything that’s happened at WDLH this year…
Starting with Highlands End, we’ve made a number of improvements to the park this year and are pleased to have received some fantastic awards once again. We retained our Platinum AA Caravan & Camping Award, with a score of 95%, and won Best Holiday Park in the UK from Campsites.co.uk. We’ve also recently found out that we’ve made the finals for the Dorset Tourism Awards once again, in not one but two categories! We’ll find out in February what we’ve been awarded in the Holiday Park of the Year and Ethical, Responsible & Sustainable Tourism categories. Martin’s Bar & Restaurant also won a Gold Award from Taste Of The West.
Martin’s has hosted a number of events throughout the year, including the Bridport Business Awards and a range of private and charity functions. We recently held our annual Highland’s Maker’s Market again and raised an incredible £2500 for Julia’s House Children’s Hospice. For the first time, local music festival Jurassic Fields was held on land owned by the park. We were thrilled to be a part of such a fantastic event in the Bridport calendar and glad we could help the festival grow further.
At Highlands End Leisure Club we increased our opening hours at weekends and introduced more adult-only swim times, which has been well-received by both local members and holiday guests. We’ve recently begun major maintenance works which will improve the experience for everyone when we re-open in January, as well as ensure the pool has the most up-to-date filtering system that will enable us to continue operating for many years to come.
Elsewhere on the park, we’ve increased the number of solar panels, and now have them on every suitable roof including all our office buildings, Martin’s Bar & Restaurant, Highlands End Leisure Club and our Lodges. We have gained planning permission for a small area of 300 panels near to Eype, which will produce enough energy each year to power around 60 houses. The area of land is mostly hidden from view and a small apple orchard will be planted to reduce visual impact as much as possible. Sheep will continue to graze on the land and we have planning permission for a similar development at Golden Cap Holiday Park.
The farmland surrounding Highlands End has seen many new arrivals this year, from the birth of around 300 lambs in Spring, to the arrival of a small herd of alpacas in the Summer. The alpacas have proved popular with our team and visitors, particularly the two cria (babies) who were born on the park in June and July. We have built them a new pen at the front of the park, where guests will be able to say hello to them from time to time.
We’ve made the eco-friendly dishwasher in the Touring & Camping area free to use and started work on the new Glamping development which we can’t wait to see finished. Our newest pods, the Gold Pods will have all the luxuries including a kitchenette and shower room and will be open all year round. We’re also bringing a few of the Pods that were previously at Golden Cap to join this development. We’re offering 10% off all Glamping bookings at Highlands End booked before the 31st March 2024, so simply enter the code WEB10 on checkout to get a discount on a fantastic holiday.
This year we had to say goodbye to a caravan that had been on its pitch here since 1984! Caravan A011 has since been replaced with a much newer model and is being enjoyed by its new owners, however we will miss the older caravan that had become an iconic part of Highlands End. Further down the park, we were excited for the delivery of the new lodge on pitch A040, our first ever lodge for sale at Highlands End. This luxurious holiday home sits in a wonderful and spacious corner plot with fantastic views over the countryside towards the sea at West Bay.
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Over at Golden Cap we also retained our Gold AA Caravan & Camping Award, with a score of 90%. At the front of the park, we opened a brand new Lodge for hire, which has proved popular with guests, alongside our existing Lodges.
Also popular with guests here are our new webcams! Working with Dorset Council and The Anchor Inn, we installed two new live webcams right on the beach itself. One faces East towards Thorncombe Beacon, and the other faces West towards Golden Cap and Lyme Regis. These webcams are loved by holiday guests, local residents and weather watchers. We still have the webcam mounted on the top of the SPAR store on the park itself, so people can get 3 views of Seatown!
We welcomed a number of new Holiday Home Owners to our South Alberlon development, and have just begun work redeveloping the central area of the park, known as Red Hill View. This area will be home to 7 new hire caravans and 34 new caravans for sale, with some incredible value-for-money options available. As a result, we will be losing a number of grass and gravel pitches – however we have worked hard to make sure we can still welcome all of our usual guests to the park, even if it’s on a different type of pitch than before.
All 11 hard base pitches at the front of the touring area remain, and the facility block is being refurbished to cater for these pitches, plus our Big Berries Camping Meadow will be opening for a longer season than before. Some of our Glamping accommodation will be moving to other Parks, however our popular Jurassic Escape Pods will remain where they are.
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In Burton Bradstock, Graston Copse saw great numbers of visitors – not just our Holiday Guests, Holiday Home Owners and their dogs, but also in terms of wildlife. Here in Head Office, we have loved seeing photos of birds, bugs, rabbits and deer from the Team.
More trees, hedges and wildflowers have been planted around the park that we hope to see flourishing in the next few years and our beehives continued to produce some excellent honey that our guests loved buying. The Team also held a wonderful Coronation Street Party with our Holiday Home Owners.
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At Graston’s sister park, Larkfield, the last Lodge arrived and was sold on the luxury Jurassic Retreat development, which was started back in 2017. We’ve also got a brand new Lodge for sale in the main area of the park, and a range of other new and pre-owned Lodges and Caravans for sale.
We held a successful Holiday Home Sales open day here and will be holding others across our parks in 2024. You will be able to join us at Highlands End on the 16th March, at Golden Cap on the 20th and 21st April, at Graston Copse on the 11th May and at Sandyholme on the 18th May.
The Wildlife Lake was dredged and cleaned, massively improving water quality, and we welcomed a number of new residents to our pond which guests have loved. We even mounted a live webcam here, so you can watch the ducks and wild birds from the comfort of your sofa. We moved our children’s playing field to a much larger area, and are busy getting ready to offer Glamping holidays on the park next year.
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2023 marked our first full year running Eype House and we’re loving owning a park so close to Highlands End, and with such spectacular views. We installed additional tap points, helpful signage and created a new dog exercising meadow so that guests could exercise their dogs off-lead without leaving the park or heading down to the beach itself.
Once the season was over we got straight into long-term planning, and started by changing the name to Eype Beach Holiday Park, which we hope helps to show off the park’s fantastic location. As we’ve still got some things to be finalised, we can’t release bookings for 2024 here yet, however we are sorry to say that there will be no camping available from next year as we start a significant period of development on the Park.
This past year has been a year of technological advancement across the board for us. We began shooting promotional videos for the first time, which you can see clips of at the top of some of the pages on this website. Many of our teams made significant changes to their working practices to move towards a paperless office environment. Our Digital Team are working closely with our Green Team to come up with more ways that technology can help reduce our environmental impact.
We were excited to be the first park to sign up to a revolutionary new software called BrightPark and have loved the benefits and features that it has provided, both for our Operations Team, as well as our guests. We’ve introduced an online check-in, which allows people to let us know when they plan to arrive and view a guest area packed with lots of helpful information.
As well as this, we’ve been adding key boxes outside some of our hire accommodation, enabling guests to have the option of a contactless arrival and departure on the park. A new text message system has helped us to get important information such as weather alerts to people on-park as quickly and efficiently as possible and we’ve received great feedback from this.
We’ve also been working on the WDLH App, and this year we introduced a new Routes section, where we’ve plotted all our favourite walks in the areas surrounding our parks on maps and listed helpful information from each. We’re pleased to say that we’ve had almost 20,000 downloads to date and have some really exciting things planned for this in the New Year. Perhaps the most exciting technological development this year has been our new website which launched this month. A long time in the making, we’re really pleased with how it has turned out and all the extra features that it has.
As always we have partnered with and worked with a number of local businesses, charities and organisations, helping to support the local area in whatever ways we can by donating vouchers to fundraising raffles and sponsoring community events. Our longstanding partnership with the Jurassic Coast Trust continued and for the third year in a row we have raised over £10,000 with the help of donations made by guests at the point of booking. We also organised a number of informative guided walks from our parks this year and were blessed with good weather for them, with guests and locals learning lots from our local JCT volunteer guide.
As always, we ran our annual photo competition and had great fun looking through around 1000 entries. We managed to choose our finalists and our Facebook followers voted for their favourite to win £250 off a 2024 holiday with us. We’ll be running the competition again next year, so if you’ve booked a 2024 holiday with us, you’ll be eligible to enter!
We appreciate each and every guest who has visited our parks this year, whether it was your first trip to Dorset, or you’ve visited your favourite park year after year. If you own a Holiday Home with us, we thank you for being part of the WDLH family.
As always, we finish the year by planning and looking forward to the next, and if you’re doing the same, why not have browse of our website and start planning your 2024 trip to Dorset.