A weekly survey commissioned by Visit Britain shows consumer confidence in taking a summer break in the UK is gradually rising, with 23% planning a holiday at home between now and September.
With the South West leading the poll as the most desired destination for post-lockdown breaks, luxury resorts and hotels in Cornwall are currently experiencing a spike in high-end bookings. With a leaning towards longer breaks, superior accommodation is selling fast with visitors seeking comfort, safety and space with budget being further down the list than usual.
One of Cornwall’s leading five-star resorts, Landal Gwel an Mor on the North Cornish Coast in Portreath has seen a big surge in bookings, with their premium self-catering lodges proving hugely popular.
Matt Way, Resorts Director at Landal Gwel an Mor said: “We have seen a big demand for our lodges with private hot-tubs, with our bookings up 9% versus the same week last year, so we are cautiously optimistic. Talking to our guests, their concern is not the cost but ticking the boxes on what is important to them for this first holiday – self-contained lodges, sea-views, luxury with safety also being a key concern”. One of the first in the country to adopt this process, the resort has invested in disinfectant fogging machines as an extra cleaning procedure, swab testing lodges before handing over to guests.
“We have worked hard to continue to offer our five-star service, finding innovative ways to incorporate safe and social distancing for dining, golf, fishing as well as offering private animal experiences at our Feadon Wildlife Centre. We are a woodland walk away from Portreath beach and village and with lodges having private hot tubs you can easily have a truly luxury holiday whilst social distancing at Landal Gwel an Mor.”
The resort has also found more guests are booking direct than through their big-name partner agencies suggesting customers are seeking the reassurance of talking to the holiday providers direct about their concerns and wanting to back independent business.
This trend is supported by five-star Headland Hotel in Newquay. “There’s a real appetite for self-catering holidays following the lockdown, with summer bookings for our five-star self-contained cottages looking excellent, and September filling up fast,” said Carolyn Armstrong, co-owner.
“Families are looking to reconnect following the lockdown, and guests are planning their holidays further in advance; our Halloween-themed October half term, which will have a visit from the Grand High Witch from The Witches film, is already proving very popular. We’re very much looking forward to starting a phased reopening of The Headland when it is safe to do so, and inviting our guests to take advantage of our beautiful clifftop location on the north Cornwall coast, which allows easy access to Fistral Beach and the South West Coast Path, and offers plenty of open space to support social distancing.”
James Hemming, Resort Director at Una St Ives, chic eco-lodges at Carbis Bay, commented: “We are seeing a renewed hunger for bookings for August onwards, and quite strong demand which is driving up price, as well as a longer than normal length of stay. This continues later into the year than you would ordinarily expect”.
“Before that, however, I believe there is a huge pent up demand for UK holidays that will flood in now travel restrictions are confirmed. Interestingly we have heard people saying that pure self-catering is not what they want; after spending three months in lockdown and having to fend for themselves they want something with on-site dining, a strong takeaway offering and frequent housekeeping so they don’t need to cook and clean.”
It’s not just self-catering options, luxury Talland Bay Hotel near Polperro on the South Coast has also seen an increase in bookings. Deputy Manager Lucy Varney confirmed that people are desperate to get away and aren’t afraid of spending money on enjoying a premium experience.
“Guests are booking Superior Sea View rooms more than any other category,” she said. “They want the bigger rooms and the luxury of a sea view, and are booking the full dinner, bed and breakfast package. Holidaymakers are looking for high-end hotels and to be indulged.”
As well as initial demand for stays of between three and seven nights for July and August, the hotel has been seeing a surge in bookings for mid-September to late October. Guests will be able to enjoy breakfast in bed as part of new measures being introduced, and the hotel is adding beach huts around the grounds for socially distanced dining with a sea view.
Commenting on the consumer sentiment, Malcolm Bell, Chief Executive of Visit Cornwall said: “We know there’s lots of demand to visit Cornwall this summer and are encouraging people to get the most out of their holiday. We’re launching a new campaign this week: Think, Plan, Book. The idea is that holidaymakers consider what sort of break they want and mitigate queueing or missing out on experiences by booking tickets for attractions and meals out ahead of time.
“People naturally want a bit of a treat after lockdown so it comes as no surprise that they’re willing to spend a bit on their holiday. We’re anticipating that those who would normally head to Tuscany or the Dordogne for a summer break are simply switching their plans to a longer staycation. With our stunning beaches, picturesque landscapes and incredible food and drink, Cornwall comes top of the list as a suitable alternative.”
Main Image: View from Room 1, Talland Bay Hotel