Great British ‘staycation’ scramble: UK booking sites report record sales

Britons are scrambling to book holidays, with record sales reported after lockdown restrictions on overnight stays were finally lifted.

Luxury lodge specialist Hoseasons recorded one booking every 11 seconds in the hours after Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement on Wednesday.

From July 4 people will be allowed to stay in self-contained accommodation such as hotels, B&Bs and campsites as long as shared facilities can be kept clean.

The guidance applies only to England, but self-catering holiday accommodation in Northern Ireland will open again on Friday, and hotels will follow on July 3.

A decision will be taken in Wales on July 9, with the Scottish Government reviewing its own lockdown restrictions on the same day.

With international travel still restricted to essential journeys, millions of UK residents are expected to book ‘staycations’ in their own country this summer.

Luxury lodge specialist Hoseasons (pictured, one of its sites in Wroxham, Norfolk) got a booking every 11 seconds in the hours after PM Boris Johnson’s announcement yesterday

With international travel still restricted to essential journeys, UK residents are expected to book 'staycations' in their own country this summer (pictured, Tynemouth beach today)

With international travel still restricted to essential journeys, UK residents are expected to book ‘staycations’ in their own country this summer (pictured, Tynemouth beach today)

Hoseasons and cottages.com both smashed their previous record sales days on Tuesday, the firm said.

Hoseasons’ year-on-year sales were up 270 per cent by the end of the day, with sister company cottages.com reporting a 455 per cent increase as both brands smashed their previous record sales days.

Simon Altham, chief commercial officer of Awaze UK, the parent company of both brands, said: ‘We were expecting greater levels of interest, but the surge in demand was still surprising and we certainly hadn’t expected a record day.

‘Over the last few weeks we’ve seen volumes of inquiries and bookings increase on a daily basis, as people begin to become more confident about booking a UK holiday.

Simon Altham, chief commercial officer of Awaze UK, the parent company of Hoseasons, said he had been surprised by the surge

Simon Altham, chief commercial officer of Awaze UK, the parent company of Hoseasons, said he had been surprised by the surge

‘Government confirmation seems to have just given people an extra level of certainty.

‘All the evidence suggests that holidays remain a priority for most people, and this year more than ever the chance to get away is something customers are very much looking forward to.

‘July and August are likely to be very busy as a result, but we’re also expecting greater than usual levels of demand for September and October too as the season extends.

‘At the moment holidaying closer to home is good for the soul and the UK economy.’

Figures from national tourism agency VisitBritain show £19.3billion was spent by UK residents on 97.4million overnight trips in England in 2018, with £53billion spent on 1.4billion domestic tourism day trips.

James Warner Smith from Cool Camping, which focuses on independent glamping and camping sites, said bookings on Tuesday had increased by 750 per cent compared with the same day last year.

He said: ‘It’s been crazy. We saw an immediate surge with some of the highest traffic ever on our website. Yesterday saw the most bookings we’ve ever had in a day.’

He said bookings were up again on Wednesday, suggesting the ‘spike’ is more of a surge, with many people who have had holidays cancelled or who have unused leave looking to book something.

He added: ‘People, after a long time at home, are looking forward to going somewhere new.’

Hoseasons (pictured, a site in Wrexham) and cottages.com both smashed their previous record sales days on Tuesday, the firm said

Hoseasons (pictured, a site in Wrexham) and cottages.com both smashed their previous record sales days on Tuesday, the firm said

Traffic to Canopy and Stars, which offers treehouses, yurts, cabins and Gypsy caravans, surged by 230 per cent in the hour after the PM’s speech.

Managing Director Mike Bevens told the Guardian: ‘We are seeing exceptionally high demand and availability is now evaporating. People need to book quickly if they want a holiday in the UK this summer.’

Best Western, which as 300 hotels, also saw a massive spike in bookings over the last day.

There has been a 575 per cent increase in reservations since yesterday afternoon, the chain reported.

Head of hotels Andrew Denton said: ‘I would describe yesterday as crazy and exciting at the same time.

‘The number of people on the site was above the same date last year when the world was open and we hadn’t heard of Covid.’

Meanwhile in Cornwall holiday parks and campsites are flooded with booking requests for after July 4.

A number of them have already said they are full for the rest of summer, according to Cornwall Live.

Sandra Hicks from Tregarton Park in Mevagissey told the newspaper: ‘There’s certainly been a surge in people wanting to book. It’s been non-stop this morning.’ 

Naomi from East Thorne in Bude said: ‘The phone has definitely been busier. A lot of people pre-empted the opening and we’ve had a steady flow of booking before yesterday.’

Charlotte from Sun Haven Holiday Park in Newquay added: ”The phone’s been ringing non-stop. Today has been all over the place.’

Popular resort brands including Center Parcs, Haven, Butlin’s and Pontins are also all set to reopen for the summer.

Center Parcs Longleat Forest in Wiltshire will reopen on July 13 with new social distancing measures and PPE for staff.

It will also boost cleaning of general areas and install hand sanitiser stations throughout its facilities.

A statement read: ‘We know that reopening isn’t going to be easy but we are confident we can, and will, re-open in a way that meets government requirements and guidelines and always has your safety and the safety of our staff as our number one priority.

‘We now have our full team of experts working at pace to review every single element of the Center Parcs experience, so that we are ready to reopen when the time is right.

‘We know we will have to make some changes, but we will stay as close and as true to the current Center Parcs experience that we all know and love as possible, celebrating our wonderful forest environments, our wildlife and a range of fun family activities.

‘We will need to consider how our guests and staff move around our villages, we are blessed with 400 acres of woodland but we will need to help everyone keep interactions with those outside of your households to a minimum.’

Center Parcs Longleat Forest in Wiltshire will reopen on July 13 with new social distancing measures and PPE for staff

Center Parcs Longleat Forest in Wiltshire will reopen on July 13 with new social distancing measures and PPE for staff

But some parts of the park will have to remain shut for now due to social distancing guidelines.

The statement added: ‘Our team is looking at every single activity we currently offer and we will need to find some new and creative ways to run some of them and unfortunately, there may be some that we just can’t operate in the first few weeks or so.

‘Our restaurants will look a little different too, initially with reduced menus and a greater focus on takeaways and we will adopt the same approach taken by the major supermarkets in our own ParcMarket.’

Butlin’s will open its doors for the first time in nearly four months on July 16, but there will be changes for visitors.

As people drive in they will be signposted to a specific entrance to get the keys to their accommodation.

Like Center Parcs, there will be increased cleaning taking place throughout the resorts, with sanitiser stations littered across them.

Some restaurants – including buffets, just with no self service – will stay open but with strict social distancing rules to follow and new opening times.

There will be the usual entertainment services for visitors, but with a reduced capacity per show.

Butlin's will open its doors for the first time in nearly four months on July 16, but there will be changes for visitors

Butlin’s will open its doors for the first time in nearly four months on July 16, but there will be changes for visitors

The Butlin’s website says: ‘We have a strict cleaning and hygiene policy in place and you’ll be assigned a room that has been thoroughly cleaned, sanitised and sealed before arrival.

‘Our housekeeping teams are well equipped with the correct PPE and cleaning products to ensure your break is both safe and comfortable

‘To minimise contact with others, we will be removing our accommodation servicing during your stay so that you can truly relax in the knowledge that nobody other than you and your family will be entering your accommodation whilst you’re here.

‘Should you need additional towels and bedding during your stay, you can request these from our Guest Services team via the app.’

It added: ‘All equipment used during our activities will be sanitised thoroughly in between sessions and group numbers will be limited to make sure that those participating can do so at a safe distance.

‘You’ll also be asked to sanitise your hands at the start and end of every activity.’

Pontins is set to reopen its Holiday Parks and Sand Bay & Pakefield Holiday Villages on July 17.

Pontins is set to reopen its Holiday Parks and Sand Bay & Pakefield Holiday Villages on July 17

Pontins is set to reopen its Holiday Parks and Sand Bay & Pakefield Holiday Villages on July 17

There will be no all inclusive holidays on offer but self-catered can be booked. Unlike Butlin’s its entertainment services will be cancelled until further notice.

Visitors can take part in activities during their stay but the number of people involved will be reduced.

Pontins said in a statement: ‘Pontins Holidays takes the health & safety of all its guests and staff very seriously and as such please be advised we will review and update this information as it is released by the government.’

The return of the Great British staycation:

  • Contactless check-in at hotels, bed and breakfast and camp sites
  • Campers will have to stay in their car until they are directed to their pitch
  • In all settings they will be expected to stay over a metre apart from someone else
  • Breakfast buffets and mini bars are all out for the time being
  • Visitors could be asked to bring their own toilets with them
  • Guests will also be asked to bring their own hand sanitiser and soap
  • All paperwork and phones will be removed from hotel rooms
  • Camp sites will clean their toilets six times a day
  • In hotels and bed and breakfasts deep cleans after guests have left
  • Multiple family holidays are strictly reduced to just two households
  • Guests are not allowed to have visitors to where they are staying 

Britons will be able to take holidays in beauty spots in places like Devon and Cornwall – as the Prime Minister officially announced staycations from July 4.

Boris Johnson made the announcement in the House of Commons, paving the way for families languishing in lockdown to finally get away from a break. 

Hotels were given the green light to throw open their doors as long as they were kept clean and safe.

Tourists can return to Haven’s resorts from July 6 as it looks to get up and running just two days after the new rules come into effect.

The firm has released details of its Haven Caravan Cleanliness Guarantee, which will see upped cleaning services and strict social distancing rules. 

People have to arrive at the sites in their allotted time window, before they are shown to their caravan.

There will also be a one-way system round the resorts for customers to make sure they do not come into unnecessary contact with each other.

Director of guest and proposition for Haven Gerard Tempest told the Sun: ‘Right now we are working on plans to have them manned from 7am to 7pm, with staff cleaning each shower cubicle and toilet between each use with anti-viral cleaning products.

‘After that, we will still keep the facilities open but have sanitising wipes available for guests to clean the facilities themselves.’

Other hotel operators have already revealed how they will reopen after lockdown with mini-bars and buffet breakfasts taken off the menu.

But some of the biggest chains announced a raft of changes yesterday after Mr Johnson’s announcement.

French company Accor, which owns brands including Novotel, Mercure, Ibis and Sofi tel, is aiming to reopen some of its 270 hotels from the start of July.

The chain will introduce new systems, which will include taking paperwork and telephones out of rooms, the Guardian reported.

Meanwhile, Jurys Inn and Leonardo Hotel Groups announced a ‘five point plan’ to get its hotels reopened, which includes going cashless and room-service for breakfast.

And like Hilton Hotels and Resorts group, they have promised to deep clean ‘key-touch areas’ in all rooms after guests have left.

Check-in times are likely to be staggered – or set later in the afternoon – to allow for deep cleaning of rooms.

At the seven-strong collection of The Pig Hotels in south-west England, for example, this has switched from 3pm to 4pm.

Valet parking and baggage handling could also be a thing of the past, though luggage may be disinfected on arrival.

Protective screens, distance-marking lines and one-way routes may be implemented in larger properties.   

Boris Johnson announced staycations could now happen in an announcement in the House of Commons

Boris Johnson announced staycations could now happen in an announcement in the House of Commons

Popular holiday spots such as St Ives in Cornwall may soon be accepting visitors again

Popular holiday spots such as St Ives in Cornwall may soon be accepting visitors again

Hotel bars, if they are opened, will likely be table service only, while dining tables will be arranged to satisfy the two-metre rule, and probably be without linen.

Staycation reopen rules

Social distancing of at least a metre should be maintained when possible 

Camping sites must keep washing facilities and toilets clean

People will be asked to hire Portaloos, or bring their own, so you don’t share toilet block with whole of the rest of the campsite.

Room service is also encouraged with many properties dropping the tray charge. Menu choices are likely to be restricted and delivery will be only to the bedroom door.

The speech was greeted with relief by tourism bosses who hailed it as a much-needed step in the right direction. 

Joss Croft, chief executive of trade association UKinbound, said: ‘The announcement that pubs, restaurants, hotels and attractions can officially open on July 4 will come as a huge relief to businesses across the tourism and hospitality industry, who have earned very little revenue since the beginning of March.

‘Reducing social distancing from two metres to one will also ensure that many more businesses will be able to viably reopen at the start of next month.

‘We’re pleased that the Government has also listened to industry and is on the verge of agreeing air corridors with a number of countries – a step that signals that the UK’s tourism inbound industry is keen to welcome international tourists again.’

Camping and Caravanning Club introduced strict social distancing rules ahead of reopening

Camping and Caravanning Club introduced strict social distancing rules ahead of reopening

Pitches will have six-metre spacing the number of people on club sites will be reduced

Pitches will have six-metre spacing the number of people on club sites will be reduced

Her joy was echoed by travel organisation Abta, but they warned plenty of notice had to be given to the sector.

A spokesman said: ‘The measures announced yesterday to ease lockdown further in England and allow people to stay overnight in self-contained accommodation, and take domestic holidays from 4 July, is a step in the right direction on the road to restarting travel in earnest.

‘With travel restrictions in place for the last few months, there is latent demand to travel with people wanting to visit close family and friends and have something to look forward to.

‘However, the travel sector remains in a perilous state, with redundancies announced each week, and more needs to be done to help the whole sector recover.

‘We need a more comprehensive road map as soon as possible that includes time frames for relaxing international travel restrictions too so businesses and customers can plan ahead. 

‘The process of sending people on holiday is not like turning on a tap. As much advance notice as possible from the Government is required for travel companies to restart operations.’

Receptions, play areas and other communal areas will remain closed on their sites

Receptions, play areas and other communal areas will remain closed on their sites

Campers will not be able to have any day visitors to their pitches to limit people at campsites

Campers will not be able to have any day visitors to their pitches to limit people at campsites

The Camping and Caravanning Club have also issued guidance on social distancing measures on their website.

In a statement, it said: ‘We’re delighted to be able to open the majority of our Club Sites in England on the 4th July 2020.

‘Of course, the safety of our campers and site teams remains our highest priority and we have been working hard to welcome you back.

‘To ensure the safety of our campers and site colleagues, we’ve introduced some new steps to safer camping in line with government guidance.’

Some camping enthusiasts yesterday reported they had been asked to hire or bring their own portaloos by some sites who had started taking bookings.

And the National Caravan Council described the lockdown easing a boost for the industry.

Director General John Lally said: ‘This is great news for the 2+ million caravan owners and for the parks industry in England – and not a moment too soon.

‘We have been working hard to explain to Government that caravan products are ”socially distanced by design” and that the parks industry across the UK can be safe places for people to holiday.

‘Not only are caravans required to be 5m or 6m apart, but caravan parks are big open spaces, the ideal base for hard working families to enjoy the great outdoors.

‘Parks already are working on safety protocols to keep their staff and visitors safe. So we are delighted that the great British caravan holiday can recommence in less than two weeks time.’

The relaxation on July 4 – Independence Day in the US – comes amid growing optimism that the virus, which has claimed more than 42,000 lives in the UK, is finally reducing to manageable proportions.

Some 2.2million vulnerable people who have been ‘shielding’ for more than three months were on Monday told they could finally leave their homes from July 6.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk

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