How holiday camps have revamped for contemporary staycationers

PUBLISHED: 10:15 14 July 2017 | UPDATED: 10:15 14 July 2017

Water sports at Tattershall Lakes.

Water sports at Tattershall Lakes.

Matt Jessop

The inexorable rise of Center Parcs since the company opened its first UK site 30 years ago has finally forced more antiquated holiday parks to reassess their offering in a bid to cater to the more discerning clientele.

Outdoor fun at Tattershall Lakes.Outdoor fun at Tattershall Lakes.

Growing up in the seventies meant I endured annual family breaks in camps across the country, where for a week we would live in a prefabricated “chalet” decorated in various shades of brown, my siblings and I spending our days taking part in scheduled activities and nights watching low-end cabaret in a “clubhouse” while our parents quaffed Cinzano and lemonade and pints of Double Diamond.

Spoilt by what else is available in today’s holiday market, the country’s surviving camps have realised they need to change. Many now offer state-of-the-art accommodation, a wide array of entertainment and activities with a cross-generational appeal, and even fine dining restaurants and luxury spa treatments if you want to splash out.

Tattershall Lakes in Lincolnshire has recently completed a £8m revamp with the aim of catering for a more up-market audience who wouldn’t dream of plumping for a cramped and outdated caravan when grabbing a short staycation in the UK.

We stayed in a Tribeca, featuring a high-spec, sophisticated design treatment which owes more to a boutique hotel than your traditional holiday camp accommodation, with top of the range televisions in most rooms, a luxurious bath-tub, and a woodland-themed adventure bedroom for the kids.

The splash park at Tattershall Lakes.The splash park at Tattershall Lakes.

The venue boasts a spanking new entertainment facility, The Merlin, which includes an extensive stage area, covered outdoor play area, several large bar and dining spaces, and even life-size replicas of a WWII Land Rover and Spitfire plane, the latter suspended from the ceiling as a centrepiece of the whole building.

The adjacent swimming pool is very basic, and uncomfortably over-crowded on the one occasion we tried to use it, but there are much more interesting water activities to be found on the surrounding lakes, including fishing, wakeboarding, jetskis and a nearby aquapark, so your best bet is to ignore the pool and embrace the outdoor water sports.

Unnaturally chirpy entertainment staff are on hand to entertain younger children with a wealth of activities ranging from a superhero academy to a cookie craft workshop, before switching up a gear for a more traditional mix of bingo and dance routines in the evening which triggered nervous flashbacks to my youth.

There is also a decent mix of outdoor entertainment to while away your stay, ranging from archery, a splashpark and zorbing to laser tag, crazy golf and cheerleading, so there’s no excuse to be bored!

The Tribeca living area.The Tribeca living area.

There are also theme weekends throughout the year offering added value, including the Primo Music Festival over August 18-21, and the Vintage and Retro Festival from September 8-11, so it’s worth finding out if there are any particular events which appeal before booking your stay.

If you want to venture outside the resort, there’s a fantastic pub, The Tattershall Park Country Pub, on the doorstep, and further afield can be found the Battle of Britain Memorial Centre, Tattershall Castle and Lincolnshire Wildlife Park, with the traditional seaside resort of Skegness just a short drive away.

Tattershall Lakes still has some way to go before reaching the lofty heights of Center Parcs’ offerings, but the winds of change have definitely blown through this particular resort.

It feels as though it’s striving to embrace a new type of stay-at-home customer, whose expectations are much higher than previously, and on many levels it succeeds admirably.

The children's bedroom in the Tribeca.The children's bedroom in the Tribeca.

But with many of the park’s traditional holiday homes sold in perpetuity to regular visitors trapped in a loop of the 1970s, it’s always going to be hard to completely let go of the past as long as that particular generation is still alive.

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