Not rest ye merry leisure spend 

This is the time of year when we think we are going to take time off to rest and recuperate and return rejuvenated. The label on the Baileys might not suggest that it’s an elixir of youth, but surely that must be the case. Likewise, releasing 12 months (or three years, Covid dependent) of political frustrations onto a passing aunt might not promote the deep sleep you were looking for, but never mind.

But we enter the festive season full of hope and with thoughts of leisure, as do the sector’s investors. 

This week saw Beach Retreats joining the likes of The Pig and Roompot as a target for investors whose eyes have been turned by leisure, when parent Watergate Bay Hotel acquired a 72-room hotel, the Sands Resort, one mile from its award-winning hotel in Cornwall.

The site will be transformed into a new lifestyle aparthotel, to be operated under the group’s self-catering brand, Beach Retreats. 

Ben Harper, group managing director at Watergate Bay Hotel, Beach Retreats and Another Place, said: “This is a big moment for Beach Retreats. Sites with development potential of this kind are rare and, three years after developing our strategy to expand the Beach Retreats business into developing and managing coastal aparthotels, we’re thrilled to acquire this property and deliver our vision to blend the best of self catering with hotel hospitality

“The past few years have taught us that the sector is ripe for a strong brand which offers the lifestyle-led, leisure-driven outdoor offerings guests are looking for. 

“The market in the UK has not kept pace with the needs of leisure travellers who are now holidaying within its shores, and this addition to the Beach Retreats portfolio is the next step for us as we diversify into operations in addition to our agency business. 

“The aparthotel concept is now proven in urban environments and I have always believed, that this will translate well to the leisure sector. This acquisition will fuel our ambition to create a leading  lifestyle self-catering brand.”

Despite issues around costs and inflation, sector continues to see its future in the aspirational end of the market, convinced that people will spend on quality, even if it means travelling less. The trend is expected to become, well, a real thing. 

Pre-pandemic, the talk was about younger generations focusing more on experiences than goods, something which was reversed during the pandemic. This has now flipped back, so that there is a move by the consumer towards spending more of that disposable income on experiences rather than goods.

Of all the investment coming into the sector, there is one common strand – that of a strong brand. Even Butlins has entered the fray, with nary a comment about the colour of people’s coats. 

Also coming at the self-catering segment is the likelihood that a registration programme will be put in place which could see Airbnb and its chums restricted. 

In response to a question by Conservative MP Nickie Aiken at PMQs, Rishi Sunak committed to delivering a new ‘Tourist Accommodation Scheme’ that will ensure short-term lets have to register with local authorities and will monitor their impact on local communities. He also confirmed the government will consult on planning permissions for new short-term holiday lets in tourist hotspots.

UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said: “I’m very pleased to hear the Prime Minister commit to delivering a Tourist Accommodation Scheme that will include short-term lets and it is clear recognition that the Government has listened to the concerns raised by UKHospitality.

“The astronomical rise of short-term lets, through home-sharing platforms, meant that legislation and regulation was not able to catch-up quickly enough and these sites have been operating without the oversight or tax obligations as the wider accommodation sector.

“It’s essential that this registration scheme can be properly enforced and can help bring short-term lets up to the high standards of our hotels, which abide by strict fire safety, health and safety, and accessibility rules.

“A registration scheme that can deliver this not only levels the playing field across our accommodation outlets, but also delivers huge guarantees and benefits for the consumer too.”

The time for a strong leisure brand is very much now. But first, a little nap to let the brandy butter go down.

With the very best from us at NewDog PR for a restful break. 

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