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Self Catering Holidays

cabins by_the_water_11_06_12There’s a new kid on the block when it comes to self-catering holidays: luxury lodges are the next big thing and, once you’ve sampled them, you’ll never look back…

Gone are the days when a ‘fun’ UK holiday meant hiding under a windbreak on a rain-soaked beach and going back to a damp cottage or creaking caravan. Nowadays, celebrities, professional footballers and soap stars are splashing their cash on something a little more luxurious when they want a ‘staycation’ break – and that is choosing to have a vacation in a holiday lodge.

But it’s not just the A-list who can enjoy this lifestyle – luxury lodges are fast becoming the holiday of choice for the British public, whether that be couples seeking a romantic getaway or families looking for a holiday that suits all ages.

Learn about lodges

You may be wondering what exactly are holiday lodges and what they entail. Basically, they’re a bit like log cabins. Usually made from wood, they are built in a factory in two parts and then transported to the lodge park. They are then bolted together and the space between the lodge and the ground is bricked or covered in.

If you buy one, you can use it all year round, but only as a second home; so they’re perfect for a holiday getaway.

And some are truly luxurious – seafront lodges at The Warren, near Abersoch, have three bedrooms and cost up to £500,000 and are some of the most expensive park properties in Britain. With remote-controlled windows, wine fridges, double showers and ‘body dryers’ in a roomy 50ft x 22ft space, they are a far cry from traditional static caravans.

Even those with slightly less prohibitive price tags are still a home from home with central heating and double glazing as standard, fully fitted kitchens and all the mod cons you could possibly need.

Most will have decking, so you can sit under the stars sipping a cocktail, and many have outside hot tubs too! There is some difference of opinion as to how a holiday lodge and a log home or cabin differ from one another, but according to ‘Log cabins are built on site, timber by timber.’

The timber used can be of various thicknesses and will reflect in the quality as well as the cost of the log cabin.’

A booming business Many lodges come with their own garages, or a parking space, so your car is near your lodge, and safe, whether you use it during your holiday or whether it stays firmly put.

Holiday lodges are doing very well in the current recession. While sales of caravans are suffering in the downturn, park lodge sales are booming. More than 70% of the new build holiday schemes in Britain have been buy-to-let lodge-style developments. There are more than 700 residential parks – some with permanent owners and others who just rent it out for holidays throughout the year.

Stunning sites

So what’s the big attraction? All that luxury, as we’ve said – but also the settings. Whether in a secluded woodland nestled next to water or by a beach, lodges often come with stunning scenery and views of sea, lakes and rivers.

Getting away from it is the number one bonus of hiring or buying a lodge. Most have plenty of space around them, so you don’t feel as if you’re living in the pocket of the people in the next lodge, which is a common complaint with people using caravan sites and camping grounds.

But because you are on a park, there are plenty of facilities right on hand that will make your stay stress-free.

The lodges are usually designed to complement their surroundings and so you really feel as if you are in a natural setting, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and chores.

Because many are located near water, lodges are perfect bases for boat owners as many have slipway access and free fishing facilities. Even if you don’t own your own boat, many sites offer canoes and kayaks for day hire, or day cruises along the local rivers or canals.

Others boast on-site golf courses, woodland walks, horse stables, riding opportunities and indoor and outdoor swimming pools. Some even have luxury spas on site; so, if that’s your thing, you can be pampered, too. Or should you be more of an exercise fiend, you’ll be glad to hear that several have on-site gyms.

And what’s more, if you’re not much of a domestic goddess, you don’t need to worry – because you won’t have to lift a finger for your entire holiday, if you don’t want to! All the holiday parks offer a great variety of restaurants and cafés, from family friendly settings to elegant, romantic dining for couples.

The holiday feeling

If you love a holiday that’s home from home, and enjoy returning to your same beloved holiday destination time after time, lodges are the ideal choice.

Once you’ve bought your lodge – and prices vary depending whether it’s brand new or has been owned previously – you can even let your lodge out to friends and family when you’re not there – so others can enjoy the luxury holiday lifestyle you’ve got used to.

The Finer details
There are things to consider if you are considering buying a holiday lodge:

  • As well as the initial outlay, you may well have to pay regular ground rent, possibly an annual maintenance charge and, quite often, council tax.
  • Some parks offer a home exchange scheme, designed to take the stress out of selling your own property when you’re trying to buy a holiday lodge. Such schemes cut out estate agents’ fees, so are well worth looking in to if your chosen park offers such a scheme.
  • When you buy a lodge, you will enter a licensed agreement stating that the lodge remain on the park for a certain period of time – this can be anything from 15 to 99 years, so be clear about the length of the agreement before you sign on the dotted line.
  • Ensure you know if there are any restrictions on when you can visit – you don’t want to have everything arranged for a Christmas break only to find out you are not entitled to go at that time.
  • If you feel you are not quite ready for the big commitment of buying a lodge, then renting a holiday lodge is the alternative. And with so many parks springing up all around the country, you are spoilt for choice as to where you can stay – from the stunning Cornish coast all the way up to the Scottish Highlands. There’s sure to be somewhere that takes your fancy and that will suit your family’s holiday desires. Prices for a seven-day break start from less than £200 but on average cost around £400.

And for your personal safety…

Most lodges come with their own outside area, either decking or an area of grass, but if the lodge you buy doesn’t, there’s no need to worry because companies are now offering decking specially suitable for park homes. Designed with the outdoor life in mind, you can invest in decking that is non-flammable – the odd barbecue is de rigeur while on your luxury lodge holiday – and slip resistant, so even if the British weather lets you down, you don’t need to worry about your little ones slipping on the wooden decking and falling over.

  • Always check with your holiday lodge or holiday park company before you build, or extend, your new decking, to ensure that it meets park regulations and aesthetics.

UK spots
There are lodges all over Britain, from the Home Counties to Wales, from the rolling hills of Dorset to the Norfolk Broads. Here are just a few of them…

• Anglesey
• Berkshire
• Cambridgeshire
• Cumbria
• Dorset
• Essex
• Glasgow
• Hertfordshire
• Isle of Wight
• Kent
• Middlesex
• Norfolk
• Northumberland
• Suffolk
• Surrey

This article was first published in at home with Lorraine Kelly in April 2012. [Read the digital edition here]

Photograph: Shutterstock

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