Staycation is here to stay
It is a trend that we have seen steadily increasing over the last few years but the early summer heatwave led to a real spike in staycation visits here at Celtic Manor over the summer holidays.
With the weak value of the pound since the Brexit vote also continuing to discourage foreign travel, the appeal of remaining within the UK was greater than ever this summer.
We enjoyed a record August in terms of family visitors and I am sure this was a trend reflected across Wales and the UK, as the hot and dry weather encouraged more people to stay at home this year.
At Celtic Manor, we had record occupancy of 97 per cent across our hotel bedrooms, and the Hunter Lodges were fully occupied through every day of August. Some 30,000 guests stayed with us during August, double the number we would see in a typical month when conference guests and business travellers mean we have a lot more single occupancy in our bedrooms.
We have been targeting the family holiday market for a long time at Celtic Manor, building new adventure activities and introducing new leisure facilities and upgrading existing ones.
We are constantly trying to improve our leisure offering and, inspired by the high temperatures, we introduced a much more outdoor feel to our Summer of Fun this year, with new al fresco menus in our restaurants and All Bounced Out inflatables becoming a permanent presence on our sun trap of a Rooftop Garden.
We even brought the outside in – as well as the seaside inland – when we worked with community artists to install a beach-style sand sculpture in the middle of the lobby to celebrate our Summer of Fun. It is, after all, The Year of the Sea for Welsh tourism.
Eleven tons of sand was used to create the sculpture which showcased some of the activities we have been building up and improving for a number of years, like Adventure Golf, Forest Jump treetop ropes, archery and laser combat.
These activities help us to entertain guests of all ages at Celtic Manor and, combined with the new initiatives, helped us attract more visitors than ever before in August.
While August is peak season for family holidays, it also presents a challenge for us to fill the hotel because it’s very much the off-season for our conference business. We have very little base business and long-lead bookings from the conference and events side of things, so we have to push extra hard to fill the hotel with leisure guests.
To achieve this, we need to ensure we keep offering people reasons to come to Celtic Manor and reasons to return. It is very pleasing to see the amount of repeat business we secure during the holidays with many people returning year after year to celebrate a birthday or because it is their children’s favourite place.
We are lucky that we have two indoor swimming pools and other indoor activities should the weather take a turn for the worse, but for this summer at least we could all enjoy our time in the sun. Come rain or shine, I have a feeling the staycation is here to stay!