16 May 2019
Multi award-winning Patrington Haven Leisure Park was founded by Atlas Caravans owner Graham Sparkes in 1984 on a disused RAF base, after he sold the business to fellow members of the management team.
It is now run by Graham’s son, Guy Sparkes, his wife Karen and their extended family, who have grown the team from 35 employees five years ago to more than 70 today.
With a growth in turnover from £2.7m in 2014 to £5.6m last year, the owners-only park close to the Holderness coast is forecasting £6m in revenue for 2019 and is experiencing its highest ever occupancy rates, with just 15 of 485 plots currently free.
Now, after investing £5.5m in the leisure park’s Country Club and infrastructure over the past five years, the business is continuing to push forward with new services for its owners and visitors and to reach out to the local community.
Significant investments have been made in Guy’s Café Bar and Restaurant, new technology in the state-of-the-art gym, and three new vans for the maintenance team, which have helped to improve rubbish collections and upkeep of caravans.
In addition, the business has invested thousands of pounds in a rubbish compactor, which has ensured not a single piece of commercial waste has gone to landfill since it was installed, and launched The Spa at the Country Club, providing luxury health and beauty treatments to caravan owners and the local community, with staff trained by Elemis in London.
A takeaway delivery service offering food from the park’s restaurant menu has also been set up to operate within a seven-mile radius, delivering everything from pizza to fish and chips, romantic meals for two and family feasts, as well as an alcohol delivery service, to caravans on site and local homes, with orders taken via the Just Eat service and delivered by two new vans.
Meanwhile, an innovative, free mobile phone app has been launched to communicate with people on and off the park, with options for them to choose the news and notifications they receive, and a new website is due to launch this summer.
Managing Director Guy Sparkes firmly believes the park’s committed team and loyal customers are the foundations of its success.
He said: “We’ve seen a really strong five-year growth period and I put that down to belief, supporting the team and allowing them to be in charge of their own destinies.
“A leisure park is only as good as its owners and its guests and we have some of the best. Our main aim is for all our customers to be proud of our team and our team to be proud of our customers.
“I can’t say it’s like coming to work here. It has various pressures, but at the same time, you’re coming in to collaborate with people who believe in the same things. When you have shared beliefs, you can achieve anything.”
The park has been awarded the Remarkable Holiday Park/Holiday Village Award in the Remarkable East Yorkshire Tourism Awards (REYTAs) for the past three years, racking up the latest win in March.
Last year Patrington Haven Leisure Park was also named in the Yorkshire Fastest 50 list of the region’s fastest-growing companies, in rankings organised by law firm Ward Hadaway and backed by the Yorkshire Post.
The success is based on creating a home away from home environment for owners and making the leisure park a hub for the local community.
Although the pool and gym require membership, appointments at the Elemis spa can be booked and the restaurant, bar and other facilities are open to everyone all year round.
The leisure park enjoys remarkable loyalty from its customers, with the longest-serving caravan owners having called Patrington Haven their home away from home for more than 20 years.
Eric and Linda Thompson, from Rotherham, South Yorkshire, first bought on the park in 2003 and have owned three caravans during that time, including their current Winchester model.
Mrs Thompson, 66, said: “We came to look at Patrington Haven one Saturday morning and we loved it straight away, so we bought our first caravan on the same day.
“The plots all have their own gardens and it’s a very healthy environment. I walk, as well as swim, most days. The people are lovely and it’s like a small village. We’ve made friends here and everyone looks out for each other.
“The park is family-run and that family feel is reflected in everything. We really feel part of that.”
Retired couple Keith and Denise Wright bought their first Willerby Vogue caravan on the park last month, going ahead with the sale within 24 hours of arriving and falling in love with the surroundings.
Originally from Manchester, they have owned a narrowboat for the past nine years and Mrs Wright said she is pleased to have found an ideal holiday home for their two children and five grandchildren to visit at various points throughout the year.
Mrs Wright, 66, said: “We thought we’d go to lots of different sites to see what was available, but we never went anywhere else.
“The staff took us round and we fell in love with it. When you need anything, someone is there straight away and nothing is too much trouble. There is such a lot going on for all ages and the park has a really nice feel about it.
“Everyone has been so friendly here and made us feel so welcome. The park is really well cared for and has such pleasant surroundings.”
Andy and Kerry Naylor live in nearby Hedon and have owned a caravan on the park for four years, regularly staying in their current Willerby Vogue model with their Cocker Spaniels, Charlie and Rosie.
Mr Naylor, 57, said: “This is the third caravan we have had on the site. It’s like home away from home.
“As well as my family, I bring work colleagues and engineers I know through my business to stay in the lodges and they all love it.
“We like the takeaway service too. They’ve got it right with good chefs, and you can order online through Just Eat.”
Salesperson Martin Taylor has worked at the park since 2012 and is responsible for caravan sales, customer relations and ongoing aftercare.
He said: “I love the team here. We’re all committed to looking after our customers and it’s not just about profit.
“We’re exceptionally busy and that doesn’t happen by accident. It takes a lot of hard work. Customer care has to be knitted into the foundations of what you do, and we do it consistently.
“If everyone in the company thinks the same way, you keep on moving forward, and we’re all working towards the same goals. It’s great to see how it has all progressed.”