As we burst from over-stuffed SUVs in our thousands, kids scurrying joyfully for the bouncy pillow, it’s clear that Aussies enjoy an enduring love affair with holiday parks.
It’s an environment where devices are ditched, squeals are encouraged and siblings reconnect in a timeless embracing of family fun.
And when we find a good one, we return again and again.
Those bricks lining the mini golf course saying: “We’ve come every Easter since 1970” and “Celebrating at Pambula Beach since Dad was little” tell a touching story of loyalty.
But what those loyal families don’t see is the level of investment and maintenance that goes into ensuring each visit is as good as the one before.
Where once the kids plunged into an icy outdoor pool, now they luxuriate in a tropical oasis or pirate-themed water park.
Once-scruffy communal areas are spotless, once-limited leisure facilities are expansive, once-lumpy beds are comfortable, and once-tatty bathrooms are sleek and modern – and that’s just the starting point.
Add to that the inevitable wear and tear exerted by active families and it means regular refurbs are a must for holiday parks.
Because while our core values have remained the same, our expectations certainly haven’t.
Being ‘family friendly’ is one of the top three reasons why people choose a holiday park according to the latest research from the Caravanning and Camping Association of Australia (CCIA).
So skimping on kids activities is simply not an option.
The parks rated Australia’s best by subscribers to holidaywithkids.com boast a breath-taking range of options to keep children entertained.
The website describes kids’ clubs and activities as “a must” in its synopsis of best holiday resorts for 2017 – made even more appealing when situated close to adult refuge options like a spa or bar.
Adventure lagoons, rope play areas, aqua jump trampolines, indoor splash parks, treetop adventures, reptile shows, pony rides and mazes all feature in the dizzying list of children’s attractions for parks scoring high on the website’s ‘people’s choice’ barometer.
Spotlight and a round of mini golf just don’t provide the wow factor anymore. So if you’re looking to attract families and don’t have the advantage of a jaw-dropping location, concentrate on entertaining active little bodies.
Water parks are beginning to take precedence over traditional swimming pools as parents seek a fun, low-risk aqua environment for their children on holiday.
Zero depth water parks lessen the chance of drowning incidents, so providing a more relaxed experience for parents, and offer the added bonus of decreased water evaporation and lower water sanitisation costs than traditional options.
Of course, they still have to be entertaining, and latest developments include water park wave riders and illumination for evening splash fests to ensure guests are entertained day and night.
Guests will choose your park and return every holiday if unavoidable chores become a pleasure.
Commercial laundry equipment has to work all day, as families get grubby at warp speed and produce a never-ending stream of sodden towels.
Coin operated machines must endure high use, as well as environmental factors such as poor water quality, heat and dust. And they must be tamper proof, reliable and easy to use.
Comfortable beds and bedding are not a luxury for holiday park cabins, they’re an expected feature. Without them, guests will bag out your otherwise fabulous park and not return.
“Beds like sleeping outside on the ground”, “Very old soft bed” and “Don’t stay in an annex, poor bed comfort” are among the recent comments made by irate Trip Advisor reviewers about Australian holiday park accommodation – with star ratings to match.
Alongside comfortable cabins, the new sleeping phenomenon is glamping.
It embraces the best of both worlds: home comforts with just a hint of wild blended together in the safe environs of a holiday park.
It provides flexibility through changeable bed options while maintaining the aesthetic and integrity of the park, and accommodates everything from stag parties to backpacking groups, families to couples in a range of bedding configurations from basic bunks to king-size luxury.
The CCIA’s 2017 consumer demand report found 75 percent of campers rated cooking outdoors as their favourite activity.
But the romance of barbequeing doesn’t equate to a couple of sticks set over a campfire for most holiday park visitors.
They expect to sizzle those steaks on gas or electric models which are built in to a kitchen camp or in stand-alone BBQing areas.
Latest models are built to withstand the harshest extremes of weather and are designed to look sleek and modern, fitting in with modern landscape designs while providing practicality in design where it is needed.
Look for quality models that are rugged, long lasting and easy to care for.
Modular accommodation is changing the face of Australian holiday parks.
The option to have a cabin assembled offsite and delivered plumbed and ready for action within a day means upgrades are quicker and simpler than a generation ago.
They also allow greater input into design, with most manufacturers offering a range of styles and building materials in sizes ranging from studios to three-bedroom cottages.
Weathertex and Colorbond cladding are among the most common exterior surfaces, with Colorbond the preferred roofing choice and verandah rails ranging from stainless steel to timber.
Internal cabin fittings are comprehensive – from stainless steel door handles and ornate cornicing to fully fitted kitchens and bathrooms. Aircon units are standard and manufacturers offer a choice of finishes depending on budget.
That flexibility extends to shared kitchen and bathroom blocks.
Ancient brick and tile amenities conjuring suspicions of verucca-laden floors are being replaced in their hundreds with portables designed to weather Australian conditions – and families.
Again, buildings can be customised based on needs such as wheelchair accessibility, kitchen setups, family bathrooms and laundry facilities with features like entry keypads and signage included.
Manufacturers will also advise on council rules, energy efficiency and sustainable materials.
Sustainability is becoming a major consideration as ‘green’ investments allow parks to conserve both the environment and their maintenance budget.
Some, for example, are now including solar power, rainwater harvesting, and pool filtration technology that reduces water and chemical consumption in their refurb plans.
The larger operators are even looking to introduce technology such as app-controlled air-conditioning, voice-activated lighting and curtains, links to guests’ own Netflix accounts, and monitors for power and water usage in future cabin plans.