A super staycation at this small but mighty Peak District holiday park

There is no denying that the travel sector has been battered by the coronavirus pandemic. Constantly changing rules on testing and isolating, combined with a lack of consumer confidence, has made for a miserable couple of years for much of the market. But while foreign holidays have suffered the biggest hit, UK-based attractions have enjoyed some of their busiest ever seasons.

And it is against this backdrop that European holiday lodge company Landal GreenParks has announced that it intends to open nine new UK sites this year (2022) – bringing their total number of UK holiday parks to 19.

According to the Staycation Market Report 2021, published by Parkdean Resorts, 53 per cent of British people surveyed said they intended to holiday in the UK in 2022. And between June 2020 and June 2021, online searches for “travel UK” experienced an 83 per cent increase. The search term “UK family holidays” was also up by 235 per cent. So it is perhaps no surprise that Landal views this as an ideal time for a multi-million pound expansion.

“We are delighted to be bringing nine new sites to the UK – which is the fastest growing part of the Landal GreenParks European portfolio,” said Paul Hardingham, Landal’s UK managing director, who oversaw the opening of three new UK sites in 2021. “After an incredibly strong summer and autumn for the UK business we were looking at very ambitious growth plans into 2022.”

The new openings will include sites in Devon, Cornwall, South West Scotland and Lincolnshire – adding to a portfolio that already covers the Peak District, Northumberland and the Cornish coast among other destinations.

Landal GreenParks runs a network of holiday villages throughout Europe with locations in Belgium, the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Austria, Germany, Hungary, Switzerland and Denmark as well as the UK. Much of the emphasis is on getting back to nature by enjoying the surroundings through activities such as walking, bike-riding and fishing. Most lodges also feature balconies with private hot tubs and many of the sites are also set up for families.

A super staycation at this small but mighty Peak District holiday park

This is definitely the case at Landal Sandybrook, in Derbyshire, where I stayed with my own family late last year (2021).

Set within the former grounds of a 19th century manor house, Landal Sandybrook is just a five-minute drive from Ashbourne in the Peak District. While the town is full of quaint tea rooms and stunning walking routes and the resort boasts of being close to popular theme park Alton Towers, we barely left the holiday park during our long weekend stay.

Although the site is not huge – there are a total of 53 lodges including one wheelchair-adapted property – it is home to an indoor swimming pool and crazy golf course, a play park, short woodland walk and a children’s trail, all of which are free for guests. Paid bookable activities also include water zorbing and archery. There is also a little free indoor play area for under-fives. While we made use of all the free facilities, we could have done without them as my four-year-old wanted to spend the entire weekend in the hot tub and was most put out every time we made her take a break and have a shower.

A super staycation at this small but mighty Peak District holiday park

We found the lodge itself to be warm and spacious with a good coat-hanging area on entry – helpful for all those muddy boots and wet wellies from stomping around the site during some good old fashioned British weather. Without the benefit of a Smart TV, we also enjoyed the novelty value of renting DVDs from reception.

Sadly, the Grade II-listed Coach House restaurant was closed when we visited due to staff shortages. This was a real shame as the building really is beautiful. We knew in advance it would be shut though so had planned to self-cater our trip – and the lodges are set up for exactly this. There is a fully-equipped kitchen with a full size fridge and freezer for food storage. There are no basics included though, so remember your salt, pepper and oil. Alternatively, you are just a five minute drive from Ashbourne and its plethora of pubs, tea rooms and cafes. Reception also stocks a few basics so we were able to buy some margarine when the butter I could have sworn I packed mysteriously went missing.

As the parents of a young child, we have visited a good number of UK holiday parks – Centre Parcs, Forest Holidays and Butlins among them – and each of them excels in different areas.

A super staycation at this small but mighty Peak District holiday park

Where Landal Sandybrook excelled for me was the total lack of pushy marketing and the low-key branding. It didn’t feel like a classic “holiday resort” and there was no pressure to buy anything or add on extras. There was also just enough to do without feeling like you needed to rush around trying everything in order to get a value for money trip. So while it may not be the biggest holiday park, I would still argue it’s among the best.

A 3-night break at Landal Sandybrook in a Kedleston Elite Vogue 2 Spa for four people costs from £625. For more information visit, landal.co.uk or call 0345 498 6186.