Which Suffolk and Essex glamping sites are preparing to re-open this summer?
PUBLISHED: 19:00 03 June 2020 | UPDATED: 09:27 05 June 2020
© chris rawlings 2014
With lockdown restrictions easing, some of the region’s holiday spots are getting ready to welcome guests with updated social distancing and hygiene measures in place.
With the pleasant weather that we’ve been experiencing so far this summer, it comes as no surprise that the sale of tents, barbecues, caravans and camping equipment has been rising across Suffolk.
People across the county have taken to their gardens to create their own staycations, soaking up the sun over the two glorious bank holidays and additional sunny weekends we’ve had during lockdown.
Now some glamping sites across Suffolk are looking at the possibility of reopening, adjusting their practises accordingly, to allow them to run safely in line with social distancing and hygiene measures.
West Stow Pods, Bury St Edmunds
Located on the outskirts of Bury St Edmunds is West Stow Pods, a family-run glamping site in the heart of Suffolk’s scenic countryside, offering fabulous nature trails, walks and cycle paths.
Providing a range of accommodation, owner Jan Lengyel said: “We are very much gearing up to re-opening on the weekend of July 4. All of our accommodation is separate, so is ideal for social distancing and each has its own en-suite facilities, and is totally self-contained.”
Accommodation on offer includes four cosy MegaPods, two woodland lodges and the site’s star attraction, Pod Hollow, its very own Hobbit House which itself is completely separate from the rest of the site and enjoys its own private parking and access.
Each unit at West Stow Pods is at least 80ft away from each other, offering both privacy and the necessary social distancing measures.
Sleeping up to four people, the MegaPods are equipped with their own showering and toilet facilities – ideal for families or couples who wish to get away from it all. Additionally, they provide a private kitchenette with sink, fridge, microwave, toaster and kettle.
The campsite’s Woodland Lodges and Pod Hollow also feature private bathroom and kitchenette facilities, meaning those from different households have no need to come into close contact.
“Come and stay with us for a unique and tranquil glamping experience in one of Suffolk’s picturesque locations, which benefits from total self-isolation from your fellow glampers. We really do tick all the boxes during these unprecedented times,” Jan added
Secret Meadows, Haskeston
Situated just outside of Woodbridge is Secret Meadows, a range of glamping accommodation based at White House Farm Nature Reserve.
Camping options on offer include six luxury lodge tents, a two-storey luxury safari tent, a gypsy caravan, a shepherd’s hut and a converted horsebox truck.
“We will be re-opening on Saturday, July 4, based on the current Government advice. We’re introducing quite a few changes for this season to allow for the social distancing and cleaning requirements,” said director and manager Charlotte Daniel.
Some of the changes include an updated check-in policy, so guests can self-check-in, and the removal of ‘high-touch’ items such as information packs, which will now be emailed to guests instead. “We’ll be available for guests to contact via telephone at any time during their stay, and we’ll maintain social distancing if we need to visit the guest’s accommodation for assistance,” Charlotte added.
Hand sanitiser and disinfectant will be available for guests to use during their stay, and there will be a ‘one household at a time’ policy for guests who wish to access the onsite shop.
“We have signed up to the Clean and Safe Charter, which has been introduced by the top holiday agent for glamping sites, and we’re following all the government recommendations for cleaning. All of our accommodation units have private facilities including private loos and showers, and private kitchens, so guests don’t need to share any facilities with other groups,” said Charlotte.
With White House Farm Nature Reserve spanning 115 acres of meadows and woodlands, a trip to Secret Meadows allows you to enjoy both the sights and sounds of rural Suffolk. Guests are welcome to explore the nature trails, all while maintaining social distancing measures.
Their luxury lodge tents are nestled in their own wooded area, coming fully-equipped with a private kitchen that features a wood-burning stove, private toilet and shower, and four-poster bed.
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Birds & Bees, Rendham
Birds & Bees, near Saxmundham, is a campsite providing spacious, eco-friendly camping in the heart of Suffolk’s Alde Valley.
The family-friendly campsite, which features 15 tent pitches, is scattered across three rolling meadows, where guests will have a half an acre pitch.
With a tentative reopening date of Thursday, July 9, Birds & Bees has listed a number of measures on its website, in order to ensure that visitors comply with its social distancing and hygiene rules.
Its website states that social distancing must be observed between households with 2m at all times, and children are always to be accompanied by an adult when away from their designated pitch. For guests who wish to camp with friends or family from another household, Birds & Bees asks that separate pitches are booked.
Additionally, it is recommended that guests use the facilities as a group from each pitch in order to ease the flow of the facilities. This includes the kitchen, outside fridges and recycle point. Hand sanitiser dispensers will be conveniently located across the site, and communal touch points will be disinfected throughout the day – such as door handles, taps, toilets, showers, bins, power points and firewood buckets.
James and Emma Strachan of Birds & Bees said: “We’ve been overwhelmed with the amount of enquiries to stay with us this summer, and we remain optimistic that we’ll be able to welcome our camping lovelies from July 9. Our aim is to accommodate the new normal while keeping it stress-free at Birds & Bees. Everyone has been very accepting and seem grateful for the efforts we’ve made so far. We really believe everyone will work together to help bring some welcome respite, and enjoy our little slice of Suffolk paradise.”
Birds & Bees will also have no more than an 80% occupancy on site at one time.
Lantern & Larks, Sweffling Hall
Within easy reach of beauty spots such as Framlingham, Southwold and Aldeburgh is Sweffling Hall, a Lantern & Larks glamping campsite consisting of six tents.
The site’s tents can accommodate up to six guests in them – with three bedrooms sleeping two people each. They also include a large open-plan kitchen, dining room and lounge.
With the campsite planning to reopen and welcome guests as of Friday, July 10, Emma Clark of Lantern & Larks said: “All of our tents have their own private showers and toilets, as well as their own kitchen - so no communal areas, and plenty of space to social distance from other guests. We are also following an enhanced cleaning policy which includes housekeepers wearing all the appropriate PPE, as well as disinfecting all surfaces.”
Waldegraves Holiday Park, Mersea
Located on Mersea Island is Waldegraves Holiday Park, an independent family holiday park owned by David Lord. The resort celebrated its 70th anniversary back in 2018, and like all other businesses up and down the country, was rocked by the enforced closure due to Coronavirus.
Park manager Krystal Crawford said: “David has never experienced anything like this. While it’s lovely to see our park blossoming along with all the wildlife, we miss seeing all our holiday homeowners and holiday makers. Our restaurant, bar and clubhouse with live entertainment are usually busy this time of year, and our outdoor swimming pool is a popular choice - especially when we have this lovely weather. We hold numerous charity events throughout the year, which have unfortunately been cancelled due to the current pandemic we all face.”
Hoping to reopen at the beginning of July, the park is currently working on a range of measures to implement in order to make sure Waldegraves is as safe as possible for both customers and staff.
“Our trade association, British Holiday & Home Parks Association, is drawing up some detailed guidance for measures which parks should put in place - we’ll be paying close attention to these, ensuring everything is in place prior to opening our holiday park,” added Krystal. “We want to protect both visitors and our own staff from any risks.”
With pitches generously spaced out across the Waldegraves site, visitors can socially distance with ease. “Caravan holiday homes, both privately owned and rented, are entirely self-contained with their own bathrooms and kitchens,” said Krystal.
In order to ease the flow of visitors, the park is considering a staggered return, with those camping in caravans given priority over tent campers. “It’s likely that there will be a phased return to parks, so it might be that those guests requiring use of communal areas, like showers and laundries, might not be in the first phase. We feel holiday homeowners should be priority along with our static holiday home lets and our seasonal tourers, but we do hope to be welcoming touring caravans, motorhomes and tents before the end of summer.”
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