An increasing demand for high-quality self catering in the UK has underlined a current lack of supply and “primed” the sector for expansion, according to Watergate Bay Hotel.
The company, which said it has “set the standard for lifestyle hospitality based around active relaxation”, is launching its new Beach Retreats site in a bid to capitalise on the rising market.
The project is due to begin development on a 40-unit community in Hayle, near St Ives, and is set to open in summer 2022. It will consist of 40 units, a mix of one, two and three-bed apartments and beachfront bungalows, supported by a new watersports centre, with direct access onto the beach.
Ben Harper, group managing director, Watergate Bay Hotel, Another Place and Beach Retreats, said: “The domestic business isn’t a new one, we had been booming before the pandemic. I’m confident of the short term, but I feel even more confident about the medium to long term. There is such an inconsistent landscape in the UK – and no leading brand – which presents a great opportunity.”
Beach Retreats is targeting five managed communities within the next three years, and aims to contribute sustainably to local tourism and economies by “providing stable employment, adding to accommodation capacity and respecting the environment”.
Expansion will be through new builds, buildings with potential for hotel conversion, hotels that can be refurbished and repositioned or campsites and holiday parks which can be redeveloped.
Beach Retreats’ core agency model is also growing quickly and its managed portfolio of individual properties will exceed 500 across south west UK by 2025.
It comes as the coastal market led performance in the UK over the summer, with STR reporting that occupancy topped 80% in Devon and Cornwall and Bournemouth for the week to 2 August, against 22.8% in London.
Watergate Bay Hotel said that demand is “surging for aspirational, self-catering products which deliver the character of a lifestyle hotel with the freedom of your own home”.
In addition, leisure-driven outdoor offerings have attracted increased investment in the past 18 months, driving the three-largest deals in the hospitality sector in Europe, with the acquisition of seven Center Parcs Europe holiday parks by Aroundtown for around €1bn (£865m), KKR buying Roompot for €1bn (£865m) and InfraVia Capital Partners picking up Sandaya for an undisclosed fee.
Harper added: “Where these businesses are successful is when you reduce seasonality and create lifestyle through brand. We have seen demand grow from traditional holidaymakers across a range of demographics, but also from people looking for a different option when working from home. This multi segment-approach creates year-round demand.”