As the year winds down towards its end, it has definitely felt that the last couple of months have gone even faster than normal – we’re nearly in mid-October but our July wedding anniversary feels like it happened yesterday. With a business trip to Dublin looming on the horizon and a busy month ahead, it was the perfect time for Pete and I to escape for a couple of nights down to the south coast and enjoy a lovely weekend near Hastings at Woodlands Park in East Sussex.
We both have very vivid and similar memories of what UK holidays looked like when we were children, despite being born nearly a decade apart. What we remember is not fun or glamorous in the slightest – endless rain, run-down hotels, B&B’s or holiday parks with cliched entertainment and a slightly tense atmosphere. When The Dream Lodge Group contacted me earlier this year to ask if I’d go and see the unveiling of their latest holiday lodge at Grand Designs Live I was both curious and cynical. Of course I was blown away by what we found as it appears the holiday park industry has come a long way over the past few decades.
Just in case there was any doubt left in my mind, The Dream Lodge Group very kindly offered us 2 nights at one of their lodges to experience a holiday park for ourselves and well, who am I to say no? We chose Woodlands Park because it wouldn’t be too far to travel for a couple of nights from our home in south-east London and because it was a part of the country we didn’t know very well and after shipping Boo and Maddie off for the weekend, packed a weekend bag and hopped in the car for the 90 minute drive down to Hastings.
The Dream Lodge Group is one of the UK’s leading luxury park operators with 8 parks located throughout the UK. They don’t just sell the concept of a holiday home but a luxury lifestyle that goes with it – peace and tranquillity which is removed from most people’s busy day to day lives. The fittings and furnishings are high-end, accommodation spacious and allowing a real sense of getting away from everything whilst enjoying creature comforts at the same time.
There are also several different ownership and rental options available – from couples who have retired and would like to purchase a holiday home, to families who want to escape somewhere in the school holidays but let it out the rest of the time. Others purchase their lodges as an investment, adding it to The Dream Lodge Group’s holiday portfolio who then manage the holiday bookings on behalf of the customer.
Each lodge differs in style depending on your preferences and we were given La Belle Maison tucked in a peaceful corner of Woodlands Park overlooking a field of grazing sheep. As the name suggests there is an air of French chic, decorated in pale lavender and greys and creams, rustic yet with every modern convenience available. I cannot emphasise how large the properties are – we had a huge expansive open-plan living/dining/kitchen area with a sofa, two arm-chairs, faux-electric stove and fully equipped kitchen with a breakfast bar area and a wine chiller (most important). The lodge slept 4 with a master bedroom including super-king size bed, chaise-longue and en-suite shower room. The remaining bedroom had 2 single beds and a family bathroom with bath and shower over. A beautifully decked terrace with outdoor seating for 4, a huge patio umbrella, space for disposable BBQs and of course the hot tub made up the outdoor space.
The whole place is flooded with light, either from the patio doors opening up from the living room and master bedroom, or vaulted ceiling windows over the dining area. It’s no exaggeration to say we couldn’t quite believe how incredible the property was. Being just the two of us, we didn’t road test every appliance and really ‘live’ in the space since we were out and about exploring so much but it was exactly the weekend away we had hoped for – relaxing, restorative and luxury. We didn’t put the TV on at all and it was blissful to sit in the hot tub with a glass of Prosecco or lie on the sofa with a book, something I haven’t done for ages. The only downside was that the wi-fi was fairly inconsistent and patchy so I used mobile internet whilst we were there which seemed to work fine.
At this particular park there is no shop but a farm shop is available next door just a 5 minute walk away and Hastings with all of it’s shops, cafes and amenities is just a couple of miles down the road. For us it was an utterly idyllic break that we enjoyed every second of and a place I’d love to go back to. I’m a fairly hard taskmaster when it comes to holiday accommodation and have as high standards as I do for the level of detail with our home renovation but this place definitely passed with flying colours.
Thank you so much to The Dream Lodge Group who kindly provided accommodation free of charge for 2 nights at La Belle Maison in Woodlands Park, East Sussex. The Dream Lodge Group (www.thedreamlodgegroup.co.uk, 0845 123 6333). Prices start from £50,000 for fractional ownership and £99,000 for full ownership. An 8% guaranteed return for three years is available to those entering the ROI scheme which also offers investors up to 4 weeks personal annual usage depending on their level of investment.