Campsites prepare for 'busiest year yet' as people stay close to home
- Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown
Camping and glamping sites in Suffolk have seen a huge surge in bookings as people opt to "play it safe" and stay local – with some sites full for the entire summer holidays.
From May 17 campsites with shared toilet facilities will be able to fully reopen if the Government's roadmap out of the coronavirus lockdown stays on track.
This means hundreds of families will be seeking their first holidays of the year –and many will be opting to stay local.
Most campsites in the area have already had hundreds of bookings from people in Suffolk, and also further afield, with many predicting their "busiest year yet".
Cara Edwards, assistant manager at Easton Farm Park in Woodbridge, which has a 70-pitch campsite, said the demand for camping and glamping has seen a real boom off the back of Covid.
The marketing and events student, who has worked at the farm for the last three years, launched her own business called Luna Glamping after the first lockdown in May 2020, having recognising a demand for staycations with people unable to travel abroad.
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The 24-year-old and her partner, Tom Lawrence, pitched their business idea to Cara's manager at Easton Farm Park in Woodbridge, and negotiated a pitch for the season for their bell tent.
They were pleasantly surprised when bookings started coming in thick and fast and Luna Glamping sold out all stays from mid July to the end of September in just five days.
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This year, following the huge demand, the pair are pitching up two bell tents from May 17, with the first one already fully booked for the summer.
"There was a real boom last year and I saw a huge demand for our cow sheds and campsite, so I wanted to offer something new with the bell tents," explained Cara.
The bell tents both sleep five people, have proper mattresses, tea and coffee facilities, a mini fridge, board games, and full electrics.
The pair are even building a covered seating area for each of the bell tents, which will also come with a BBQ.
Cara said most of their guests come from Essex, London and Cambridge – however, some travel from further afield.
She hopes to expand the Luna Glamping bell tents to additional sites in the future, placing them at tourist attractions in and around East Anglia.
Meanwhile, Secret Meadows, a renowned glamping site in Hasketon, is another one of those expecting a busy season ahead.
Owner Charlotte Daniel said the site is fully booked for the summer holidays and all weekends are full up to late September.
"It's definitely the busiest year we have ever had," explained the mother-of-two.
"Most of our bookings come from London – which is normal – but this time around we are seeing a lot more local bookings, with people from Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridge and Essex.
"Normally we have mostly bookings of families and bigger groups of people, but this year we are seeing lots of couples booking.
"I think people are just desperate to get away and there is a real sense of relief when guests arrive.
"A lot of guests say they would rather play it safe as they are wary about going abroad."
Charlotte said it can usually be quite difficult to fill mid week slots for her site – which boasts safari style tents and gypsy huts and caters for up to 54 guests – but this time around it has been a breeze.
"To know people are having a good break away is amazing," said Charlotte.
"It is definitely needed after the year we have all had."
Elsewhere, Trinity Park is set to begin offering camping holidays as the county braces for an expected tourism boom this summer.
The 320-acre site, home to the Suffolk Show, will offer pitches for tents, caravans and motorhomes from May 17.
A pitch for a caravan/campervan with an electrical supply will cost £25 including VAT and £10 for a tent with electrical supply.
Alton Water, also on the outskirts of Ipswich, opened its own campsite a few years ago, with a total of 88 caravan and camping pitches available.
On site there is a Suffolk barn style facility block with showers, toilet and wash facilities for campers, with Alton Water urging people to book as "UK staycations are selling out fast".
According to their website there are still some weekends available over the summer holidays.
You can also head to Jimmy's Farm if you are looking for something slightly more upmarket – and pricier – by staying at its "fancy camping" site.
They have teamed up with Bumble Bell tents, with bookings starting at £525 for a two-night stay, which includes access into Jimmy’s Farm & Wildlife Park.
There is still a lot of availability for the summer season.