News, Nick News

Nick’s News – An update from Wales, the Benimar Benivan 120 and dogs

Benimar Benivan 120 – That great value/spec thing

Nick HardingNick’s News – Nick Harding is an expert in all things motorhomes, caravans and camping. Each week, Nick explores products, locations, holiday ideas and essential community information on our behalf – It’s a Hard-ing Life for Nick, but here is what he found this week.

My week

Greetings from Wales, or Pembrokeshire to be a bit more precise, and St Davids to be totally exact. We’ve started the first leg of our Wales-Scotland-Northern Ireland tour and already (four days in as I type) we’ve done loads. It’s busy, though.

St Davids on Monday was some eye-opener, as it was not just really busy, but it’s obvious the hospitality industry is having a real challenge getting staff during what should be its busiest season. We’re slowly learning the lesson that if you really want to go anywhere, book ahead and don’t just turn up on the day.

In the news

Site for sale? – It’s a cool £1million

It’s interesting to note the Camping and Caravanning Club has put one of its campsites up for sale. It’s Ashbourne in Derbyshire, which is perfect for the Peak District. The 70-pitch site, complete with a mixture of grass and hardstandings, also comes with a self-catering unit and a single glamping hut.

These options would be great for holidays with non-caravan/motorhome family members. The asking price for the entire site is one million pounds. Worth a punt? Purchasing a site is one thing, and it does seem particularly good value, but the huge variety of skills needed to run it is a totally different matter.

Setting records – Still not meeting demand

Sales of motorhomes and campervans have reached record levels, according to the National Trade Council (NCC), as 16,608 new motorhomes have been purchased for the year up to this July, if you want the numbers.

That might not sound much, but it follows what has been an upward sales growth for a few years now. Recent factors have no doubt helped, not least the fact that we’re a nation of staycationers, however temporary that may be.

Plenty of folk have missed out on welcoming a new motorhome into their families, of course, and it’s hard not to see the situation staying like this for a while yet. My own feeling is that there are plenty of newcomers to motorhomes who’ve launched into buying one and, for whatever reason, may well be looking to sell it on in the next two years or so. Much as I’ve always loved the motorhome lifestyle, we have to realise it’s never going to be for everyone.

Motorhome for me?

Benimar Benivan 120 – That great value/spec thing

The van conversion market continues its upward rise, but it’s amazing what choice you can get. There’s everything from the likes of independent specialists IH, Murvi and Vantage to mainstream offerings from Auto-Sleepers, Auto-Trail, Elddis and Swift. Then there’s all manner of imported marques, including Adria, Chausson, Hymer, Knaus Malibu, Pilote, Rapido, Roller Team and plenty more.

The Benivan from Spain’s Benimar almost falls into the latter category, although it’s actually built here in the UK and has the kind of specification a UK motorhomer would expect.

A two-berth with a rear two-settee/transverse double bed set-up is also a particular favourite here in the UK. Across Europe they still tend towards permanent beds, even in a 6-metre long vehicle like this. Note the sliding door is on the UK nearside too.

It comes with Fiat’s 160bhp engine as standard, as opposed to a less powerful variant, and the specification really does set it apart from a considerable list of rivals at this, the supposed budget end of the van conversion market.

With a solar panel, gas tank, Xzent stereo, satnav, rear camera system, oven and grill… it packs a real kit punch. Go compare, is what I say. With prices starting at £51,995, it’s Beni good value!

Three good: Favoured floorplan, top value kit levels and 2022 enhancements
One bad: Fiat auto option is expensive.
Perfect for: Measuring what you get for your money
Also consider: Auto-Trail Expedition 67, Swift Select 122

Dog days for the Club?

The Caravan and Motorhome Club reckons a whopping 17 per cent of its members got a new dog during lockdown, which in turn has affected touring habits. Although it hasn’t stopped folk travelling as far and wide as possible with their pooches. Maybe not abroad so much, of course, or indeed Northern Ireland. I speak from recent experience – it’s a nightmare!

When I worked for (ahem) the Other Club, we used to have a saying that a third of members had dogs and loved them, another third didn’t have dogs but were happy to tolerate them on site, and the final third really didn’t want dogs ruining their holidays. In other words, it pays to be considerate… or tolerant… depending on your point of view.