Nick’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.
It’s all about the bookings this week. But I’m lucky, as while I have managed to reserve pitches at a series of sites throughout Wales, Scotland and even Northern Ireland, they’re all for the month of August.
Like you, it’s a question of waiting now to see what develops on the Covid front. Still, at least I have some plans, no matter how vague, and can only hope that things do work out for the best for the whole country.
As the saying goes, better the optimism of the action than the pessimism of the thought.
In the news
Double bookings – an on-site collaboration
Two leading campsite booking platforms have announced plans to combine and I think it’s a good thing. ACSI and camping.info have joined together under the ACSI camping.info Booking banner, so you can investigate and book sites throughout the whole of Europe plus the UK, as well as find out more about late availability, facilities and localities.
ACSI should be no stranger to anyone seeking out information on some 10,000 campsites throughout Europe and the UK. Camping.info is the largest campsite platform on the German-speaking market. Between them they already boasted some 40 million visits to their websites and apps, so I guess it made sense to come together. Bigger sometimes is better.
Still soaring – leisure vehicle demand going up, up… and away
The demand for caravans and motorhomes continues to rise. The background is dealers wondering just how they are going to get stock to suit a seemingly ever-growing group of new customers. And, because they’re newcomers, they don’t have anything similar to trade in.
Vehicle retail site Auto Trader reports year-on-year demand is up a whopping 148 per cent and 117 per cent for motorhomes and caravans respectively – and that’s just for April.
It also reckons getting on for two-thirds of all adults in the UK are planning to holiday right here, rather than risk going abroad. Whilst a not particularly appealing vision of the near future is our roads and campsites packed with leisure vehicles, I can’t help feeling it’s an almighty blip at the moment and things will even out over the next two or three seasons.
Motorhome for me?
Staycation – campervans with an edge
I know what you’re thinking… oh no, not another name in the campervan sector. But wait, there are some key differences here. Staycation is an initial launch of two Volkswagen-based campers: Shoreline, and the more upmarket and more interesting, Coastline. They are being sold through a trio of well-respected specialist motorhome dealers – Southern Motorhome Centre in Bracknell, Berkshire; Webbs Motor Caravans near Reading; and the VW Kamper Centre in Hampshire.
I did see the early vehicles and they do look considerably better than many dealers’ attempts to get into this bit of the market. They feature some neat touches like fitted gas tanks, which also increase internal storage space considerably; a rather flirty multi-coloured, dimmable kitchen lighting strip; and 18-inch alloy wheels. 20 inches just don’t cut it for me, for many reasons!
They also boast a Skyline roof, which is UK-made and, again, better than most home-produced products I’ve seen to date. The furniture quality seems a cut above, too, with a generous range of colour finishes and soft furnishings.
Early models are using T6 Transporters in Highline trim with 150PS engines and DSG automatic transmission, which can be argued is the best blend. And that Staycation name is pretty spot on, too. Indeed, pretty good timing all round. Find out more here.
Three good: A cut above the norm, with a great blend of specification and quality, practical details
Two bad: It’s early days, but there’s already too much choice out there!
Perfect for… all the usual campervan pluses, and a bit more
Also consider: Autohaus, Dirty Weekender, Ecowagon or Redline
Roof tents – get ahead with an extra bed?
I bet you’ve never considered a roof tent. Me neither, and yet… what an interesting concept. Essentially, a unit you can add to the roof of your car or motorhome, within reason, it’s an instant way of adding extra sleeping accommodation.
For campervan DIY-ers, too, it’s an interesting alternative to opting for an elevating roof section to your van. Simon Towell runs Roof Tent Utopia, based in Chichester, West Sussex, which is one of quite a few specialist roof tent retailers.
He talks of a sales explosion: “It’s a growing market. It’s cool. It’s going to really grow over the next two to five years. To be fair, I’m a latecomer (as a retailer). We’ve had them for 15 years, including when our three kids were sleeping in one. And now, my son has his own roof tent on his own car.”
He says he sells to a “real mix… including those who’ve tried caravanning and not liked it, and those who can’t afford a motorhome. We’ve even sold a couple to a guy running a quirky motorhome hire site.”
I’m rapidly getting in with the roof tent lingo. Soft shells are all-canvas and can be sourced from the likes of DTBD and Sheepie; while hard shells are produced by Femkes and NaïtUp Hussarde; hybrids, which are a mix of both, come from Femkes again. Prices start at £1,100 and go through to £4,000.
Roof Tent Utopia stocks all of these, with the Hussarde brand the latest addition to a display of around 20 different models in total. They’re a superior quality item due to being handmade using premium Cabanon cotton fabric, with an ABS shell.