By Garth Morrison Editor GoSeeAustralia and New Zealand
As Family Parks CEO Noel 'Gus' Guthrie retires he leaves the chain in amazing shape. When Gus took on the job the Trans-Tasman chain had 45 caravan parks.
Today there are 203 and rising. For Gus (your correspondent has rarely heard his christening name Noel used) the satisfaction of this success is based in effort which started as a labour of love and grew under the Guthrie touch.
Greg Lawrence, the incoming CEO of Family Parks, hit the mark on what makes Family Parks unique with his comments on the chains two year run of success in the New Zealand based AA Spirit of Hospitality Awards.
He reflected on Margaret and Dennis Penney of this years award winner Himatangi Beach Holiday Park and said: "Now with the travelling public's vote of confidence in us again this year we know we have dedicated Family Parks members who give people what they want."
Gus walks in on his surprise farewell in Albury
That is the essence of the idea which got Family Parks under way in 1990.
The drive is from four main aims-
A friendly family atmosphere.
Quality service and facilities.
An enjoyable holiday.
And discounts for Family Park members to recognise their loyalty.
There are three other major drivers - timing, price and a fit with what the caravanning market wants.
Families feel welcome because children can have fun. Older caravanners may grumble as they stretch their superannuation and pensions but they vote with their hip pocket at Family Parks.
The chain is the most pet friendly in Australasia. On that subject Gus gave a lead laced with his insightful, sometimes salty humour when he commented on pets and their place in Family Parks.
I have never had to ask a dog to leave a Family Park and I am confident that I more than likely wont have to, he said.
Board Members (l-r) Ray Gary Jay Noel (outgoing CEO) Kay and Mark President
We reported that in May 2006 and Family parks in now the most pet friendly caravan park chain in Australia and New Zealand.
The dogs we see are part of the family, he said. They are friendly, well mannered, loved and properly controlled and cared for by their responsible owners.
Aggressive animals with owners who will not control and clean up after their pets are not welcomed by FPA caravan park managers.
Today Family Parks welcomes four star rated Stuart Range Caravan Park in Coober Pedy, South Australia. Yanni (John) and Maria Athanasiadis got the Family Park started and were then joined by their children Jenny and Paul who literally grew into the business on Hutchinson St.
Stuart Range is the 200th Family Park.
Family Parks 201 and 202 are in New Zealand's North Island - Waipatiki Beach Farm Park on the Waipatiki Rd, Napier. The Holiday Park is run by Bill and Anne Perry. If you have a horse you can bring that too. Surf, sand and scenery are the main attractions.
Kay Roche NZ Family Park Director Farewells Noel
In the South Island the new Family Park member is Glenmark Motor Camp on Beaconsfield Rd, Timaru. It is a quiet rural family Qualmark Holiday destination three minutes south of Timaru.
Family Park 203 is in Wagga Wagga NSW. It is Horseshoe Motor Village in a quiet area in the place that is so nice they named it twice. The new Family Park member has a playground and pool and a regular following from travelling families.
It is a three STAR rated property just off the Olympic Way about 3km from Charles Sturt University. A licensed restuarant and hotel are close. There are drive through sites for caravans with shade.
It is typical of Gus Guthrie that in the week that his efforts were honoured at a surprise farwell in Albury, NSW, he signed three new member Family Parks. He says he decided to retire because he notes he, now and again, gets a little grumpy.
Family Parks member parks standards require a minimum of three star rating from the auto clubs national body the AAA or in New Zealand Qualmark.
Gus and FP office voice Vera
There are a few exceptions where geographical location makes attaining this standard impossible.
Parks are also required to be neat and well presented with clean serviceable amenities. A range of accommodation must be provided including unpowered and powered sites as well as on-site caravans or cabins, especially ensuite units.
All Family Parks are inspected by independent consultants. Parks can allow pets at the discretion of the individual Park Owners/Operators.
Editor's note: To help the Australia NZ links the Family Parks information is updated immediately through FP head office in caravan park files on GoSeeAustralia and New Zealandas the latest FP listings changes to the chains membership become available.
Life members Peter Macdonald (l) and Kel Arnott (r) say goodbye
Click caravan parks on the left of the home page then state in Australia or Holiday Parks and then North or South Island in New Zealand then scan the alpha listings for the destination and click.
Participating caravan parks will have full information on the park and its facilities.
Editor's Note: Also See -
Family Park chain members also include information on the destination and the attractions and events which are available for guest to enjoy.