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Cabin alternative wins Aussie family vote

July 17, 2006

Throughout Australia caravanparks with cabins now cater for more families than any other form of accommodation.

There is no doubt that families prefer two and three bedroom style cabinaccommodation rather than the traditional studio motel rooms.

Now better quality caravan and tourist parks right round Australia haveclean self contained cabins that supply all linen,blankets and towels and are priced at less than $100 per night for two people.

Caravan parks have found they can compete easily with the motel and apartmentstyle accommodation and the guests like the relaxed caravan park lifestyle.

Across Australia new quality cabins now include separate bedrooms, spa, separate toilet and bathroom, full cooking facilities and big screen TV as part of the extensive creature comforts.

The park industry sets its own high standards and Australians and international visitors respond to this service commitment. Park chains are particularly popular as they offer a predictable standard of comfort, cost and service, usually reinforced by discounts and other benefits.

Spa Cabin InteriorThe first question when you book a cabin in a caravan park is: What are you getting?

There are plenty of options, but for most people the decision is driven by comfort and convenience, Ben Rosser of West Australian Caravan, Tourist and Holiday Parks says.

Cost is a big consideration for travellers but it is extremely manageable in a competitive industry. Now you can stay between clean, white sheets in good self-contained facilities for $100 a double or less throughout Australia.

If you are on the move a good bed and quick self-contained cabin convenience can come down to $90 or less a double a night. More than likely dinner will be eaten out or brought in from the nearby takeaway.

It really is a form of open plan living that suits the need. At this price a majority of operators supply linen and bedding in the main bedroom. But in some parks it may be necessary to hire linen for additional bedrooms or supply your own.

Cabin stays are shaped around transit areas and destinations. There are areas which have caravan parks that have guests who only everstay one night because they are heading for a destination. Throughout Australia location is a key factor in longer stays in caravan parks and cabins.

Mandalay Holiday Resort, in Western Australia, is an example. It is oppositea pristineswimming and fishingbeach in Geographe Bay, Busselton in the Margaret RiverWine Region.

Clive Johnson of Mandalay says: It is a destination resort and caravan park where most guests stay more than four days. Many have stayed during their annual holidays for over 40 years. In the last 12 months 54 per cent of all Mandalay guestshave stayed before.

Cabin Bathroom Of thenew guests, who stayed during that time, 63 per cent were recommended by friends and relatives. Mandalay has resort style facilities which include heated indoor pool, a solar heated outdoor pool, adventure playgrounds, a playing field, games room,TV lounge, Internet, shop andbike hire, he said.

There are regular holiday activities such as discos for children, brass band concerts, sporting activities, and games nights. People stay longer because allMandalays one, two and three bedroomaccommodation has good qualitycomfortable beds, kitchens with quality cooking facilities and spacious verandahs with outdoor tables and chairs, Clive said.

Staying longer is about taking time in one place. This is the realm of the family. And families value space. Better caravan parks know this and they offer two and three separate bedrooms in their cabins. This means young children can be put to bed while older family members stay up with the late show or live in their own space at their own pace. This is much appreciated by families with teenagers.

Alison McDowell, Marketing and Business Manager of BIG4 Holiday Parks, says: We think families choose a cabin for separate bedrooms and toilet, plus cooking facilities and to be part of the Holiday Park experience.

Cabin Exterior Families are often looking for an affordable resort and many of our parks are set up perfectly for families and to provide entertainment for the kids, she said

More people are using cabins now because theylike thestand alone style accommodation. Cabins also have all the cooking facilities and en-suites that apartments have and you can usually park right outside the door. There is a big population of travellers andholidaymakers who dont need or want room service or to be escorted around the country by tourcoach. They just wantto do their own thing. Caravan park cabins regulars include older users who aim to arrive between holiday periods. They often stay Monday to Friday and reap the benefits of park packages.

Park owners note that cabin users are much more price sensitive outside cities. Victorian Caravan Parks Association President, Bob Farmer, says good parks know that they must offer cleanliness, good management attitude and security for their guests. Security is a high value for caravan park users. There is evidence that a caravan park without security boom gates can be seen as inferior by potential guests.

Generally caravan parks are challenged by the cost of service. But affordability can mean reduced hours of service. Which means cabin users must decide how they define value, he says.

NSW and Victoria have a high number of good standard cabins available. In Queensland the climate produces an often bewildering array of accommodation styles, but Cairns and Brisbanes suburbs, in particular, have parks and cabins that standout nationally.

Cabin Lounge room In NSW the South Coast is outstanding in centres like Coffs Harbour. Victoria now has at least six parks that can claim to be of international standard.

In South Australia Victor Harbour, Mount Gambier, Port Augusta, Hawker and Adelaides suburbs are notable for their quality convenient parks. Western Australia is about destinations like Busselton, Bunbury and Kalgoorlie.

The Northern Territory is similar with outstanding parks in Alice Springs, and a high standard in Katherine and Darwin. While retirees are still major caravan park users throughout Australia they often choose to travel off-peak and stay Monday to Friday to reap the benefits of packages.

Bill Pycroft, Executive Manager of Top Tourist Parks Australia, says: This group includes former caravan owners who no longer feel confident towing a van or do not travel enough to warrant owning a van, but still wants to experience that park environment which they previously enjoyed.

Cabins are also being used by older couples who travel as two couples in the same vehicle, he said. Many parks have outstanding locations close to beaches, mountains, lakes, rivers, National Parks and major attractions both natural and developed.

Cabin Lounge The cabin balcony in destinations like Halls Gap, and Lake Fyans, Victoria, can command a million dollar view from comfortable deckchairs at attractive packaged prices.

Native wildlife is often part of the relaxed, secure environment. Business is on the agenda too.

Some parks provide Internet connection among options added to attract the business market. Annette Terrill and Susan Peucker of the boutique-style Ballarat Goldfields Holiday Park say young children from toddlers to 10 years are VIPs in their park.

To keep people returning year after year parks not only upgrade accommodation but many provide planned childrens activities, secure play grounds, play centres, games rooms, and bathrooms with child-size facilities. Across Australias caravan parks children have a vast array of activities to entertain them whilst the parents enjoy the creature comforts of the laid-back cabins.

Families enjoy the holiday park experience in parks which are set up perfectly for them with giant jumping pillows, and outstanding pools and water recreation areas. Not just the park accommodation has improved; the inclusion of family activities keeps people coming back to parks near developed attractions like Ballarats Sovereign Hill, in Victoria and on Queenslands Gold Coast. The demand for something different in accommodation also includes people who have never been part of the caravan park scene before.

Caravan Park Cabins Samantha Magill, of Parkgate Resort, Halls Gap says social inter-action is a big factor in the park decision. For families the self-catering cabin is good dollar value with built-in security, space, fully equipped kitchen, TV, heating and cooling plus some privacy for the adults.

For families cooking your own meals is one way to reduce the cost of holidays. Meals can be do-it-yourself in a modern, fully equipped kitchen or a feast of the best at quality local restaurants. And yes, while getting about make sure you add the best local wines and foods to the comforts of home in the cabin larder.

Nationally, caravan parks know that today their guests have concerns about lifestyle and healthy eating. This extends to cabins being the accommodation of choice for people on special diets. In compact states like Tasmanian one strong growth area in parks is two couples, travelling together, sharing a two-bedroom cabin.

This is often an affordable 10 to 14 day package with average stays at one location of one to two days Tony Park, Managing Director of Cosy Cabins Around Tasmania says. Paul Dutton, of Island Cabins, says a new direction is also being taken in motorhomes. The Spirits of Tasmania have allowed people with more truck like vehicles access to the state at a reasonable cost for the first time, he says.

They are attracted by drive packages and the beauty and convenience of the state. Many Tasmanian caravan parks are close to natural attractions like magnificent beaches, pastoral country, lakes, rivers and National Parks. The benefits range from birdlife on the cabin verandah, to interesting walks.

Queensland offers an exceptional range of cabin style accommodation. Jenny Tonkin of Cairns Coconut Caravan Resort says: There is something to suit everyone in cabin options plus facilities like playgrounds, pool, mini golf, movies and tennis courts. There isso much to do.

Cabin Kitchen Dining room The huge increase in people choosing cabin accommodation has come about for a number of reasons. They includegreat value for money, the self-contained nature of cabins and the more sociable atmosphere of the park itself.

The variety of cabin accommodation is huge but the vast majority of parks offer a double for $100, or less.Our range goes from $58.00 to $195.00 per night ... from very basic right through to three bedrooms, two bathrooms with spa bath, internal laundry, private barbecue and huge verandah.

Market segments include those passing through and destinational, but it depends on the park.It can really be broken down further into family groups, retired couples, and repeat visitors as the annual family holiday to a caravan park is now often centered on cabins.Each park tends to have its own clientele and our park has predominately destination visitors and an average length of stay of 5.2 days. Other parks have an average stay of 1.2 nights so each park has its own mix rather than a mix across the board. I would say caravan parks have a wide range of styles and something that is the best value for each couple or family needs.

Our two most popular are two bedrooms and our open plan Tropical Ensuite cabin that offers affordable value for families, she said. Australians changed their attitude to caravan parks after 1991 when prestige caravan parks and accommodation options like cabins revamped the image of the caravan park industry forever.

The park cabin made the significant difference in how Australians holiday in parks and now a younger more mobile clientele has embraced the experience.