Hemsby holiday boss lays out £1.3m welcome mat ahead of lockdown lifting
- Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021
On a drizzly morning in an empty car park it is hard to image the tourist honey-pot of Hemsby buzzing with visitors.
But it's not the first time Greg Munford has taken a leap of faith in the resort he is proud to champion.
People who have not visited for a while will see the changes under the Richardson's banner with a £1.3m investment taking shape at the company's Hemsby Beach Holiday Park in Beach Road, and around the wider village.
Most obvious is the new 200-space car park replacing a row of shops and the re-branding of the Caesar's amusement arcade.
Other improvements include the creation of a new plaza which will have gabion-style seating shaded by giant umbrellas.
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Also in the pipeline are an indoor bowling alley and climbing wall which will be open to the public.
It follows a £10m transformation at the former Seacroft holiday park, bringing in a family activity holiday offer similar to Center Parcs.
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Now he wants to roll out the red carpet for everyone who wants to visit Hemsby.
Mr Munford said: "There is a perception of Hemsby in some people's minds based on how Richardson's used to operate as an older Pontin's style park that was bringing in coach loads of people to 1960s chalets.
"Now what we are trying to do is change our product model and it opens up Hemsby for everyone."
Initially the car park will be free to use. Charges will likely be introduced in May, probably with free parking with a purchase from Richardson's Yacht Club restaurant and bar.
Meanwhile, the holiday park's evolution continues with more luxury lodges with hot tubs and a new "Concierge" owners' brand bringing a raft of benefits for those who buy a lodge.
Key to the new owners' model is a wellbeing space being proposed for the 1930's 'Trelawn' bungalow built by the original owners.
Lead by Laura Richardson the focus on mindfulness will feature a range of treatments and therapies, and a yoga yurt.
The new brand's mantra "helping to make the most of now" aims to chime with how people feel as lockdown ends.
Mr Munford said bookings had been "very strong" with a surge in interest every time the prime minister made an announcement.
On the hire boat side the summer is already 80pc booked.
Overall it was a shift in quality that was paying dividends as tourism in the UK became fashionable again, he said.
It wasn't just short breaks, with people now opting to spend a week or more away, and the 'shoulder weeks' either side.
"We want everyone in Hemsby to thrive," he added.
"The last thing we would want would be for it to lose its individuality and the traders in Hemsby have given us nothing but support."
Cafe owner and borough councillor James Bensly said: "People expect a lot more and want the opportunity to go that bit further up market.
"We have every budget covered and that is the essence of a wonderful seaside resort.
"We are looking forward to welcoming visitors with open arms. The whole entrance to Beach Road looks another level now. These are really exciting times."