Staycations are here to stay

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STAYCATION breaks look set to be a very popular choice for Britons this summer, according to travel expert Jeremy Gates.

Despite the gloomy start to Britain’s summer, a record number of families look set for “staycation” holidays in the coming months.

According to the annual holiday index from budget hotel chain Travelodge, Cornwall is by far the favourite holiday choice among UK households, who refuse to give up holidays altogether, however tough the economy might get.

The hotel chain questioned 5,000 British adults about summer holiday plans and found 41 per cent of them plan to holiday at home this year (against 35 per cent last time).

The average week’s holiday is likely to cost a family £433.47 (up £10.78 on last year), generating around £8.7 billion for the UK tourism industry (up £1.5 billion on 2011).

Many families plan to cut costs by taking more short breaks; some 48 per cent of Britons are likely to take four domestic breaks this year (against an average of three in 2011).

The top summer staycation destinations for 2012, says Travelodge, are: Cornwall, Edinburgh (in second place, up from fifth last year), the Lake District, London, the Scottish Highlands and Devon.

Travelodge spokeswoman Emma Arthurs says: “Check our hotels in Cornwall, Edinburgh and the Lake District and you’ll find low rates still available. You can still find five nights from £29 per night in some weeks of the summer holidays.

“Based on that figure, a five-night staycation might cost a family only £145 for accommodation, plus £66.50 for breakfasts if a family reserve them when booking online. But Travelodge rooms at lowest prices are subject to availability, and prices vary closer to the summer.”

Travelodge predicts around a third of staycation British adults will “relive their childhood” by heading for the seaside; another 30 per cent plan city breaks; and a quarter want to explore the British countryside.

It also claims that nearly half of British adults (49 per cent) have waited until now to book their summer break due to financial budget constraints.

Some 60 per cent of Britons have made major sacrifices to household budgets to get away at all, and around a fifth have sold goods on eBay to cover holiday costs this year.

Grant Hearn, Travelodge chief executive, says: “It’s great news that staycations will be bigger than ever this year, despite household budgets facing a second recession.

“In a big year for British tourism, the economy could gain £8.7 billion from Britons holidaying at home this summer.”

Despite soaring petrol prices, Travelodge thinks 72 per cent of Britons on staycation breaks will go by car this year. Only 12 per cent will go by train, against four per cent on the coach and six per cent opting for air travel.

At Haven Holidays, with short breaks in July and August available across 35 parks stretching from Edinburgh to Cornwall, company spokeswoman Naomi Woodstock says: “Our research has shown that 35 per cent of customers who booked with us this year usually holiday overseas but plan to stay in the UK this time.”

Haven short breaks this summer start from £269 for three nights, with seven-night stays from £599, based on a family of six in standard self-catering accommodation.

There’s a great selection of deals along the south coast.

Daish’s Holidays offers peak season Diamond Holiday getaways, with four-night hotel half-board breaks in Torquay, Bournemouth or Newquay starting at £169 per person, based on the Devonshire Hotel in Torquay.

For those who prefer the Sands Hotel in Bournemouth or the Barrowfield Hotel in Newquay, four-night half-board breaks on selected dates in the peak season start at £179.

There’s plenty of availability across July and August and packages include live entertainment each night, free child places for one youngster (aged five to 15) and free stays for pre-school kids.

There’s plenty of room for late breaks in Cornwall, too.

Tracy Kirton, at Breaks in Cornwall, says: “The weather definitely isn’t helping what the economic gloom began, but when the sun comes out, the phones soon start ringing again.

“When we get a few signs of a decent summer, I am sure that there will be a last-minute rush to our beautiful Cornish coast.”

The late-booking website Secret Escapes has some great deals in Cornwall, too.

An apartment in Watergate Bay, near Newquay, Cornwall, starts at £47 per night, including dinner at Beaucliffes fine dining restaurant, with standard two-bedroom penthouses for a family of four from £115 per night, saving 37% off advertised rates. These prices apply for travel until August 30, if booked by June 24.

Secret Escapes also lists B&B at the four-star Carlyon Bay Hotel, a majestic ivy-clad hotel perched on the edge of St Austell Bay, from £139 per room, including a round of golf each day, cream tea, and discounts on spa treatments and entry to nearby gardens

At Rural Retreats, the self-catering cottage specialist, Charles Millward advises: “For best value in Britain at this stage, it makes sense to look a mile or two inland.

“Even if a property is just a couple of miles inland, it tends to be a good deal cheaper than its seaside counterparts and gets booked up less quickly, so you are more likely to still find availability.

“Smaller properties, often the most charming, are also more likely to have availability over the peak summer as they suit couples without children who are not tied to the school holidays.”

All Rural Retreats properties guarantee a welcome hamper, fresh linen, towels and toiletries.

Options for July and August include the Oast House overlooking the River Darent in Shoreham, Sevenoaks, Kent - it sleeps two and seven-nights stay start at £680, with an all-weather tennis court available for guests and golf course within easy walking distance.

Seven-night self-catering breaks at Lavender Cottage in Melton Constable, Norfolk, which sleeps two, start at £766 in early July. The location is well placed to explore the Georgian town of Holt (five miles), the magnificent beaches of Holkham (12 miles), and the famous villages of Cley, Wells and Blakeney.

In Guiting Power, Gloucestershire, Barton Meadow Lodge sleeps three and is set within its own six-acre wildflower meadow overlooking a trout stream and village church beyond. Seven-night stays in July and August start at £766.

Guiting Power, one of the most desirable and unspoilt villages in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, is close to Stow-on-the-Wold, Cheltenham and the Cotswold Way footpath runs through the village.

Miles Quest, of The British Hospitality Association, says: “Although poor weather so far has been a major problem for UK tourism, I think the day trip market has probably been hit harder than people who book for one week or two.

“There is certainly a feeling getting around that people will be more inclined to stay in the UK this summer, with self-catering and the less expensive hotels (£100-£120 per night for a double room) likely to benefit most.”