Beyond the bucket and spade – luxury is in demand at seaside
There’s a gap in the holiday home market, and renovating to fill it could reap rich rewards. Sharon Dale reports.
STAYING by the seaside in style has become the holiday of choice for a growing number of wealthy travellers who are discovering the delights of the Yorkshire coast.
They are looking for luxury lets but, according to one agent, there aren’t enough four-and five-star properties to feed this increasingly hungry market.
Susan Goss-Clements manages Albany House, in Whitby, and her own holiday home, in Sandsend, and has just established a new holiday lettings company, Yorkshire Coastal Cottages, on the back of the demand for quality.
She says: “I could have let those places 10 times over and I even have bookings for 2013. It made me realise there is a growing market for four-and five-star lets. There are many affluent, discerning people that want to stay in top-class accommodation, and there is demand from January to December.”
Visit England say that 60 per cent of the properties it rates are four-star and only 10 per cent are five-star.
“The best-rated properties all get booked very quickly and are always the most popular,” says spokeswoman Sarah Long. “There is certainly room for growth in the luxury sector.”
This supply-and-demand situation has thrown up opportunities for existing holiday home owners and those looking to invest.
“There are many properties on the coast that could be transformed to become highly desirable holiday homes commanding high rental values,” says Susan, who also advises owners how to up their star ratings and offers a makeover service.
She has just overseen the renovation of East Row Lodge, a ground-floor apartment on the seafront at Sandsend, near Whitby. It once let for £350 a week but now commands between £800 and £900.
“It had very little kerb appeal and although it had been run as a holiday let for several years, was in need of renovation and a rethink of the layout. The building dates back over a century but additions over the years had not been kind. We wanted to enhance the front elevation, making it more in keeping with the original parts of the building,” says Susan, an award-winning marketing expert.
”The largest room with the best sea views was a bedroom, so this was changed to become the sitting room, with the old gas fire ripped out and a wood-burning stove installed, which is ideal for the increasingly popular winter breaks.
“The original sitting room and dining room were divided to form two new bedrooms, and French windows installed that lead to the new decked terrace. The galley kitchen became a luxury walk-in shower room, and what was originally a bedroom became a new kitchen with dining area.”
An annexe in the garden was remodelled to become a double bedroom and shower room.
The property is decorated to five-star standard, which Visit England say is the best of everything from top-class beds and high thread count bedding to quality appliances.
Equally important when appealing to the top end of the market is location. A sea view is the ultimate must-have.
Service also has to be impeccable and change-overs, cleaning and maintenance have to be carefully managed.
Susan, whose company offers a fully-managed service from marketing to bookings and maintenance, says: “ People expect the best. We even have a 24/7 guest line for handling holidaymakers’ queries or emergencies during their stay.
“High standards are crucial as are personal touches like welcome packs.”
For those who want to invest in a coastal holiday let, the capital appreciation in the best areas is good, according to Nick Stephens, of Whitby-based Richardson and Smith, who says: “The property market on the coast tends to be more robust than it is inland. Coastal properties offer purchasers considerable flexibility with more variation in their uses as residences, holiday lets or for short hold tenancies.
“Increasingly, we are seeing investors coming back to the market.”
Susan adds: “The investment potential the Yorkshire coast now offers is exceptional.
“It is appealing to a new breed of holidaymaker. In Whitby, you can have a wonderful bucketand-spade holiday but you can also sit and sip champagne at places like the Moon and Sixpence.
“These people want to stay somewhere special and they are willing to pay for it. ”
RENOVATE TO ACCUMULATE:
Bridlington, pictured, along with other Yorkshire coast hotspots, is becoming popular with wealthy holidaymakers who want luxury lets. Left to right: East Row Lodge, Sandsend, before its makeover and after. It now commands almost three times the weekly rent thanks to the renovation.