Wednesday, 7 March 2012

The Orchard Meadow Lodge Development

Tree Tops Caravan Park in Gwespyr, Flintshire has just completed the development of a new lodge park known as the Orchard Meadow. This extension to the award winning Tree Tops Caravan Park will be opened by David Hanson MP, on March 2nd at 12:45. A number of other local dignitaries will also be in attendance.

The opening of the Orchard Meadow is the result of 12 months hard work for this family run business. Maureen Walker, Managing Director commented “Whatever we do, we like to do it well and the Orchard Meadow continues to demonstrate this ethos and commitment to our business”.

Where possible Welsh companies and local materials have been used in the development of the Orchard Meadow. All of the dry stone walls have been built using beautiful Gwespyr sand stone pieced together by Welsh craftsmen.

At the opening, Mr Hanson will plant a tree to mark the occasion. This will be followed by a tour of the park including the 5 holiday lodges currently on display.

Tree Tops was first licensed over 50 year ago and has remained in the care of the same family ever since its creation. Over the years the park has received many awards which recognise the parks commitment to quality. For the last 19 years Tree Tops has won the prestigious Wales in Bloom competition, for which the park.

The Orchard Meadow will offer holiday lodges in a setting to suit the most discerning customer.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Countdown to the new season

It's funny,  we close the park on 7th December and March 1st seems a lifetime away.  Once Christmas is over with March 1st seems to gallop towards in a way which can frankly be scary.

March comes with a feeling of delight mixed with dread.  We look forward to welcoming back our customers (the Tree Toppers), but we worry about the damage that can happen to caravans over a hard winter like that we've just had.

Its also a time of year where there seems so much to do.  As always the our team has done a great job,  the park looks great,  even the bits we have dug up for as part of our winter development programme look ok.  Its all the thing you think you might have forgotten.

The onset of March draws my mind to how we make our park stand apart from others parks in the area.  We start our marketing campaigns and I turn my attention to our website (

I'm generally still happy with our website, but I've noticed Google is not ranking us as highly as I'd like it to,  so I've been having a play with the copy and a few other things.

If you read my previous blogs you'll see that I've been playing with YouTube videos of the caravans,  this is something which I've really enjoyed doing.  I think I've turned a corner with them now and the do what they should in terms of showing prospective caravan owners the caravans we have on offer.

Here's a couple of my favorites:

I'm not totally sure if I'm taking too long to spin around the rooms and the music is still under review.  I'd better not blog what my partner Sally says about the music I select,  it's not polite.  I wouldn't be concerned, but she does play the piano rather well so she knows what she's talking about.

The two videos above are embedded in my website in the caravan for sale section (  Of course they are for sale as I type,  but we hope that North Wales will remain attractive and the above static caravans will soon be sold!  At that point they will drop off the website.

I've been toying with the idea of buying a video camera,  but I'm really not sure I need one.  I think I should really look for better video editing software even though I don't really do videos.   I've help off buying as I can't get a clear idea of which is best for chaining images together and doing the panning, zooming and other effects which I like to use.   I've even looked for the iPad.   I'm open to suggestions!

In the middle of February we all (the Walker clan) went off to the BH&HPA conference.  As always there's a raft of new legislation or old legislation we'd forgotten about which we need to look at when we come back to the office.  There's also a load of good stuff which we picked up.   One of the highlight was meeting Professor David Bellamy,  we had our picture taken with him as we've just received a special commendation for maintaining a gold standard in his conservation schemes for 10 years!  It's a great scheme, but it gets harder each year!

As a site project I'm working with Flintshire Tourism Association, they are developing a new website ( There's a lot of work to go on with the content, but the visuals look great.  Have a look and see what you think.  We've been working with a small development house called MyDigtalMedia,  they have been fantastic to work with!

Well I think that will do for now.  I'll try no to be such a stranger in future.


Monday, 13 September 2010

The Lawns 2010

September sees me and the family travelling to Hull to the annual HERMCA Lawns Caravan Exhibition. It’s the event of the year for the caravan sector and there are countless Static and Touring caravans, not to forget lodges and motor homes and all the paraphernalia which goes with it.

There’s something 180 static caravans at the Lawns show, even though we are used to viewing caravans this is a slog for us. We don’t even attempt to view them all, we have something of a filtering process. That said Tree Tops is an interesting park with pitches of all shapes and sizes and this in mind we have to view caravans from 28 feet up to 42 feet long, in both 10 feet wide and 12 feet wide varieties. We also have to look at those wider than 12 feet wide as we are always looking to the future. In all we probably view 80 units, mentally processing this number of caravans is never easy we have to look and look again at some of the models to get them to sink in. We walk away from the show with 5 or 6 models having made an impression.

It never ceases to amaze me that caravan manufacturers come up with so variations within a pretty much standard sized box. Some of the units feel incredibly big others seem to struggle to fit everything in and it’s not always down to the length and width of the unit. The real skill comes in selecting the right caravan for the right plot; it costs a lot of money if we get it wrong.

It’s not all hard work, we also use the Lawns to catch up with other park owners, many of whom are old friends. Some of these people may have parks in close to Tree Tops, but we’re all so busy working that it takes a trip to Hull to spend time with them. One of the great things about our industry is how sociable it is, this is especially true with the owners of the better run parks, most of whom are members of our trade association BH&HPA We always have a couple of good shindigs to attend, this year we were lucky enough to be entertained by Carnaby Caravans and Willerby Caravans. It’s hard work and long long running a caravan park, but someone has to do it!

I’ve just finished day 2 at the Lawns and the Willerby Bash awaits me. As much as I look forward to the Lawns, I’m looking forward to returning home tomorrow and getting back to the comfortable familiarity of Tree Tops.

Highlights of the show: Swift Caravans have a couple of nice units, we’re giving one serious consideration, pitches permitting. Carnaby have brought out a replacement to their successful Highgrove (at the time of typing my caravan fatigue has allowed the name to slip my mind), there’s something a little different in layout of the bedrooms and the design made a positive impression. At something like £52k you can see that I have expensive taste. Pemberton Leisure Homes always impress me. They are thought to be the best built caravan, they tend to have a price tag to match. This year they have released their 1st lodge, frankly it’s stunning. I was surprised that their new Berkeley caravan impressed me, it has 4 bedrooms. Using what’s known as a “Centre Lounge” configuration, the 4 bedrooms fit in really rather well. We generally find 3 bedroom caravans a bit of a squeeze, but the Berkeley was a great compromise despite the 4 bedrooms. I’d like to see their designer knock up a 3 bedroom caravan on the same floor plan, if could be a world beater, but it would need to be on the right plot.

AB Sundecks showed their ability to develop their product in new and exciting ditections. Not only did they supply decks for all of the main manufacturers, there were load of them, but their own display was stunning! A double decker deck with a Jacuzzi on the ground floor and a VIP lounge on the upper deck. Simply stunning and a tribute to Derek Beaumont, their managing director and chief designer. They also released some new colours in their range of decks which are designed to match the windows frames currently being used by the major manufacturers.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Back to Real Life

I've moved on somewhat from my brief obsession with videoing caravans. That's now going to be a standard part of our website offering and I have to say it's been jolly good fun. I think the power of social media can be seen in the fact that one of my little movies (hosted on YouTube) has been watched nearly 500 times in less than 1 month. The analytics provided by YouTube have given me a load new data to ponder.

Back to "Park Life". August is a great time of year for us, Wales in Bloom is over, any over winter teething problems the customs have developed have been put to bed and we can plod along with all the jobs we've putting off for months.

It's traditional for Tree Tops to host a charity BBQ on the Sunday of the August Bank Holiday. Our customers generally start asking if we're holding the event about 3 days after the park opens in March. Each year we put ourselves at the mercy of the British weather and put on event for at least 200 people. We are blessed with a great team at the moment, they got stuck into setting the event up. Despite the event only running for an afternoon and an evening it takes about 4 days to set up and prepare.

Every year we become obsessed with the long range weather reports, we debate, we doubt and we curse the met office if the reports are bad. Each year we pronounce that a bad long range weather report will see the event cancelled and each year the event go ahead regardless like lemmings running at a cliff. I think it's fair to say the weather in the 1st half of August gave us real cause for concern as did the long range forecast.

Given the vagaries of the British weather we beg and borrow all sorts of garden marquees and gazebos. We own a few of our own, but we like to provide enough cover as possible. Being positive we tell ourselves the cover is there to prevent sunstroke.

Last year we braved monsoon style rain. My father and I were busy at our respective BBQs when the heavens opened. We stood with falling hearts watching our customers wander back to their caravans. We were just about to close the lids on the BBQs when they all started coming back out again armed with wet weather gear, brollies and the various types of structures. They then sat with stoic determination and enjoyed a great afternoon despite the weather. I’m sure some glasses were filling quicker than they were being emptied. The average Tree Topper is made of the kind of stuff that would make the British Army proud.

This year the weather reports looked like it would once again test the resolve of the Tree Toppers. On Friday the weather was grim, on Saturday it was windy and not terribly pleasant. I awoke to a grey windy Sunday morning, I was not amused. The met office had changed their view of the day and promised a change in the weather at lunchtime. When the sideway rain started midmorning there was a number of groans in the office and a few expletives. At this point we had about £1,500 worth of food and booze sitting in the office, not to mention the cakes, pavlovas and other goodies people had spent their time making. There was quite simply no turning back.

My father and I went to prep our BBQs in readiness for the onslaught of burgers, steaks, chicken and sausages. Not forgetting the dreaded vegetarian option. Can you guess what happened next? The sun came out and the strong winds dropped and the day was perfect.

Is there a moral to this story? Probably, but I’m not that bothered. Our customers are a great bunch (we always say we hand pick them) and it was nice spending time with them in the sunshine. We often only see them when they need help solving some problem or mishap. This makes the BBQ is a nice day for us, lots of hard work, but fun all the same.

There’s 4 great things which have happened in August. We won Wales in Bloom for the 18th year. I had a chat with Rufus Bellamy (Prof, David Bellamy’s Son) who gave me the great news that we have maintained our gold David Bellamy Conservation Award and will receive a commendation for maintaining standards for 10 years. We are through to the last 3 in our category for the National Tourism Awards for Wales ( Getting this far in the competition is something we’re very proud of. The environmental stuff and the gardens are something we understand and we’re good at and it’s an integral part of our business. Applications to this kind of award make put into writing things about our business which we normally do by instinct, this is never easy. We now have to wait until the end of October to find out if we get any further.

I said there were 4 good thing that have happened in August, the fourth has to be the nice weather we had for our BBQ

For more information about what's going on at Tree Tops visit our websire at .  You might also like to join our facebook page,

Thursday, 5 August 2010

BK Sheraton Outlook £26,995

I decided it was time to try something new in order to market our caravans and it's been an interesting experiment.
The idea of videoing our caravans has always appealed. That said, I've always stayed away from videos as they remind me of dreadful parties in the 90's where everyone wanted to video everything in order to try and win £250 from "You've Been Framed".
For the caravans we have for sale I think videos have to have a future, one seems to get a much greater feel for the caravans.
The next problem is working out how I get movies like the one below to embed in my website, that is without my web developer going mad with me for making a mess of his work. Our website address is, and the plan now is to work on a simple way of embbeding the videos into the our caravan sales page.
I have to answer a few questions first. To start with I need to look into cameras, would there be any advantage in using a proper video camera. Perhaps I should look at one of those little devices designed to taking videos in a format ready to upload on to sites such as YouTube? I'm thinking along the lines of the flip video cameras. Should I be considering buying some form of lighting? Finally is YouTube the right place to host the video?
Lots of questions I'll be investigting over the coming weeks. I will be interesting to see how things progress. Keep you eye on www.treetopscaravanpark/sales to see the results.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Wales in Bloom Winner 2010

North Wales Caravan Park grabs first prize for the 18th Year Running

The caravan park in North Wales that has a display of over 15,000 flowers has done it again and won 1st place in the prestigious Wales in Bloom competition.

Wales in Bloom is a national Campaign designed to embrace the beauty of Wales. Entrants to the competition are inspected by judges with an expert knowledge of plants and gardening. Awards are only granted to those who achieve the very highest of standards. The gardening team at Tree Tops put in 12 months of effort to ensure that the gardens and landscaping meet the demands of the judges, preparations for the 2011 competition are already underway. This is not only an important win for Tree Tops, it also important for the North Wales we a great tourism destination.

Maureen Walker, Managing Director of Tree Tops commented “Even after 18 years, we never take winning for granted. This year we had to contend with a new judge and changes to the judging criteria. One of the changes has focused on making the gardens more environmentally friendly. We were very pleased about this and we have found many ways to embrace this opportunity.” Maureen went on to say “this is our second award of the week, we have won our category in Prestatyn in Bloom, and after all the effort we put in it’s a great relief to maintain our position.”

The hard winter just gone had given the parks gardening team of 5, causes for concern. Many of the specimen plants were affected by the freezing temperatures and the cold spring slowed the development of the plants right down. Undaunted, head gardeners David and Christine Ball still managed to turn out over 15,000 bedding plants, all grown on from seeds, plugs and cuttings. Many of the parks customers have commented that the display is one of the best they have ever seen.

Andrew Walker, General Manager commented “We are delighted to have won this competition again. We would like to thank our staff and customers for all of their help and hard work. The commitment required from our gardening team immense, but their efforts have truly paid off. It’s another great success for our family business and it’s thanks to our Head Gardeners David and Christine, Dennis and Lesley our Wardens and Andy, David and Derek our Grounds men.”

The preparations for next year’s competition are have already started and the team are looking at the new judging criteria to ensure that they meet the requirements when the judge returns in 2011.

David Hanson MP was amongst the 1st to congratulate Tree Tops, he said “Many congratulations to Tree Tops Caravan Park on an 18th year of success, it shows the commitment and quality of the team and is a credit to Flintshire”.

Tree Tops attracts visitors from North Wales, the North West, the Midlands and beyond. The economic contribution raised by the park is in excess of £1m. These tourism revenues go directly into supporting local businesses and jobs.

For more information on this story please contact Andy or Maureen  visit our Web site at for contact details.

The park is situated about 4 miles from Prestatyn on the A548