If you cut chief executive Carl Castledine in half, he would have the words holiday park running through him like a stick of Great British rock.
Carl is the third generation in his family to run a holiday park. His grandfather ran Britain’s first holiday camp, which opened at Caister in Norfolk in 1905, when Billy Butlin was still at primary school, and Carl went on to work for some of the biggest businesses in the UK market.
But it was in 2008, when Carl teamed up with two other holiday park experts, Neill Ryder and Greg Lashley – who cut their teeth in places such as Park Resorts, Haven and Bourne Leisure – that his chance came to continue the family tradition.
The three friends shared a dream for the holiday park of the future and a desire to shake up the industry. So Away Resorts was born, with Carl as CEO, Neill as Finance Director and Greg as Operations Director.
Fast forward nine years, throw in an awful lot of hard work, laughs, passion and a bunch of amazing staff, and you have a growing family of parks, all with their own unique personality, all buzzing with guests all year round, and a business at the cutting edge of the sector.
In the past eight years, Away Resorts has won industry awards and accolades, been rated in the top 100 fastest growing businesses in the UK, and attracted a new wave of holiday park devotees. But what of the future?
‘We still have loads of ideas and we’re still growing as a business,’ says Carl.
‘We want a footprint that spans the UK, with enough parks to take on the big players. We want an Away Resorts park to be a couple of hours away from everyone, wherever you live in the UK.
‘But we don’t just want to be big. We want to be the best too. We’re still shaking up the industry. We have so many ideas, and more than a few surprises coming down the track in the next year or two. There is so much we can still do to make our guests’ holidays even better.’