When it began 45 years ago Forest Holidays was a unique partnership between the public and private sector. Bruce McKendrick, the holiday firm’s chief executive, has been at the helm of the multi award-winning business since 2014. Since then, he has watched Forest Holidays’ annual turnover grow from £25.6 million to £36.2 million in 2016.
The company works hand in hand with the Forestry Commission daily due to its unique business model. While the commission holds the land in trust for the nation, Forest Holidays pays rent on the land its sites are based on as part of a 125-year framework, which began in 2006 and ends in 2131. That rent money is then invested by the Forestry Commission into maintaining and enhancing the forest as well as improving recreational facilities for the public.
Its 571 cabins currently equate to a seven-figure rent income for the Forestry Commission. As well as every cabin creating around one job per unit, each is also said to boost the local economy by more than £30,000. Forest Holidays’ guests account for an £18 million annual spend with local businesses, and this benefit to rural economies is set to rise further as the company is expanding further. It is ploughing millions of pounds into increasing its cabins by 179 to up to 750 over the next few years.
The investment comes after planning permission was granted for four sites.
Its 10th location, at Beddgelert in the Snowdonia National Park, featuring 16 cabins, is expected to open this month. Work is then expected to get underway on 40 cabins in the Brecon Beacons, as part of a partnership with National Resources Wales.
Other sites to follow are in Glentress Forest, Scottish Borders, Tweed Valley with 56 cabins – which are part of an £11.3 million project with Forest Enterprise Scotland – and, as part of a much longer vision, in Delamere Forest, Cheshire, where there will be 67 cabins.
Bruce told Leicester Live, “I think you go through life doing jobs you have to do, but then you find yourself able to do a job that incorporates what you like about life. Most of my time is spent walking around some of the most beautiful forests in the UK – I have to pinch myself sometimes. I remember being at one location on a wet Wednesday in February asking to see inside a cabin, but I was told I couldn’t because they were all full, so we are certainly doing something right.”
Forest Holidays has won various awards, including Green Tourism Awards for its cabin designs, corporate and social responsibility, and sustainable holidays.
Source: Leicester Live