Daniel Holder urges Reduce, Reuse, Refill and Recycle
Fifteen new Gingerbread Houses, underground family cabins cloaked in russet beech hedging, will be ready in a phased opening beginning in March – lockdowns permitting. It’s the latest innovation signalling owner Daniel Holder’s confidence in the company and changing customer demand.
After a career in electrical engineering in 2000 he bought the business, originally a hill farm, whose staggeringly beautiful location sits amid a ramblers’ wonderland high on a fell overlooking Ullswater.
The aim then was to create the best campsite bar possible. Today after some £2 million investment the Site features glamping cabins, timber pods and pitches for tents, caravans and motorhomes.
Fantasy fans can tuck themselves away in underground Hobbit Holes while picture postcard cottages suit more conventional tastes.
Those working from home these days can pop in and benefit from the socially-distanced “fresh air office” and its facilities such as free wifi.
“We’re landlocked so we have to consolidate and innovate rather than expand,” explains Holder.
The view from The Quiet Site
Good sustainable practices equal good business practices and that has become our model
Over years hundreds of trees have been planted, grass areas are left as meadow magnets for wildlife and little creatures have right of way in nature corridors that have been introduced between pitches.
On the energy front solar panels, a biomass boiler and heat source pump supply the power, while electric points are ready to charge vehicles, making the operation carbon neutral. A purpose-built recycling centre and Britain’s first zero waste shop deal with leftovers.
The measures, cemented in the company’s Quietly Green environmental policy, have reaped Holder and his ten staff a clutch of sustainable tourism accolades and Queen’s Award for Enterprise.
Currently most visitors, who get a discount if they use public transport and cycle, live within 100 miles of the Site, and 85 percent recommend or revisit helping the business grow 21 percent year on year.
Hobbit Holes at The Quiet Site
“The circular economy is the way the world will need to move to in order to survive,” says Holder, a living wage employer.
“Designing out waste and pollution, buying local, keeping materials in use and using renewable energy sources doesn’t sound too hard, does it?
“I realised early on elegant solutions to real problems transfer well to a holiday park and then that good sustainable practices equalled good business practices and that has become our model.
“One product example is our Hobbit Holes which are proving hugely popular. They are easy to upgrade as customer expectations change.”
Installing reed beds as a natural waste water filtration system has been technically the Site’s biggest challenge and Holder’s greatest source of satisfaction so far. “This initiative has saved our business in excess of 4000 litres per annum,” he explains.
The walk to Aira Force
Yet it’s another business he has making playhouses and pet homes that has been critical in helping pay the bills.
“The Quiet Site is not a money-spinner, our projects make immediate environmental sense but only profitable in the medium to long term,” he says. “The world is now starting to accept sustainable practices as the norm now and we like to think we have in some small way influenced that.”
Collaboration is also central to the operation. “Being members of trade bodies such as Cumbria Tourism and the British Holiday & Home Parks Association have made our lives very much easier,” says Holder.
Realising the value in community partnerships the Site has teamed up with two other holiday parks to create a four-day camping and cycle PodnPedal trip round Cumbria and it is also opening an online shop.
A camping pod at the Site
Although a veteran of economic crises, Holder has found the Government support available during the pandemic is certainly helping get through one of the biggest tests he has faced.
Using the time to carry out further infrastructure improvements the team has “re-wiggled the stream and rewilded parts of the park”.
And Holder considers himself lucky to be in a part of the industry that can weather the storms.
“When it is tough visitors look for stays nearer to home,” he reflects. “During good times they often want a second holiday, a short break. That’s when they also choose us.”