Company ‘would be mad’ to change park

Standing outside the Glendhu Bay Holiday Park's guest lounge on Friday is Hampshire Property...
Standing outside the Glendhu Bay Holiday Park's guest lounge on Friday is Hampshire Property Group chief executive Frank Sharkey. PHOTO: REGAN HARRIS
Glendhu Bay Holiday Park’s new owners were keen to reassure longtime campers the company would be "mad" to make dramatic changes, in a public meeting at the grounds yesterday.

More than 80 people packed into the camp’s guest lounge to hear from Hampshire Property Group chief executive Frank Sharkey, who said it was not the company’s intention to make sweeping changes that would undermine the character of the existing park.

"We’ve paid good money for a leasehold business. That leasehold business here in Glendhu Bay relies on the long-term campers.

"You are the backbone of this business. We would be mad to try to do anything that was going to be upsetting for long-term campers."

In a 30-minute presentation, Mr Sharkey touched on the history of the Hampshire Property Group, emphasising its record of not making changes to most parks added to its portfolio, and outlined planned work for the park including "minor" improvements to the lake house, Wi-Fi connectivity in certain areas of the camp and adding mesh in the toilet blocks to stop insects getting in.

He addressed the recent removal of the park’s playground as a necessary step due to its dilapidated state and proximity to the main vehicle entrance. A replacement was planned to be completed "before the next peak season".

Mr Sharkey revealed the company was also working with local business Wānaka Tiny Homes on a plan to have mobile tiny homes on site during the shoulder season to accommodate more guests in colder weather.

A Q&A session followed, where more than a dozen attendees asked questions ranging from the length of the lease ("20-odd years") to the possibility of campers having to wear armbands in future.

Mr Sharkey said while armbands had been discussed as a potential way of addressing "regulatory requirements" and monitoring park numbers, it was something he hoped could be avoided.

Longtime camper and chairman of the recently formed Glendhu Bay Campers Association Doug Fraser asked Mr Sharkey what he imagined the camp would look like in 10 years.

Mr Sharkey said while he would not be "locking myself into" promising specific perks such as half-price sites for children, he did not see the company making any changes that would alter the character of the park.

"This will be an affordable Kiwi camp."

He said a digital survey would be available for all parties interested in offering feedback for the next two weeks, and would be made available to those unable to attend the meeting via the park’s social media channels.

Glendhu Bay Holiday Park was one of five sites in Queenstown and Wānaka that were acquired by New South Wales-based Hampshire Property Group last year.