|Type||Private Limited Company|
|Industry||Holiday / Leisure|
|Headquarters||St Helier, Jersey, CI (registered office)
Ainsdale, Southport, Merseyside (trading office)
|Number of locations||6 holiday parks in UK|
|Key people||Alex Langsam|
|Products||Family holiday parks|
Pontins specialises in offering half-board and self-catering holidays featuring regular entertainment at resorts, or "holiday parks", as they have branded them. Accommodation is usually in the form of chalets (which Pontins calls "apartments").
Fred Pontin opened his first holiday camp in 1946 on the site of a former U.S. army base (built during World War II), at Brean Sands in Somerset. He gradually expanded his empire to 30 sites, although the corporation has contracted since.
In 1978 the company was sold to Coral for £56 million. In 1980, Coral (including Pontins) was taken over by Bass Brewing, who sold Pontins in 1987 to a management buyout team led by Trevor Hemmings It was sold yet again in 1989, to Scottish & Newcastle.
Over the next ten years the company closed or sold off a number of sites. In a three-year programme in the mid-1990s, the remaining camps were modernised. By 2000, the company was operating only eight camps, and was sold back to Hemmings. In 2008, the company was sold to Ocean Parcs for £46 million. Wall Park holiday centre was not included in the sale. In January 2009, Pontins announced the closure of its Hemsby holiday centre. Pontins Blackpool in Squires Gate closed in October 2009 leaving five parks still trading under the Pontins brand.
Pontins headquarters were relocated to the Southport Holiday Park, at Ainsdale-on-Sea, close to the village of Ainsdale. From the original Hemmings buy-out until then the headquarters were located at Sagar House in the village of Eccleston, Lancashire.
In September 2009, Pontins announced a five-year multi-million investment plan for the remaining five parks. Refurbishment work completed in 2010 included a new half-board restaurant and ice skating rink at the Prestatyn Sands Holiday Park, and a new roller skating rink at the Brean Sands Holiday Park.
In 2014, the former Pontins resort at Sand Bay was purchased by the group and it thus became the sixth resort to be operated under the 'new Pontins' brand.
In November 2010, Pontins announced that they had gone into administration. No jobs were lost and customers were still able to take the holidays they had booked. A company spokesman said that Pontins would continue to trade for the time being, and that it would be getting help to move the company out of administration. On 28 January 2011 Britannia Hotels Group bought Pontins Holidays. Alex Langsam, owner of Britannia Hotels, soon announced a £25 million investment programme, with the intention of refocusing Pontins as themed seaside destinations, taking inspiration from Disney theme parks.
Bluecoats are guest hosts and include some well-known entertainers. Past Bluecoats include TV personalities Brian Conley, Shane Richie, Helen Chamberlain, Bobby Davro, Lee Carroll, Scott Bruton (X Factor finalist), and Bradley Walsh. Other personalities include dancer Lisa Scott-Lee, stand-up comedian Lee Mack, and opera singer Nyle Wolfe.
Pontins currently owns and operates six "holiday parks" in the United Kingdom:
- Camber Sands (in East Sussex)
- Southport (in Ainsdale, Merseyside)
- Prestatyn Sands (in Denbighshire, North Wales)
- Brean Sands (between Burnham-on-Sea and Weston-Super-Mare, Somerset)
- Pakefield (in Lowestoft, Suffolk)
- Sand Bay (in Weston-Super-Mare, Somerset), an adult-only park
Pontins Southport is a holiday park located on Shore Road, Ainsdale, and was opened in 1969 by Fred Pontin at a cost of £2.5 million. The layout is similar to a village. It contains entertainment facilities, leisure facilities and on-site guest "apartments" in the form of 768 chalets. Apartments include a living area, kitchen and up to two bedrooms. Guests can choose either Self-Catering or Half-Board option. Pontins Southport hosts the annual Miss Southport contest.
The Pontins Bungalow in the park was renovated in 2013 and is set close to all the venues at the Pontins resort.
The former Pontins site at Weston-super-Mare, North Somerset, had been sold in 1999 and subsequently closed by the owners in 2013. It was then purchased by Britannia Hotels in 2014 and brought back under the Pontin brand. It is now designated as an adult-only resort.
Former and closed resorts
This is a list of some former Pontins resorts in both Ireland and the United Kingdom that have either closed or been sold off:
- Barton Hall, Torquay, Devon; now a PGL site (children's activity holidays) (formerly 3D Education)
- Bay View, Brixham, Devon
- Blackpool, Lancashire; (closed 2 October 2009); currently under demolition; site will be developed as housing
- Bracklesham Bay, Chichester, West Sussex
- Broadreeds, Selsey, West Sussex
- Buckleigh Place, Westward Ho!, Devon
- Dolphin Holiday Village, Brixham, Devon
- Homelea Holiday Camp, Brixham, Devon
- Hemsby, Norfolk; (closed January 2009); now owned by Northern Trust; as of 2013 it is back on the market
- Jersey Holiday Village, Portelet Bay, Jersey
- Little Canada, Wootton, Isle of Wight; now a PGL site (children's activity holidays) (formerly 3D Education)
- Middleton Tower, Heysham, Lancashire; site now a retirement village (opened 2007)
- Osmington Bay, Weymouth, Dorset; now a PGL site (children's activity holidays) (formerly 3D Education)
- Plemont Bay, Jersey
- Riviera Chalet Hotel, Bowleaze Cove (near Preston), Weymouth, Dorset
- Sands Hotel, Prestatyn, Denbighshire, North Wales
- Seacroft, Hemsby, Norfolk
- South Devon, Paignton, Devon
- South Downs, Bracklesham Bay, near Chichester
- St Mary's Bay, Brixham, Devon; now a Park Holidays UK site
- Torbay Chalet Hotel, Paignton, Devon
- Tower Beach, Prestatyn, Denbighshire, North Wales
- Trabolgan, County Cork, Ireland; currently operating as "Trabolgan Holiday Village"
- Wick Ferry, Christchurch, Dorset
- Wall Park, Brixham, Devon
In popular culture
- The 1973 British film Holiday On The Buses was filmed at and set in the Prestatyn resort. A plaque was erected in 2004 at the main entrance gates (unchanged since the film) to note this event. The same venue hosts professional snooker each year. Prestatyn Sands also hosts the finals for the annual Brass Band Festival historically, the qualifying rounds were held in other Pontins centres.
- Carol Lee Scott (known as "Grotbags") performed cabaret throughout different Pontins sites in the 1960s and 70s.
- "Pontins to get 'Disney' makeover". BBC News. BBC. 6 February 2011. Retrieved 7 February 2011.
- Note: Hemmings construction firm had originally built the holiday centre at Southport.
- Pontin's bought by former boss; "The Guardian"; 27 March 2008; retrieved 27 March 2008.
- Pontin's to close holiday centre; BBC News; 5 January 2009; retrieved 10 February 2009.
- Blackpool Gazette: Blackpool Holiday Camp to close
- "Holiday camp firm Pontin's goes into administration". BBC News. BBC. 12 November 2010. Retrieved 12 November 2010.
- Property; Commercial Search UK.
- "Middleton Village officially opened". The Visitor, Morecambe.
- "HOLIDAY ON THE BUSES EVENT 2013".
The book 'Fred Pontin...the man and his business' was written by Peter Willsher and is considered to be a comprehensive history of Sir Fred Pontin and the business he created after WW11.