Published: 06:00, 05 March 2021
| Updated: 16:06, 05 March 2021
The new owner of seven holiday parks on the Isle of Sheppey is investing £1million on luxury lodges to cash in on the demand for staycation holidays.
Edward James, who has snapped up five parks at Eastchurch and two at Minster, said: "The Island is on the up. It is the nearest resort to London and has some very pretty places.
Digging foundations for luxury lodges at Eastchurch Holiday Centre
He has splashed out around £12m in total to buy up the parks.
Two years ago he bought Eastchurch Holiday Centre, off Fourth Avenue, which boasts three caravan parks, Sunnymeade 1 and 2, and Pleasant View and chalet park Cliff Cottages.
He is now sinking foundations for 80 luxury lodges on a new, yet to be named, gated site on the complex.
Last year, Mr James, 54, a father-of-three with two grandsons, bought the former family-owned Seacliff caravan park in Oak Lane, Minster, and a sister site.
And he said: "I'm in the market for another park on Sheppey. I'm a big believer in supporting Britain and holidaying at home. It will make our economy stronger.
"And people love going back to their roots. So many Londoners grew up holidaying here and then wanting to live here. Do you know Frank Bruno uses our club house?"
Mr James' sales manager Michael Edwards, 43, said: "Since February 22, the phone has been ringing off the hook. It is the Covid mentality.
"There are so many obstacles to holidaying abroad, including the increased cost of insurance and having to quarantine, that many are petrified to go.
"Many elderly customers have decided life is too short to keep their money in the bank and are buying higher end holiday homes to spend quality time with their grandchildren.
"People aren't hanging around. They know prices are already starting to rise. This is the time to get on the bottom rung."
As if on cue, he had to break off the interview to take a call from a woman desperate to buy a caravan on the site. Prices range from £12,999 for a mobile home to more than £200,000 for a lodge.
Mr Edwards added: "There is a huge demand and the Island is soaking it up. It's manic. But staying as a family in a caravan or lodge is Covid safe.
"I come from Clacton and Sheppey has much more to offer. It has stunning views and is steeped in history."
Mr James, whose company Superior Enterprises owns the holiday parks, sold a residential park in the New Forest to finance his move to Sheppey.
He began as a 16-year-old boy working on his mother's 32-home residential park and went on to buy it. He now has more than 1,000 pitches.
He said: "I actually prefer the holiday side of the business. It's the best part of park life."
He is the latest entrepreneur to recognise the increasing appeal of what is once again becoming known as Kent's holiday isle.
Henry Cooper bought Elmhurst Park a year ago and Raoul Fraser bought Golden Leas in 2018. The Cosgroves, who own Sheerness Holiday Park, continue to expand after taking over Central Beach at Leysdown and Shurland Dale and Ashcroft parks at Eastchurch.