Last week I was invited as a ‘Key Tourism Partner’ to attend a meeting at Mid Suffolk District Council with the Tourism and Economic Development departments, looking at the demographic of our holiday cottage guests to better understand why people are choosing to visit Suffolk for their holidays
It was a very interesting meeting, with a number of tourist attractions represented, as well as other business owners in the Suffolk tourism and holiday industry
I’m often sceptical about meetings like this as my experience leans towards the businesses creating the commercial activity in Suffolk, rather than the councils of Suffolk but I left feeling somewhat positive about the way they were approaching it
The very interesting thing was the discussions around the table as to who comes to Suffolk for a holiday and more importantly “Why Suffolk?”
The encouraging thing about the question of who our holiday cottage guests are was that my guest sit nicely in the demographic, ranging from those in their mid 20’s (we do have some younger but not many) to those in their 70’s and 80’s, with an average between 30 and 60. I would say that most guests choosing my holiday cottages sit in the centre of that and then spread out to either end of the scale
We talked briefly about what they were looking for and the sort of people who come. There were representatives from a number of tourist attractions such as The Gainsborough Museum, The Museum of East Anglian Life, Melford Hall etc, as well as people like me, looking after Suffolk’s holidaymakers and the concensus was that we tend to attract those at the higher end of the market with a level of disposable income, looking to relax, enjoy some good food and drink and soak up the best that Suffolk has to offer
So the conversation came around to what we have to offer in Suffolk for visitors and holidaymakers. This was also very interesting as the concensus again dovetailed with the experience I have had over the last ten years of so, not only with greeting guests to my holiday cottages here, but my previous holiday cottage. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many thousands of guests now and as you may know I spend most of my time looking at providing as much information as I can to ensure their stay lives up to, and exceeds, expectations
Why holiday in Suffolk?
That’s why I started the website “Where Do We?…” so that we could bring our guests an online ‘Welcome Folder’ in addition to the ones we leave in all our holiday cottages, in addition to tour dedicated Tourist Information point with tons of leaflets, maps etc. “Where Do We?…” answers the questions “Where Do We Eat & Drink?”, “Where Do We See the Sea?”, “Where Do We Walk?”, “Where Do We Take the Dog?”, “Where Do We Cycle?” etc etc, trying to bring you as much info as we can on all the things you may wish to do when you are staying in one of our holiday cottages
The great thing about ‘Where Do We?…’ is that it gives our cottage guests the opportunity to plan their holiday in advance if they want to do that
I do find that the thing most people want to do, above all else is……. relax and enjoy the tranquility of rural Suffolk. And that was the route that our debate took. Other than wanting to know some of the answers above, our holidaymakers generally just want to enjoy a break from the norm and soak up rural Suffolk and to enjoy the nature we have to offer, country walks, clear skies and to be able to see the stars! We also have of course, some incredible architecture, steeped in history being such a great county with so much medieval heritage, as well as a stunning coastline. Many of my guests visit lots of these places as they are all in easy reach but the great asset we have in the heart of rural Suffolk is the open countryside and the opportunity to get away from it all
This is Woodfarm House by night; our largest holiday cottage
The great thing about so much open space is that we are much less densely populated than much of the country, so there is less traffic and just fewer people to bump into!
Getting away from the norm in Suffolk
A lot of people aren’t surrounded by country lanes, where they can spot owls, deer, pheasants, rabbits and a plethora of wild birds and other animals. I like to think that I don’t take any of this for granted having lived in Suffolk for many years and I find it extremely rewarding that so many of my guests love to breathe in the country air, listen to the birds around us and at night just stare up into the sky. Just because they can! I actually have no idea where our nearest street light is? I would guess it’s in Debenham or Needham Market, four miles away
We do have some beautiful and well known places to visit and one of the best things about Suffolk is that it is so unspoilt here. Constable Country is on our doorstep, known the world over, yet it is still such a relaxing place to walk or sit and unwind. This is one of two designated “Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty within half an hour of my holiday cottages and there are only 46 in the UK!
Suffolk – a dry (ish) county
We spent some time discussing the fact that Suffolk is one of the driest counties in the UK! The external consultants were a little nervous that we were on dodgy ground, saying that it never rains but I was ‘vocal’ in pointing out that that was not what we were saying! This fear did amuse me, again very ‘council’ but I pointed out that it was ok to state the facts. Suffolk is one of the driest counties. As long as we aren’t saying it never rains here. It does rain. A lot sometimes. But not as much as other parts of the country
According to weather.com “parts of England are actually surprisingly dry. Essex, Cambridgeshire and parts of North Yorkshire, the East Riding of Yorkshire, Suffolk and Norfolk are among the driest in the UK – due to a rainshadow effect.
In some years, annual rainfall totals in Essex and south Suffolk have been below 450mm, especially around Colchester, Clacton and Ipswich. That’s less than the average annual rainfall in Jerusalem, Beirut and even some semi-arid parts of the world”
Just for the record I am clearly stating that sometimes it is very, very, very, very rainy in Suffolk. But drier than lots of other places 🙂
One of the great advantages that I have owning a holiday cottage business in Suffolk is that all of this is just an hour or so from London. Around the table, we all talked of our visitors coming primarily from London to enjoy all that Suffolk has to offer, as well as Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Kent, Hertfordshire and the Midlands. They come from much further and far wider of course but in general I get so many guests from within two hours. It’s such a great choice just a short drive away
So having not really mentioned much in the way of actual Suffolk tourist attractions in this blog I feel very lucky to live somewhere that really has the best to offer in getting away from it all. And especially fortunate to operate my holiday cottage business in beautiful Suffolk