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East Midlands Chamber News

Holiday lodge sales give marina a boost

Sunset over Mercia MarinaEurope’s largest inland marina is enjoying a business boost from sales of luxury holiday lodges.

The 74-acre Mercia Marina, on the Trent and Mersey Canal, near Willington, South Derbyshire, has sold seven lodges so far this year.

In the past three years it had sold only six of the 18 planned for the site, and with two under offer it leaves just three now to sell.

The flurry of sales has come as a surprise to the marina’s management, though it backs evidence gathered by South Derbyshire District Council that the region is one of the UK’s fastest growers in terms of tourism.

Robert Neff, general manager of Mercia Marina, said: “We’ve been quite taken aback by the recent rise in lodge sales – but we are absolutely delighted, particularly given the on-going situation with the national economy.”

Mr Neff said that sales had seen a snowball effect, as interested buyers who were yet to make a purchase decision had probably been worried about ‘missing the boat’ having seen so many of the remaining plots sold so quickly.

“Lodge numbers are limited, as we always wanted to ensure that we retained the peace and tranquillity of the marina for the boaters,” said Mr Neff.

He added: “More and more people are buying the lodges as an investment, as they have seen a growing opportunity of being able to rent them out to overseas visitors as well as holiday makers from the UK.”

Visitors have come from as far afield as Dubai, the US, Canada, Hong Kong and Australia since the lodges were built.

Buyers who have purchased lodges to rent out as holiday homes have typically seen upwards of a seven per cent return on their investment.

Mr Neff added: “The interest we’ve been seeing in the lodges represents a real vote of confidence in South Derbyshire as a holiday destination.”

A number of the existing lodges are also available to rent for short or long holiday breaks – and last year Mercia Marina also became the first operator in the UK to offer a combined lodge and narrowboat holiday package.

Latest figures compiled by South Derbyshire District Council, show that four million visitors came to South Derbyshire in 2011, spending £162.8m. This represents a huge 265 per cent increase in the region’s tourism income since 2000, when spending was calculated at just £61m.

Frank McArdle, chief executive of South Derbyshire District Council, said: “This council from an economic and inward investment perspective recognises the value of Mercia Marina at the heart of South Derbyshire.

“It brings a contrast and variety to those features offered by the National Forest and our other destinations, and its growing reputation as a holiday destination can only be boosted by the sale of more lodges over the coming months. We welcome it.”