Today on Bristol Mum I talk to Stuart Shotton from Sun Kissed Campers, a local family campervan hire company which offers a host of new VW luxury campervans ideal for family holidays.
In this interview Stuart explains how his love of camping was the inspiration behind Sun Kissed Campers and he offers his expert recommendations for the best beach campsites for families travelling from Bristol.
He also talks about the advantages of campervan holidays for families, the VW campervans available for families to hire from Sun Kissed Campers, plus the glamping holiday options also on offer!
Hi Stuart, please tell readers a bit about yourself.
Hi Hilary, I run Sun Kissed Campers, a family campervan hire company with my wife Janifa. We are based on Weston High Street, a busy village in the western suburbs of Bath. My love for camping goes back to the early 1980’s during family holidays in our little caravan borrowed from my grandparents.
I met Jan at art college and it was’t long before we bought ourselves a 2 man tent. We pretty much wore that little tent out over the years, working at festivals, and exploring the countryside. We even took it to Fiji when we went to discover where Jan’s Mum grew up!
Do your family share your love of camping?
Oh yes. Jan and I would throw the tent in the car and shoot off at the drop of a hat. We upgraded to a bell tent when our son came along. His first camping trip was when he was only 4 months old! He took to it like a duck to water. We have such fond memories of bathing him in our washing up bowl!
The wonderful thing about camping is the freedom. Our boy is 7 now and is as eager to help set up camp, as he is to go exploring. We tend to favour more rustic campsites and he’s never bored with wide open spaces or hedgerows to investigate.
He also adores the sea-side, so beach campsites are a must. Wherever possible we look for places with direct access, no driving, just a stroll down through the sand dunes.
Lunch on the beach and then back to camp to chill ready for tea. We like a fire in the evening, so bring a decent BBQ which doubles as a fire pit. Not all campsites allow open fires so do check. Our son loves cuddling up to watch the dancing flames, and a bit of star-gazing!
One of the best things is just how well kids sleep! All that fresh air just wipes them out. We get the best lie ins when camping.
The main disadvantage to family camping is the amount of stuff you need to pack. Gone are the days of traveling light. Better to be prepared, so every last inch of the car is crammed.
This is where our desire for a campervan started. The thought of just having everything ready to go at the drop of a hat is so appealing. It was the inspiration which led us to create a family campervan hire company.
Where’s your dream place to have a holiday?
I would love an extended tour of Europe. You would be surprised how many of our customers do just that. Starting out in March and heading down to Portugal to catch the first signs of Spring. Following the almond blossom I would meander up the Spanish Mediterranean coast.
Pushing on past the French Riviera and in to Italy, I would maybe catch a ferry to Croatia. Travel through Slovenia and over the Austrian Alps as the winter snow melts before heading home.
In your opinion, what are the best beach campsites for families travelling from Bristol?
Wow, where to start? First I would consider personal taste. Are you a back to basics kind of family? Or do you shudder at the thought of going 24 hours without your hair straighteners?
We have such a wealth of choice living in the Bristol area. Within two and half hours drive you can reach beach campsites in South Wales, Devon, Dorset and even West Sussex. Drive a bit further and the wilds of Pembrokeshire are in reach and of course who could forget Cornwall. So many of our family campervan hire customers ask for recommendations. We decided to share our favourite 10 great beach campsites within easy reach of our base. From relaxed eco retreats through to family holiday centres.
We have kept within a 200 mile radius of Bristol. So you can expect to drive no more than three and a half hours, traffic permitting, to reach your choice of beach campsites.
Our criteria for beach campsites is simple.
The beach must be walking distance from the campsite. Many have direct beach access but the furthest away from the shore should be no more than 30 min walk.
They must have toilets, fresh water and hot showers. Electric hook up hasn’t been a priority as our VW California Campers are fine for touring off grid.
What are the advantages of camper van holidays for families?
Being outdoors, close to nature and close to your family. Getting away from the distractions of the digital world can be such a lovely bonding experience.
Plymouth University recently wrote a report linking camping to happy, healthy children. It found that in a survey of parents, 98% said camping makes their kids appreciate and connect to nature. 95% said their kids were happier when camping, while many added that camping gives their kids freedom, independence and confidence. The children overwhelmingly said they loved making new friends, having fun, playing outside and learning new skills.
On the school run we have met many parents considering a family camping holiday, but just don’t know where to start. Some have been to the odd festival or two. But after years of luxury hotels they couldn’t quite see themselves sleeping on the floor. No matter how comfortable the mattress.
A modern family campervan hire can bridge the gap. It gets the family out into the great outdoors while taking your luxury and comfort with you. The kids get the freedom to play outdoors, make new friends and experience nature. Parents get comfortable seats, lovely beds with memory foam mattresses, heating, and a huge fridge. I joke that you can keep ½ a case of wine chilled and still have plenty of room for food. But any good Dad knows cold beer is priority!
Please tell me more about your VW camper vans you have available for families to hire?
Our family campervan hire fleet are all VW California Oceans. We exchange them every two years so you will aways get a new luxury camper in tip-top condition. The California is the only campervan to be factory made by VW. This means you are getting the safest, best designed, most efficient camper on the market. And it’s a great drive too. The rear bench seat has ISOFIX points for two child seats. It slides on rails so you can travel safely with the kids at arms reach from the front seats. It also means you have masses of storage in the boot.
They sleep four comfortably. The front captain seats swivel round. The rear bench reclines and easily transforms to create a homely living space and cosy bedroom.
At the push of a button on the central control system, the pop-up roof glides into position unveiling a second spacious bedroom. It gets the best elevated views. Shame you will never get to admire it as the kids won’t give you a look in.
What about if a family fancied a spot of glamping?
We love the whole glamping revolution. We have a whole host of wonderful luxury upgrades available to complement your family campervan hire. If you family are truly glamping queens you will not be able to resist our BoHo bell tent upgrade. This is a very glamorous 4 meter round bell tent. Kitted out with woven rugs and Thai day beds on the floor. A rustic tea light chandelier hangs from the central pole above an Indian hand painted table. Taking the glam to the max you can even add a couple of hand-picked sheepskin rugs.
This set up makes a great base camp. It gives the kids an amazing play room while the camper is in kitchen mode. And in the evening when the kids are safely tucked up in bed it becomes the perfect adult living room.
You will definitely turn heads rocking up with this kit.
Do you and your family have any exciting holidays planned for 2017?
Camp Bestival has been a firm fixture each Summer. Jan and I have run an art workshop there with friends and our boy loves it. At the end of the festival we decamp and set up all over again close by till the end of the week. It is a great way to keep the festival vibe going and stretch an amazing weekend into a lovely family holiday.
The irony is that we don’t get to use our campervans as demand is so high in the school holidays. So it is the old bell tent for us for the foreseeable future.
To find out more about Sun Kissed Campers visit https://www.sunkissedvwcampervanhire.co.uk/
You can also contact Stuart directly on 01225 330106 or firstname.lastname@example.org.