Golden Bay Holiday Village, in the heart of Westward Ho! on the breath-taking North Devon coastline, is run by the Hall family – parents Chris and Mary and their children Amy and Alex. They took on the holiday village in February 2015.
Chris and Mary were initially both from farming backgrounds in Leicestershire. Chris’s family had moved into egg production with some 42,000 laying hens. After Edwina Curry decimated the industry with her infamous salmonella claims in 1988 and then having their hens poisoned accidentally by their feed suppliers with a huge overdose of salt, they decided enough was enough and converted the farm into a small industrial estate.
A few years later, Chris left the family business and with Mary, they together started an office stationery business.
Chris says: “After about 10 years, we were joined by our son Alex who helped build the business rapidly. So, some 15 years later, with almost a million-pound turnover, we put the business on the market, along with the house and everything else we owned and started to look for a business to keep our funds safe for the family in perpetuity.
“Mary had lost both her parents in close succession by March 2013 and we came to realise we had no geographical ties anymore. I had always wanted to live by the sea but never really thought it might be a viable option until then. We looked at quite a few holiday accommodation businesses, from lodges and lakes to converted stone barns, but nothing was quite right.”
Then, after speaking with their bank manager, the family found out about a proposition from a commercial agent that sounded perfect.
“We came down to have a look and there and then we fell in love with Golden Bay, trading as Continental Chalets. We’d stayed in Westward Ho! before and we thought we’d stayed at the neighbouring Fowler’s site back in the 1990s but having inherited many photographs, it later transpired it was actually Golden Bay where we had stayed on family holidays, maybe three years running!”
Although some of the original team were due to retire when the Halls took over, three of the original members still remain: Lynn, Tina and Mark.
“They were brilliant and have blossomed. We couldn’t have asked for a more supportive, encouraging bunch, willing to share their ideas, experience and enthusiasm, we really have fallen on our feet.”
Chris – Owner
He never stops! A farmer’s son, Chris was introduced to working in the family business as soon as he was old enough to push a broom. He continued to work on the family farm until his late twenties, when he began his own business in office stationery.
He built a very successful business, in an industry he originally knew nothing about, purely because of his dedication to customer care and satisfaction. Chris can still be found at the end of a broom or in a shrub border at Golden Bay. He is on site seven days a week and truly runs his business from the ground up. He loves to meet and greet guests and ensures all our clients and owners alike are happy.
Mary – Managing Director & Accounts
A farmer’s daughter, Mary trained as a book keeper and met Chris while working for his father at the family’s farm when they were in their early twenties. She continued working as a book keeper after they married and brought up their children.
She helped Chris set up his first business, so they are no strangers to working together as a couple. She now works part-time and divides her time between office work and babysitting her grandson, Archie, who is often helping out in reception. She does a lot of volunteering in the local area and is very involved in the church in Bideford.
Amy – General Manager
Amy moved to London aged 18 after a chance meeting with Gordon Ramsay at a conference she went to with Chris. In a Q&A session Chris asked Gordon what advice he would give to his daughter wishing to work among the best at front-of-house personnel in London. At a book signing after the event, Amy was introduced to Gordon and invited to London for a two-week trial.
After just one week, she secured a position at Gordon’s restaurant at Claridges, Mayfair as a commis sommelier. Two years later she left but remained in fine dining as a sommelier, then she became an assistant restaurant manager. At 22, she was appointed General Manager of an award-winning neighbourhood restaurant in West London.
She says: “When I was 26 my Dad asked if I wouldn’t mind helping to re-establish his new business in north Devon for three months and help rebuild the team. I jumped at the chance, promising my partner it was short-term. Six months later I had moved him down and we were expecting our first baby!”
Alex – Maintenance
Alex previously trained as a plumber after leaving school and then joined the family stationery business. He has many interests outside work such as photography, woodwork, metalwork and surfing. He lives on site and will surf up to three times a day in the summer. A big foodie, he loves to cook and visits all the local food markets and the fisherman in Bideford. He also loves to travel around to local deserted beaches for BBQs. He is well-loved by all regulars, as he is super-friendly and has a wealth of local foodie knowledge.
Alex is extremely dedicated to the site and allows us to put his mobile number and chalet location on the front of reception, so any of our guests who experience maintenance issues out of hours can easily get in touch 24/7. In the summer, he has been known to swap a toilet syphon at 10pm!
Tina Jones – Receptionist
Tina is one of the friendly faces who will meet and greet you when you arrive on site. She has lived in the area all her life and has young grandchildren, so is a bit of an expert when it comes to family-friendly day outs and activities.
Tina also always knows the weather forecast and where the surf is up, as both her husband and son are avid surfers. But if that wasn’t enough, she is always smiling and upbeat.
Lynn Wiseman-Cooke – Receptionist
Lynn, who has been with the company for five years, is another vital member of our team. She is often the first person you’ll speak to when you call us or check in. In her spare time, Lynn loves to drive around the area in search of the best long walks and bike rides. She has great recommendations on places of interest to visit.
As a keen tennis player, she loves Wimbledon and guests are welcome to come and watch on the big screen in reception with her. Lynn also enjoys eating out and can always tell you where to get a good afternoon tea and pub lunch, wherever you are headed for the day.
Mark Drew - Maintenance and cleaner
Mark has been with the Golden Bay Holiday Village team for more than 10 years. As we build up to the summer season, his expertise combined with his gentle and patient nature make him an ideal staff trainer for all our new recruits.
Mark also, thankfully, has a keen eye for detail as he is often tasked with painting outdoors whenever the sun is shining! He is a huge credit to our site and one of the reasons it is so well maintained.
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