This guide explains why Westward Ho! is an attractive investment location. It demonstrates the key drivers that make it a popular tourist destination, with high demand for serviced apartments – the UK’s fastest growing hospitality sector.
It analyses the key factors that continue to make Westward Ho! a popular tourist destination in the UK, as well as the significant private investment and enterprise that will ensure this continues into the future.
- Introduction to Devon
- A popular tourist destination
- Devon’s rapidly growing economy
- The case for investing in Serviced Apartments
- Introducing Westbeach, Devon
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An introduction to Devon
Westward Ho! is a beautiful Atlantic coastal village, near Bideford in North Devon. Its unique name comes from the title of a 19th century bestselling novel, which, at the time, was used to help boost tourism in the area.
The village is located in the South West of England – the UK’s top tourist region. It attracts nearly a third of all domestic holidaymakers, as well as sustained high levels of international visitors.
Consistently voted the Best Place to Live in England, Devon is renowned for having some of the most diverse and globally significant countryside and wildlife in the country.
Crucially, Westward Ho! is also one of the most accessible resorts in the “West Country”. Exeter Airport is an hour away and offers flights to 50 destinations across 25 countries. London is only three hours away by car and the county is less then an hour from the M5 motorway.
Holiday Cottages, a national self-service holiday agency accredited by VisitEngland, have noted an 85% increase in demand from tourists eager to travel to Westward Ho! during the last year.
This is a result of the village’s successful investment initiatives, a full calendar of events and growing awareness of alternative accommodation options – like serviced apartments.
A popular tourist destination
Westward Ho! is located at the southern edge of a two-mile stretch of sandy beach known as “The Golden Bay”. It is North Devon’s only Blue Flag beach – the international standard for the best beaches in the world – which it has won for 13 consecutive years.
The beach is a renowned watersports destination, with its protective Pebble Ridge creating a safe environment for surfing. It is home to the North Devon Surf School, which is the highest rated surfing academy in the UK and recognised as a “Centre for Excellence” by the International Surfing Association.
Low tide also reveals a massive expanse of firm sand, perfect for kite buggy enthusiasts who regard it as one of the best venues in the UK. Sea bass are also attracted to the churned waters created by the Pebble Ridge, and this in turn attracts anglers from all over the country.
Excellent leisure attractions
Westward Ho! is home to the Royal North Devon Golf Club, a leading UK golfing destination that was established in 1864. Considered the cradle of English Golf and the St. Andrews of England, it is recognised by Golf World as a Global Top 100 Golf Course.
Situated in the Northern Burrows, this natural golf course remains largely unchanged from when it was identified by the famous golf writer Harold Hilton over 100 years ago, as England’s number one competition golf course.
Somewhat eccentrically, golfers share this links course with grazing sheep and horses, which roam freely. It also has one of the largest bunkers in the world. Its beauty lies in its wilderness and remoteness from normal golf life, set against a backdrop of crashing surf.
Beautiful tourist region
Westward Ho! sits within both an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve – one of only five in the UK. This is recognition of the area’s wide variety of globally significant habitats, landscapes and rare wildlife.
The village seafront forms part of the South West Coastal Path. Readers of the Ramblers “WALK” magazine have voted it “Britain’s Best Walking Route” for two consecutive years, and it regularly features in lists of the best global walks.
It is also close to Exmoor – a 692km2 National Park of heather-covered moorland, rocky coastline and diverse woodland. It is home to wild ponies, birds of prey and rare butterflies, attracting two million visitor days per year and £90 million in tourist revenue.
Neighbouring Bideford also provides a daily ferry service to Lundy Island. Known as Britain’s Galapagos, this three-mile-long island is the UK’s first marine reserve, and its beauty has long made it a muse for photographers, writers and artists.
The fertility of North Devon also means that visitors to Westward Ho! can take advantage of an extensive range of restaurants rare for a village of its size. The list includes well-established eateries, like the Pierhouse, Pig on the Hill and The Village Inn, serving freshly caught Atlantic fish and locally reared beef.
Most visitors arrive by car and have access to a wide range of attractions just a short drive away. Highlights of these include:
- Arlington Court – A spectacular National Trust property and home to a wide range of exotic wildlife
- Atlantic Village Shopping Centre – A watering hole for shopaholics, with a wide range of international brands alongside the onsite Atlantis Adventure Park.
- Appledore – This town is home to the award winning Bensons Restaurant and Hockings, believed to be the best ice cream vendor in the South West.
- Barnstaple – The capital of North Devon, this town provides excellent transport links to the rest of the country
- Bideford – Neighbouring Westward Ho!, this beautiful port town provides a wide range of restaurants and shopping opportunities, as well as a ferry to Lundy Island
- Lydford Gorge – Nature enthusiasts flock here to see the 30-metre waterfall, with two National Trust tea rooms and picturesque picnic site
- The Big Sheep – This farm-based amusement park is a leading member of Devon’s Top Attractions (DATA), and is known as one of the best family destinations in the South West
- Saunton Sands – 3.5-mile stretch of golden sands backed by dunes, perfect for surfing enthusiasts, families and dog walking
- Tarka Trail – Following a disused railway, this is Britain’s longest traffic-free cycle route.
- Exmoor Zoo – Winner of Best Attraction for Devon 2012 and Best Small Attraction for the South West 2013
- The Ultimate Adventure Centre – Devon Tourism Bronze Award winner 2015
Devon’s rapidly growing economy
Westward Ho! is part of a Devon economy that is worth over £20 billion – the largest in the South West region. It has grown by 67% over the last decade – significantly faster than the UK average of 53%.
At 76.8%, the employment rate also sits higher than the national average and 46% of its workforce are educated to a degree level. Other highlights of the county’s economy include:
- Large Skilled Workforce – over a third of the population are educated to degree standard or above, rising to 43% in parts.
- High Employment Rates – 76.8%, higher than the UK average of 71.1%.
- Research and Development Capability – the South West has soared ahead of other parts of the UK in this field, while Devon has among the highest number of granted patents in the region.
- Respected Region for Higher Education – a large proportion of academic research from the three leading universities is rated as world leading or internationally excellent.
- Innovation and Entrepreneurship – Devon’s business survival rate is over 5% above the national average and the number of patents granted per capita is three times the UK average.
- Strong Transport Links – one of the UK’s fastest growing airports and rapid transport links make Devon an excellent gateway to national and international destinations
- Low Overheads – labour costs in Devon are highly competitive, rents and rates for office space, retail premises and factories are also significantly lower.
- Outstanding Quality of Life – consistently ranked the best place to live in the UK.
Tourism is a key component of the North Devon economy. It attracts approximately six million visitors each year and £2.1 billion of spending. Large companies in North Devon include:
- TDK-Lambda – a global leader in the development and manufacture of power supplies and converters
- Forest Fuels – a specialist wood fuel supplier and consultant to small and medium scale heat boilers.
- Mole Energy – at the forefront of new developments in the renewable energy sector
- Actavis – one of the world’s leading players in the development, manufacture and sale of first-class generic pharmaceuticals.
- Perrigo – a leading global healthcare supplier that develops, manufactures and distributes over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription pharmaceuticals and nutritional products
- Mole Valley Farmers – one of a few true co-operatives in the UK’s agricultural supply industry, with a turnover of more than £130m
- Babcock – the UK’s leading engineering support services organisation, with revenue of over £3.2bn in 2013
- J & S Marine – delivers robust and cost-effective solutions to customers’ requirements across all military markets, in civil maritime markets and the offshore energy business.
The North Devon coastline is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – recognition that it is home to some of the finest landscapes in England and Wales. This has the practical benefit of encouraging social and economic development, which contributes to the effectiveness of the tourism industry as a whole.
The area in and around Westward Ho! Has experienced significant levels of investment since the turn of the decade. Financial support from Torridge District Council has seen the regeneration of the seafront, as well as the redevelopment of the village’s historic tidal pool, which was reopened in April 2016.
The Heart of the South West Growth Deal was signed in late 2014, securing £195.5m of government funding. Predictions are that it will create up to 22,000 new jobs and generate up to £260m in private investment between 2015 and 2021. Highlights of the proposed projects include the provision of superfast broadband coverage across the region and improvements to local motorway links.
Devon’s hospitality sector is already starting to see the benefits of the new South Devon Link Road – a three-year construction project that opened in December 2015. These improvements have made large areas of the county more accessible to tourists, with similar investment on the North Devon Link Road planned over the next few years.
South West property prices are set to increase by 39.7% between 2016 and 2019 (BNP Paribas Real Estate). This is faster than any other region of the UK, including London.
Property prices in North Devon have nearly quadrupled between 1995 and 2014 (ONS), while the average property price in the South West as a whole has now reached £219,781 – 5.1% annual growth (National Building Society).
Research by Lloyds TSD has also shown that property prices in Areas of Outstanding National Beauty increase faster than other areas. This reflects the quality of life benefits associated with living in some of the UK’s most coveted beauty spots, providing buyers with healthy capital growth potential.
The case for investing in Serviced Apartments
Serviced Apartments form part of a buoyant new accommodation sub-sector. According to a report by The Apartment Serviced – a global provider of short-term accommodation – their total number has grown by 80% since 2008.
They are also the fastest growing UK hospitality sector, with Savills forecasting that supply is set to double by the end of 2017. The same report noted an 86% increase in the use of serviced apartments by businesses in recent years, with increased marketing set to continue to drive impressive occupancy levels.
AirBnB has been a major player in increasing awareness in alternative accommodation forms, away from the traditional hotel sector. Serviced Apartments are both cheaper and larger than hotel rooms. They offer an attractive home-from-home experience, with private kitchens and communal areas.
They are also more comprehensively equipped than hotel rooms, and their lower entry level has made them very popular with families and large groups of friends.
Introducing Westbeach, Devon
Westbeach is our new build serviced apartments and spa at the very heart of Westward Ho!. This is our highest yielding property to date, and phases III & IV are the last before the 10-12% NET annual returns are reduced.
The development boasts a range of luxury self-contained apartments, with well-equipped bedrooms, kitchens, bathrooms and living spaces. Pleasant features include large flat screen TVs, underfloor heating and balconies – many with beautiful views out across the Atlantic Ocean.
All guests and residents will have access to excellent onsite facilities, including indoor and rooftop swimming pools, luxury spa, restaurant and fully-licensed bar. These are scheduled to become operational at the same time as the remaining accommodation phases.
Westbeach’s first two phases have been operational since 2012, and the development’s quality has been recognised by a highly regarded TripAdvisor Centre of Excellence Award. This increases visibility on the largest global travel website, and has helped to ensure strong occupancy levels. Discover more about this property here.