Guest Post by Matt Hyslop, Colliers
Colliers and how they envision the future design of surf parks and pools
The future of surf parks will include much more than just riding a wave.
Colliers’ Destination Consulting lead, Matt Hyslop explores the advantages of a holistic approach to surf park and pool development.
The surf park sector and the continuing development of surf parks all around the world is really taking off now. There are all sorts of different types, sizes, and technologies – in all manner of locations.
Having advised on the early stage planning of around 20 projects, it is striking – and really encouraging – that the proof of demand and concept is there. There are a number of surf parks around the world providing a top-class surf experience, creating lots of waves for learning and developing on, which are worth paying for. There is a market that is willing to pay for high-quality surf. This has really helped de-risk these businesses and give confidence to others.
With the proof of demand bedding in, it’s a good time to ask about the bigger picture. Surfing is central to the offer – and rightly so – but does it cater to all the audiences and visitors? And what are the necessary component parts to deliver on all visitors’ needs and create a robust, diversified, long-term business? We discussed these key components of surf park design and conceptualization with industry heavyweights from Endless Surf (Whitewater West), Wavegarden, Aquatic Design Group, and BAR Architects and they share how others can maximize their success in design phase projects.
Who Is a Surf Park’s Audience and What Do They Need?
We often advise that audiences – the visitors – are the critical ingredient to a successful destination. You need to know them and know what they need and want. With surfers, there are different levels of skill and experience from beginner, to intermediate to advanced. Some people just want to try a fun experience, some want to develop a sporting skill. They are girls, boys, old and young. The spectacle of a surf park also attracts many non-surfers, an intrigued crowd of friends, family, and curious. It’s a great place to hang-out and socialize. There’s also an industry and group dimension with teams, coaching, events, media, and functions.
Having addressed the audience, a surf park needs to consider what roles different elements play and why. This can be broken down into attractors, infrastructure, and services. Attractors provide the reason for the visit, principally the surf lagoon, but what about other things to do – things that are low skill, dry, or indoors? The infrastructure enables an easy visit and involves functional things like car parking, signage, good toilets, and showers. Services satisfy visitor needs and drive spending – and very importantly – involve good staff layering on a great customer experience. This might include food, drink, hospitality, retail, events, and overnight accommodation.
All of this needs to be balanced and in the context of a specific site and market location. A holistic destination development will improve repeat visits, reduce seasonality, extend dwell time and build a number of revenue lines. Ultimately the aim is to create a more diversified, robust business which has less risk and is more attractive to investors.
Example in Practice
Adventure Parc Snowdonia, home of Surf Snowdonia, is a case in point. The surf lagoon is the anchor attractor and main reason to visit. It was delivered as a first phase investment with supporting hospitality and surf school facilities, and has proved a hit with surfers and just as many non-surfers, if not more. The operators have successfully added other outdoor activities like a zipline over the lagoon and Adrenaline Indoors with aerial adventures, ninja assault course, and caving as additional attractors and reasons to stay longer. There is also a push to be more than a day trip venue and to create short-stay breaks. The surf lodge overnight accommodation offer is being expanded with a 106-room Hilton Garden Inn hotel and spa, due to open in Spring 2021. The full offer creates a resort experience that is suitable to their site, location and meets the needs of their audiences whilst building a long-term, diversified business.
The continued development of the sector and successful openings is building confidence in the proof of concept and consumer demand. The next layer for securing investment and long-term success is making sure a surfing project is about more than surfing.
For more information on the topic of surf park design and site selection, and to watch the full panel discussion on this topic moderated by Matt Hyslop of Colliers, please check out Surf Park Insiders. Insiders Episode 3 showcases the Surf Park Design panel from the surf park Summit, and is intended for professionals looking to learn more about designing surf parks. Head over to insiders.surfparkcentral.com to learn more.
If you’d like more content from Matt Hyslop of Colliers, please watch the following clip from Surf Park Summit Europe in 2017.