COVID brings out Campervans

Sue Best and her partner Pat

Sue Best – Lazy Days Campervans

COVID and lockdown is not bad for all sectors; with the call for Irish people to stay at home this summer, or to avail of staycations, local tourism providers have seen an increase in popularity for their offerings. Not least of which is Lazydays, a VW camper van business operating in Wicklow but sending holiday makers to the four corners of the country.

In business since 2008, Sue Best and her husband started off with a fleet of vintage VW campers from the ‘50s through to the ‘70s. Although everyone loved the vintage fleet and the business took off immediately, the same could not be said of the aging and sometimes temperamental vans. And so, a number of years ago, the Bests traded in the old fleet for a brand spanking new fleet with all mod cons.

“We love the new ones.”

Lazydays has a total of nine vans; a mixture of two and four berths. The compact design of the vans makes them super popular. Even with local staycations now in vogue, Sue would still be fully booked over the summer months.
“The beauty of these VWs is that they are no harder to drive than a station wagon or SUV. That makes the very accessible for those tiny roads in little villages in rural destinations. And while they are compact, they have everything you might need including a galley kitchen, dining/living area and sleeping accommodation.”

The kitchens are equipped with a two-ring gas cooker, a working fridge and sink with running water. During the day, the seats can be turned around and at night-time everything stows away. There is also a pop-up roof that allows for people to stand upright inside the van while parked up.
Sue advises people to limit what they bring as the compact design does make space and storage limited.

“It’s about keeping things simple. It’s caravan life.”

The VWs do not come with a toilet or shower, however Sue is quick to point out there is a fabulous network of campsites across Ireland.
“We will often help our customers plan their route depending on what they want to do. We’re not just a camper depot – we offer a full service which includes advice on where to stay.”
Not everyone wants to follow the campsite route and will instead opt for the road less travelled or wild camping as it is called.
“There is a freedom in driving and coming across a beautiful beach or scenery and deciding to park up in the middle of nature – and to stay overnight with unspoilt views and empty beaches.”

Interest in campervan holidays locally has grown in recent years. Ireland has been behind the rest of Europe in that regard, especially when compared with the Netherlands and Germany. The impact of COVID has upped the ante even further with people approaching Lazydays to buy or convert their own vehicle. This is now a new refurbishment service offered by LazyDays.

Normally, the bulk of visitors during the summer are international but during COVID the majority are now Irish.

“I love dealing with Irish people. It is so nice to see Irish people falling back in love with their own country again. We have such world class scenery; it is a joy to help Irish people discover all parts of the country.”

Irish holiday makers are different from their international counterparts. They haggle more over the price and when they get on the phone to find out about the vans they always tell Sue their name and location. “It’s lovely – people say ‘hello, my name is Mary and I’m from …Woodenbridge or Dunmanway.’ It’s a very personal service and friendly.”
The big impact of COVID has been the cleaning regime had been upped. Sue does the cleaning herself and is fastidious but she has increased the time for cleaning and will also leaves a day between hires.

“The beauty of hiring a campercan is that you are safe: it is just you and your family in the van. So, we just put in more time for cleaning and leave the vans empty for 24 hours between bookings. Just to be safe.”
Sue is also concerned about her customers getting the best experience, so she often advises them to go to less popular destinations and to enjoy quieter villages and towns.
“But even the busy towns like Killarney and Dingle are much quieter without the coachload of tourists so Irish people can visit these jewels in peace. We love our international tourists but the quiet of COVID is very welcome this year.”
Sue will often send her customers NorthWest to check out the less popular venues and while she is pretty much booked out for the rest of the summer, she will still get bookings in the autumn.
“Our VWs have heaters so you can comfortably use them right into October and sometimes beyond.”
For details of the campervan bookings and the delightful gallery images of the vans themselves, check out http://www.lazydays.ie/

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