In a remote, secluded location, in 2014, Oyster Bay holiday park was a blank canvas, it had no internet infrastructure, no network. How did we implement a world-class, ultra-reliable fibre optic solution?
From the get go, we brought high-speed connectivity to the heart of this luxury resort. A solution that's as five star as the lodges on offer.
Not only that, but we modelled and developed a scalable, adaptable connectivity model for roll out across other holiday and lodge resorts
The challenge: a remote location & no Internet or WiFi infrastructure
Our team first became involved at their Oyster Bay site in 2014, with a remit to provide internet access to support the reception office and administrative areas on the park.
With browsing habits continually evolving as the rollout of high-speed broadband occurred, Park Leisure had invested, even experimented with various 'WiFi Service Providers' from 2009 to 2012. All followed a variation on a similar theme, to flood the park with a mast solution, both unsightly and more often causing more problems than they solved. So bad was their experience, they lost confidence in all holiday park WiFi solutions and paused future WiFi investments across their business. Our sister company, a specialist Managed Service Provider of IT Support & Maintenance solutions to the holiday park sector, had a proven history with their business. The leadership team, under increasing pressure from holiday homeowners, approached our sister company for our professional expertise. They gave us one simple challenge and goal. If we were to provide a wireless solution, how would we do it, and could we deliver where others had failed? With that WiFi 4 Leisure was born.
There was a clear trend by all Holiday Park WiFi providers to distribute a WiFi signal from a park flooded with masts. However, there was a very clear and obvious problem within that approach. The holiday homes, by the nature of their construction/cladding, shielding most external signals like a faraday, affecting TV, Mobile and WiFi. This shielded the WiFi signal getting inside a holiday home and was only compounded by the rural location of most parks and their hilly landscapes. The seasonal blooming of trees only adding further to signal interference and adding to the overall fluctuations in service/reliability.
Luxury lodges demand top-quality WiFi. Complaints from this type of solution were common across the industry. It was clear that this resort required connectivity that was as five-star as the proposition.
Our solution: a high-performance, fibre optic connectivity model
Importantly, Park Leisure didn't want another failed, poor-looking mast solution. If we demonstrated a solution that performed, it would be rolled out to the other parks within their portfolio.
We were able to identify the key issues and point out why the connectivity experience was not up to speed. With the assistance of a senior architect, we assembled a pilot team to develop some ideas.
In 2014, the remit was to provide Internet and Email access for recreational use, the kind of experience equal to staying in a luxury hotel resort. We created a prototype in our building, creating a fibre optic network with distribution cabinets, mimicking sections of a holiday park, to discover what sorts of equipment we would need to control the WiFi airspace and offer optimal performance and unified coverage. Once this was proven, we developed a working model to roll out across a holiday park.
At the time, the living room was the focal point of a lodge, requiring reliable and fast internet access. We stressed the importance of a fibre-optic network as the backbone across the park. We installed strategic distribution cabinets across the park to create zones from which to distribute the internet connection to every holiday home.
Each cabinet was fitted with state of the art switching hardware, controlling each lodge and their access to the internet supply. By 2020, this evolved even further, so that each lodge effectively having its own private and unique network.
With the help of our support network, it was agreed to fit ducting below ground into the park providing a permanent solution, far removed from the unsightly masts.
The result: a five-star, home-from-home WiFi experience
In early 2015, this prototype and pilot scheme was installed, it took about two months to install and commission. Initially it was to 70 plots, by 2020, this had expanded to 130 plots. The feedback in 2015 was revolutionary to the business, and for the first time ever â€“ 100% positive. Lodge owners and guests could now receive that all-important 'hotel' type internet experience. Furthermore, the staff on park also had great reliable connectivity within their office environment.
By 2019, the smart tech evolution had exploded across many holiday parks and an update was needed. The internet needed to be a 'home from home' experience. Internet capacity was increased to 1Gb, to cater for the change in TV viewing habits. Smart TV's now dominated every living room and bedroom, and their holiday home ownership had changed. These in the main were 'smart tech families. In 2014, the average number of devices in a holiday home was 4, usually consisting of laptop, smart phone or perhaps tablet. A Smart TV or Amazon Firestick were new to market. By 2020, the average device count had grown from 4 devices to 15 per lodge. The smart tech era such as Smart Speakers, Smart Lighting and Heating, as well CCTV have all added to the demand on WiFi Services. Importantly, the system was engineered to be flexible and was reprogrammed to align with these new changes.
As a result of the incredible speed and reliability of the connectivity that was delivered to Oyster Bay, Park Leisure agreed to roll out this solution to many other parks in their portfolio. Over the years this early systems continue to evolve with the technology providing and excellent return on investment.