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Council’s seaside hotel falls short of occupancy target

06 May 2024 4 minute read
The hostel, Caban, built by Carmarthenshire Council and (right) the Museum of Land Speed. Photo Carmarthenshire Council

Richard Youle, local democracy reporter

The profile of a seaside hostel is growing, council bosses have said, but the occupancy rate was below target for the first year.

Carmarthenshire’s 14-room Caban building opened in Pendine at the end of March last year as part of a multi-million pound investment by the council.

The project also includes the new Museum of Land Speed – which opened last May – car parking areas, a playground and sand sports area.

A council budget report said there “were challenges breaking even” in the first year of the of the scheme, called the Pendine Attractor Project.

Asked for more details, the council’s head of leisure Ian Jones said average occupancy rate at Caban was 40% in the first year, which was 9% below target.

Revenue

He said occupancy increased during the 12-month period as the site’s profile and reputation grew, and that food and beverage sales were above forecast. A new 12-hole “adventure” golf course behind Caban is due to be completed in time for the summer, bringing in further revenue.

“Car parking income for the Pendine Attractor Project was down against what was forecasted – this can be attributed in part to the last nine months of weather, the wettest on record, which has a huge bearing on visitor numbers to a coastal location,” said Mr Jones.

As well as providing a bed and somewhere to eat for holiday-makers, Caban is seen as a driver of footfall, benefiting existing businesses in the area. Two weddings, among other events, are already booked for 2024.

Feedback

Caban general manager Dawn Boyle said feedback from visitors and the Pendine community was very positive. She said local book, crafts and knitting groups met there, and that holiday-makers included ones from Australia and New Zealand.

“We can see the potential here and the opportunity to make an impact,” said Mrs Boyle. “We’ve been very welcomed within the community, and had lovely support.”

She said guests included families, retired couples and solo travellers, with the majority coming from the M4 corridor as far as Bristol and Bath and then up to Birmingham and Liverpool. Getting the marketing aspect of the operation right, she said, was crucial. She added: “We are building momentum and the pace is picking up.”

Caban can accommodate 42 people and is open to non-guests for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It employs around 12 full and part-time staff all year round, with additional seasonal posts. Mrs Boyle said all staff lived within 12 miles of Pendine, and that she travelled the furthest of anyone from her home in Carmarthen some 16 miles away.

Customer service

Asked what guests most liked about Caban, she replied: “The customer service. We want to see them happy. They are so complimentary about the team, and the cleanliness of the building. The location sells itself.”

She said sea-facing rooms were £130 to £140 per night, and non sea-facing ones were £120 per night.

The Pendine Attractor Project had a £7.6 million budget – consisting of European, Welsh Government and council contributions – but costs rose. The development was forecast to attract 41,400 day visitors and more than 6,400 overnight stays per year, with 123 direct, indirect and construction jobs created.

Pendine Community Council vice-chairwoman, Sara Bruce-Goodwin, said she felt Caban had been a success, and that she knew of Pendine residents who had had overnight breaks there. She added: “The economic climate is tough for hospitality and the weather has been so poor.”

Mrs Boyle said Caban was “one of the most beautiful offices in the world” to work from, and that there was still something to behold when gales lashed the coastline. “You’re on storm watch, and get to see mother nature,” she said.


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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
20 days ago

Can anyone list any recent successful council ventures ?

No mention of record breaking motor sport !

What is the ‘potential’ you mention ?

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