Race for Swanage beach huts leaves visitors out in the cold

A surge in local people taking out bookings for seafront beach huts in Swanage could mean holidaymakers will struggle to find one this year.

The traditional beach hut is suddenly very much back in fashion. When the huts went up for grabs in October 2021, Swanage Information Centre was inundated with requests.

Beach huts

Could holidaymakers be left out in the cold?

“Never been so busy”

The office had 11,000 missed calls in an hour and the summer is now almost fully booked. That’s good news for the town council which owns the 60 huts and uses the income to fund services in Swanage.

Swanage Town Council visitor services manager, Culvin Milmer, said:

“We’ve never been so busy and there are more local people taking out bookings, with more longer lets. We used to have just two people who rented for the whole season. This year we’ve got seven.”

But he admits it can be difficult to balance the needs of local residents and the desire to provide facilities to bring holidaymakers to the town.

Beach huts in Shore Road

Demand for beach huts has never been higher

“Booked out”

Culvin said:

“Visitors may find it hard to get a hut this year because we’re booked out. There’s very little space left for the six weeks of the summer holidays, and it’s got to the point where people are saying we need more huts to meet the demand.

“It’s a sign we’re going to have a busy season. People are prepared to pay in advance and are making a commitment to the town but I’m afraid many are going to be disappointed.”

Chris Fay and grandchildren

Chris Fay with grandchildren Scarlett and Edison

“Somewhere to bring the family”

It costs £2,000 for a season’s booking. Swimmers find the huts are convenient for changing for all-year-round swimming in the sea. Others like local resident, Chris Fay like the idea of being able to entertain visiting family.

Chris, who has six grandchildren, said:

“This is the first time I’ve rented a hut. I just happened to be in the information centre when someone came to book a beach hut and I said I’m going to do that too.

“It’s brilliant, it’s a little home from home by the beach. It’s somewhere to bring the family. You can charge your phone and when the weather’s not good you can sit here and eat and drink. It’s so nice to look out and have a view of the beach and the sea.”

Swanage Beachfront advisor

More locals are booking the popular seafront huts

Change in the use of huts

Even if they are not booking for a full season, many are opting for longer periods than before, like four to six weeks.

The popular Artisans on the Beach Christmas market found itself competing for space with people wanting winter lets.

The last two years have seen a sea change in the use of the huts. Many local people stayed at home for holidays, while others renewed their taste for the traditional beach holiday.

Artisans on the Beach 2021

Artisans on the Beach were competing with winter lets

“Beach hut people”

Culvin said:

“People have different values. We’ve always had local people using them but there’s just more now. We’re seeing the emergence of ‘beach hut people’ who love the beach hut life.”

The town council has just given approval for £15,000 to be spent on a new beach management system which should provide a more user-friendly online booking system that will handle huts and boat parking.

Culvin said:

“The last two years we have seen a very different make up of people coming to the town, with people coming for the first time, and this is good because we know that people come generation after generation, so we are building a legacy.”

Parasols on Swanage Beach

Holidaymakers enjoy the sunshine on Swanage Beach

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