When your job is give groups a safe and enjoyable day out, the facilities and provision for coaches and drivers makes a difference. We take a look at some of the shopping destinations and theme parks that offer coaches an especially warm welcome.
Oswaldtwistle Mills is a large award-winning shopping village located at junction 7 on the M65. They have been welcoming coaches to their unique and characterful shopping village for over 20 years. The mill prides itself on greeting all visitors with a warm and friendly Lancashire welcome: the dedicated group bookings’ team meets and greets every coach arriving at the mill and advises customers on special offers, new retailers and events throughout the store. The mill even has its own new in-store greeter complete with top hat and tails who is on hand to answer any questions from group visitors.
Coach drivers bringing groups of 20+ receive a £5 meal voucher, £5 retail voucher and on stays of two hours or more, an extra £10 retail voucher. Oswaldtwistle Mills also offer ‘Driver Deals’ which are only available to coach drivers and include special offers such as 400gm luxury biscuit tins for only £3.50 or 1.5kg jars of Stockley’s mints or sweets for £4.50 (usually £8.50).
Coach drivers can also take advantage of exclusive discounted Lancashire Tales Coach Tour rates of £40 per coach. Passengers have a choice of four local 75 minute tours with a guide and can take in the sights and sounds of the wonderful Ribble Valley or hear the mysterious tales of the Pendle Witches. Coaches must have a seat and a microphone.
To make sure the driver feels his best, there are special coach driver refreshment packages which include a tea and coffee in The Pavillion Restaurant for only £1.50, homemade cake, tea and coffee for £2.50, a breakfast toasted bacon and tomato sandwich and a tea or coffee for £3.75, or an afternoon tea with sandwiches, scones, cakes and tea or coffee for just £3.95. The mill also provides all coach drivers with their own coach driver pack, which includes information on the site, incentives and details of handy services nearby that include a local wash-down service, coach mechanic and toilet drop.
Oswaldtwistle Mills are proud to have won “Best Shopping Retail Outlet” at the 2012 Group Leisure Awards and to be awarded runner-up at the 2012 UK Coach Awards for “Most Coach-Friendly Shopping Attraction”.
Telephone: 01254 871025
BOUNDARY MILL STORES
Boundary Mill Stores have several outlets, with the flagship store situated at the end of the M65 at Colne. They offer quality branded goods at up to 75% off the recommended retail price and always have something new and exciting to tempt visitors, with shops selling everything from fashion and accessories to home goods and arts and crafts.
During 2013, Boundary Mills has several events and promotions to encourage visitors. They will be holding sales during February, June, August and December, with season launch events in late March and late September. They also have late night shopping throughout November and December, followed of course by great Boxing Day and January sales. Boundary Mill Stores can offer passengers additional incentives during these periods, so it is recommended to contact the coach co-ordinators for further details. They also offer popular all-inclusive tours and have several new ones for 2013 – any of which can be adapted and tailor-made to the specific needs and requirements of a group.
The mill opened their fifth store in Sheffield last year, conveniently located just off junction 33 of the M1, with other stores located in Grantham, Newcastle and Walsall. All stores feature great value catering outlets which can comfortably accommodate groups. All the stores also have a coach co-ordinator and offer a “meet and greet” facility, where the co-ordinator will welcome the group and provide all guidance and assistance required throughout the visit. It is recommended to contact the coach co-ordinator at the relevant store to advise them of your arrival and if any additional information is needed prior to the visit.
If coaches are carrying 20 or more passengers and stay for a minimum of two hours, Boundary Mill Stores gives the driver £10 cash and the Group Organiser receives a £10 Boundary Mill Stores gift voucher. There is lots of free parking for coaches at all the stores and there are also no restrictions on how many times a driver or coach visits.
Bury Market has rapidly become one of the most popular shopping destinations in the north west, winning a whole host of awards in recent years, including ‘Market of the Year’ and the UK Coach Awards’ ‘Most Coach-Friendly Shopping Attraction’ prize last year.
The market is located at the heart of Bury town centre, off junction 2 of the M66 on the borders of Lancashire and Greater Manchester and well signposted by brown tourist signs. Lots of free coach parking for the 1,500 coaches who visit every year is complemented by excellent facilities. Coach drivers receive a £5 lunch voucher, redeemable at five different cafes in the market. The market is all on one level and highly accessible, with disabled facilities located centrally. The 370 stalls are mainly under cover, making Bury Market a year-round possibility.
With an abundance of multicultural cafes and takeaways, there is plenty of food on offer and definitely something to suit everyone’s tastes. Greek mezes and continental platters, Asian foods, toasted sandwiches, full English breakfasts, British fish and chips and the local delicacy of Bury black pudding, served hot or cold with lashings of mustard or piccalilli, are all available. The exceptional range of food and drink on offer is only the start of the story however – everything from clothing to home goods are available at Bury Market.
Telephone: 0161 253 6520
Once you’re all shopped out, groups often consider theme parks for a day out. Many people will be familiar with the old UK favourites, so for something new, Europa-Park in Germany is Europe’s second most popular theme park after Disneyland Paris. Located near Germany’s borders with France and Switzerland, it is very accessible and has more than enough to see and do for several days. As there are five themed hotels there too, it is ideal for a short group break.
With more than 100 attractions over 94 hectares, Europa-Park has 13 Europeanthemed areas based on different countries. ‘Greece’ offers a journey through antiquity with its Poseidon water ride. In ‘France’, the Silver Star and Eurosat rollercoasters await all brave passengers, while visitors can speed round bends on the Swiss Matterhorn-Blitz next door. A Fjord Rafting ride in ‘Scandinavia’ rushes down rapids, past cliffs and waterfalls and the Euro-Mir in the Russian area is the world’s highest and fastest spinning coaster.
Meanwhile, the international entertainers at Europa-Park conjure, dance and juggle through six hours of shows every day. The ice show shows off the best skating talent, full of pirouettes, jumps and somersaults and the variety show performers keep audiences entertained with comedy and dance. Spectacular stunts in the Spanish Arena and a children’s musical means that there is something for everyone.
Coach groups get free parking at the main entrance, a special ticket desk, special group and school group admission prices and groups prices in the h otels. Coach drivers get free admission to Europa-Park, a €9 food voucher and a wait compensation up to €5. They also have a coach drivers’ room with a relaxation area, kitchen, TV, shower, free coffee and tea and free internet access and wireless LAN.
Telephone: +49 (0)7822 776688
For something closer to home, Wicksteed Park continues to offer a great day out for coach groups and their drivers. In addition to their rides, playgrounds and boating lake, they have a new line up of daytime shows for 2013. The Edwardian Pavilion has just been refurbished and has now reopened to host sparkling shows for groups. The ‘Hooray For Hollywood’ and ‘Hooray For Hollywood - Tinsel Town’ shows pay tribute to stars such as Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire, Doris Day, Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland and Frank Sinatra, who lit up Hollywood and Broadway in the golden era of the 30s - 60s. The ticket prices have been held at 2012 prices and lunch or afternoon tea is included.
Discounted group rates are available at Wicksteed Park. Coaches get free parking and drivers get free entry and a meal.
Telephone: (01536) 512475