BAILEY CARAVANS NEW range of 'semi-static' caravans at February's London show are something that the whole UK caravan industry will be looking at with interest.
The new Bailey Retreat range is a completely different product for a UK caravan manufacturer.
This new two-van range is the UK's first purpose-built caravan for use on a seasonal pitch. It sits at 2.5m wide, much like Adria's Astella but that's not the interesting bit. The 8m body length of the Retreat means it can only be legally towed in the UK by a commercial vehicle. So unless you are truck driver, you won't be taking your Retreat anywhere and it must be professionally moved.
If you enjoy going to loads of different sites and visiting different parts of the country, plainly, the Retreat range is not going to appeal. The thinking behind the project is fundamentally opposed to a regular touring caravan and has implications for caravan manufacturers as well as park owners and customers.
For manufacturers, this could be the start of an entirely new market segment in the UK. For customers, it offers something approaching the comfort of a 'static' caravan, but without the long-term contracts tying them to one park. Although owners have to pay to have a Retreat moved professionally, it offers a good combination of comfort and flexibility.
Putting touring caravans on seasonal pitches is very popular in Europe and in fact, German manufacturers have built caravans on this scale for a long time, to serve this seasonal market and this sort of caravan use is definitely on the increase.
Inside the Bailey Retreat
Inside the Retreat Willow, the enormous front lounge is something that you just can't have in a narrow-bodied caravan. And the large kitchen with a breakfast bar and free-standing furniture have more in common with a 'static' caravan holiday home.
Rather than traditional seat boxes, Retreat has more domestic-style sofas
Equipment can be thought about very differently too. If a caravan cannot be towed by a caravanner, there is no need for Al-Ko ATC or a hitch stabiliser. Weight is not an issue if there is no towcar to match it with, so the MTPLM of 2000kg doesn't matter.
Comfort is king
Plainly, owners will expect a high-level of interior comfort in a caravan which is so large, and the level of equipment reflects this. Alde heating is fitted, along with a thicker floor for increased strength but importantly, better insulation in very cold winter conditions. Both models have fixed-beds, although only the Willow has a fixed double. The as yet unseen Sycamore layout is a family model. Both models get a full, seperate shower cubicle and ceramic bowl toilet in the washroom.
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