Devon holiday parks sold after firm goes bust

No.32 Hilton Woods Park, Whitstone
A luxury lodge at Willow Bay in Whitstone -Credit:Clive Emson

Two plush Devon holiday parks have been sold in a £16m deal after the firm running them went bust with enormous debts. All staff at Hornbeam Country Park at Dunkeswell, and Willow Bay Country Park, in Whitstone near Holsworthy, have been transferred to a new owner but the deal has left creditors short of nearly £12m.

DevonLive reported in March how Exclusive Luxury Lodges Ltd - which also owned Aspen Country Park in Suffolk, and Cherry Bird Country Park in Berkshire - had gone into administration leaving staff “in limbo”. But now proposals from joint London-based PKF Littlejohn Advisory Ltd reveal the four parks, and some land and other assets, have been sold to ELL Holdco Ltd in a pre-pack deal.

ELL Holdco and Exclusive Luxury Lodges are both ultimately owned by the same company RS Holdco 3 SARL. The deal, considered the best option by administrators and an independent evaluator, is nonetheless likely to leave creditors short of £11.825m.


Most of that shortfall will be borne by Luxembourg-based lender RS Lender IV SARL, which will get 60.48p in the pound. But HM Revenue and Customs is likely to be left without more than £1m in unpaid tax and unsecured creditors, including some Devon companies and possibly an unpaid Covid-era Bounce Back Loan, will not receive the £312,288 they are claiming. Documents filed at Companies House said: “It is anticipated there will be insufficient funds to pay a distribution to preferential and/or secondary preferential or unsecured creditors.”

Hornbeam Country Park is in its own private estate, next to 40 acres of woodland. It has luxury lodges which can cost up to £519 for five nights. It was valued at £4.4m.

Willow Bay, close to the Cornwall border, has 42 luxury lodges, a mixture of owned and rented. Prices can go to £595 for seven nights. It was valued at £2.7m. All lodge owners have been told about the pre-pack deal.

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Exclusive Luxury Lodges was incorporated in 2019 after buying Walsham Chalet Park Ltd out of administration for nearly £12m in a pre-pack deal. It borrowed £26.453m from RS Lender IV SARL in 2021 with the Luxembourg company having a floating charge debenture over the parks and about 100 of their lodges.

In March the lender asked for repayment of the entire loan when Exclusive Luxury Lodges defaulted on the terms of the agreement. When the money was not paid before the deadline, the company was therefore insolvent, and administrators were appointed.

The administrators didn’t think the business could be rescued as a going concern but could be sold which wouldn’t get the lender all its cash back but would get it a better result than liquidating the business. Administrators continued to trade the holiday parks under the control of LT Management Services Ltd, which is operating each site.

The parks were already on sale before the administration but while offers had been made, no deal had been struck. Administrators considered the best option was a pre-pack sale to ELL Holdco Ltd, which took place on April 30, for £16.25m. Twenty two staff were told they would be transferred to ELL Holdco Ltd and 135 lodgeholders across all four parks were informed about the sale.

Independent evaluator Compass Evaluator Reports Ltd said: “The purchaser has indicated it will make a number of operational changes, including the appointment of an experienced and competent operator to manage operations going forward.”

In addition to Hornbeam and Willow Bay, Aspen Country Park was valued at £3.250m and Cherry Bird Country Park at £1.7m. Land in Gloucester worth £100,000 was also included and 100 lodges valued at £1.289m, and with some other assets the sale was completed for £16.25m. But the lender will be left owed £10.453m and other creditors will receive nothing. The administration is continuing while administrators see if there is any other cash they can collect, but their proposals only need approval of the secured creditor.

Executive Luxury Lodges failed to submit accounts due at Companies House in December 2023. Its most recent accounts, for 2021, showed it made an operating profit of £262,913 for the year on turnover of £2,134,292. But this was down from the £394,486 profit and £2,706,998 turnover in 2020.