“All the best people come to Pontins” was the caption printed on a publicity brochure of Pontins, a British company operating holiday parks in the UK, founded in 1946 by Fred Pontin. It specializes in offering half-board and self-catering holidays featuring entertainment at resorts, or “holiday parks”, as they have branded them. Accommodation is usually in the form of chalets (which Pontins calls “apartments”).
Fred Pontin opened his first holiday camp just after the Second World War (during which he had established hostels for construction workers in Scotland and in England) when he took advantage of a former U.S. army base at Brean Sands near Weston-super-Mare in Somerset. The ex-stockbroker, who had left school at fifteen without qualifications, had not the £23,000 to buy it. Instead, Pontin formed a syndicate, in which he held 50% control, to own the camp. Within a year he had six camps. Over the years he bought more camps and personally ran them for a year, before selling them to the syndicate. Twenty-five years later, at its peak, the company was running twenty-two holiday camps with a million visitors a year.