As the school gates stay shut for the next six weeks and thoughts turn to lazy summer days, more of us than ever will be staying closer to home. Staycations - holidays in the UK - have been big news for the past three years thanks to low consumer confidence and a weak pound, with dramatic results on second-home ownership in traditional English holiday hotspots such as Cornwall.
Despite house sale volumes sliding nationally, second-home ownership in the South West has risen to record highs according to research released this week from Knight Frank. At the same time, demand for West Country holiday lets is up by 70 per cent year on year.
"Buyers are choosing a second home in the UK, and the possibility of letting it out when they are not staying there themselves means that it becomes an investment as well as a luxury, without any complicated currency changes," says the agent's Grainne Gilmore.
The north coast is cool
The north coast of Cornwall is where restaurateurs have moved in to cater for the City coming to the sea in search of good (and highly priced) food from the kitchens of Rick Stein in Padstow and Jamie Oliver at Watergate Bay.
Larger properties are proving popular for rentals and investment so that children, parents and grandparents can holiday together. This demand has pushed prices up 25 per cent in coastal pockets such as Rock and Port Agnes since 2009.
"There's a total nostalgia about North Cornwall," says Hugh Ridgeway from the family-friendly St Moritz Hotel near Rock. "We get captains of industry who can go anywhere in the world for their holiday, desperate to get their children to the beaches where they themselves played in the Sixties."
Property at the renovated St Moritz Hotel has sold well. Only two three-bedroom apartments remain at £499,000, with a five-year rental guarantee and eight weeks personal use. The hotel has a spa, gym, playroom and views over the Camel Estuary.
In Polzeath and Trebtherick, 48 per cent of properties are second homes and demand has helped push the average price for a two-bedroom property in über-trendy Rock to £385,000.
So how about a state-of-the-art caravan from £220,000? Sussex-based company Boutique Caravans aims to bring caravanning to an audience more used to contemporary country house weekends. In Rock it has 10, 600 and 1,000sq ft two-and three-bedroom-suite caravans, all highly specified with excellent energy efficiency and sold on an 80-year lease.
South coast sailors
Sixteen miles cross country, the quaint fishing villages of the south coast also have a loyal fanbase. The Cornwall, a restored 65-room hotel and spa in St Austell, opened last year selling 60 two- and three-bedroom detached lodges in the 43-acre grounds.
The Cornwall is two miles from the coast and within seven miles of the Eden Project and Mevagissey. Property, including a comprehensive furniture package, costs from £285,000, with the option to rent for a guaranteed return of up to six per cent net if property is in the rental pool for 46 weeks each year. Owners can use all hotel facilities including a large leisure complex, tennis courts and restaurants and bar.
Knight Frank is selling two- and three-bedroom timber lodge houses from £150,000 to £200,000 at Stonerush Lake, four miles from Fowey and 15 minutes from the beach. The peaceful 28-acre valley location includes four freshwater lakes stocked with trout and sold on 125-year leases.
Six miles away, between Mevagissey and Fowey, a three-bedroom detached house with views over the River Fowey is £600,000, while in the fishing village of Polperro, The Watchers (£850,000), built in the Twenties, has three bedrooms and comes with a decked terrace and 180-degree views over the harbour and sea, both through Knight Frank.
"There are still many undiscovered villages offering good value for money," comments Jonathan Haward of County Homesearch. "Look on the Lizard Peninsula at villages such as Mullion and Coverack, where three-bedroom bungalows cost from £350,000."
* St Moritz Hotel: 01208 862242; stmoritzhotel.co.uk
* Knight Frank: 01392 848844; knightfrank.com
* Boutique Caravans: 0845 0177890; boutiquecaravans.co.uk
* The Cornwall: 01726 874545; thecornwall.com
* County Homesearch: 01208 813273; county-homesearch.co.uk