This little adventure started for us slap bang in the middle of our circular tour of Scotland taking in the NC500.
We were on holiday, yes, but we can’t help keeping up to date with everything via WWW and one of these was Twitter.
Casually working our way through the feed our eyes clocked a message in the inbox and once opened we were pleasantly surprised to see an invite from Bailey Caravans to the launch of their new Phoenix range, only condition being there was an embargo in place until the actual launch date.
Of course we agreed, neither of us could resist having a first look at any caravan, never mind a brand spanking new range. So emails were exchanged and a few days later the invitation arrived through the post giving the location of Stanton House in Swindon and the date of Friday 20th July with an embargo in place until midday.
Countdown started and research into the location began. As it was 165 miles away and with traffic it was likely to take longer than the 3 hours promised by google maps, we thought it would be best to make a bit of a trip out of it and book a hotel in the area.
Stanton House then went into a search engine and low and behold we discovered it was also a hotel, perfect, couldn’t think of anything better, drive down the afternoon before, leisurely evening and be all refreshed for the following day, so a room was booked.
The day arrived and off we went, traffic was as expected and we arrived mid afternoon. Booked in and as a little treat to ourselves we booked the ‘Cotswold’. Huge room within which there was a four poster bed, wardrobes and dinning table, very plush with wonderful views out over the grounds and would you believe it the 7 Phoenix caravans we were invited to see.
Bags were dumped and a camera was grabbed, we couldn’t just sit there now could we. Off down the stairs we went and grabbed a few pictures of the Bailey Phoenix, First Choice range. We also had the pleasure of meeting the Bailey crew and finding out the reason for our invite.
The ethos seems to be bloggers and vloggers who all own caravans, of various makes and models all have important contributions to make and independent reviews, such as this, were just as important as those written by well known magazines and dealerships. As someone said, the caravan industry need to work together, building a community as one and not seek out specific owner reviews, how else can the industry improve and move forward.
We thought this was a great approach, maybe a clever marketing strategy yes, but consumers are fully aware when those affiliated to specific brands have only good things to say.
Dinner was eaten at the ‘all you can eat’ buffet followed by a walk around the grounds and its garden which lead us down to a beautiful lake. We felt suitably refreshed and were really looking forward to the following days events.
A delicious breakfast was eaten and shortly after 10am we, along with 66 other people were handed named lanyards and ushered into one of the event rooms where the large wooden doors were closed behind us.
Here, we were introduced to the Bailey brand as it celebrated its 70th birthday. The marketing teams pride was clearly evident as they worked through the different models.
We also learnt about the First Choice ethos, which to most is known as ‘entry level’. First Choice is targeted at those who have bought a pre-loved ‘van to test out caravanning in general, after all, who wants to spend thousands on a new one, until you know its definitely ‘your thing’. Once you’ve ignited your passion for caravans and the ability to have your holiday your way, then First Choice models should be a worthy option.
Prima Leisure the parts and accessories arm of Bailey, also gave a presentation on their products and their wish to service the caravan industry as a whole, not just Bailey.
Soon after, the doors were opened and on leaving we were presented with goodie bags containing little treats and vital information on the Phoenix range, we were then let loose to examine the caravans and await the 12 noon embargo deadline.
First off, for us we had to see the Phoenix 420, their 2 berth, small ‘vans will always be our thing and we couldn’t wait to see what was inside.
Door, was open, so in we went. A nice big grab handle was on the inside right panel and something that would be used by all and save holding onto the doorframe when getting in and out.
The seating area converted to a good 6’2 x 4’9 bed and in each corner, near the Bailey signature opening front vertical window were directional spot lights with USBs included. The JVC radio looked very trendy and came with two speakers, again in the corners, the TV was easily accessed on a near side unit above the fridge and below the microwave.
There was a large kitchen area, with a built in work surface over the 4 gas burner hob, no dual fuel/hot plate. The cooker consisted of a very handy separate oven and grill.
Washroom was of a great size and spread across the rear of the ‘van. The shower was a fully functional lined unit and storage surrounded the washroom, with a nifty hiding place for the table.
Outside, the 420 had an accessible storage locker at the front, combined toilet and storage near the rear and the gas bottle was perfectly positioned near the axle, along with the battery being carried underneath in the same location. All adding to some great weight distribution as there isn’t a front locker.
From here we ventured to the other 6 vans on offer with their transverse, island, French and twin beds and all were obviously slightly longer than the 420.
The one that really caught our attention was the 6 berth 760 and the only twin axle in the range, this had the same layout as the Unicorn Segovia but was slightly shorter and some £6,500 cheaper at £19,000.
We felt the layout in this ‘van worked brilliantly for a family, the separate units were all divided by solid doors and provided that much needed insulation.. should you want it of course.
The Phoenix range looked well thought out. They all come with a purple graphics and fitted with ‘Brockwell’ fabric which enable you to dress your chosen ‘van with a colour scheme of your choosing. Although they do offer a dressing pack (cost option) which consisted of 4 scatter cushions, 2 throws, 2 bolster cushions and a floor mat for the washroom. Weight and its distribution seems to have been a priority too, with its heaviest 760 coming in at MTPLM of 1600Kg.
The Phoenix range begins at £16,600 to £19,999 and with its opening vertical front window sits nicely with the Pegasus G170 and Unicorn, although the latter 2 are more expensive by between £2,000 to £6,000, but as a first choice for a brand new van, the Phoenix range is certainly a good option.