Quirky caravans: retro fabulous
Caravan magazine spoke to Helen and Frazer Cunningham about Vintage Vacations, their campsite on the Isle of Wight which has been inspired by the retro style of Airstream caravans...
How did your business come about?
We bought our first 1965 Tradewind Airstream over from America early 2004. Having a holiday home on the Isle of Wight, it made sense for us to keep it on the island. The original idea was to use it ourselves and maybe rent it out for the occasional holiday and photoshoot. However, once we had our hands on our ‘trailer’ we really caught the bug and had a ‘what if …’ vision for a whole field of retro caravans….
Our first local newsagent advertisement caught the eye of a travel editor from The Guardian newspaper, who came to stay and gave us a great review, bringing in our first spate of bookings. Word spread during 2004 and we were thrilled to find that so many others loved the idea of a stay in a classic caravan. We moved to the island full time in 2007 and 2020 is our seventeenth season!
We put our hearts into all of our projects – all we can do is what we love ourselves and hope that you will, too. We like to think our places are low on twee and high on real vintage atmosphere with a healthy dose of kitsch to stop it all getting too serious.
What is different about an Airstream caravan?
They are made from aluminium and of course, are very shiny! Airstream began making trailers after the war, using the same machines and technology used in aircraft manufacturing – this gave them the unique shape and again the excellent manufacturing processes.
Did you have to do much renovation work? If so, what and how?
We like to keep our Airstreams as near to original condition as possible – so essential services are upgraded and everything else as less as possible. This has held us in good stead as actually more original Airstreams are becoming harder to find.
Which particular caravan is your favourite and why?
My favourite is our 1949 Vagabond – I just love the atmosphere inside it and all the lovely warm wood. Frazer likes our 1954 Safari Airstream best. I admit, it's rather beautiful – they all are!
How did you choose the interior scheme?
Over the years I worked as a photography stylist I had amassed a vast collection of vintage props and fabrics so had fun combining those into different schemes.
How do you maintain a vintage experience?
The site is overall very lo-fi. We don't have WiFi or any technology so that helps. Sometimes you see the look on teenagers’ faces when they realise there is no WiFi but after half an hour, they are out in the field making friends or playing cricket with Dad.
How did you get the caravans to you?
When we imported them, we made sure we purchased caravans that could be delivered to Charleston Port and then it was simply roll-on/roll-off to Southampton. It was easier than we first thought it would be, and we are so happy we took the plunge.
For more information, contact vintagevacations.co.uk