Oftenreferred to by the media both in the UK and now worldwide as “Britain’s Palm Beach”, Sandbanks in Dorset, England is a small but well known peninsula that sits on one side of the entrance to Poole Harbour, which in itself is the said by many to be the largest natural harbour in Europe.
Sandbanks is of course best known for its stunning beach and also its incredibly high property value. Amazingly, for such a small area (0.39 sq miles or 1 sq km), Sandbanks is often reported as having the fourth highest land value in the world, sitting right behind the upmarket parts of New York, London and Tokyo.
Studland sits at the other side of Poole Harbour’s mouth, and is conveniently connected by a chain ferry service, offering residents and visitors an easy connection to more scenic beaches and world heritage coastline including the stunning “Old Harry Rocks”. As well as this, Sandbanks offers stunning views all round, including Poole Harbour and the town of Poole to the North, along with the English Channel to the south.
A large proportion of Poole Harbour is extremely shallow, and as such the Sandbanks section (North Haven Lake) is a favourite spot for water sports and small boats. The Royal Yachting Association even have their Southern Headquarters at Sandbanks and there is also a well respected international sailing school.
Sandbanks Chain Ferry
Sandbanks is connected to Studland across the mouth of the harbour by a chain ferry service that has been in operation since 1926. The sandbanks chain ferry remains a key part of the local community, significantly cutting journey times to fantastic places like Swanage and Corfe Castle. In fact, the ferry actually saves a driver a whopping 25 miles on a return journey from Poole to Swanage. When you consider that it normally takes as little a 4 minutes to cross the harbour using the ferry, it really is a great time saver.
The ferry operates daily, with the first ferry each day departing from the Sandbanks side at 7 am and the last ferry each day departing from the Studland side at 11.10 pm. Ferries run continuously throughout the day (weather dependant) with a boat departing every 20 minutes from each side. The current ferry is called the “Bramble Bush Bay” and has been in service since 1994. It is in fact only the fourth ferry to operate across the mouth of Poole Harbour since the service was started in 1923.
The 242 foot long ferry is able to carry up to 48 cars at a time, and also carries foot passengers, as well as cyclists, motorcycles and even buses. It runs on a diesel-hydraulic propulsion system, and at the time of writing, it costs from as little as £1 to travel across on the ferry.
It can certainly be argued that Sandbanks beach is one of the best beaches along Britain’s south coast, and some have even gone as far as to call it the best beach in the country bar none. Indeed, as a European Blue Flag beach for a record 26 years, you can be sure that Sandbanks beach is incredibly clean with excellent water quality and is also very safe too, with lifeguards on duty throughout peak season (1 May – 30th September).
Sandbanks beach has excellent car parking facilities with both a dedicated car park and also on road parking, both of which are just a short walk from the beach and are incredibly convenient. During peak season it is of course advisable to arrive early, as the car park is known to fill up quite quickly during this time.
The beach boasts some excellent facilities with clean toilets (including disabled and shower facilities). There are also a fantastic array of stalls and kiosks serving ice creams, burgers, hot dogs and the usual beach paraphernalia. The Sandbanks Beach Cafe is nearby too, offering a fantastic selection of hot and cold meals along with drinks all year round.
Sandbanks beach is also home to an excellent crazy golf course. Located just behind the beach, it’s large enough and tricky enough to challenge even the most seasoned and experienced crazy golf players. For the children, Sandbanks has it’s own mini land train that operates during peak season in the summer and runs up and down the beach. There are also plenty of options during the summer season when it comes to hiring inflatables and water sports equipment, from rubber rings right up to jet skis, so you can be sure that there will be something to do for all the family.
The property market is one of the most famous aspects of Sandbanks and the surrounding area, featuring ultra exclusive homes with eye watering price tags. The premium homes stretch as far as the nearby areas of Branksome Park, Canford Cliffs and Lilliput, with the property market and prices fuelled by desire to be a part of the Sandbanks lifestyle. Indeed, it is said that the area features the largest concentration of the UK’s priciest properties outside of London.
For example, back in 2005 an average bungalow that happened to be on the peninsula exchanged hands for £3 million, despite being in a poor state of repair. It was advertised for £4 million just two years later, even though no repair work had been carried out.
Despite the fact that properties in Sandbanks and the surrounding area were affected by the recent financial crisis, values remain incredibly strong. For example, a 14,990 square ft plot of empty land on the peninsula was advertised in 2009 for £13.5 million, helping Sandbanks to keep its status as one of the most expensive and exclusive places to buy land on the planet.
Now, with the property market starting to pick up again, there are reports from the Office of National Statistics for example, showing the some parts of the country, including Sandbanks, now have higher prices than at their peak during the economic boom.
Recently, it’s estimated that as much as £80 million worth of property has either been sold or is currently for sale in Sandbanks, despite this vast number only relating to just 15 individual properties. Most buyers are so particular about the type of house they require, that it is very common for a buyer to demolish the existing property, before building an entire new one to their exact specification, and of course making the most of all available space on the plot. One recent notable example in 2008, involved a Russian buyer who decided that a New England style home built by the previous owner just 5 years earlier needed to be demolished in order to make way for his new home.
Due to this, the traditional 60’s bungalow has become almost extinct on the peninsula, making way for the new owners modern glass mansions. The peninsula itself only houses approximately 70 homes, about 40 of which have direct access to the water, and as such these are the properties that demand the most serious premium.
Sandbanks is not really home to the A-list actors and actresses that one might expect to find at such a location. In recent years, it seems to have attracted more in the way of retired football players and managers, one of the most well known being QPR manager Harry Redknapp. His son Jamie is also known to live locally with his Wife Louise and their family. As well as the handful of footballers, there is the usually smattering of wealthy and often retired businessmen. The area is also becoming attractive to wealth overseas buyers, including Russians.
Sandbanks Yacht Company
Three new properties have now been built on the site of the old Yacht yard. Planning was applied for to convert the entire site into residential properties but this was rejected in favour of smaller plan which maintained some business related use along with the development. The three, five bedroom properties are being marketed for around £4.25 million each and are kitted out with the latest technology and luxury enhancement. The approximately 4000 square ft properties also have their own private boat stores.
Constructed in around 2006 and sold during the economic boom in 2007 for £3.2 million, this modern property is situated on the site of old seventies flats that were demolished. It was sold again in 2012 for a rather impressive £3.8 million, netting the previous owner a tidy profit.
A unique property that was sold back in 1999 for £1.5 million, this characterful dwelling has since had multiple extensions and a detached garage added, making it large enough to sell for in the region of £6 million in 2012. It apparently features a state of the art computerised lighting system along with a hand crafted bespoke kitchen.
A four bedroom property built in 1995 and as such is starting to look rather plain when compared with the more recent properties that have been built. Starboard Lights was put on the market for £4.4 million in 2012, and although it could be seen as a potential redevelopment project, it still features a heated outdoor swimming pool, a boathouse and its own moorings. However, it does have a shared driveway which reportedly put some prospective buyers off the property.
A massive 7000 square ft New England style home built in 2003, featuring six bedrooms, a large outdoor heated swimming pool and it’s own 17 metre jetty leading out onto a private waterfront area to the rear of the property. It had a state of the art audio visual and lighting system installed when it was built in 2003, and even features speakers built into the ceilings of all rooms. It was recently put on the market for just over £7 million.
One of the more traditional style properties on the peninsula, although one of the wider plots, Harbour watch is certainly a little different to the modern glass constructions that seem to be appearing all over Sandbanks. It’s definitely on the large side at 11,000 square ft and features six bedrooms and six reception rooms along with it’s own cinema. The property is also ideal for car collectors as it features a 7 car underground garage. Harbour watch was put on the market at £7.45 million.
A six bedroom property with frameless glass balustrades, this property features a swimming pool in the basement. The developer actually paid £2.2 million for the property back in 2002 and recently sold it for around £7 million. It also had it’s own gym, media room and sauna, as well as plenty of storage for your supercars, with a triple garage and double carport.
This used to be a 50’s style bungalow, that was actually purchased by John Lennon in 1965 for what now seems like a very reasonable £25,000. It was bought for his Aunt Mimi who became fed up of the constant pestering from fans at her old home up in Liverpool. It was used by John Lennon’s Aunt Mimi right up until her death in the late nineties, when a developer bought it for a reported £3.5 million. It was then demolished and replaced with a modern glass fronted property that the developer used as their own home.
On what was the site of a modest 3 bedroom house, planning permission has been granted to 2 5 bedroom houses that could be worth up to £13.5 million combined. Two developers purchased the site for £4.5 million back in 2010, but ended up selling it recently, complete with planning permission for £7.5 million.
Previously this was an early 20th century has known as “Bohemia” and is now up for sale with planning permission for a modern glass and steel contruction that the developer promises to design to the buyer’s own taste. Current plans include all the luxuries you would expect from a top notch Sandbanks property including swimming pool, gym, cinema room and wine cellar. The sun terrace will apparently also feature a glass wall looking into your garage, In other words, you will be able to admire your supercars whilst enjoying an expensive bottle of wine during a summer’s evening.
An original “arts and craft” style house that has been sold for around £4.75 million. Despite the fact that this house is fairly original and could be seen as a prime candidate for redevelopment, planners do not want to see this one knocked down. It will however be able to be significantly upgraded and extended.
This five bedroom modern masterpiece is situated on the site of an old chalet bungalow and features all the mod cons including swimming pool, air conditioning, cinema room and Jacuzzi. It was recently repossed however and was being offered at the bargain price of £6.25 million.
Brownsea Island is by far the biggest Island that you can find in Poole Harbour and of course the most famous. As Brownsea Island is run by none other than the national trust, a large proportion of the it is open to the public and can be reached by boat from nearby Poole Quay, making for an excellent day out for those new to the area.
The Island generally receives well over 100,000 visitors every year, and is home to a vast array of wildlife amongst it’s beautiful heathland and woodland areas. Brownsea Island is perhaps most well known its experimental camp of 1907 that of course led to the formation of the worldwide scout movement by Lieutenant General Baden Powell the very next year in 1908.
Consisting of around 500 acres of woodland and heathland, the Island is only 1.5 miles long and 0.7 miles wide. It’s owned almost entirely by the National Trust aside from a few buildings that are leased by 3rd parties, including Brownsea castle and a small area of nearby land that is owned by the John Lewis Partnership and is used as a holiday hotel for their staff. Some areas also have fairly limited public access including a northern part of the Island that is owned by the Dorset WIldlife Trust and is classed as an important natural habitat for birds.
The Island is also famous as one of only a few select places in Southern England where you can still find red squirrels, and this is mainly because the non-native grey squirrels have never allowed on Brownsea Island. There is also a herony and a large population of Sika Deer on the Island. In fact, portions of the Island have now had to be sectioned off to prevent over grazing from the large number of deer.
These days, the Island had a visitor centre and also a museum that displays the Island’s history. There is also a shop and cafe, along with a single holiday cottage on the quay. As a visitor, it’s also worth taking a look at the scout camp on the south west of the Island where there is a trading post shop to visit and also an outdoor centre. The Brownsea Open Air Theatre has also been performing the works of William Shakespeare annually on the Island since as far back as 1964.
Sandbanks Yacht Co.
Redeveloped on the site of the original Sandbanks Yacht Co that first opened in 1957, the club now features a brand new state of the art gym as well as treatment rooms as well as treatment rooms and of course, excellent water access for all your boating needs.
The boatyard is of course the main attraction for many, and all services are well catered for. There’s a dry birth, visitor and swinging moorings, a jet ski launch and retrieve, winter storage, a lift and pressure wash and much more. The Sandbanks Yacht Co can even offer you a boat driver for those days when you would rather someone else be left in charge of the navigation so you can sit back and enjoy the trip.
Membership to Sandbanks Yacht Co. can offer many benefits including unlimited gym access, free car parking, discounts at the Cafe Bar and treatment rooms, and you will also be invited to various members only events throughout the year.
Parkstone Golf Club
For those who are partial to a spot of Golf, the nearby Parkstone Golf Club has you well catered for. It is ranked among the top 100 golf courses in England and caters for both members and visitors alike.
While it would not be classified as a traditional link course, it is also not very far inland either, so it is often referred to as a “seaside heathland” course. The course is, as the previous description suggests, set on beautiful heathland and offers some stunning views over Poole Harbour and Poole Bay. Spring is an especially pretty time of year to play a round on the course, with plentiful amounts of rhododendrons lining the fairways.
Originally, the heathland was part of Lord Wimborne’s estate, a vast stretch of land that went all the way from Wimborne to the Sandbanks Peninsula. Willie Park Junior first laid the gold course on the land back in 1909 but it was James Braid who altered and lengthened the course in 1932, leaving it with a very similar layout to the one that it has today.
Parkstone is certainly not one of the longest courses around, but the variation of the heather and pine, combined with the unique layout and design mean that it always presents a challenge to golfers of all different skill levels. Combine this with the tranquil setting and fantastic scenery, and you’ve got a golf course that is always worth a visit, whether it be as a paid member or just visiting for a round during your stay in Sandbanks.
Places to Stay
Harbour Heights Hotel
There is no doubt that the Harbour Heights Hotel in Sandbanks is a modern classic. It was actually first built in the 1920’s and later renovated into a simply stunning, modern boutique hotel. The hotel offers some first class views of Poole Harbour, and actually features floor to ceiling windows in many of its rooms, allowing guests to take full advantage and make the most of the hotel’s spectacular views, whatever the weather.
Inside Harbour Heights, guests will find a light, airy and space with a relaxing and welcoming vibe. It features exquisite commissioned furnishings and also stunning artwork that make it very unique. The hotel has 38 high quality, modern and well furnished rooms, with many overlooking the sea and Poole Harbour.
Amenities available at the hotel also include the award winning HarBar Bistro restaurant. The restaurant features a constantly changing menu, and takes pride in using local and seasonal produce when possible, with everything freshly prepared. Their motto is, “if it’s not in season, it’s not on the menu”, and they also have a fresh fish counter on display most lunchtime, allowing diners to pick their fresh seafood, which is of course locally sourced after landing at nearby Poole Quay.
Located directly on the water’s edge, the Haven Hotel is a 77 bedroom four star hotel with plenty of amenities including a large leisure club as well as a spa. There are also two onsite restaurants, both of which offer spectacular views of Poole Bay and also the beginning of Studland.
The La Roche restaurant within the hotel, has been awarded two AA rosettes in their restaurant guide, and is incredibly popular with both resident and non residents of the hotel. It features a lovely fine dining yet fairly informal atmosphere with excellent views that are right on the water’s edge. During the summer, guests are also able to take advantage of the warmer south coast weather while they dine, with the restaurants beachside terrace.
The hotel is constantly renovating it’s 77 bedrooms and guests will be pleased to find that they are very well appointed. Not only this, but a large number of the rooms also come with sea views and balconies. For business users, the Haven Hotel also has dedicated conference facilities with it’s own dedicated conference centre. There is also WiFi available in most of the bedrooms, conference rooms and in some public areas too.
The Sandbanks Hotel offers direct access straight from the hotel onto Sandbanks famous blue flag beach, along with stunning views, making it absolutely ideal for a summer break. The 110 rooms that the hotel offers are very modern and well equipped, many with sea or harbour views.
As well as it’s fantastic location, the Sandbanks Hotel is also brimming with excellent facilities. It has a 10 metre swimming pool for those times of the year when the sea is just that little bit too chilly. The award winning restaurant, the “Seaview Restaurant” serves both breakfast and dinner, as as the name suggests offers excellent views overlooking the peninsula. There is also a sun terrace, offering the perfect place to have a drink on a warm summer’s evening.
Along with the swimming pool, the Sandbanks Hotel also boasts a wide range of other leisure facilities including a steam room, gym and sauna. There’s plenty of entertainment for the children too, with an excellent watersports academy to keep them occupied whilst you relax on the beach or the sun terrace. The watersports academy has all the equipment and qualified instructors needed for a whole range of activities including water skiing, sailing, windsurfing and kitesurfing.
Milsoms Hotel, Canford Cliffs
Situated in the nearby picturesque village of Canford Cliffs, just above Poole Harbour, the Milsoms Hotel is small but intimate hotel featuring 8 en suite bedrooms. The hotel is full to the brim of unique artwork and stunning furnishings, providing a small hotel experience to remember.
Breakfast is catered for with both hot and cold choices from the Loch Fyne restaurant below the hotel. The location of the hotel is excellent and it is just a short walk of 10 minutes to the nearby Sandbanks beach, with Bournemouth and Poole close by too.
The Milsoms Hotel is in the perfect location to provide an excellent base for discovering what this part of the South Coast has to offer with beautiful scenery including Dorset’s Jurassic Coastline, the New Forest and of course Sandbanks itself all within easy reach for day trips.
Salterns Harbourside Hotel
A picturesque 3 star hotel with simply stunning panoramic views over Poole Harbour, Brownsea Island and Sandbanks. The hotel is situated between Sandbanks itself and Poole Quay, on the water’s edge of the prestigious Salterns Marina, and is the perfect base for those who wish to explore the natural beauty of the surrounding area.
Salterns hotel features 20 well equipped en suite bedrooms and has free WiFi available to guests throughout the hotel. There’s an on site restaurant and bar too with options for outside dining and use of the terrace during the warmer summer months.
Grovefield Manor Hotel
For those looking for something different during your time in the area, Grovefield Manor is proud to offer an interesting experience of ‘Old England’ together with 21st century comfort and convenience.
The hotel actually dates back as far as 1895, and has been catering for guests and providing accommodation for well over 60 years. It’s situated just a short 3 minute walk from Branksome Dene Chine’s Sandy beach and not far from Compton Acres. Sandbanks itself is located only around 1 mile away and Canford Cliffs Village and also Westbourne are very close indeed.
The Riviera Hotel and Holiday Apartments
With a stunning location that offers views over Alum Chine, the Riviera Hotel has plenty going for it from the get go. Facilities are plentiful and up to date with useful amenities such as free WiFi and parking, plus excellent leisure facilities that include both indoor and outdoor swimming pools as well as the usual hot tub and sauna.
The rooms are nicely furnished and well equipped, all featuring tea and coffee making facilities, as well a flat screen TV, work area and en suite bathroom. A good proportion of the rooms also feature a lovely balcony with stunning sea views.
If location is a top priority for you, then the Riviera Hotel will not disappoint. Situated a mere few hundred metres from the beautiful white sand of the beach, and with Bournemouth pier and beach easily reachable at just one mile away down the seafront.
The hotel features a wonderful restaurant, the “Cunarder Conservatory” that serves excellent modern British food and home baked cakes to accompany the wonderful sea views. The restaurant is also proud to source and use local produce too. To keep you occupied in the evening, there’s the nicely presented Aquitania bar and, weather depending, the hotel also offers a poolside barbeque on the weekends.
Lloyds group have been established for over 30 years and are well known within the local area of Sandbanks, Lilliput, Canford Cliffs and Branksome Park as one of the regions premier luxury estate and letting agents.
The company was originally founded by Tom and Ginny Doyle, who together with their son Christopher Doyle and their sales director Julia Arden, still use their wealth of experience to steer the company towards delivering the best best possible results and premium customer service.
As a local independent estate and letting agent group, it’s safe to say that Lloyds group have an unparalleled knowledge of the local area and property market, and indeed, are incredibly well connected globally too. Tom is actually well known worldwide as one of the world’s leading authorities in Real Estate, and even has membership of the “Who’s Who” organization.
Tom is also widely credited for showcasing the natural beauty of Sandbanks and the surrounding area to the world, and making it as well known and exclusive as it is today. Indeed, when Lloyds luxury offices first opened their doors over 30 years ago, Sandbanks and the surrounding area where almost unknown in the world of luxury Real Estate. However, after working with Poole Tourist Board, Tom and Lloyds group were able to get the word out and grow the area’s reputation, following which, property and land prices began to rise steeply.
Over the years, Lloyds efforts have not gone without recognition, and as well as winning the Daily Mail and Bentley International Property Awards, they have also been awarded “Best Estate Agents in the UK” on two separate occasions.
Lloyds property group really hit the news a few years ago when they sold a beachfront property for a price that equated to an incredible £699 per square ft. This was the sale that gave Sandbanks it’s title as the fourth most expensive place to buy land in the world, after the upmarket areas of London, New York and Tokyo. This was first noted after Tom managed to persuade Corcoran in New York, to include Sandbanks in their international report, which was a benchmark for international property prices at the time. This really helped to put Sandbanks firmly on the global property map for the first time. Lloyds were even featured on the front cover of the Wall Street Journal, along with all national newspapers and on television.
Mercedes Benz of Poole
Mercedes Benz of Poole is the premier Mercedes dealership on the south coast, and is located just a short drive for the Sandbanks peninsula, sporting a large modern showroom and staff that are able to cater to the needs of clientele that demand the best when it comes to customer service and quality.
As part of the Sandown group, Mercedes Benz of Poole benefits from being part of a privately owned dealership network, that specialise only in the Mercedes Benz and Smart brands. Aswell as this, the Sandown group have a fantastic relationship with Mercedes Benz that stretched back more than 30 years.
Last year saw some fantastic releases for the Mercedes Benz brand, including the GLA class compact SUV, the excellent new C-Class and not forgetting the gorgeous S-Class coupe, which is quite simply the pinnacle of luxury motoring and sure to be seen around the Sandbanks area during 2015. If you have any questions regarding a particular model, or simply wish to test out the latest models, the staff at Mercedes Benz of Poole will be happy to help you with your enquiry.
Poole Harbour is proud to be home to Sunseeker, who are arguably one of the world’s most famous and prestigious manufacturers of motor yachts. Sunseeker actually builds their vessels locally in Poole, and employ over 2,200 people in the local area.
The Sunseeker story actually began in 1970’s Poole, when the brand was known as Poole Power Boats. The story goes that small team from Poole Power Boats met with and Englishman selling boats in the South of France, who gave them a little advice in changing their designs slightly in order to better sell to mediterranean buyers. His advice worked and and business really took off for the team but also the meeting created an ethos that still thrives within Sunseeker today.
Sunseeker aim to create the perfect blend between performance and luxury in the motor yacht world, and it is fair to say that the brand quickly evolved to become a trendsetter within the industry and also a market leader. The company has a passion for fabulous interior design, with only the best craftsmanship. Not only this, but Sunseeker yachts are also known for their top of the line performance and power, ensuring that owners receive a no compromise vessel.
These days, Sunseeker have become a manufacturer of superyachts, building yachts that are anywhere between 40 ft and 155ft, after first cementing themselves in the superyacht building world in 2001, with their 105 ft yacht. It was actually the first British built production boat to win the world’s most prestigious superyacht design awards.
The company’s boats have featured in James Bond movies since the 1999 film, “The World is Not Enough”, with the company’s founder Robert Braithwaite even getting a cameo appearance with Daniel Craig in “The Quantum of Solace”, whilst piloting a Sunseeker Sovereign 17. The Sovereign 17 was one of the company’s first open-cockpit speedboats.
Sunseeker was purchased by Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group in 2013 who purchased a 91.8% stake in Sunseeker for £320 million. The Chinese company promised that Sunseeker will continue to build boats in Poole and that jobs will be unaffected.