Sunbed Search Wastes 1.8 Million Holiday Hours

By Virgin Holidays, PRNE
Thursday, August 18, 2011

LONDON, August 19, 2011 -

The towels holidaymakers will lay down to reserve sun loungers this summer will cover an area more than three times the size of Disneyland1 according to fresh research out today.

As part of its Rockstar Service Manifesto, Virgin Holidays has looked carefully at holidaymakers’ expectations about their annual two week break in the sun, and their research has revealed that Britons spend 1.8 million hours of holiday time each year searching for a spare sun lounger by the pool or beach.

And the blame is being laid on the humble towel - 62 per cent of those who couldn’t find a sunbed said it was because they were pre-reserved with a towel.  

To make sure they’re not left in the shade, crafty Brits have invented their own sunbed strategies - nearly 1 million pack extra towels to improve their chances with 370,000 confessing to greasing someone’s palm to get their hands on a lounger.

More than 4.8 million admit they’ve used the towel reserve tactic themselves, nine per cent asked a friend or family member to do their dirty work and two per cent even sent their children.

As a result of the research, Virgin Holidays has successfully begun trialling a sunbed security option as part of its Rockstar Service on Caribbean holidays  and is currently considering the introduction of the service at selected resorts across the globe, in the form of ‘Sunbed Sitters’.  The ‘Sitters’ will lay reserved towels on poolside sunbeds, stand by them until the holidaymaker comes down and make sure they are positioned at the perfect angle for sunbathing throughout the day.  

The service will be welcomed by the many who had an abrupt alarm clock awakening rather than a holiday lay-in -15 per cent say they have got up as early as 5am to secure their poolside sunbed spot.

But the early start is often in vain.  Almost 1.5 million holidaymakers report having their towel removed from a sun lounger, with nearly 750,000 saying they discovered it thrown in the pool or sea.

And the inevitable holiday race for sun lounger space has even resulted in one in 10 Brits having a verbal or physical tussle with a fellow holidaymaker.

Andrew Shelton, Marketing Director, Virgin Holidays says: “It’s fair to expect the basics like a sunbed without having to resort to devious tactics or waking up at the crack of dawn. Our Rockstar Manifesto promises that everyone deserves to be treated like a rockstar and that their holiday should be the best two weeks of their lives. The ‘Sunbed Sitter’ service is another way we can look after the little things so our customers don’t have too.”


Unless otherwise stated, all research was commissioned by Virgin Holidays and conducted by Opinium Research in May 2011. The research sample was 2,000 UK adults 18+.

Sunbed-sitters service

Virgin Holidays will be looking to introduce the ‘Sunbed Sitter’ service at appropriate hotels and resorts this summer. Customers should keep an eye on the Virgin Holidays Facebook page and website for further details.It will be bookable through Virgin Holidays’ exclusive in-resort concierge service and lounges.


1) 32 per cent of people will be going on a sunbathing holiday this summer. 32 per cent of 47.4 million (UK Population ONS) = 15,168,000 Brits. Typically 18 per cent of holiday makers have trouble finding a sun lounger (2,730,240) and of these 62 per cent report it’s because they had been reserved by a towel - thus 1,692,748.8 Brits travelling abroad this year are likely to encounter a sun bed reserved by a towel.  As the average holiday maker comes across a ‘towelled’ sun lounger three times on average on holiday (3 multiplied by 1,692,748.8 =  Brits will encounter 5,078,246.4  sun loungers that have been reserved by towels)

 5,078,246.4 x 1.4 m2* (*90 cm X 160 cm is the average size of a towel, which is 1.4 metres squared) = 7,109,544.96 m2

7,109,544.96 m2 converted to Km2 = an area the size of 7.1 km2 covered in towels. The towels holidaymakers will lay down to reserve sun loungers this summer will cover an area more than three times the size of Disneyland (NB which is 2km2)

2) 6,740,280 Brits (found it difficult to find a sun lounger) and 34 per cent of Brits have been holiday in the last year = 2,291,695.2 Brits. Each on average had trouble finding a lounger on three occasions = 6,875,085.6 occasions. Each incident resulted in on average a 16 minute search for a lounger = 110,001,369.6 minutes. Divided by 60 = 1,833,356.16 hours wasted looking for a sun lounger in the past year (this year and last)  

3) 2 per cent of people pack extra towels. 2 per cent of 47.4 million = 948,000

4) 1 per cent of people bribed someone to reserve a sun lounger 1 per cent of 37,446,000 = 374,460 Brits

5) 13 per cent reserved a sun lounger using a towel on their last holiday. 13 per cent of 37,446,000 = 4,867,980 Brits

6) 4 per cent had a towel removed from a sun lounger. 4 per cent of 37,446,000 = 1,497,840 Brits

7) 2 per cent had someone throw their towel into the pool or sea. 2 per cent of 37,446,000 = 748,920 Brits

About Virgin Holidays:

Virgin Holidays is the UK’s leading Worldwide Holiday Company with all inclusive holidays, last minute holidays and beach holidays. Offering adventures to the USA, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle and Far East, the Indian Ocean and Australasia.

As one of the top travel companies in the UK, Virgin Holidays strives to deliver amazing holiday experiences to all customers. Formed in 1985 following the creation of Virgin Atlantic, and built on the Virgin principles of excellent customer service, high quality and value for money, Virgin Holidays offers maximum convenience and  flexibility with an emphasis on fun and excitement.

The  brand is particularly known for its ‘brilliant basics and magic touches’ approach and is synonymous with honesty and reliability. The company is proud of its commitment to encouraging sustainability in travel and has led the market in  introducing  numerous  innovations  to  ensure customers ‘give back’ to the destinations they visit. For more information please visit

For further information please contact: Mel Garfield, Brando, Tel: +44(0)20-3451-9437, Mob: +44(0)7808-298788, Email: mel.garfield at; Henry Warrington, Brando, Tel: +44(0)20-3451-9421, Email: henry.warrington at; Phil Bloomfield, Head of PR, Tel: +44(0)1293-744261, Email: phil.bloomfield at

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