Returning visitors will notice a few changes on the Isle of Wight in 2024. Some things have disappeared, some are due to re-appear.
Here are five big things to look for. We will alternate between good news and bad news for a bit of balance...
1. The return of Totland Pier
A few years ago, Totland Pier looked destined to go the same way as Shanklin Pier and Ventnor Pier. The metal structure was increasingly holey. It's now been rebuilt and is due to open as a restaurant at the wet end of the pier with hotel rooms at the dry end of the pier. The latest information we have is that it will open at Easter 2024.
2. A closed Robin Hill
We don't yet know what the future holds for Robin Hill, which was put for sale by its owners a couple of months ago. I have been sending Mrs Guru slightly potty with my 27 point plan of what I would do if I owned Robin Hill. We are just a couple of million short, so if anyone wants to pitch in then please get in touch.
Since you asked, my plan includes a series of slacklines in the woodland to make a ninja assault course, as well as a games arcade that takes you through the history of gaming. I would stick a roof on the toboggan run so it can stay open in the rain. The amphitheatre would become a woodland cinema and an army of robotic mowers would cut the grass (Ed: I think that'll do...).
Luckily the Isle of Wight has plenty of other activities for primary school and junior school aged children, including Blackgang Chine and Tapnell Farm Park.
3. The revival of The Albion
Mrs Guru and I have often looked at the Albion and felt it should have been absolutely buzzing with activity. Its location in Freshwater Bay is probably the most spectacular of any hotel on the Isle of Wight. Yes, there are lots of good hotels with sea views on the Isle of Wight but Freshwater Bay has an all-round appeal. Some Isle of Wight beaches look a bit sad in winter, whereas Freshwater Bay has crashing waves that make it a nice place for a winter walk.
We don't have an opening date yet, but there was a post on the Facebook page of the sister-hotel (Sentry Mead) saying that they have 'the target of opening the doors in Spring 2024 still very much in mind'.
4. The death of the Devil's Chimney?
The Isle of Wight has suffered a few landslips and cliff falls in recent months, presumably due to the huge amount of rain in late October 2023. The most catastrophic was the December 2023 landslide between Luccombe and Bonchurch, which has left the Smugglers' Haven Tea Gardens perilously close to the cliff edge.
Thankfully, no-one was hurt but The Devil's Chimney has either been destroyed, buried or made inaccessible. It was apparently created by a landslip in the first place, but it's still awful to see such a quirky rock formation and walking area disappear.
It has caused problems on the roads in and out of Ventnor - which may well drag on for a long time.
First time visitors may like to look at some of the alternative walks on offer.
5. A terrific Isle of Wight Festival lineup for 2024
I usually get exceedingly frustrated by whingebags who complain about the Isle of Wight Festival lineup. As I've said many times, when I was growing up in Carisbrooke we had to catch a ferry to see anyone we had heard of. The Isle of Wight music scene was limited to folk trios singing sea shanties in pubs. Since the Isle of Wight Festival returned we've witnessed the like of Paul McCartney, David Bowie, Robbie Williams, REM, Jay-Z, The Who, Coldplay, Bruce Springsteen, Fleetwood Mac and Pink.
And yet, when the Isle of Wight Festival line-up for 2024 was announced the whingers were largely silent. Were all the negative-Nigels on holiday together complaining about something else? Or were they - finally - happy with a line-up announcement that includes Green Day, the Pet Shop Boys and The Prodigy?
Take a look for yourself at our Isle of Wight Festival 2024 guide.
Isle of Wight Guru's Blog