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What it’s like to live and work in Sandbanks

PUBLISHED: 15:43 22 July 2015 | UPDATED: 15:43 22 July 2015

Looking over towards Poole from Sandbanks at sunset

Looking over towards Poole from Sandbanks at sunset


We talk to Liz Willingham, Managing Director of Liz Lean PR, to get a locals perspective on living and working in this very special part of Dorset

Liz Willingham and her team from Liz Lean PR on the beachLiz Willingham and her team from Liz Lean PR on the beach

Public relations and marketing consultancy, Liz Lean PR (LLPR) has been based in the same premises in Banks Road, Sandbanks since it was established 17 years ago, starting from a back bedroom with fantastic views across Poole Harbour. Now spread over two floors, 14 members of the LLPR team beaver away for a host of clients across sectors including law, leisure, hospitality, healthcare, food and drink, fashion, property, media, motoring and more.

The Sandbanks environment brings plenty of respite to the busy working day and a walk with the dog around the harbour or on the beach is a regular lunchtime feature. We asked managing director, Liz Willingham for her favourite aspects of this special corner of Dorset...

What is the unique appeal of Sandbanks?

There is a special atmosphere in Sandbanks; it is almost like an island and therefore has distinct characteristics. There is something charming and ‘old school’ about it despite the plentiful contemporary properties; many of the residents have been here for a significant number of years and wouldn’t wish to live anywhere else. Sandbanks really captivates people - to have a harbour as stunning as ours on one side and glorious white sand beaches on the other is probably its most unique appeal; on a sunny day it could beat any destination in the world. We even have our own nature reserve at Luscombe Valley which at 10 acres is definitely worth exploring.

What is your favourite time of year in Sandbanks?

May or September when the days are still lengthy; when the sun is shining on the quiet empty beaches it is idyllic. Looking out towards the Purbecks and Old Harry Rocks from the far end of the beach, just before you reach the Haven Hotel, is experiencing Sandbanks at its best. The sand is pure white and soft like icing sugar, it’s a visual treat anytime of year. The winter winds can make for a dramatic scene change and it’s really invigorating. Watersports lovers take full advantage of the rougher weather and create an amazing spectacle of sails, boards and kites out on the water.

The terrace at Habour Heights the perfect place for a sundownerThe terrace at Habour Heights the perfect place for a sundowner

What about a coffee catch up or brunch?

We are fortunate here to have a number of good places to meet in Sandbanks as well as lots more choices in neighbouring Canford Cliffs and Lilliput; these include the Coffee Saloon, the funky cycling hub Rockets & Rascals and the award-winning Patisserie Mark Bennett. The Caff here in Banks Road where we are based is popular with the locals, and does a mean breakfast. Jazzy’s at Shore Road is a favourite for dog walkers and in winter you can sit in front of a roaring fire with live jazz sessions on Sunday lunchtimes and Friday evenings.

There’s also the Sandbanks Beach Café for huge slices of home made cakes and the relatively new Sandbanks Yacht Company’s Boatyard Café Bar is growing in popularity as another meeting place further up the peninsula.

And for sundowners after work?

While having a drink in the Haven Hotel bar you feel like you could literally touch the ferries going in and out of the harbour entrance. But everyone locally knows where everyone else will be after work on a balmy summer evening, and that’s the Harbour Heights terrace. It offers the best views by far of Poole Harbour and it’s the place to experience the incredible sunsets we enjoy here. With swathes of purples and golden orange colours, I believe a Sandbanks sunset is one of the finest in the world. The Harbour Heights is also one of the best places to dine locally too with tables facing that incredible view. The food and service is consistently good.

What about other local places to eat?

We were sad about the closure of Café Shore, but this has been replaced with excitement about the prospect of who will be taking over this fabulous location. In the meantime, there are lots of places to eat in and just beyond Sandbanks. If you take the chain ferry, which runs across from the end of the peninsula to Studland, you will discover beautiful Shell Bay and my personal favourite, the award-winning The Pig on the Beach in Studland. Whitecliff hosts a real hidden gem loved by the locals called South Deep Café, which is situated at Parkstone Bay Marina. With an interesting perspective on the harbour’s edge; this quirky little treasure offers a light, healthy but delicious menu. On the way there, on Sandbanks Road in Lilliput, Koh Noi for Thai tapas is another favourite. To be honest you also can’t beat just grabbing some fish and chips and enjoying the views from Evening Hill.

What Sandbanks like in the daytime?

Sandbanks and the harbour have more going on than some may think! It is a watersports heaven for anyone into kitesurfing, windsurfing, stand up paddleboarding or sailing. With shops selling kit and wetsuits for beginners and experts alike, and plenty of opportunities to hire or learn new skills, Sandbanks has become renowned globally for anyone into watersports. You can buy clothing from brands such as Crew, Joules, Roxy, Billabong, and Quiksilver at Fluid in Banks Road. I religiously choose a new pair of Havianna’s flip-flops from here each year to welcome in the summer!

The Sandbanks Yacht Company on the harbour side of the peninsula has a gym and yoga studio which some of my team use on a weekly basis. I can also recommend Debbie for sports massage here and Virginia Ranger for a massive range of beauty treatments. It’s great to have all this in walking distance of the office and means some ‘me time’ is a little more achievable.


Find out more at



Things to see and do in Sandbanks - Stylish Sandbanks and the neighbouring ‘villages’ of Lilliput and Canford Cliffs make the most of this beautiful coastal area. And there are plenty of fabulous hotels, restaurants, shops and sporting events for you to sample the high life or a sundowner or two

Four bedroom contemporary home on the Sandbanks Peninsula - This four bedroom contemporary home is located on one of the highest points on the Sandbanks Peninsula and offers spectacular harbour views from its expansive terrace


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