10 months ago

Open Air Business February 2018

The UK's outdoor hospitality business magazine for function venues, glamping, festivals and outdoor events


GLAMPSITES from buildings at night and there was a dawn bird chorus. It was also essential that there was loads to do and discover right on the doorstep. Our camps are close to the coast, which is nature's biggest playground. We have produced holiday packs that encouraged friends and families to cook recipes on open fires, play crazy games, fly kites, cuddle a lamb, build a den and talk around the campfire. Within months we had so much PR about this 'new' type of holiday - the type we hoped we would have when we were youngsters. The challenge moving forward is to continually nudge up the offering without losing the ethos of still escaping from the modern world rather than just encapsulating it in a tent. If that happens then the magic of these holidays will be lost. Tell us about your location and site Our first site was Pigeon Wood in Sedgeford, about two miles away from our home on the north Norfolk coast. This was a place where we had wild camped as a couple and later with a young family. It is really quiet, really beautiful, has lots of wildlife and the biggest skies in England. We started with five 'Serengeti' lodges. It also benefits from being a short drive from fantastic beaches, pubs and great days out. In 2012 we opened a second site three miles from Pigeon Wood at Thornham. We have eight Serengeti lodges here and you can “THE PIGEON WOOD SITE WAS VERY EXPOSED SO WE ONLY WANTED TO OPERATE FROM MARCH TO NOVEMBER, AND THIS WAS ALSO A PLANNING RESTRICTION” walk to the beach. In 2014 We introduced two ‘Zambezi’ lodges at Sedgeford and a Top Camp at Thornham. In 2015 we opened a summer only ‘Wild Camp’ which is a little roll-on roll-off luxury camp with bell tents for groups. of up to 12. How did you tackle getting planning? The parish council objected initially so I had to go and plead my case to the borough planning committee. They were very supportive but as glamping was so new I’m not sure if they were very sure what they were agreeing to! How did you finance the project? Bank loans. What glamping accommodation do you offer and why did you choose it? All our permanent accommodation is in the form of safari lodges. We really liked the fact that they can be divided up into different rooms, it is also easier to include bathrooms at the rear of the lodges. We have two types - the Serengeti lodges sleep up to six, and the much larger Zambezi lodges sleep up to 10. The Pigeon Wood site was very exposed so we only wanted to operate from March to November, and this was also a planning restriction. In 2016 we modified the lodges to include a hard wooden front with stable doors to make them more cosy when the wind blew. How did you work out your brand and how do you publicise yourself? We wanted to include in our brand the idea of a holiday that was a bit of an adventure as well as being really comfortable. Our Wild 32 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM

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