CORNWALL HOLIDAYS: GO GLAMPING
PUBLISHED: 17:34 15 June 2015 | UPDATED: 13:03 30 August 2017
It's a happy halfway between camping and boutique hotel luxury – and in Cornwall glamping has become one of the fastest growing holiday trends
It’s a happy halfway between camping and boutique hotel luxury – and in Cornwall glamping has become one of the fastest growing holiday trends
Glamping accommodation can mean anything from five-star safari tents and opulent yurts to shepherd’s huts and spacious bell tents and tree houses. There are plenty of things on wheels from Gypsy caravans to the iconic Silverstreams. But the general rule is that you are heading for a boutique glamorous camping experience.
Around 1.5 million people chose to holiday in a field – but more and more of them are choosing a more luxurious abode to the traditions of life under canvas. That means proper beds, plumping, electrics and even fitted kitchens and also some seriously impressive views. Perhaps the latter is one of the biggest innovations - glamping sites pride themselves on offering space and the best views on offer.
Malcolm Bell of Visit Cornwall - which boasts almost 20 glamping choices on its website - welcomes new ways to holiday in the UK’s favourite county. Holiday and short breaks are about having great new experiences and creating life long memories and glamping has been a boost to the experience market,’ he says. A new high quality experience in Britain’s number one holiday region is such a winning combination.’
For something really special head to Lost Meadows near Bodmin. Their tree pod is suspended from two trees in an incredible slice of woodland - with only the woodlands for a neighbour. The treepod was a prototype which featured on TV’s George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces. Only a handful were built, and although originally made from canvas - as shown above - Edmond has since covered it in cedar shingle to prevent any leaking. Set deep in the woodlands and off the beaten track, it is a truly magical experience to wake up to the sound of the small river running near by and the sound of bird song. If cold you can soon warm up with the build in log burner. Owners Edmond and Jitka Ovenden also have a Gypsy Showman’s caravan on the site and plan to add a log cabin soon. Unsurprisingly the tree pod gets plenty of bookings - it has welcomed Desperate Housewife’s star Teri Hatcher to its log burning hearth and people have even used it as the perfect backdrop to a marriage proposal.
Although glamping accommodations include anything from traditional yurts and shepherd’s huts to American Airstreams, wooden pods, gypsy wagons and tabernacles – even tin wendy houses and underground hobbit houses, the most popular larger accommodation is safari tents. More then a decade ago, while on a trip to Kenya, I was lucky enough to stay in one - it was a far cry from the four-man frame tent I had become used to as a child. A step up giant bed was surrounded by sold wood furniture, and an ensuite shower room at the back, while windows offered views of the elephants bathing and giraffes chomping.
Closer to home Jon and Sally Taylor-Biddle of Barefoot Glamping at Cury added two luxurious safari tents to create a glamping site on their seven-acre meadow north of Mullion and within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. They are also the proud owners of a lovingly converted shipping container, dubbed Rusty the Tin Tent. Glamping was a way of reclaiming the land and making it work for us,’ says Sally.
The idea came about after we hosted a party, everyone camped on the meadow and our guests were blown away by the location. As it was agricultural land and in an AONB, we couldn’t build anything permanent but the great thing about glamping is it doesn’t leave a big footprint: you can always take it down very quickly, and nobody would know you’d been there as it’s just a few tents.’
Both the safari tents have a wood-fired range which can be used for cooking and as a heating source, and at the back of each is a wooden annexe housing a walk-in hot water shower and wet room, toilet and storage area with fridge and power sockets. Inside there are sprung mattresses, luxury linen bedding, and even a kitchen sink.
This year we are starting to see repeat business with customers returning, which is great,’ Sally continues. The income is certainly much greater than when we were renting out the fields but the main thing is that we’ve made the land into something much more enjoyable; we enjoy it as much as the guests.’
Margaret and David Jeffery are getting ready for their third glamping summer on their farm close to Lamorna Cove. The Jefferys have run holiday lets for 20 years, and wanting a challenge and set up glamping on an area of the 93-acre arable farm where they have lived for 37 years. They now have three safari tents sleeping a total of 18 guests located on the edge of an eight-acre field in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on their property.
Glamping has far surpassed our expectations, and the guests just love it which is great to see; we get a real buzz out of helping other people have a great holiday,’ says Margaret, who also runs the village shop.
It cost us about £25,000 per tent to buy, set up and furnish from start to finish, with building works and decking to think of, as well as the furnishings and fittings. But it can cost a lot more to convert a barn or old cottage into holiday accommodation; we’ve just fitted a new kitchen in our largest holiday let on the farm and that was £15,000 alone.’
The Lamorna Glamping tents are raised on wooden platforms and face the coast. Each boasts two bedrooms, a double and a twin, as well as a double den bed in the main living area, and the kitchens have traditional Belfast sinks set in wooden units as well as farmhouse dressers, leather sofas and wooden dining tables. A far cry from the folding chairs, one-burner camping fire and plastic one-gallon water bottle of my childhood camping days.
Fancy a go?
Whether it’s breathtaking coastal scenery or designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Cornwall is awash with stunning views - and land owners with a spare field or two are seeing the business benefits of diversifying into glamping.
South West holiday lettings agency Classic Cottages was one of the first to spot the trend and the Helston-based firm established a separate arm of its agency two years ago to manage a selection of top-end luxury glamping sites in the region.
Jakie Jewell is Classic Glamping’s commercial manager, now managing 32 prime glamping sites across Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and soon Dorset).
Glamping is now a very popular concept,’ she says. We’ve seen visits to our website grow dramatically by 210 per cent in the last year alone, with organic listings up by 1,200 per cent, which is astonishing.’
The cost of buying and establishing glamping accommodations vary depending on the type. The cheapest are smaller shepherd’s huts sleeping two, but these naturally don’t generate the same level of income as a larger safari tent sleeping six.
An American Airstream can cost around £10,000 with a further £5-£7,000 to fit out, while a tabernacle costs up to £34,000 but comes entirely bespoke, with interior design and kitted out ready to use.
Shepherd’s huts can cost from £15-£27,000 - the top of the range huts will have underfloor heating, fully fitted kitchens and en suite shower-room. loo and wash-basin.
A safari tent costs between £25,000 and £30,000 to buy, set up and furnish.
But the biggest investment is probably the space you need.
The most common mistakes people make are putting tents in the wrong place, trying to cram in too many tents to a small site, and locating them too close together,’ explains Jakie. Glampers want luxury and that means having lots of space around them; there is a fine line between a glamping site for the luxury market, and a holiday park.’