North Devon’s most unique eco-retreat.
When fashion designer Jeff Griffin and his family took a trip to Canada a seed of an idea was planted. It took several years but Loveland Farm is the result, a glamping retreat with sustainability at the top of the agenda. Having created a culture of design and wholesome living, we talk to Karina Griffin about Loveland’s development.
What’s your back story – your life before glamping?
My husband Jeff and I began our fashion careers in Milan in 1994 before returning to London to set up the menswear label Griffin (then known as Griffin Laundry). Having graduated from Central St. Martins School of Art, we spent much of our lives living in the city.
In 2001 we made the big move to the Wiltshire countryside, moving the family and design studio out of Ladbroke Grove and into a converted cowshed on the edge of Salisbury Plain. Having consulted for some of the fashion industry’s biggest brands, including Hugo Boss, Kenzo, Mandarina Duck and Converse, the move allowed Jeff and the studio’s design team to think more freely, whilst offering our family a chance to live a better and more active life.
Now based in North Devon, the Griffin Studio continues to design seasonal collections which are sold throughout the world and we continue to consult for numerous brands. All this happens at Loveland Farm, as the lines between fashion and lifestyle continue to blur to offer our visitors a truly unique experience.
What made you decide to start offering glamping accommodation?
The idea began back in 2007 when the family took a trip to Canada. While there we met a man who hung wooden pods in trees. This got us thinking – if we can combine our love for the outdoors and our passion for what we do across areas other than fashion, we could create something really unique. In 2015 our first pod opened.
How did you research the business before entering it?
By looking at the market place what was in existence and what would work best. We thought globally not locally through design.
Tell us about your location and site
Once a working farm, Loveland now comprises about 20 acres. On site is the 19th Century farmhouse as well as a number of barns which date so far back no one knows exactly how long they’ve been there for!
We are based in a UNSECO site which is an AONB, created by the dramatic Atlantic coastline. Just a mile away from us you can find the coastal path, which brings you to many spectacular waterfalls and Hartland Quay. There is also a pub set into the side of the cliff face and natural bay for sea swimming.
How did you tackle getting planning?
We tackled planning by talking with the local council and doing a pre-meeting to get an indication of their response. We then took on a planning consultant who advised us. We had to do a variety of surveys prior to submitting any planning.
There were no real significant compromises as we understood that we need to work with our location and embrace the environment around us. We have planted 9,500 trees to help rewild the location and truly respect the environment around us.
How did you finance the project?
We financed with our own personal savings.
What glamping accommodation do you offer and why did you choose it?
We were inspired by Buckminster Fuller, the American engineer, architect, and futurist who developed the geodesic dome. We love his geodome structure concept for its space, modernism and strength as these structures stay up all year round. We only open seasonally for guests.
We have nine domes sleeping from two to eight. Each pod comes complete with its own private shower, toilet facilities and kitchen. Three of our pods are dog-friendly. Space for camping in conjunction with a pod booking is also available.
What amenities do you offer guests?
We have some wonderful hampers on offer to guests and offer pizza nights and Sunday roasts with home-reared lamb or pork. Also available is our range of organic produce grown here at the farm, including pork sausages, pork and lamb chops, lamb mince, buffalo burgers, sirloin steak, bacon, eggs and seasonal vegetables.
We also offer guests a complimentary one hour private swimming session in our indoor salt water eco pool which is heated with our own biomass.
What occupancy levels and price per night do you achieve?
Occupancy levels for the season are high. We offer a three night minimum stay and our prices vary on the size of pod, from two people up to eight person occupancy.
How did you work out your brand and how do you publicise yourself?
Our background in design helped us create the concept of the brand. We publicise though our online social media platforms, blog posts, influencers and through our design business.
How would you describe your ethos and unique selling point?
Loveland Farm offers modern, luxury sustainable living designed to inspire a lifestyle achievable in today’s society. We seek to inspire a way of living through design which people will bring back with them through their stay at Loveland.
How did you choose your interior decoration?
We chose the interiors though our experience, knowledge and resources, through our luxury clothing line Griffin.
Tell us about your sustainability practices
We try, as a family, to be as green as possible and dream of building a sustainable future, so when it came to developing the farm, this was very much at the forefront of our minds. Every decision was carefully considered, questioning the ways in which we could make it more green using a mindful and considered approach to our products and energy consumption.
We have developed the campsite using green technologies such as our recycled wood chip 110kW biomass system and solar panels. We take recycling very seriously but feel that reducing the amount of waste we produce is our most important factor.
All of our pods bar one now work off a biodigester system for the toilets, which means flushing water cleaned organically through a system of organisms. The system biologically digests organic waste material, either anaerobic or aerobically, through microbes and other bacteria. The whole system is closed. The benefits of this involve no odour from waste which in turn eliminates flies and rodents from our site increasing hygiene. Biodigesters are eco-friendly and reduce the whole site’s carbon footprint significantly.
We grow most of our own vegetables but also support many local farmers and smallholders in their endeavours to live self-sufficient lifestyles. We help curate a local farmers’ market and take part in local seed swaps too.
Our pigs, lambs and ducks are bought locally and raised on the farm and we sell the produce to our guests.
What challenges have you faced?
It has been a steep learning curve as we didn’t come from hospitality. We learnt fast.
What are your plans for next season?
We are seeking to engage with more local artisans to provide luxury local products and workshops to our guests. Plans for the future evolve constantly, including more geodomes and converted barns.
Describe your average day mid-season
The average day is always different. Guests arrive at 4pm post changeover, we offer luxury hampers onsite, so picking veg and flowers from the veg garden is a priority right before guests arrive.
They are then shown into their pod, given a tour and offered recommendations for the surrounding area. We are always on hand in the studio for any requests or requirements, ranging from mending swimsuits to showing kids the range of animals we have on the farm.
Do you enjoy the business?
Yes, it’s become a vocation and very much a family business, with everyone playing a key part.
What are you most proud of?
Creating something from nothing.
What other outdoor hospitality sectors do you operate in?
We do integrate our fashion business in through photoshoots, stylists, fashion events and team workshops. We also offer the site for select events and retreats.
What advice could you give to someone coming into the industry?
You need to seek out your USP and concept. Be ready to put in the hours of hard work but it is worth it.
Devon EX39 6AT