With world beating views, this site lives up to its marketing photography.
Farmer David Wallis was inspired by a magazine to diversify with safari tents. He also added a shepherd’s hut and is working on a bespoke cabin at his Cornish site overlooking St. Michael’s Mount. A mix of accommodation helps attract a range of customer types but he’s had to be watchful of the weather!
What’s your back story- your life before glamping?
I was born and grew up here at Rose-in-Vale Farm. I have worked on the farm all my life and, although we have diversified, we still farm potatoes and other veg throughout the year. We started to diversify from traditional farming in 2014 when we put in our solar park. The glamping accommodation is situated in the same field.
What made you decide to start offering glamping accommodation?
Glamping came to me one afternoon in the summer of 2015. I was flicking through a country magazine and spotted safari tents. It inspired me and I really felt like this was something we could do. We have the land, space and one of the best views in the world. Once the inspiration hit me, I started to run with the idea. Two years later, in spring 2017, we were up and running!
How did you research the business before entering it?
Obviously the idea came from a magazine. We did our online research and attended both the Farm Innovation Show in October 2015 and The National Glamping Show the following year.
Tell us about your location and site
The site overlooks Mounts Bay and has panoramic views of St. Michael’s Mount. We are surrounded by some of the best beaches in Cornwall and the village we are positioned in is a perfect Cornish retreat. We have a small honesty shop onsite where guests can purchase any essentials. Both tents and the shepherd’s hut have their own private outdoor space and hot tubs.
I would say the view is our best feature. To me it’s unbeatable, and many of our guests share the same opinion. However, due to the positioning of the site we are open to the elements. I think with any vast open view you have to expect a little bit of wind. We aren’t nestled in a valley, if we were we wouldn’t have our unique selling point, which is the breathtaking view.
How did you tackle getting planning?
We didn’t make use of the 26-day rule and to be honest we were really lucky. The planning process was smooth for us. I think we have the solar panels to thank for this! As we all know, it can be difficult when diversifying from traditional farming and planning can be a big issue, but because we had already diversified in 2014, and the accommodation was going in the same field, the hard work had already been done. We used a fantastic planning consultant, Ian Firth, who specialises in planning for glamping accommodation.
How did you finance the project?
Part savings, part business loan.
What glamping accommodation do you offer and why did you choose it?
We have two safari tents sleeping up to six people and one shepherd’s hut, which is the perfect cosy retreat for a couple or young family. The reason we chose the safari tents is that we liked the idea that it’s still technically ‘camping’ without having to trudge through the mud to the toilets or sleeping on a cold floor. I think lots of people, especially families, do really enjoy being in the great outdoors and embracing nature in all its glory. The safari tents still feel like you are embracing the wild as you can hear the wind and the rain on the canvas, while staying cosy, dry and warm inside!
We decided to go for a shepherd’s hut as well to offer something slightly more designed for couples. It’s a very ‘romantic retreat’. Having different accommodation types allows us to appeal to difference audiences, which is important. The safari tents are open from the last weekend in March to the first weekend in November. We wouldn’t want to keep them open through the depths of winter as the weather in Cornwall really is unpredictable. This way everything it kept fresh for re-opening in the spring.
The shepherd’s hut is open all year as it really is so cosy inside, so in each different season it’s a perfect retreat to nature.
What occupancy levels and price per night do you achieve?
We mainly operate on weekly bookings, but we do offer shorter stays, especially in the lower seasons. For the safari tents, a week booking in March starts from £722 and in August the top price is £1,570. From May through to October we are usually fully booked. There is more availability in the winter for the shepherd’s hut, as this is obviously out of season, but we still see a good demand.
How did you work out your brand and how do you publicise yourself?
The name ‘Mount View Luxury Glamping’ is obviously inspired by the view of the mount. Our view really is our unique selling point. Everyone who arrives is taken aback by how stunning it is. It feels amazing to share it with others. Our ethos is ‘Relax and Unwind’ as this really is how we want our guests to feel during their stay.
We market ourselves through Unique Hideaways, who operate across the UK. They have been fantastic right from the get-go. They cover everything, from photoshoots, blogs, advertising us on their social media channels, right through to helping with pricing and even taking the bookings. It’s lovely to have a company who have a base in Cornwall as I know if we ever need any advice, they are 20 minutes away and are always happy to help!
We don’t have our own website, but we do market ourselves though Facebook and Instagram. It’s nice to show progress and share little snippets of what we do from day to day, but the main marketing is left to Unique Hideaways, they’ve got it covered.
How did you choose your interior decoration?
We designed the interiors for the safari tents based on their names. We have Sunrise Safari tent which has a yellow theme, and Horizon Safari tent which is blue themed. The shepherd’s hut is red and white. We liked the classic country style so ran with it.
What challenges have you faced?
To be honest the only real challenge we face is the weather. I check the forecast and if it’s looking unsettled, I have to make the decision of whether to remove the front sail. The tents themselves can absolutely hold their own in whatever weather, but the front sail can cause problems. Our guests have been extremely understanding and embrace the elements with us. At the end of the day, it’s the great outdoors, you have to be prepared whatever the weather!
How have you coped with Covid?
Overall we have coped very well. Cornwall saw one of the busiest seasons ever once we opened last year and this year is looking equally busy. Because we have self-contained accommodation, we can open from the 12 April, which we are very grateful for. We have hand sanitiser positioned all over the site and have used sanitising smoke bombs on change over days.
We took out all unnecessary soft furnishing like blankets and cushions, but I’m hoping to put these back into the tent this year as they do add a nice touch. We are looking for a sanitising spray to use on all the soft furnishings this season.
What are your plans for next season?
Later this season we are hoping to open our brand-new Ocean View Lodge. We’ve been keeping very busy through lockdown and used the time to get creative. I have a great team of local tradesmen who have worked so hard to help make this happen. We are hoping to have the lodge up and running later this season. It will sleep six and has a hot tub like the other accommodation. It’s just over the hedge so is slightly separate. We are so proud that we have been able to grow the site further and we are hoping for Ocean View to be equally successful!
Apart from this, it is just to keep our standards up. I do have very high expectations of myself and want to keep the site immaculate. Cutting the grass, pruning the flower beds and just keeping all maintenance up to date is important for guest satisfaction. No detail is too small.
Describe your average day mid-season?
Well, the glamping accommodation isn’t my only job, I am also still farming so each day is different. If we describe a changeover day it’s very busy! We start by emptying the hot tubs, topping up the logs and cleaning the fire pits. I have a great team of cleaners consisting of family members and a close friend.
We collect flowers from a local grower in the village and make sure we add all the little touches that our guests greatly appreciate. It’s all hands on deck, but team morale is high and we all pull together and get the job done. The sunshine makes it easier, but you know what the great British weather can be like.
Do you enjoy the business?
I really do love it! It’s completely different to farming and I think that’s why I enjoy it so much. I love farming, but it’s great to have that diversification within work. I am a people person so it’s nice getting to know our guests and recommending places to visit or eat. I am passionate about where I live so I take great pride in sharing our beautiful corner of the world with others.
What are you most proud of?
It has to be when people turn up and say the pictures of the site online are beautiful, but they just don’t do it justice. I think our photos capture the site perfectly, so to hear this really is amazing.
What advice could you give to someone coming into the industry?
Don’t go in half-heartedly; it is hard work, but if you are passionate about what you are doing you will love it. There is nothing better than when people truly appreciate all the hard work you put into something. I am so proud of how far we’ve come and seeing people having an incredible time on our family farm is just the best feeling. If you put your heart and soul into it, you will see the rewards in more ways than just financial return.
Another bit of advice is to keep looking forward. You can’t change the past, so don’t worry about yesterday and look ahead. There’s no point worrying about things you can’t
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BOOKINGS & MARKETING
Unique Hideaways www.uniquehideaways.com
NFU Mutual www.nfumutual.co.uk
Mount View Luxury Glamping