Out & About with Kate Morel

This month’s update from our friendly glamping industry expert

Spring has finally sprung. At last the landscape is a refreshing haze of greens and bursts of white blackthorn flowers, and our traditional May blossom, the hawthorn, begins to fill the hedgerows and air with its unmistakable bowers of blossoms and heady fragrance.

It has, however, been a very wet start to the year, holding back new glampsites, and stopping some existing sites from opening because of overly soft ground. This brings into focus one of the subjects I cover during start-up site appraisals, which is parking, access and pathways because they are sometimes overlooked, or passed over as budgets become stretched, causing ongoing access issues for both guests and site operations.

The sheer variety of projects that I’m called out to advise on never ceases to amaze me, ranging from high investment, ambitious diversification projects to grass roots, ‘old skool’ glamping; and it was one of the latter that recently captured my imagination. On the ‘up side’, the proposed site was outstandingly wild and enchanting, but on the ‘down side’, access was poor and the budget was, like one’s jeans after a large Sunday roast, uncomfortably tight! However, my view was that these constraints could actually create something rather special. When viewed from this mindset, something can be created that would otherwise never have been thought of. So, if you’re thinking ‘my site would never work because of this or that.. ’ you might be right, but you might also be missing out on a fantastic unique selling point.

As glamping has grown and developed as a holiday accommodation choice, more online marketing companies have recognised the need, and opportunity, for a dedicated glamping channel, and the latest company to do so is ‘Cool Camping’ having recently launched ‘Glampingly’. Another new glamping marketing site on the scene is ‘Glampsites’, and it’s interesting to note that both have online booking calendars. The lines between agency and directory services are becoming less defined by the year.

Striking New Glamping Cabins
Hot off the press is news of an innovative glamping cabin to enter the UK market – the Igluhut. After trialling the cabin at a few industry shows last year, the manufacturers took the feedback that they received and adjusted the designs accordingly. The resulting range of cabins is now being exclusively marketed in the UK by Andy and Steve of H&H Outdoor, who feel that the “key driver for diversifying into the UK market was the realisation that it was missing a truly uniquely designed, eye catching and affordable style of glamping accommodation.”

The Igluhut portfolio has a unique, rustic appearance which is created using a traditional, wood shingle technique. There are four hut designs offering a variety of sizes and facilities and while all the designs have merit, the two that I feel meet current market demands are Model 3, which has a shower room, kitchenette and double bed, and especially Model 4, which is a stretched-out version, providing additional living space. I saw Model 3 at the Farm Business Innovation Show last year and it certainly has a remarkably unique ‘feel’ to it from the guest’s experience.

Andy and Steve have just set up their show home cabin near Taunton in Somerset, and being the enthusiastic chaps that they are, will no doubt be happy to show you around if the cabins might suit your proposed development. Keen to get their new business going, they are also offering some rather enticing introductory offers (iglucraft.com).VisitEngland Awards & Glamping
VisitEngland has had a change of heart around glamping and removed ‘Glamping  Provider of the Year’ from its award categories, although two of this year’s Gold winners offer glamping – Alkham Court Farmhouse in Kent and Laverock Law Cottages in Northumberland. VisitEngland explained their reasons: “Glamping providers were welcome this year into either the Holiday Park/Holiday Village or Self Catering Holiday Provider categories depending on which was more relevant to their set up. Last year we tested out the glamping category, and there were significantly less applicants than other categories which is why we did not include it this year. However, we are always reviewing other categories”.

One reason why there are ‘significantly less’ applicants is that there are significantly less glamping sites currently operating in England, and even less will be inclined to apply without a dedicated category.

Glamping remains a quirky industry in many  ways, some glampsites owners also feel that rating sites such as Trip Advisor are more in touch with the glamping customer and the type of holiday they offer, and generate more business, than the traditional five-star rating systems.

New Global Marketing Portal
A new glamping marketing project was launched at the Glamping Summit in Denver last month called worldofglamping.com. It aims to bring together a worldwide collection of stylish glamping sites and is looking very impressive, with an emphasis on quality and incentives such as annual awards. Accommodations are listed under one of three categories:

  • ‘Lodging’ – top quality, small resort style developments
  • ‘Glamping’ – unique, luxury dwellings in exclusive locations that remain in touch with the environment.
  • ‘Scouting’ – glamping units minus the private facilities, but still offering comfort and a back to nature experience.

Whisk Me Away

To Resplendent Ceylon’s Wild Coast Tented Lodge, which sits on the cusp of the jungle and a wide-open beach lapped by the Indian Ocean. The use of soft shaped structures helps them blend into

the surroundings, and the pods’ layouts hint toward a local wild resident in the shape of a leopard’s paw print. The exclusive cocoon pool suites have their own mini pool, and all are beautifully

landscaped into the jungle. The interiors are furnished in simple yet elegant ‘campaign’ style furniture. The development is subtle and clever, stylish and inspiring, and I can just see myself enjoying “creative menus of authentic Sri Lankan cuisine, sundowner cocktails, al fresco picnics on the sand dunes, and watching dusk settle over the Indian Ocean.”

I’m barely stifling a ‘sigh’ right now… Hats off to creators, Nomadic Resorts. (www.resplendentceylon.com/wildcoastlodge-yala).

For Sale
As the UK glamping industry continues to develop and mature, it stands to reason that successful glamping businesses will, sooner or later, start to enter the marketplace in the same fashion as any other rural business – and so it has begun. If, therefore, you’re looking to get into glamping but don’t want to go through the set-up process, here are two sites that might be of interest.

One is ‘Acorn Glade’ in Yorkshire, a well-established, couples-only lakeside glamping retreat that includes a cabin, yurts and a gypsy wagon, not to mention a rather nice house for you, too. The other is award winning ‘Loose Reins’, with its rustic, ranch style cabins, set in just over 13 acres near the West Country’s Blackmore Vale.

Update from Maison Morel!
My next glamping business workshop for independent businesses (with optional evening dinner if you fancy a ‘social’) is in July, details can be found on my website. Also, in August I’ll be in Cornwall, Mid Wales and Yorkshire, so do give me a call if you might want me to visit and talk with you about adding glamping to your land or business.

Till next time, Kate.

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