Louise Winters on this year’s Glamping Show at the NAEC, Stoneleigh.
How do you end the summer with a bang? Head to The Glamping Show for three days of glorious sunny weather, scores of structures, hot tubs, outdoor toilets, accessories of all kinds and thousands of people who love outdoor accommodation and sharing it with the world!
If you couldn’t make it, read on for an overview of what you missed.
For anyone who hasn’t yet heard, treehouses are now getting more attention in the unique holiday rental market and for anyone new to the industry, or looking to invest in expanding their site, this is one development to watch.
Of course, treehouses aren’t the only structures that will allow you to create a unique, cosy getaway for your guests. The outside exhibition area was teeming with different structures: bell tents, yurts, safari tents, shepherd huts, geodesic domes, timber pods, and the Tiny Eco House to name a few, allowing visitors to find the best fit for their individual sites.
So why does it pay to take your time choosing a structure? Glamping, as a unique getaway experience for guests, is now so popular it’s practically mainstream. That’s great news for the industry and, to meet demand, we’re seeing many new glampsites starting up. The upshot is both new and existing operators must keep re-defining what makes a holiday on their site truly unique. In the face of increased competition, the promise of a unique experience is what makes holidaymakers commit their cash and book up.
Lavinia Carey, co-founder of Castles Carey and new exhibitor in 2019, said: “Having constructed our first highly successful treehouse for holiday lets for a client in the North of England, we have been commissioned to build two more which are awaiting planning consent and, with the potential for this part of the market to expand, the outlook is very encouraging.”
An inventive take on accommodation is a good starting point and some of the designs now coming through are spectacular. Of course, that isn’t the only way to create a unique experience for your guests.
Other trends spotted at The Glamping Show included shower pods. Landpod launched their off-grid, portable wet room at the show and new exhibitor ScrubShack showed their washroom, which includes a boiler and alfresco kitchen area.
The debate around hot tubs: investment, impact on occupancy and health and safety was tackled head on with a seminar from The British & Irish Spa and Hot Tub Association (BISHTA). A spokesperson for BISHTA commented: “… we were inundated on the stand with enquiries from various types of businesses in the holiday accommodation industry, asking about training, BISHTA membership and with questions about HSG282 compliance.”
A supportive community
It turns out it can be a long road to realise your business dreams: polls conducted ahead of the show found that while 40 per cent of respondents launched their business within one to two years of starting in earnest, another 40 per cent needed two to three years to open to the public.
For those running glamping businesses, the friendly ear of someone who has been through it themselves can be a lifeline. Sarah Riley, founder of Inspired Camping and the Glamping and Unique Holiday Rentals podcast, recently cited the glamping industry as one of the most supportive and nurturing she’s ever encountered.
Heather McRae, of Heart of Scotland Glamping, first visited the Show in 2015 and has attended every year since. After various planning hiccups, the build on her site has now started. She said: “Having been at the show and come up with the concept through discussions with others in the industry we had this really clear vision in our heads of what it would be like and how it would be unique, and that is what has carried us through.”
Did you miss out? There’s always 2020!
The Glamping Show 2020 will take place from 17-19 September at NAEC Stoneleigh. www.theglampingshow.com
OAB’s Top Picks
Greendown Shepherd Huts
Greendown specialises in bespoke handcrafted wooden shepherd huts and is increasingly manufacturing for the hospitality industry. It offers a Bed and Breakfast Hut which is ideal for businesses aiming to grow or for individuals looking to expand their rental or Airbnb portfolio. This 20ft, fully equipped hut features a double bed, kitchen and shower room.
Huts are manufactured from a dedicated workshop in Saltford and have an expected lifespan of 20-40 years. www.greendownshepherdhuts.co.uk
Coir Store imports 100 per cent natural coir matting direct from the manufacturer. Its mats are unbleached and golden in appearance, naturally fire retardant and resistant to moisture, moth, rot, bacteria and salt water – coir is not called the ‘golden fibre’ for nothing!
Ideal for bell tents, yurts and tipis, Coir Store’s half moon mats are extremely popular. Hemmed and machine stitched, mats are available in two qualities (Anjengo/Vycome and Vycome/Vycome) and two different weaves (Panama or Herringbone). www.coirstore.co.uk
Composting loos that looks like conventional toilets! The family run Compoost Toilets offers two models including the a deluxe fibreglass toilet with a 12V self-stirring mechanism and extractor fan. When the toilet seat is lifted the diverter has been designed to have a larger urine area allowing men to stand up. There is no need to sprinkle sawdust as it’s self stirring at the press of a button.
On average you could get 10 uses in the solids container before it needs to be simply lifted out and emptied. www.compoosttoilets.com
Low Road Nursery
Billed as ‘luxury on a budget’ this new British designed/built 16 Amp plug and play glamping pod starts at £6,000. The fully kitted out version is £7,800+vat and comprises accommodation for four, with a double bed at one end and two singles in a bunk configuration at the other. The top bunk hinges down to form the back of a settee, and a kitchenette (with hot and cold water, sink, boiler, full oven, induction hobs and extractor fan) completes the unit. It also has plug and USB sockets for power and charging.
Structural features include a Firestone rubber roofing system, double glazed oak doors and 4” insulated cavity walls. www.lowroadnursery.co.uk
BCT Outdoors is a long established British tent and marquee manufacturer specialising in the glamping, tour operator, festival and leisure market. Its range of glamping tents are all built for commercial use and include bell tents, tipis, yurts, tent suites and the new geodesic dome.
BCT Outdoors supplies major users such as Eurocamp, Contiki and Glastonbury Festivals as well as many smaller users. All its products meet British, EU and US standards for fire retardancy and most products are designed for commercial year-round use. www.bctoutdoors.com
These luxury saunas are made with love in Wales. Available in two designs, or as a bespoke build, walls are 150mm thick with a unique vapour barrier and are heavily insulated with 100 per cent Welsh sheep wool. The range also includes plunge pools and a free-standing outdoor shower; a refreshing pairing with any sauna.
The majority of timber comes from a privately owned, sustainably managed woodland on the edge of the Snowdonia National Park. www.heartwoodsaunas.com
Introducing the Barravan! It’s CampPlus’ popular 430 glamping barrel mounted on a galvanised trailer frame. Easy on planning permission (if needed), and easy on installation on all terrains without foundations, it can also easily be used off-grid with 12v LED lighting and optional gas or oil heating.
The CampPlus team is also working hard on making the Barravan road legal for barrels on the go! www.campplus.co.uk
These delightful small domes offer a more naturalistic take on a geodesic structure. Built with hubs (clever connectors that make geodesic domes quick to build), the hazel or split chestnut ‘sticks’ simply snap into place in just 20-30 minutes.
The 3m interior easily accommodates a double bed and offers over 6’ head height. The 250gsm fire retardant polycotton cover features a zip door, mosquito door, two triangular window vents with mosquito netting plus additional trickle vents and access for electricity. www.geopods.buildwithhubs.co.uk