Have you noticed that the contestants on the BBC’s Escape To The Country show all have similar aspirations?
They usually want a nice cottage with a small plot on the edge of a village, a short walk from a pub.
As a side business, their preferred option is to offer glamping – that form of luxury camping, complete with hot tubs, clean bedding and not too much mud.
Keep up the glamping: a property in the Lake District with teepee tents. According to Canopy And Stars, the UK’s leading booking platform, glamping revenues have doubled between 2019 and 2022
The good news for them is that the idea may make financial sense: glamping is still growing in popularity.
According to Canopy And Stars, the UK’s leading booking platform, glamping revenues have doubled between 2019 and 2022.
Ali Russell and her husband Adam, owners of Ash Farm in Dorset, between Shaftesbury and Blandford Forum, joined the glamping boom around this time.
“We wanted to branch out and thought we could offer something unique here,” says Ali, in his 50s. “So we built four shepherd’s huts and spaced them around our 120 acres of land, out of sight of each other, ensuring everyone had complete privacy.”
Ash Farm is run with an eco-friendly philosophy, and the opportunity to see wildlife up close attracts paying guests. Each cabin, measuring 3 meters by 7 meters, has a bathroom, a kitchen, a king-size bed and a wood stove. Prices vary, but £180 a night is the average.
The demand for glamping holidays is so high that even some holiday parks are getting into the act. Lovat Parks now offers safari tents at two of its sites.
“Our clients are people who want to live the adventure of a camping holiday but who don’t want to pitch a tent”, explains general manager Raoul Fraser.
Safari tents in the New Forest, Hampshire and Hayle, Cornwall cost £300 per night in high season and from £75 per night in low season.
Secrets to a Successful Glamping Business
Setting up a successful glamping site requires more than a high-end teepee with a carpet drop on the grass. Location is very important. You don’t necessarily need to be in a prime tourist location – many people are looking for a place to relax away from the tourist crowds.
However, the site must be accessible, with a view of the countryside. A running water supply, waste water drainage and some form of electricity supply are essential.
According to Savills estate agents, infrastructure costs of between £50,000 and £100,000 are typical for up to four units.
Be aware of changing market trends. These days, people love the idea of spending the night in weird and wonderful places, from converted buses and train cars to salvaged planes.
At the Apple Camping site outside Tenby, Toby Rhys Davies has 15 units, including a UFO, spaceship, submarine, jet plane and igloo. It is now for sale at Forge Property Consultants, Kilgetty, Pembrokeshire, for £1.25million.
Remember that the price of the accommodation you are offering is not cheap. Bell tents start at £1,000, a high quality shepherd’s hut will cost between £35,000 and £50,000 and a tree house will cost at least £100,000.
Regarding the building permit, if you intend to open more than 28 days per year, you will need a consent for the change of land use for temporary or permanent structures.
The good news is that planners generally look favorably on glamping sites because they bring business to the area but don’t deprive locals of a potential home.
Life as a glamping site owner is surprisingly hectic.
“Visitors usually book for three nights,” says Ali. “That means on Fridays we are all at the pumps, scouring every hut within an inch of its lifespan.
“But it’s worth it for the friends we make – returning customers who come back four or five times. They say this farm holds a special place in their lives. It’s good.’
On the market… with lots of land
Cornwall: Samphire House in Treswarrow is close to Polzeath, the pretty town of Port Isaac and Rock. The property has 2.8 acres of land and five bedrooms. Johnbrayestates.co.uk, 01208 862 201. £1,995m
Cornwall: This 7.81 acre site is ideal for glamping as it is near Polzeath on the north Cornish coast and close to The Point at Polzeath golf course and country club. Johnbrayestates.co.uk, 01208 862 201. £175,000
Somerset: This camping park has 7.7 acres with 39 sites, two safari tent sites and two wooden modules. It has owner’s accommodation and consent for 39 additional tents and six yurts. Sw.co.uk, 020 7851 2100. £700,000