A wonderful article written byAmy, at Gwalia Farm in Mid Wales, describing their experiences at starting up their own glamping accommodation…a true success story, after launching their cabin at the start of May this year, they are already full booked all season!
Gwalia Farm has been in the family for over 30 years and has been transformed by my parents and their ethos for sustainable living. They’ve created an amazing space from which to feed the family and sustainably manage the land, whilst creating spaces in which nature can thrive. We have 2 lakes here, both of which were created in the last 25 years although you wouldn’t know it by looking. The natural re-wilding of trees and plant life has changed boggy fields which were only good for grazing, into beautiful green spaces. My parents needed to start winding down as they moved into retirement and whilst it was always in the back of my mind that I might move back to Gwalia one day, the plan started to progress once my partner Dee and I got married. It was becoming a kind of life we could both imagine and so over a couple of years we gradually figured out a way to make it all work. I was a self-employed web designer and Dee was working pretty normal office hours, so it was quite a lifestyle change to pack it all in to run a small holding.
My parents have always run a small campsite which has brought many people to Gwalia to share in the natural beauty, peace and tranquillity. It’s a popular place with people of all ages and so providing accommodation seemed like a great way to share this space with people and to generate an income from the land. The lakes have always been a social hub for family life as well as for guests to enjoy swimming, canoeing and hanging out by the water. There’s something very special about being next to water, particularly when it’s surrounded by luscious greenery, which really resonates with people. Many visitors come from cities and just want to get away from it all for a while so Gwalia is like a little bolt-hole to reconnect with nature and each other.
We had a bit of a head start in coming up with the idea for the cabin because the footprint of it was already there. A smaller version was built by my Dad in the 80s as a fun place for us to hang out, have barbecues and play on the lake. It seemed obvious to use this space to create something really special. In March 2014 we began the process of dismantling the cabin roof which had seen better days and replaced it with a similar grass roof. In the process we managed to extend the roof at the front to create a much larger over-hanging section, perfect to shelter the new camp kitchen and dining area no matter what the weather. The decking out the front makes everything a bit more luxurious and entices you out to just enjoy being in the open air. Of course a couple of comfy deck chairs and perhaps a cooling drink from the spring water powered fridge will help with that!
Once we finished the cabin and decking area we thought it was already pretty special but really wanted to make Cabin on the Lake a place of true relaxation. Because of the size the Cabin it is a perfect space for two, with a nice cosy double bed, a wood-burning stove and of course lots of peace and seclusion. The entire Lake area is given over to Cabin guests so we thought it would be a perfect place to put a hot tub. We’re really lucky to have a natural and very reliable spring nearby and so this allowed us to get the hot tub up and running. We initially thought about putting it on the other side of the lake nestled under some trees but decided to deck out the area next to the Cabin as well. It means you can run straight into a toasty warm cabin as soon as you nip out of the hot tub. You get that lovely view whilst sitting in the hot tub and of course it’s a perfect place to admire the stars under wide dark skies.
A couple of other essentials were needed to make sure our guests would have everything they need. We built a Swedish-style toilet in the woods just next to the cabin. The kitchen area is really well equipped with everything you need, including a sturdy double gas burner, copper pans, cutlery, crockery, glasses, herbs and spices. We’ve installed a sink area for washing up which also runs from fresh spring water. The Cabin is completely off-grid and so we have hurricane lamps for lighting which give off a lovely warm, and very romantic glow. For extra comfort and warmth we’ve kitted out the simple interior with 100% Egyptian cotton sheets, down duvet and pillows and some alpaca wool blankets. Basically we’ve tried to include everything that we would want to find there to make it a really luxurious, hassle-free and relaxing break.
We launched on the first of May 2014 and its been a bit of a whirlwind since then. In less than 4 weeks we had practically booked out the whole summer which was better than we ever dreamed of in our first year. A lot of our guests are coming to celebrate a birthday or anniversary and its so rewarding to be part of making that occasion extra special. Many are just enjoying being away from the kids for a weekend or taking a break from busy bustling lives. Its a real privilege to share our little piece of the Welsh countryside. We’re really keen to get feedback and listen to any suggestions of what we can do to improve as we aim to make the experience as perfect as possible. In the future we hope to be able to provide meal packs to our guests to help take the hassle out of preparing for the trip. We’re also hoping to build another Cabin within a couple of years to provide a slightly different experience, Cabin in the Woods would be an amazing addition to Gwalia Farm but we’re really conscious not to over-crowd the site. We have a lot to offer here and want to maintain a really high standard of unique and luxurious accommodation for those seeking something a little bit different from their UK getaway.