Self-catering business maintaining safety measures as part of cautious approach to ‘Freedom Day’

Self-catering business maintaining safety measures as part of cautious approach to ‘Freedom Day’

Winchcombe Farm Holidays, Freedom Day, Jo Carroll

THE owners of a boutique glamping retreat in Warwickshire have vowed to maintain their enhanced Covid restrictions despite the end of legislation from today (Monday).

The decision will come as reassurance to guests against a backdrop of rising infection rates across the country as the vaccination programme continues to be rolled out.

Due to the enhanced cleaning regime, the business will maintain its later check-in times and there are no plans yet to reintroduce the fabric furnishings, books, games and toys which were removed under the previous restrictions. Welcome baskets in all the lodges will continue to include only single-packaged items and staff will wear full PPE. There are also sanitiser stations throughout the site.

While Jo Carroll, co-owner of Winchcombe Farm Holidays in Upper Tysoe, has welcomed the easing of restrictions, she fears it may not mean an end to the business challenges ahead.

“While the pandemic is by no means over, we are pleased to see a change to some of the rules we have been working to over the last few months. But we go forwards from Monday very much with cautious optimism. The current extremely high infection rates are worrying and will no doubt lead to another wave of cancellations and dent consumer confidence,” she said.

“Our housekeeping costs have doubled, as we maintain cleaning standards dictated to us by Visit England, but we have decided to retain the same rigorous regime for many more months to come. It is essential that our guests feel our accommodation is clean, safe and secure in the current climate.”

Winchcombe Farm Holidays, Freedom Day, Jo Carroll, Will's Treehouse
Will’s Treehouse

Winchcombe has been closed for eight of the last 16 months, costing Jo and partner Steve Taylor, tens of thousands of pounds in lost business.

The couple received emergency support from the Government’s Hospitality Grant Scheme – which covered all their basic utility bills – plus free business rates, but fell into the 10% of workers who didn’t qualify for any personal financial help.

The family-run retreat finally reopened to guests in April following a sustained six-month period of closure, but bookings which continued to contravene the Covid-19 regulations along the Government’s roadmap, resulted in more refunds.

Jo said: “For the last few months, we have only been permitted to have six people from six different households or two households in a holiday lodge at any one time. This has caused a logistical nightmare for some of the large group reservations, and we’ve cancelled many bookings as a result – refunding thousands of pounds to customers in order to ensure that we didn’t break the rules.

“We’ve also jumped through hoops to ensure that we have track and trace information for every single guest aged over the age of 16, which has taken hours and hours of admin time.”

Winchcombe Farm Holidays, Freedom Day, Jo Carroll

And, for the mum of two, both the business and personal sacrifices have, at times been a difficult pill to swallow.

She said: “It was extremely frustrating to see that 66,000 people were allowed to gather at Wembley to watch the Euro 2020 final when we weren’t allowed to have seven people staying together in a holiday lodge in a remote rural location.

“We were not even allowed to attend our children’s sports days this year due to Covid, however thousands of people descend on Wimbledon for the tennis. There does seem to be some definite disparity in the rules.”

The couple, who established their glamping business just over two years ago on the foundations of their former privately-run nursery, currently have five lodges and a tree house for guests on their farm, including the recently opened Jess’ Tree Bach.

Visit Winchcombe Farm Holidays at: http://winchcombefarm.co.uk/

More about Winchcombe Farm

This unique collection of luxurious holiday homes has been beautifully designed and equipped to offer the very height of luxury – from steaming hot tubs and hammocks to outdoor pizza ovens and geodesic domes for a spot of stargazing.

The family-run, independent holiday retreat is hidden away on a private country estate in the glorious Warwickshire countryside on the north east tip of the Cotswolds in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Surrounded by a working farm, Winchcombe Farm lies beneath the famous battlefield landmark of Edgehill and makes the perfect base for exploring Stratford-upon-Avon and some of the picturesque Cotswold villages nearby.

Enjoying the lap of luxury at Winchcombe Farm (Review)

Enjoying the lap of luxury at Winchcombe Farm (Review)

THE phrase five-star luxury is much overused when it comes to holiday accommodation. But never have I before considered it to be an inadequate description for somewhere I’ve stayed . . .until now.

The newest lodge at Winchcombe Farm Holidays in Upper Tysoe, is quite simply, luxury on another level.

Winchcombe Farm Holidays, Ben's Burrow, Upper Tysoe, glamping retreat, staycation
Photos by Dave Fawbert Photography.

As the paint was literally drying on their newest lodge, I was lucky enough to be among the first to experience the most ambitious project yet, Ben’s Burrow which sleeps up to nine.

Set on two storeys, both indoor and outdoor space is in abundance with a design that makes the very most of its idyllic environment. And we were spoilt for choice for resting spots from which to enjoy the beautiful views – so, over the course of the weekend, we chose them all!

Winchcombe Farm Holidays, Ben's Burrow, Upper Tysoe, glamping retreat, staycation

Luxuriating in a hot tub on raised decking is undoubtedly one of the best possible spots from which to soak up the rolling Warwickshire hills. But, determined to make the most of every inch of the private area exclusively reserved for Ben’s Burrow guests, we also spent time hanging out in the hammocks, and relaxing in the loungers, deck chairs (yes, there’s even a small makeshift beach area!) and geodesic dome. Partly suspended over a duck pond, the dome is the most exquisite spot for peaceful meditation and reflection. I defy anyone not to drift off to sleep on the daybed under the stars if left to their own devices for long enough!

Winchcombe Farm Holidays, Ben's Burrow, Upper Tysoe, glamping retreat, staycation

And for when you can’t sleep – because you’ve been daytime dozing -there’s even a telescope so you can stargaze at the night skies in unrivalled comfort.

Unique to this lodge, you can also enjoy access to your very own fire pit, surrounded by log stump seats. What better way to appreciate the great outdoors than bonding with friends and family over some toasted marshmallows beneath the stars!

Plus there’s also a private patio enclosure to the rear complete with ride-on toys for the littlies.

When indoors the environment’s not too shabby either. The spacious open-plan kitchen and lounge features all the mod-cons including American-style fridge freezer, dishwasher, microwave, SMEG kettle and toaster and oven-grill.

Central feature is a grand dining table as well as plenty of sumptuous seating in which to kick back and enjoy the 55inch Smart TV and DVD player after a busy day out exploring – or, in our case, bubbling in the hot tub.

Winchcombe Farm Holidays, Ben's Burrow, Upper Tysoe, glamping retreat, staycation

If the weather is kind – as it was for us – you can make the most of the alfresco dining area, which even boasts a charcoal pizza over and six-burner gas barbecue.

But it’s owner Jo Carroll’s keen eye for detail and thoughtful touches throughout the property that help really set this place apart. From the welcome basket containing fruit and cake on arrival, to the stylish interior décor statements, you feel like you are guest in her own home – a home that’s been lavished with a great deal of love and attention to ensure ultimate guests satisfaction.

 

But none of it’s at the sacrifice of practicality as Jo has thought of everything. For instance, the downstairs double room, which has been equipped with parents of young children in mind, includes a cot, rocking chair and even a Teasmade, for those disturbed nights.

While the downstairs king-size room affords its own adjoining en suite featuring shower and toilet.

Another corridor reveals a stairway to access the triple bedroom, with its own freestanding bath, double-width power shower and separate toilet.

And there’s the most delightful adjoining self-contained studio flat, fully equipped with twin beds, kitchenette and private bathroom – perfect bolthole for in-laws or teenagers seeking some independent space.

Ben’s Burrow is an absolute triumph and is set to become a hugely popular addition to the Winchcombe property stable

The other properties are:

Will’s Tree House – The only treehouse in Warwickshire, it is ingeniously architect-designed to sit among the canopies of four supporting trees, which rise through the decking and kitchen. It sleeps four people, blissfully combining indoor and outdoor life with every imaginable comfort.

Bob’s Lodge – a two storey house for six but has space for another two in a geodesic dome with a super-king-sized circular bed and stargazing equipment.

Chicken Shed Lodge – Equipped with another geodesic dome and a wrap-around veranda, the third property is a stylishly restored retreat for five people.

George’s Getaway –This sleeps up to eight people in three bedrooms (and a geodesic dome) and boasts twin freestanding bath tubs.

With staycations on the rise, Winchcombe is the perfect destination of choice for a COVID-safe oasis of rest and relaxation.

Winchcombe Farm Holidays, Ben's Burrow, Upper Tysoe, glamping retreat, staycation

If you want to stake your claim I suggest you get in double quick. Check out the website here