From hanging in the balance to flying high at Warwickshire holiday business

Photos by David Fawbert Photography
Winchcombe Farm Holidays 1

Exactly one month on from reopening their gates after lockdown, the owners of Winchcombe Farm Holidays have resumed work on a new project which they hope will see their business flying high again.

Award-winning aerial gymnast Lucy Pearsall, from Halesowen, was invited to ‘hang out’ in Jo Carroll and Steve Taylor’s Tysoe tree house holiday home and entertain guests – as part of celebrations to mark the business’s restart.

Winchcombe Smaller[2]But it’s not been quite business as usual for the couple who claim they have observed a cautious shift in consumer behaviour since reopening on July 4th partly due to fears of a second wave.

Steve said: “While we are full to the brim for August, with a huge waiting list, September onwards is very slow at filling up. We’d normally see a full diary by now but think that everyone is leaving it until closer to the time before they book for fear of a second peak.”

The couple have three luxury lodges and a tree house on their farm in the Cotswold village of Upper Tysoe and, despite being hard hit by the COVID-19 lockdown, are continuing to work around the clock to make up lost ground and resume work on their new lodge – Ben’s Burrow, originally planned to be open in April.

Winchcombe Farm Holidays 4Steve added: “Lockdown set our plans back by months. Our cash flow dropped to zero, while we were refunding thousands of pounds to guests who couldn’t travel. It was a major blow and we think it will take us a couple of years to get back on track.

“We also couldn’t get hold of materials to continue the build, so we did what we could to keep the project moving around home schooling our two children.”

But Ben’s Burrow, which is central to their recovery plan, is now on track to open in early September.

Winchcombe Farm Holidays 3The spacious new lodge, which the couple are hailing as their ‘best yet,’ – will sleep up to 9 people – and boasts a hot tub on a platform in the trees, a dug out fire pit, a geodesic stargazing dome hovering over the lake and even a mini beach, complete with deckchairs and palm plant! It also has a self-contained flat, ideal for people travelling with carers or nannies, who may want their own space but need to be on the same site.

Jo said: “Like most people, this year has been one of many challenges. But as we see more staycationers drawn to the beauty of the countryside to seek isolation and relaxation, we hope to go from strength to strength again.”