THE owners of a Warwickshire glamping retreat have overcome the triple threat of Covid-19, Brexit and the Suez Canal crisis to open the doors of their newest lodge.
Jo Carroll and Steve Taylor, who run Winchcombe Farm Holidays in Upper Tysoe, between Shipston on Stour and Banbury, managed to finally open Jess’ Tree Bach in time for the half term holidays, despite, just days earlier, much of the furniture and fittings having not arrived.
But it was a deadline the couple were determined to meet at a crucial time of post-pandemic recovery for their business, which was forced to close for eight of the last 13 months.
Problems have included: A bed stuck in France, a slide stuck in China; 19 window blinds still having not arrived (whereabouts unknown); the wrong hot tub being delivered; six replacement outdoor pizza ovens not arriving (latest estimate given as September) and furniture turning up damaged.
On top of that, co-owner Steve Taylor, who also builds the lodges, has come up against a national shortage of plaster – due to plaster manufacturing plants playing catch-up from the first lockdown – and a national rationing on garden paint supplies.
The business has had to contend with the global rate increase (GRI) on shipping containers, which are now five times the cost of this time last year; added import times of goods on ships which were stuck due to the blockage on the Suez Canal around Africa; and delays in vessels struggling to dock due to COVID-19 cases and rigorous checks at the ports. Empty shipping containers are also turning up in the wrong part of the world.
Co-owner Jo Carroll said: “Jess’s Tree Bach has proved very difficult to complete due to the supply problem we’ve had getting goods into the country.
“Plus garden furniture and hot tubs are like gold dust, as more people are buying them and spending time at home doing DIY during the pandemic.
“We had to cancel early bookings in Jess’ Tree Bach and issue refunds, but have battled on to get this ready in time for the holiday period and are hugely grateful to Warwickshire County Council who gave us an Adapt and Diversify Grant which enabled us to complete the building work.
She added: “We’re seeing a huge amount of demand for staycations so far this year and are gearing up for a very busy summer. The new let should also help us create another two jobs.
“The success of the vaccine rollout, coupled with the uncertainty around foreign travel restrictions, should help the self-catering sector start to make up for some lost ground in the next few months.”
The family-run five-star holiday accommodation was permitted to reopen on April 12th as part of the Government’s latest easing of COVID-19 restrictions in England. First returning guests were treated to a brass band welcome to mark the long-awaited occasion.
Winchcombe Farm is a family-run five-star glamping retreat hidden away on a private country estate in the Warwickshire countryside on the north east tip of the Cotswolds in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Surrounded by a working farm, it 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.
Jess’s Bach, which finally opened at the weekend, is the sixth lodge to be completed at Winchcombe Farm. Features of the accommodation, which sleeps four, include a private five-seater hot tub, outdoor pizza oven and barbecue and four-metre slide from the raised decking to woodland area below.
There is also a fully equipped modern kitchen, all the latest entertainment technology and even an electric skylight in the main bedroom from which to enjoy some star-spotting from the comfort of your own bed. Telescope provided!