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Farm Diversification With Meadow Field Luxury Glamping, Episode #055

Meadow Field Luxury Glamping

We’ve known for many years that farmers can use glamping to manage income fluctuations, but what is it really like to run this style of business alongside the demands of farming and does it really allow them to diversify their farm income?

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Meadow Field Luxury Glamping is situated in Harborough Magna, Rugby in Warwickshire. Jules Mold is passionate about providing a high-end service for her guests and has worked hard to deliver something she would enjoy, which for her is the litmus test to getting it right. After a challenging time during the pandemic and having to delay the launch of her business, she has refined it further and is now being invited to industry events to showcase what she has achieved.

This episode #055 was filmed on-site at Meadow Field Luxury Glamping with Jules and is shared on YouTube. In this video

The interesting thing about glamping is how it’s attracting an entirely new group of customers into outdoor hospitality. Those who have never considered traditional camping are exploring the possibilities of glamping in comparison to bed and breakfast services. This is opening up new opportunities and prospects for farmers to get involved in this exciting tourist market.

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Visit Meadow Field Luxury Glamping:

How Can Farmers And Landowners Use Glamping To Manage Income Fluctuations?

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If you have something inspiring to offer the world of Glamping and Unique Holiday Rentals then get in touch with Sarah Riley and share it on the Podcast. For more information contact Sarah here.

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Sarah Riley: Today’s episode is a little bit different cuz I’m speaking with Jules from Meadow Field Luxury glamping from her gorgeous safari tents in the uk. We are talking about everything farm diversification and what she’s learned and what surprised her the most after launching as a new glamping host after Covid. Now if you want to watch this episode, we have recorded it for you and shared it on the inspired Camping YouTube channel. So I’ll leave the link in the show notes and I look forward to seeing all of your comments. And if this is the kind of thing you would like me to do in the future, look forward to hearing from you. This is episode 55.

Sarah Riley: Glamping and unique holiday rentals are surging in popularity with the growing desire of customers to book holidays that deliver an experience. They are also the new business of choice for those wanting to improve their work life balance. So how do you build a strong business like this that gives you the life you need and a great investment I’m Sarah Riley and I want to share what I’ve discovered after being immersed in this industry for over 20 years to inspire you to find out more about what’s going on. Welcome. This is the business of glamping and unique holiday rentals.

Sarah Riley: Jules, thank you so much for joining me.

Jules Mold: No, well thank you very much for coming to today and asking me to participate in this. This is, very exciting.

Sarah Riley: We’ve had a, a long sequence of things we’ve been involved with, so we’ve been involved with a glamping show. Yeah. How did you find that

Jules Mold: That, was kind of a mixed bag of nerves and excitement because I’m sort of getting, over the last few years I’ve, sort of got to know my product a bit better, so feel a bit more confident about it to begin with standing up in front of a room full of people. There’s no way I would’ve wanted to do it at all. But over the years, it’s become a little bit easier, but, I, and I kind of, quite like the, the buzz you get from it. but it’s great to have an audience of people as well who are there because they want to hear what you have to say and that’s always, that’s always good. So now I really enjoyed it.

Sarah Riley: Good, good. I arrived here at your stay and lovely meadow, couple of safari tents in the meadow on a farm, a working farm. Tell us a bit more about the farm.

Jules Mold: So the farm, we are third generation farmers. David, my husband, his grandfather on, so his mother’s father. he farmed it back in in the sixties and when David’s parents got married in the mid seventies, David’s mother’s father, handed the farm over to them as a couple and they started running it from then. And and then David joined the family business in 2000 when he finished, when he graduated from agricultural college. So back in the, so late nineties, the farm moved from the middle of the village to our location now, which is just outside the village cuz in essence we outgrew the village center farm machinery got bigger, the need for, for more space for storage offsets, farm machinery and also crops and things like that. became a priority. So we moved out from middle, we sold up the farm.

Jules Mold: They built houses on the old farm yard and and then we moved to where we are now and since then, so since 98 it’s kind of just grown and evolved. I joined the family in 2000, Dave and I married in 2005 and we started looking at, glamping as an option, as a diversification project on the farm in 2017. So by that time our son was, 10, so a little less, sort of, dependent on us. And I had a bit more time and wanted to get my teeth into a new project. And so that’s when we started looking at glamping.

Sarah Riley: Why specifically glamping Why, what attracted you to

Jules Mold: That Well, we considered all sorts. cuz diversification can come in all forms. one of them was, an egg production unit. So, which meant potentially we’re gonna have had something like 10,000 hens on site, which again, I would’ve been responsible for. And I felt a little bit nervous about that. I wasn’t quite sure if that was really my thing. so glamping, I think David had read something about it in a magazine somewhere. Again, it wasn’t on our radar, it was new to us. And it happened that the glamping show was on just down the road. And so we thought, well, let’s go and find out a bit more about it. So we went along and the more we looked at different things and different accommodations and I started thinking about it cause I thought, well, this will be my, this will be my project, my baby.

Jules Mold: I thought, no, I think I could enjoy this. And I love hosting. I love having family to stay and, and friends and and people have often said that’ve come to stay. What a beautiful vista. You’ve got all this lovely land and views and and space. so we thought, well let’s see if, you know, we can utilize that with, with putting up a lift glamping site. Mm-hmm. And and that, I think that is the reason we started that. This is because of my joy of making things nice and welcoming people and and just looking after them and making sure that they, they have a great time.

Sarah Riley: So what you offer here is particularly high end. So why did you decide that high end is what you wanted to do

Jules Mold: Because that would be the kind of thing that we would be attracted to as a, as a family. So I wanted something, I wanted to offer something that I would personally like as well. And yeah, and I do and I just thought, I just like to make things homely and cozy and, and and I, we’ve seen other accommodations that are, are brilliant but very sort of sparse. So still glamping cuz you’ve got a bed and a shower and a kitchen. But it’s quite sparsely, stocked out and, and, with, with furniture and things mm-hmm. . But I like all those small touches, the soft furnishings and, and the little home, home comforts and, and that’s actually something that a lot of our guests have commented on and they just love all the little extra things.

Sarah Riley: Mm-hmm. The styling of your space is something that’s definitely stood out to me. How you’ve actually put the soft furnishings together, the towels, the beautiful wallpaper that you’ve got on the wall, the very thick lined curtains, which are fantastic to help keep the warmth into certain areas. Yeah. Because we’re in September now. Mm-hmm. and actually mid to ed end September. So we’re almost into autumn. I think we are officially autumn actually

Jules Mold: The equinox is soon, I think is coming soon. Yeah.

Sarah Riley: So the evenings are colder and so it gets really cozy and large structure like this. It can get really cozy when you draw the curtains and the wood burning fire is gorgeous and the carpets and even the cabin with the wood and you can compose the doors and not think about anyone else. And the little fairy lights, everything you’ve thought about everything and even to the little labels that you’ve put on things. And in the fridge when he provided complimentary food and it was the eggs from your hens that was in the fridge, but you didn’t just put them in the fridge, you actually labeled them as your hen eggs. And so this meant that when I was eating your eggs, I was realizing that this came from the farm. It was, you know, the most locally produced sustainable food,

Jules Mold: Hundred yards in that direction,

Sarah Riley: Absolutely. So, you know, these touches are, are beautiful even to the bulbs you’ve used in the lights above the kitchen area, the workspace. So you’ve obviously spent some time on it. How long would you say it took you to go through the planning and the implementation

Jules Mold: So we had to apply for planning permission, on this site. which actually wasn’t such an arduous process of, we thought it was going to be cuz we’d obviously heard all sorts of horror stories. It takes forever and years sometimes. So we thought, right, that’s the first thing we need to do. And also we applied for more than we actually wanted to have on site. so we thought, well we’ll last for six because if they say, well you can have three, then that’s fine cuz really we only want maybe two or three potentially. and the planning came back, the approval came back quite quickly within, I would say four months, five months, which I think is quite quick. Mm-hmm. . and they approved all six with no objections. So we thought, wow, that’s, that’s brilliant. So that was good. I think our site kind of helped, our location helped a little bit with that because we don’t really overlook anybody or, or anything.

Jules Mold: So it’s, I don’t think there would be any objections. Mm. Cause we’re not bothering anyone. Mm-hmm. . so once we had approval for that, we started working on the infrastructure. So the power and the, the waste water and the clean water coming in. and then we also in the meantime, whilst all that was happening, the landscaping, so the planting of trees, and also we were doing a lot of homework with regards to the kind of structure that we wanted to go for in 2017. It did fall in love with the safari tent. That was the first thing that, that kind of jumped out at me. So we kind of toy between a couple of companies. We did our homework and, and asked a lot of questions and I looked at lots of different designs and chose the one we chose in the end because we just liked the overall look of it.

Jules Mold: That was the reason why I think cuz the people we spoke to, everybody was so helpful and, and, and it was great, you know, can’t fault the customer service, but at the end of the day it was just the overall look that we preferred. so that decision was made in 2019 and they were manufactured and the bases were put in at the end of 2019. So September, 2019 and then January, 2020 was when the structures were put in place. The steel frames and the, the, the canvas structure. and then it was sort of basically off we went with the interiors cuz we really wanted to get it ready for Easter 2020. thinking we’ll hit the, the beginning of the season and then of course the pandemic hit. So we, there was a slight delay. However, it did us a favor we think because it gave us the opportunity to really take, take rather than rush into the season.

Jules Mold: We are able to take a step back and have a look at the accommodation, stay in it and feel it for ourselves and, and see it through the eyes of our, of our guests. And and we’re able to tweak it and add things like the curtains cuz that wasn’t Anit initial thought that came in after we stayed in it. Cause what No, it’s gonna add to it and make it a lot cozier and like you said, there’s that insulation factor as well with it. yeah so, and then July 4th was the official date that we could open in 2020.

Sarah Riley: So now that you’ve had your guests arriving and they’ve been staying and I’ve been reading your comments in the guest book and they’re all lovely, what’s the one thing that’s really surprised you about the type of guest who’s been attracted to your stay

Jules Mold: well I think originally our, our ideal demographic was always going to be the family, of all ages. You know, whether it’s grandparents and grandchildren or generation or families coming to stay. and we’ve had lots of lovely families stay. and I was always nervous of the big, the big group bookings with the all adults and no children cuz they, they were the kind of groups I thought might be a bit too raucous for my comfort zone. and maybe sort of take advantage of, of, of the site. And you know, it’s an opportunity to have a good old let your hair down and a good old sort of party. So I was always a little bit cautious of those. But an actual fact, I’ve been able to sort of back groups before they book with us, which has kind of made me feel a bit more comfortable.

Jules Mold: And then when they have arrived, I’ve been really sort of overwhelmed with their, respect towards the, the accommodation and you know, and I think once they’re sort of, and they’re, and it’s lovely cuz they’ve come, one particular group I have in mind, they’ve, they’ve, they’ve come back, they’ve come, they’re booked in again already for next August bank holiday. They’ve been with us twice, so that’ll be their third visit. And, and and, and they’ve always said, oh Jules, we love it. We think it’s brilliant. It’s so cozy, it’s so comfortable and we love the space. We have a good old kick around with the football and these are adults. This isn’t children. So it, that’s, yeah. So that’s been lovely cuz I sort of started this with, in mind that I wasn’t going to, you know, I didn’t want to have big group bookings, but actually I’ve now understand that there are groups out there who are respectful and you know, and actually just want to come and, and have a great time and often haven’t seen each other for that whole year. You know, they, they meet up, they have a great time, then they go off to their respective lives and then they come back again a year down the road and do it all again.

Sarah Riley: So you kind of specialize in letting the whole site to families

Jules Mold: not really, but it does lend itself to that. It really does. I mean I’ve had people say that, you know, individuals who have stayed just in one tent, they’ve said that despite there being a second accommodation on site, you do still feel like you are in your own little private space. You don’t feel like they’re too close or that you are invading each other’s privacy or anything. So that’s nice to hear as well. So though there are two on site, I think they’re, they’re far enough apart that you still have your own, you can still feel like you are on your own down here, but as a, as a whole site booking, yes it’s, it’s very good for that. Mm-hmm.

Sarah Riley: And you told me a bit of a funny story about something that happened when you had a whole group of people stay and they were involved in activity that was quite unexpected. Tell me a bit about that.

Jules Mold: So, there was, so both tents were booked out, big group, I think there was about 12 adults and I think it was on the Saturday evening. I could hear lots of quite late on, I could hear lots of laughter and people having a good time. And to me, I don’t mind that actually cuz I think brilliant. They’re having a great time. I’m not, that’s lovely to hear. It’s like hearing children laughing and shouting and, and just having a good time. so it didn’t, it didn’t bother me at all. and the following day, one of the, one of the groups said to me, oh, hope we didn’t disturb you because, we were having a silent disco. And I thought, wow, a silent disco. And they said yes, we had, we had our headphones on and it was all sort of Bluetooth into it to a, a stereo or something. And we were just all having a great time, listened to our music privately in our own heads, you know, and I thought, brilliant. What perfect idea. They can go out, they can have a, a great time. Like they’re at a disco, but without disturbing the, the lovely countryside around them. That’s great. And the neighbors .

Sarah Riley: Yeah. More importantly. Yes. And, and it’s great experience and they brought that experience themselves. Yes. how have you added to the guest experience, from what you’ve got here already

Jules Mold: So, one thing that, so when we started out, I think our main priority was obviously getting the accommodation ready. and we just wanted to get that off the ground. And then I think as people come and stay and, and you get feedback from them, you can make little tweaks and changes to cuz you think, oh yes, I hadn’t thought about doing it like that and what a great idea. but we’ve, so one of those was the barbecues. we’ve, we’ve created pur purposely built barbecue stations now out of upcycled bricks from the farm, which is great. My husband and his father put those together. and also this year we’ve introduced a farm tour, because a lot of people were asking us questions about the farm, what crops are you growing, what’s happening over there What’s that tractor doing

Jules Mold: And things like that. So we thought, well yes, it’s an ideal opportunity to educate people about farming as well cuz you know, there’s a bit, a little bit of confusion out there. The media has a little bit of a spin on it and I think, well, you know, this is us hear it from the horse’s mouth, you know. so we started to introduce that and we added it to our booking form as a free farm tic here if you want to participate or if you would like us to take you on one. And it’s proved quite popular and it’s, yeah, we love it and it’s also an opportunity for us to get to know our guests and spend some time with them and find out, you know, if they’re having a good time and, and what things they enjoy or if there’s any improvements we can make.

Sarah Riley: Yeah. Valuable feedback, isn’t it Even if it’s negative, which I’m sure it isn’t, but it’s really good to have feedback from guests. But you also have a distillery here. Yes. Tell us a bit about that.

Jules Mold: So the rugby distillery, they joined us, they approached us at the end of 2020, and asked if we had, if we knew anybody that had space, they were thinking about setting up a distillery. Did we know anyone locally who might have some space for them to do that And so we were stop there, here we can off, we can offer you, we can accommodate you. So they came and had a look, a brilliant family. Oh, we got on really well. So they decided they were gonna move in. Literally it was a a, it was a store that had old tractor tires in it, sacks of, goodness know what, 10 years worth of dust. It was just a typical farm store. And they then spent the sort of beginning of, last year, 2021, cleaning it out, making it look amazing. They, they’ve sort of, painted all the walls and my husband put an office space in there for them and then they brought in their stills and we’ve been watching their journey from afar. and yes, so it’s actually a, a really exciting development because they’ve, they’ve done really well. They’ve sort of hit the, they’ve put a lot of effort in to getting themselves well known in the area as well. work really hard. and I’m hoping cuz they’re constantly wanting to evolve. So we’ve been talking about potentially being able to introduce this as, additional offering for our farm stays and, people doing farm, distillery tours with them. Mm-hmm.

Sarah Riley: I had a distillery tour yesterday and it was brilliant. And I particularly enjoyed the tasting session. , I would have to say

Jules Mold: Oh, I know. It’s, it’s incredible. I think I’ve, I can, I’ve heard them sort of talk their story and how it all works so many times, but I, I just love hearing it because it’s such a fascinating, the journey that they’ve been on and also how it is distilled. and the process that that goes through and how they get the different flavors and all the different, what do they call them The, bot botanicals classic’s. It, that’s the one that, that they use in them that’s, that’s quite fascinating as well. And it is, is the, I’ve never, I don’t think I’ve ever tried prior to them being here. I’ve never tried sort of a, a crafted gin before. I’ve always just gone with a one off the, the supermarket shelf, you know, a a popular brand. And there is a huge difference. And it’s, it’s, it’s dangerously easy to drink, you say.

Sarah Riley: And hearing the story about how it’s distilled and as you said, the botanicals, the different level and where the botanicals have to be in the machine to make sure that they get the right flavors outta it. Yeah. And then also the heads and tails and how, the heads is the very good quality stuff that is used for the

Jules Mold: Crafts, the hearts, the hearts, heads, tails and hearts.

Sarah Riley: Oh, that’s it. Heads, tails, and hearts. So the hearts is the very good quality stuff. Yeah. And that’s what they use to make their gin. And then the

Jules Mold: Tails, the heads and tails, heads and tails gets, gets, it gets, they can reuse it so they can sort of refilter it. So there’s actually, they, they refer to it as sustainable distilling, I think because there’s no wastage. Mm-hmm. . So the, so the hearts is the important bit. That’s the great, that’s the part that they can make, gorgeous bottles of gin out of. But the heads and tails and that’s sort of the technicalities behind that. I’m not quite sure. But they’re the bits that they can’t use. Mm-hmm. But they can refilter it and it can be reused against it. There’s no wastage. That’s, that’s the ethanol I think.

Sarah Riley: Yeah, the ethanol, yeah. But just hearing about the different steps and seeing it in action, seeing the passion of the people who are running the business, it is great. And adding that to your stay in itself enhances your stay because people have gone away having learnt something. They’ve got another memory that means they’ll talk about it to other people. And that gives you great word of mouth, promotions and, yeah. So it’s really good. And I think it’s fantastic to use what you’ve already got to enhance what you’ve already offering as a service. So if you were to do this all again, have you learned any lessons or have you come across anything in your journey and you, you’ve thought to yourself, you know what, if I did it again, I’d do it differently and I’d do it in this way

Jules Mold: so yes. Lots actually quite a few things. I love the product, I love what we’ve done to it. However, if I could go back and do it again, I would go for something smaller cuz I, I’m the kind of person that likes to do everything. So I, I feel incredibly responsible for, for the way it looks before a guest arrives. And that takes time. So the cleaning process and the finishing touches and all of that. So that does take time. So the turnaround can be pretty tight from the moment a guest leaves if we’ve got people arriving on the same day. but it’s so important to me and I think that if I do have a lady, a brilliant lady who does come to help me, but it’s still me that goes through at the very last minute to make sure that everything is where it should be and as it should be.

Jules Mold: because every I, you know, I just want it to be perfect, as perfect as it can be for every guest that comes to say. but yes, if it was smaller, I think that it would probably be easier. And a, a lot of people recently have been talking to me about couples and couples experiences and I do like that as well. And I think that, that’s quite cuz couples generally are, are, are going away for time together, whether it’s romantic time together or just, you know, space away from their normal daily routine. and I, I kind of like, I love the family demographic. I love the children coming and playing and enjoying the great outdoors and people learning about the farm. But I think, I think a smaller place definitely would be a lot more manageable Mm for me because that’s the kind of person I am.

Jules Mold: And I, and I’m very reluctant to, to delegate workouts mm-hmm. Or employ more to come in and help me cuz the, the, you know, it’s, it’s my product and like needs to be a certain way mm-hmm. . so that’s one thing. The other thing is maybe have a structure that is best suited to all year round. Cuz you can, there’s a lot of canvas structures out there now that have got the under floor heating and, and the capabilities to, to stay open all year round. but especially in this, it tends to be January, February time now it gets incredibly cold and we have minus degrees figures during the evening, the night times. And although you’re very cozy in the beds, with all your big duvets, I just feel that this kind of structure is best suited for the spring through to the, to the, you know, late summer, autumn time.

Jules Mold: Mm-hmm. so it does limit your sort of incumbent and your season that you can offer. Mm-hmm. yes. And going back to that whole, finding it hard to delegate, that is something that I’ve had to learn to do for some aspects of it. So in order for me to, enjoy the, the reason we set this up, which was the, the guest experience and being able to host and, and, provide different activities for, for families to do when they’re here. whether it’s thinking about a little treasure hunt for the children to participate in or, or whatever it is, that takes time as well. But that’s decided it that I really like doing. So in order to ensure that I have the time for that, I’ve had to delegate some admin out, whether it’s the mar the social media marketing or you know, a little bit of assistance with our website and the SEO side of it just to take the pressure off. And there is, that is an element of this, of this sort of business that I really struggle with. I can’t quite get my head around it, it’s just a little bit over my head. so although it’s good to under have an element of understanding, so to try and do it for yourself to begin with, I have learned to actually that okay, I’ve done my time with this now mm-hmm. , I want to focus on the aspects of this that is, is why I’m doing this.

Sarah Riley: Yeah. And also focusing on your strengths.

Jules Mold: Yes.

Sarah Riley: Yeah. You know, if you are not strong at something, it takes twice as long, it’s harder, it makes your life horrible. Why would you do it Give it to someone else to do. Yeah. But then really focus on the things you love to do and you’re really good at doing and then it becomes a joy. Exactly. And that’s the point. It’s a lifestyle business, isn’t it So I think you’ve done incredibly well. The approach is amazing, the final product is amazing and all of your finishing touches and, and details have not gone unnoticed. They’re really, really good. And, tell, tell me about this area a little bit. What is here for your guest What kind of thing do they like to do in the local area What attracts them in

Jules Mold: So we are quite asked that question actually quite often. People say, so what do your guests do when they come Some do nothing. They just wanna be here and just sort of let the kids run around or use it as a base to go for little walks in the area. and others, like to venture further afield. So we are not too far away from the town of rugby, which is the home of rugby football, if, if, and there’s museums and lots of sort of history associated with the game of, of rugby. Coventry, Lemington, sparse Stratford, Shakespeare’s sort of where Shakespeare’s birthplace is. Birmingham’s not million miles away. there’s, you can cross the, we’re not too far from Lestershire either, so there’s loads of great things going on in Lestershire too and Northamptonshire. So our little sort of corner of Warwickshire is right on the borders of Lestershire and Northampton shear as well. So, and there’s loads of, Lestershire and Rutland water isn’t too far away. yeah. So either they, they come and they’re just here or they venture off. We’ve got a great place to just run the down the road called Ku Abi and there’s a go ape there. So you can go and explore that and have fun with that. yeah, so there’s actually quite a lot in, in the Midlands area and you don’t often have to go too far to find things.

Sarah Riley: Well I think it’s brilliant and I really do wish you every success with it, Jules, and whatever you decide to do with it in the future. Cuz you can always evolve it into something else. Yeah,

Jules Mold: Yeah. No, definitely. No, we’ve got plans, we’ve got thoughts of what we want to do next, so

Sarah Riley: Yeah. Well great. Thank you so much for joining me,

Jules Mold: Joel. No, thank you for having me and asking me .

Sarah Riley: Absolute pleasure. And another absolute pleasure to stay here. So thank you so much for your hospitality. It’s been great. Thank you for staying.

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