We may not all like the term, but we have watched with interest the boom in Glamping accommodation across the world, including yurts, shepherds huts, gypsy barrel top wagons, bell tents and safari tents. Was it Kate Moss, caked in mud with designer wellies, looking fabulous in hot pants at Glastonbury festival in the UK that started the trend? It certainly began around the same time. And you can bet your bottom dollar Miss Moss and her pals weren’t sleeping in a two man tent from Millets. Suddenly, it was cool to want to be outdoors, to revel in the glory of the countryside, but only if it meant luxurious creature comforts and a beautiful place to lay your head.
Thus the rise in interesting, quirky and extraordinary places to stay began. From tipi’s to bell tents, shepherds huts to yurts, the last decade has allowed us to fulfil our hearts desires. We have embarked on holidays fit for a fairy king or woodland queen, in dingily dells and hidden glades, ticking all of our boxes in the process – No need to fly? Check. Beautiful location? Check. Warm and dry IF the rain comes? Check. Back to nature? Check. No creepy crawlies or soggy canvas? Check.
And now, the choice of deluxe accommodation is set to grow again, with innovative companies constantly developing bigger and better structures to appeal to holiday makers. A Devon business is launching their new range of living wagons this month, which at up 25 foot long and 8 foot wide, are twice the length of the standard shepherds hut. Barrel Top Wagons designer and master carpenter, Ben Ranson, tells me they have watched with interest the glamping market develop over the last few years, and although shepherds huts, bell tents and tipi’s are delightful spaces, they felt the market was ready for a larger structure. Somewhere 4 people could sleep comfortably for a week or longer. He says
Our wagons are more substantial than a shepherds hut and can offer excellent earning potential when appealing to families or to the high end price scale for a couple. They are solid and robust with a huge range of design possibilities and are unlike anything else on the market. We see this as a natural progression to shepherds huts, giving people more space with a really high end finish. This turns the concept of caravanning, and many other glamping activities, on its head.
They see their potential market as being those new to the industry, wanting to invest in an asset with good returns which will hold its value, and as existing sites looking to expand into the glamping sector whilst offering something different to the current options. With an average rate of £120 a night, the turnover for the wagons, even with conservative estimate occupancy of 30%, is in the region of £15,000. This would pay for the capital investment within three years, leaving you with a substantial asset and an excellent revenue stream.
The couple have ran the business for three years, designing and making timber wagons and lodges, all of which classify as caravans.
The new range of living wagons can incorporate shower, toilet, fully fitted kitchen, timber framed veranda (for G and T’s at sunset!), always come with a second room, and can run off solar or mains electric. All of the timber used is grown and milled in the south west.
The business began when Ben, and his partner Jo Henderson, decided to put his 25 years’ experience working with wood to good use, and built themselves a home.
The resulting 25 foot living wagon became a prototype, “They are the most beautiful spaces to live in” says Jo, “We have been down to -18 in ours, and with the passive insulation and woodburner, we were warm as toast”.