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Lilypod Glamping: Creating An Extraordinary Guest Experience #062

#062 Lilypod Glamping: Creating An Extraordinary Guest Experience With Kyle Guyat

Lilypod Glamping is a unique floating sanctuary designed with love and handbuilt with passion in Devon UK. It is a unique stay inspired by nature using the natural wonder of timber. It is a low-carbon, off-grid short stay unique accommodation that uses natural materials to make an eco-tourism offering worth visiting.

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Nestled on a stunning lake at Alder Farm, hushed by mature deciduous trees on the border of Dartmoor. With local activities in abundance, ranging from spas to wild swimming, horse riding in the National Park, local farm shops, unique towns and awesome pubs, this is a glamping stay worth experiencing.

Lilypod Glamping In Devon

In this episode, I speak with the Lilypods designer and builder about the highs and lows of creating such a unique space and how important it was to him to find such a stunning location and then develop something to gently on the environment.

This episode is both inspirational and aspirational and demonstrates that you don’t need to be neglectful of sustainable practices when designing something truly amazing in the genre of low-carbon, ecologically responsible off-grid glamping.

If you are thinking of visiting Lilypod, be quick before the secret gets out!

Lilypod Website:

Location: MR7R+VG Lewdown, Okehampton

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Kyle Guyat: The first thing for me is like, nature, the outside, the love of the wild. That’s brilliant. So that’s, that’s one bubble. And then your next bubble is you want to give people this luxury stay and you want it to give them a feeling that they might not have had before. And then the third bubble, which is really important, that is that all of this needs to come at and it with no cost to the environment. So there’s sustainability and yeah, it’s a, it’s, it’s hugely important at the moment. It’s, it can’t say enough how important it is. People are starting to feel, feel it now, like in their homes and with everything to do with the cost of things. But looking after what we’ve got is so important. So you’ve got this lovely sweet spot between, you’ve got nature, you’ve got the luxury stay, and then you’ve got the environment, and then right in the middle where they all cross. That’s kinda where I like to put Lilly Pod

Sarah Riley: Glamping and unique holiday rentals are, are surging in popularity with the growing desire of customers to book holidays that deliver and 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: Hello. Thank you so much for joining me today. It’s really amazing to have you here. I am so pleased that you’ve given me some of your time because actually I adore your project and thank you. It’s so unique. It’s so special. And I know it’s, as soon as The Secret gets out about it, it’s just going to be booked out and people are gonna find it hard to get a place there. Mm-hmm. Yeah. Hopefully. Right And yeah. Yeah. And I know it will. I know it will because you’ve come up with such a unique idea and you’ve crafted it all yourself. But I’m not gonna go into the detail of that yet. I’m gonna wet people’s appetite about that. First of all, , how does it feel now that you’ve welcomed your first guests and they’ve been through the door and they’ve been leaving reviews How does that all feel for you having worked so hard on your project

Kyle Guyat: If I, if I step back from that question, it’s a brilliant question, but to put that question into context for everyone who’s maybe listening and watching, it’s taken, it’s taken energy, it’s taken so much perseverance to get to where we’re at. And, and so in length of time, it was, it was like five years, from having an idea to be able to kind of get it to where it is now, which is a product it’s in, it’s launched and it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s just at the beginning of its journey. It’s so, it’s so weird to have worked for, for Harvest, you know, five years and then, and then pneumonia at the beginning. And it, it is amazing. It it is absolutely amazing. And you know what my first guest check-in was I was so nervous because I, I love my pod that I’ve built because, because when you make something and you design it and you give it as much love, and you give it all your hopes, all your aspirations, because you want it to be amazing.

Kyle Guyat: Mm, really do. And I, I love creating spaces which make people just feel just, just something different, like a real, a real escape from wherever they’re at. And so I had all these dreams for it. And so, yeah, I was super nervous when the first guest came in. And, I probably talked too much. I probably talked too quickly, , but they certainly had a thorough welcome, which is probably good in the back of my mind. I was constantly kinda going, you need to leave them alone now. They’re not your friends, you just need to let them have their holiday. And you know what They had an amazing time, like a really, really amazing time. So, so yeah, feedback was brilliant, which is always lovely to receive. But yeah, it’s funny, it’s a real rollercoaster because Lily pod and this first pod is called Heron Pod and absolutely my baby. And so, you know, it’s, I I greet it in the mornings when I see it. I pat her when I leave. I make sure that she’s got everything she needs to give her guests the most amazing time.

Sarah Riley: That’s, that’s something that I’ve really noticed about you is that you refer to her as she and her. Oh, definitely. And it’s a, sure, yeah. It’s a, it’s human. It’s a person, it’s a being. It’s a thing that you’ve created that is more than just absolutely accommodation.

Kyle Guyat: When you to give something that much energy than it kinda reflects back on you. It really does. And so when I go in there, it, it, it’s full of, it’s full of so much energy. It’s because everything in it, I would say is handbuilt. Mm-hmm. , like literally everything. I’ve sort of bought nothing off the peg. And if it is bought off the peg, I’ve probably changed it, adapted it, cut it in half, , add something with it. It’s just the way it is.

Sarah Riley: Do you think as well, it’s because it’s, you are so wrapped in nature because of its location, where it is and what you’ve built it with, the materials, the wood, and it’s all been crafted with your energy, which again, is, is natural. And it’s, it’s very much your design, your eye, and your energy.

Kyle Guyat: What I found incredible about it is that it was important to start with a good sort of, it’s more than just an object. So if I, so to as a structure, it’s a wooden geodesic dome. And that is itself lovely to have because could, you know, rather than that sort of half a golf ball tent type system, which is out there, it’s, it’s timber on the inside and it’s timber on the outside, which is, it’s lovely. It’s a beautiful thing to be able to make and have, but then, but you have to walk 12 meters out onto the water to go stay on Lilly pods. And it it, yes. So to be immersed in nature, that’s definitely a way of making that happen. There’s loads of reasons why I chose to make something floating, and I mean, lots of reasons. Mm-hmm. But, the fact that it is, and as a stay, it’s, it really is immersive.

Kyle Guyat: I’ve got guests coming in on Friday, and I know they’re gonna have a nice time. You have an amazing time. So I pro I, you know, I prepared the pod yesterday, just made sure it was nice and oh my God, I didn’t wanna leave , you know, it was, it’s absolutely hoing outside full of rain. Inside is just, it’s, it’s beautifully warm, the timbers, because there’s naked timbers absolutely everywhere. They just, you put some soft lighting in and just the warmth that comes through. So it just makes you feel, like you said cocooned, it makes you feel very safe. It’s cozy. and we’ve tried to give it a really high end luxury feel. But if you imagine the intersection of kind of like you’ve got, you’ve got, the first thing for me is like nature, the outside, the love of the wild. That’s brilliant.

Kyle Guyat: So that’s, that’s one bubble. And then your next bubble is you want to give people this luxury stay and you want it to give them a feeling that they might not have had before. And then the third bubble, which is really important, is that all of this needs to come, but, and it with no cost to the environment. So there’s sustainability and yeah, it’s a, it’s, it’s hugely important at the moment. It’s, it can’t say enough how important it is. People are starting to feel, feel it now, like in their homes and with everything to do with the cost of things. But looking after what we’ve got is so important. So you’ve got this lovely sweet spot between, you’ve got nature, you’ve got the luxury stay, and then you’ve got the environment, and then right in the middle where they all cross. That’s kind of where I like to put Lily pod, that’s where she sits.

Kyle Guyat: That’s the sweet spot. And I think the guests who find her have that same thing. Mm-hmm. So when you stay on her and, and it’s, and it’s, and it’s really wet. It really is, it’s so soggy. You’re not really gonna go outside that much. But your, your view from Lily pod is just like, you’ve got 50 meters of lake to the other side, and on the other side you have a waterfall. And, and because the lake’s actually quite calm, you’ve got, you know, you’re on the water because you get a soft, undulating feeling. It’s not, it’s, it’s so relaxing. It’s, it’s, it’s something you’ve gotta go there to see. It’s just amazing.

Sarah Riley: One of the things you do is you describe it in a really impactful way. So you talk about it as a low carbon floating sanctuary on a private lake powered by the sun. Yeah. From Devonian timber with its own waterfall. I mean, how amazing is that Just invokes so many things. Mm-hmm. But what is it about being on that water How, and you say there that it interacts with the water water and you feel the nature and that’s amazing, but how important is that to actually be that connected with nature for you and for what you want to provide your guests

Kyle Guyat: When you go camping and you have tent you, and you’re in the right spot, you can be really deeply connected to nature, because that can be to do with the environment. It can be to do with the fact that you’ve got somewhere with, without light pollution, without, you know, there’s, there’s noises maybe. there’s, there’s things that you are not used to maybe as a human being living in your house, on the day-to-day. And so when I want guests to come, have an experience, come somewhere to stay and have those immersive feelings with what’s around them, but I also want to have them to be able to, if they want to go have a power shower, they don’t have to go anywhere they can. It’s in their pod. And so you want, I want to give them that sense of luxury, but also try and put them somewhere in, in an immersive state where they’ve not been before.

Kyle Guyat: And staying on water in an unusual structure throws you into that landscape or waterscape, whether you want to or not. As soon as you are there, your view in the morning. And it’s also to do with your, interestingly to do with what you, the level of the level that you’re at. And what you see, I kind of mean by that is, I’ve, I’ve stayed on some lakeside places before and you’re quite, you’re quite elevated. And so the water feels it’s beautiful to see, but you are, you’re not connected to it. You, you feel a physical distance between it. And it’s lovely to stay on somewhere where you are, you’re at that water level, you just are. You can sit back in a beanbag and, and you watch and you are, you are right there. And if, if, if wildlife and there’s a lot of wildlife there comes past you, you, you are, you are, there, you are, you like this, it’s really voyeuristic. It’s beautiful.

Sarah Riley: So how does that translate in terms of the human, because I’m actually listening to you and thinking, mm, I love going to the beach. I love being on the water. My husband surfs all the time and we constantly look for water to be around. Yeah. Do you think there’s something very special about the energy of water and everything to do with that And the human, do you think that there is some kind of, I mean, not wanting to get too woowoo here, but , do you think

Kyle Guyat: No, there’s nothing, there’s nothing wrong with woowoo. There’s a lot of woowoo that goes on to help sort of stabilize everything in my life, to be honest, because there’s nothing wrong with it. . Yeah. I live by the sea. I am, I am so in a past life, I’m a diving instructor, so yeah. I, I, my connection to the water is feels quite personal. and so, you know, anyone who’s been on a beach holiday or likes to play in the scene, the other part of that as well as the fun is the reflectiveness of looking back. You can be really still when you look at water, cuz for me anyway, so on a personal level, water can be flat, it can be calm, you can lose yourself in reflection. You can just wind back and slow down. I think it helps the brain calm down, to be honest.

Kyle Guyat: I mean, we have this as, as mammals, we have this amazing, feature that when we go underwater and we hold our breath, our heart rate slows down. Whereas you hold your breath on land, your heart rate will increase. And so that’s called the mammalian reflex. And so that’s water is part of us, to be honest. And so yeah. Being, being able to be part of it and be near it. Yeah. Hugely calming it is for me. And I think, I think it will be for anyone who sort of stays in that environment, it’s good.

Sarah Riley: Mm-hmm. . And I think more so than ever, because of what’s been going on, you know, over the past few years, it’s been challenging for absolutely everyone. Not just, you know, one segment of the community or one population or one country. Yeah. Everyone around the world, there’s not been anyone that hasn’t been touched by what’s been going on and yeah. Agree with you. We do. Really, that’s why it’s

Kyle Guyat: Lean into a bit of woo woo to be honest.

Kyle Guyat: You know, it’s, it’s, it’s more, I have noticed it’s more like mindset. Yeah. Mindset’s a very, that’s one way of describing it. But just like leaning into trust, I’m finding more people sort of being able to use that sort of language around me. And I, I find that quite interesting. That’s been a real shift. Mm-hmm. And so people are leaning on different tools now to help themselves, aren’t they Mm. And I think, I think being able to, you know, people are always gonna need somewhere to unplug. Mm. You know, it’s really important to unplug.

Sarah Riley: Absolutely. And I think, one of, so I always do a vision board at the start of the year, what I want to achieve, what I want on a personal level as well as a business level and mm-hmm. And one of those is that I want to meditate more and I want to do more HeartMath, which is, HeartMath is a technique of meditating, but it’s very much focused on heart, which is supposed to be, or new research showing that it’s almost as powerful if not more powerful than the brain in terms of its impact on us. So, sitting at your site would be incredible to be able to use that as a place to meditate, to relax, to really almost take time. Know I, I can actually see it as a place I’d want to go on my own and practice these things to kind of help me. Yeah. Yeah. Bring down my stress levels, my anxiety levels, and really practice these techniques because mm-hmm. , it’s so tranquil, it’s so glorious sitting where it sits. and describe a little bit about how it sits cuz you have touched on there that you have to walk to get to it. So describe exactly, what Lily pod is all about and, the, you know, the, the local immediate environment.

Kyle Guyat: Yeah, sure. So it was quite a journey to find where it’s now located. but it’s on the edge of, Dartmouth in West Evan. So we just bordered the national park. so next to next to so dart mall’s, these, these huge kind of granite, granite peaks or granite tours, which are around, it is a stunning place to kind of even be in the presence of, it’s really, it’s really beautiful. Any national park generally, it’s really beautiful. We are really lucky that around the corner from us just, just less than three miles away, we’ve got Ledford Gorge, which is the, like the deepest gorge in the southwest. So it’s, you know, it’s, and the gorge is beautiful because there’s, it, it’s, it’s running water again. You know, it’s that sort of, the gorge been made by water. And so you, you are walking through a cut through that’s been made by the power of nature and it is absolutely stunning.

Kyle Guyat: And you get down to the bottom, there’s the, the water level and the waterfall that’s there. It’s really stunning. So, and I’m mentioning that because it does make sense to where the pod is and what’s, what’s made where it is. So it’s, the actual lake itself is probably about, it’s about 120 years old. And so we were quite lucky. It’s a, it’s an old lime quarry, and so they’re used to, power all the machines that they’re with by our stream. And so that stream has now been turned into the waterfall. That’s why we’re lucky enough to have it, it just basically just kept washing the road away. So they actually built it so that it would just discharge into the lake. And so yeah, we’ve got that’s so lucky because of that. Yeah. . Yeah. A real, it’s a real, yeah, it’s beautiful.

Kyle Guyat: The quarry itself. Yeah. It’s had a hundred years to mature and grow and we’re really lucky that the, the owner and who’s, who’s looked after the quarry, he was, he’s like in his eighties now, but he was born at, at all the farm. So he, he learned to swim in that quarry. It’s been, he’s been personally connected to it and has taken care of it. And I’m lucky enough to sort of be part of that, to be honest. And so I’ve been able to remodel it a little bit and have my business on there. But I can tell I’ve sort of inherited a lot of his passion of looking after that because it’s, as it looks as good as it does because of his energy, which is nice. The water itself is really, it’s, it’s, it’s a quarry, so it’s fairly deep mm-hmm. . And that gives it a richness, that a sort of a shallower lake doesn’t have.

Kyle Guyat: You get a clarity because of the ward quality that’s there, which is beautiful. There is so much life in it. Mm-hmm. So, whilst I was building the pod, it took, it took months for the fish to get used to me, but now they literally, they’re, they’re almost like pets. They come to the pod and say hello, and so feed them. I mean, the, some of the carp that are there, some of the species there as big as my leg, they’re about Wow, the meat, the meat are big and they’ll, they’ll, they’ll come up mm-hmm. And we’ll almost say hello. They, they expect to be fed. And then you’ve got lots of smaller species, but there’s something about it. It, it reminds you that it’s alive. It reminds you that you are part of nature when you see it there. It’s brilliant. There’s two herons, which live opposite the pod as well.

Kyle Guyat: and so I’ve got, because it’s Heron pod and it was called Heron Pod way before we, we went there because, back to the woowoo thing. So the heron for me is my totem bird. It’s, it’s, it’s, it’s something that I look for when I go to see a site. And so when I went to see that site, I saw a pair of herons before I even put a business pitch towards to older farm. And I was just like, this is it. This is my, this is my spot. Mm-hmm. And so it’s funny how you look for things, don’t you, that that, that tell you that you are on the right track. Mm-hmm. And so, yeah, when I got to that place, everything about it just said it, it’s here, it has to be here. Mm-hmm. So from knowing that it took two years of perseverance to get to get it here, but we did. Mm-hmm. So, yeah, stay with, if you’ve got a, if you’ve got the idea and you’ve got that dream, just God, you gotta stay with it.

Sarah Riley: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Perseverance as you said, because there’s so many times you probably could have given up, but you didn’t, you kept going and Sure. You know, there’s always barriers, there’s always hills to climb, there’s always things to try to achieve, setbacks, knock backs and disappointments. But you just lifted yourself up through all of those things and, and kept going. And, and now having worked with you a little bit on your launch and, and all of that kind of thing, I mean, how exciting is that and mean What’s the, what’s the one thing that surprised you the most about your launch that you, that you’ve recently done You’ve done a bit of a soft launch, haven’t you Maybe more so Yeah, we’ll do a bigger launch later on, but what, what surprised you the most about that

Kyle Guyat: I think, I think for me personally, and, and this is just probably how I feel because I’m connected to it, I had to almost let, let, let basically let the pod go. That’s, that was probably quite a big one for me because, you mentioned that you, you would like to go stay there on your own and you can see that. So during the build, I’ve had quite a few nights down there, the just me, because it’s just the easiest thing to do because I live an hour away from the site mm-hmm. . so you get quite connected with where you are with what you’re doing. my, my little girl who’s seven, she summed up really well and I said that, you know, oh, I’ve got my first guest coming to the pod. And she looked shocked. She was like, what do you mean

Kyle Guyat: This is our pod. This is not for other people. So she, and, and, and I get that because I felt a bit like that. So, so that was the first part of it. Mm-hmm. I think the second part of it, which is the bit which is beautiful, is that, people, people’s genuinely gasp sometimes when, when they go on and it’s lovely. Mm-hmm. Really, it’s really so, so having, having that reflection back from guests that even just arriving there is making them feel like, mm, wow, that’s great. That feels wonderful. Mm. It really does. You

Sarah Riley: Must feel very proud.

Kyle Guyat: Yeah, hugely proud to be honest. And it’s interesting to, you know, like you need to stop and appreciate that. Mm. Because because it’s been so busy, I’ve probably not always taken the time to sort of go, oh my God, look what I’ve done. And it’s nice to be able to look back. yeah. And not, not, so when I go to the site now, I’m, I’m quite often got quite a busy head I’m looking at, so I’m building number two at the moment where it’s gonna go, the logistics of that, where am I with guest check-in and, and just suddenly your mind suddenly gets really busy. It’s nice to suddenly get, and every now and then it’s, yeah, it’s nice to go. Actually, I’ve, I’ve done the changeover in the pod. I’m gonna, I’m gonna make a coffee, I’m gonna sit and enjoy my own pod for a while.

Kyle Guyat: And that’s what I did yesterday. And it’s, and it’s, it’s nice. It’s grounding. It’s, it’s gonna be there kinda going. Yeah, absolutely. And I kinda had that feeling that you are right. I just, so the launch was a nice soft launch and I was, I was a bit disappointed within myself for not being able to complete the pod in time for summer. But looking at it now, there’s always, like, looking back and looking what I’m involved in now, oh my God, I’m so glad for a soft launch because every guest changeover, I’m probably still tweaking the pod. I’m still kind of going, okay, that didn’t quite function as I wanted. And, and so I do all of that. So I’m, I’m fine tuning and I think if I had to fine tune in summer with back-to-back guests, I would’ve, I would’ve been more stressful. Mm-hmm. . So weirdly, the soft launch is, is a really good introduction for me. I’m not flat out, I’m still able to dial in the guest experience and the guest journey, which is great. And so, you know, be in the blink of an eye, it’ll be spring again and I should be, well, I will be in a much stronger position cuz I would’ve rather than just making it up on the fly. .

Sarah Riley: And do you think the confidence is a big part of that as well Because not only have you been tweaking, refining your service, you’ve also been building your own confidence in your product, in, in your service, in your ability to create an amazing space for somebody who’s paying you money for that. Is that something you think Yeah, absolutely.

Kyle Guyat: Yeah. It, it’s true. So the positive feedback helps. And I’ve been really trying to encourage guests to kind of give me some feedback. Mm. And that’s an interesting process in itself, to be honest, because some can be quite reserved, some might not want to. Mm. And, you know, but it’s been, so, you know, I only opened in November, but I’ve had, I’ve had two mini moon couples stay down there and I’ve had one proposal

Sarah Riley: Aw.

Kyle Guyat: And so it’s really in a short space of time. It’s that, that energy that I was talking about, that space of, of it, it’s working for people. It’s, it’s, it’s delivering what they expect. Because if you come on a mini moon, you’ve got some high expectations of what’s there. Mm. And I, I’m so glad we’re meeting those. That’s, that’s, that is interesting. And for someone to then pop the question on it because it’s such an, they’re gonna remember where they were. Yeah. he was quite a nervous guest to be honest. Oh. So he was texting me a lot to do with. He was, you could tell it was his nerves. Mm-hmm. but that was brilliant. That was brilliant.

Sarah Riley: Oh, that is so heartwarming to know that what a story in itself. I wonder if it was Yeah. It’s happy to share their story with, with everyone. But I mean, to to know that what you are offering is that impactful and that powerful mm-hmm. that someone is wanting to use it to create lifelong memories and the beginning of a journey is a couple for them is just stunning and staggering. Really. Yeah. Good, isn’t it Yeah. Isn’t it, you must have felt amazing when you found that out.

Kyle Guyat: Yeah, it’s really, it’s a nice, you know what, I was quite nervous when I did their checkout because I didn’t, you don’t know whether the she’s gonna say yes. Yes. Did she

Sarah Riley: Say yes Say yes. You don’t say yes. That’s

Kyle Guyat: Brilliant. Say yes, but you don’t, you don’t know, do you No. And so I’m kind of, because I met them both, you know, I kind of gave, I kind of gave the client a bit of a look and kind of go, did you,

Sarah Riley: Did you know

Kyle Guyat: And then, and then, and then luckily, and luckily they both, they both sort of just told me all about it, which is great.

Sarah Riley: Yeah.

Kyle Guyat: I mean, we’ve got, we’ve got another, there’s a, we, we are really fortunate, we touched upon earlier on of about what, where it is. And it is that is, it is in a stunning place in Devon. We are quite lucky that we’ve got a real strong ace up our sleeve, really. Which is, so all the farm has this beautiful lake and we are lucky enough to be on it, which is just amazing. But, you know, up literally on the farm is also a vineyard and they’ve been putting, that’s where their love and energy has gone. You can really see it. And so they’ve been, I think the, I think the vines now are about 20 years old. I’m not, I’m not a massive, I’m learning about wine now that I’m there for sure. But I think they need to be at least 10 or 15 to get a really decent flavor from them.

Kyle Guyat: Mm-hmm. So, yeah, so there’s, there’s, and they’re what’s called a single estate, vineyard, which means they literally, they grow and they process the grape and they bottle it all on site there, which is, it’s, it’s, it’s quite something to see. And it’s another guest experience that can be on offer. and which is lovely. It, it’s, it’s, there’s nothing like it, it’s funny to say it’s good for British wine. It’s just nice wine. It doesn’t really matter where it’s from. It, it, it’s a lovely drop. It’s really nice. And they do, they do like a white and a blush and, because you can’t have reds in the, in, we, we basically the, we don’t have enough sun to produce that deep red flavor for red wine, but, for, for the white and the blush, and they’re just moving into champagne or, you know, sparkling

Sarah Riley: Yeah. You can’t say champagne. Can’t, champagne like sparkling wine .

Kyle Guyat: And during, during covid, as part of their sort of becoming single estate, so when they built all the, infrastructure for, you know, their vats and all that stuff that you make for wine, they put a beautiful restaurant there as well. Mm. So guests can, can pop up, you know, it’s, it’s about sort of, you know, five, six minute walk. Mm. So they don’t have to leave site. They can have somewhere, sit down, have breakfast, be cooked for, be, have that experience of, being looked after, which is, which is a bit special to be honest, that

Sarah Riley: Your guests are benefiting because you’ve found the landowners, you’ve forged that relationship. Mm-hmm. You’ve built that product in that area where you can actually take part in all of those activities and learn about wine and visit the vineyard, have a tour, and then sit in the restaurant. And that’s all come from you, you all the source of that. But as you said, it took many years, but there’s a lot of people who think about doing something in this, space, glamping space or unique accommodation space. Experiential space. And they often say, but I’ve got no land. I can’t do anything. You know, I’m struggling finding land. I, I need to do land, you know, how can I get some land Yeah, yeah. And you didn’t, instead you, you decided to work with someone in a partnership way. Is there anything you would say to somebody as a, as a bit of advice, you know, the, what worked with you the best in that process of finding your land partner

Kyle Guyat: Hmm. so yeah, you’re right. And everyone who feels that way, I, I get, I was, I was that person. I was there kind of going, I don’t, I don’t have any land. And I didn’t, I didn’t know, I didn’t know how to break out of that. I really didn’t. And, and it took, it took ages to, to learn how to break out of it. And then I set myself even harder at task by needing a lake. So, and that comes with all sorts of stuff, which we don’t have to go into. But yeah, journey wise to finding some land, you need to really sink into your own belief. I can’t stress that enough because that is what will come across when you speak to someone. And the word there is speak to someone. don’t, don’t hide behind an email if you really find a piece of land that you want, because it might not get opened.

Kyle Guyat: It might get misconstrued. It just might, it’s not gonna land. It’s just not gonna work. You got to, you’ve gotta be brave. You’ve gotta put your big pants on and you’ve just gotta knock on the door. Mm-hmm. That’s esen essentially what I did. Mm-hmm. I like literally just turned up out the blue, big a smile, like a must try to be friendly and try to immediately just, you know, just you put yourself forward. People respect that and, and it works. So, as an example, I probably wrote so many proposals, honestly, so many, and they, none of them worked. None. Not, not even a, not even a 5% comeback. I just, it just didn’t work. And I tried multiple times with different things. And interestingly, people don’t ever read what you put down. If something comes through the door and it could have a picture of my pod on it, and I sort of superimposed it on a lake and all the rest of it, everyone just assumed.

Kyle Guyat: And I got this from feedback, from, from actually cold calling them that I just wanted to sell them a pod. Mm. I didn’t wanna be partnership. I didn’t wanna run my business, but they didn’t read a single word that was on there. It’s, people make snap judgements, you’ve got to go see them. If you want land, you’ve gotta go see someone mm-hmm. And respect that it’s their land, but also respect what you are bringing to the table. Mm-hmm. So you’ve gotta have that confidence. You’ve gotta say, look, I’ve got this. And ultimately what’s gonna bring over the line is probably, you know, you’ve gotta have a good financial proposition for the landowner, and that’s gonna really, really help. So yes, that’s, that’s first stage really. You’ve got gotta get that relationship. And it can be anything. It can be, it, it’s so surprising what people can do with a small space.

Kyle Guyat: Mm-hmm. And I, I’ve seen, I’ve seen the most amazing tree houses in small, like a small COPIs mm-hmm. Kinda go, wow. Like, like get on that. That is brilliant because, you know, not everyone would’ve looked at that little bit of land and gone, I can do something with that. And so you do have to think outside the box. You do have to work out what’s there. If it’s a small bit of land, then I would go high end, I would go, I would go look at the market, see what’s there, and, and, and go, rather than multiple units of, of a lower value, I would go one unit, make it special, and put all your love into it and see where that takes you. Mm-hmm. that’s, that’s what I would do. But yeah, you, you, you need to take rejection. and don’t take it personally.

Kyle Guyat: Took me a while to not do that . Mm-hmm. Cause when you’ve made something and you love it and someone turns around and goes, no. Oh, you know stuff. Yeah. I had one person look at my proposal and kind of go, oh, so it’s a bit like a floating caravan then . And I was, and he was a counselor, believe it or not, . And so I was, my jaw dropped for not for the right reason, . but yeah, so it’s you, you’ve got to learn to take things from people because it’s just the way it is, you know Yeah. And not everyone’s gonna see things how you do. And that is the beauty, you know Mm-hmm. , everyone having a different point of view how they see things, how they exist in the world. But, you know, if you choose something and that you choose the beautiful thing for me about doing lily po and I think anyone who’s, who’s reached into any sort of entrepreneurial business is that it’s a really good reflection of, of how you wanna show up. Mm-hmm. And that’s what I feel like I’ve managed to achieve is, you know, this is me showing up. This is, this is me and this is my, this is, you know, so it is of quite a deeply personal thing that I’ve done. which is, but yeah, it, it feels, that feels deeply satisfying mm-hmm. To be able to do that.

Sarah Riley: What, what you touched on there is something that I’ve noticed since the decade plus years that I’ve been in this industry. Mm-hmm. And probably the reason why I’ve hung around so long, otherwise I would’ve moved on, is the fact that this isn’t just hospitality. It doesn’t just attract a certain type of person who wants to, you know, make their average daily rate as far as possible, their occup occupancy as high as possible. And, you know, and, and cream the money off the top, offering a, a subpar service. Actually, this is a lot of people who put their heart and soul, their sweat, their toil, their inspiration into something and really want to make it special for both their family and the lifestyle that they want, but also the guests, so the guests can enjoy it. And in your situation, the third party, which is the landowner to make it Absolutely, yeah. Really special on their land. And I think that you’ve really summed it up well there, that this, it really does attract people like yourself who are a bit different and have a bit more heart and soul in this whole interview. And that’s, that is absolutely why I love it. So I think it’s fantastic what you’ve done. I really do. And I, and I love it. And I know that it’s gonna be really successful. And the fact that I’ve been a tiny little part of it has been just for me, a real,

Kyle Guyat: Your your help has been, your help has been really, really, you know, what it’s been, it’s been really grounding and, and I love that. So thank you. You’re

Sarah Riley: Most welcome.

Kyle Guyat: You need, I think when you’re dealing with anything like this, and you are, you are self-employed, oh my god. It, it, you can, you can easily get swamped by it all. Mm-hmm. , it’s lovely to be able to have someone like yourself who can go, just gonna ground you now with like X, Y, and Z because if you do X, Y, and Z mm-hmm. You’re gonna be all right. Mm-hmm. And I am doing X, Y, and Z, and funny enough, I’m gonna be all right. So Yeah. It’s, yeah. You know, you were saying about some advice. I think the other part of advice is to, I think for me anyway, is not when I, particularly when I was looking for land, and particularly when it had been a long time, choose who you speak to. Mm-hmm. Choose who you get that energy back from, because, that’s really important because particularly if you’re feeling anxious or worried or on the fence, or you’ve had a planning application that got rejected, then that can hurt.

Kyle Guyat: You’ve put a lot of energy into that and money and, yeah. That, that, that can hurt. Speak to the right people because, and what I mean by that is someone who’s been your supporter, someone who’s been championing you, taught to them because they’ll give you that energy back that you probably need to get back going. Mm-hmm. Speaking to someone who might kind of go, well, you know, there we go. You know what you’re gonna do now you’re gonna move on because you don’t, you don’t want that. Mm. And I, and for me anyway, I didn’t, so when I spoke to some people I had that come straight back at me and I found it. I was like, no, that’s, I can’t, I, I don’t want that messaging at the moment. I need, I need support, and I need, because I, I so believed in what I was doing. But it’s always nice when someone helps reflect that back because it, it gives you that resilience that you will need for sure. You know, to then kind of go on

Sarah Riley: And to spark the determination to get through those various obstacles that you are inevitably going to get, I suppose, as well. Yeah,

Kyle Guyat: Yeah. For sure. They are part of the journey, aren’t they Mm-hmm. So, you know, it, it’s, it’s, it’s, you know how it is. I mean, like, obstacles are everywhere, aren’t they Mm-hmm. I mean, if you choose to see them as that, but I mean, like, the stuff always gets in the way. Mm. which you might not have expected. And so, you know, that can shoot you off into an amazing tangent. Which, which, which, so sometimes you’ve gotta, yeah. You do have to embrace it, don’t you Because you just don’t know.

Sarah Riley: Well, you’ve really kickstarted something now. And I think what’s your dream about where you’re going to go next with your project

Kyle Guyat: Oh, I love thinking like this, to be honest, because, I feel like the, I really, for the moment, I wanna sink into just giving the site more because it’s, it’s a big site, it’s a big lake, and it’s got, it’s gonna have four pods on. That’s what the planning permission was. They’re gonna have, I mean, God, I could have probably stuck 10 on there. It’s got so much space. But again, does that, does that sit with your core values Does that sit with what you want to attract And does that sit with what you wanna bring in You know, that idea of the, the nature of the luxury, the environment, how does it sit with that And of course it doesn’t. And so you work, you work with what’s there, but then the fun bit is like, what does sit with that environment like

Kyle Guyat: You know, I love cooking. I love cooking outside, so, you know, I need, I need a, I need a, I need a kitchen garden there. So I’m kind, I’m quite looking forward to sort of, you know, like bu building, building fun outside stuff, because if I’m finding it fun to use to build, to engage with your guests are too guaranteed mm-hmm. , so like building, building swings in trees, buildings, you know, like Yeah. You say like a, like a nice pot tunnel where you can grow herbs because you’ve got your pizza oven and you wanna, you can go in there and you can pick what you want and you can just have that sort of fun. it’s wintertime, so my head turns to building a sauna. I’m quite keen on that idea. I mean, it’s, it is, it’s a good point to look at what environmentally works for me.

Kyle Guyat: So hot tubs big, no-no. Yeah. for loads of different reasons. Mm-hmm. And it’s weird because you, I’m not, it’s not, so when I first, when I first launched, I didn’t know how to launch in that sense. And, and so my first launch was with Airbnb. Mm. And so it’s funny when you do their ticky boxes to do with what’s your project got. Mm. And, because I’m sustainably off grid mm-hmm. It was blank almost. I didn’t have hair dryers, I didn’t have TVs, I didn’t have, there was so many things I didn’t have. Mm-hmm. And then Airbnb kept sort of emailing me kinda going, are you sure you filled it in properly This, your site looks like you haven’t finished. And I was just like, oh, it’s, oh, it was so frustrating. and, but it, it made you think that, that’s interesting, isn’t it

Kyle Guyat: How the, how things are put forwards. and so, so yeah. What, what, what works. So if I, if there was a sustainability list on there, oh my God, I think I could just flood it with things that picking every box Yeah. That the guests could enjoy. Mm-hmm. But, but it is, so, it, it’s interesting how that, I think that people are just catching up with that, particularly on those sort of platforms. Mm-hmm. I noticed on cool stays that they’ve, they’re just introducing their like a, like an eco page. Mm-hmm. So obviously, you know, there’s a ticky box type where you’re at, but at least they’ve got an eco page. And it’s asking you active questions to do with how are you insulated Are how are you powered What have you done to minimize this And how have you done to support that Mm-hmm.

Kyle Guyat: And that’s, that’s a step in the right direction, which is absolutely brilliant. Mm-hmm. because, and keeping, keeping back to your original question to do with how do I see it moving forwards It’s, I love coming up with ideas that are gonna be, basically because it’s off grid and sustainable, you don’t have to compromise. You don’t, it doesn’t have to be that way. You might have to reeducate your guest to do with the expectation of things, but on the whole, it’s not a compromise at all. I mean, a really small, but really good example of that is, I was looking for linen bed linen. I know it sounds a small thing, but when you, when you start going through all the details, actually, it’s like, well, you know, beds a massive part of your stay. You want it to be comfortable, you want it to be luxurious, you want it to feel good.

Kyle Guyat: And so I looked at what’s sustainable. And so I bought some bamboo bed linen, not having ever used it before. Oh my God. It is, it’s, it’s really, it’s just amazing. And so I’ve got a backup, kind of like Egyptian cotton linen, what I thought was the, the normal go-to, it’s no near as good. Mm-hmm. It doesn’t even come close. Mm-hmm. And I was, and it, it was just, it’s just, it’s a good example of bamboo is hyper sustainable. Everyone knows that, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s, and it is for a really good reason. And the fact that you can make really luxurious, soft material from it. Mm-hmm. That’s good. It’s really nice.

Sarah Riley: Absolutely. Well, I’ll be really interested to know how well that cleans, because as we know, she’s,

Kyle Guyat: At the moment, at the moment, I’ve been, not bad. I’ve had one guest who got some fake tan on it. Mm. and that, that it was still, it’s still coped, actually. I thought I was gonna have to lose it, but it, it took about three washes. Mm. But at the moment, yeah, it’s cleaning really well, it’s coming up beautifully white. I mean, they’ve not been, they’ve not been, they’ve not gone through a hard season. So I’ll see how that goes. But it, it makes a really nice bed. I mean, we don’t iron, I mean, you can’t, one, I don’t have the time. Two, we, you know, it’s not, it’s not part of our ethics to give people an eye end, but it, it, it makes a, it makes a beautiful bet if that makes any, you know, it makes a really clean bet. I dunno what it is about the Bamboo, but No, I love it. It’s good.

Sarah Riley: In recent years, the amount of times the host has said to me, I’ve had trouble with a guest and fake tan . The amount of times I’ve heard that is just unreal.

Kyle Guyat: I think you warned me about it. Or someone did, didn’t they, that it might happen. And Yeah, sure enough, sure enough, it did. It, it happened. I, I think, and then, yeah, when it’s there, it’s, it’s on everything, isn’t it ,

Sarah Riley: You know, it really is

Kyle Guyat: Towels and you’re just like, oh,

Sarah Riley: No, .

Kyle Guyat: But, but yeah. Yeah. But yeah. You know, know it.

Sarah Riley: There you go. . So if somebody wanted to come and visit you to, yeah. Check out the wonderful part of Devon where you’ve set up, how would they get in touch with you How would they find out more

Kyle Guyat: Well, a few different channels, to be honest. So we have just launched with, cool stays. So people should be able to find us on there. obviously our, we’ve got everything on there. And when guests do book, we use, touch Day. And so Touch Day is a digital guidebook system, and we’ve populated that with all the luxury things to be able to do from, you know, walks, runs, pubs, of course, spas, beaches, I mean West Evan with where we are, we’re, it’s kind of like the, the border between Cornwall. Mm-hmm. And so you’ve got, you know, if you wanna head further to the west, you’ve got Tin Tajo, it’s 45 minutes. And that sort of area is just gorgeous coast, isn’t it You drop down to the south, which is about an hour. You’ve got, you know, you’ve got the sort of Plymouth Shum beautiful area around there, like really love, I love Nas Mayo. And again, we put those little highlights on and all you can ping North mm-hmm. , and you know, obviously you’ve got, you’ve got another national park, you’ve got X more and stuff like that. So yeah. It’s, yeah, it’s a bit of a spot. We’ve managed to land it and so yeah. People are gonna really enjoy themselves, I reckon.

Sarah Riley: Mm. Best of both worlds for sure. .

Kyle Guyat: Yeah, definitely.

Sarah Riley: Well, I’m gonna leave all of those links in the description so people can just click on those and come visit and, oh, oh my goodness me. I would love to hear more as your story progresses, but you’re part of the club anyway, so we’re in constant contact. And you know, it’d be really great actually if, in a few months you come back on the podcast and just talk us through kind of other lessons that you might have learned since you’ve launched and been operating for maybe a summer.

Kyle Guyat: Yeah, definitely. Hey, yeah.

Sarah Riley: And things you’ve learned , and

Kyle Guyat: That’ll be huge. Yeah. Every day. Every day is a school day at the moment. Yes. I can’t, I can imagine it going. Yeah. Yeah. It’s bonkers. It really is.

Sarah Riley: But that’s life, isn’t it Every day is this school day, especially at the moment.

Kyle Guyat: Totally. Yeah. It’s funny how you, you know, when, so, so the launch of Lily Pod has meant that I’ve totally stopped what I was doing. And so I was, I was, I was involved in, you know, I ran a building company and I was, I was totally like, I, I needed to leave. I knew I needed to leave. I knew I needed to leave years ago, and it was my company I’d made it. And so I still wanted to leave. And so it’s, it’s, I basically, I had too much energy and passion to want to be and do something else. Yeah. And it was just a few days ago, the, the rain had really come in and the lake levels changed quite a lot. And so I keep an eye on the PO and see what’s there. And it was unusually high. And so, my, my day of work was to kind of get a, kind of, get a kind of like a wetsuit on, and I went onto the outlet to find out what, what was causing the problems.

Kyle Guyat: And then I walked the outlet of the lake, which helps keep it sort of, its level, which is a tributary that then joins into the river. And it was, and it was during that walk that I’d found that there was like fallen trees that had created a natural dam. And so, yeah, just I’d not, I’d not really thought about one, what an awesome day of work. It was two, it was just so different for me. It was totally different. and then we had to get a digger in, in the end to like pull, pull out the, pull out the, like this stop. And then suddenly this, the sleuth gates were open and and it took about, it only took about like six hours and the, and the lake level just like significantly dropped back to its normal, normal level. It was just, yeah, what a day. What an interesting, it’s another thing to, it’s another thing to do. It’s another thing to learn. It’s another thing to clock as well. Mm-hmm. Cause the, the tributary joining the river is probably like three, 400 meters away. So it wasn’t on my radar to, to check. And it was, yeah, it was, it was, it was, it was a good, good example of just like, well, there you go. Every day really is different.

Sarah Riley: Another day at the office, not .

Kyle Guyat: That’s it. Isn’t it really It’s funny cuz I, you know, you get up, you have a plan, you go to work. Cause it is, it’s, you know, I went to the lake. Mm. I don’t describe it as work. Cuz you, you know what it’s like when you’re self-employed, you just, yeah. You have to believe in your work enough that mm-hmm. You’re just, you’re just there aren’t you You’re just there and you’re doing it. Mm-hmm. Yeah. Yeah. What an unusual day. What a brilliant day.

Sarah Riley: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. But I hope that it’s all sorted out now, especially with the amount of rain that we’ve had recently.

Kyle Guyat: yeah. No, it’s, it’s, it’s great Now it’s, it’s, but it’s good to know, isn’t it It’s good to know that. It’s good to know how these things work. Cuz obviously they’re all connected. Mm-hmm. And, and you know, we have a waterfall and it must, mega gallons must come into that lake. And so Yeah. Where does it all go And so it was interesting to sort of keep learning what you’re doing

Sarah Riley: Mm-hmm. And really learning the heart and soul and, and the very life and the, not only, you know, the biosphere of the lake, but how it actually almost the heart, the, the blood running through its veins, which is obviously just water, but, you know, and how that flows. You’re

Kyle Guyat: Totally right. And it is, you, you need to, you, you know, I think with any project, to be honest, you need to sink into it and you need to learn it. Mm-hmm. Because there’s loads of like, the amount of species of different plants and stuff that I’ve learned Mm. Through being exposed to them and kind of going what’s what is what Mm. It’s a massive site. I’ve never, I’ve never had a piece of land that big before. It’s, it’s like the biggest gardening project I’ve ever, ever had. Mm-hmm. . And we’ve not even touched on the, you know, we, we made an island, I say an island, but there was a bog at the, the side of the lake. It wasn’t that attractive and it was just, but I knew it could be something. Mm-hmm. And so I was going to like build like maybe like a tho those lovely wooden walkways that you see, you know, that like stilted and that they, they take you through a journey mm-hmm.

Kyle Guyat: Which I still think is, is is beautiful. I love, I love things like that. but it, it would be, it would be over a bog and it’s just never that attractive to . It was just like, oh, that it, it’s no matter how nice I make the walkway, it’s still not gonna work. and so we, because it’s an old lime quarry, it, it’s, it feels so behind, behind the pod is all the, you know, so they, they must, they, when they go hunting for lime, they, let’s say they use, they find 10% lime and 90% of all the rock and you know, all that sort of the waste product Mm. Just gets put behind us. That’s all got trees and it’s all grown now. So it’s all you feel really enclosed. But the beauty of it was, is that we were able to take some of it and put it back into the lake.

Kyle Guyat: Mm-hmm. And so we just, so we ended up, we ended up putting 150 tons back into the lake in this bog and made this beautiful area now and then, we planted it up with wildflower just to help. Well just, it just fits our ethos. One, it’s beautiful, two, you know, it’s, it’s, it pulls in so much, so much insect life. It, it’s, it’s just incredible. And so we, yeah, it was, it was the most amazing thing to actually be able to do and I didn’t expect to do it at all. I expected to go down there this year, build a pod, you know, float it and get all that work. And then yeah, I ended up spending months just building like a little nature reserve . But it was it, and it’s all for pod two, that one as well as everyone could enjoy it. Mm. So now, it’s, now it’s something that you can walk on, be part of, and it takes you 25 meters out into the middle of the lake. That’s the scale of it. And it’s lovely. It’s beautiful. Yeah. Really, really worth it. So that’s where number two’s gonna sit. Mm-hmm.

Sarah Riley: This is, this is your project evolving and you’re evolving with your projects, aren’t you Your skills, your ability. But

Kyle Guyat: That’s, that’s exactly it. But that only happened through being on the land or being part of it. You don’t, it’s very difficult for me anyway, when I first, you know, you could see somewhere. It’s not until you interact with it and start being there and, and, and hanging out and just feeling what the place is and what it needs. Mm. and so I’ve just started, so yeah. I’ve got, I’ve got a minimum of 10 years at this place, so I could, yeah. How it’s gonna look even in a couple of years would be really different I think.

Sarah Riley: Mm, absolutely. And it’s very exciting that you are working on pods too already and you have more pods in the, in the pipeline as it were. Mm-hmm. and Yeah. I, for one, cannot wait to see how your project evolves over time. Even more so than it has already. Yeah. And yeah, it’s been an absolute pleasure chatting with you today. Oh, thank you Sarah. Likewise. Really love it. Love our little chats. Well, they’re very rarely little are they But yeah, love our chat. Just a reminder of your, web address. So that’s Lily pod with a y, that’s l l y Go on over there. Anyone who’s really intrigued about what Carl has produced, go and have a look and yeah, check it all out and get in touch with Carl. I know that you would appreciate that for sure. Even with some feedback. Yeah, definitely. So great to speak to you and I should see you very soon. Alright then. Take care now. Bye-bye. Take care.

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