We love a good success story, and there’s nothing we like to share more than case studies from happy customers. After sharing the story of Heathy Lea at Chatsworth in Derbyshire – a fantastic site that’s now proudly home to five of our luxurious shepherd huts – we’re back to tell the tale of The Winford Retreat in Bristol.
Perfectly positioned in a secluded spot and boasting outstanding views, an outdoor bathtub (ideal for enjoying a glass of wine at sunset), a firepit, and even its very own enclosed, private acre of land (great for any furry companions you’re bringing along with you), The Winford Retreat is a staycation paradise and our shepherd hut sits at its centre!
We caught up with owner and landscape gardener Seb Dexter to dig a little deeper into why he and his partner Kirsty purchased their shepherd hut a year ago, how it’s fitted into their fledgling holiday lettings business and more recently been advertised as an Airbnb, and what their guests really think of the new addition.
I’ve been a landscaper for a while, so love working outside. After seeing so many other people start their own holiday letting businesses, with a lot of success too, it seemed like the natural next step.
We were lucky enough to come across the land and purchase it. With its location in Winford, near to Chew Valley Lake and close to Bristol Airport with good links to the city, it’s the ideal position. The site itself offers a secluded space that changes with the seasons. In fact, in the summer, it’s almost a nature reserve and guests get a one-acre site to themselves. Our site has pretty much everything someone would want or need for a nice, quiet stay away.
We charge a nightly rate of £150, with a minimum two-night stay. One year in, we’re averaging around £1,500 a month, making the shepherd hut a good return on investment already.
Weekends are particularly busy, and whilst weekdays are quieter, this works for us as Kirsty and I both work full time. Occupancy varies from season to season too. We started up in November and as a newcomer to the holiday lets industry, this quieter period was a nice way to ease us into this new way of working. Kirsty manages all the bookings herself you see, and while Airbnb is relatively straightforward, Booking.com is less simple.
Our guests are generally aged between 35 and 55, and mainly come from the city in search of a weekend getaway with plenty of fresh air. There’s absolutely no light pollution up here and 80% of our guests bring their dogs along – we allow one small dog – so those staying with us can really feel at home.
We chose the Single Door Herdsman as this aligned more with the vision we had in mind. The breakfast bar is just one of the features that sold us on this particular design. Even if it’s raining, guests can sit back and take in the views thanks to this interior setup as well as enjoy a cooling breeze in good weather. We love the space the Herdsman has to offer inside.
We’re lucky that we have mains electrics and water, which we paid to install. We’ve got water coming off the mains water tap from Wessex Water, which is ran along the field and connected to the hut. You supply the connection there which just clips in. With the electrics, it’s just like a caravan connection – pretty much plug and play.
Generally, people are out and about during the day, but mains electricity and water are modern conveniences that are certainly appreciated when they return to the hut. The LPG gas tanks connected to the back are around £80 each cost-wise.
Naturally, I took the lead with the landscaping. My main aim was to make the site as accessible as it can be, providing areas to walk on, even if it’s wet. I also incorporated outdoor areas for dining and relaxing. A lot of people come out to the table and chairs to have their morning coffee or breakfast. While the bench is made for enjoying an alfresco lunch.
There’s a firepit out front too, which the guests love and burn A LOT of logs on! Our guests put the sun loungers out on the grass during the summer as well. This is the real secluded part of the retreat. You’re in the middle of nowhere.
While we did have permission to add five shepherd huts, we’re rolling with the one at the minute, which has been successful during this first year of business. Personally, on the one-acre site, we would potentially have two shepherd huts in the future and that’s when we’ll see it become a more beneficial investment.
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