Luxury holiday pods prove sound diversification investment for farm

An upland farming couple from north-east Wales started a luxury holiday diversification in 2019 following guidance (Photo: Farming Connect)
An upland farming couple from north-east Wales started a luxury holiday diversification in 2019 following guidance (Photo: Farming Connect)

Three luxury holiday pods overlooking the Clwydian Range in north-east Wales have proved a sound diversification investment for an upland farming couple.

Angharad Jones and her husband Gethin own a 200-acre upland beef and sheep farm, overlooking the Clwydian Range near Ruthin.

Since they bought their farm in 2001, the couple have been steadily building up their herd of around 30 beef sucklers and 600 Aberfield and Welsh ewes.

In 2019, keen to find an additional stream of income, they began to consider setting up a new tourism enterprise.

Angharad admitted that the investment - in terms of cash and commitment for a new tourism venture - is not for the faint-hearted.

"But when you read your glowing reviews and the bookings keep coming, you know it’s all going to be worthwhile," she said.

The Jones' tapped into the Welsh government-funded Farming Connect service to help set up the new diversified tourism business, guidance which was "very much needed."

Angharad attended a Farming Connect diversification clinic in the autumn of 2019, delivered online by one of the scheme's approved business specialists.

“There is so much to think about before you even identify the farmland or spaces you want to develop, let alone apply for planning permission," she noted.

Armed with their new-found knowledge, the couple then decided to commission a business plan through the Farming Connect Advisory Service.

They selected Jeremy Bowen Rees of Landsker Business Solutions, who visited the farm and gave guidance.

He spotted the potential of the Jones' old disused railway carriage – which thanks to his advice, is now spruced up into a visitor hub, with a washing machine and freezer, as well as maps and information about the local area.

Around the same time, encouraged by her local Farming Connect development officer Elen Williams, Angharad undertook training for setting up a new website.

She was also invited to join a sector-specific Agrisgôp ‘tourism’ group, facilitated by leader Gwen Davies.

Angharad said: “Gwen was amazing, she got everybody in the group talking honestly and openly – some, like us, were just starting out and preparing to apply for planning."

As soon as planning was approved, the couple placed an order for three locally-manufactured pods, all suitable for two adults.

They also ordered three log-fired hot tubs, which they knew would be an appealing visitor attraction. These are fed by firewood Gethin sources around the farm.

“Our visitors get an interrupted view of Moel Famau and magical dark night skies," Angharad said.

"These touches all add to the atmosphere of staying at a luxury rural retreat at any time of the year, and by buying ‘local’, we are also ticking some important environmental boxes, too.”