by Helen Hayes
Situated 5 miles from the dramatic North Cornwall coast and tucked quietly down a private tree-lined drive in its own haven of natural wildlife is Trenannick Farm and holiday cottages. The property has only recently been purchased by the current owners, Nick Green and Jules Howson, so I was very pleased to have the opportunity to hear about their journey to becoming holiday cottage owners for the first time…
Read on to hear more about Nick and Jules’ holiday letting journey and about Trenannick Holiday Cottages.
With a new home and business to get prepared for the coming season ahead, it was not the best of timing for the couple when we went into the first national lockdown. As they were not able to rent the cottages out, they took full advantage of their free time and set to work on a total renovation project. They have updated the cottages and grounds, making them into the inviting complex of cottages we see today.
Knowing how quickly properties are currently selling in the West Country, we know the search can be very stressful and feel like a race against time, so I was intrigued to know, if it was love at first sight when they saw the farm for the first time?
Jules explained; “We visited a variety of holiday cottage complexes in Devon and Cornwall during 2019; some of these we felt were best described as soulless, whilst others were run down and blighted by poor reputation, or simply didn’t offer comfortable owners’ accommodation. Our agent at Stags prompted us to view Trenannick Cottages back in May 2019. The long beech tree-lined driveway entrance into Trenannick is a joy and then to see a grade II listed 17th century farmhouse with five beautifully converted cottages was picture perfect, all nestled in a tree-lined hollow within its own three acre grounds. Viewing Trenannick Farmhouse and Cottages as being able to be both our home and business meant on first impressions, it was a winner. What was not to love? My partner, Nick cheekily said to me “You’ve bought it already” – how right he was!”
Each year Helpful Holidays hold a seminar called ‘The Inside track to owning and operating a holiday home’, full of useful information for anyone wanting to become a holiday homeowner with industry specialists talking about: tax, mortgages, insurance and the all-important do’s and don’ts of letting a holiday cottage, and this is how Jules and Nick were introduced to the team.
“From early on in our quest to find the perfect business, we quickly developed a good relationship with Stags Estate Agents and they suggested we attend a conference at Bovey Castle Hotel on Dartmoor about owning holiday cottages. Organised by Helpful Holidays and created for both those who already owned holiday cottages, as well as those who are considering buying one in the future.”
“We figured we might learn something and it could prove to be an ideal opportunity to get some working knowledge of all aspects of letting,” Jules explained. “It’s important to note we had no experience of holiday letting (although my parents were hoteliers during most of my childhood). The team at Helpful Holidays were open, friendly, and professional; we enjoyed their presentation on the do’s and don’ts and the marketing tips. They had recently become part of the Sykes Holiday Cottages Family but still remain a local brand. As a result of the conference, we used their recommended local brokers and gleaned sound support from other affiliates. In our previous life we owned and managed high street retail shops (Nick still owns Browns Home Hardware in Pershore, Worcestershire) and have always supported ‘buy local’ – an especially apt ethos over the last 12 months.”
Experiencing lockdown was new for us all, we had to learn to adapt to the changing ways we worked and lived, but the timing was terrible for Jules and Nick. They had just exchanged contracts on their new home/business and now all they had to do was move, but it wasn’t that easy.
“Honestly, like most people on the planet, we had no idea of the impact that Covid-19 would have on life. The reality is we believed it was a storm in a teacup; how wrong we were proved to be. We bought Trenannick Cottages on March 24th 2020, moving house from Worcestershire to Cornwall is best described as traumatic. Solicitors working from home, our removal company not knowing if they could or even should transport our worldly possessions because of road blocks. Apart from the obvious stress of moving in, we spent several months cancelling, postponing, refunding guest holidays and of course had no guests and no income.” With a positive attitude Jules described, “This did, however, present us with the ideal opportunity to embark on a massive restoration, renovations, refurbishment, and to develop a new marketing plan for the future. Hello Helpful Holidays.”
The list of improvements and investments made at Trenannick is extensive, but to summarise: the cottages have been transformed with a whole new contemporary look and feature Smart TV and USB sockets etc. Beech Cottage is perfect with a luxury wet room (Jules confesses to having bathroom envy). The grounds and copse have been opened up, there’s a new play area and games room, fire pit and chiminea in the BBQ area. There are halter-trained alpacas and free range chickens. We also installed an EV charge point. As to future plans, expansion is on the horizon, “We await a response from Cornwall Planning about the demolition of a redundant Dutch barn to be replaced with two log cabins with hot tubs to expand our guest accommodation portfolio.”
“We have always been environmentally aware; Cornwall has ambitious plans to be carbon neutral, and at a local level when you live in such an Eden as we do, we feel we are custodians of our land. The circular economy is paramount to us. We re-use, re-purpose and support the local Cornish economy for goods and services.
We work with Cornwall Wildlife Trust and TEVI (Cornish for ‘grow’) is a new, unique and exciting EU-funded venture which aims to do two things, simultaneously; create both economic and environmental growth in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
TEVI, in conjunction with the University of Exeter, have installed at Trenannick the most northerly antenna to help track rainfall, CO2 emissions and wildlife movement across Cornwall, we have a published environmental and sustainability policy, and are very proud of the accolade of a Gold standard from Green Tourism“.
On top of all the other things that attract guests to Trenannick, we must not forget the three Alpacas who share their home here. “Our boys, as we call them; Macchu, Cusco and Lima are huacaya alpacas – they are adorable and very intelligent. Each has their own unique personality – Lima is the naughty boy, Cusco is really laid back, and Macchu, the choccy fleeced one is … well … a favourite.”
“They are halter-trained, and we take our guests for walks with them during their stay,” Jules continued; “They enjoy alfalfa treats in the afternoons, children and adults love them and so do we!”
“Why alpacas? Quite simply, we went on a grand tour of South America visiting Peru, Bolivia and Argentina and encountered these fantastic animals – I did say “one day I’m going to have alpacas” and so we do! Perhaps now you understand the reason for their Peruvian names!”
Being introduced to Helpful Holidays right at the start of their journey helped Nick and Jules to navigate their way, hassle-free, to becoming holiday cottage owners.
“We are in the early stages of our sign up with Helpful Holidays, but every communication with them has been easy and helpful. Historically 75% of our guests are repeat customers which is fantastic, but it would be foolish to assume that all these guests will always re-book in the future and we want to maximise our bookings. The other 25% of customers had found us through ad hoc portals and frankly maintaining calendars for all these possibilities is time-consuming and frustrating. We see Helpful Holidays as an avenue to polarise all of this effort AND expand our presence in the market ultimately reducing effort and cost.”
“To summarise, our achievements here are frankly enormous, and whilst we are acutely aware that this investment could not have been achieved without the absence of guests during these Covid lockdown periods. We are super excited to welcome guests here again from 12th April and look forward to the season ahead of us.”
Jules & Nick with Macchu, one of their alpacas.
(Allegedly both semi-retired)
For more information and to check availability of each of the properties at Trenannick Farm, please see the links below.
The Roundhouse, (Ref. 1062416)
Little Leighs, (Ref. 1062421)
Ash Cottage, (Ref. 1062419)
Beech Cottage, (Ref. 1062418)
Pond Meadow, (Ref. 1062420)
If you have a property you are considering to let as a holiday cottage, then please call our team of property experts who will be happy to provide you with a free, no-obligation pricing appraisal and discuss how holiday letting could work for you.
Join us on one of our virtual coffee mornings at a time to suit you by emailing us.
To book an appointment or request a ‘Let’s work together‘ brochure, contact our team on 01647 401799 (option 2) or email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our Let Your Cottage page.
For more information and advice for holiday homeowners, check out some of our recent owner blogs below…
Holiday homes, tax and all things in between
Buying a holiday home to let
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