A night under canvas used to be about self-sufficiency and proximity to the great outdoors. Now, thanks to glamping, you can enjoy all the benefits of having Mother Nature on your doorstep but with a few added home comforts.
Glamping – glamorous camping – is about embracing outdoor living without having to rough it, and it’s proved to be a winning combination, with upscale camping enjoying increased popularity year-on-year.
According to market researcher Mintel, more than 21 million camping and caravanning trips are expected to be taken by British adults in 2020, many of which will be glamping holidays.
Hoping to make the most of this growing trend is Camp de Reves, Guernsey’s brand new premium glamping site, which will open in April 2020. It’s been an idea five years in the making for owners Jane and Danny Barnes, who have transformed an old work yard in St Peter’s into beautifully landscaped glamping accommodation.
Bringing a new dimension to Guernsey’s tourism market
What finance worker Jane and self-employed landscaper Danny might lack in hands-on hospitality experience, they’ve made up for in market research. Although entering the tourism industry is daunting, they admit, they believe they’ve created an accommodation experience unlike anything else on the island, bringing a new dimension to Guernsey’s tourism market.
‘We wanted to offer something different and the sort of holiday experience we would enjoy ourselves. We love camping but we don’t want to sleep on the hard ground anymore. We still want to offer everything that’s great about camping but make it comfortable and accessible to people,’ said Jane, who hosted her and Danny’s wedding celebrations at the glampsite earlier in the year.
‘We know more people are turning to staycations because they’re thinking about cost and the environment, so we’re hoping to attract that market as well as overseas visitors. We really do believe this is one of the last little pockets of rural Guernsey, and it has so much to offer.’
Securing support for the project
Surrounded by fields and overlooking the west coast, the three-acre Camp de Reves is a 10-minute walk to L’Eree beach and Guernsey’s first Ramsar site, which includes Lihou Island, La Claire Mare Nature Reserve and the Colin Best Nature Reserve. Plus, it’s within an easy walk of food producers and just a five-minute drive from the tiny village of St Peter’s.
‘I was using the land as a work yard but it is such a lovely spot. We had some family get-togethers up here and people would say, “Wouldn’t this make an amazing campsite?” We thought about it and the idea grew from there, so we applied for planning permission in 2016, which was passed in February 2018,’ said Danny.
‘The States approved the plans with no objections. They’ve been very supportive. Some people in the parish had their concerns. There were worries about potential noise and there was quite a bit of rumour and speculation around what we wanted to do here. Hopefully, now people can see for themselves what we’ve done, their minds will be put at ease.’
‘We wanted to keep it quite exclusive’
Work began on Camp de Reves in winter 2018. The area has been completely landscaped, with great care taken to use indigenous plants. There’s a building housing a disabled-access bathroom, games room, office and farm shop, and a laundry room. An outside barbecue area with pizza oven, a playground and petanque area is also in the works.
The star attraction is, however, the five safari-style glamping tents, each named after the reefs and bays visible from the glampsite. Each tent has its own garden, terrace and enjoys panoramic sea views. Inside, they come equipped with a kitchen, shower and toilet facilities, and can sleep up to six people.
‘There can only ever be a maximum of 30 people staying on the site. We never wanted it to be rammed with people – we wanted to keep it quite exclusive,’ said Jane.
‘We also knew that we would need some very strong tents to cope with the high winds. We went to the glamping exhibition in the UK to source them and we picked the ones that could withstand storm force winds. We’ve had some really bad weather since the tents were put up and they’ve dealt with it, no problem.’
There’s still some work to be done but Camp de Reves is on track for an April 2020 opening, and while the couple are confident they’re delivering something new for the island, it doesn’t mean they’re without nerves. After all, the hospitality industry is tough and notoriously unforgiving.
‘I’ve been a self-employed landscaper for 30 years so I’m used to dealing with clients’ needs and I’m hoping that experience will come in handy. Dealing with guests is going to be a bit different but I’m looking forward to people seeing what we’ve done,’ said Danny.
‘It is new for us and that’s quite terrifying,’ said Jane.
‘But it’s so exciting, too.’