Glamping is a useful source of income

Growing numbers of landowners in the South East are capitalising on their location to create glamping sites, and enjoying quick returns on their investment as a result.

Glamping is an increasingly popular choice for holidaymakers looking to enjoy all the fun of camping in the great outdoors without the risk of soggy sleeping bags and a cramped canvas living.

Adding luxury to the traditional camping holiday to create glamping – short for glamourous camping – is a trend which has surged in recent years as holiday makers seek new ways of enjoying the benefits of outdoor living with none of the rough and ready downside. As a result, many landowners are choosing to maximise the potential of their property by creating sites to host would be glampers, with accommodations ranging from fivestar safari tents and opulent yurts to shepherds huts and bespoke cabins.

In the South East, breathtaking countryside invites landowners with a spare field or two to try the business benefits of diversifying into glamping. Glamping is now a popular concept and visits to relevant websites have grown dramatically. Because of the interest, more people in the South East are thinking about using their land to create glamping sites to accommodate visitors, especially if they have farms and fields with wonderful views. It can be a great way of diversifying to yield a good income from land, and can bring very fast returns on an investment. But it is also very easy to get it wrong and it is essential to go through a pre planning stage, establish a site, and ensure that it’s possible enjoy optimal returns.

Glamping consultants can advise landowners on locations, which types of glamping accommodation to invest in, and how best to arrange them. Glamping accommodation is very different to traditional self catering holiday accommodation, and running a successful glamping site requires a different approach. The most common mistakes people make are putting accommodation in the wrong place, trying to cram in too many units to a small site and locating them too close together.

Glampers want luxury and that means having lots of space around them: there is a fine line between a glamping site for the luxury market, and a holiday park. If you get it right, the returns on glamping sites are certainly rewarding – and far quicker to arrive than those earned as a result of investment in buying and converting more traditional holiday accommodations.

Pam Foden from Visit England defines glamping expectations as: “Glamping can be many things, and such expectations from accommodation can vary enormously from one visitor to another. One person’s ‘vintage, upcycled, quirky romance’ is another person’s ‘roughing it without any mod cons.’ Some visitors will expect electric points and heated toilet facilities, whereas another might be disappointed if they aren’t totally back to nature using a composting toilet in the middle of the woods.”

Visit England as well as the AA now offer accreditation for glamping sites. Accreditation can mean better marketing opportunities and higher return. But Nick Sneller from Classic Pod Company, the Devon based manufacturer and intsaller of glamping pods, fears this could reduce a site’s special character. “For example the Visit England glamping quality standard states that you should have adequate lighting, but this may reduce the enjoyment of dark skies,” Mr Sneller said. “For a farm, standards of accreditation may mean that the land becomes too sanitised and manicured, impacting on the biodiversity of the environment and thus the enjoyment of nature.”

Glamping accommodation varies from the traditional yurts and shepherds huts to American Airstreams and wooden cabins. There are also wooden pods, cedar wood yurts, gypsy wagons and tabernacles, though the most popular larger accommodations sleeping up to six are safari tents. The best sites feature en suite bathroom facilities with a hot shower and flushing lavatory, and mod cons like hot and cold running water, electric, as well as luxurious fittings and furnishings.

Mr Sneller thinks a glamping site should not be a generic holiday resort, but a design that is sympathetic to its surroundings. The following points should be looked at:

  • something special and particular to your site, taking in the views, the best of the sun or shade;
  • try to give an individual experience: soft landscaping can enhance this;
  • something comfortable yet basic – you’re camping after all;
  • something simple to install, avoiding expensive hard landscaping that may distract from the essence of a farm;
  • selfcontained, to provide the experience your guests want, with their own time scale;
  • adaptable, or future proofed to allow your business to adapt and grow;
  • durable and long lasting, so guests can return year after year; and
  • long season of use to maximise the return and to increase your guests enjoyment of the changing seasons.

Those willing to invest in creating top end glamping facilities are most likely to see a good return on their investment. The cost of buying and establishing glamping accommodation vary depending on the type. An American Airstream can cost around £15,000 to buy and a further £10,000 to fit out, while a tabernacle costs up to £40,000 but comes entirely bespoke, with interior design and kitted out ready to use.

Shepherds huts can cost from £20-40,000 with the top of the range having underfloor heating, fully fitted kitchens as well as an en suite shower-room with flushing lavatory and wash basin. A safari tent costs between £30,000 and £35,000 to buy, set up and furnish, depending on how much you can do yourself. Location makes a big difference, and glamping properties by the sea always book up faster. It takes two or three years to become established as a site, and then many sites are fully booked from March to November.

The profits for owners are good: depending on the location, earnings can be £8,000 to £12,000 a year for a large yurt sleeping four; £10,000 to £18,000 a year for a shepherds hut sleeping two, £12,000 to £14,000 a year on an Airstream sleeping four and an average of £15,000 to £20,000 a year income from a safari tent sleeping six.

<a href=”>Glamping: Grant funding

<a href=”>Glamping: Planning policies supportive of tourist development in rural areas

<a href=”>Glamping: Insurance made easy

<a href=”>Glamping: Bringing some glamour to farm diversification

<a href=”>Read the full farming review