Hello 2022

The Season Ahead 

After such a turbulent couple of years, we feel so grateful to have kept our heads above water and to have welcomed so many lovely guests (when we weren’t in a national lockdown).

We can finally look to the year ahead with a bit more confidence and are so looking forward to welcoming everyone again. It is always so fun to have a busy site, hearing laughter and watching memories being made.  What a wonderful job we have.

Ukraine

That said, before I move on – I didn’t want to write a new blog without touching on what is going in the world.  It is devastating to hear what is happening in Ukraine.  Our hearts go out to everyone involved and are so proud of everyone who is doing what they can to help.  We donated to the British Red Cross emergency appeal team, linked here – so if you haven’t already, please do give what you can, it really helps.

Website

Firstly, we are super excited and if you are reading this you may have already noticed, that we have a new website. Yay!

It looks so beautiful and we feel the user experience should be much improved.  We hope you find it easy to navigate and enjoy seeing all we have on offer here.  It is also so easy to book a stay – go on give it a go! 😉

We always welcome feedback, so would love to hear from you if you have any comments at all about our new site.  stay@theorchardretreat.co.uk

Updates

As usual, we have been replacing furnishings and making improvements where we can. Ensuring the accommodations and site are in great shape, ready to start another season.

The yurts have had new carpets, roof crowns and dining tables with tuck away stools.  It is so important to us to keep everything in good order so that our guests have the best possible time, with everything they need.

The cottages now have mini Nespresso coffee machines. They have also had a lick of paint internally to keep things looking fresh.  Plus, some new sofa cushions, rugs and Apple Tree Cottage even has a shiny new wooden bath panel.  It really has made the bathroom look so smart.

We even have new named dog towels for our dog pack, love them!

The Site

Spring is around the corner and gosh it feels good.  Everything always looks so much better when the sun is shining, the leaves are out and the flowers are blooming – bliss!

We have lots of other things in the pipeline which we will continue to implement through the year – mainly in the grounds.  I am dying to get my hands on some new plants – watch this space.

We have plans to add some more apple trees in the orchard.

In fact, the next 20 bookings we get, we are going to buy a tree per booking and add them around the site.  I will write more about that another time.

Yoga

We are hosting a lovely yoga retreat in September, I think it is fully booked – but please do enquire directly with Putu just in case.  It is set to be a wonderful weekend, I can’t wait.

Right I will leave you all to it – take care everyone and if we don’t see you this year, we wish you health and happiness and hope to welcome you again one day soon.

Virtual Tour

Virtual Tour

Virtual Tour

Virtual Tour of The Orchard Retreat

We are delighted to present our new virtual tour of the site.  A great way to see the layout, where you are staying and have a general mooch around.

There is also a treasure hunt for children, such a fun feature.

We hope you enjoy it – we would love to hear what you think.

 

 

Exeter Living Magazine

Exeter Living

This month, we were absolutely delighted to have been approached by the editor of Exeter Living Magazine.  She asked if we would be interested in being featured in their glamping piece. Of course we were thrilled and immediately said yes.

Having seen our site and followed our social media, she felt The Orchard Retreat really summed up glamping in Devon.  How lovely!

Chat

We had a lovely chat about the site and given how close we are to Exeter it all fitted together perfectly. We have so much to offer our guests and were delighted to share this with Exeter Living.

In Print

It is always so nice when your hard work is recognised – so to be in print was so exciting.

This months copy came out on the 21st May and has lots of wonderful articles about whats happening in and around Exeter.

 

More Than Just A Yurt

outdoor covered area

We Are Open

We are open and couldn’t be happier – after such a long time, it was just wonderful to open our doors to guests this week.  To hear the sound of laughter and fun around the site has just been gorgeous. It has been so missed!

The cottage guests are settled and having a lovely time.  The yurt guests are braving the last of the frost (thank goodness for the wood burners in each yurt) and enjoying all we have on offer here at The Orchard Retreat.

Improvements During Lockdown

Despite being closed, we used our time to spruce up the Glamping side of the business.  The cottages had their turn last year, just before lockdown 1 and are looking equally as fabulous.

We had a beautiful new covered area built over the decking by the facilities lodge. We also extended the decking to add more seating.  It looks amazing and makes the space so much more useable. A great place for a sundowner.  Think rattan furniture and cafe chairs – lovely!

outdoor covered area

The yurts have had new roofs in a sand colour and suit their natural environment even more then they did before. Yay.

yurt canopy

The private bathrooms and kitchen have had a lick of paint.  The shared kitchen has more shelving and new utensils, with some vintage touches as well.

We have added some potted palm trees for some more natural beauty.  The tub house has one too and we are so happy with how it all looks.

We also planted some new apple trees in the orchard, to replace those lost to age and the weather.  Such an important part of our job is to respect the natural side of our site and keep looking as it would have done in years gone by.

More Than Just a Yurt

Looking around the site, it made us realise we offer more than just a yurt stay:

  • The run of the ancient apple orchard.
  • Free use of the Tubhouse – our take on hot tubs, with two vintage cast iron baths and a shower. Hot running water on tap, all set privately by the babbling stream.
  • The communal fire pit, with free fire wood, gathered throughout the year for guests to help themselves to.
  • Badminton area.
  • Table tennis.
  • Play area with treehouse.
  • The hand built pizza oven (available to hire for just £10).
  • Guests can also wander around the rest of the 15 acre site – with its meadows, wood and streams.

For your convenience, we also have a site shop selling some local goodies and booze. Plus our local farm shop, Thorne’s, is just next door.  We also have the wonderful Ring of Bells within walking distance – our local village pub servicing gourmet style pub food and local beers and ales.

It really is a wonderful place and it is so amazing to see our guests making memories. It makes all of our hard work so worth while.

Awards Past & Presant

In previous years we entered into the Visit Devon and South West Tourism awards for Glamping and won both silver and bronze. But this year, as well as gaining gold with Green Tourism – we have been awarded gold for both our cottages and yurts by Visit England for exceptional quality of accommodation and customer service and we are absolutely thrilled.


gold award from visit England

Guest Reviews

Our guest reviews continue to amaze us, with 5* all the way. These really are the most special awards to us, as it gives our guests the chance to offer their feedback.  So far, we have been immensely lucky to receive such wonderful comments. Thank you!

Availability & How to Book

So with all of the above in mind, we wanted to let you know of our current availability in the yurts and hope we can welcome some more of you this season.

The yurts are mostly well booked over the weekends during the season, but this leaves room for quite a few Monday – Friday stays.

Our Monday to Friday stays benefit from the same price as our Friday to Monday stays – so essentially you get a night for free. It is the perfect time for couples and young families to venture out around the school holidays.  So please do check our availability on our website, where you can book your stay directly.

Availability

Once on our availability page, you can forward through the months of each accommodation and choose ‘book now’ to take you to the specific property page to book your chosen dates.

Stay Safe – COVID

Things are getting easier, but please rest assured, we offer our guests a COVID safe stay and we don’t think you will be disappointed!

Really looking forward to meeting you and welcoming you to The Orchard Retreat here in Devon.

Vicky, Nick, Maddy and the dogs!

 

LOCKDOWN 3

pippin night

2021

Gosh, what a year ALREADY! As we said goodbye to 2020, I don’t think any of us expected to be out of woods in terms of the dreaded virus. I guess we were even expecting another lockdown after the Christmas period. But wow, nearly a year of this and it still feels so bleak.

But, I am clinging to the fact that this feels like the darkness before the dawn, now the vaccine is in the mix.  Let’s hope, as many of us embark on home schooling again, or are once again confined to solitude if you live alone, that they roll out the vaccine quickly.  It certainly does appear that way so far, which is great, as it’s awful to think of so many people and children being adversely affected by all of this.

Closed Once Again

For us, the lockdown has meant closing our doors once again.  Our lovely Cider Barn Christmas guest (who is hoping to move to Devon) was having an extended break to get to know the area, had to leave early.  Which was so sad. We also had to cancel our New Year guests in Apple Tree Cottage. Plus turn down all the others hoping for a winter break to book. Boo.

But we will get there and feel so fortunate to have so far avoided COVID and feel for all of those who have lost loved ones due to this awful disease.

Sanctuary At The Orchard Retreat

But we are so pleased to be able to offer a safe and wonderful sanctuary when this is all over.  Currently we are very excited to be having new roofs made for the yurts.  They are going to look super smart and lovely. Yay. Plus we are going to have a covered area over the decking of the facilities lodge. This will give the building an outside inside vibe. Perfect for those rainy days!

So things are moving forward despite being closed. We just can’t wait to be back in operation, welcoming you all again.

Bookings

We have so many bookings for Spring 2021 already, which is brilliant.  I can’t wait for sunnier days and to have guests milling around once again. Please do get in touch if you are looking to have a change of scene and I can book you in.

stay@theorchardretreat.co.uk 

Take care all and stay safe – so looking forward to seeing you soon!

 

 

 

 

A Long Summer

holiday cottages;

Thankful to be Open

After the craziness of lockdown and being shut for so many months, we were so grateful to have the green light to open on the 4th July.

 

With some new regulations put in place, to keep our guests, team, community and us safe – we flung open our doors, so to speak and welcomed guests with a vengeance.  After such uncertain times, it has been wonderful to see people enjoy themselves and have a change of scene.

Both the yurts and cottages here at The Orchard Retreat, have seen a variety of new and old faces and it has been really lovely.  Devon tourism is back – hooray!

The feedback has been lovely, not only are our guests having a great time but most have told us how safe they feel and thanked us for our reaction to the COVID pandemic. So lovely to hear, as I can assure your the build up to opening was pretty worrying. We didn’t know if we were doing the right thing encouraging people to come and stay. Morally it felt very confusing, but as soon as we implemented our new way of working and by adhering to the government guidelines, we felt safe to open.

The good to go scheme via Visit England was a great tool to help us know we were ready to open.  It was really impressive how the whole industry pulled together so our sector could try and resume so sort of normality.

Changes

By changing a few things in house, a later check in time and earlier check out, we have had time to really complete a deep clean of all accommodations.  Our guests have been so helpful by understanding these time changes by contributing to minimum contact, by stripping the beds and ensuring one family at a time in the communal areas etc. Thanks guys!

It seems to have been a really long summer and with the continued good weather and guests still arriving, after schools went back, we couldn’t be happier with how it has all gone.

With COVID numbers rising again and an uncertain immediate future for the country – thank goodness we had the summer for us all to feel a little bit more normal.

We are so grateful to our key workers and hospital staff for keeping the country going and our hearts go out to anyone who has been affected by this pandemic.

 

 

 

 

Keeping Positive In This Strange New World

Keeping Positive

In the last six weeks we have all experienced something completely unprecedented – a global pandemic.

While our heroic NHS (click to donate) staff and other vital key workers keep our country from seizing up completely – we all have to stay at home, in lockdown, feeling a little lost, helpless and worried. Our hearts go out to those affected by the corona virus, we have been thinking of everyone.

So how do we remain positive during this difficult time? I mean, that is quite the question.  Being isolated from our families and friends, trying to work from home (if we are able) and homeschooling (if we are fortunate enough to have children) have posed a number of challenges.  All while incomes dwindle and we seemingly have nothing to look forward to (for now).  But brighter days will come.

Small Businesses

For us, as a small business, this should be one of our busiest times and it has been an enormous adjustment to not have any guests around.  The first time since we opened seven years ago. Having to navigate the cancellations, ensuring our guests don’t lose out financially, whilst juggling our cash flow has caused great anxiety.

But we have remained pragmatic – we’ve had to.  For us, that has entailed keeping busy.  Completing jobs we don’t normally have time to do and making sure everything here is in order. Our guests have been amazing.  Most have postponed their stays rather than cancel.  A real show of loyalty and a want to return, which is lovely.  This has defiantly been a positive for us.

Take Stock

This time has given us the chance to take stock and reflect.  I can’t say I have learnt any new skills during this time, although I have planted seeds and they have grown – win!

But what we have learnt, is that we are so we are so fortunate to live where we do, to be together and that we are safe and well.  All things to be happy about and for that we are so grateful.

But more than that, we are so pleased to be able to offer a lovely sanctuary to our guests when this is all over.

So with all that in mind, whatever you can do to keep happy, stay sane and get through this, know we are in this together and despite our varying circumstances, what a much needed leveller that is!

We are proud of our NHS staff and key workers and after all of this, we will be here, waiting to offer some much needed escapism when the lockdown eases and we can travel around more freely.

Staying Safe

Stay safe, stay well – do whatever is needed to get through this.  Here’s hoping for some positive news from the government on Sunday – as long as the time is right and the data allows for some lifting of restrictions, we will be ready and waiting for your return.  Fingers crossed for sooner rather than later.

Much love to you all

Vicky and Nick

 

 

 

 

 

 

COVID- 19 CLOSED FOR NOW

Closed for April and possibly longer

We have taken the tough decision to close our doors to both the yurts and cottages for April. We will reassess the situation in a couple of weeks and keep you all posted regarding May and beyond. We are quite sure it may go on for longer, so really appreciate your patience with this. 
 
It’s utterly heartbreaking, but we feel this is the right thing to do for our guests, family and wonderful local community. With the stay at home message loud and clear we really need to take heed & all stay safe.

Guests

We absolutely love welcoming our guests and are so sad to not be welcoming anyone in the spring but as soon as the virus is under control and it is safe to travel again, we will be back with gusto.
 

Thank you

We are hugely grateful to all the key workers and volunteers involved in keeping our country going, especially the NHS, in this unprecedented time.

See you Soon

See you all on the flip side and we will keep you entertained in the meantime with lovely pictures and stories via our social media, so please do follow us if you don’t already.  
We can’t wait to welcome some of you later in the year.  Please do not book a stay online incase we are still closed, if you would like to enquire please do call us on 01363 866058 or email us at stay@theorchardretreat.co.uk
Stay safe at home. Love Vicky & Nick. 💕

The Cider Barn – Interior Update

holiday cottage; living room; table; chairs; flowers

The Cider Barn

For many years The Cider Barn has been heated by the old woodburner, which had a back boiler – this meant as well as pumping heat out into the living area, it also heated the radiators in each room.  Whilst this has been lovely and certainly a sustainable way to heat the property (we used our own managed wood source), we felt some of our guests would like to be warm without lighting a fire.

So in January, we had a wonderfully efficient gas boiler installed and the barn is now lovely and warm.  However, so as not to lose the sustainable way of heating the barn altogether, we jumped at the chance of using Calor’s BioLPG.  It is made up of residue and waste materials, is sustainable and renewable and is a step in the right direction to a greener gas. Go Calor!

Interior Update

Whilst we were at it, we made a few more interior updates, which we know our guests will enjoy. In fact, our current February half term guests are loving it and said it is amazing. Very cosy and smart and they love our taste, how nice is that.

So what else did we do? Well firstly, we had a third loo added in the large upstairs bedroom. There had always been a sink and given the size of the room, we felt there was enough space to take up a small corner, adding a loo with the sink and creating a small ensuite area.  It is perfect, just what we were after and looks brilliant. Actually, it is as if it has always been there.

 

We also wanted to add another shower.  There is already the ensuite shower room in the main bedroom downstairs, but the family bathroom only had an original roll top bath, a sink and loo.  So we found the perfect shower to go over the bath.  This means each bedroom has a loo and there are now two showers.  Perfect for groups of adults, or larger families to shower at the same time and get out in good time to explore the local area. Yay!

 

shower; bath; roll top bath; bathroom; family bathroom

We also re enamelled the bath, so it feels shiny and new.

Added Extras

Finally, we also had a new highly efficient woodburner installed for added warmth. We updated the wall lights in the living area to give a more modern feel, added a new wall mounted smart TV, a new coffee table and another mirror here and there.  We also painted all the walls and oiled the floors.

oiled floor; mop; wooden floor 

It looks amazing and feels so gorgeous and cosy and we know these updates will help make the Cider Barn an even nicer space to holiday in.

 

living area; table; TV; Woodburner

 

Bookings are flying in, but please do check our availability and book directly, or email stay@theorchardretreat.co.uk for any questions. We would love to welcome you soon!

It’s Never Too Late

Our Season In Short

I realised I hadn’t written a blog for a while – time has whizzed by, but it is never too late to sit down and write about our season highlights hey?

As the weather started to improve in Spring, we welcomed many returning guests to the yurts, as well as some new faces. And so the season begun!

As ever, such lovely guests made it so much fun and when they enjoy their stay as much as they seem to, it really makes our job so worthwhile.  The feedback is always so positive, with the words magical, tranquil and special being used on many occasions. Lucky us.

Returning Guests

We had returning guests who now live in San Francisco and when they told their children they were coming to the UK for a summer break, they requested to have a weekend with us again.  Heart melt!

We were at full occupancy over the holiday periods and welcomed many weekend guests around the other weeks of the glamping season. Brilliant to see so many couples enjoy the peace and retreat away from their busy lives.

One guest, a paediatrician from a well known London hospital, took the time to take some night shots of the orchard and the results were simply stunning. @dancromb via Instagram – thanks Dan!  They also want to come back with their families, which is just lovely.

pizza oven, night shot, milky way, sky above the pizza oven

Highlights

We were awarded Silver by Green Tourism last year and having made some further steps since then towards being even more sustainable, we are well on the way to be being awarded their gold accolade. Fingers crossed this happens in the next month or so.

Funny loo roll has been introduced – well funny as in the name but not in their eco credentials.  Who Gives A Crap are just great and the recycled loo roll is really good quality. Light bulbs are being changed for LEDs, plus this year we have sponsored quite a lot of people raising money for various charities – a great part of our job.

We held a den building competition over the summer holidays, which was perfect for encouraging the children into our woods to play.  So many young children got involved, there were some lovely designs and two are still standing.  Maddy and I have been enjoying them ever since, so much fun.

As ever our outdoor baths are going down a treat.  People love them.  Feedback also says they are preferred to a hot tub, so that is great to hear.

There was of course the squirrel incident! A mother squirrel created her nest behind the shower, chewing though the hot water pipes to keep her babies warm. Clever, but a situation that made for a more hectic change over day.  Never a dull moment.  Luckily Nick and Maddy set to work saving the baby squirrels (their mother retrieved them after we exposed the nest) and fixing the leak. Amazing team work and definitely a highlight. I mean who doesn’t love a good animal rescue.

Awards

Finally both our cottages and yurts were awarded the Visit England gold award for our outstanding quality of accommodation &  contribution to customer service. What a delight, we couldn’t be happier.

Thanks again to all of our guests who joined us for another amazing glamping season, to our guests who are still enjoying the cottages and to our small team who help us get things done. Always something to do, but it’s really worth it.

Happy Autumn everyone!