FINALIST FOR DIVERSIFICATION INNOVATOR
OF THE YEAR – SMALL TO MEDIUM
Gerry and Rachel Mee
The Spa at Burlton, Charity Farm, Shropshire
IDENTIFYING a gap in the market for good quality self-catering accommodation in North Shropshire, Rachel Mee looked to combat the uncertainties in the arable sector by converting redundant farm buildings into holiday cottages.
But, with the market becoming more crowded, Rachel decided to add value by enhancing the experience with an indoor pool and spa facility, powered by their biomass boiler and solar panels.
The spa is also rented to a beauty therapist offering massages and treatments, meaning the farm can offer spa days and pamper spa packages. It also offers a high value membership scheme to local people.
It has increased occupancy rates and turnover in the cottages, adding a unique selling point to the business.
The Spa has a 12m indoor pool, hot tub, relaxation beds, sauna, steam room, gym and disabled changing facilities.
The diversification has combined the various aspects of the farm together, with the holiday cottages, spa and renewable energy all complementing each other and the rural location on farm helping encourage in tourists. Having the second stream of income has allowed Rachel to work at home, allowing her to assist on the farm alongside concentrating on the diversification.
Rachel and her husband Gerry have also benefitted from the farm becoming a more social place, enjoying socialising and talking with guests. They are also talking about what they do, including their environmental projects such as barn owl breeding and bees.
But Rachel was aware they needed to continue to improve the diversification, with guest expectations always rising. But there were opportunities in creating a second treatment room and high-end glamping offering access to the pool and spa, as well as marketing spa breaks as a package deal.
They were also looking into growing herbs and plants on farm to create the beauty therapists products.