An Aberystwyth holiday resort, Tynrhyd Retreat, has successfully undergone a million-pound revamp with support from the Welsh Government’s Business Wales service.
Set in idyllic surroundings near Devil’s Bridge in Ceredigion, Tynrhyd Retreat is a purpose developed five-star complex, offering luxury self-catering accommodation alongside wedding and conference facilities.
Set in 13 acres of land, the stunning venue was, until recently, an old derelict farm in severe need of regeneration. Passed down through five generations, the site is now owned by Siân Price and husband Gareth, who, after moving to Tynrhyd in 2004, realised that in order to bring the property back to its former glory, it would require significant investment.
“At the time, I was working full time as a teacher and Gareth was in full-time employment as a business advisor and collectively we decided we wanted to do something to get away from the chores of a city life environment.
“We considered setting up our own business and started exploring the various different business opportunities. As we’re located in a very popular tourist area and with potential to develop something really different from what already exists, we decided to build a five-star complex.”
After obtaining all necessary planning permissions and accessing funding of £50,000 from the Wales Economic Growth Fund prior to construction work, Siân and Gareth set about planning the life-changing venture.
After the construction works were completed and the entirely bilingual venue opened in January 2015, Siân and Gareth approached Business Wales to discuss how to ensure the future sustainability of their business.
As well as looking into business development loans, Business Wales adviser, Rowan Jones, scoped out other key areas where support could be provided to drive growth, including market research for the proposition, creating a compelling offering and marketing message, developing holiday packages and PR.
“We knew Business Wales provided advice, support and funding and could signpost us to other organisations that could help.
“Areas we particularly needed assistance with were strategic marketing planning, start-up support, business growth, funding and PR.
“Through Business Wales, we got to hear about the Jobs Growth Wales programme, which helped us appoint our first member of staff to deliver our digital marketing strategy. During the Jobs Growth Wales process, Business Wales helped us with job descriptions, contracts of employment, interviewing and HR compliance issues.”
The new role was primarily focused on digital marketing with a particular emphasis on social media, e-shot campaigns and management of the website and website analytics – an area where Siân and Gareth had limited experience. The placement enabled the business owners to focus on other areas of business development whilst the marketing activity was continued on a regular and planned basis.
Business Wales signposted Tynrhyd to other organisations to obtain further specialist support such as Finance Wales, whilst also assisting them to secure a contract for National Procurement Service for accommodation and conference venues in Wales. This resulted in Tynrhyd becoming one of only 13 Welsh Government approved conference facilities in Wales.
As part of the comprehensive PR strategy developed with Business Wales, Tynrhyd hosted the launch of ‘Hinterland Walks’ – a programme of walks in the Cambrian Mountains and Cardigan Bay based on locations shown in the award-winning television drama. The launch at Tynrhyd included several of the show’s stars and generated substantial media coverage.
With support from Business Wales, Tynrhyd Retreat now has a more attractive offering, directly focused on engaging with their target markets, which has subsequently led to an increase in occupancy rates.
Speaking about the whole experience, Gareth said:
“It was a large million-pound project, so of course there were a number of moments when we had doubt, but we were able to use Business Wales as a sounding board to help us overcome them. I do wish we had approached Business Wales sooner.
“Watching all the plans come to fruition and seeing that first happy guest come through the doors made it all worthwhile. We’ve also received positive reactions from existing local businesses.”
As a result of the redevelopment, Tynrhyd Retreat was Highly Commended in the Excellence in Quality Construction category at the Local Authority Building Control Wales Awards in 2015.
Looking to the future, Gareth said:
“We held our first wedding here this summer, so that will be a key area for development going forward. We will also be hosting Ramblers Cymru’s annual Wales walking event next May on the back of launching the Hinterland walks.”
Tynrhyd Retreat’s top 5 tips for anyone else starting up their own business would be:
- Plan and be prepared to adjust your plan
- Be realistic
- Look outside the box and develop a unique quality service
- Keep up the energy and faith
- Keep your focus on your objectives through to completion
Business Wales, which is funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government, supports the sustainable growth of small and medium size enterprises across the country by offering access to information, guidance and business support.
To find out how Business Wales can help start or develop your business, call 03000 6 03000, follow @_businesswales or @_busnescymru or visit www.businesswales.gov.wales/everyday-entrepreneur or www.busnescymru.llyw.cymru/entrepreneur-bob-dydd for further information.