A boutique tourism business established in Mid-Wales countryside three years ago, is celebrating after achieving the first glamping five star gold award from Visit Wales for shepherd’s hut accommodation.
Due to the growing popularity of glamping, Visit Wales has added the new category to its awards to reflect the quality of the accommodation and visitor experience.
The Shepherd’s Hut at Upper Gelli, Golfa, Welshpool – http://www.uppergelli.co.uk – was used as the guinea pig for the new award and the assessors gave it a score of 98 per cent to the delight of owners Gary and Ros Thomas.
They told the couple it was the best example of shepherd’s hut accommodation they had seen.
After scouring Wales for their dream property for two years, the couple fell in love with Upper Gelli in 2013 and opened for business the following year. One of their guests has described them as “lifestyle entrepreneurs”.
Ros, who was a nursing lecturer at Manchester University and Gary, who ran his own commercial property business, had worked in Manchester for more than 30 years. With both their sons having left home, they longed to return to country living.
The place they were looking for had to be somewhere special with beautiful views, where they could watch the sunset each evening and be big enough for their two dogs, Monty and Molly.
“We wanted to create something different for the adult market, something that we ourselves would have liked,” said Ros. “Our target was five stars, so that’s what we wanted for our guests.
“When we arrived at Upper Gelli we fell in love with it immediately. This part of Wales is simply stunning and we have been made to feel so welcome by our farming neighbours.”
The couple has a two-bedroomed luxury holiday lodge and a traditional shepherd’s hut that provide an ideal base from which to explore Mid Wales and the Marches.
The Shepherd’s Hut sits in a secluded garden area and is designed to be the perfect place to relax, explore and spend romantic time together. The accommodation actually comprises two characterful huts, which were made across the valley by Martin and Charlotte Eldridge at Black Mountain Shepherd’s Huts, Castle Caereinion.
The larger of the two huts has an en-suite shower room, double bed and log burning stove. It has exclusive use of a mini-hut which was made especially for the couple to their interior design and has a compact kitchen/ dining area and an extra toilet. Guests also have complimentary use of a separate barbecue hut.
The huts enjoy uninterrupted and far-reaching views towards the Berwyn Mountains and guests can watch red kites and other local wildlife as well as enjoy three short walks.
Families and friends seeking a country escape together can book the Shepherd’s Hut and the Lodge, which can accommodate up to six people comfortably.
Gary and Ros use local tradesmen and artisan makers of food, toiletries and decorative items for the home wherever possible.
Dating back to 1700, Upper Gelli originally comprised a settlement of buildings and barns with more than 49 acres and was a working dairy farm until 1974. Today, it comprises the main farmhouse, converted cow milking shed, barn, the Lodge and just under 10 acres of land.
Recent guests include a Staffordshire couple who celebrated their second wedding anniversary in the Shepherd’s Hut. Mistakenly thinking anniversary celebration was ‘wood’, they said they booked the “beautiful wooden hut”
“Totally enchanted by everything,” they added. “Thank you once again for your kindness, thoughtfulness and for giving us the opportunity to stay in such a beautiful, tranquil and enchanting place. You have given us a treasured memory for our second ‘wood’ anniversary and I can’t wait to conjure up another reason to return.”
To promote their business, Gary and Ros have joined MWT Cymru, an independent organisation that represents around 600 tourism and hospitality businesses across Mid Wales.
MWT Cymru’s chief executive Val Hawkins congratulated the couple on their five star gold grading and commended their commitment to provide top quality accommodation for visitors.
“Gary and Ros typify the new wave of high quality tourism businesses that we have welcomed to Mid Wales in recent years,” she said. “Their success is great news for the region as a whole because it reflects the excellent standards being achieved by our tourism operators.”