It’s safe to say that Christmas has certainly crept up on Squirrels Nest Treehouse Glamping in Wales.
Before we know it, it will be two years since we went into the first national lockdown. Fingers crossed, this Christmas will be a bit more ‘normal’ than last year’s festive period.
So how can you, as a business owner, make it special for the guests that choose to stay with you over Christmas?
We spoke to the Director of Squirrel’s Nest, Laura Lewis, to discover how they are going to provide a special countryside Christmas for their guests this year. For those who want to learn more about running a hospitality business in a city over Christmas, check out our feature with Abel Heywood.
Squirrel’s Nest is a family-run business that can be found on a working farm in Wales and is home to three luxury treehouses surrounded by nature. Anyone booking to stay here can expect a tranquil and relaxing getaway.
“I can see how being in the city would be appealing, because you’ve got the Christmas markets and everything else,” said Laura.
“But here, it’s very quiet and the treehouses look beautiful at Christmas. It’s quite romantic being out in the countryside.”
Typically, Laura’s team carry out changeovers every two days, but over Christmas she makes sure that their staff get a well earned break over the festive period.
“We usually do checkouts after Boxing Day so that all of our cleaning staff can enjoy their Christmas too,” said Laura.
“People usually stay for one or two nights but it’s a bit longer over Christmas so we can all have a bit of a break.”
In the run up to Christmas, Laura shares her festive plans. “We haven’t got any experiences planned,” said Laura.
“For us, it’s more about the add ons that we provide. For example, we’ve just introduced Winter Hampers and everything in them is Welsh.
“There will be hot chocolate, a bottle of mulled wine, toffee waffles, and a bottle of Merlyn, which is a Welsh cream liqueur. Because it’s a winter hamper, it’s already quite Christmassy.”
The winter hampers are a seasonal add on that guests can purchase separately on the Squirrel’s Nest website. Laura and her team provide a number of hamper options for different occasions, but it’s an easy way that you can add value to a stay and improve your guest experience.
“Winter hampers are always great additions for the Christmas period.”
“It’s hard because normally I’m super last minute but I’m trying to be more organised this year,” said Laura, laughing.
“We have considered doing a complimentary Christmas Day hamper for the guests that stay over the actual Christmas period. But we’re still working that one out because everybody has a different idea about the perfect Christmas dinner!”
If you fancy trying to create your own winter hampers for the upcoming festive season, Laura has plenty of experience and advice to help get you started.
“Always try to shop local and try to purchase from small businesses,” she said.
Guests will appreciate the authenticity of the hamper more if the products you provide are locally sourced.
“You also have to remember that everyone is different, so keep it classy and simple, and that goes for decorations too, not just the hampers.”
Laura and her team also leave little wooden advent calendars in each of the treehouses in the lead up to Christmas.
“We leave chocolates in the wooden calendars for the guests. So if two people stay for two nights, we put two chocolates in for each day that they are here.”
But Laura doesn’t limit her Christmas preparation to edible treats.
“We often have families come to stay in the bigger treehouses, so it’s nice to do something for the kids,” said Laura.
“We have children’s books in the treehouses all year round, but we’re looking to get some lovely Christmas storybooks that we can leave in there over December.”
She added: “We’ve also thought about providing Christmas sacks that the parents can use to put presents in on Christmas day. I mean, I’m sure the parents have already got that covered, but it’s definitely something that could add a bit of Christmas fun.”
If you read our October issue, you’ll have picked up some handy top tips for Christmas decorations from Clark Bearman, a professional Christmas decorator.
If you missed it, check it out online: luxurybnbmag.com/decoration_prep_xmas
One of his top tips was to use lots of fairy lights around the exterior of your property, which is exactly what Laura and her team do at Squirrel’s Nest.
“We use lots of lights to decorate the treehouses,” said Laura.
“So in the Prince Llywelyn treehouse last year, for example, we put lots of fairy lights outside around the balconies and on the trees. It looked really Christmassy and it was lovely.
“Fairy lights just make everything much cosier and more attractive. It makes everything very instagrammable too.”
She added: “This year, I want to put more fairy lights up around the site itself, not just the treehouses.
“I’m thinking of putting them around the car park and along the paths. We did buy some reindeers a couple of years ago that I’ll put around the site.
“Natural materials are brilliant for creating your own decorations.”
“I definitely think it’s worth investing in some nicer pieces that can be placed around the grounds and not just plonked inside the treehouses.”
Despite fairy lights being a beautiful and cost effective way to decorate your property at Christmas, Laura doesn’t forget to add her own personal touch.
“I normally make some Christmas wreaths to put on the treehouses too,” she said.
“I tend to just use natural things that I find around the farm to make them and then we hang them up around the treehouses and it gives it a nice Christmassy feel.”
She added: “We’re also doing a collaboration with a local florist who is going to make us a lovely garland for the long dining table in the Prince Llywelyn treehouse.”
Laura explained that it’s important not to go overboard with the decorations to ensure you don’t put people off.
“Everyone has a different style when it comes to decorations so it’s best to keep things simple and classic,” said Laura.
“You could go all out with tinsel and chains and everything else on your Christmas trees, but we try to stick to lights and some nice baubles so it appeals to everyone.”
“Keep decorations simple and classic.”
She added: “Christmas has really crept up on us this year, but it’s just about planning, and for us it’s making sure we create that cosy, winter vibe. It’s the little touches that count. That’s what people will remember and appreciate.”
Squirrel’s nest – A Family Business
Squirrel’s Nest is part of a 130-acre working family farm in mid-Wales.
Laura, her husband John and their young children are the beating heart of both the farm and their luxury, remote treehouses.
The farm was previously run by John’s late father who started farming in 1966. Welsh Ewes continue to graze around the farm and are the farmyard neighbours of the guests who stay in the treehouses.
John is a carpenter by trade and spends his time working on local projects and helping on the farm.
Laura is the Director and Marketing Manager for Squirrel’s Nest and also recently established an online directory called The Wanderlist where potential guests can find luxury accommodation.
Laura’s Top Tips for the festive season
- Keep decorations classic and simple
- Make the most of fairy lights to decorate external areas
- Buy from local and small businesses if you provide hampers or other little touches
- Use natural elements to create your own wreaths
- Any books on display? Change them to Christmassy or wintery books
Trawscwm Treehouse (Pronounced Traw-scoom)
Prince Llywelyn (Pronounced Luh-well-in)