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These Norfolk glamping sites are getting ready to re-open

PUBLISHED: 12:30 12 June 2020 | UPDATED: 13:25 12 June 2020

At West Lexham there is a range of accommodation, including treehouses. Picture: Supplied by West Lexham

At West Lexham there is a range of accommodation, including treehouses. Picture: Supplied by West Lexham

Treehouses and Bell Tents at West Lexham

Holidays are going to look very different this summer. With lockdown measures slowly easing and hopes that some accommodation providers might be able to re-open from the beginning of July, internet searches for glamping are on the rise. We discover how sites in Norfolk are provisionally planning to welcome back guests.

At West Lexham visitors can stay in giant treehouses. Picture: Treehouses and Bell Tents at West LexhamAt West Lexham visitors can stay in giant treehouses. Picture: Treehouses and Bell Tents at West Lexham

With lockdown now slowly easing, many of us are starting to ask whether some sort of holiday will be possible this summer, and if so, what will they look like with social distancing measures in place. With fears there could be a second wave of infections, if we do decide to go on holiday, chances are many of us will err on the side of caution and opt for shorter breaks closer to home. Anecdotally there has been an uplift in enquiries about self-contained staycation accommodation such as glamping pods.

One thing that the weeks and months of lockdown have taught us is the importance of getting out into nature – during the permitted hour-long period away from the home to exercise many people reconnected with the flora and fauna around them.

If all goes to plan, glamping should be permitted from the beginning of July, providing that there are robust social distancing and hygiene measures in place. Behind the scenes sites in Norfolk have been preparing to welcome back guests.

West Lexham is a family-run eco-retreat with a range of accommodation including a barn conversion, cottages, tree houses and bell tents, in a 21 acre nature reserve on the Nar river. Usually the summer season would have been in full swing by now, but as founding partner Izzy Winkler explains, they’re making preparations with the hope they’ll be given the go-ahead to open in a few weeks’ time.

The Grove glamping in Cromer. Picture: Supplied by The GroveThe Grove glamping in Cromer. Picture: Supplied by The Grove

“Luckily all our properties are separate and have their own entrances so there are very few bottlenecks we have to consider,” says Izzy. “We may have to allocate times in the outdoor kitchen, but every property comes at the very least with its own grill and cool box – many with fridges and wood-fired ovens – so we are well set up for individual families and households. We have been training our team in the new required hygiene and safety standards and setting up rotas to ensure regular cleans and checks, as well as tweaking our arrival procedures. We are also relying on our guests to keep physical distance from each other and giving them access to cleaning products and hand sanitisers to keep the shared areas as you would hope to find them.

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“The pool will sadly be shut to guests, but we have a wonderful lake that is excellent for wild swimming. Thankfully, being so enveloped by fresh air, we are blessed with naturally greater safety for our team and guests.”

And she says that they are already getting plenty of bookings.

Accommodation at The Grove, Cromer. Picture: Supplied by The Grove, CromerAccommodation at The Grove, Cromer. Picture: Supplied by The Grove, Cromer

“Bookings are coming in quickly now as people are desperate to get out into nature. The good news for families is that the converted barn and cottages may become available for household gatherings as our group retreats, who usually nab these spaces years in advance, may not be able to go ahead just yet.”

Ruth Anderson and her husband, Rich, run The Grove Glamping at Cromer. She grew up at The Grove – the guest house and hotel business has been in the family for three generations and it’s currently run by Ruth and her four siblings.

“As children growing up, we loved the summer and playing in the four-acre grounds and camping in the garden on the field,” says Ruth. “The Grove is about five minutes’ walk to the cliff top via Warren Woods and was perfectly situated for days out at the beach or wide-games in the woods or around Happy Valley near the lighthouse.”

In 2013, Ruth sold a house in Gloucestershire and moved back to Norfolk and asked her siblings if she could use the money from the house sale to set up a glamping business on the empty field that they all camped on as children. They agreed and The Grove Glamping was born. It started with bell tents and they now have insulated Mongolian Yurts with a few creature comforts such as electricity, wood burning stoves, lighting and comfy double beds. The Grove Glamping can also use all the facilities at The Grove, including the indoor heated swimming pool, the outdoor play area and the AA two rosette restaurant.

“The Grove Glamping normally opens from March until October, but this year, after setting everything up ready to go, we haven’t opened yet. The plan at the moment is to open at the beginning of July and we are already taking bookings from July onwards,” says Ruth. “We have put in place a few things to help make sure the site is as safe as it can be with the coronavirus. Some of the things we are doing include hiring out extra toilets so that yurts do not need to share facilities, adding additional hand driers to help with hygiene and staggering shower times with cleaners coming to clean in-between changes. We are working hard to buy some new equipment to make sure that when new guests arrive lots of things will be rotated and then cleaned. The Grove is looking at additional outdoor dining options and also how the swimming pool can potentially be managed safely.

“So far, people seem to be keen to come glamping and bookings are looking good. I think it is one of the safer ways to take a holiday this year as social distancing is pretty natural and it’s a great option for spending lots of time outside,” says Ruth.


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