Goodness me where has the year gone? It's been an age since I last did a blog. I've been taking it easy during November after what ended up being an incredibly busy season. July and September were much busier than in previous years as people took the opportunity of a much needed escape, and we kept Badger and Woodpecker open longer than usual, to the end of the October half term. It was so lovely to welcome back so many returning customers this year and new faces too of course.
The November lockdown has been a good excuse to rest and recuperate (while also catching up on boring things like the accounts!) and it's been a great time to reflect back on the year and what we have achieved.
In fact, it is exactly a year (on 28th November) since we were awarded Bronze in the Glamping category at the Devon Tourism Awards. We were so chuffed to receive our first ever award in recognition of all the hard work we have put in to make our holiday offering as fantastic as possible for our gorgeous guests.
The judges of the 2019 awards praised the "warmth of welcome we provide", the "peaceful and beautiful site in lovely unspoilt countryside", our "luxurious bathrooms" and that we are "very family-friendly". Of course we agree with their assessment!
The judges also suggested some ways in which we could improve and so we swung into action during the first lockdown to upgrade all of the camp kitchens, which turned out to be very timely given the need for greater social distance between guests thanks to Covid. We rebuilt them and fitted bespoke units meaning that kitchen equipment (all provided for you) and food can be put away out of the elements and the camping oven and hob are now at a sensible and safer height for cooking on. We also built a new washing up station on the end of each kitchen to make clearing up easier at your yurt rather than needing to take it to the barn.
Talking of the barn, Covid sped up our plan to give each yurt its own fridge and private bathroom too, so there were some positives to come out of it.
The judges also suggested we improve our signage so Mark and Graeme cleverly made two beautiful signposts to help guests orient themselves and find their yurt on arrival. The final suggestion they made was to include an accessibility statement on the website, which can be viewed here if you are interested. We'd love to hear from you how we can make things even more inclusive and accessible so please do get in touch if you have ideas.
Extending the season in Badger and Woodpecker was made possible by our other big lockdown project - cladding their sides in wood rather than the conventional canvas - making them a sort of hybrid between a yurt and a cabin. You wouldn't know from the inside, they are still adorned with the same colourful Mongolian painted roof and beautiful hangings and throws.
We also invested this year in new double and kingsize beds and new single mattresses, a project that will continue into next year as we plan to turn two of the single beds in each large yurt into more of a day bed or sofa bed with arms and a back so you can relax during the day in your yurt in more comfort.
Understandably, due to Covid, the 2020 Devon Tourism Awards have been somewhat delayed and disrupted. No physical judging is taking place and we are being assessed solely on our entry, our website, social media presence and our reviews. If you don't already follow us on Facebook or Instagram please do. We have been blown away by all the 5 star reviews we've had on Trip Advisor, Google Reviews and Facebook this year. Thank you if you've taken the time to leave one.
What will next year bring? Who knows for sure? We plan to open Badger and Woodpecker (Covid-permitting) for the Easter holidays in April with Buzzard and Willow following on at the start of May. We already have quite a lot of advance bookings so if you would like to stay, particularly if you want to book all yurts together, don't dally too long or you may not get the dates you want.
It only leaves me to say a big thank you to everyone for your support during the last year. 2020 is nearly over. Bring on 2021 I say!
Katie is one of the owners of Blackdown Yurts and likes to write about things going on at and around her beautiful glamping site