Holiday couple plan to expand glamping retreat near Banbury after just one year

Steve Taylor and Jo Carroll.
Steve Taylor and Jo Carroll.

An enterprising couple who created a glamping retreat in the countryside near Banbury a year ago are poised to expand.

Jo Carroll and Steve Taylor have just begun work to build two more luxury lodges to add to three currently in operation at Winchcombe Farm, in Tysoe.

The couple, who moved into glamping after the collapse of their nursery, say the first of the new lodges should open in the autumn.

Mr Taylor (62) said: “Having spent all our savings trying to keep the nursery afloat, we took out a huge loan to open the holiday let business and crossed our fingers that it would work.

“We just had a gut instinct it would and thankfully the gamble paid off.

“In our first year demand is already outstripping supply.”

In 12 months, the couple have hosted more than 600 groups from more than 14 countries.

The 80-place nursery collapsed in the wake of Government changes to childcare which provided 30 hours free childcare for parents.

Closing the nursery also meant the loss of 25 jobs.

Mr Taylor said: “It was heartbreaking to close the nursery but it came to a point where we didn’t have a choice.

“We were subsidising the running costs by £5,000 a month and our savings ran out.

“The business just wasn’t financially viable any longer.”

But the success of the couple’s holiday business has created eight full and part-time staff to help run the lodges, including three members of the original nursery team.

Ms Carroll said: “We believe the secret of our success is offering people affordable luxury in unique properties in an area of outstanding natural beauty.”

Future plans involve transforming the former nursery baby room into a three-bedroom luxury lodge, featuring a geodesic dome, to sleep six to eight people, building a lodge with four bedrooms and three bathrooms on the site of the nursery’s old garage extension plus the creation of a treehouse to sleep six people, which will involve building a 30-metre-long bridge to a cabin with a glass ceiling.