From girl guides to Glastonbury, camping is a staple of British culture.
Brits took 10million camping trips last year, according to the Great British Tourism survey, accounting for a fifth of all holidays in England, and it is not all about wet weekends and rain-filled tents.
Many holidaymakers are ditching the tent or caravan for a stay in dedicated huts or pods known as glamping.
Our latest client of the month West Stow Pods is part of this growing trend.
Based in Suffolk, close to the historic market town of Bury St Edmunds and the King’s Forest, the business offers holidaymakers a stay in electrical powered huts known as MegaPods.
Unlike a tent, you get your own double bed, a sofa bed as well as a television, fridge, bathroom and a barbeque.
It is run by husband and wife team Jan and Ed Lengyel.
From camping to glamping
Jan explains: “Camping in the traditional sense can be hard work. It can be unpleasant if the weather is against you.
“We are a halfway house between traditional camping and staying in a holiday lodge. It is a lot more comfortable than a tent and you get to stay in a location that would otherwise be expensive.”
He says West Stow Pods appeals to those looking for a staycation as well as a digital detox as one of our ideals is to switch off from “web connectivity” for a rest.
Jan says: “You don’t need to fly off to Benidorm to lie on the beach all day long.
“Why fly when there is so much natural and historical heritage which the UK has to offer and in particular, this part of Suffolk?
“We have actively promoted it as a digital detox. Some “Podders” absolutely love the idea that their children can’t use the iPad or phone. For those others who need their wi-fi, there is an intermittent signal when the wind’s in the right direction!!
Jan, a former design engineer came up with the idea after seeing the pods, made in Yorkshire, at an Ideal Home Show.
He said: “We live on a five acre plot of land and I wondered if planners would consent to us doing something in our woodland. We wanted to let others enjoy the woods with their children as we had with our 3 boys.
“I saw these pods and thought they had the wow factor so I put a planning application in for two on our site.
“Everyone thinks they are built in Scandinavia and they are always shocked when I tell them they are built in Yorkshire.
“We wanted to utilise the woodland and provide an environmentally sustainable business. We will never be rich, given what we charge, but it really ticked the boxes that we could create a business that would give enjoyment to families and all members of the community.
“We wanted to help them realise how wonderful the British countryside is as a holiday destination.
“Published studies show that there is a direct link between connecting with nature and well-being and we certainly see our customers going away relaxed and refreshed and often not wanting to leave!”
He got planning permission for two in 2012 and by the end of 2013 had added two more.
Jan has now built a log cabin and hopes to build a hobbit-style Poddit hole that should appeal to fans of Lord of the Rings.
The company was launched in 2013 first with Jan as a sole trader but he incorporated in 2014.
He said: “We wanted to formalise things. By making it limited we are a bonafide business, giving people reassurance when they ring us to make a booking that they are dealing with an organisation.”
They use social media such as Facebook and Twitter to promote the site, but are also helped by excellent reviews.
West Stow Pods has already received a certificate of excellence from TripAdvisor and can boast to the fertile nature of the sight after one visitor posted a review saying they came back from a trip to find they were pregnant!