Ravendere Retreats: sustainable meets luxury on the North Devon coast

Published on
23 June 2022

A team of renowned entrepreneurs, philanthropists and investors have secured the purchase of a unique and award-winning self-catering escape located in the North Devon coastal village of Lee, aided by a multi-million pound finance package from The Cumberland Building Society.

Director of Pickwell Ltd, Steve Baker, purchased the property alongside wife Susannah, as well as close friends and business partners, Richard and Tracey Elliott. In addition to providing outstanding accommodation in the South West, they plan to implement a series of sustainable initiatives within the business, mirroring the principles of their current luxury accommodation and tree house business, Pickwell Manor, which they purchased in 2007.

As well as working closely with local environmental charity, Plastic Free North Devon, sustainable initiatives that will be introduced imminently at Ravendere Retreats include heat pump powered hot tubs, electric vehicle charging points and sustainable cleaning products; all of which align with the environmentally conscious approach taken at Pickwell Manor.

A woodland escape at Ravendere Retreats, North Devon
A woodland escape at Ravendere Retreats, North Devon

The two couples are committed to sustainability and charitable investments, and already own three businesses within these sectors, employing fifty people in total.

In addition to Pickwell Manor, which now receives almost half of its bookings through repeat business and referrals, other ventures include Eden Sustainable, a leading specialist in commercial solar which provides renewable energy and electric vehicle infrastructure solutions, and Homemade (Pickwell Ltd), which provides social housing to displaced people and refugees in the South West of England.

The two couples also run The Pickwell Foundation, with profits from all four businesses contributing to the charity, which supports initiatives working with displaced people and combating climate change, most recently assisting Ukrainian individuals and families with resettlement in North Devon and Torridge.

Commenting on the investment, Ravendere Retreats owner, Steve Baker said: “I was referred to The Cumberland as the best hospitality lender to work alongside, with a particularly strong reputation in the South West, and they did not disappoint. Their investment has allowed us to take on an exciting new venture, providing a second luxury, sustainable hospitality venue in the region.

“We dedicate all our work to having a positive impact on both people and the planet, opting for lower financial return in favour of higher social benefit.

“Ravendere Retreats is a beautiful and unique offer, which is very much aligned with our own sustainability values. We look forward to welcoming guests, old and new, to enjoy the space in the coming years.”

Devon-based Ben Leo, Commercial Manager at The Cumberland Building Society, added: “We are thrilled to support the acquisition of Ravendere Retreats.

“At The Cumberland, our purpose is built on three commitments – people, planet and community. The ambitions of Pickwell Ltd and Ravendere Retreats really align with our own, and this is one of the reasons we were so keen to support the latest venture of the Bakers and the Elliots and look forward to future opportunities to work together.”

Unique Ravendere Retreats boasts a handcrafted one-bedroom treehouse nestled within the canopy of four mature beech trees with a kitchen, living area and balcony, as well as the exclusive and tranquil two-person Wildwood Spa, with a heated infinity pool, freestanding stone bath and cedar sauna.

The Cumberland continues to support hospitality businesses across the UK, offering customers a fully relationship managed service and over 20 years' hospitality lending expertise.

Find out more about how we can support your hospitality business.