Revisited: A Corner of Eden

Published on
23 December 2021

If customer loyalty is the true measure of the quality of holiday accommodation, then A Corner of Eden must be among the best around.

"You guys have created one of those rare rentals, that on walking in you immediately wish you owned the place" is just one of the testimonials from satisfied visitors to the luxury holiday cottages in Ravenstonedale run by Debbie and Richard Greaves.

There are solid figures to back up such words of praise. A returning guest rate of 35 per cent pre-pandemic was impressive enough but since they reopened in April that has now increased to more than 50 per cent with two of their three cottages fully booked for the next year and more bookings into 2023.

So what's so appealing about the renovated farm in the Yorkshire Dales National Park?

"The location," says Debbie. "We've got an extremely beautiful, peaceful location. We are at the end of our own lane as you drive off the main road so it's very quiet.

"We try to give guests a nice home-from-home experience, ensuring they have everything they could possibly need in the cottages.

"Attention to detail is key. Guests often say they can't believe how we have thought of everything. We always try to offer a high-quality guest experience all round."

Richard adds: "Debs is always looking to develop and refine what we do, so that when guests return you want them to always see something new, something different, something that improves their stay."

The pandemic and lockdowns, inevitably, had a major impact on the business with around 200 bookings that had to be refunded or moved.

But they took advantage of the time to renovate and improve the cottages which comprise The Farmhouse, which sleeps eight, Angel Barn, with room for six, and a couple's retreat in the form of the 16th-century Shepherd's Cottage. A fourth cottage is a potential future project.

An insurance policy with the NFU and a mortgage holiday from The Cumberland helped them financially but Richard says the support of customers was also vital.

"The thing that made our business robust was the relationship that we have with our guests. Most of them were very considerate in as much as they weren't asking for their money back, they were happy to rebook because people want to come and stay here."

The Greaves' relationship with The Cumberland dates back to 2005 when they bought at auction what was then a dilapidated farm, helped by a bridging loan from the building society. Since then they have maintained a close relationship with commercial relationship manager David Wallace, despite regular offers to take their business elsewhere.

"That's our loyalty to The Cumberland," says Richard. "But it's not through anything commercial - it's relationship-based, it's a feeling of trust that they give us and therefore we give them our business going forwards.