With recent reports indicating that UK tourism has increased by almost 10% (visitbritain.org), now could be the perfect time...
Today’s blog post sees a first from Sykes Cottages as we interview one of our fantastic cottage owners. Stephen Bacon, who owns several properties around Norfolk, kindly agreed to set aside a bit of his time to have a chat with us about ins and outs of the cottage business.
Tell us a bit about yourself Stephen
I am 41 years old and married to a wonderful lady who I deeply admire and love. We have two young children aged almost four and two years old, as well as two little Boston terriers, and as a family we love the Norfolk countryside and exploring new places.
How did you come to own the cottage?
Many years ago I stayed in a lovely cottage and I was taken up by the sheer splendour of the property and its surroundings. Since then I have looked for charming old cottages in large areas of outstanding beauty and, along with my wife, have furnished and decorated them to a very high standard with antique furniture and comfortable opulence. I believe it was 2010 that I started my holiday business, Forestry Cottage was my first property but nowadays my wife and I have several cottages available on the beautiful Norfolk woodlands.
Tell us a bit about it – what are your favourite parts of the property?
My favourite part of the property is the large lounge with an open fire. When the evening comes and the fire is roaring away it is so romantic and truly wonderful. The beautiful lakes in the surrounding area and the peace that you can find wandering around them do take some beating though.
Do you get to spend a lot of time there?
Sadly I don’t, like my other properties around West Norfolk, Forestry Cottage is so popular for visits to the coast and the Royal Sandringham Estate that it is very seldom available for my family and I to visit. However I do like to keep a regular check on them between stays to keep the wow factor going.
Have you ever had any visits from special guests that have ended in a rewarding experience?
Every customer is special to us and as such our standards do not change, we want people to keep coming back and to be recommending us because of the experiences that they have had. Having said this I can confirm that we have had the privilege of some very famous visitors from the music and film industries as well as a wonderful author who comes every year.
Have you ever had an unusual request about a booking?
There is one occasion that sticks out where a TV crew wished to stay and film the wildlife around one of our properties. I understand that the footage was used in a TV series all about badgers but sadly I did not get to see it.
Are there any features that make your cottages more marketable?
Yes, all of the cottages are nestled in acres of private lands, surrounded by woodlands or lakes that are a real mecca for deer and even badgers and all manners of bird-life. They also all have luxury private hot tubs, open fires and are adorned with lovely furnishings. My newest property even has a helicopter landing point for those that wish to fly in for a very special occasion or a honeymoon. It’s all about opulent luxury and feeling and being treated as special, how I feel we should all treat each other.
Do you have any insider tips for people who are looking to go on a cottage holiday?
Location, location, location – I know the phrase is overused and has become popular through the TV series, but when it comes to holidays and rest or just a beautiful break there is nothing more important. You should also look for passion in the attention to detail in the furnishings as it’s a clear message of how much the owners value their visitors. The most important thing though is the people that you are with, make sure that you fill your break with quality time, forget the TV and talk to each other.
How did you find Sykes and what made you choose us?
Google and my own investigations led me to Sykes and I have never looked back. They really value their customers and in doing so create relationships that have them coming back again and again. Not only that, but like me, they know that by looking after their customers and going the extra mile they will be recommended to other friends and family.
How did you find the joining process?
Easy, yes there is paperwork and things to get done but that isn’t a chore when you know that you have made the right decision.
What is it like working with our owner care department and regional managers?
Honestly I find them brilliant, they care about you and that means that I care about them. They are always on the ball, very polite and take the headache out of the planning. They are great people and I really appreciate the hard work that they do to keep us all going.
What do you think the biggest benefit of working with Sykes is?
Attention to detail. From the first text message or email to confirm a booking which gives us the dates and all of the details of the party it’s all there, very clear and easy to understand. From then on it works like clockwork. The visitor contacts us to arrange key collection and deal with the basics, then we prepare the property for their own, unique stay. It’s the caring bit that makes all of the difference.
We would just like to say a massive thank you to Stephen for his time, and keep your eyes peeled for further editions of our owner interviews!
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