Godremamog Mill, self-catering accommodation in South West Wales installed a barbecue cabin 8 years ago. We caught up with Samantha & Chris Hogarth recently to ask them if the cabin had helped their business.
What size cabin do you have? 10m²
When was it fitted? 30/11/2011
Where did you hear about Arctic Cabins? From a friend in the local village who has a slightly smaller cabin. We were visiting one day and they showed us theirs - we were really impressed by it (we just fell in love with it) and could see the difference it could make to our business. We did a fair bit of research and looked at other cabins on the market. We even went to see some, but Arctic Cabins were definitely the best for us because of the comfort and quality.
Were you looking for something for your own garden or were you looking for something that could potentially be an additional income stream for your business? It was all about giving the guests somewhere to gather. We have 4 self-contained apartments in the watermill, each sleeping 4. The garden was the only place where all 16 people could get together and eat/chat. That's ok on a warm summers evening but not much cop on a cold and wet October night. We were starting to get some larger parties and it was a drawback. Now we have the BBQ hut and the large parties are very happy.
Can guests use your cabin? Try stopping them! The children absolutely adore it - they call it the hobbit house. We show them round as they arrive and we always get an "oooooohh"
Do guests have to pay to use the cabin or is it included within the cost of a stay? All included. We try not to charge for anything as an extra. They do have to provide the charcoal. We give them logs.
How often is the cabin used? Every weekend and most nights during the season
What types of age groups and occasions do people book use the cabin for? We've had everything from "leaving university" bashes to 80th birthday parties and even one 90th birthday party. Children have to be supervised for obvious reasons but we've had pretty well every age group coming for pretty well every reason to party.
Is the cabin bookable at any time? We don't actually have a booking rota - guests at the mill are free to use it any time and tend to sort themselves out, which works pretty well. We light up the garden where the BBQ hut stands until midnight and prefer it if people vacate by then but some have been known to stay in there later!
When people use the cabin do they cook in it? Normally. It's also very handy for keeping their towels dry when they go in the hot tub or swimming pool. Guests have been known to cook more than they originally intended. We had one lovely party who came for 3 nights and planned to BBQ on the 2nd night - they brought so much food that they cooked on the 1st night too. Then they still had food left on day 3 and BBQ'd again.
What types of food do they cook? Everything from frozen value BBQ packs to gourmet marinated meat. Halloumi goes well on the grill, so vegetarians are fine. We are blessed with an excellent butcher in town and a fresh fish van visits the mill; we are also very close to the best cheese makers in the UK (Caws Cenarth - they have awards to prove it), so guests don't go short of food.
Can alcohol be consumed in the cabin? Do you need a license for this? The mill is self catering, so guests bring their own food and drink. They do drink alcohol. All we ask is that they use plastic glasses (which we provide if they haven't got them) because of the hot tub and pool.
During 2014 approximately how many bookings did you take for the cabin? We had 198 different parties coming to the mill in 2014. The vast majority will have used the BBQ hut. Since we installed it, over 500 parties have come here and most will have cooked in there.
Has the cabin paid for itself? If yes how long did this take? Oh yes, since installing the BBQ hut and the hot tub and pool, we have seen our turnover increase by more than 50% because of the extra bookings out of season and because we have been able to increase our prices because of the extra facilities available.
Do you and your family use the cabin too? When we can get in there! We don't get to use it very often because it's always full of guests but we have had some amazing celebrations in there ourselves - some very special Christmas Eves. We do get invited in by guests too, which is lovely. It's quite an experience telling the tales of the valley over a log fire (the Cych valley here is mentioned in a Welsh saga going back at least 1,000 years) and stories from the local town - the last duel in Wales was fought in Newcastle Emlyn and the winner shot the looser in the back (boo).
What do you like best about owning a cabin? It's a very unusual thing to be able to offer to our guests and sits well with the quality accommodation that we offer. West Wales is an amazing place to visit, the mill is an amazing pace to stay and a night in the cabin is an amazing thing to experience - we are all about making memories here at the mill and the memories of a night in the cabin will last a life time. We have an excellence award from Trip Advisor because we have so many 5 star reviews and guests almost always mention the BBQ hut as a highlight in their reviews.
Has buying a cabin had a positive impact on your business? It's transformed it. Off season was a problem. We would get couples booking the odd break away out of season. Since installing the BBQ hut, hot tub and pool, we are full most weekends with large groups - family celebrations, friends celebrating big birthdays and the odd hen do. Sometimes, we do get the smaller groups and the BBQ hut is amazing for them too - different parties have been known to go in together and several firm friendships have been forged over a burger in there. Others take turns - whatever suits them. We give people logs from our woodland and they love sitting in there, telling stories and chatting through the evening.
Would you recommend Arctic Cabins to others? We do and we have shown people around ours so that they can see if it would work for them.
To discover more about Godremamog Mill visit their website: www.watermillretreat.co.uk