UK holiday homes that pay their way: Cornwall, Cotswolds and the New Forest
The number of trips abroad taken by Britons fell again in 2012, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics — helped, no doubt, by the summer spectacle of the Olympics.
This year, despite a long, wet winter, the staycation trend is set to continue with Visit Britain estimating that 10 million of us — 21 per cent of the adult population — plan to take a holiday or short break in the UK during the summer.
So, where are the destinations that provide a blissful holiday home which can double as a money-spinning rental property?
THE CLOSE ONE: COTSWOLDS
Ninety minutes from the capital, the golden stone Cotswolds are a London favourite and an ideal weekend bolt hole for escaping urbanites. You can enjoy the pretty cottage and country village life — or the water parks. Created from former gravel pits they add another dimension to this irresistible area and a safe proposition for a lock-upand-leave home with good facilities for active families.
At 520-acre Watermark (watermarkclub.com), south of Cirencester, five lakes provide opportunities for sailing, waterskiing, wakeboarding, cable skiing and fishing. Resale property starts from £250,000 for a four-bedroom terrace house, with new-build homes at The Hamptons on Summer Lake from £725,000. Currently over three quarters of owners are Londoners.
The average property rents for 70 per cent of the year. The Lakes by yoo (thelakesbyyoo.com), half an hour away, is the posh proposition. These larger homes in bigger plots priced from £900,000 have some stellar London owners — Elle Macpherson is a regular at the casual weekend barbecues. There’s a fabulous indoor pool and gym complex but no restaurant. Privacy-seeking owners prefer to employ the services of the full-time concierge.
THE COASTAL ONE: CORNWALL
The hands-down holiday home winner for most Londoners is Cornwall. The county has successfully reinvented itself from bucket-and-spade basic to include all-weather offerings like the Eden Project and Tate St Ives.
So alongside gentle sailing to the south, surfing adventures in the north and pastel-pretty fishing villages there are family-friendly attractions and standout restaurants run by national treasures Jamie Oliver and Rick Stein.
It’s been seven years since Linda Rossiter and her husband Martyn have flown abroad, preferring to visit Cornwall. Last year they bought a one-bedroom apartment at Natural Retreats’ scheme at Fistral Beach in Newquay, letting it out when it’s free.
“We looked at many areas and properties and were most impressed by the location and size of Natural Retreats apartments,” said Linda, 50. “The purchase price included all contents so it was ready to move into. Natural Retreats maintain it and manage the rentals, removing the headaches of owning a second home.”
Natural Retreats (naturalretreatsresidences.com) has been renting holiday homes for seven years, specialising in quality accommodation in beautiful locations from America to Lanzarote.
Last year it started selling properties on a 999-year lease in Cornwall and Wales, offering a full management and rental service. At Fistral Beach seven of 12 apartments sold in five months despite a glut in the area of shiny new apartments built in the boom.
Owners at Natural Retreats appreciate the hassle-free management and the setting overlooking Britain’s premier surfing beach, close enough to Newquay to benefit from its many attractions but far enough away to be untroubled by rowdier visitors. Watergate Bay, with its surfing academy and Jamie Oliver’s restaurant beloved by visiting Londoners is one hour’s cliff-top walk away. Apartments start from £265,000 for a fully furnished two-bedroom apartment, with annual maintenance from £1,275.
Owners who rent receive 75 per cent of income — property can only be let through Natural Retreats — with weekly high-season rents from £1,365.
NATIONAL TREASURE: NEW FOREST
Famous for its ponies and endless acres of heather-covered moorland, the New Forest offers both countryside and Dorset coastal walking.
Joyously chilled and aesthetically pleasing hotels such as the dreamy Lime Wood spa, and the delicious idiosyncratic The Pig (thepighotel.com), are reinventing one of London’s favourite weekend spots.
It was the beauty of Britain’s oldest National Park that drew Christina Simons. Originally from Danbury in Essex, she bought a rundown hotel in Brockenhurst in 2004 and has transformed it into a multi-award winning B&B with 16 bedrooms and a restaurant.
With a yellow star from the AA, Cottage Lodge (01590 622296) is in the top one per cent of all UK B&Bs with an occupancy rate of more than 90 per cent. Christina lives on site with her husband David and children Kate, 16 and James, 13.
“My feeling is that people are changing the way they holiday rather than giving up altogether,” said Christina, 50. “They might take shorter breaks and stay in the UK but the New Forest is always popular, from the new foals and magnolia blooms in May to the autumnal colours.”
Christina’s eco-sensitive principles are a major part of her success and reflect local life. A tree surgeon-turned-carpenter constructs made-to-order beds from New Forest trees and products are ethically sourced.
“People want to know where their food comes from,” Christina said. “I source all I can from suppliers I know.” That means apple juice from Hill Valley Farm, wine from the Test Valley, butter from Dorset and mushrooms from Romsey.