A family’s experience of wild camping with all its pros and cons was the inspiration behind a West Norfolk business which has become a leader in its field.
Wild Luxury, founded by Jonathan Barber in 2011, is the winner of the Leisure and Tourism award in the 2014 Mayor’s Business Awards. It already had several awards accolades under its belt and was cited in The Sunday Times 2014 list of the Top 100 Ultimate holidays.
Said Jonathan: “In 2012 were runner-up in the New Business of the Year award for East Anglia and in 2014 we were also runner-up for the Best Coastal Attraction, so it was very special to reach the top of the podium at the Mayor’s Awards.
“The Mayor’s Award recognises the team’s dynamic contribution to a little ‘idea’ that has grown into one of the most successful companies within its industry.”
Jonathan and his wife, Pip, went on a family camping trip in the summer of 2010 and sat down afterwards to examine the best bits – wild location, peace, no electricity, no cars, close to wildlife and campfires. And they also agreed what would have made it even more appealing, such as hot showers, a proper kitchen, warm duvets and not having to take so much camping gear.
“We travelled as far as Rajasthan looking at tent designs and settled on a design based upon South African safari lodges where you could create separate rooms and ended up with a safari lodge which included a sun deck, dining area, living area, kitchen, three bedrooms and en suite loo and shower. We named these Serengeti lodges,” said Jonathan.
They opened their first camp, the Hideaway, close to the coast, with five lodges in 2011. The next year Wild Luxury opened its second site right by the beach at Thornham Bay with eight Serengeti lodges. “In 2013, we launched a slightly different product, Wild Camp, which is an exclusive-use private camp which moves every 28 days during July and August and is suitable for up to 14 people,” said Jonathan.
“In 2014 we added a new luxury mini-camp at Thornham Bay called Top Camp, which has three Serengeti lodges and is great for groups of friends who want to make their own private camp.”
He added: “Almost everyone in our management team has been with us right from the first day. We now employ 15 people in the middle of the summer but we have grown on the back of an enthusiastic team who work hard, have fun and make a difference to clients throughout the season.
n The Leisure and Tourism Award was sponsored by the Visitors’ Guide.