What Makes A Boutique Business Retreat?
I believe that houses choose their owners. In 1991 Graig Ddu chose me. You can find that story here: https://tinyurl.com/ydyz5wp3 But back to the present.
After leaving an out of character foray into the corporate world as a property manager in 2018 where I had over 100 holiday cottages to oversee and their owners to manage, I knew that it was time to withdraw Graig Ddu from its role in that bricks and mortar rat race and make the transition from holiday cottage to a boutique business retreat.
As I was gushing about my idea to a friend one day, she bluntly said to me that she didnâ€™t get how it would be any different from going away on your own to any other cottage. What?
How odd, I thought, as I reflected on what was so clear and beautiful to me somehow hadnâ€™t hit home to her! Iâ€™d obviously made the mistake of leaving a large amount of information in my head. I retreated and thought more deeply about the nuances of the idea.
Over the following months I identified the 6 fundamental elements that capture the spirit of the boutique business retreat and why they are so important to connecting with intuition and capturing elusive insights. Three are fairly common to many beautiful holiday cottages, but three elements are game-changers and elevate the experience at Graig Ddu into something unique.
Letâ€™s start with the leading actor – Graig Ddu â€“ also known as The Cottage In The Forest. On the face of it, itâ€™s a simple two up two down cottage â€¦.. but yet, not at all.
Itâ€™s sheltered below the great domed moorland of the majestic Black Mountains in the Llanthony Valley, surrounded by forest. With no WiFi or TV itâ€™s immersed in timeless tranquillity and really is on the fringe of 21st Century life.
Iâ€™ve struggled to find the right words to describe just what itâ€™s like to be there. So, Iâ€™ve chickened out and left it to others who are far more eloquent than I.
There are many who are completely spell-bound by their experience of staying at the cottage and, after nearly 30 years, I still am.
I remember turning up the forest track to the cottage in October 1991 to meet my future landlady. The crunching of the stones, the steady pull up the hill, driving deeper in amongst the trees. Keep right at the fork, carry on climbing, go around the hairpin and then, the clearing amongst the trees with Graig Ddu standing there. Every bit the cottage in the forest. I knew, at that time, it didn’t have electricity, and I thought about what it would be like living without it for the shortest time. After all, it was only going to be for 6 months.
But the thing is, you could pick up Graig Ddu and plonk it down in another rural area, and the magic would have vanished. The Black Mountains, and the Llanthony Valley in particular, have a very special aura. They are steeped in history and ooze ancientness. Walking across what the farmers call ‘the flats’ you will always be walking in another’s footsteps, who knows whose inspiration and insights you may pick up on.
In these exquisitely peaceful surroundings, which are becoming increasingly rare and difficult to find, is another of the 6 elements which are a pre-requisite for capturing the spirit of small, but perfectly formed, business retreat.
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