Editor's note: Each month, we'd like to introduce you to one of our wonderful Glamping Hub hosts and what inspired them to create a glamping site. This month, we have Franny and Fenton and their picturesque villa near Jimena de la Frontera, Cádiz, Spain.
1. What is the story behind you starting your glamping site?
We had our first child in London, and we realized it was no place for our baby, Bamboo, so we footed it to Spain, a place I knew well, and Fenton had gotten to know through me. We got married here, we have long-time friends living here, and it felt right. When we arrived, the doors to this this amazing finca (country estate) in the Andalusian hillside opened for us, and we jumped at the opportunity to take it on.
2. What did you do before becoming a glamping host? What drew you to glamping?
I have always worked in hospitality. Restaurant managing to retreat hosting, I have always welcomed strangers in some way and made them feel at home! I've always been drawn to this type of work. Running retreats in London with Franny was the bigger step into this field, as we knew we wanted to host retreats in a beautiful location, but in order for us to make our mark, we knew that having our own venue from which to do so would be ideal.
I have always loved hosting at home, and I think opening a venue to the public that is as beautiful as this one was the icing on the cake!
3. In your opinion, how does your accommodation fit the definition of glamping?
We are the only finca for miles around. All you can see are rolling hills of avocados, oranges, and olive groves, as well as farm animals. Set in a natural park known for its birds of prey, it's a fantastic place to be outdoors exploring the wildlife. At night with no light pollution, you can marvel at the stars to your heart's content. I strongly recommend a visit around the full moon. It's AMAZING.
4. What is the most special thing about your property?
The design. Designed on a Argentinan finca mixed with the terraces of an Indian palace, the outside it something special for Andalusia. But so the interior—full of hand-picked, antique furniture and artwork that inspire each room to be something different.
No room looks the same. No room tells the same story. The owner is an art collector, and some very special pieces can be seen on the walls. There are antique doors made into four-meter-long tables that you know you wouldn't see anywhere else.
5. What do you love the most about running a glamping site? What are some of the challenges you face?
We love welcoming new people and seeing their faces upon arrival. Especially when they've been traveling for the better part of the day! We always hope our guests arrive during the daytime, so they can see the views. We've been told, however, that their stays have actually been more special when they arrive at night and see the house lit up so cozy, only to wake up in the morning to breathtaking views!
The challenge is to make sure everything keeps running smoothly. We are fully booked for most of the year, with little time to do major maintenance. Thankfully, our dream team, Miguel and Vanessa, who live on-site, keep everything ticking by, looking good, and smelling better! Generally speaking, post-wedding clean-up tends to require the most effort from everyone.
6. Tell us about your most memorable guest experience to date.
Our first wedding! A group of 20 stayed with us from America. They were so approachable, and Fenton was in charge of making sure everything ran smoothly for them. It was an April wedding, so the weather wasn't guaranteed, but it was the most beautiful ceremony for 40 people—held looking over the hills and sunset, followed by dinner and drinks under the tent on the lower terrace. It was a special one for us to host, such a powerful intimate wedding, especially as our first, and to have Fenton be such a huge part of it.
7. Which three words are most commonly used in guest feedback about your accommodation?
Views, peace, and Fenton. (This isn't a joke—everyone falls in love with him!)
8. Tell us about the experience you provide for guests visiting your glamping site.
We offer retreats, Reiki, massage, yoga, personal training, sound healing, weddings, horse riding, clay making...all sorts of things! It's fantastic! We also do in-house catering, everything from traditional asados, or barbecues, to vegan food. We cater to our guests. If they want a boat ride at 11 a.m., followed by an afternoon of massages and a huge paella on the bottom terrace, we can do it all!
9. If you could have anybody stay at your accommodation, who would it be and why?
It would have to be the Dalai Lama! In the past, we have had a few lamas come and visit the land, and they have said it is a sacred place. For me to have the Dalai Lama come so I could meet him and host him would be truly a blessing. I would sneak my daughters up there, too, so they could meet him!
10.Are there any upcoming additions/changes to your glampsite you would like to share with us?
In 2020, we hope to launch a Kickstarter to start raising funds to turn the stables and the goat house into an extra accommodation. They would serve as overflow for weddings, but as their own thing, they'd also be the perfect place for retreats, artist retreats, or family holidays. The view from there are just as beautiful, and the gardens offer the ideal location for an asado by the lake!
True to the cause, we are adding in some luxury glamping tents, containers, and caravans, too! Sleeping in a luxury tent with views of the lake is sort of a must on our land—we just haven't done it yet!
We are also coming to the end of the second year of weddings, and this year has seen our best yet! In October, we'll be doing a big push and exposé on getting married here. One bride even rode in on a horse this year!