Dee Valley Breaks Ltd
Inspired by their travels around the world, Lisa and Chris Jones decided to create their own luxury lodge accommodation in the heart of the Dee Valley. Having attended a Business Wales start-up workshop, they were subsequently supported by a business adviser to complete their business plan and successfully secure a loan from the Development Bank of Wales.
- advisory support to start up
- successfully launched in July 2019
- ahead of forecasts after only one month of trading
Introduction to business
Launched in July 2019 by husband and wife Chris and Lisa Jones, Dee Valley Breaks offers brand-new self-catering luxury lodge accommodation in an area of outstanding natural beauty in the heart of the Dee Valley.
Set on the hillside in Glyndyfrdwy, near Llangollen, with stunning valley views, the uniquely designed lodge offers opportunities for a romantic getaway and relaxation away from a busy life, as well as a fantastic base to explore North Wales.
Why did you decide to start your own business?
My husband Chris and I have always enjoyed staying in quirky, unique and luxurious accommodation, from glass igloos and kotas in Scandinavia to secluded cabins and lodges in Canada and Alaska. When the opportunity arose in 2016 to develop a piece of land, we jumped at the chance. We immediately started sketching our ideal holiday accommodation with all the amazing design features we have loved in the different types of accommodation we have enjoyed on our travels. And from this, Dee Valley Breaks was born! A luxurious and unique romantic escape in the heart of the Dee Valley.
What challenges did you face?
Financial challenges! We knew we were short of funds, so it was quite daunting having to borrow money. We had no idea where to start with putting a business plan together, nor financial forecasts. It was all new to us. We weren't even sure how to approach potential lenders. Luckily, Business Wales were keen to help.
Business Wales support
In 2017, at the beginning of their planning stage, Lisa and Chris attended a start-up workshop, delivered by the Welsh Government’s Business Wales service. This provided them with an understanding of the skillset of an entrepreneur, the importance of market research, personal budget, financial implications, legal issues, tax, NI, VAT and accessing finance.
They were then supported by a business adviser, Sian E Jones, who went over all start-up issues in detail. She helped them with their business plan and cashflow projections, enabling the couple to secure a loan from the Development Bank of Wales, allowing them to complete the project and start trading.
- advisory support with all aspects of launching a business including a successful application for loan funding
- started trading in July 2019 and have already welcomed 11 couples in the first month of trading
- further Business Wales advice on sustainability queries
Our Business Wales adviser, Sian, was fantastic! She understood our vision, and the "unique stay" and experience we wanted to create for guests. She was very approachable and was always on hand with even the most minor query. She assisted us with putting together a comprehensive business plan, and most importantly, the dreaded financial forecast! She also put us in contact with Anna Bowen from the Development Bank of Wales, who was equally as helpful. Sian and Anna worked well together and kept us updated throughout the entire process. We also had some expert advice (from Business Wales’ specialist sustainability adviser David Walker) with regards to making the property energy efficient – from solar panels, to energy efficient appliances and heating controls!
Future plans and ambitions
We have planning permission for one more luxury lodge, which we hope to develop soon. Our long-term vision would be to expand and look for other parcels of land which we could use to develop bespoke luxury accommodation.
We also want to create strong working relationships with other local businesses, partnering to offer spa breaks, outdoor activities and food hampers.
We are also keen to spread the #bookdirect message. We've been open for a month and in that time we have welcomed 11 couples to Valley View Lodge. We have received over 40 direct bookings in the first 5 weeks of trading, avoiding fees from large online travel agents, which, in turn, we hope can help benefit the local economy rather than the online travel agent giants. Booking directly results in reduced costs to us, meaning we can keep our nightly rates lower for our guests, too.
We are thrilled that to date we are already exceeding our sales and financial forecasts for month 1, 2 and 3!
If you want to read more success stories of how Business Wales has helped other people like you to start or grow their businesses, visit https://businesswales.gov.wales/case-studies or follow @_businesswales / @_busnescymru on Twitter.