Home where every day could be a holiday

Words by:
Sarah Winstanley
Featured in:
February 2013

A unique opportunity to invest in a live/work business
When Yvonne and David Mapletoft bought a piece of land just outside Louth they couldn’t imagine that one day it would be a successful holiday lettings business.

From tentative steps the couple built a thriving business which this year is celebrating its twenty-second year. Now in the hands of the couple’s son, Robbie and his wife, Holly, Ashwater House, Cottage and Cabins has been placed on the market.

The ‘live/work opportunity’ combines a timber framed five bedroomed home with an existing holiday cottage business and the four to five bedroomed Ashpot Cottage. The property is situated within 1.93 acres of mature grounds clustered around a pretty fishing lake in a quiet and private location.

Holly, who has run the business full-time for the last thirteen years, said: “This has been a wonderful and happy family home and business for the last twenty-two years but we now feel the time is right to explore new opportunities.”

When Yvonne and David originally bought the land, it featured a small orchard and a lake which was a former brick pit and the couple wasted no time in building their dream home, Ashwater House.

Needing somewhere to live during the eighteen-month build, Yvonne and David bought a log cabin, now known as Kingfisher Lodge, and moved it onto the site. When the house was complete, however, Yvonne was loath to leave her temporary home.

“Yvonne wondered why they had ever bothered building the house because they loved their log cabin so much,” Holly said.

Rather than dispose of the cabin, the couple decided to rent it out to holidaying guests and the business was born. At first they rented the cabin and a granny annexe adjoining the main house and later added first floor accommodation to a detached double garage, now known as The Owlery.

At that time, Holly and Robbie were living in Loughborough but when Robbie, a chartered surveyor, accepted a job in Grimsby, they started looking for a house in the town with no luck at all.

“Yvonne and David suggested we build a house on their land; after all it was convenient for commuting to Grimsby and it meant we could be closer to them,” Holly said. They built Ashpot Cottage and moved in 1997 and, after selling two houses in Nottingham which they rented out to students, they invested in two new log cabins, Swallow Lodge and Teal Cabin, which they installed on the land.

At this time, Holly worked as an accountant for a company in Grimsby, helping her in-laws with the business at weekends. But after the birth of their first child, Edward (now 15) in 1997, Holly became a stay-at-home mum and got more involved in the business.

By the time the couple’s second child William (12) was born in 2000, Yvonne and David had decided they wanted to spend half the year in America where they had a second home. Holly took over the running of the business while looking after the children.

She said: “It was a nice change for me because I had been working with numbers all the time. The holiday lettings business is so varied; every day is different which makes it more pleasant work.”

The couple moved into Ashwater House, giving them the opportunity to rent out Ashpot Cottage as part of the business and, in 2007, they bought the final log cabin, Robin’s Rest which was transported from Loch Lomand in Scotland.

Then, three years ago, Holly and Robbie bought the business in its entirety. Now Holly manages the business full-time and Robbie, who works part-time as a chartered surveyor for the Valuations Office, which is part of the Inland Revenue, helps out four days a week.

As well as the five bedroomed owner’s accommodation which has the potential for a separate annexe or bed and breakfast accommodation and the four to five bedroomed Ashpot Cottage which has full residential status, there is further accommodation in the detached two-bed holiday apartment located beside and over the double garage. Four timber two to four berth log cabins make up the remainder of the holiday accommodation and these can be booked via the website www.ashwaterhouse.co.uk

The couple are incredibly organised and do the majority of the practical work themselves, bringing in a lady to clean two of the lodges on a Saturday.

Holly said: “Friday and Saturday are change-over days and after the guests leave at 10am, Rob and I tackle the cabins. Rob does the hoovering and bedrooms whilst I do the kitchens and bathrooms because I’m fussy when it comes to cleanliness. We can clean a cabin in just over an hour but the cottages take a little longer.

“We have two washing machines in our utility room which are on constantly and then there’s the washing to hang out. Then it’s time to meet and greet our new guests.”

She added: “We like to do all the work ourselves so I do an hour of gardening every day and the administration of the business as and when. As soon as I get a booking, I record it in a paper diary and online, so it can be cross-referenced, and I send out any paperwork in the post. Last year we started accepting online bookings, so a lot of information can be emailed out instead.

“We also carry out any repairs ourselves when they arise and I tend to paint one log cabin a year in rotation. I rub them down with a wire brush first and then paint them one aspect at a time.”

Holly also enjoys heading into Louth to shop for the business, whether that be linen for the cabins or chocolate, drinks and ice-cream for the tuck shop they run on the site.

With twenty-two years of trading under their belts, the couple are proud that eighty-five to ninety per cent of their trade is from repeat customers, or on recommendation.

Holly said: “We can trade all year round but our main season runs from March to November and we are always fully booked at Christmas. Our customers are quite varied, with mostly families with children staying in the school holidays and retired folks and those without children in June and September. We also get the families of local people staying at Christmas time and in the holidays.

“We find people come to enjoy what Lincolnshire has to offer and because we are quite central they can visit the coast for the day and then come back to peace and quiet in the evening.”

With its own well-stocked half-acre lake, the business is popular with fishermen who come to catch the coarse fish, including carp, rudd, tench, bream, chubb and crucian carp, while their wives make the fifteen minute walk into Louth to shop.

Holly said: “There is a fish in the lake which has been nicknamed Jaws. He’s very rarely caught and no-one has taken a picture of him, but one of our regular visitors said he caught him using Spam!”

Now the couple have taken the difficult decision to sell the business and owner’s accommodation as a going concern. The family will be staying in Louth and Holly is keen to return to her career in accountancy.

Holly said: “We asked Robbie’s parents for their blessing before we put the house and business on the market and they agreed. We are happy here and could continue to be happy here but we would like to explore new opportunities.”

• Ashwater House, Cottages and Cabins at Willow Drive, Louth is on the market with Masons with a guide price of £795,000. For more information contact the estate agents on (01507) 350500.

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