Holiday complex Whalesborough Cottages and Spa has just enhanced its visitor experiences by extending leisure facilities at the popular picturesque North Cornwall coastal destination.
Site owner James is the third generation of the Proudfoot family, which established a dairy farm on the 500-acre estate more than 50 years ago but is the first to diversify into leisure.
“My grandfather established the dairy farm in 1963,” James explains, “but by 2004 we had run our course with it and decided to move into holiday cottages. On reflection, 15 years later, I can say that it was certainly the right decision.”
Whalesborough attracts staycationers from across Britain to its 21, 5-star luxury cottages – from as far afield as Scotland and more regionally from Bath and Bristol.
“Our USP is that we are very dog friendly, in contrast to many holiday destinations like ours,” says James.
“Guests love roaming across the coastal countryside and can stroll right down to the beach at Widemouth Bay. It’s a delightful setting.”
Several members of the Proudfoot family help run the Bude operation.
“My cousin Fraser is the other half of the business and manages the café and bistro,” James explains.
“My wife Sharran is office manager, while sons Jake and Tom work here too. Tom has just completed a degree in film and media, so is planning to promote us on the digital platforms.”
Fit for purpose
Leisure provision plays an increasingly important aspect of Whalesborough’s offering and James reflects on how trends can transform the scale and scope of facilities in this sector.
“We built our first cottages in 2009, with more following in 2013 and 2014 in the off season. All are five-star gold and feature leading-edge interior design, sustainable construction standards, solar panels and wood-pellet boilers.
“At the time, the spa was almost an afterthought, with just two treatment rooms on the second floor.”
But regularly rising guest numbers forced a rethink.
“Our changing areas were cramped, no longer fit for purpose and couldn’t cope with throughput – typically up to 15 ladies are staying here for spa breaks at any one time – while the gym had become congested,” says James.
Having established the W Club as an attractive element of Whalesborough’s accommodation, the Proudfoots knew their next step was to scale up to cater for the huge popularity of spa breaks.
Under a two-phase expansion, the former gym has been converted into an enlarged female changing area, fitted out by specialists Crown Sports Lockers.
A purpose-built two-storey extension houses the fitness provision – double the existing floorspace and refreshed with high-end Technogym equipment and augmented spa facilities.
Alongside is the new function room hosting studio classes for yoga and other disciplines, complementing Whalesborough’s outdoor sports provision and infinity swimming pool.
The Proudfoots chose carefully when selecting a supplier to fit-out the changing areas.
“We were seeking an upmarket manufacturer and had viewed Saunton Sands Hotel, where Crown had recently installed changing rooms,” James explains. “They seemed a friendly, family firm, attentive with an eye for detail.”
Throughout the build, Crown project manager Sam Palmer worked closely with James and the family to create bespoke designs for the female changing area and spa fit-out.
“Collaborating around the kitchen table was a really relaxing way to talk through the client’s requirements and come up with solutions tailored to guest needs and numbers,” Sam recalls.
The three large new treatment rooms Crown fitted out (one twin capacity) on the first floor feature furniture finished in Egger truffle brown Denver oak with crisp white Corian worktops. On the ground floor, Crown fitted a small bank of matching holdall and clothes lockers with DCL keypad locks.
The expansion allows the W Club to further widen its guest offering.
“Our cocoon indulgence is already a firm favourite,” James reports, “as are ever-popular lava shells, hot stones and reflexology.”
Fitting out the newly created female changing room in the former gym saw Crown install 36 clothes lockers with DCL keypad locks, three private change cubicles, towel drop unit, and wet and dry vanity stations.
The Made in Britain manufacturer also fitted out the wet area to include flush compact laminate door systems for the WC and shower cubicles. Two upholstered island stools, finished in a revitalising teal, medium blue-green, fabric to match Whalesborough’s corporate colour, completed the install.
“Our female guests now enjoy a far more spacious, luxurious and private changing environment,” says a delighted James.
Despite the explosion in spa days and breaks, the W Club can claim the North Cornish market for itself, it seems.
“There isn’t another spa facility within 20 or 30 miles of us,” James reveals. “With planning permission for another 24 holiday cottages, our long-term future is secure.”