Naomi and Adam have created a haven that bridges the gap between comfort and camping.
Words by Rebecca Hawkey
East Thorne Glamping was not born of simple means. Instead, through the hard work and steadfast optimism of Naomi and Adam, a dream became a reality. So, let’s take it back to the beginning and explore how they got to where they are today.
In the early 2000s, Naomi and Adam stayed in Clayoquot, Vancouver, in a wilderness lodge that immersed them in the outdoors and which was alive to the peace and tranquillity of nature. Once back in the UK, they sought out something similar in an attempt to recreate their Canadian adventures on home soil, but much to their dismay they could not seem to find anything that offered what they were looking for. Instead, they decided to make it themselves, taking inspiration from their Canadian retreat and giving rise to the concept of East Thorne, a haven that provides the same luxury, style, comfort and connection to the outdoors that they experienced all those years ago.
Naomi comes from a string of self-made, successful family businesses, so starting her own seemed like a rite of passage that they were all too willing to explore, and once Adam had retired from professional rugby, after 15 years in the game, he was eager to start a new chapter in his life. So it was that in 2011, a perfect storm of fortitude, passion and hunger to do it on their own drove the pair to sign on the dotted line for some land and some yurts, a mere four days after Adam’s last professional game.
“There was no going back now!” says Naomi. “Adam’s coach at the Worcester Warriors, Richard Hill, told us he thought we were nuts to take on such an endeavour.” This was after Adam had declined the offer of another lucrative contract, with the pair deciding instead to upheave themselves to a town where they had no connections, before finding out they were 20 weeks pregnant!
Describing their first few nights, she continues: “The rain was hammering in, and we were shivering from holding down tarpaulin to stop the weather damaging the materials. Hearing the crash of barns collapsing around us and with the septic tanks overflowing, we wondered if Richard Hill had been right after all.”
But they stuck with it, continuing to learn ‘on the job’ from the very beginning. Whilst Naomi’s understanding of the business sector, thanks to her father, would come in handy, neither had any knowledge of the hospitality industry. Lessons were learned like in every business endeavor, which included assembling the yurts in the first place. Luckily, their family and friends rallied around to help. Within nine weeks they had five of their nine yurts on decks, a renovated shower block and two of their four cottages fully renovated, and Naomi was doing all this whilst 30 weeks pregnant. By October, East Thorne Glamping was a fully functioning luxury retreat, but with the winter soon to set in, they quickly had to pack everything up again ready to hibernate for the colder months. That, and have a baby.
In 2016 Naomi and Adam built their first roundhouse, which would inevitably ‘up’ the glamping ante. They continued along this road, replacing four of their yurts with roundhouses by 2019, and completing the set by May 2022, and East Thorne is now the proud host of ten luxurious roundhouses and four cosy cottages, for which Naomi and Adam have won numerous Cornwall Tourism Awards, South West Tourism Awards, and for which they remain at the top of the Trip Advisor review chart. That’s not to mention their incredible achievement of opening a 60-place pre-school and nursery over lockdown with their business partner Claire, which is rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted. Naomi and Adam, alongside their other endeavors and whilst raising a family, have turned their dream into a reality, creating the very business that they envisaged all those years ago.
East Thorne is run on the ethos of quality time spent with loved ones, infusing this idea with the simple elements of the outdoors, all without having to forgo comfort and a little luxury. A friendly welcome is what you will receive when you stay here, and you will be surrounded by a community that lives and works onsite, ensuring impeccable care and attention to even the minutest of details. Meeting and greeting you on arrival and serving you coffees from the Horse Box, they’ll accompany families to feed the animals and give first-hand recommendations on things to do in the local area. For those keen to socialise, they will happily share a beer around the campfire, swapping stories and building a connection, and they’ll just as happily leave those who are happy in their own energy to their own devices. In short, whether it’s peace, time in nature, or convivial conversation that you’re looking for, you’ll find it here.
Naomi and Adam have built a retreat that has the perfect balance of variety and stability. For families they have larger roundhouses to house you and yours, with larger bathrooms and internal cabin rooms for those early bed times. During the school holidays East Thorne takes on a family feel, where parents can relax and enjoy the freedom of the outdoors that they may not get to experience in daily life, while the kids make friends with others and play games in the site’s green spaces, usually ending in a whole-site game of cricket or volleyball. For couples and individuals, East Thorne’s standalone roundhouses are tucked away with privacy and comfort in mind, offering roll-top baths, hot tubs in all roundhouses, secluded gardens and king-size beds, and are sited further apart to add an extra layer of wilderness isolation. For larger groups, friends or multiple families, East Thorne offers a smaller paddock area, just one of their communal areas, where they encourage families and friends to get together around the camp fire to watch the stars late into the night. They also offer outdoor kitchens on some sites for those that love to cook al fresco.
Naomi and Adam’s journey has not been an easy one, but as their motto stands, they are “always evolving, ever improving”, which is evident in their recent endeavours. In 2021 they welcomed Katie to the East Thorne family as their new manager, who brought with her a whole host of qualifications in sustainability, and with Katie’s help they are doing what they can to attain their Sustainable Tourism badge.
Creating a space that bridges the gap between comfort and camping is what East Thorne Glamping does so well, allowing those that crave adventure to have just that, whilst ensuring they have the home comforts at hand. A break from the mundane to breathe, connect and refresh is what we all need from time to time, and this is what East Thorne offers to all. The staycation holiday trend isn’t going anywhere, so why not take one in style.