The winners for the annual Cornwall Tourism Awards have recently been announced and were awarded a Gold, Silver or Bronze award at the ceremony on the 2nd November. This year there was a record number of applicants with 180 entries in the Cornwall area and 644 across the South West. From this judges whittled them down to 75 finalists thanks to their evidence submitted and a mystery visit.
We spoke to Rachel who works at Lower Barns B&B who won a silver award for ‘Bed and Breakfast of the Year’ to find out more about the property.
What do you think awards like this do for tourism in Cornwall?
I think that it’s really important to have that gold standard. What it does is it gives everybody something that they can understand. So everybody can buy into the fact that it’s a gold award winner, and it’s your benchmark everywhere – all across the country and to all the people who are in the same industry as us. And the fact that there are awards means that we’ve got something to talk about as well. It means that we’re not being self-measured, we are being measured by somebody else. And that’s a good thing to talk about and a good thing to have on the website.
Can you tell us more about the property?
The owners Mike and Janie bought Lower Barn many years ago, they’ve been running B&B’s for 19 years. When they bought the building originally, they were completely captivated by the actual space – it’s a complete hidden gem. It’s just a beautiful spot! It was a whole bunch of run down buildings – where I’m sitting right now overlooking the fabulous gardens it was all chickens and brambles. So it was a complete labour of love for them. They lived in a caravan for 6 years whilst they worked on it. And the thing about Mike and Janie is that they are a real team together – they are an amazing husband and wife team who work just perfectly together. If they have an idea they act on it, the standards of everything they do are completely excellent, they want everything to be the very best.
Not only is it spotlessly clean but it’s so well designed and so unique. All of the rooms are completely different, Janie has a massive eye for interiors and a massive love of colour, so there are vibrant colours everywhere you look. I’m sure that other people would find it hard to put them together the way that Janie does – it’s just a complete magic ability to do. It’s the vibrancy and the energy that is created by the colours that she puts together. All the the textures and the furnishings that she uses are amazing. She uses beautiful fragrances, candles which are made locally, all the soaps are lovely, the lighting is perfect. She’s created an amazing ambiance where people feel like they can come here and really relax, rekindle and have fun! Mike and Janie are always here, they greet guests, they are very very hands on – Janie cooks all the breakfasts and it’s a good fun place to be.
We’ve got 3 rooms that are out scattered across the garden, and they have their own private garden. Two of those have got private hot tubs, ones got a sauna and ones got a log burning stove. One is like a beach hut style, and we’ve got a gypsy caravan in the garden – which you can eat your breakfast in.
We’re very Cornish in what we do, we live in this beauty county so we really like to promote Cornwall – all the best places to go, all the secret beaches, we know all the great theatre groups to go to, and really importantly we do all local produce. We use local in every way we possibly can. We are also banning plastic! Sometimes people are a little surprised because people expect to use plastic straws for example – but here it’s a no no because we like to support the environment.
How do you stand out in a place like Cornwall?
We genuinely love what we do and that comes across when guests stay with us. Also we work really hard to make our website excellent. And we work really hard on social media and communicating with people. When people arrive they always say ‘oh wow, I thought your website was brilliant but now I’m here, it’s even more amazing.’
How important is your website in conveying a stay with you?
We’re really good at keeping our website updated. We take a lot of photography as I think photography is really important to people. We have a gallery on the website which gets a lot of views. But when you come to Lower barns it’s more than that, it smells wonderful the lights are wonderful and it’s really warm and friendly. It’s the perfect place for an escape. Our motto is ‘a smile lasts a moment but the memory of Lower Bans lasts forever!’ And people come back year after year after year.