Libbear Barton is a beautiful family-friendly countryside estate in North Devon, perfect for a group getaway or quiet family break wanting to escape and enjoy a change of scenery.
We spend a lot of time talking about the properties on the Holiday Tots website (as that is what we do), but we thought it would be nice for you to get to know the owners a little more as they are the ones who breath life into their holiday homes…
Before we get started, we would like to introduce to you Max and Alexandra owners at Libbear Barton, family of 5, as of last month with just welcoming their 3rd little one – Congratulations to you both! The three children are Xanthe (age 4), Atticus (age 2) and baby Flora (1 month). Two and a half years ago, they moved from the hustle and bustle of London to the deepest rural, countryside of Devon. Let’s see what made them move and how they are enjoying their time at Libbear Barton.
Why did you decide to start your own holiday accommodation business and what was your inspiration?
Max’s mother bought Libbear Barton in 2015 which was already operating as a holiday accommodation business. At the time we were working in London. Max was running a business and Alex worked for a charity. We were both very busy and very grateful to have beautiful holiday accommodation in one of our favourite parts of the country that we could escape to. Despite growing up in London, Max always felt more at home in the country and Alex grew up in a village. On holiday at Libbear Barton 3-4 years ago, we questioned why we lived in London and all that comes with it. After not a very long time of pondering we decided to move out.
The current managers were moving on and we put ourselves forward for the job. After a rigorous interview process (with Max’s mother!) we were given the job. Max is fairly practical and business minded and Alex is administratively very organised and great at communication and marketing.
It has been a fantastic decision for us as a family. We love our jobs and the lifestyle that it allows. Holidays have been some of the most special moments for us as a family and it is very satisfying providing people with the perfect environment to make magical memories on their own holidays that they will treasure forever.
What advice would you give to families wanting to holiday with you? Is there anything you would like to highlight that might be interesting to families with babies/toddlers young children who are thinking of staying with you?
Leave the roof box at home! We have lots of equipment for young families that we supply free of charge that makes life a little easier during your stay. We have young kids and we hope that perspective has meant we have thought of everything to make Libbear Barton the perfect holiday for families. The heated indoor pool, soft play and games room mean there is lots to do if it is raining. But as you know, it rarely rains in Devon so the playground, 40 acres of countryside and the wild wood are perfect for enjoying the outdoors! All that before you even start exploring the wider area!
If you could pick just two attractions/places to visit in your area what would they be?
For all its family friendly facilities, indoor and out, Libbear Barton is the perfect place for those that love the outdoors. There are lots of fun attractions and activities to do in the area but our favourite places to go are free – the beach and Dartmoor National Park. We are very well placed to be equidistant between the two. Our favourite beach is Widemouth Bay (pronounced Wid-muth). It’s beautiful sandy expanse, good surf, rock pools and lovely café are enough to keep us very happy. Whether its shorts, wetsuits or wellies and woolly hats, we are regular visitors all year around.
In the other direction is Dartmoor. We love its wild, untouched, rugged beauty. On busy summer days when the beaches are busy, it makes a great alternative. Hiking, wild camping, mountain biking are all very easy to do. This summer we did lots of wild swimming in rivers and ponds. However it is a little bracing getting the water!
2020 has been a tough year for everyone, what challenges have you faced and how have things changed for you and your business?
It has obviously been a challenging year for everyone. We have had to change the way we operate in innumerate ways, from the way we take bookings to the physical facilities and accommodation themselves. The hardest things for us this year have been the rule changes. Just when you think you have figured out what is allowed, it changes again. This often means lots of hard phone calls to disappointed guests who won’t get to go on the holiday they had been so looking forward to (and then lots of refunds too). That said, it must be a nightmare making up the rules and trying to think of the impact on every part of society. I don’t envy the current government.
What is your favourite treat after a hard day?
Well in theory Max likes to go to his workshop and do some woodworking and Alex likes to do block printing but all too often Netflix wins out – especially at the moment with a new baby!
The environment is close to our hearts at Holiday Tots and obviously hot topic at the moment. We would love to hear about your environmental challenges and anything you do to help reduce your personal or business carbon footprint…
We are passionate about the environment and always looking for ways to make Libbear Barton a more sustainable place. We have put together a plan to minimise our impact over the next couple of years focussing on water, energy and waste.
We have a private water source and have just drilled a new bore hole so that the whole sites water needs can be provided from our own sources. The quality of the water is much better than what comes through the mains.
We have plans to add a large array of solar panels on our farm sheds that will dramatically reduce the energy we get from the grid. We are currently using a green energy company for our grid supplied energy.
We have installed composters on site for all of our guests food waste. This will be used in our veg beds and polytunnel to help grow the produce that we hope to supply to guests in the future.
What plans do you have for 2021
Ha! Plans! Plans have not worked too well for us this year. I think the only way to enjoy life at the moment is to have as few plans as possible. I think that is our plan!
That said, we would really like a holiday ourselves in 2021! We shall see.
Libbear Barton is definitely one to add to the list for a getaway in the UK for families who love the outdoors. Plenty of countryside and beach walks close by but enough onsite facilities to keep everyone entertained if you prefer to stay put.