Meet Aly Grimes, owner and creator of unique retro caravan glamping concept, Beverley Thrills Caraglamping in Warwickshire.
Image credit: Aly Grimes of Beverley Thrills Caraglamping | Harriet at Brush Mag
What first inspired you to create Beverley Thrills as a retreat?
A couple of years ago I began ‘Airbnbing’ my spare room in my old Jewellery Quarter apartment in Birmingham. It all started as a bit of fun after my friend had moved out and seemed like a good way to help with the monthly bills. Initially I’d only expected a few commuter guests from London or Manchester so I was really surprised but delighted to receive nearly 100 guests springing from all corners of the world. I especially loved coming home after work and sharing amazing conversations (and bottles of wine) with folks from Quebec, Malta and even Inner Mongolia! It was these experiences that really expanded my horizons and ignited my passion for hosting, and I loved the feeling that I was travelling the world without actually leaving my flat.
A sudden change in circumstances due to the outbreak of Corona meant I needed to sell my apartment. I was living quite nomadically for some time while everything shook down with work and the property sale, and my stepdad, Mike, joked that I’d soon be living in a caravan.
As a pretty sociable person I’d also started to miss the interactions with guests and hosting people especially during lockdown when the travel restrictions were so high and I started to look for a project (or distraction) from the surrounding doom and gloom.
It was my stepdad’s unwitting remark that sparked the lightbulb moment. So, armed with a little property restoration knowledge, I decided to buy and renovate a knackered old ABI Marauder with absolutely no experience of caravans (and a lot of help from Mike!) to be ready and open in time for the Staycation Summer of 2021. How hard could it be?
Image credit: Beverley Thrills Caraglamping | Harriet at Brush Mag
Have you always been in hospitality? If not, what else did / do you do?
As a contemporary art curator with a background in interior design, I’ve had a fair bit of experience in hospitality, whether producing art exhibitions or events, and I absolutely love designing and creating inspiring environments for visitors or guests to enjoy and soak in. My intention for Beverley Thrills was to create a location that transports you to a completely different time and place, but ultimately, a place where you can switch off from the hubbub and stresses of daily life.
What’s the best thing about being the owner of Beverley Thrills?
Definitely that this project combines all my interests under one roof (sorry!) – art, design, architecture and hosting, but I also love that there’s tonnes of scope for growth and creativity and I get to flex my little entrepreneurial muscles! Often chats with guests inspire new ideas of how to grow our ‘caraglamping’ business – a term we came up with in a bid to offer something a little bit different and give a fresh new take on the traditional British caravan holiday. Experiencing the joys of caravanning without the hassle of having to tow it onto site is a major added plus for guests. We often get intrigued ‘old school’ caravanners asking to take a look inside to see the transformation.
I’m also really happy that we’ve got people to re-think their views on caravans as ugly white boxes to pretty cool things with loads of vintage charm. Bev was in a bit of a sorry state when we got her. The biggest challenge for us though was transforming what was a pretty unappealing trailer into something aesthetically pleasing as opposed to renting out a vintage airstream which is already an iconic and stunning piece of design. I’m really proud of how she’s turned out and also really happy with the sustainable nature of the project in that we started with something old and existing and re-purposed albeit with quite a lot of hard work!
What’s your favourite feature of the caravan?
Tough question but I think it has to be the shower room as it’s seen the biggest transformation. Check out the ‘before’ image above – a vision in beige and peach. It was so uninspiring and drab. I really like giving small spaces their moment and adding an element of surprise so I smothered every surface with green vinyl terrazzo in homage to my parents’ Eighties avocado bathroom suite and topped it off with a hot pink shower curtain to really make the space pop.
Image credit: The Farm | Snitterfield
What do you love about the local area?
The campsite is nestled in the little village of Snitterfield on the edge of Stratford-upon-Avon. Before you even head into town, the immediate surroundings are home to a thriving micro economy. Our neighbours include The Farm – a wonderful farm shop and restaurant serving local produce, with lots of outdoor activities and animals. There’s also the Welcombe Hills Vineyard which offers wine tours and tastings which are really popular. The campsite is also located on ‘The Monarch’s Way’ – a historic walking trail that follows the escape route taken by King Charles II back in 1651, following his defeat in the Battle of Worcester. It’s about a 45 minute walk that takes you right into Stratford.
Image credit: Beverley Thrills Caraglamping | Harriet at Brush Mag
What’s next for Beverley Thrills?
Well, the first thing we need is a proper towing vehicle because my little Fiat 500 just doesn’t fit the bill for this gig. I’m often having to rely on the good nature of friends and family with a tow bar. So over the winter we’re on the hunt for a nice little 4 x 4 workhorse.
It’s our first autumn at Beverley Thrills and we’re gearing up for October half term guests. I think the change in season will offer quite a different experience so I’m really looking forward to how that shapes up. As the winter period will be quieter we’re keen to rent out the caravan for filming and photography sessions and we’re also looking ahead to next year with plans to collaborate with local businesses. Is there a second caravan on its way? Watch this space…
If you couldn’t stay at your place, where would your ideal holiday be?
We’ve just come back from the Isles of Scilly. I don’t normally return to places that often but I’m already finding myself wanting to book the ferry again! The huge stretches of sandy white beaches are nearly empty even in the height of summer and the wildlife is so abundant and diverse. We saw dolphins, jelly fish and rainbow pheasants!
Image credit: Kitchen at Beverley Thrills Caraglamping | Harriet at Brush Mag
Sum up Beverley Thrills in three words
Eighties. LA. Vibes
If you were visiting, how would you spend a day at Beverley Thrills?
It would almost certainly begin with a coffee and almond croissant from The Farm’s bakery which I would take with me on my leisurely stroll along the Monarch’s Way into Stratford.
The riverside is probably my favourite part of town so next I’d probably sit and watch the rowers and paddle boarders on the water before heading to an outdoor theatre performance at the Royal Shakespeare Company. Another favourite watering hole is the summer pop up bar next to the boat house, although top of my list is Bobby’s – a converted railway carriage-come deli and wine bar that overlooks the racecourse so you’d probably find me there with a ‘Dark and Stormy’ in one hand, and calamari rings in the other.
Find out more about Beverley Thrills Caraglamping via their Host Unusual listing, and plan your time-travelling trip today!
Image credits: Harriet at Brush Mag