Meet Roddy Hamilton, owner of The Private Hill, a luxurious family-friendly dome retreat on a scenic working farm in North Yorkshire.
What first inspired you to create The Private Hill as a retreat?
As a small farmer living and working in one of the most beautiful parts of the country we knew we needed to diversify in order to assure the long-term sustainability of the farm business. Having considered a number of possible alternatives, including a very high welfare B&B pig enterprise for BQP (who supply Waitrose high welfare pork) we decided, instead, that our location was absolutely perfect for a tourism business.
The Private Hill was intended to push ourselves, and the boundaries of premium glamping, as far as we possibly could. It needed to be a place where guests could enjoy an experience like no other. Immaculate facilities, a fantastic team of friendly local staff, somewhere created and developed on a customer centric vision and somewhere that provided privacy and calm in an otherwise busy world. A place that guests could make memories and enjoy incredible views without having to abandon the comforts of home. One that provided unusually high standards of service where guests could feel truly valued. With all of that in mind – The Private Hill was born!
Have you always been in hospitality? If not, what else did / do you do?
The hospitality industry has been a major influencer throughout my life. Having been lucky enough to stay in some of the finest hotels on earth during a fabulous, earlier, career with several major blue chip multi-national businesses I then formed a start-up business supplying premium fresh food to amongst the most demanding Chefs in the world.
My first, serious, London account was The Connaught (Executive Chef – Michel Bourdin at the time) who I supplied with Oak Smoked Scottish Salmon directly from our Scottish base. Other Savoy Group properties quickly followed suit and we were privileged to establish a bit of a reputation at the top end of both the London market and Connoisseur Scotland properties including One Devonshire Gardens, Turnberry, The Royal Scotsman train and so on.
We then extended the business overseas supplying the Executive Chefs at all Taj and Oberoi properties throughout India with a now extended range of fresh food from Scotland ranging from our own Oak Smoked Scottish Salmon, through fresh Game, Lamb, Beef, and portion-controlled cuts of almost anything they wanted. After this we worked with the Regent in Bangkok and the business flourished far and wide. So, yes, a great deal of my life has been within the hospitality industry in one form or another.
What’s the best thing about being the owner of The Private Hill?
There are two really.
Being able to meet some of the most fabulous people I have ever met, our guests, and reading their reviews following a stay at The Private Hill. I absolutely love being able to welcome those that expect high standards to our very special part of North Yorkshire. Over time these wonderful people become friends and then almost a part of the family. We’re lucky, not to mention extremely humbled, that many have now been to stay here three, four, and sometimes five times already. And we only opened two years ago!
The other best part of being the owner of The Private Hill is, unquestionably, the privilege of being able to work with an incredibly like-minded group of passionate team members. We are a very close-knit community here and everyone completely ‘gets’ that we need to be at the very top of our game every single second of our day.
What’s your favourite feature of the retreat?
I think it’s got to be the positioning of our luxury domes which sit on a wonderful hill that provides fabulous views for simply miles across much of England. But of course it’s the entire guest experience that matters most.
What do you love about the local area?
This little part of North Yorkshire is really in a bit of a time bubble.
Dominating the landscape are some first-class farms and there’s also a noticeable absence of heavy industry. No massive power lines, major road networks, railway lines, or approaches to airport runways.
It’s England as I remember it when I was a young boy. Peace, calm, some lovely local people, fabulous local pubs and restaurants, and a place where life has value. In a busy world this seems to be driving much of our repeat business towards The Private Hill.
What’s next for The Private Hill?
Who knows! We will always aim high and try to ensure that we are the destination of choice for discerning guests who don’t want to compromise. We will continually introduce new initiatives to keep the property fresh, and relevant, and we will always strive to exceed expectations at every possible opportunity. We will never forget that guests have a choice….
Perhaps we will be lucky enough to meet like-minded farmers, or land owners, who share our passion and, over time, introduce other The Private Hill destinations across the wider United Kingdom. That would be very special indeed.
If you couldn’t stay at your place, where would your ideal holiday be?
That question arose not that long ago when I needed to find a place to stay for my wife and I when we attended my youngest daughter’s wedding in Kent!
My starting point was to look for somewhere that was officially rated 5 stars and to then scrutinise the reviews of people that had stayed before. I believed that on that basis we would find somewhere as close to the standard, and spirit, of The Private Hill as we could. And it worked!
We had a few nights at Bewl Rookery in Kent and they even had Alpacas like us. A very special place indeed.
Sum up The Private Hill in three words
A special place
If you were visiting, how would you spend a day at The Private Hill?
First, and foremost, I’d want to absorb the positive energy of the place and take things slowly. A leisurely breakfast in bed, admiring the gorgeous landscape, followed by a fabulous hot shower and then a walk around the farm to test the working with nature credentials of the place.
I’d spend some time visiting the friendly farm animals learning how, and why, they are all so calm and contented but wouldn’t want to miss an opportunity to book one of the hugely popular, and very private, Alpaca Walking Experiences.
After that we’d probably head into York for a light lunch, a look around the culture and history that abounds in that wonderful City, before heading back to enjoy a drink on the Jane’s Dome decking so that we could once again absorb that incredible view and the sunset.
If it was a Saturday evening, and was on offer, we would then absolutely want to have dinner in Jane’s Dome where the freshest of ingredients, from local suppliers, are prepared by Jane into a delicious, and highly rated, three course dining experience. Then back to our dome, where the fire had probably been pre-lit by the team, to ponder the special place we had discovered.
Find out more about The Private Hill via their Host Unusual listing, and book your luxury dome escape today!