- Mandy Gore-Booth
The Evolution of Bainland Lodge Retreats
Set within 45-acres on the edge of the Lincolnshire Wolds, Bainland Lodge Retreats is a collection of family-friendly, dog-friendly, self-catering lodges ranging from cosy shepherd’s huts and lakeside cabins to oversized safari tents and spacious lodges with outdoor swimming pools – all aimed at offering a chance to unplug, unwind and reconnect – whether you are a party of two or 22.
From humble beginnings as a caravan park, offering a typically British 1970’s holiday experience, to its reincarnation as Bainland Lodge Retreats offering luxury lodges, al fresco dining, instructor-led activities, and family play areas set amongst lakes and woodlands - the evolution of Bainland has been a slow and conscious process.
“We knew we couldn’t make this corner of the Lincolnshire Wolds even more beautiful” says second-generation owner and managing director, Simon Craddock, “so we thought we’d simply try and make it more enticing.” Simon set out to achieve that with great attention to the brand’s three core pillars - privacy, luxury, and sustainability - all rooted in showcasing and supporting the Lincolnshire community which is home to Bainland.
Setting the scene for transformation
Bainland Lodge Retreats was first acquired by Craddock senior in 1999 with the mission to turn a caravan park into holiday lodges, best placed to take advantage of the site’s natural beauty and big starlit skies. In 2005, Simon took over from his father and set his sights even higher. He wanted to create a stand-out holiday offering in Lincolnshire, to truly connect with the county’s picturesque beauty, and to put the destination firmly on the staycation map.
It wasn’t plain sailing. There were years of planning applications and appeals, trial and error custom-designing lodges that exceeded industry standards, determination not to overdevelop the site, and a focus on offering more - more space, more rooms, more gardens, more hot tubs, and even more dog friendly stays! Over 70% of Bainland’s lodges are dog-friendly and this has been the case since well before the number one question upon enquiry became – do you offer dog-friendly accommodation? Yes, Bainland does indeed offer dog-friendly stays and have been known to welcome cats, ferrets and even pet pigs too!
In another example of bucking the trend, Bainland set about offering even bigger lodges that would appeal to families looking for opportunities to gather multiple generations under one roof, to spend quality time together and to be in the great outdoors. By 2020, Bainland was offering not only the UK’s first two-storey safari tents sleeping eight guests but also 6, 7, and 8 bedroom lodges, as well as two huge 12-bedroom holiday villas each featuring their own 10m heated outdoor swimming pool. This proved to be a prescient move post-pandemic after seeing the huge demand for reconnecting and gathering people together – and this is true for families, friends and even businesses who are now looking to explore new ways of bonding with colleagues.
Good things come in small packages too however, and Bainland also increased the number of cosy and couple-friendly one-bedroom lodges. The new lakeside Treehouse Lodge is a triumph with its elevated terrace and al fresco hot tub proving the perfect vantage point to admire the wildfowl below and woodlands beyond.
Laid-back luxury in the heart of the Lincolnshire countryside
“From the onset, we wanted to offer our guests the opportunity to gather in beautiful spaces – inside and out”, says Simon, “so we set about bringing that sense of connection with the environment into our design.” Enlisting the help of Suffolk-based interior designer, Karen Robson, Bainland’s latest lodges feature her signature pops of colour and use of the best of British brands to bring the outside, in. The Orchard Lodge, for example, pays homage to the warm colours of an autumnal orchard – with velvety blue sofas, rust hued headboards, and olive-green wallpaper. While at the English Country Villa, Mulberry’s Flying Ducks wallpaper represents the abundant wildlife found at Bainland, and Designer’s Guild’s Peonies fabrics at the English Garden Villa encapsulate the region’s horticultural heritage.
Bainland also commissioned oversized sofas, added generous dining tables, customised armchairs and stocked fully fitted kitchens with top-of-the-line appliances and colourful Le Creuset crockery, all in a bid to create relaxing and liveable spaces that guests would love.
Each of the 78 lodges at Bainland – from the cosiest Shepherd’s Huts to the biggest lodges – all feature at least one, and in many cases two, al fresco hot tubs. They all offer privacy, whether via enclosed gardens, clever planting, lakeside boundaries, gabion walls or wildflower strewn bunds, and each lodge comes with either a firepit or woodburning stove, all are designed to encourage reconnection with each other, and the environment.
Sustainability is embedded
“For us, sustainability is embedded into our core thinking”, said Simon, in a pursuit that is thoughtful and purposeful and at the heart of what makes Bainland. “Our greatest asset without doubt is our staff. We have a local and loyal team that have grown up with us and evolved with us too. We are Woodhall Spa’s leading employer, and we play a key role in training and nurturing our local talent.”
In addition to championing the community, Bainland takes every opportunity to implement sustainable practices and has a mission to reduce electricity usage by 30%. There are energy efficient heating sources for pools and hot tubs, solar powered EV charging stations, electric carts for housekeeping and maintenance teams as well as food deliveries, and a state-of-the-art in-house laundry facility.
Bainland continues to make conscious decisions to instil sustainable practices that best support their Lincolnshire roots including a huge reforestation, planting, and wilding programme under the guidance of gold medal winning Chelsea Flower Show landscape designer, Jody Lidgard. Their mission is to plant over 1,500 trees, in addition to shrubs and wildflowers, and they have implemented a no-mow policy to protect the bees.
On top of this, Bainland teamed up with Lincolnshire’s Riseholme College, one of the UK’s leading agricultural institutions, to offer a sustainability and grounds management apprenticeship to two students to be personally mentored by Jody.
In-lodge private dining, outdoor play areas, and a dog menu at The Nest Bar & Bistro – all new additions
Not wanting to rest on its laurels, Bainland continued to up the ante on family-friendly activities. The past year saw a host of new additions, including the ongoing elevation of food and beverages services, with the introduction of a decadent In-Lodge Private Dining Menu. Guests can now choose generous multi-course meals prepared by Bainland’s talented team of chefs in the privacy of their lodge. This is just the latest in a host of new culinary offerings at Bainland, including an in-lodge food delivery service, a new on-site Farm Shop, and the opening of a new multi-million pound restaurant, bar and all-weathered terrace – The Nest. Sunday Roasts, live music nights, and a curated cocktail menu were also added to jazz up the dining experience for guests.
In a bid to further underscore their dog-friendly credentials, Bainland has even introduced a dedicated Dog Menu at The Nest where pooches can now tuck into their very own menu of Treat Pots, Dog Bowls, and Dog Drinks all from Sir Woofchester’s – a British-based, award-winning brand which makes dog food using only grain-free and natural ingredients.
Families staying at Bainland will also be pleased with the recent opening of a brand-new outdoor adventure playground, where younger guests can swing, see-saw, sway, climb and crawl, in, out, and over logs, hollows, beams, and towers, all designed by TouchWood, one of the UK’s leading specialist natural playground companies. Not only this, but more instructor-led activities were also added, from Football coaching and Street Karts to Mini Land Rovers and a Climbing Wall. Wildlife walks and yoga sessions are in the pipeline too.
All of these developments at Bainland are part of the wider vision of Simon Craddock, to celebrate space, privacy, sustainability, and a love of nature in what can sometimes be an overlooked destination in the UK. Craddock reveals that he believes “Bainland will be one of the few boutique-type parks in the UK and one of the best lodge retreats in the country, somewhere where people from all walks of life can come to relax, rejuvenate, and reconnect with nature”.
Rates start from £589 for a 3-night stay in a dog-friendly Shepherd’s Hut sleeping up to two guests and with space for a travel cot too.
For further information and reservations visit www.bainland.co.uk