Hotel, Sport & Leisure Mon, Feb 20, 2023 2:17 PM
Nestled within the foothills of the Brecon Beacons National Park is the five-star luxury self-catering holiday accommodation, Brecon Retreat.
What was once an old barn, then a bunkhouse, is now three stunning properties featuring twenty Keylite roof windows that frame the stunning Welsh countryside.
Business and property owner, Helen Howarth set out with the aim of creating a holiday environment that would encourage guests to fully immerse themselves in nature and relaxation, embodying the values of Green Tourism every step of the way.
Helen comments: “The views from the barns are really spectacular, so we incorporated the Keylite roof windows to frame the view perfectly in every room. I really wanted my guests to be able to look out at their surroundings from the comfort of their bed – at one point I was even measuring out the imaginary bed, so I knew exactly where to position the roof windows and furniture!”
Brecon Retreat has been awarded a gold award by Green Tourism - the largest sustainable certification programme of its kind. Not only for encouraging guests to spend time in the countryside local to the Retreat, but also down to the very foundation of the properties.
The three barns have achieved a carbon free footprint thanks to a biomass log boiler and ground source heat pumps, which, in turn, have also given the properties a great thermal value.
One of the main benefits of a Keylite roof window is its Integrated Expanding Thermal Collar – something that is unique to Keylite and comes as standard on all its roof windows. One of the biggest culprits for heat loss in roof windows is not double glazing like many believe but is what happens in the gap between the frame and the roof. This ensures minimal heat is lost through the roof windows and supports the properties’ thermal value, as well as not costing anything extra in time or money on additional materials.
Brecon Beacons National Park is a dark sky reserve, meaning it’s important for anyone in the surrounding area to keep light pollution to an absolute minimum. To aid this, Helen installed Keylite blackout blinds for each of the roof windows, which not only blocks light coming in and out of the building, but also help to reduce heat loss by at least 20% thanks to the thermal fabric used as standard on all Keylite’s blackout blinds.
Helen continues: “The blackout blinds are also fully electric, meaning my guests don’t even have to get up to open the blinds and look out onto the view - it all just plays into my vision of the place perfectly.
“It’s quite a contrast from when I first saw the property. Previously, the barns had been an old bunkhouse that slept up to 24 people. It was bright yellow with green/teal windows that you couldn’t see out of due to the poor design. More concerning the bunkhouse did not have any means of fire escape either, through any windows on the first floor, an essential issue which had to be addressed.
“I carried out the architecture and interior design myself with a lot of help from local builder, Mathew Fergusson, who I have worked with before on my own house, which won an LABC Building Excellence Award! After 2 or 3 versions of the plans, Mathew and a team of local trades got started on the vision of turning the one property into three purpose-built luxury holiday homes.
“The entire building was taken back to just four walls and went through a complete re-design. Even the outside walls were sandblasted back to the original stone, which we were shocked to find had been plastered over and scored to look like brick. The builders cleaned, rebuilt and added to the outside of the property with dry stone walling which blends everything together beautifully.
“Both the builder, Mathew, and our local builders’ merchant, B Jenkins & Sons Ltd, highly recommended Keylite Roof Windows (Keylite) for their reliability, most importantly the compliance for a statutory building Fire Escape Roof Window. These had to be top-hung and opening to a 45° angle, providing a safe escape route in an emergency situation.
“The three barn conversions, named The Old Shearing Shed, Nature’s Rest and Alpaca Lookout, sleep between 2 and 4 people and all boast two floors of open-plan luxury living spaces, a private heated garden spa room and hydrotherapy spa bath. Sat on a 25-acre site, guests can even sit back and watch the resident alpacas and sheep in the small holding just outside. All the accommodation is super dog friendly too, so no one gets left behind.”
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