CAMMY BELL used to love keeping clean sheets.
Now the former Rangers and Kilmarnock goalie is making sure his guests have plenty of them – after starting a thriving GLAMPING business.
Scotland cap Bell only got the venture next to his home in Annan going in August last year.
But he’s already had over 200 bookings on Airbnb and is considering adding another pod to the two he has already.
Bell, 36, who is also a popular football pundit, said: “We came up with the idea around Christmas 2021. I’d been to glamping pods with my wife and the dog throughout Scotland and the north of England.
“We really enjoyed the space, taking the dog for walks and exploring new areas.
“We had some land at the side of our house with amazing, unbroken views over two fields to the Solway Firth and views to the Lake District too.
“It was the perfect spot to have the pods. It was a new business adventure and something to get my teeth into.
“We spoke to people about the services we’d need in the ground like electricity and all the toilet facilities.
“Then we had to find the right pods. We went to Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh. Then someone mentioned a local company two miles from Annan had started building them 18 months before that.
“I went to see the guy Chris and it turned out I’d bought off him before. He was a joiner who did sheds and bespoke wooden planters.
“The pods were handmade and amazing and I also thought it was a good touch to support local business.
“It was about bringing people to Dumfries and Galloway and the south of Scotland and letting them see what’s on offer.
“We placed the order for the pods and started work in the middle of March last year. Anyone who knows me knows I’m 100mph and want things done straight away.
“We managed to get the site up and running and did some test runs with family and friends in mid-July to get feedback and to make sure there were no snagging issues when we officially opened on August 1.
“It’s been incredible since then. Business has been very good and we’ve been very busy. We’re trying to market as much as we can.
“We’ve had over 250 bookings in 11 months across the two pods and we’ve got 100 reviews on each pod on airbnb, which is the main site we use to advertise and book through.
“It’s great people have been able to share the space and enjoy the peaceful area we stay in.
“Our systems have evolved. You try and do it all yourself at the start. Emma was doing admin and some cleans but now we have a cleaner and they’ve got the booking system and can see when things come in.
“Marketing and communication is so important and we’re always responsive. We’ll send a message to guests asking if they have any questions about the area or pods as soon as we get their booking.
“We try to be as accommodating as possible. There’s a lot of continuous work to try and be better and new things to develop.
“Last month we put in a communal barbeque area. There’s a little hut for a dry space with the weather so unpredictable at times.
“We are dog friendly and each pod has its own private garden so pets can be safe in their own space out the front.
“We’ve got the shores of the Solway Forth 400 metres along the road so dogs can enjoy that space too and we’re hopefully developing a dog washing area soon.”
Bell and wife Emma have called the business Cluaran Cabins, with one pod named Solway Breeze and the other Skiddaw View.
Bell – who also played for Dundee United and Hibs – added: “We’re on the Solway and it’s sometimes a bit breezy being so close to the sea so we thought we’d name one after that.
“The other is Skiddaw View because the view from that cabin looks onto that mountain in the Lake District.
“We’re only five miles from the M74 and a mile and a half from the town centre, which is about a thirty-minute walk.
“We’ve spoken about expanding but we don’t want to get too big. We want it to feel like an independent space and give guests communal gardens and picnic benches where guests can sit.
“There’s its own car park and we want it to feel a special place without cramming in too much.”
To see more on Cluaran Cabins go to tinyurl.com/mpau7dkv
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published 2023-06-29 01:01:20