“It’s easy for us to say that we’re a family business, but that doesn’t mean anything to new guests when they arrive, only to be greeted by a group of new faces!”
So, who exactly are Old Lanwarnick? The business is owned by Vicky and Matthew, a husband-and-wife team originally from Surrey but drawn, like so many others, by the allure of Cornwall’s unique lifestyle. They have two dogs (who may also be on hand to greet you) and love spending what little spare time they have walking the Cornish countryside and exploring the coastline. They also have two sons, Finlay and Isaac. Finlay, the eldest, has flown the nest, while Isaac, at 19 years old, is a key part of the Old Lanwarnick team.
From toy shops to finance
Vicky and Matthew come from very different backgrounds. Vicky, a former tennis coach and the owner of two toy shops, has spent more than 15 years providing the best possible experience to her customers, a skillset that’s translated very well into the pair’s new venture as hosts here in Cornwall. So too, has her experience of working in Corporate Responsibility. Matthew, meanwhile, is an avid road cyclist. In fact, he’s a keen sportsman all round, which has proven a useful release for the stresses of a career spent managing projects in the finance industry. Given his expertise, it’s no surprise that Matthew is in charge of the accounts!
With Matthew keeping track of the finances for both businesses (and, of course, helping with general maintenance like cutting the grass whenever he has time off), Vicky’s time is free to focus on the day-to-day, and this boils down to ensuring that every guest’s stay is one they’ll remember forever. “If our guests are happy,” says Vicky, “then so are we. We love seeing our guests’ appreciation of the hard work and attention to detail that we put into trying to provide an enjoyable stay. It’s incredibly rewarding.”
The pull of Cornwall
For both of them, moving to Cornwall and taking the reins of Old Lanwarnick is far more than just another business venture. “My mum is also Cornish,” says Vicky, “so there are family ties here, too. Originally from Helston, she has also lived in Fowey and Newquay, and now resides in Millbrook. Therefore, Cornwall has always been our holiday destination, with our boys learning to sail dinghies on the river in Fowey, and surfing on the beach at Fistral. I also have an aunty and uncle who own a holiday home in Kingsand, which they’ve had for over 45 years, and Matthew has family roots just across the border in Devon!”
Describing herself and her husband as “the sort of people who find it tricky to sit still”, Vicky explains that their ultimate goal in taking over Old Lanwarnick was to find a healthy outlet for their energy. “We wanted something to focus on when we finally retired from our full-time jobs. Holiday cottages fitted the bill perfectly, and with family ties here, Cornwall seemed like the obvious place to go.”
“It’s such a beautiful place,” she continues. “We love that we can walk for hours from our doorstep through unspoilt, peaceful woods, or jump in the car and be at a four-mile long, sandy beach within just 30 minutes. Matthew has always described Cornwall as an ‘ing’ holiday, because we used to come here to go cycling, walking, sailing, surfing, kayaking, even paddle boarding. But it’s more than that. The long horizons, the feeling of space and the sense of freedom that provides, the peace and quiet, not to mention the challenges that all of the hills pose to Matthew on his bike! I hope we will never take any of this for granted, and we couldn’t be happier that after ten years of using work or the kids’ education as a reason to delay, we finally made the decision to move here.”
Making life changes
It was during the period of national lockdowns, with Matthew working more from home, that the duo finally realised their dream might just be possible. And so they set about looking. “Last May,” says Matthew, “we were visiting Vicky’s mum and had arranged to view some holiday cottages. When the viewings were cancelled, we trawled the internet to see what else was available, and came across Old Lanwarnick. We fell in love with the place instantly, and decided that if we could sell our house, we would move. Luckily for us our house sold right away, and the rest is history!”
“It was the right time in our lives,” Vicky elaborates. “The kids had finished formal education, my parents are getting older and need support, and Matthew can now work from home, so really there was nothing to stop us. As Matthew says, our visit to Old Lanwarnick was very much spur of the moment. We really didn’t know much about it at all when we first arrived, but having been here for only two hours, we were committed. The views, the relaxed atmosphere, and the potential we saw in it – it was all too compelling to turn down.”
All of this, added to Cornwall’s more relaxed approach to life, and as retirement decisions go, it’s very easy to see what drew the pair here. In reality, though, while they have already made astounding progress, taking on Old Lanwarnick and bringing to life the vision they have for the business is very much a work in progress, and any idyll of sitting back with a bottle of bubbles and admiring their work paying off is still a long way away.
Making dreams a reality
This is because Vicky and Matthew aren’t ones to ‘do things by half’. They dream big, and what this means for Old Lanwarnick is a transformation into a business that’s set to make holiday dreams happen for generations to come. Making all 34 acres more accessible is one of their goals, by creating various new paths around the property and extending the woodland walk. So, too, is making the business more sustainable. This is a big one, but what’s really impressive is that much of the work has already been done! For example, three Electric Vehicle chargers have already been installed on the site, and the vehicles the team use to get around, including a quad bike and ATV, are all electric, as are their gardening tools. New garden furniture for the properties is made from recycled materials, as are the team’s uniforms; all cleaning products used and offered throughout the site are eco-friendly, and all of the coffee pods and bin bags provided are compostable. By Christmas 2022, they plan to have solar panels installed and thereby reduce their reliance on fossil-fuel energy, and as if all of that wasn’t enough, they are also investing in the installation of heat pumps for each of the hot tubs, reducing their impact on the environment further still.
“We appreciate that these are all small changes,” says Vicky, but in reality, it’s the sum of small changes such as these that add up to make a big difference. And it’s refreshing to know that a business as well-established as Old Lanwarnick, under new ownership, is committed to preserving the natural environment that makes this county so special. But then, why wouldn’t it be? Many of us, nowadays, would struggle to relax if we knew that our doing so came at a high environmental price. Over the last few years many have come to realise the health and wellbeing benefits of being able to engage and reconnect with the natural world, so for Matthew and Vicky – whose 34 acres of verdant countryside are perfectly set to provide precisely that to their guests – it makes sense to protect them.
Home from Home
“Old Lanwarnick is our home,” says Matthew, “and we treat all the cottages and grounds as such.” Vicky agrees: “We provide a personal touch, and are always on hand to address any issues or answer any questions quickly, but far enough away to give guests their privacy. Ultimately, everything that they do is geared towards providing the best possible holiday experience. “We want our guests to leave feeling relaxed and rested,” says Vicky, “knowing that they’ve had the most comfortable stay and had everything they needed on hand, be it local information for making the most of events, attractions and beauty spots in the area, or all the mod-cons to make the most of a self-catering break. We want to make every stay as welcoming and easy for our guests as we possibly can, and for guests to leave with lifelong memories. In short, we want them to be planning their next stay before they leave!”
Boasting both grand farmhouses and cosy cottages, discover all that Old Lanwarnick has to offer and book your next Cornish break here.