Meet Phil and Fiona Sutherland and find out why their beautiful 16C hamlet of self-catering holiday cottages in Brittany is unique for familiesPosted by Sachelle, 13th January 2020 at 13:50
Phil and Fiona Sutherland moved to Brittany, France from rural Cheshire in 2003 with their three children, Eve aged 7, Bridie aged 6 and Georgia aged 5 yrs old. They purchased Lenvos, a previously derelict 16C hamlet situated on the Blavet River, close to the historic chateau town of Pontivy and have transformed the cottages and gardens making them a perfect place for a family holiday. There are four holiday cottages, all with private terraces and access to the swimming pool and award-winnng gardens. Here Phil and Fiona share a little of their own history and what makes Lenvos so unique for families looking for a holiday in Brittany...
Introducing: Phil and Fiona
Why did you decide to start your own holiday accommodation business?
Having been involved in corporate life in the UK we decided we wanted the challenge of starting our own business with the flexibility of spending more time with our three girls. We had spent many family holidays in Brittany and felt it was the perfect area to bring up our children and run a holiday business specialising in family holidays. Lenvos gave us the opportunity of developing a small but viable family business of five cottages. Our interest in gardening and wildlife enabled us to create an oriental garden and give easy access to nature rich habitats within our 15 acres of grounds.
What was the toughest part about setting it up?
We had various beauracratic challenges on arriving in Brittany plus the difficulty of our limited French language. With the help of the local Mayor, new friends and superb French artisans we completed our first phase of the gite business very quickly.
What was the most memorable/enjoyable part of setting it up?
The most enjoyable aspect of life in France was seeing the girls aquire new friends, a new language and a very different culture all helping to develop their confidence.
With the business it was seeing the property change from derelict buildings to modern, stylish comfortable properties and creating private gardens for each gite. The most memorable aspect of the business was our first summer bookings, a mixture of excitement and relief. Now our pleasure comes from positive feedback from clients enjoying family time and creating holiday memories.
What couldn’t you live without and why?
Initially it was difficult meeting new people with our limited French and we missed family and friends in the UK. Through the school we met many other parents and were welcomed and included into local life.
What does your average working day involve?
We have no average working day. We have the privilage of a flexible life, we work as a team and joke that we have ‘pink’ and ‘blue’ jobs! Each season brings different aspects of life. Spring is our busiest period, repainting the gites, replacing tired items of equipment of furniture, managing the parkland and tidying the gardens. Summer is busy with guests, it is a gentle start to the summer with retired couples or families with toddlers. Peak summer holidays are busy with the pool open, our weekly Bushcraft sessions, a communal paella night, maintaining the gardens, aiding guests and the inevitable changeover weekends. Autumn is my favourite time of year, business is quieter, the weather is still warm and time to reflect on our season. Winter is outside work, managing the woodland, cutting logs for the next years season of wood for our own use and generally putting Lenvos to bed until spring.
What advice would you give to families wanting to holiday with you and why is your place so special?
My advice to anyone going on holiday with young children would be to choose accommodation with equal comfort to home, preferably with plenty of ameneties. Why is Lenvos so special… we offer comfortable, modern accommodation whilst maintaining the character within a 16C hamlet. We are situated only 5 mins drive from the cosmopolitan town of Pontivy but in a quiet, rural space with no neighbours. The large courtyard and green areas give the children freedom in a safe environment and the opportunity of meeting like minded guests for friendships to be established for both adults and children. The facilities of the pool, fishing lakes, Bushcraft, football fields, play area, boules, oriental gardens and acres of parkland gives a variety of options and experiences for children and adults alike.
We try to leave as small a carbon footprint as possible and encourage guests to appreciate the abundant nature and environment we are guardians of.
If you could pick just two attractions/places to visit in your area what would they be?
Top childrens attractions in the area would be Lac de Guerledan, www.brittanytourism.com 12km-long lake with three man made beached areas, some with cafes and restaurants and childrens play areas. Kingoland www.kingoland.comis a theme park aimed at children from 5 to 15 or ‘Balade du Pere Nicolas’ is a favourite for families with young children, www.la-balade-du-pere-nicolas.com
Is there anything you would like to highlight that might be interesting to families with babies/toddlers/young children who are thinking of staying with you?
Things to highlight for young families , heated pool, safe outside environment with secret garden including a play house, toys, ‘kitchen area’, inside playmats and toys, secure gardens, babysitting available, blackout blinds!
In one sentence can you explain what life is like where you live?
We have often been told that Lenvos is unique and we feel lucky and privileged to have had so many repeat guests over many years.
There are four child-friendly holiday cottages at Lenvos and you can view them on the Holiday Tots website.