Clifton Glamping | Adding a glamourous diversification to farm business

Clifton Glamping | Adding a glamourous diversification to farm business

Before Tom and Lucia Gordon were married, their favourite thing was to retreat and go camping on the Gordon family farm, Clifton Station near Cape Kidnappers. This pleasure has now prompted a new business venture that provides diversification for their farming operation, and fits around the busy demands of a young, growing family.

As a new Mum, Lucia was looking for business ideas that could be run from the farm. When friends drew her attention to luxury tents being brought into the country, Lucia jumped at the opportunity to be an early adopter of glamping.

For those not yet familiar with the concept, glamourous camping provides the opportunity to get back to nature without any inconveniences. In Clifton Glamping’s case, this means solar power, hot water, a super king bed dressed in beautiful linen, full cooking facilities, an outdoor bath and shower, dehydrating eco-friendly toilet, and wood burner and outdoor brazier. All stylishly decorated reminiscent of a quality hotel.

As a trained chef and having worked for some years on super yachts around the world, Lucia understands what makes for luxurious hospitality. Now into her second season, and with baby number two just born, she says she couldn’t be happier with how the business is developing. Bookings in year one were ahead of what was anticipated, and summer 2017-18 is looking even better than the first.

A couple’s retreat, guests are mainly New Zealanders but international visitors are also attracted to the opportunity to get away from the hustle of daily living. Escape, relax, unwind is the headline of Clifton Glamping’s website and main booking source.

Most guests check in and then want to be left alone, and the north facing camp site overlooking the picturesque Maraetotara River provides that sanctuary, seemingly a world away from civilisation. Yet, there are wineries, restaurants, cycle trails and tourist attractions on the surrounding Cape Coast, and only 20 minutes’ drive to Havelock North, Hastings and Napier.

Being remote yet easily accessible is one of the attractions of Clifton Station, and Lucia says it’s proving an attraction for farming couples who find appealing the location of a working farm but a “real getaway” experience.

Bookings, predominantly through the website but also via, Airbnb and Bookabach, are generally for two to three nights with five nights’ the longest to date.

Based on the inquiries and feedback they’ve received, Lucia and Tom are expanding their offering to accommodate families with children and groups of up to six people.

Lucia has worked with Hamish Pringle, Moore Stephens Markhams director since her time crewing super yachts. This provided her the opportunity to purchase rental accommodation in Hawke’s Bay and Hamish assisted her with her financial requirements.

“I really like Hamish and kept him as our accountant for the glamping business,” explains Lucia. “He was great in getting us into cloud-based accounting and is there if I ever have questions or want to bounce ideas. His advice is always beneficial for us.”

Clifton Station has been owned by the Gordon family since 1860. Tom is a sixth-generation Gordon and farms with his father Angus, running 500 self-shedding Wiltshire ewes and 260 cattle. The family also leases land for growing organic maize.

And now, the glamping business is adding a unique diversification, which Lucia says is just the start. “Tom and I have big plans for Clifton in the future.”