In the picturesque landscapes of Somerset, England, Tractors & Cream, owned by Vicki and Bryan Jones, has recently garnered significant accolades, highlighting its status as a premier destination for families seeking a blend of adventure and comfort in the great outdoors.
Among its achievements, the site has been awarded Gold for Glamping Business of the Year at the Bristol Bath and Somerset Tourism Awards, as reported by the Somerset County Gazette, and has clinched both the Hospitality Business of the Year and Sustainable Business of the Year at the Sedgemoor Business Awards, detailed by the Bridgwater Mercury.
The Genesis of Tractors & Cream
Vicki and Bryan embarked on this venture with a clear goal: to transform their newfound property and its expansive seven acres of land into a haven for families seeking the allure of the outdoors without forgoing the comforts of home.
“[W]e moved to our house about twelve years ago and when we bought the house, it came with seven acres of land on a field. And we’re kind of trying to think of what we could do with the land to have a business,” said Vicki Jones in an interview with Modern Campground.
Their initial foray into glamping was less than ideal, a yurt stay that left much to be desired. This experience, however, proved pivotal, sparking a resolve to offer a superior alternative.
Vicki said she and her husband both worked in a hotel, meeting as employees of the sector. They thought about creating their own “outdoor hotel” which led them to stumble upon glamping. After an unsatisfactory yurt stay in Devon, the nearest they could find, the couple brainstormed on ways they could have improved their experience if they were the glamping operators.
“We then decided that we were going to learn from our terrible glamping experience and try to make it better. Try and make it the sort of place that we would want to stay in,” she said.
This moment of discomfort became the catalyst for innovation, driving the couple to design a glamping experience that they would enjoy, marked by comfort, convenience, and a personal touch.
The couple navigated the complexities of planning permissions and embarked on a gradual but determined expansion. Starting with just two yurts and a dream, Tractors & Cream has grown year after year, adding new structures and amenities, all while balancing the demands of family life and external careers.
A Unique Family-Oriented Experience
The site offers a plethora of activities and amenities designed with families in mind, ensuring that both parents and children can find joy and relaxation in the serene Somerset countryside.
Vicki said the accommodations at Tractors & Cream are specifically designed with families in mind, offering various dome options that blend comfort with the rustic charm of outdoor living.
The site encourages family bonding through shared activities such as playing in the dedicated children’s area, engaging in outdoor games, and gathering around the campfire to toast marshmallows under the stars. These experiences are not only enjoyable but also foster a sense of community among guests.
Sustainable Practices and Community Engagement
Vicki and Bryan Jones, have meticulously integrated eco-friendly practices into every facet of their business, from the use of solar power to the careful selection of sustainable materials for their accommodations.
“Yeah, we’re kind of off-grid, so all our domes are run off on solar power. But, I mean, that’s fairly standard for glamping these days, the use of solar panels and stuff. So we’ve been kind of trying to champion that through the YouTube channel as well, letting people know about how easy it is to use solar,” said Vicki.
Beyond their environmental initiatives, Tractors & Cream plays an active role in the local community, fostering relationships with local businesses and contributing to the local economy.
“We live at the edge of a quite small rural village, and so ever since we moved here, I’ve got myself quite into the community spirit,” she said.
She said that they have been supportive of the local businesses in their community, showcasing their products in the site’s honesty shop, and collaborating with local service providers to enhance the guest experience.
The Personal Touch of Tractors & Cream
The Jones family’s involvement in every aspect of the operation, from greeting guests upon arrival to maintaining the grounds and facilities, ensures a high level of care and attention to detail that sets Tractors & Cream apart in the competitive glamping market.
According to their website, Vicki takes responsibility as the head of housekeeping, head of accounts, chief baker, head toilet cleaner, operations manager, bricklayer and general builder, concierge, and chief memory maker. While, Bryan works full time in Bristol but is also a partner, head gardener, chief drain un-blocker, tractor driver, and head dome builder.
Meanwhile, their children, Annabelle and William, are assistant housekeepers, chief brownie testers, and head of ensuring everyone has enough marshmallows around the campfire.
The Jones family’s personal touch extends beyond the operational aspects of the site. They actively engage with guests, offering recommendations for local attractions, sharing stories, and even participating in activities.
This level of personal interaction fosters a sense of community and belonging among guests, many of whom return year after year, drawn back by the warm hospitality and the genuine connections they’ve formed with the Jones family.
Accommodation Options and Innovations
The couple ensure that every year each dome and structure on the site has been carefully designed and curated to provide guests with a unique and comfortable outdoor living experience yearly, blending the rustic charm of camping with the comforts and conveniences of modern amenities.
According to their website, Tractors & Cream features several types of domes, each with its character and set of features to cater to different guest preferences and needs. From the New Holland Dome, which sleeps up to five and is perfect for larger families, to the more intimate Case Dome, ideal for couples or small groups.
Pricing and capacity details, such as the Ferguson Dome at £110 per night sleeping up to four, and the Fendt and Claas Domes at £150 per night sleeping up to five, reflecting the site’s flexibility in accommodating different group sizes and budgets.
Vicki and her family have continuously sought to enhance their offerings, adding new features and amenities based on guest feedback and their vision for the site. For instance, the introduction of outdoor baths and the use of an electric buggy for on-site transportation demonstrate their commitment to improving sustainability and guest comfort.
Challenges Overcome and Future Aspirations
Tractors & Cream’s journey to becoming an award-winning glamping site has not been without its challenges. Vicki and Bryan Jones have faced numerous obstacles with resilience and innovation.
One of the main challenges highlighted by Vicki Jones was the weather, which plays a significant role in the outdoor hospitality business. I think the main one is the weather because when you’re an outdoor hospitality business, the weather plays a massive part of how you operate,” she told Modern Campground.
Vicki said this challenge led to a steep learning curve in selecting and maintaining the right structures for their site. The transition from yurts to more durable and wind-resistant domes is a prime example of how Tractors & Cream has adapted to meet the demands of their environment, ensuring guest comfort and safety regardless of the weather.
Another significant challenge has been the saturation of the glamping market, especially following the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw a boom in staycation and outdoor holiday options.
“And I think that is a big challenge because then you feel like all the time you need to stay ahead of the competition, change things, reinvest, keep putting money into it,” she said.
Despite these pressures, Tractors & Cream has managed to maintain its occupancy levels and guest satisfaction by focusing on what makes its site unique: a commitment to sustainability, a strong community connection, and a personal touch that turns guests into returning friends.
Looking to the future, Tractors & Cream has ambitious plans to continue growing and enhancing its offerings. Vicki shared their vision for expanding their accommodation options and exploring new projects.
“Yeah, so we’ve just ordered another dome from TruDomes. So we’ve just ordered the eight-meter dome. So that’s going to be a new structure for [the site]. We probably won’t get that ready til 2025,” she said.
As they continue to evolve and expand, Tractors & Cream remains dedicated to providing unforgettable experiences for their guests, further cementing their status as a leading glamping destination in the UK.
Tractors & Cream has consistently demonstrated the power of family, the importance of sustainability, and a commitment to innovation. Vicki and Bryan Jones, along with their children, have created more than just a place for guests to stay; they have cultivated an environment where families can connect with nature and each other in meaningful ways.