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From Lockdown Project to Award-Winning Glamping Site: The Journey of Secret Garden Glamping

Secret Garden Glamping

Glampitect Award Winner Derry Green: Owner of Secret Garden Glamping. 

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When the pandemic-induced lockdowns began in 2020, many people sought creative ways to pass the time and make the most of their restricted lives. For Derry Green, this period sparked a journey that transformed an idle project into an award-winning glamping business. Derry, the owner of Secret Garden Glamping, shared his incredible story in a recent podcast with Glampitect, shedding light on how a viral post, perseverance, and a vision for something unique propelled him into the glamping spotlight.

You may recognise Derry from his appearance on BBC's Dragons Den, when his woodland glamping site and 5-star retreat caught the attention of the dragons!

A Lockdown Project Turned Viral Sensation:

Like many parents, Derry was looking for ways to keep his children entertained during the lockdown. Inspired by the need to stay busy and the rising trend of home improvement projects, Derry decided to build a glamping pod in his garden. This project was never intended to be a business venture; it was simply a way to pass the time. However, everything changed when Ladbible featured a story about his project. The article, titled "What a Dad Built in Lockdown for His Kids," showcased Derry's glamping pod and quickly went viral.

The response was overwhelming. People from all over began messaging Derry, asking if they could book the pod for holidays. Initially, the idea seemed absurd to him. "Why would you want to come and stay in my back garden?" he thought. But curiosity and opportunity got the best of him. He listed the pod on Airbnb, and within three days, it was fully booked for two years in advance.

From Garden Pod to Glamping Site

Seeing the immense interest, Derry recognized a gap in the market and decided to pursue glamping as a serious business. However, transforming a backyard project into a legitimate business required more than just enthusiasm. It took a full year for Derry to secure the necessary planning permissions to build an actual glamping site. During this period, he learned the intricacies of running a glamping business, navigating regulations, and meeting customer expectations.

Derry was fortunate to own a property with a four-acre woodland, which became the perfect setting for his glamping site. This piece of land played a crucial role in overcoming one of the biggest barriers for new glamping businesses: finding suitable land. Despite the challenges of getting the initial planning permissions, Derry's vision for a unique and immersive glamping experience eventually won over the planners.

Secret Garden Glamping
Secret Garden Glamping
Secret Garden Glamping
Secret Garden Glamping
Secret Garden Glamping

Rapid Growth and Unprecedented Demand

What started as a single glamping pod quickly expanded to 13 units, each uniquely designed to provide an extraordinary experience. Secret Garden Glamping became the most viewed, followed, and booked site in the UK, with some units booked as far ahead as 2027. On average, they are booked 487 days in advance, a testament to the demand and popularity of Derry's offerings.

Derry attributes much of his success to a dual-focus approach: strong social media presence and delivering exceptional experiences. With over 1.2 million followers across various social media platforms, Secret Garden Glamping leverages its online presence to drive bookings. But it's not just about visibility. Derry emphasizes that they see themselves as experience providers, not just accommodation providers. The focus is on creating memorable outdoor experiences that go beyond just staying in a pod.

Recognitions and Awards

Derry's innovative approach and dedication have not gone unnoticed. Secret Garden Glamping has won numerous awards, solidifying its reputation as a top destination in the glamping industry. Notably, they received Glampiect's Choice Award, the AA's Glamping and Camping Site of the Year award and the prestigious Visit England's Camping, Glamping, and Holiday Park of the Year award. These accolades highlight the exceptional quality and unique offerings that set Secret Garden Glamping apart from its competitors.

The Future of Secret Garden Glamping and the Industry

Despite their success, Derry and his team are not resting on their laurels. The glamping site continues to evolve, with plans to constantly update and refresh its units to meet changing customer expectations. For instance, the first unit, which opened four years ago, will be closed at the end of this year for a complete refit. This commitment to staying ahead of market trends and continuously improving its offerings ensures that Secret Garden Glamping remains a leader in the industry.

Derry is also looking to expand beyond their current location, opening multiple new sites to meet the growing demand. This expansion is part of a broader vision to create a network of high-quality, experience-focused glamping sites that offer something unique and memorable.

Secret Garden Glamping
Secret Garden Glamping
Secret Garden Glamping
Secret Garden Glamping

Advice for Aspiring Glamping Entrepreneurs

Reflecting on his journey, Derry offers valuable advice for those considering entering the glamping industry. One key piece of wisdom is to seek professional advice and support. Derry admits that trying to do everything on his own led to costly mistakes. By partnering with consultants and experts, he was able to navigate the complexities of planning permissions, marketing, and site management more effectively.

Moreover, Derry emphasizes the importance of focusing on the customer experience. Rather than just providing accommodation, think about what guests will do during their stay. Offering unique outdoor activities, comfortable amenities, and personalized touches can set a glamping site apart and drive higher occupancy rates.

As the demand for eco-friendly and off-grid solutions grows, Gary's expertise in this area becomes even more valuable. Solar energy is a popular choice, despite concerns about its effectiveness in less sunny regions. Gary advocates for including solar as part of a broader energy plan, as it can still provide significant benefits even in less sunny climates. Combining renewable energy sources with traditional grid connections can offer a balanced and sustainable energy solution.

Gary also emphasizes the importance of staying up-to-date with technological advancements. The pace of change in renewable energy and eco-friendly technologies is rapid, and solutions that were considered impractical a few years ago may now be viable. Consulting with experts and staying informed about the latest developments can help clients make informed decisions and maximize the sustainability of their projects.


The story of Secret Garden Glamping is a testament to how creativity, determination, and a customer-centric approach can turn a simple lockdown project into a thriving business. Derry Green's journey from building a glamping pod in his garden to running one of the UK's most popular glamping sites is inspiring. As the glamping industry continues to grow, Secret Garden Glamping stands out as a shining example of how to succeed by focusing on experiences and leveraging the power of social media.

For those looking to venture into the glamping business, Derry's experience offers valuable insights. By seeking professional advice, staying flexible, and prioritizing customer experiences, aspiring glamping entrepreneurs can carve out their niche and find success in this rapidly evolving industry. The future looks bright for Secret Garden Glamping, and we can't wait to see what innovative experiences Derry and his team will bring to their guests next.



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