Five years ago Claire Ellis opened My Little Farm Spa in a need to diversify. Catherine Scott reports.
A working farm may not be the first place you would expect to find an indulgent beauty spa, but then you haven’t visited My Little Farm Spa.
It is the brainchild of Claire Ellis, who realised when she and her husband Duncan moved into her mother-in-law’s farm in Liversedge, they would need to diversify.
But when most farmers open a farm shop, B&B or ice cream parlour when they need to find extra income, Claire saw the potential to do something a little different.
Initially she had the idea to create a unique wedding venue on the farm and Weddings and Wellies was born which she ran alongside her successful catering business.
But Claire always wanted to create a spa on the farm, which had been in her husband’s family for more than 50 years.
“I have always loved going to spas myself and felt there was a gap in the market for somewhere you could get away from your normal life and completely relax without having to be with strangers. I thought the farm was the ideal location,” she says.
“My husband took a bit of convincing, he said he didn’t think it would work, he is now having to eat his words.”
But it is still a big leap from a sheep and cattle farm – they have 120 ewes – to an exclusive wellbeing spa, which includes a hot tub over looking the 50-acre farm where visitors can watch the farm’s lambs gambolling in the Spring, but not to Claire.
“If you are surrounded by nature with these great views then that is half the battle when it comes to mindfulness.”
My Little Farm Spa was launched in 2013 and has proved such a success that they no longer do weddings.
“At first I thought I’d do most of the work myself but it soon became clear that I would have to take on some people to help me.”
Claire now employs five people and offers a range of packages, including overnight stays in her two shepherd’s huts on the site, each with log burning stoves, cosy beds and luxury bedding and furnishings.
The view from each shepherd hut is far reaching across the farm and valley, and each has an outdoor sitting area.
For larger groups (up to 12) – there are two luxury glamping tents – each are heated with raised beds, bedding and furnishings.
They have built an extra relaxation area which allows them to control the flow of customers so that no one has to share any facilities with, or rarely even see, anyone who isn’t in their party. This is something Claire feels passionate about.
“You go to a lot of spas where you have the relaxation area and even the hot tub with people you don’t know, that’s what makes us different.”
Claire is also passionate about the quality of the food served at My Little Farm Spa, a three-course lunch is included in all packages – her catering background comes in handy.
Everything served in the spa’s summer house is homemade and presented on a rustic wooden platter. Soups, breads, olives, meats, cheese, savoury tarts, pate and salad. Not forgetting the raspberry trifles and chocolate pastries – all washed down with a glass or two of prosecco.
All the usual treatments are available including aromatherapy, full body massage, hot stones therapy, facials, Indian head massage, full body scrub and massage, Reiki therapy, foot and leg revival and head, scalp and facial massage – but most people go for the packages.
The most popular package is the Sparkle and Shine which starts from £129 per person for a four-hour experience including treatments, hot tub, drinks and a three-course lunch.
My Little Farm Spa caters from couples to groups of up to 12 friends and the age of customers ranges from 18 to 90 years old.
“We may have two or three groups in during the day but we stagger them so that they never see each other,” says Claire.
A lot customers come from a six to eight-mile radius of the farm although she has had visitors from as far afield as London looking to escape the city and get back to nature.
But basing yourself on a working farm must have its limitations.
“The farm moves with the seasons and we are aware of that,” says Claire, who actually sees this as a plus,
“People love to see the lambs playing and also the hay making. We are a working farm and people understand that.”
Well they must be doing something right. My Little Farm Spa runs on 68 per cent repeat booking and never advertises, relying on word of mouth and social media – getting a five-star rating on TripAdvisor.
Come rain or shine, the hot tub stays at 40C and if it’s snowing then people are just provided with a woolly hat while being served hot (or cold) drinks.
“We believe it is the perfect place to wind down and be at one with nature,” says Claire.
“People really find that they can relax here and that gives us great pleasure.”
Claire has no plans to expand her business further, she is happy with the exclusivity it gives her customers.
However she has introduced some spa and craft packages where groups of friends can combine a relaxing experience with learning a new skill.
But above all Claire wants her guests to relax and recover.
One visitor recently described it as a “little piece of heaven not far from the M62”.