"We have come such a long way since our appearance in Country House Rescue" quips Peter Le Grice. Trereife (pronounced 'Treave') is a beautiful family-owned and run estate, steeped in Cornish history and dating back to 1798. Their TV debut in 2011 on the popular Channel 4 series which aims to turn around the fortunes of ailing country houses helped them to do exactly that; the business has since quadrupled its turnover. They also benefited from the extensive, worldwide broadcast of their episode as Peter explains, "It's been a huge boost, we still have viewers from Germany and Australia heading our way as a result."
The property has been lovingly restored by the current (and seventh) generation of the Le Grice family, and the house and gardens are now open to the public. Trereife House itself is predominantly Queen Anne, with parts dating back to Elizabethan times. There are four king size, en-suite bedrooms available to book on a B&B basis and also two self-catering apartments in the courtyard plus the option to book out the entire property for special events. "This will be the first year we offer 'glamping' in a bell-tent in our secluded walled garden. We are working with a local carpenter to make a bespoke bed carved out elm trees from the estate," says Peter.
Running the day-to-day business is very much a family affair as Peter explains, "I work here full-time, mostly seven days a week, but my parents do the evening check-ins. My mother and sister Liz run the catering side of the business; we now serve High Tea on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday afternoon in season in the house and garden. Our specialty jam, Medlar Jelly, is something of a rarity as it's made from fruit grown on the estate for over a hundred years. We offer it to our guests and from next year it will be sold in local delis."
Staging and running regular events are also important to the estate's financial health too:
"We host around five major events throughout the year and our wedding business is where we are really looking to grow," explains Peter. "In fact, a cousin of Hollywood actor Hugh Grant (Four Weddings and A Funeral, About A Boy) was married here a couple of years ago. Hugh himself was a guest, he arrived in a Ferrari but then left in a helicopter. We were quite taken by surprise. Although we had had a call from a local helicopter company asking about the logistics of bringing guests in the lead-up to the wedding, they hadn't disclosed the identity of their passengers!"
"The Cornwall Design Fair http://www.cornwalldesignfair.co.uk/, held this year (2016) on 16-18 September, is our marquee event attracting makers and designers of high-end crafts, furniture and jewellery from all over the country to showcase their work. We work closely with Visit Cornwall to market this event which typically promotes over 80 highly talented creatives and brings in over a thousand visitors from across the south-west of England."
Where are guests coming from and what brings them to the area?
"Our guests are predominantly from the UK but around 10 % are German visitors, helped by our collaboration with a Frankfurt-based travel company who set up 'location-hunting' tours of the Cornwall area where they film TV adaptations of the hugely popular Rosamunde Pilcher novels."
"Trereife House is set in the stunning countryside just west of Penzance, with views across Mount's Bay to St Michael's Mount. Easily accessible by road, rail or from Newquay airport, it's the perfect start to a Scilly Isles adventure, and an ideal base from which to explore the many beaches and attractions in this magical corner of Cornwall."
You 'switched' over from using another online software, how is freetobook working out for you?
"We couldn't be happier with freetobook for our online room booking! We also use freetobook as a channel manager, connecting us to a number of OTAs including booking dot com and the managed connection with Expedia. Around 70% of our bookings are driven through the channels, a pattern we are working hard to reverse of course to reap the benefits of commission-free direct bookings on our own website. We also utilize the site Airbnb which has resulted in a number of requests to book out the entire property which is great."
What about your marketing plans?
"We do invest in digital marketing, working with our website designer to ensure we make the content highlight relevant key search words to help drive direct bookings. Facebook is a great promotional tool for us too.
Looking forward, any new plans for the business?
"We are talking to the heritage lottery fund about a potential grant to help with the restoration work and the preservation of Cornish history."