Wed 28 Sep 2016
For anyone who has considered buying a place in the country, but been put off by the admin and expensive maintenance, or worries about contributing to the ‘ghost village' second home problem, there’s a new option. Retreat East in Suffolk is a new development that’s a private members country club with ultra chic accommodation provided. The concept was the brainchild of Dominic Richards and Peter Ede, who wanted to breathe fresh life into a redundant 35 acre farmstead and feed into the sharing economy, by providing a stylish bespoke bolt-hole in the countryside for people who don't want the burden and expense of a second home all year round.
Original outbuildings have been stylishly, and cleverly renovated with exposed beams and brick walls, and new buildings added, with the Great Barn at the centre housing a sumptuous spa, gym, private cinema, clubhouse, bar and restaurant. There's a strong element of full service: the fridge will be stocked with local produce, fires lit in the wood burners, and everything perfectly prepared for members coming up to visit. "We want to totally eliminate the hassle from having a base in the country, so that members can breathe in and relax the second they arrive" says co-owner Peter Ede. "It's a magical spot, which by being part of our 'farmshare' concept is financially accessible to people who could never have dreamed of this level of luxury, quality and amenity before. This is the intelligent, 21st century solution to having a country pad."
The owners use the surrounding farmland and meadows to grow organic produce, and there will be heritage hens in the orchard so visitors can have fresh eggs for breakfast. Dogs are welcome, and children too at select times, although the atmosphere is distinctly designer and grown up. There’s nowhere else quite like this, although Soho Farmhouse comes close, on a bigger, less exclusive scale.
Since going organic, wildlife has moved back into the site, there are wild deer and owls, and its setting means there are plenty of beautiful walks nearby too. It's 8 miles from Woodbridge on the Heritage Coast and London Liverpool Street is just 70 minutes. The eco-credentials of the site are strong too, with triple glazing, solar power generation, "green" waste treatment and air exchanger technology all employed. There will be a series of yoga retreats, film/food celebrations, music events, cookery courses throughout the year for members, and they are very much encouraged to come up for the day to use the club even if they're not staying over.
"Our aim is to create a place where people can relax and recharge, but also feel indulged and pampered" says Ede. "True luxury isn't about gold plated taps any more: it's about having quality time on a Friday night to spend with your loved ones, to reconnect with nature, and to celebrate the wonderful produce Suffolk provides. The beautiful built environment of course helps, but Retreat East is about more than just another stunning set of buildings. It's about having your own permanent bolt-hole in the country that recharges the soul."
Retreat East, Brick Kiln Farm, Sandy Lane, Hemingstone, Suffolk, IP6 9QE.
"I have been trying to move for two years and have hit many obstacles and come across some very trying Estate Agents! However this all changed when I came to Sowerbys of Dereham, I cannot rate them highly enough, they were polite, efficient (always returning my calls), helpful, were prepared to go the extra mile to push things along and find answers to any questions I had. I cannot recommend them highly enough."