Useful Tools & Resources

Case Studies

Case study: Laik

When we first met Niall Mellonie and Marta Pawlik in 2018 their holiday lettings business managed one luxury bell tent. Now five years on, they have a portfolio of ten high-end holiday lets in sought-after destinations around the Lake District. We caught up with them recently to hear all about it…

Niall and Marta’s bell tent project involved selling luxury wild camping experiences to holiday makers. Although the idea worked well at first, the project ran into challenges including issues with permits and the changeable Cumbria weather with the tent being flooded on one occasion!

In search of a more sustainable business idea, Niall and Marta started managing a friend’s holiday let in Bowness-on-Windermere, renovating it to a high standard. The property was a huge success, with high occupancy rates and rave reviews from customers.

It was around this time that Niall and Marta got in touch with Cumbria Business Growth Hub for start-up support. We provided them with twelve hours of adviser sessions with Growth Hub business adviser Juan Carlos Valenzuela, an expert in business development and leadership with 20-years’ experience doing business internationally.

“Switching careers in our late 20s with no business experience was tough, but the Growth Hub’s aid was crucial. Our mentor, Juan, guided us in formulating and actioning our plans. This support really helped us to push forward when we needed it the most and we are also incredibly grateful for the access to the various grants and free trainings provided by the Growth Hub.”

Niall and Marta had discovered a gap in the market for a holiday lettings agency focussed on selling luxury getaways with excellent customer service.

“We help owners transform their properties into the luxury destinations that fit into our portfolio, and into ones that get booked all year round. While there is an initial cost in doing this, owners will see that investment return really quite quickly and so not only benefit from higher rates in the future but also higher occupancy.”

Each property comes with a unique digital guidebook with information on local walks, attractions, restaurants and bars and eco-friendly toiletries are included, sourced from local supplier, Pure Lakes. Laik goes the extra mile for their customers by offering short stays, down to one night, and adding personal touches in their communications to help celebrate a birthday or other special occasions.

In 2022 the business went through a rebrand and took on the name Laik, a Northern English dialect word meaning to play or be on holiday, deliberately echoing the word ‘lake’ as in Lake District. “Sometimes it is a bit of a conversation starter, especially if people haven’t heard the dialect before!”

Having both grown up in the Lake District, Niall and Marta have a huge love for the area and feel a responsibility to ensure that Laik operates sustainably. Niall explains, “from the start we wanted to make sure that our holiday lets were not standing empty during the off season, taking up precious housing without contributing to the local economy. Our focus on quality and good customer service, means that our holiday lets achieve on average 85% occupancy, helping support the region’s shops, attractions, bars and restaurants all year round.”

Looking to the future, Niall and Marta plan to continue growing the business. They have recently taken on two staff members and will soon be hiring another to help with admin. “In the short term we have five properties joining us in the next six months. At this pace, we’ll be able to grow the business while still retaining the quality and excellent service that our customers expect.”

Find out more about Laik here.