The Cottage Company was founded by Ruaridh and Caroline MacDonald as a website to promote their own holiday cottage and Romany gypsy caravan, situated beside their farmhouse in the southern Welsh Borders.
They moved to this beautiful region from London, looking for a change from city life, and found it at Blaentrothy Farm. This traditional 17th-century Monmouthshire farmhouse is surrounded by 100 acres of unspoilt meadowland, now a wildlife reserve full of orchids, meadow wildflowers and rare grasses. Hares, sky larks, voles, and field mice make this their home; the curlew comes in to nest in the spring; and Red Kites and buzzards patrol the skies.
The Cottage Company has grown organically over the years, with friends initially wishing to have their own cottages appear on the site, followed by others who liked what they saw and who were impressed by the number of bookings achieved. Caroline, with a sharp eye for a great cottage in an unspoilt location, has made sure that only the loveliest properties join the websites; and the quality of the photographs is second to none. Many guests come back again and again to sample different cottages – just like someone trying a different flavour in a tempting box of chocolates.
Ruaridh MacDonald worked as a sailing instructor and trained as a lawyer at Edinburgh and Cambridge Universities. He managed investments for Japanese companies in the City of London before moving to Wales to co-found The Cottage Company.
Caroline MacDonald studied languages at St Andrews University. She worked for Laura Ashley, both in international marketing and as a fabric designer. She then joined House and Garden magazine. As Deputy Wine & Food Editor, she directed and styled food photography, a great training for managing our photographic shoots.
Matt Davies is the photographer behind The Cottage Company’s wonderful images. Matt has travelled extensively in South East Asia, often up before dawn with his camera in hand, and recently aced a Photography degree at Hereford School of Art.
Pete Lawley is the designer and manager for The Cottage Company websites, and is considered the linchpin of the company. He is currently writing these bios.
Martin Rose is the master-coder who makes our many sites run smooth as silk and provides the state-of-the-art booking system that seemlessly turns our site users into happy holidayers (when not on his bike).
Finbar, after understudying with his predecessor, Nevis, is now head of security at The Cottage Company. He is currently lying down with his tongue hanging out.
Cottage owners approach us to request coming onto the websites and, due to the high standard of cottages on The Cottage Company's sites, we have a very high level of repeat guests who return to sample different cottages. Our commission levels are much lower than other agencies, and because guests trust the high standards, occupancy is extremely high. We are always looking for new owners who share our enthusiasm for promoting wonderful, stylish, well-kept cottages in beautiful unspoilt locations.
Each web site is designed to cover a particular holiday sector or geographical area. We specialise in having lovely big magazine-quality photographs and really informative text, so as to allow guests to choose exactly the right property for them. We are full-service agents, which we believe gives guests an efficient service and consistent experience, and relieves the property owner of the considerable administrative burden of dealing with bookings and payment collection.
"After several disappointing years, we moved from a large national agency in September 2009 to Blaentrothy Cottages, and Blaentrothy Cottages have increased our monthly returns by 300%. We are now almost fully booked for the rest of 2011. It has been an amazing turnaround. I think our lovely house benefits from being part of a collection of places hand-picked for their quality, rather than being a diamond amongst lesser gems."Cottage owner, Brecon, Wales
"We have our cottage with a number of listing sites, but after enlisting Blaentrothy Cottages our monthly and annual income has more than doubled."Cottage owner, Herefordshire, England
"Great to see so many new cottages on the website. It looks like your business is going from strength to strength. So glad about that. We are enjoying the benefits of being with you so much that I am not planning to renew my subscription with a listing-site next year. I would much rather just go with you -- it would be much simpler. You are so efficient and good at marketing and so good at communicating with owners and supporting us. Blaentrothy is an absolute Godsend! Why be anywhere else?"Cottage owner, Hay on Wye, Herefordshire, England
"I had almost given up hope of finding a decent cottage in which to stay in Wales. The large cottage companies only seem to deal with cottage owners who let out 1970s museums. However, all of your cottages seem to provide discerning holiday makers with what they look for today."Sally from Eastbourne, cottage guest
"We have just booked our 5th holiday with Blaentrothy Cottages. It’s not just the houses, it’s the personal service, being able to email questions about bookings, places or things to do that really encourages us and no questions seem too trivial. The service they give us as customers is so much more than the average. We have been thrilled to find a new selection each time we look and look forward to more. In a world of automated everything it’s lovely to find something with a personal touch."Deborah Richards, cottage guest, Cornwall
If you think you have a special property we'd love to hear from you.
The Cottage Company
Blaentrothy Farm, Grosmont, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire NP7 8HN