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How We Launched Our British Cottage Experience After Years In The Yachting Industry

In 2020, while the world was battling uncertainty, fear and a global pandemic unlike any other, deep in the heart of Dorset, one UK-based couple took the plunge and launched a business. Nathan and Laura Kurton had a dream to convert the VIP experience of a yacht vacation to a luxury British cottage experience. 

Their dream to drop anchor permanently materialised into English Cottage Vacation, an all-inclusive luxury vacation offering a quintessential English experience beyond compare. From its location in the English countryside of Dorset to Laura and Nathan’s yachting experience that they transferred into their dream vacation home, everything about English Cottage Vacation is luxury at its finest. 

Although the yachting industry and a luxury vacation may seem miles apart, Nathan and Laura found a way to bring the best elements of each together into a thriving business and they share their story below:

What Can You Share About Your Yacht Years?

Photo of English Cottage Vacation co-hosts Laura & Nathan who went from VIP yacht specialists to launching a luxury British cottage experienceLaura: Nathan and I got our first job in the yacht industry when we’d only been together for 2 years and just married. As newlyweds, naturally, we didn’t want to be separated so we made sure we found jobs on the same yacht and it was incredible! 

For a couple still in the honeymoon phase of marriage, a cruise on a yacht was just perfect. We had an amazing time bonding and learning new things about the yacht industry. Though we really loved what we were doing, it was massively tiring.

Nathan:  I enjoyed travelling, living on a yacht, and being on the water. It was a childhood dream come true. I love that we got to explore and enjoy the beautiful beaches of the Caribbean, the turquoise water and the underwater life. But working as much as we did was hard and intense. Especially considering, sometimes it was hard to separate work from our lives, which made those years simultaneously the worst and the best. 

Why The Switch From Yachting To British Cottage Experience?

Laura:  After about 6 or 7 years of the yacht life, we started missing home and our family. Even with the two of us working together, it could get pretty lonely out at sea. Living on the yacht, meant always being abroad, which led to us missing out on things like seeing our niece grow up – she would never get to really know us. 

While we were sure we didn’t want to go back to yachting, a 9 to 5 job wasn’t on the cards either. We needed a job that we would love that wouldn’t drop our ability to make a good living either. The only thing that fit the bill was to start our own business.

What Inspired The English Cottage Vacation Idea?

Laura: Now that we’d established that we wanted to start our own business, we had to figure out the specifics of that idea. It seemed only logical and also appealing to lean into something familiar. And so, our luxury all-inclusive, tailor-made British cottage vacation was born!

The idea for English Cottage Vacation goes all the way back to 2006 when we were still working on private yachts. As we talked about the idea more with each other and with our guests, it slowly grew into a solid business plan. Offering the luxury yacht experience on land in the UK felt like the perfect way to do what we love, while also achieving our dream of semi-retiring.

What Was The Launching Process Like?

Laura: Once English Cottage Vacation really started to take shape, we went searching for a place where we could turn our dream into reality. After a long and tedious search, Well Cottage in Dorset caught our eye and captured our hearts.

A beautiful home in a peaceful area where we could be part of a community and create the most luxurious vacation for our guests was the perfect embodiment of our vision. 

After applying for a mortgage for the cottage, we started marketing. With our low budget at the time, all we had were photos from the previous owners’ real estate agency which they graciously let us use and it worked! Even before we’d properly settled in and done renovations, we had our first bookings for 2021.

From then it was mostly smooth sailing with a few learning curves here and there but we’re eternally grateful for how well things have managed to work out. 

What Were The Biggest Challenges Starting Out?

Laura: Finding the perfect house to turn into our British cottage vacation home was definitely the biggest hurdle we had to overcome. The search was made even harder by the fact that we were still going on yacht cruises which limited the time we had to search for and view homes. 

After we chose Well Cottage, the next big challenge was the COVID-19 pandemic which hit right as we were settling into being business owners and sharing it with potential guests. Things went crazy then but we kept advertising and working on renovations throughout 2020, holding on to the hope that life would return to normal in 2021. 

How Did You Get Clients?

Laura: In late 2019 going into 2020, we had brochures made for our business and took them back with us on the yacht to share with our guests. Many were interested and started booking even before we had pictures of the renovated cottage.

While the pandemic felt like a set back in many ways, it helped push us closer to our dream. For one thing, our charters from March onwards were cancelled so we headed home earlier than we’d originally planned. 

This gave us more time to work on the renovations and take bookings for 2021. Most of those bookings didn’t work out though because the lockdowns went on and on but when the world finally opened up again and we found a new normal, we bounced back stronger with more determination than I think we would have otherwise had. 

Is English Cottage Vacation All You Hoped It Would Be?

Laura: In one phrase, the outcome exceeds the dream! We found the perfect cottage and the perfect location in Dorset, so even though a few things didn’t work out exactly the way we wanted, the most important things turned out to be just amazing. 

Going into this, we never knew whether we would achieve our financial goals but we’ve ended up exceeding them. The vision I had of cooking in my little cottage kitchen and providing service with great attention to detail has really gone above and beyond everything we imagined.

Besides building a successful business, we were able to achieve our dream life: to have at least six months to a year to live our best life, doing all the things we want to do like going on holiday skiing, traveling, getting involved with the community and so much more.

We had a vision and we believed in it and the reality turned out so much better than we imagined. If your dream is to have a luxury vacation with a quintessential British cottage experience where all your needs are taken care of without you even having to even ask, then English Cottage Vacation is just the thing for you. Book a call with us to find out more about the luxury getaway of a lifetime.