Pro athlete revamps holiday retreat with a new pool and hot tub

Kimberley Morrison and husband Ben Halton-Farrow; the newly installed pool at Wensum Retreat, South Raynham

Inset, Kimberley Morrison and husband Ben Halton-Farrow; the newly installed pool at Wensum Retreat, South Raynham - Credit: Catherine Scoles

A luxury holiday retreat in Norfolk is once again open after undergoing a huge renovation project.

Work to convert Wensum Water Retreats' three-bedroom property into an even more luxurious five-bed holiday retreat – complete with a new swimming pool, hot tub and games room – began in November, around the same time that manager Kimberley Morrison found out she was pregnant.
 
As a professional triathlete, this meant she could no longer compete but instead she has turned her attention to something she and her parents had always wanted to do. 

Her parents, Andrea and Syd, are the directors and owners of Wensum Pools Ltd, and have over 40 years’ experience of building swimming pools. They also know the Norfolk holiday market well, having let out several of their own properties over the past 35 years, including Victoria Cottage, also under the Wensum Water Retreats brand.

Kimberley Morrison, husband Ben and Andrea and Syd Morrison, owners of Wensum Pools Ltd and Wensum Water Retreats

Left to right: Kimberley Morrison, husband Ben and Andrea and Syd Morrison - Credit: Catherine Scoles

As holiday accommodation, Wensum Retreat had already been a success, but the pool was getting tired, and they wanted to extend it. When they got planning permission to do it, Kimberley says it felt like perfect timing. “I can’t compete at the moment,” she says, “so I’m filling my time doing all this lovely stuff – which is, I’ve got to admit, a lot more enjoyable. I’m a much happier person for it.” 

Kimberley, who grew up in north Norfolk, is also a swim coach and qualified Swim England swimming teacher, which she says is part of Wensum Water Retreats’ unique selling point.

Double bedroom at Wensum Retreat, South Raynham, Norfolk, a holiday let which has recently reopened

Inside one of the double bedrooms at the newly revamped Wensum Retreat in South Raynham - Credit: Catherine Scoles

Luxury living space at Wensum Retreat, South Raynham, Norfolk, which is available to rent

One of the luxury living spaces - Credit: Catherine Scoles

Living space with huge L-shaped sofa at Wensum Retreat, South Raynham

The entire retreat has been given a revamp - Credit: Catherine Scoles

Private swimming pool at Wensum Retreat, South Raynham, Norfolk

Wensum Water Retreats include swimming pools and hot tubs at their properties - Credit: Catherine Scoles

As well as a stay at Wensum Retreat, which can welcome up to 12 guests and four dogs, Kimberley is able to offer her own services as a teacher and swim coach – something she says is only becoming more important as more public pools close down. 

“When you come to one of our holiday retreats, because you’ve got your private pool, you’ve also got access to me – a qualified swim teacher – from babies and toddlers all the way up to adults,” Kimberley explains. “It’s so difficult nowadays. Whenever you speak to anyone about kids and swimming – it’s hard. 

“Pools are shutting, pools aren’t making money, the opportunity to swim is poor, so families can come on holiday and incorporate a little bit of swim learning within their holiday. 

“I get tonnes of mums and dads who come to me before they go on holiday because they want their kids to be able to swim safely, so it would be nice to offer that when they come to us.” 

Newly installed pool at Wensum Retreat, South Raynham, which is a luxurious holiday accommodation

The pool has a counter current machine and is completely private - Credit: Catherine Scoles

Hot tub at Wensum Water Retreat, South Raynham, which is available for guests

The hot tub - Credit: Catherine Scoles

Close up of Wensum Pools Ltd deck chairs in the swimming area at Wensum Retreat, South Raynham

The pool and hot tub were installed by sister company Wensum Pools Ltd, which is owned by Kimberley's parents, Syd and Andrea Morrison - Credit: Catherine Scoles

Inflatable flamingo on the surface of Wensum Retreat's newly installed pool

The newly installed pool at Wensum Retreat - and guests can also book swimming classes with Kimberley, a trained swim teacher and coach - Credit: Catherine Scoles

The newly-revamped site also has a hot tub and fire pit, with comfy covered outdoor seating and a barbecue. It caters for two large families, or three smaller ones, and is well-placed to enjoy all that north and west Norfolk have to offer: Sandringham Estate, Wells-next-the-Sea and Blakeney are all within easy reach. 

The retreat is perfect for families, Kimberley says, but also other groups too. “We’re not shying away from promoting the hen dos and the stag dos and the big groups of friends,” she says. “Athlete retreats, that kind of thing.” 

Other highlights at the newly revamped retreat include a counter current machine in the pool, which will allow those who want to do “proper swimming” to do so, and a new ‘everything’ room. 

“We struggled to decide what to do with this extra room we have,” says Kimberley. “Is it a games room? Is it a bar? So we’re making it everything. A pool table, bar, yoga area, music, Sky Glass TV – it can kind of be turned into whatever area the guests staying need or would like.” 

Luxury bathroom at Wensum Retreat, South Raynham, which has reopened to guests

Inside one of the bathrooms - Credit: Catherine Scoles

Modern kitchen/dining space at Wensum Retreat, South Raynham, which is available to rent

The kitchen/dining space - Credit: Catherine Scoles

Large games room with pool table at Wensum Retreat, South Raynham

The 'everything room', which owner Kimberley Morrison says can be used however guests see fit - Credit: Catherine Scoles

All of the contracts and tradespeople came from Norfolk, Kimberley says, and to keep costs down they styled it themselves. They’ve been inspired by Nordic and Scandinavian interiors and kept everything as fresh and simple as they can. Linens will be laundered by a local firm in Fakenham and Kimberley’s husband, Ben, pictured on opposite page, will be on hand to handle any technical concerns guests have during their stay. 

But part of the offering at Wensum Retreat is also in its added extras. Inspired by other cottage providers around the county, Kimberley has handpicked a selection of niceties to help make guests’ stays even easier. There are wellington boots and bicycles to borrow, a barman you can book to create a range of seasonal cocktails and even a hamper which you can order, packed with Norfolk goodies. 

“People are busy now,” Kimberley explains. “They don’t have time to faff about sorting their own X, Y and Z, so I think it’s nice for people to have the option to just go ‘I would like X, Y and Z sorted for me’, and they come on holiday and they’ve not got a lot to do.” 

Close up of beers and glasses at Wensum Retreat, Norfolk, which has just reopened after a refurb

As well as the accommodation, Kimberley says they can provide those little extras to ensure guests have a great time - Credit: Catherine Scoles

Close up of Norfolk-inspired hamper at Wensum Retreat, Norfolk, which is now open again after a revamp

A selection of Norfolk-based produce, which Kimberley says they can provide to guests on arrival - Credit: Catherine Scoles

Wensum Water Retreats hosted an open evening at the property on Tuesday, July 5, before welcoming their first booking at the newly revamped retreat on Friday, July 8. Bookings, so far, have been positive, and Kim says she hopes they can be part of Britain’s – and Norfolk’s – staycation boom. 

“It’s good timing,” she says. “I mean, with Covid you’ve got more people staying in the UK and, of recent news, you’ve got the over subscription of people flying, so you’ve got more people staying in the UK. I feel like we’re slotting in nicely with the way the UK holiday market is going at the moment.” 

Visit the website at wensumwaterretreats.co.uk to find out more.