Holiday cottages couple win double silver at Devon Tourism Awards

Lizzie and Nathan Figg bought Nethway Farm three years ago  - and had no previous experience in the tourism industry.

Lizzie and Nathan Figg bought Nethway Farm three years ago - and had no previous experience in the tourism industry. - Credit: Nethway Farm

The owners of a South Devon holiday cottages business are celebrating winning two silver awards at the 2021 Devon Tourism Awards.

Their success comes after a whirlwind start for their fledgling holiday cottage business and one of the toughest ever years for tourism in Devon. 

When Lizzie and Nathan Figg bought Nethway Farm between Brixham and Kingswear three years ago they had no previous experience in the tourism industry.

Today, their business is among a select few to scoop two awards at the first online ceremony in the Devon Tourism Award’s 11-year history: silver in both the 'New Tourism Business' and 'Self Catering Accommodation of the Year' categories.

 “This is such a surprise for us,” said Lizzie, who bought Nethway Farm with Nathan for a lifestyle change. 

“We entered the awards to gain some valuable independent feedback on how we were doing as a new business. We never expected to get to the finals among businesses that we hold in such high regard, let alone win something.

“We are thrilled. We have put in a lot of effort and it’s wonderful to have that recognised.”

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In November 2018, the couple left their jobs in Hampshire and moved to the South Hams to make a fresh start in their favourite holiday destination.

“We wanted to work for ourselves and spend more time with our two children,” explains Lizzie. “Nethway Farm came up and we haven’t had a chance to look back.”

Nethway Farm has five holiday cottages set in 38 acres of land a mile from the coast and within easy reach of the attractions of the English Riviera, Dartmouth and Dartmoor.

The family quickly set about updating their cottages and facilities, including bringing in a new high-quality linen provider, redecorating the cottages and installing new solar panels.

In addition, they made improvements around the farm’s orchard and hedgerows to encourage wildlife and they re-homed more farm animals for guests to meet.

Online, Nethway Farm got a new-look website to make it easier for people to book direct, and Instagram and Facebook accounts, which proved popular with the many returning guests.

But after just a year, Covid-19 closed their business.

Instead of letting their Devon dream slip, the couple intensified their programme of renovations.

“The past year has been really difficult, but we've turned it to our advantage ticking even more jobs off our list. During each lockdown we did a lot of big, noisy jobs that wouldn’t be possible while guests were here, re-roofing the under-5s' play area and installing a new soft play that we can easily clean to make it Covid safe.”

When Nethway was able to reopen in 2020 the couple put in place booking systems for popular facilities, like the swimming pool, so families could have exclusive use.

“The reaction from guests was really positive,” says Lizzie. “They really enjoyed having the pool all to themselves. It meant we had to set an alarm for every two hours during the day so we could clean between each session. It was busy but it meant our guests could still use all our facilities during their stay, which was really important to us. 

"We shall continue this booking system over the coming season to maintain social distancing between guest families.”

It’s not just Lizzie and Nathan’s guests who have appreciated their efforts.

The judges at the Devon Tourism Awards have now given them industry recognition too.

Nethway Farm is almost fully booked up until mid-September 2021 with some guests returning for their second, third and even fourth visit in the past few years.

Lizzie says they can’t wait to welcome guests back from April 12.

She added: “Our regular guests, who have become like extended family, can’t wait to see the improvements we’ve made. And we’re really excited to hear a buzz around the farm again - children laughing and having fun.”