The Family Behind a Magical Rural Retreat in South France

Dec 18, 2023

A Heartfelt Conversation with the Owners of Country Kids

Have you ever wondered about the people behind your favourite rural retreat?

In this article, we’re thrilled to share a special conversation with the charming family behind Country Kids, a unique holiday haven nestled in the picturesque South of France. Their story isn’t only about running a business. It’s a story of the creation of a lifestyle that will resonate with families who are seeking that perfect blend of relaxation, adventure, and unforgettable memories for their family holiday in the South of France.

The Journey to Country Kids

Syl and Laure, the dynamic duo behind Country Kids, come from a rich background in hospitality. Syl grew up with parents who were hoteliers, while Laure’s passion for serving and pleasing people shone through from an early age.

I love hearing about other people’s experiences,” says Laure. “Meeting people and helping them to enjoy their time with us is one of the most enjoyable aspects of each day here. And then, to be able to take their feedback and continually improve what we offer – you can only get this from that deeply personal interaction.”

Their shared love for the industry led them to pursue MBAs in Tourism and Hospitality, while accumulating nearly 20 years of combined experience.

We had a friend who owned a hotel with his wife. We got speaking to him – it was a long discussion, several discussions – and he suggested that we should buy a little hotel and work together,” Sylvain explains. “You know, we’d been considering how we could create a more amenable work/life balance, in a greener environment – one that would be better for raising our two daughters. We played with the idea for some time, before eventually deciding it was the right one.”

And so, after exploring numerous options, Country Kids stood out, aligning perfectly with their vision as a family with young children.

Finding Drive in Everyday Moments

Running Country Kids is no small feat. For Syl and Laure, the turning point came with the birth of their children, which reshaped their priorities and lifestyle. The drive to own their business was fuelled by the desire for professional growth and flexibility, especially important for a young family. They took the leap into entrepreneurship to discover new opportunities and enjoy the freedom to make their own decisions.

When you’re young and single, the needs that this industry places on you doesn’t bother you. The long hours, week-end work, and requirement to work public holidays can be taken in your stride,” says Syl. “But in our young 30s, and with two small children, you don’t have the same flexibility.”

As an employee,” Laure says, “and married with children, it becomes more difficult to work flexibly. Inevitably, this means that you don’t get the professional challenge you desire. Things kind of stagnate in your professional progression, at just the time you want more.”

The couple wanted to discover something new and different. Willing to take a risk to find it, they took the plunge and took on Country Kids.

We haven’t looked back,” says Syl. “Of course, sometimes it’s hard – every day brings a new challenge – but what keeps us going is the joy and satisfaction we see on the faces of our guests and our team members. Those little moments are what makes every day a good day.”

Country Kids: More Than Just a Business

For Syl and Laure, this rural retreat in the depths of Occitanie is much more than a business. It’s a family affair. So much so, that their guests are more like family and friends than customers.

We want our guests to have a home-from-home experience. Living onsite with our girls, our guests feel like they are visiting friends or family, sharing their experiences with us,” says Syl.

To create this unique and warm experience, packed with fun activities for the whole family, Syl and Laure have stuck by three crucial principles for a perfect family holiday:

  • Fun for kids
  • Relaxation for parents
  • Quality family time

Of course, delivering all this can put a strain on their own family.

Being a family-run business can be tough,” Laure says. “When we’re open, our focus must be to make our guests happy. When we are closed, there is essential maintenance and upgrading work to be done – while at the same time our focus shifts to be wholeheartedly on our own family.

While some would consider this a challenging split, what we’ve found is that the seasonality of our business has made striking the balance between business and family easier for us.”

Why Country Kids Stands Out

When you visit Country Kids, you get a sense of something different, the ‘je ne sais quoi’ that you can’t quite put your finger on but that makes this rural retreat stand out. But then you look around, and you start to breathe in the atmosphere here, and you realise that Syl and Laure have created not only something different, but something very special.

The property itself is just the right size. It’s not so big that you’ll become lost, and not so small that you’ll find yourselves living on top of each other 24/7. There is space for the kids to be themselves, and space for parents to rediscover themselves.

It’s a property designed with families in mind, ensuring safety, fun, and adventure at every turn. From extensive child-friendly amenities like a heated pool, a vast sandpit, and a plethora of toys and games, to thoughtful touches like baby cots with real mattresses and high-chairs, every detail caters to a child’s wonder and a family’s needs.

We only focus on the family market,” says Syl. “Being a family ourselves, and having travelled to places that cater for families, we’ve got a real sense of what it is that families really want, and what so many other places fail to deliver.”

Yes,” says Laure. “Sometimes it’s the little things that matter – stair gates at the top and bottom of stairways, a proper wooden cot with a real mattress and cotton bedlinen, and a highchair fit for the job….”

Our creche and Kids’ Club,” adds Syl, “and our babysitting nights to give the parents an evening or two of adult time. There’s so much more, too. And we’ll continue to develop our services, as we listen to the feedback our guests give and evolve what we offer.”

Evolving with Grace and Adaptability

No business can stand still if it wishes to thrive,” says Syl. “So, we must continue to adapt and improve, all the time.”

What helps us is that we are proactive in our decision-making process,” says Laure. “We try to stay ahead of what’s happening in the industry, following trends, reading industry news, travelling ourselves, and, most importantly, listening to what all our guests say.

We are very open to new ideas, and to consider how these can help us to adapt and evolve our offering to ensure we remain a top choice for families.”

Isn’t this constant eye on the business a strain?

“For sure, the most significant challenge for us is balancing our family life with the demands of running Country Kids. What we’ve found is that the lines get blurred, and it’s difficult to separate the personal from the professional. They kind of gel into one, especially during our season,” Laure explains. “But, when we see our guests arrive – many for the second, third, or fourth year running – and leave happy, we realise that this constant challenge is one that is worth overcoming.”

Country Kids: A Family’s Heart and Soul in Hospitality

The story of Country Kids is more than just a successful business.  It’s a heartwarming testament to the power of family, passion, and perseverance.

Syl and Laure have created a magical rural retreat that not only caters to the needs of families but also reflects their own values and life philosophy.  Nestled in idyllic countryside, Country Kids is a labour of love, in which the family’s dedication shines through every aspect. It’s not simply a place to stay – it’s an experience that guests will never forget.

You see, at Country Kids, every guest is treated like family, ensuring a personalized and unforgettable holiday. It’s a sanctuary where families can connect, relax, and create lasting memories in a setting that combines luxury with the comforts of home.

Whether it’s the laughter of children exploring the grounds, the serene moments of relaxation for parents, or the joy of family adventures, Country Kids encapsulates the essence of a perfect family holiday – a dream destination where the beauty of nature meets the warmth of hospitality, and where every stay leaves a lasting impression on the heart.

Click here to book the perfect rural retreat for your family in 2024.

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