'Game-changing' Antrim-made luxury glamping pods go on show at Balmoral

‘GAME changing’ glamping pods made in Antrim will be on show Balmoral this week.

Luxury lodge designer Samlingen is to mark its debut at the event with the launch of its ground-breaking Hydda glamping pod.

Northern Ireland’s biggest agricultural show gets underway on Wednesday with more than 100,000 people expected to flock to the Lisburn showpiece.

It’s the first time Samlingen will be represented at Balmoral and the firm is delighted to mark the occasion with the unveiling of its luxury, eco-friendly unit which will offer an alternative solution for resort land owners. 

Designed by Samlingen founder and creative director James Walsh to help meet the rising demand for five-star staycations in the wake of the pandemic, the Hydda was produced by the company’s manufacturing partner Jans Offsite Solutions at Caulside Drive, Antrim.

Hydda highlights include all-timber frames with high thermal efficiency thanks to rockwool insulation, state-of-the-art LED lighting, and the option as an off-grid solution with the units able to hold water and waste tanks underneath the kitchen and bedroom floors.

With solar panels, a 100 per cent off grid solution can be integrated into the design.

There is an integral sofa bed, kitchen, bathroom and dining table which can all be designed to suit individuals’ preferences, easily turning a day-time living-room space into a cosy bedtime area.

Mr Walsh believes the innovative folding technology, which helps transform the internal space, combined with the luxury Scandinavian design, will prove a game-changer in the glamping sector.

“Having never previously been involved with the Balmoral Show, I’m really looking forward to it,” he said.

“Bringing leisure into the farming industry is a big government push and these units can bring in additional revenue to help support the farming community.

“These units are built to a superior standard than traditional glamping pods and it’s brilliant to bring luxury design down to this level of glamping so it will be more accessible for a lot of people. There are a lot of one-off products that cater for the high-end market but nobody is trying to make this accessible to the general public.

“I’m delighted to say that a luxury hotel-standard modular construction experience is now available in the UK in scale for the first time.

“Generally, this is for the mass market, the likes of parks, hotels and golf clubs. I think it will be ideal for people with existing assets, like farmers, for example, who want to look at setting up a glamping site.

“We have a canopy and covered area at the front and there is a lot of glass connecting the inside to the outside.

“We are keen to keep promoting environmental experiences for guests and it was important that the design helped connect with nature.

“It’s our most innovative design to date and having been manufactured locally and having such a strong connection with the local community, it’s fantastic to unveil it at the Balmoral Show.”

The Hydda will be located at stand A5a next to the showring.

Back in October, the Antrim Guardian exclusively revealed that the Jans Group, which bought out part of the Wright Group and owns the biggest cutting machine of its kind in Northern Ireland, would be investing £10m in Antrim and creating over 150 new jobs.

In a real vote of confidence in the town’s workforce, Jans Group, which also makes camper vans and electric vehicles, has established four new companies.

Chief Executive Officer Ronan Hamill told the Guardian that he wanted to double the company’s existing workforce by June 2022 and aims to achieve £50m turnover in the next five years.

In 2019 Jans acquired a composites business from the Wright Group and established a new home in an impressive 10,000 metres square facility in Caulside Drive, Antrim.

This provided the scope to significantly expand business operations during the COVID challenges of 2020.

The group developed multiple products, including Hydropods, a personal handwashing station.

At the start of 2021 and with order books open for the new products, the group’s board decided to launch four new companies, each established with leading industry-based managers, to allow for accelerated growth of each of product line.

Etrux Ltd, a sustainable focused lightweight commercial vehicle business was formed to bring an evolution to lightweight, high quality commercial vehicles, while establishing a manufacturing base in Antrim and a sales and leasing team in England.

Mr Hamill hails from the borough and is still living locally

“In 2019, there was an opportunity to take what we did and create something much bigger which was rooted in the community.” he said.

“This opportunity has grown exponentially with the formation of various companies under the Jans Group brand, which includes our initial company, Jans Composites.

“We expect these companies to perform very well in the future and have set an ambitious target to achieve a £50 million turnover in the next five years.

“Our main aim was to broaden our customer base, bring innovative new products to market and build a business that would support the livelihood of those who work there.

“Occasionally, those towns outside Belfast can be forgotten about but we want to make Antrim a centre for innovation, creativity, opportunity, and expansion.

“We know that Antrim and the surrounding districts have very skilled workers, and our desire is to provide a working environment that is progressive, forward thinking and innovative for those people.

“Jans Group is looking a number of positions from engineering, purchasing, quality to finance and with the surge in the market for many of our product lines it bodes well for Antrim, the community and the local economy.”

He added: “We are very excited for the future of Jans Group and for what this will deliver for the Antrim community in terms of jobs and bolstering the local economy.”

“Antrim is renowned as a historic town but I believe it is also a key location for any manufacturing company with convenient links to the road, rail and sea network.

“Jans Group believes Antrim and the wider community will be key to their future and will ensure that not only the Jans Group but the town is put on the map. We are very much looking forward to our future in Antrim.”

Ronan believes the group’s innovation will help drive future growth.

“In terms of innovation, we’re leading the way with our electric commercial vehicles, smart lodges and light weight composites.

“Likewise our sales of our camper vans in particular have been performing very well.

“We also own the largest CNC cutting machine in Northern Ireland which can manufacture large parts for our products.”

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