“It all started 24 years ago” explains Denise Udry, founder and director of Duchy Holidays. “At that time I was a stay-at-home mum with my four children; the youngest was only three.” Denise and her husband Peter had bought a house in Perranporth with two flats on the side, with the idea of renting out the flats to help pay the bills.
Denise oversaw the rentals and discovered that she had a knack for selling the properties for holidays. “I found that I was getting fully booked, so was passing customers on to friends who also had holiday lets.” Very soon these friends and other owners started asking Denise to advertise and fill their properties for them, and Duchy Holidays was born.
When it was started in 1994, and for a long time afterwards, Duchy Holidays was run from home. “I literally worked from the kitchen table” laughs Denise. “There were no computers, I wrote the bookings in a notebook, and we didn’t have a brochure back then. The property information was printed on an A5 piece of paper, in sepia to keep the costs down, and a sheet added for each new property I took on.”
As time went on the business grew… and so did the Udry children! One of the flats had to be incorporated into the main house to create more bedroom space, meaning that Denise then became reliant on bookings from other properties. She decided to take a leap and use the second flat as an office from which to run her burgeoning business.
Duchy Holidays went from strength to strength, and it got to the point where more space was needed to store equipment, cleaning products, and bed linen, in addition to a bigger work space. So Denise took on her first office, opposite the boating lake in Perranporth, and the visibility of the business within the village brought even more properties to the portfolio.
Over the years Duchy Holidays has consistently grown and expanded, becoming a family business, with husband Peter now a fundamental part of the team. Denise and Pete’s daughter Michelle earned a degree in Business Studies in 2004 and has been working for Duchy Holidays ever since, becoming a Director of the company alongside Denise, in 2016. Son Steve was also formerly employed for plumbing and maintenance.
“Duchy Holidays is very family orientated” says Denise. “I built my business around looking after my children, and so understand that my staff sometimes need flexibility for childcare, sports days and the like. Pete and I now have seven grandchildren of our own who are all a big part of our lives, so I still sometimes find myself juggling childcare with running the company!”
The business has moved again twice more within Perranporth since that first office and is currently planning another move in the autumn to a large suite of offices on Wheal Leisure. “We’ve outgrown our office again!” explains Denise. “We now employ seven members of office staff, a handy man, and a bank of cleaners. Our new premises will allow us all to work in more space and comfort and will also provide much needed storage space.” Perranporth’s Tourist Information Centre is also run from the Duchy Holidays’ offices, and this will continue to be hosted in the new premises.
24 years on, with 160 properties now in the portfolio, Duchy Holidays – and Denise – show no signs of slowing down. “There’s more to do than ever, which is great” Denise remarks. “I’m very proud of the business I’ve built, and am looking forward to the milestone 25-year anniversary next year and to see what the future holds!”.