This month Duchy Holidays is celebrating a quarter of a century of providing holiday accommodation on Cornwall’s north coast. During the last 25 years the business has grown and flourished from humble beginnings to becoming Perranporth’s foremost self-catering accommodation agency. Here’s how things have changed since it all started in 1994…
In September 1994, alongside being a stay-at-home mum of four (with the children ranging from 3 to 12 years old), Denise started Duchy Holidays from her kitchen table, renting two flats on the side of her house to supplement the family’s income.
Soon Denise found that her properties were getting fully booked, and she was passing customers on to friends who also had holiday lets. These friends started asking Denise to fill their properties for them, and other owners then followed.
“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.
Denise Udry, Duchy Holidays founder and director
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 to accommodate Denise and her first member of staff. 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 consistently grew and expanded, becoming a family business, with husband Peter now a fundamental part of the team. In 2004 Denise and Pete’s daughter Michelle gained a degree in Business Studies and became a Director of the company alongside Denise, making the business officially managed and run by the mother and daughter team.
At this time the business outgrew the office by the boating lake and rented a larger space in Tywarnhayle Square, in the heart of the village, now employing three members of staff.
Michelle joins the Duchy Holidays team
Duchy Holidays office in Twywarnhayle Square
The following year son Steve was also formerly employed to undertake plumbing and property maintenance jobs for the family business.
In 2009 Duchy Holidays was on the move again, this time to their very own premises, Westcott House, St Pirans Road, just off the high street on the cut-through to the beach. Two holiday lets were built above the office, reminiscent of the business’ roots!
Duchy Holidays office number three, Westcott House, just off St.Pirans Road
In 2010 Duchy Holidays started to voluntarily run the Perranporth Tourist Information Centre alongside the business, which they still do to this day.
In 2014 Duchy Holidays, the family celebrated 20 years in business! With an ever-growing portfolio of properties and team of staff.
Celebrating 20 years of Duchy Holidays
At the end of last year Duchy Holidays moved once more, this time to a large suite of offices on Wheal Leisure. “We outgrew our office yet again!” explains Denise. “We now employ seven members of office staff, a handy man, and a bank of cleaners.”
The new premises allow the team to work in more space and comfort and also provide much needed storage space. In 2018 Duchy Holidays also underwent new branding with the clear and welcoming look reflected in the office space.
Now 25 years since its inception, Duchy Holidays – and Denise – show no signs of slowing down.
“There’s more to do than ever, which is great!” says Denise. “I built my business around looking after my children, and Pete and I now have seven grandchildren who are all a big part of our lives, so I still sometimes find myself juggling childcare with running the company! I’m very proud of the business and the fact that it is continuing to grow and evolve, and am looking forward to seeing what the future holds.”
The Duchy Holidays team in the new office on Wheal Leisure