Following an exhilarating episode of Cabins in the Wild, we were lucky enough to be able to speak with Bryn Dafys, one of the talented men behind the Black Hat glamping abode that featured on the programme.
Here’s what Bryn had to say:
‘First of all, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into the glamping industry?’
Bryn: “I’ve always been interested in woodland management and wood crafts. Eight years ago, I got a degree in Forestry from Galway & Mayo Institute of Technology and have been self-employed ever since. Managing a few local woodlands, I started making gates and small structures before slowly progressing to larger sheds and field shelters. I got into glamping part time thanks to Roger & Simone Broome. I’ve been helping them during the winter, working on new builds and being part of their team setting up the yurts and venue tipi’s every spring and autumn”.
‘Why do you like glamping?’
Bryn: “There is something very appealing about being in a stunning, often isolated location, while still having all the comforts in a tent”.
‘Would you mind telling us a bit about the show itself and how you got involved with it? What was your favourite thing about being on the show?’
Bryn: “The original competition from Best of Wales had proposed three winners of the competition would fill the pop-up hotel. Plum Pictures sponsored the expansion to top eight with Will Hardie and Dick Strawbridge designing a ninth. Being a runner-up, the hat now had to be built. This led to myself and Roger Broome being contacted by Niall Maxwell with the concept drawings.
“My first thoughts were ‘that’s interesting, I can kind of see how it might work’. From there, Niall, Myself, Roger and Morgan Davies of Niall’s office had long discussions about how to build it, how it would go up, etc. to get a design together that was likely to work. We ended up with about four weeks for the entire build when filming started. This literally started with the four poles Will and I are stripping on TV.
“My favourite bit was definitely the on-site build. It was the first time any of us had seen it all together. We’d only had enough time to get the skeleton erected in the yard for a few hours to fit the canvas the day before it shipped to Snowdonia. I knew how it should work but was fantastic to see everything going together as planned (except the bed deck) and the reactions of everybody. It had achieved a real wow factor.”
‘What was your inspiration for the Black Hat?’
Bryn: “No one can really take full credit as was a real team effort. The real inspiration came from Niall who came up with the idea and working with Morgan who came up with the design proposals. Originally the pod was to be built on a trailer as for competition specs. It would pop up from it as a base.
“The inspiration was to break the box and decide to build it as flat pack merely using the trailer to transport to site. Thus, we still came in with the competition guides but made the hat much more practical and a rustic celebration of rural and coastal Wales. The hat itself having such a strong links with Wales and the invasion of Fishguard inspired me to keep the look and feel of what I recall as Mamgu’s kitchen and loft on the farm as a child. The further similarities with the Ty Un Nos were quite an inspiration as it could be done easily in a night with a fire in the grate yet sturdy enough to feel safe and comfortable.”
‘How did you learn your trade/skills required?’
Bryn: “My skills have developed over time beginning with my father and grandfather who taught me the basics of how to use the tools and look after them and appreciate precision in anything I make. Coppicewood College were also great teachers when I undertook their six-month coppice craft course.”
‘What advice would you give to anyone looking to get into the glamping world?’
Bryn: “Expect a lot of long days and stress, but the rewards are worth it.”
‘Where do you see glamping going in 5-10 years?’
Bryn: “I see things developing into the ever more unique and exceptional experiences such as the pop-up hotel idea.”
‘Do you have any more plans to build similar/different structures to the Black Hat?’
Bryn: “I’d certainly enjoy building more structures along the same theme and have a few good ideas to develop. I’d love to see more black hats pop up and think the concept is open to a lot of development. While it is made up of a lot of individual pieces, the design is very practical and could easily form part of many a glamping site.”
‘Why do you think Pembroke is so appealing? Why would you recommend the region?’
Bryn: “It has beautiful scenery and plenty to keep anyone occupied with its combinations of beaches, coastal paths and mountains.”
‘Do you have any favourite Welsh traditions, and is there anything you think people should know before they visit?’
Bryn: “There are so many traditions, it’s difficult to pick a favourite though freshly made welsh cakes are pretty special. To understand Wales and the welsh is to know of hiraeth, that soul inspiring feeling of knowing something is beautiful!”
If you have been inspired by Bryn and what he had to say about the world of glamping, why not try staying on one of our treehouse holidays (UK-based)?