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Zen Jungle Retreat Renovations Revealed!

We bought Zen Jungle Retreat (at the time known as Wooda Lakes Fishery and Holiday Cottages) back in August 2021. Jason and I arrived with fresh eyes and eager excitement. The cabins however, which had not been touched since they were built 15-20 years prior, were tired and in desperate need of attention. Our first mission was to renovate and give them a new lease of life.

The universe had other plans however and provided us with 6 months of fishing and family guests which we had inherited from the previous owners. So, once we had thrown ourselves in at the deep end and waded through a winter of housekeeping, hot tub maintenance, fishing competitions, 6 am bacon butty sales, setting up admin protocols and keeping guests happy, we got to work.

Fortunately, we found an incredible team of local carpenters, electricians, plumbers, decorators and more to help us along the way, starting with Pete who is a woodwork magician. After an initial inspection (and 4 months of experience living in one of the old cabins), we decided the best course of action was to start from scratch. All interiors were stripped and re-plastered, bathrooms refitted, fresh flooring laid throughout the whole cabin, new kitchens and lights. You name it, we did it.

In fact, in the first 7 cabins we renovated, everything except the walls came out. Although it turns out that 7 apparently identical cabins can have some quite interesting and unique quirks that made the renovations much slower than initially anticipated. One of the cabins even had the electrical box installed directly under the kitchen sink! So, the next 5 we renovated we took even more drastic action and removed everything, including the walls, windows and doors. No stone was left unturned.

As for the exteriors, we clad all the cabins in oak and douglas fir giving them a totally new look. The deckings were pulled apart and extended, creating expansive areas to hang out on. We opted for rope balustrades which felt natural and spacious as opposed to the dated appearance of the ones here when we arrived. Half of the cabins were completed with large, double ended bathtubs while the others were fitted with huge bi-fold doors spanning the width of the cabin, bringing the outside in.

It took much longer than we had initially anticipated, and with the rate of inflation on building materials it cost far more than we had budgeted for. At times it felt like there would never be an end, but the day loomed when it was ready to put the finishing touches in place and the whole project came together beautifully.

After a trip up north to buy furniture thanks to Jason's contacts from his previous business, we came back with mountains of stunning decor to create the homely, boho vibe we'd been envisioning for these cabins from the beginning. As we furnished the cabins like they were our own homes, we finally knew we were ready to open the retreat and reveal what we had been creating to our audience.

Although the rest of the retreat was far from ready with no bistro, yurts or chilling areas, we began to host small retreats to showcase the cabins and what we do here. The first stage of Zen Jungle had well and truly begun. From here, the only way was up!

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Great to get a peek into what the insides of the cabins looked like before you guys worked your magic! What a transformation :-)

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