Meet the Boss: Helen Howitt of Sheepskin

Here at 101 Holidays, we like to get to know the people behind the world’s finest travel companies. This week we talk to Helen Howitt, co-founder of Sheepskin, a small collection of unique holiday properties located in idyllic landscapes throughout the UK. Helen and her partner left corporate life to pursue a love of travel; they established Sheepskin in December 2009 having been inspired by the places they found right here in the UK. Sheepskin’s collection now includes 14 properties in Wales, the West Country, the Peak District and the Cotswolds.

* Where did you go on holiday in 2011, and why? Any plans for 2012?

A road trip in our camper van through Italy, Turkey and mainland Greece for lots of pleasure and a little business; as always, we were looking to discover some tucked away places, as well as the main tourist stops such as Istanbul and Ephesus. We found some amazing spots and, as we hoped, some fantastic locations to consider for Sheepskin in the future.

This year, we hope to spend some time in the Swiss/French Alps for much the same reason, searching out potential Sheepskin locations but also indulging our passion for snowboarding.

* What is your favourite bolthole in the UK and why?

It has to be Lletty, a house in the Brecon Beacons. Adam and I fell in love with it the first time we saw it and stayed there with friends over New Year. It is simply idyllic. At the end of a private, 2 mile forest track lie all the creature comforts you could want, peace and tranquillity, a private view of the Black Mountains and walks in the Brecon Beacons from the door – a perfect home from home escape.

* If you could spend a long weekend in any city abroad, which would you pick, and why?

St Petersburg, after reading Anna Karenina and War and Peace. I would love to visit to see and feel the architecture, culture and history which inspired Tolstoy.

* Please tell us three items that are always found in your luggage.

A notebook; to record memories about the location, people and all about the food. A good book; I always like to be occupied so I can’t be without a book during my travels. Gloves – unfortunately even in tropical climates – as I have Raynaulds which means if I get a little cold my fingers go numb.

* What one thing would most improve people’s overall holiday experience?

Help and advice to allow you to explore the locality; the places, food and landscapes. Adam and I spend a lot of time prior to any trip researching to try and have as authentic an experience as possible. It’s always hard to know the best places to go to experience life as a local rather than a tourist; that’s one reason why we provide our personalised guides for Sheepskin guests so that we can use our expert knowledge to point guests in the direction of where to find the best of what they are looking for locally.

* What has been your worst holiday experience?

I don’t have one. I’ve had lots of adventures when things have not quite gone as planned but that just makes the experience different. I think it adds to your memories and teaches you something either about the place, the people or even yourself.

* Tell us your favourite hotel in the UK.

For its stunning location, faultless service and wonderful food, the Rampsbeck on Ullswater.

* What is the most exciting project your company is working on right now?

As Sheepskin is just entering its third year we are focussing on growing our portfolio of cottages in the UK with potential new properties in the Cotswolds, Scotland and Sussex.

* Thanks, Helen.

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