Caryn Hibbert is the Founder and Creative Director of Thyme, the English Country Destination in the Cotswolds where good food, warm hospitality and a love of the land is at it's heart. Not only does it offer beautiful rooms, cottages and houses which are nestled around the magnificently restored barns but there is a cookery school and a stustainable kitchen garden and farm.
Dom Reilly met with Caryn to talk about her life and travel experiences...
What's your favourite holiday destination and why?
I love Africa. We first visited over 10 years ago and have since visited almost every year.
Where in the world would you like to go that you haven’t been already?
I have never been to India. We are going for the first time very soon. My daughter is working for British Polo Day who will be hosting matches with the Maharajas of Jaipur and Jodhpur which will be a whirl wind of wonderfulness. We are also ending the trip with a tented safari to see leopards and maybe some tigers too, it will be the wilderness that I will love the most.
What’s your preferred mode of transport?
I love the small Cessna Caravan aeroplane we use to travel across the African plains, so romantic and exciting, you feel like true adventurers.
Do you have a favourite hotel?!!
I have to say Thyme, we are more like a private residence than a hotel, much like some of the wonderful African safari lodges such as Sirikoi which has just won the 2015 Eco-rated lodge of the year. They too have the feeling of a home together with sustainable vegetable gardens and farm and a stay there is all about their environment.
Situated on the northern slopes of Mount Kenya, Sirikoi is surrounded by the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. Through the protection of endangered species, particularly elephant, black rhino and Grevvy’s zebra, they provide important safe spaces and migration corridors as well as education and invaluable anti poaching activities throughout Kenya. The views from the main decks look on to a small creek and lake frequented by all sorts of wonderful wildlife, elephants and lions are my favourite.
On a much smaller scale at Thyme we have the water meadows, full of wildflowers and also teaming with wildlife such as kingfisher, water voles and otter, which we are re-wilding. Last year we left the grass in some areas to grow long, looking out across the fields, it at times reminded me of Africa with the early morning low light and our small flock of welsh black mountain sheep walking though.
What do you always travel with?
My phone, not romantic at all but very practical and if I know everything is organised and running smoothly I can relax. I can also of course communicate with the children, I love WhatsApp I’m afraid.
If you had to give one piece of advice when setting off on a trip, what would it be?
Remember your passport!
What drives and motivates you?
I suppose it has been a challenge to create a sustainable family business that we all like and are proud of. Something that is enriching and true to both the beautiful buildings and their agricultural heritage and our values of sustainability.
Who has been your greatest influencer?
I think that is a difficult question. It’s not one person. Life is such a journey where you are constantly learning from the many wonderful and interesting people along the way. If I were to say one person, it would be my parents, which I know is two people but they are impossible to separate and are as one to me.
Who (living or not) would make the most interesting dinner table guests?
Sir David Attenborough, Professor Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates, Marie Stopes, Aayan Hirsi Ali, Queen Elizabeth II, Angelina Jolie and Mick Jagger.
What is the most memorable gift that you have ever been given?
Sometimes the simplest things are the best. I was given a chopping board by my father, it was his mother’s and was cut from an elm tree when my father was 4. He can remember watching the carpenter make it. It’s 80 years old now and I treasure it.
What do you do on your time off?
My favourite thing is to entertain family and friends. We will all go for a walk with the dogs, ending up in the vegetable gardens where we will find inspiration for our meal. I do love it when we all are together in the kitchen with a glass of wine in one hand and a chopping board in the other.
What is your advice for balancing work and family life?
Delegate. A good team is everything, so hire people better than you that you can trust. A good team takes time to build, so look after them, they are like an extended family and absolutely integral to success and happiness.
Where do you see Thyme being in 5 years time?
I would like to think we will be a successful and well respected destination. One that is not just a place to stay but that enriches and makes you think about the important things in life. Family, friends and fun times, the environment and our precious planet and keeping that safe.
Thank you Caryn!
Caryn has the Grace mini purse in green which you can buy in our SHOP.