A GAMBLE taken at the height of lockdown has paid off for a Powys couple after their company was named one of the most exciting new businesses in the UK.

The Wanderlist, run by husband and wife team Laura and John Lewis, from Llanbister, has been shortlisted in the national StartUp Awards.

Launched in 2020 at the height of lockdown when travel restrictions were still in place, Laura and John couldn’t have taken a bigger risk.

But their hard work paid off and the online directory of handpicked UK holiday homes now boasts over 100 properties, ranging from luxury treehouses and cottages to quirky stays like a converted shipping container and a hobbit house built into a hill.

Their repertoire of amazing properties includes 27 in Powys – among them the Prince Llywelyn Treehouse and the Warren, a quirky hobbit home, both near Knighton; Hare’s Form, a luxury glamping spot complete with alpacas high up in the Radnorshire Hills near Presteigne; Plas Robin Rural Retreats, Montgomery, which is perfect for stargazing; Newtown’s Y Capel which dates back to the 1860s and is described as the height of romantic seclusion, with a stay including a soak in a bespoke hammered copper bathtub; Penlan Lodges, near Landrindod Wells, where you can stay at the wonderfully named Ewe View Cabin; and Stellar Safari Lodge, Rhayader.

Travel business owners themselves, Laura and John operate Squirrels Nest Treehouse Retreat on their working sheep farm just outside Llanbister, near Llandrindod.

“We started the business as a way to diversify, as earning an income through sheep alone was becoming inconsistent,” said Laura.

“We have moved through many challenges while building our business and are now an award-winning holiday retreat. In addition to that, we launched The Wanderlist to help travel business owners like us.


“We don’t charge extortionate commission fees, meaning all money from bookings goes directly to the owners. Our key value at The Wanderlist is making sure owners feel seen and heard, and are not just another number in a database.”

On the awards nomination, she added: “We so pleased to have been recognised for such an incredible award.

“As a small team we’ve worked extremely hard over the pandemic to get seen across the UK and it's wonderful to hear that we are finalists.”

There was stiff competition, with over 2,500 applications received in response to the Startup Awards National Series’ first-ever call for entries.

But The Wanderlist – which boasts over 36,000 followers on Instagram – is one of just five companies shortlisted in the Tourism and Leisure Startup category for Wales.

The StartUp Awards National Series was launched to recognise the booming start-up scene which has accelerated across Britain since the pandemic began.

It celebrates the amazing achievements of business owners who have turned an idea into an opportunity and taken the risk to launch a new product or service.

Professor Dylan Jones-Evans, creator of the StartUp Awards National Series, said: “New firms are important for generating economic prosperity, employment opportunities and innovation.

“Since 2016, the Wales StartUp Awards have celebrated this amazing annual contribution to our economy by entrepreneurs and the impact they have on communities across the nation.

“Given the sheer volume of phenomenal start-ups we’ve heard from since then, as well as the huge post-pandemic shift in people’s desires to take their career in a new direction and set up a business against the odds, we felt it was the right time to take the programme nationwide.

“We’ve been blown away by the standard of entries in this first year and truly look forward to crowning the winners in June.”

To find out more about The Wanderlist and see their selection of accomodation across the UK, visit https://thewanderlist.uk/.