For the next instalment of our ‘Behind the Scenes’ features, we thought that we would start the year with an in-depth chat with Mark, founder of Daisy Joy to give you an insight into our story and our exciting plans for the year ahead, and beyond!

Mark, tell us about the story behind the creation of Daisy Joy?

Well, in a previous life I was a solicitor. I was a partner in a Northwest commercial practice for about 15 years and then I set up my own legal related business in 2004, which I sold in 2020. I felt too young and had too much energy to retire and was looking for something else to do, that would be fun.

About that time, I was organising a family get-together for my parents, my sisters and all our children and it was hard to find a luxurious house to rent that would easily accommodate all 16 of us.

I’ve always loved property, design, brand building and great service – so I thought why not buy a large property in a fabulous location and refurbish it, so that it’s perfect for a luxury family gathering.

I then came across Edgar House, which sits inside the Roman city walls of Chester, overlooking the river and with its own private parking. At the time it was a successful small boutique luxury hotel, but the owners had decided to retire. I fell in love the property.

I bought it in 2021 and we completely refurbished it, with all-new interior design. We opened it up as our first Daisy Joy property at the end of 2021. The plan is to build up a little portfolio of perhaps four or five properties, all of which are in a great location, with luxury interiors and a WOW factor for both the grown-ups and the kids.

What has been your biggest challenge with Daisy Joy so far?

Without doubt, dealing with builders! I was lucky to work with an excellent builder at Edgar House in Chester. I have not been so lucky elsewhere. It is the normal story of builders overpromising, initially under-pricing, then over charging and underperforming!

From law to luxury family holiday homes – had this always been a direction that you had planned to move in? What drew you to it, and what are the differences and similarities?

I’ve always loved property and I always planned to leave the legal profession. So, although it was not planned, perhaps this move was always inevitable. There are so many things that I love about property including the architecture, interior design, gardens and location.

Surprisingly, there are some similarities between the legal profession and refurbishing and running luxury family holiday homes. I think that in both cases, to be successful, you need to be creative, have a load of common sense, work extremely hard and pay great attention to the detail.

What are you most proud of in the development of Daisy Joy to date?

We are only one year into the Daisy Joy journey but already there have been plenty of highlights (as well as plenty of challenges!).

I felt quite proud when, earlier this year, an internationally famous rock star chose to stay at Edgar House in Chester for a week with their family. They could, of course, have stayed anywhere (and have stayed everywhere) but they loved Edgar House. Of course, discretion is everything and we would never dream of naming them – but it was a good feeling.

Although that was great, the truth is that we treat every guest as a VIP and the thing that has made me feel most proud so far is the looks on people’s faces and the gasps of excitement as they look around Edgar House for the first time and their happy testimonials. That makes the hard work worthwhile.

What exciting plans are on the horizon for Daisy Joy in the next couple of years and longer term?

We are currently refurbishing (more like rebuilding!) an old vicarage in Eskdale in the Lake District. That is proving to be a tremendous challenge, in terms of location, builder, cost and time – but despite all that, I think the house will be a wonderful when, eventually, done. It sits in 10 acres of grounds in the Eskdale Valley with views towards the surrounding fells and Scafell Pike and the River Esk runs through its grounds. When complete, I for one will certainly want to go there, immerse myself in nature, completely chill out and stay for a very long time!

We are also working on Menai Hall on Anglesey. This is a huge project for us, being a large Grade 2 listed property that needs totally refurbishing. Again, it is in a wonderful location with grounds sweeping down to the Menai Strait and distant views towards Snowdonia. I can’t wait to see it finished and for love and new life to be breathed back into what is currently a sad, derelict old house.

We are also hoping to add a fun beach house at Rhosneigr on Anglesey into the portfolio later this year – but more on that another time.

Were you brought up in Cheshire, and if not, what was it that drew you here?

I was born and bred on the Wirral. Chester was always the nearest most beautiful city that we visited for good shopping, theatre, restaurants, bars and trips on the river! I now live in the countryside south of Chester on the Shropshire border – but I still absolutely love Chester.

What are your three greatest recommendations of things to do in Cheshire/Chester/North Wales?

There really are so many great things to do in the area that it is almost impossible to pick three top recommendations.

For a relaxing day in the city, it’s hard to beat chilling with the papers at Jaunty Goat with great coffee and a wonderful breakfast; followed by a meander around some of the independent shops and art galleries and the new Chester market; followed by a wander around Chester Cathedral; followed by a lazy late afternoon with a good glass of red wine and lite pre theatre food at Convino; followed by a trip to the fabulous Storyhouse; followed by a cocktail at the secret Prohibition bar. Ok, so that’s quite a full-on day!

For a day out in Chester area – again so many options – but it’s hard to beat a family trip to Chester Zoo.

Further afield, a drive out to north Wales and into Snowdonia is wonderful, enjoying the journey and scenery by taking the slower roads over the hills, instead of dual carriageway. Personally, my top choices would be a day mountain biking with friends in the hills or walking out to the magical LLanddwyn Island on Anglesey with family. Or surfing in the Welsh hills (yep, really!) at Adventure Parc Snowdonia!

Oops, that’s more than three recommendations. As I said, too many choices…

We hope you have enjoyed a deeper look into the action at Daisy Joy – we look forward to keeping you posted on the progress of our new projects and very much look forward to opening them for bookings too over the coming months.

Photography Credit – Kirsty Thompson at Cheshire Life

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