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What Keeps us fresh

At Fresh Escapes, we are passionate about transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary. We help owners transform their homes into special spaces that leave everlasting memories for our guests and ensure our guests have a truly memorable experience in beautiful locations.

How do we do that? With our fresh approach to holiday rentals. As pioneers in the staycation market, we manage absolutely everything in-house – from guest experience and owner experience to property management and compliance management. We don’t outsource any part of our business – every process is managed by our co-founders and husband-and-wife team, James and Fiona Gardner, and our experienced staff – so you know you’re being well looked after. Bringing all our services together under one company to market and manage a holiday home or portfolio of properties ensures that owners maximise income and reduce operational costs. Our owners receive a bespoke service, which is reflected in our flexible and responsive service to guests.

Why we set up Fresh Escapes…

It all started with a passion for property and luxury holidays. When Fiona’s father passed away, we were lucky enough to be left a home in the Blackdown Hills on the Devon-Somerset border. Selling the property gave us the opportunity to explore what else was available locally and to transform our own existing waterside estuary home, The Curlews in Bishopsteignton, into a beautiful holiday home.

We soon discovered that there was a real need for an end-to-end holiday management platform that not only provided a unique, beautifully-designed staycation for guests but also generated higher incomes for property owners, and Fresh Escapes was born in 2017.

Sadly, a year after Fiona’s father died, so did James’ father. In the last years of his life, he grew to love nature, the outdoors and butterflies. We believe the butterfly symbolises transformation, hope and energy – its magnificent yet brief lifetime reminds us that life is short. That’s why we chose the butterfly as our logo – it keeps us focused on providing the best possible service that transforms owners’ homes into lucrative investment portfolios and provides memory-making experiences for our guests.

We’ve evolved, too. From that first property, we have expanded to provide a portfolio of hand-picked homes, styled in collaboration with their owners to create beautiful, comfortable boltholes in Devon beauty spots for discerning guests.

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The Founders

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James Gardner


James’ passion is people, systems, and service. His priority for Fresh Escapes is ensuring that our property owners and guests get an unparalleled service

A 25-year career in strategic roles in large global IT corporates including Honeywell, Computacentre, Carillion, and Dell – honing his skills in operational and service excellence, performance marketing and business process systems. In 2009, he left the corporate world behind to join Fiona in her thriving residential letting and property management company, Fresh Move, based in Devon. James now helps property owners and investors across the South West of England make better use of their holiday property portfolios.

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Fiona Gardner


Fiona made her own fresh escape in 2006. No longer finding joy in her London global marketing director role, Fiona decided to return to her roots in Devon

After a decade in corporate marketing, she was ready for a new challenge. A landlord herself, she understands landlords’ objectives and requirements and set about designing a company that put landlords first, challenging the negative views she found in her research. She founded Fresh Moves in 2006. In 2017, Fiona started Fresh Escapes with her husband, James, applying all that she had learned to the holiday lettings market. Her aim was to take away all the hassle for owners – from preparing their property for marketing, communicating with guests, managing the cleaning, inspections and linen, ensuring their property is compliant, and fixing any problems. Being local is very important to Fiona. It means Fresh Escapes has a depth of knowledge of the properties as well as their surroundings, enabling the team to provide guests with honest, local advice to enhance their stay.

The Team

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Head of Quality Management

After a successful 35-year career in network TV and radio news, Devon-born Kevin now utilises his vast home improvement skills to maintain quality

Kevin’s anchored the news for BBC Wales, the World Service, ITV, and Sky News. But, away from the cameras, Kevin brings an impressively broad hands-on experience in renovating luxury homes inside and out – from plumbing to electrics, floor-to-ceiling redecoration, to kitchen and bathroom installations. As well as property quality, Kevin will also monitor the increasingly complex requirements for property compliance and safety.

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Head of Marketing

Bringing the experience of a 30-year media career, Colin’s TV and radio experience brings a fresh approach to our digital presence

He’s been a presenter, producer, and editor spanning local radio from the Midlands to the Channel Islands, the BBC News Channel, and most recently as an editor and presenter on a global satellite news network. Sensing it was time for a challenge, Colin’s now working to develop our digital marketing strategy and collaborations. Colin’s also leading our expansion into video content to both showcase our homes and provide our guests with material to give them a richer experience.

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Head of Finance

Giving our homeowners the financial reassurance they need, Mandy’s extensive experience gives them a thorough overview of their homes’ financial performance

With rigorous attention to detail, accuracy and a thorough understanding of our property owners’ expectations, Mandy has the pivotal task of ensuring that our homeowners are fully briefed on their revenue and costs, as well as making sure that the growing number of contractors and small businesses who provide our property maintenance are supported promptly.

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Rebecca dostal


With a strong background and experience in accounting Rebecca ensures our financial systems are compliant.

With over 20 years of experience working in the property industry, Rebecca brings several years of industry expertise to ensure that our internal financial systems are well maintained to the highest standard and meet vital legal compliance requirements.

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