Holiday options from the co-op movement

There are a number of tourism options offered by co-ops, from Jemima D, a narrowboat in Staffordshire, to the international Fairbnb network

As lockdown lifts and plans are being made for the summer, here are some of the co-operative holiday options for you to explore…

Hotel du Nord is a residents’ co-operative that opened January 2011 to bring cultural heritage and hospitality together in Marseilles. It is a network of 30-40 rooms or urban lodgings in apartments, country houses, boats or small houses, reflecting the diversity of the region. But it is also a community of attentive hosts wishing to share their environment and the stories of their neighbourhoods and their places. There are organised solidarity visits and heritage walks, and you can be introduced to local food and culture rooted in local traditions and rediscovered by communities.

Jemima D is a 37-foot narrowboat moored in rural Staffordshire, that is owned, operated and used by a friendly co-operative group of 12 shareholders, whose aims and objectives are to own and use the boat co-operatively for members to have non-sexist, non-racist, non-ageist,, enjoyable holidays on the canals. They share tasks to ensure that Jemima D is run as economically as possible and everyone gets a chance to learn how to maintain and run a narrowboat. It also means that everyone has an equal responsibility for running the co-op and maintaining Jemima, within the limits of their skills, ability and circumstances – and they are currently looking for new members!

The Nearly Wild Camping Co-operative is a network of diverse locations (mostly across the UK) offering Nearly Wild Camping experiences at 200+ camping locations. These can be family farms, nature reserves, hilltop smallholdings or riverside woods – many of which are not otherwise open to the public. If you own a potential location you can also take out membership and list your location in the directory. They offer the chance to explore where you are through guided walks, star gazing, badger watching, having a go at some regular onsite tasks (from feeding the chickens to carving a spoon), cooking up some homegrown veg on your campfire and more.

The Renmark Hotel opened in South Australia in 1897 as the first British Empire community-owned hotel. Nestled on the banks of the River Murray, today it is operated by a board of management which is elected by community members. It returns its profits to the community by way of donations and sponsorships and strives to preserve its Art Deco architecture and heritage listing (it has its own museum on the first floor). started its journey in 2016 as a movement inspired by Fairtrade, the circular economy and the Sustainable Development Goals that sought to “create a just alternative to existing home-sharing platforms”. Initially the movement emerged in Venice, Amsterdam and Bologna but soon other groups from all over Europe joined the debate. It launched a new platform in 2021, and today aims to promote a more sustainable, genuine and authentic tourism. Half of the co-operative’s fees are given to community projects in the host area with the goal to redistribute wealth and create jobs, and hosts are screened according to destination specific rules – such as the one host, one house rule.

The Sail Boat Co-operative is based in Chichester Harbour, and provides a range of learning activities based around sailing –including sailing courses and trips on its three sail training vessels. It aims to “widen access to the sea” by offering sail training onboard, navigation training on land, and using these activities to increase confidence and a sense of wellbeing in marginalised coastal communities. It raises funds to be able to offer training bursaries to people on very low incomes or from marginalised communities through its Community Sailing Fund. The co-op sees sailing as “a tool to improve life skills, knowledge and attitudes” and also offers a flexible approach to meet different learning needs. Its board of directors made up of staff, skippers and volunteers to steer its work and actively encourage participation from anyone involved in the project.