04:30PM, Saturday 12 December 2020
A new Holyport business has created unique igloo-like heated pods for comfortable, COVID-safe meeting outdoors – now featured in the White Hart pub.
The ‘igii’ pod is designed to fit over classic pub tables and picnic benches, allowing households or socially distanced friends to sit together in a waterproofed space, complete with a roof bar for attaching electric heaters.
Justin Kent and his wife Kim devised the idea before second lockdown, when the rule-of-six was in play.
“My father-in-law runs a small tarpaulin business, so we put two and two together,” said Justin. “We can’t compete with the cheap imports, so we decided to make something more intimate, a really cosy space.”
The business has officially launched this week, having trialled the prototype at The White Hart. There are now 50 units available to buy or rent.
As well as pub gardens, the igiis can be used in schools or private gardens, especially useful now that the Royal Borough is in tier 2.
At 3m long, the structure allows for social distancing between two people sitting at either end of a table.
“Someone contacted me wanting one for her 18-year-old daughter’s birthday,” said Justin. “They’re going to have a couple of relatives in the pod at a time, clean it down, then the next lot – that’s a use I hadn’t even thought of.”
The White Hart is now setting up its second igii pod, available for booking.
“I think it will come into its own now that it’s going into winter – and now that restrictions force friends to be outside rather than inside,” said pub owner Michelle O'Keefe.
“It’s survived some pretty horrendous rain and wind. I’ve got a marquee and a stretch tent, and the igii is the one that just sat there.”
The White Hart has its igiis closed on three sides, but the pods have a detachable front and back and can be opened into a ‘dome tunnel’, allowing more air circulation.
“You get the cosiness and the privacy with the benefit being in a pub garden. Our customers have loved it,” said Michelle.
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