March 5 2015 Latest news:
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Great Yarmouth Mayor John Burroughs hailed the level of investment taking place in the holiday industry as he attended a business breakfast at one of the resort’s smart new-look guesthouses.
Since taking over the old Sienna Lodge Hotel in Camperdown and renaming it Seahorse Guesthouse, a reference to a ship once sailed by Nelson, Sandra and Phillip Grey have invested more than £25,000 - the value of the work multiplied many times by the fact former printer Mr Grey has carried out most of it himself.
At the time they moved to Yarmouth two years ago, the exterior of the property had already been restored by the Sharp project, a seaside regeneration scheme, but since then they have ensured the interior matches it, stripping away faded decor and replacing all the creaking plumbing.
Mr Grey said: “There is still more to do, we have got a five-year investment programme; and it will be like painting the Forth Bridge, when we finish it will be time to start again.”
However, the physical transformation, allied to their warm welcome and all the little touches from homemade jam to goody bags for children, has already seen a remarkable turnaround in holiday trade.
Mrs Grey, who previously ran a finance company in London and wanted a change of scene to spend more time with her two children, Emily, 12, and Benjamin, nine, said: “Two days before the summer holidays started in 2012 we had no bookings for July and August.”
While a rush of late bookings somewhat rescued that summer, there is certainly no longer any anxious period of waiting.
“This year in February we are already 60pc booked for the summer holidays and we are getting lots of return bookings by families,” she said.
Business breakfasts launched last year are part of a strategy of reaching out to local firms, notably those in the offshore industry, to help fill the 12 rooms outside of the main season.
“We have approached more than 60 companies. The latest breakfast had already generated £4,000 of business by the end of the day,” she said.
Mr Burroughs said: “The Greys have done a fantastic job here and it is part of a good news story for Yarmouth.”
Echoing his words, borough tourism officer Alan Carr said the renovation of Seahorse Guesthouse was typical of “a lot of small hotels and guesthouses really upping their game”.
He said: “These days many are absolute palaces with anything but standard rooms and really upmarket ensuites rather than ordinary ones - and they are reaping the rewards.”
With a reputation as one of the toughest people in business, many stores would shudder at the thought of getting the Mary Portas treatment.