‘We’re back at day one’ - hotelier says reopening business was like going back in time

PUBLISHED: 11:27 20 July 2020 | UPDATED: 14:28 22 July 2020

Strattons Hotel owner Vanessa Scott. Picture: Archant

Strattons Hotel owner Vanessa Scott. Picture: Archant

Archant 2016

A Norfolk hotelier says reopening her business in the post-lockdown world felt like returning to day one and starting over.

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Vanessa Scott reopened Strattons Hotel, in Swaffham on July 4 after, along with the rest of the industry, being forced to close during much of lockdown.

Travel experts across the world have warned that the hotel industry has been hard-hit by the pandemic, with recovery expected to be slow.

Mrs Scott said it was a mixed picture at Strattons - bookings for hotel rooms have been strong, with people keen for a getaway and 291 bookings processed in one day alone after reopening.

She said restaurant bookings were rising steadily, but that week-day trade at its CoCoes Café Deli was at roughly 20pc of it usual rate.

Extra processes added to maintain social distancing were time-consuming, she said, made more challenging by many of their employees not yet back full-time.

As with other sectors, hotels have had to adapt, with guidance including no longer offering breakfast buffets, minimising face-to-face contact at check-in, increasing cleaning regimes and introducing one-way systems.

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Mrs Scott warned many businesses were “hanging on to the cliff edge by their fingernails”.

“It feels like we’ve gone back in time 30 years and we’re back at day one,” she said. “While some people are looking to get away a lot aren’t coming back because they haven’t got the confidence. There’s an awful lot of fear.

“It’s a very strange landscape. I have so much appreciation for my fellow hotel and restaurant owners because it’s a bit of a nightmare.”

She said their staff had their temperatures checked when they arrived at work each day to maintain safety, and said an outbreak at the hotel would be “the final nail in the coffin for the business”.

“We are being really vigilant, but it’s still such a strange time,” she said.

The hotel has introduced hand sanitising stations around the building, encourages customers to download the Track and Trace app, asks overnight guests to only use the bathrooms in their rooms and says while rooms will be serviced before a stay, no-one will enter during.

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