LOCKDOWN DIARIES: Le Manoir, Seaham Hall, Berwick Lodge and Hotel Collingwood see success with new initiatives


The online series continues as we speak to hotel leaders about their lockdown plans, the robust strategies they are putting in place and the innovations they are implementing to help prepare for post-Covid trading.

Le Manoir is seeing great results with its series of virtual events, including Raymond Blanc ‘cookalongs’ as lockdown continues and the desire for something different emerges.

Julia Sutcliffe, director of marketing, says: “Whilst our guests are unable to get together or join us at Le Manoir for the time being, we have seen a growing interest in virtual experiences. In particular we have hosted small groups of friends and colleagues on virtual cookalongs with The Raymond Blanc Cookery School team. Pre-Christmas virtual cocktail-making and wreath-making classes were also well received. We are developing fthis concept for the week ahead with a collection of themed classes for guests to join from the comfort of their own homes. The chefs will be teaching seasonal favourites, some healthy options and Benoit will be helping us master bread-making. 

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We have seen a growing interest in virtual experiences.

“In December we hosted our first fully interactive virtual corporate event.  It was a huge success and a joy to be able to bring guests together safely.”

At Seaham Hall, community is playing a big part in shaping its lockdown activities. From supporting the NHS to boosting team morale and wellness, the hotel in Durham is working hard on running a number or initiatives.

Speaking to Boutique Hotelier, spa manager Amanda Hardy says: “From initially preparing 500 meals weekly for the NHS in the early days to supporting October half terms with 100 free school meals per day and most recently delivering 1,218 festive cream teas to 609 care home residents and staff across all of Ascot’s six care homes across the NE to name a few.  

‘Team Wellness & Morale’ continue to be at the forefront of Lockdown 3.0.

“Our work continues into the new year with a new partnership with East Durham Trust. In 2021, Seaham Hall will work with East Durham Trust on a number of initiatives, including: A regular supply of essential store cupboard and household supplies for food banks; Volunteer schemes to support the trust by organising and delivering donations to various local areas; Holistic wellbeing workshops during the recovery phase of Covid-19 and our volunteer teams are currently being accumulated and will be deployed as additional support to this fantastic cause.

“Secondly ‘Team Wellness & Morale’ continue to be at the forefront of Lockdown 3.0.

“Whether it be winter blues or struggling to keep motivated this time of year can be particularly difficult for some. Wednesday 13th January 2021 marks the start of our wellness zoom workshops hosted by Seaham colleagues and selection of partnership experts. It’s a great way to stay connected with one another and give our teams that midweek boost.”

Sarah Arikan, owner at Berwick Lodge, is using lockdown to focus on tasks and projects that would prove tricky with guests around, as well as keep staff engaged, happy and safe.

Speaking to BH, she says: “One of my main priorities are the staff… they are the living heart of Berwick and we are a small team of 29. I have made sure we are in contact every week with a staff bulletin. This includes all the latest developments at Berwick. I like to keep them informed with everything whether its bank loans or new recipes for making at home. A few of the staff have set up shops on Etsy which we promote through our bulletin.

“We relooked at the whole guest journey… starting with a new website, ensuring all our processes are smooth, reviews are up-to-date on all online platforms and then moving onto once a sale is made, looking at a customers’ first impression when they get to the hotel – a new driveway has been tarmacked and the car park has been re-laid with amber stones.

“A new pergola is being installed in the gardens, by a local agriculture company who we have organised a contra deal with.

Since March we have taken 40 new elopement and small wedding bookings for within the year

“We have looked at our green policies and amongst other things installed Type 2 electric car chargers – we have a partnership with our local Porsche garage and they kindly donated them to us.

“Our wedding viewings have all moved to one to one virtual tours. Whilst, like every venue, there have been a huge number of weddings postponed from 2020, we adapted our offerings at the beginning of the March lockdown to include midweek elopement weddings. So many couples who had planned to go abroad to wed in the summer lost vast amounts of money but we could see from research that the desire to get married was there. An inclusive package was put together offering couples a peaceful haven to wed in the UK, just the two of them, whilst still enjoying a special experience with glorious food and access to our fantastic local wedding suppliers. Since March we have taken 40 new elopement and small wedding bookings for within the year. An increase of 60% in the number of wedding bookings taken in the same period the previous year.

“Myself and my husband own Berwick Lodge, we do not have large backing of a big company and I must say the bank has been absolutely fantastic in providing us support to enable us to make these improvements. It is scary getting out another loan but we have to look at the bigger picture. Knowing that the need and want from customers to use Berwick is still there and it’s very reassuring for a successful second half of 2021 onwards!”

Hotel Collingwood in Bournemouth is using this time to take steps closer to becoming one of the city’s ‘greenest’ hotel, with projects on the go designed to reduce its carbon footprint.

Eytan Krips, owner of Hotel Collingwood says: “Team morale is vital at times like this and we have been able to keep the whole team together and no redundancies have been made. Our team are mostly furloughed this month, apart from a core team for bookings, enquiries etc. We are in regular contact and they are all heavily involved in our on-line training programme, or socially distanced in-house courses, providing our team with skills and qualifications to add to their portfolio.

Another goal is to become one of the greenest hotels in Bournemouth and demonstrate to other hotels that reducing their carbon footprint is achievable.

“Reinvention, restoration and conservation are at the heart of what we do, when involved in refurbishment projects at Hotel Collingwood. This January 2021 we are undertaking a huge project on our bedrooms and ensuite bathrooms, creating a new guest category, Signature Rooms. These will be ready for booking spring this year.

“Another goal is to become one of the greenest hotels in Bournemouth and demonstrate to other hotels that reducing their carbon footprint is achievable. In light of this goal, we’ve taken the following measures: Installed solar panels on the entire roof of the hotel; Added EV charging points in the carpark; Installed signage encouraging guests to save on water and laundry; Practice and encourage recycling and composting; We now use environmentally friendly Ecolab detergents; Switched to green energy suppliers only for utilities; Have extended our vegan menu choices, for breakfast, bar menu, dinner and afternoon tea and have established a partnership with the Coacoara Foundation to support eco-friendly local initiatives and products.”

Tags : Berwick LodgehotelsLe ManoirLockdown diariesownersplansSeaham Hall
Zoe Monk

The author Zoe Monk

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