How a popular Suffolk resort is gearing up for a bumper summer
- Credit: Stoke by Nayland Resort
It's been a turbulent year for the hospitality industry, but now many are gearing up for what could be their biggest summer yet.
Peter Osborne, group commercial director of the Boxford Group, which runs the Stoke by Nayland Resort, said the hotel, golf and spa business has had a "difficult year" but has adapted time and again following a host of new rules.
His team are now looking ahead to May 17, when they can reopen their sites indoors.
He said: "Bookings for the summer have been phenomenal and hopefully we will have a bumper Christmas this year.
"70% of the hotel is full for up to the end of the financial year, while 80-90% of the rooms are occupied to the end of September.
"People are booking lots of golf, leisure and spa days, as I think everyone is desperate to spend money and enjoy themselves with friends and family.
"We are also seeing a spring in the step of members, many of whom were furloughed, so it's really great for everyone to be back.
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"The lockdown was a dark place for many people."
Over the lockdown, Mr Osborne's team have been using their time to redecorate and refine parts of the resort.
They have introduced a bottomless brunch option, spruced up their décor and introduced a vegan menu.
A tipi wedding site has also been launched, which Mr Osborne said provides "another way for people to feel safe outside".
He said he looks forward to the future of the resort as restrictions are lifted further, and said people are desperate to get back to normality.
He said: "People want to look at the wine list and they want to hold a menu, you can't take people out of hospitality.
"People are bored of being at home and since April 12 we have been pretty much full, there have not been many midweek lodges available."
He urged people to continue to show their support for local businesses, advising people not to underestimate the cost of places becoming Covid compliant.
"The regulations in place are a big cost to any business," he explained.
"But these rules have become second nature, and they are no longer a problem for us.
"So it is really important that people go out and support local businesses."
Mr Osborne said the family-run resort, formerly known as Stoke by Nayland Hotel, Golf & Spa, had a really positive three months of trade last summer when people were allowed to return.
He said there was a "buzz" on the golf course on March 29, the first day of eased restrictions, and said people have been chuffed with the resort's new sports bar.
They now have covered terraces, which are all Covid compliant and heated, with blankets and two 65" TVs in a separate section for those wanting to watch live sport.
He urged guests that the hospitality industry is safe and reminded people that businesses have had months of preparing their spaces to ensure they are as Covid-secure as possible, adding they are "policed far more than supermarkets".