There can be no doubt that these are tough times, but established hoteliers and investment specialists continue to press ahead with new hospitality offerings, including those which are set to be spectacular developments opening over the next couple of years.
While we currently count the cost of closures and job losses, these projects point to better times ahead – and for us that means more housekeeping roles returning as confidence in the market grows. Of course, that confidence will have to be felt by both those who hold the purse strings within operations and the paying customers they need to attract.
For the latter trust is going to be the most important factor. Long after sudden government-imposed restrictions might put travel, even UK-based holidays and business trips, in jeopardy guests will be seeking the security of a safe environment in which to stay, and it will also impact on how much they also spend in facilities such as retail offerings, spas and restaurants. A survey by PwC found that while 55 per cent of consumers will spend the same or more as they did last year, a sizable proportion (40 per cent) expect to spend less.
We can expect to see words like ‘trust’ and ‘safe’ appearing much more on social media sites where people considering a holiday like to read reviews of recent past travellers before confirming a booking. Once again, much of this now essential theme of a holiday or business gathering will rely on housekeeping teams going the extra mile, both visibly and behind the scenes.
And some of them are going to have some interesting UK properties in which to work their magic. Quirky and unusual hotels and staycation or glamping options will lure those looking for something to replace the ‘little extras’ they usually enjoy during overseas travel. One of the most fascinating is likely to be Bodmin Jail Hotel in Cornwall, now taking bookings for its February opening. A not surprisingly lengthy transformation has seen the derelict former prison, which closed way back in 1927, become a fantastic weave of contemporary, luxury hospitality and the grisly side of British history (55 executions took place at Bodmin) so many of us love to delve in.
Resort CEO Rajesh Joshi says that the new hotel will create 144 new jobs in Bodmin, and over 1,800 jobs in the supply chain across the county. With bars and a restaurant on site this will also undoubtedly be a popular choice for wedding celebrations.
It’s been a labour of love for all those in a project led by Mallino Developments Limited with design overseen by Twelve Architects and Masterplanners. They’ve had to deal with not just a crumbling former prison, but that this Georgian edifice is Grade II listed. Once open. Interstate Hotels & Resorts will operate the hotel, which sits beside the separately run Bodmin Jail Attraction on the edge of Bodmin Moor. Towards the end of next year a spa and glamping area will open and there are also potential plans for a hospitality academy to further boost Cornwall’s tourism sector.
The hotel’s housekeeping team will be responsible for looking after 70 bedrooms, each of which was created by combining what used to be three cells. These include the splendid Governors bedrooms on the top floor which include a room key to an executive lounge. Dog owners can stay in allocated ground floor rooms, with a promise of a sausage breakfast for their pets. We wish them all success, looking after guests who might stay for a shorter – but far more enjoyable – time than those who found themselves there in past centuries.