Tales from the front line


By Adam Raphael

Hotels may be closed, but they are not down. The Guide’s postbag is full of tales from properties preparing for reopening. Deep cleaning and painting to staff training and improving websites are under way. When restrictions are eased, as I believe they will be in the next few weeks, the public will be keen to travel. To help its selected hotels and B&Bs through this difficult period, the Guide is launching five initiatives.

The first is a prize of a magnum of champagne which will be given to the hotel, inn or B&B which has the best photos on its GHG web entry. The judge will be Rob Besant, a professional photographer, who works closely with the Guide. Have a look, for example, at the Priory at Wareham’s Guide entry. Those hotels whose photos have been taken by Rob are, of course, not eligible for the prize; we also receive no commission. But we want to encourage more hoteliers to use his skills; or if not Rob, those of other skilful snappers. Outstanding photography is a key factor in attracting guests. If you would like to see what Rob has to offer, go to: https://xcvi.co.uk/good-hotel-guide-special-offer/

The second initiative is an online forum for hoteliers to enable them to discuss how they are dealing with the current crisis. Over the past two years, the Guide has staged discussion groups with hoteliers in various parts of the country which have proved popular. Courtesy of Zoom, an online app, we will now link up hoteliers all over the country so that they can hear, and we can learn, how they and their competitors are surviving. Please contact us if you are run, own, or manage a hotel, and would like to take part.

The third initiative is to encourage hotels to consider longer term special offers for our readers. Please see a selection of those special offers below. For example, Tudor Farmhouse, Clearwell, Gloucestershire is selling rooms, meals and experiences at much reduced rates. You can even take over the hotel for a night for £5,000. Guests will have access to all 20 bedrooms, with dinner for up to 40 guests, 20 bottles of wine and breakfast the next morning as part of the deal, representing a saving of 25%. Soar Mill Cove, Salcombe, Devon is making all its bookings valid for a year. There is a complimentary cream tea on arrival and reductions ranging from 10% for a three night stay to 20% for seven nights.

Our fourth initiative concerns the GHG GIFT VOUCHERS which have proved very popular as a way of a present celebrating a birthday, wedding or some other special event. We are extending the voucher’s expiry date from one year to two years from the date of purchase. Each voucher purchase also brings with it a free copy of the Guide.

The fifth and last initiative is our plans to improve the performance of the Guide’s website, making it more attractive to both regular readers and casual visitors. We are busy building new landing pages to attract higher levels of organic search. The new edition of the Guide, to be published at the end of September, will have more than 800 selections including several discoveries. In addition, more than 100 hotels, inns and B&Bs have been omitted. That is why it makes sense to buy the new edition because only it contains all our selected hotels and things are changing faster than they have done for decades.

Finally, you may well question why I am confident that we are nearing the end of the current lockdown policy. I am not an epidemiologist, I have no inside knowledge, and I have no access to sensitive data. But after reporting on politics for more than three decades, I believe, rightly or wrongly, that I have some feel for how politicians react. If the number of cases continue to rise and the NHS is overwhelmed, then the lockdown will continue until the autumn. But on the assumption that we are at, or near, the peak of Covid-19 deaths, ministers will have to balance the risks of bankrupting businesses up and down the land against the dangers of a higher infection rate. This choice will become more and more acute over the next few weeks. Ministers know that the current lockdown policy is unsustainable; it leads only to a dead end. And they also know that if the government does not relax the current restrictions, the public will make its own decision. So my guess, and it is no more than that, is that significant measures to relax the lockdown will begin in May, and that hotels, restaurants and bars will be allowed to start operating again in July.