“We can now finally see the light at the end of the tunnel” - Hospitality firms in Calderdale prepare to fully re-open

Hospitality firms across Calderdale say it will be nice to welcome people back as they begin to fully re-open from next week.

By Tom Scargill
Wednesday, 12th May 2021, 4:01 pm
Max Heaton, Will Webster and Oliver Roberts from the Shibden Mill Inn
Max Heaton, Will Webster and Oliver Roberts from the Shibden Mill Inn

Hotels and B&B’s can open from May 17, while pubs and restaurants can re-open indoors from that day too, providing the beleaguered hospitality sector with a welcome boost.

Sharon Slade has owned Garnett Bed & Breakfast in Hebden Bridge for around 10 years, and is re-opening on May 17.

She said: “It’ll be really nice. A lot of the visitors who are booked in are walkers.

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Sharon Slade

“It’ll be nice to welcome people back. You get people from all over the world, you never know who’s going to come.

“I did a little bit when there was that brief period last year but mostly haven’t done anything for a year, although I’ve done some decorating!

“I’m just taking it in my stride, there’s nothing we can do about it. I try to be more positive than thinking of the bad side of things.

“I have bookings right through the rest of the year.

Joseph Farrar

“I’ve decided to just do one room because that minimises the contact other people will have with anyone other than myself.

“I think it’s nicer to feel that people who come can relaxed knowing that there’s no-one else there other than myself.”

Max Heaton, from the Shibden Mill Inn, said: “We are delighted to be opening our pub and hotel doors again on May 17.

“We’ve had a very strange month in the snow, rain, sun, storm and hail and cannot wait to be able to welcome people in to sit by the fire!

“It’s been a horrendous year for hospitality but since reopening the garden, we’ve been overwhelmed with support and the staff have been incredible.

“We’re expecting to be as busy as ever and we’ve been hiring lots of new staff as well as keeping the old!”

Andrew Russell at Black Horse Pub and Hotel, Clifton, is opening his business indoors again from May 17.

He said: “We’ve kept the hotel open for key workers throughout the pandemic.

“We’re looking forward to May 17, we’re ready for it, and we need it.

“There isn’t a business like ours that can stand to be without revenue for so long.

“We’ve stacked up debt, we’ve spoken to all the people we owe money to and put payment plans in place on the assumption that trade is going to be at a certain level.

“We’re like most people in the industry I suspect, hanging on the precipice and hoping we tip the right way.

“We sorted out a bit of outside space and when the weather was good we were overwhelmed with how popular the outside space was.

“But as soon as it drops cold then trade drops off significantly.

“We spent quite a bit of money on creating as welcoming an environment as possible outside, patio heaters, a couple of sheds, a small marquee with tables and chairs.

“Trade has been quite good, but as soon as it rains, everyone’s off, and I don’t blame them.

“We created a picnic concept for people outside so if the weather turned nasty, people could pick their food up and go.

“We have a lot of the grey market that come here, and they’re not going to sit in the cold for any length of time, and I think we’ll see a return of those people once we can sit inside.

“I think we have to work very hard to attract people. I’ve talked to a lot of people and asked them, and I know there are people who will be reluctant to come out, because they’re fearful of what’s going on and they’ve got out of the habit of coming out, and feel quite comfortable sitting at home having a glass of wine or a beer.

“So it’s incumbent on people like us in the industry to make our venues as attractive as possible to motivate people into coming out again.

“The price of beer in a pub is ridiculously expensive compared to the cost in a supermarket for example, which is a competitive edge we’ve lost.

“We can’t compete on price so we have to make our offering more inviting in other ways, having an environment people feel comfortable in, having a standard of service people feel is worth paying that bit extra for, so that when people do come out, they think ‘that was great, we’ll go there again’.

“May 17 is a key date, but I think the biggest is June 17. What we’ll do between those is prepare the ground to send out all the right signals that it’s safe and that people need to be coming out.”

Nicky Chance-Thompson DL, Chief Executive of The Piece Hall Trust, said: “We’ll never forget the reaction from visitors and traders alike, when we reopened our gates, back in April. The sense of joy and relief on that day was palpable.

“We’ve now reached another landmark date, with the Government agreeing further relaxations of COVID restrictions. We very much welcome this decision. The hospitality sector has had a tough 12 months, and this helps bring them one step closer to operating as near normal as possible. Our own restaurants and cafes, including The Trading Rooms, are now able to offer a full indoor service that our customers remembered and loved. We’ll continue to work hard to ensure that The Piece Hall remains one of the great destinations to visit, safely; a place where people can eat, drink and shop, meet up again with family and friends, and embark on a new chapter with a renewed sense of hope, optimism and confidence.”

Joseph Farrar, general manager of Holdsworth House Hotel, said: “We are so excited about finally being able to reopen. Its been a very long winter having the hotel closed for such a long time and we can now finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.

“On May 17 we will open the business fully and we will go back to having all the bedrooms available from this point, we are also really excited about being able to welcome our wonderful wedding couples and their guests to us after many of them have had to rearrange their plans throughout the last year, with some having to move wedding dates three times.

“We have been fortunate and we have managed to use the last few months to do some essential maintenance and refurb work here at the hotel. We had a brand new roof put on our function room and we have managed to refurb quite a few of our bedrooms and we are really looking forward to our guests’ reactions when they are finally able to see them.

“We are really enthusiastic about the future here at Holdsworth House, our phones have been ringing none stop for the last month and we have a wedding nearly every day for the next four months meaning that we are going to be extremely busy. Due to the increase in business we have been through one of the largest recruitment drives in our history, adding 50 new members of staff to the team in the last month.

“Our main hope for the next few months ahead is that the Covid cases continue to drop and that we are able to open on May 17 without any issue and then on June 21 we can go back to operating our business as normal which will mean for us that the restriction on wedding numbers is dropped and all of our couples can invite all the guests that they wish. Fingers crossed!”

Meanwhile, West Yorkshire’s first vegan bed and breakfast is set to open in Hebden Bridge.

Shira Kimmerling is running a crowdunder page to gather support for her project, The Vegan Home.

“I know how important it is for vegans to stay in a vegan household and how rare it is to find a tasty and healthy vegan breakfast to set you up for a day of walking. It’s surprising that vegan and eco-conscious holidays are still very hard to find, even though there is a growing community of vegans across the country,” said Shira, who worked for many years as an international tour guide.