We asked several licensees and operators for their thoughts and business projections for the first quarter of 2021 and here’s what Robert Kyle, owner of Ayrshire-based RAD Hotel Group had to say…
Firstly let me express our gratitude to all the frontline and key workers and acknowledge the seriousness of this situation. From March 2020 we have supported our wedding couples (over 400 across the group) in their decisions to move and postpone their wedding dates, many of whom after having moved their date three or four times are now going ahead with 20 guests. I think they know as we do that next year won’t be back to any kind of normal until after March and even then restrictions will still apply.
For us to open up under the current tier three conditions costs us double than staying closed which is having a huge detrimental affect to hospitality as a whole. Our fixed costs don’t go away, and as much as I appreciate the furlough scheme, this still has costs which we contribute to, so I can understand the sectors struggles
On opening on the 15th July this year we put a lot of investment in to risk assessments, to open safely and do more than required. We feel the hospitality sector on a whole got this right and created a safe environment to go out in, I do not feel that the hospitality sector caused the numbers to go back up.
I do get the decisions the government is making but recently in one day we have had to have three different meetings because the Scottish government guidelines and website were changed as many times. Weddings were reduced to 20 for ceremonies only in tier four with no reception with only a few days notice. In the context of the pandemic this might not seem important but on what should be a happy family time, it can be very distressing.
Funerals are allowed in Tier four for up to 20 guests, this is not financially viable, but as a community service it is important we do them, It’s the right thing to do. We also feel it is the right thing to go ahead with our plans to develop our business as we want to deliver on our promises to our wedding couples and guests. A new function suite and lodges at The Lochside Hotel are on course to be finished by April next year. We want to be ready to bring hospitality back to where it was. We have secured borrowings to achieve this and maintain our team. We don’t know how the economy will be next year but we have to try. Borrowing, however, need to be paid back.
2020 was going to be our best year because we had invested and finished two major refurbishments at Hetland Hall Hotel in Dumfriesshire and Dalmeney Park Hotel in Renfrewshire, this will not now be the case but looking forward with hope that 2021 will come good.