The Road to Re-opening
Well – Time has really flown by now since the day that Boris set out his ‘Road Map to Recovery’ - here in Somerset at our two Exmoor hotels, we have mixed feelings. It is of course an optimistic thought and nice to hope that at last it seems we can see the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ - but May is still such a long way off that the next couple of months of continued inactivity is rather a sobering thought! This clearly defines those amongst us as being either ‘glass half full’ or ‘ glass half empty’ individuals in their feelings about life under continued restrictions. We are all facing and sharing the financial and health worries that accompany our family of hotels, staff and customers and other small businesses, struggling to adapt to the ‘new normal’ life.
I remain in the ‘glass half full’ camp and am enthusiastically endeavouring to make the most of this unprecedented time with empty buildings to get on with jobs that would be difficult, if not impossible, to undertake whilst we had guests staying with us. Of course, this involves spending money that we have not got and there are others who are not as keen on spending money as I am (no names!). Anyway, progress has been made and several improvements are visible and both hotels are beginning to look good and I think that our guests returning later this year will definitely notice and appreciate the differences. It is strange to sit in the lovely garden on a sunny day at the Luttrell Arms with not a cloud in the sky or another person within sight and contemplate the silence or to arrive at Porlock Weir with the sun shining on the water at high tide to a completely empty car park. I was chatting to a friend about this and we decided that the experience could be like accidently encountering a deserted ‘film set’ somewhere, waiting for the cast to appear and cameras roll – not that I am familiar with Pinewood studios or Hollywood myself of course!
There is of course both good news and sad news to report – Nigel and I and lots of our friends and family locally have now had the first Covid vaccination for which we are grateful and is reassuring and I hope that very soon many of our customers will be enjoying the feeling of relief and optimism that this brings. The last few months have seen us in the same family ‘bubble’ and we have had the joy of spending lots of prime time with Becca’s daughter Georgia who has transformed from toddler to little girl in the last year and is now very confident and extremely entertaining. Of course we would have not had all this spare time to enjoy her company without the enforced period of no day to day business routines to keep us busy. So many other grandparents have missed out on seeing their families for many months so we are both feeling very grateful about this very big bonus, which more than makes up for the other downsides of the lockdown!
At the Luttrell Arms we are of course very lucky to have the advantage of being at the heart of the village and to many local residents and villagers the hotel has historically been their ‘local’ hostelry and meeting place – one of those gentlemen, who many hotel resident guests I know will remember meeting in the bar here at Dunster, being Arthur Brown – Arthur lived alone since losing his wife and loved his seat at the bar in the hotel, welcoming and chatting to our guests and visitors and over the years, made many friends amongst them, always being full of fun and knowledge but never disrespectful or over familiar. In fact Arthur has been so much a part of the place that his picture was spontaneously painted once by a visiting artist and is on the wall in the bar – Arthur very sadly passed away recently after bravely fighting a long illness and we will miss him very much. Last Friday Joe and I were privileged to attend the funeral to represent the Luttrell Arms community. The funeral which of course was subject to the Covid restrictions of only 30 people, was held at our village church St Georges and somewhere which I must confess I have only visited a couple of times. Sitting there quietly , whilst waiting for the service to begin, I was reminded of how our village church is quite spectacularly beautiful and if you have never been inside when you have been in the village, I highly recommend that you step inside next time you visit.
On a happier note – we are re-opening the hair and beauty salon at the Luttrell Arms on April 12th and looking forward to welcoming back our local clients and visitors staying locally in private accommodation, who are lucky enough to ‘jump the gun’ and be able to visit rather sooner than May 17th when we will reopen fully to welcome resident guests and diners. At Porlock Wier, Michell and Miguel are planning to open the terrace bar and waterside outside space for drinks and food ‘al fresco’ from week commencing April 12th on some days of the week in advance of fully reopening the hotel on May 17th.
We are looking forward now to some sunny days in the summer to enable everyone to enjoy the enviable outside garden space that both our hotels are lucky enough to enjoy – in these days of social distancing ‘al fresco’ living is going to get even better for our guests, with both gardens being extended and improved and our new pods offering an exclusive and intimate new outdoor dining experiences.
Although we no longer own and operate our 2 hotels in Dartmouth and Totnes we are still lucky enough to have links there and have kept our well located and popular self- catering holiday properties Dartmouth which we have been busy getting ready for visitors on 12th April and those guests who enjoyed staying with us at the Royal Castle Hotel or in that area and are planning a visit to Dartmouth in South Devon in the future, might like to take a look at the website www.waysaway.co.uk
For our horse loving friends – I am excited to tell you that Luttrell Lad, the syndicate owned racehorse that we own a share in and is trained nearby by the top trainer Philip Hobbs and his team at Sandhill stables, is running at Taunton racecourse on Thursday 4th March – this is his 3rd run and he has come 2nd and 1st in his first 2 races, so we are keeping our fingers crossed for him! Nigel tells me that horse racing is never going to solve our financial worries but ‘you never know he may win the Grand National one day’ ! See what I mean about ‘cup half full v cup half empty!
Secure your getaway with flexible cancellation today
We are busy taking bookings every day now for accommodation at both hotels from 17th May and hope to hear from you and to see you soon – don’t forget you can safely book in advance now with us with no worries and the promise that if you do need to cancel at a later date that there will be no financial risk to you. The phones will be answered personally between 11 am and 2 pm Monday to Friday and at other times there is the website or you can E mail or leave a message and we will contact you.
With very best wishes,
Anne Way and the Way family