Race to refurb hotel
- Credit: Archant
The new owners of a village bed and breakfast have set themselves a ‘daunting’ challenge to have their hotel completely refurbished by Easter.
Graham Fell and Jeremy Hayward took over the Old Manor House in Cross Lane, Cross, just before the turn of the year, and have since set about giving the building its first refurbishment in 15 years.
The pair gave themselves just three months to complete the task – despite keeping the hotel remaining open seven days a week to help finance the project, alongside a business loan from NatWest.
Mr Fell told the Mercury: “It’s been tricky with people coming in and out – you get about a three-hour window to work before the next group of people come in and we’re racing round getting things done.
“It’s quite a task, and there’s a double atrium which people walk through to come in which we have to refurbish too; it’s at a bit of a height to get up so it’s a challenge.
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“It’s a bit of a daunting fight to get it done while paying your bills, but the bookings have been coming thick and fast. We didn’t expect to be this busy in the early part of the year.”
Mr Fell and Mr Hayward spent around 18 months looking at potential hotel ventures before settling on the Old Manor House, having been inspired to find a change of scenery and move from their previous lives in London, where they worked in food retail and the police respectively.
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Mr Fell said: “It’s a big change of lifestyle for both of us moving down from London.
“We wanted to be somewhere where we could be our own bosses, and had lots of ideas. Eventually we came up with the idea of running a bed and breakfast and were trying to find a property for about 18 months.
“There were some down in Cornwall but the all-year trade might have been a little small with no motorway connection.
“This hotel only used to operate at weekends but we want to get it full all week, and we are already filling 4-5 nights before we’ve even finished.
“It’s great that it’s not being used as a stopover for Bristol Airport too, people are staying several nights or even a week.”
There looks to be a chance for expansion on the horizon too, with a large barn to the rear of the property already earmarked for new bedrooms.
Mr Fell added: “We really wanted somewhere we would be able to expand and this place is just great for that, with the barn out the back.
“We have spoken to the council and it sounds as though it would be good to go ahead with, so that will be great – but for now we are just focusing on getting the main hotel finished.
“We’ve forgotten what it’s like to have a rest. We are roping in our parents to help, since they’re retired, and there’s a few favours which will have to be paid back down the line.”