Since the start of the pandemic, the hospitality industry has faced some monumental challenges – but those who have adapted and innovated have survived – and in some cases thrived. Among them is Morley Hayes, a hotel, restaurant and golf complex on the outskirts of Derby. Here, managing director Andrew Allsop explains, in his own words, how the business got through the worst – and why he is looking forward to better times.
Since the easing of lockdown in April and May, we have seen an influx of customers keen to get out and enjoy the freedom of dining in our restaurants again.
We reopened in April with a new outdoor heated terrace, then progressed to opening both our Roosters Bar and Dovecote Restaurant for indoor dining in May.
On June 18, we reopened the Dovecote restaurant for dinner for the first time.
The Morley Hayes golf course was the first complex to open in England when restrictions were lifted on March 29, with a charity golf tournament on our floodlit Tower Course at 12:01am to raise money for Nottingham Breast Cancer Research Centre.
The Morley Hayes Hotel re-opened to all guests last month.
We are fortunate to have many dedicated and loyal customers who had been eagerly awaiting the reopening of our complex and visited our restaurants, hotel, and golf courses as soon as they were permitted to do so.
When we reopened after the first national lockdown in July 2020, all our staff went through a comprehensive training process.
We put a whole series of health and safety procedures in place, including the construction of a new entrance and exit to Roosters Bar, the introduction of a one-way system, social distancing measures and hand sanitiser stations, which remain in place today.
We also invested in the latest microbial spray technology for our hotel. The spray offers up to 99.99% protection against Covid-19.
It comprises of a spray tank, which coats surfaces with a high-powered disinfectant to remove the presence of any germs, bacteria, and viruses.
The necessary health and safety measures are in place on our golf courses to ensure they remain COVID-safe. Golf balls on the driving range are sanitised between player use with a spray that kills up to 99.9% of bacteria.
Hand washing stations have been installed which must be used both on arrival and on leaving the golf courses.
The health and safety measures currently in place around Morley Hayes are there to ensure that everyone who enters our complex feels safe and enjoys their experience.
We will be keeping these measures in place for the foreseeable future and in line with government guidance to ensure that customers continue to have confidence in us.
When we closed our doors for the first time back in March 2020, we were determined to keep providing our customers with as many services as possible.
We set up a takeaway and delivery service, which has since been used by thousands of people.
At the height of the pandemic, the service was available from 11.30am to 8.30pm, seven days a week, with a weekly Sunday lunch menu.
We also launched a takeaway and delivery service for our popular afternoon teas, which has recently been extended to cover the whole of the Derby city area.
Due to its success, the service has continued throughout both national lockdowns – and we will continue post-lockdown.
In autumn 2020, we generated a new revenue stream with the launch of a luxury gift hamper service.
We have worked with local suppliers to create a range of hampers featuring chocolate, beer, gin, golf products, and pampering products.
Since our initial Halloween gift hamper collection, we have created special collections for Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day. Our summer range is now available.
As a local supplier of beef ourselves, we recognise the importance of supporting local food suppliers and continue to use as much local produce as possible in our three restaurants and for our takeaway and delivery service.
The staff at Morley Hayes have worked extremely hard over the past 15 months and have continued to deliver the high standard of service for which we are renowned under difficult circumstances.
Many of our staff have been furloughed at some stage during the past 15 months but we’ve brought them back as soon as we’ve been able to.
Our loyal staff are integral to the smooth-running of our restaurants, hotel and golf course and have all undergone the necessary health and safety training as we learn to live with Covid-19.
Customers have praised the way our staff have conducted themselves since we reopened, despite having to wear face masks.
When restrictions are fully lifted, we look forward to seeing normal service resume at Morley Hayes, with our full range of services and facilities available once again.
This includes weddings and functions, along with our full programme of events, which range from our popular beer festivals, gin tasting and murder mystery evenings, to flower arranging and cookery demonstrations, not to mention our fabulous Christmas celebrations.
Understandably, there remains a level of apprehension around getting out and about again, with people still worried about catching the virus.
However, the hospitality sector has adjusted drastically to make sure customers feel safe and has put in place every possible safety measure to lessen any anxiety surrounding venturing out into a public place again.
Over the past 15 months we’ve all learned to live with the new ‘normal’ and as more people receive their two vaccinations, I would encourage them to visit Morley Hayes and see all the changes we have made to ensure their safety of our customers.
The pandemic has had a devastating impact on businesses across the country and the hospitality industry has been affected more than most other sectors.
Although we know lockdown measures were necessary to avoid an even greater loss of life, I do feel the hospitality sector has been treated harshly at times, particularly during the periods when other sectors of the economy were allowed to reopen.
The Government has tried its best to support our sector, with the reduction in VAT to 5%, the 12-month freeze on business rates, and the local authority grants.
The Eat Out to Help Out scheme was a welcome boost for the short time it was operating, but unfortunately the move back into lockdown made it impossible for us to regain lost revenue.
However, we must now to look to the future and a full removal of all restrictions so the sector can start to recoup some of its massive losses.
Author: Andrew Allsop, managing director at Morley Hayes