After 100 years in business, Morecambe's iconic Strathmore Hotel is ready to flourish once again post-Covid
After more than 100 years in business, the seafront hotel's parent company and owners of coach tour company Shearings Holidays, Specialist Leisure Group, went into administration. The hotel remained closed during summer and it was feared the town had lost one of its landmark venues.
Thankfully, following a hotel management agreement with Bespoke Hotels, the hotel was saved from extinction and reopened as part of their Coast & Country Hotel Collection - a menagerie of 39 venues spread across leisure destinations throughout Great Britain including the Lake District, the west coast of Scotland, and Cornwall.
"It's been a challenging time," admits Mark McNicol, North West General Manager for the Coast & Country Hotel Collection. "Trying to take over and operate hotels in Covid times has been a nightmare, especially what with the UK-wide issues with hospitality staffing levels, which are at about 60% of what they were.
"From that point of view, it's been tricky but, as a group, we've done okay, especially considering we started at zero and now have about 1,000 staff," adds Mark, who has worked at the company for three months. "Some positions were hard to fill pre-Covid, but it's pretty much every department now what with people still on furlough and others having left the industry.
"But it's an exciting time to get the properties open and hopefully it's onwards and upwards from here on in."
Last month, the 47-room Strathmore reopened its doors following the easing of restrictions and is now welcoming weddings with no limits on numbers following the latest Government announcement. Tentatively taking its first steps in its post-pandemic recovery, the venue has been busy over the past few weeks as locals, regulars, and new guests have returned.
"We're praying that restrictions are lifted soon so we can push on," says Mark. "The portfolio we've got with places like The Strathmore means that we're trying to make these places iconic again. We want to freshen them up to modern times to help these communities, which are tourism-based and which have struggled massively during lockdown.
"We're committed as a company to work with local councils, communities, and businesses," Mark explains. "We're looking to push into the leisure market as well to make use of great spaces like the one The Strathmore has for things like weddings. We want to invest in the events side of things so that the hotels aren't just iconic in their own communities but are known as leisure destinations.
"The demand is huge, it's just a supply issue at the moment. But we knew the first six months were going to be exciting!"
Looking to re-establish its reputation as one of Morecambe’s foremost wedding venues, the Strathmore is keen to give engaged couples the warmest welcome possible, offering a special 2021 wedding package in celebration, which includes a four-course sit-down wedding breakfast with glass of prosecco for 30 guests as well as an overnight stay for the bride and groom.
"While the extension of social distancing measures does continue to restrict part of our business, we’re very much focusing on the positives," says Rachel Salmon, the Strathmore's General Manager. "We’re delighted to be able to bring weddings back to our wonderful venue.
"We’re just very excited to be able to welcome weddings again and want to offer both flexibility and affordability in what’s been a difficult year," she adds. “One of the benefits of [us] having only recently reopened is that, despite recent enquiries, our calendar for weddings still has some availability, which means couples who are quick will almost have a choice of dates.
"The last few weeks since reopening have been tremendously busy yet exciting, and we’re delighted to be moving into the next phase of the process of bouncing back.”