Business recovery stories: Another Place, The Lake

Another Place, The Lake is a lifestyle hotel on the shores of Ullswater in Cumbria and the first in a new collection from the team behind Watergate Bay hotel in Cornwall. Its offer focuses on ‘active relaxation’, warm hospitality and contemporary comfort.

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Through the pandemic the business has:

1. Communicated well with staff. The hotel thought carefully about what and how to communicate with their team, providing straightforward and reassuring information. They also made it fun, for example getting the chefs to share recipes with people at home and creating Spotify playlists, as well as sharing advice on wellbeing.

2. Had trust in their business model. The team was confident that their sector of hospitality – an  active outdoor lifestyle business appealing to self-drive leisure tourism markets – would bounce back well and that demand would be strong once reopening was possible. This gave them confidence to offer customers refunds or rebooking from a very early point in the pandemic, as well as to continue with proactive and strategic actions rather than just focusing on survival.

‘The plan was about using the time to get under the bonnet of business, kick the tyres a bit and fix some of the strategic stuff we wanted to, while we had time and headspace to do so.’

3. Used the time to build a plan. The management team decided to use the pause in trading to step back and think about changes that needed to be made. The plan created was called ‘Back to Business’ and comprised ten workstreams (Brand, Sales and Marketing; Operations; Guest Experience; Finance; People; Health and Hygiene; Technology; Community and Sustainability; Booking Terms and Projects), each with a set of actions.

We were driven by the ethos that we’re a hotel not a hospital. Whilst we went above and beyond COVID-secure requirements, we kept focused on our purpose: to create happy moments for our guests.’

4. Applied a guest experience ‘lens’. The team considered the operational changes that needed to be made and what actions needed to be taken in  light of  the impact on the guest experience and how the two could be aligned.

5. Developed their sustainability journey. The team used the time to focus on responding to growing consumer interest on ‘travel with a purpose’. Already deeply committed to sustainability, the business made the decision to start working towards BCorp certification.

‘[working towards BCorp certification] is a rigorous process but it feels good, as a hospitality business, to have made a start. I’m of the view that if you want to get fit, you should sign up for a marathon.’

6. Used technology to good effect. To deliver social distancing, the Another Place app (a ‘concierge in your pocket’) was developed to enable guests to advance book all aspects of the hotel’s multi-faceted experience (food and beverage offerings, outdoor activities, sports club, kids programme, swim club and treatments). For a business offering freedom and relaxation, this felt uncomfortable, but the team realised that as well as efficiency and safety, technology could also enhance the guest experience and free up staff to offer a more personalised service.

7. Spotted changing customer trends. Post-COVID-19, the hotel will look to respond to the increased demand for domestic holidays, guests who have the ability and desire to work from anywhere and small group corporate breaks for teams who’ve spent the last year communicating virtually and want to get away together and reconnect.