A warm welcome back from Argyll hospitality
Many hospitality venues opened their doors last Monday following four months of closure due to Covid, a move much welcomed by staff and visitors, writes Fiona Scott.
Like many others, Crerar Hotels, which owns seven venues in Scotland including the Oban Bay, Isle of Mull Hotel and Spa, Loch Fyne (Inveraray) and Glencoe Inn, was forced to shut last spring and again in December and staff were delighted to welcome back their guests last week.
Crerar chief executive Chris WayneWills said: ‘It was a really exciting week for us last week and it was fantastic to see visitors return. Since the lockdowns and restrictions began last year we have learned to adapt, we have gracefully pivoted from one restriction to another.
‘We have fully used the furlough scheme and focused on the things that are important to us, making sure our guests have a safe and enjoyable Highland experience when they stay with us.
‘We saw an opportunity to be bold and brave during the pandemic and invested heavily in upgrading our properties to ensure we can continue to offer the highest standards of hospitality.'
In line with the current restrictions, hospitality venues are still not permitted to serve alcohol indoors. This, along with a cautious approach to getting out and about again, has resulted in a steady flow rather than the predicted surge to hospitality venues in the region.
The Argyllshire Advertiser popped into the Loch Fyne Hotel in Inveraray last weekend to find out how the re-opening was going and found that fire pits, coorie doon blankets and a friendly welcome were just a few of the things spreading some warmth amongst the customers.
David and Susan Watson from Burnley in Lancashire had travelled up to visit their daughter Sarah, whom they hadn't seen for 12 months, in Pencaitland and took the opportunity to visit Argyll while they were in Scotland.
‘This trip has been delayed four times so we are thrilled to eventually be able to go up,' said David.
‘It's a bit strange being out and about again to be honest but we're really enjoying meeting and chatting to folk.'
John McMillan and Anna Alderson, from just down the road in Lochgilphead, dropped in for refreshments on their way back from a family outing to Loch Lomond Shores with eight-year-old Jack and six-year-old Charlie.
‘It's great to be able to get the boys out and about and doing activities again,' said Anna. ‘Hopefully this is the start of getting back to normal for everyone.'
Kathryn Maclennan and Aidan Hannah from Glasgow were just glad to escape the city for a spell.
‘We were supposed to come up in December but because of lockdown we had to rearrange. We got a dog in between then and now but it was no problem and it has been fantastic bringing him up here. We've had a great time.'
Staff at the Loch Fyne have been working extra hard over the last year to keep up with all the new regulations resulting in the Crerar group becoming the first Scottish hotel company to be granted ‘Good To Go' status by VisitScotland and become AA Covid-19 Confident approved.