14th July 2020
Covid-19 Confident Balmer Lawn Hotel in Brockenhurst, Hampshire, UK
I had the pleasure of staying at the Balmer Lawn Hotel but this was before the coronavirus pandemic changed our lives. I was curious to discover the changes being made to ensure the comfort and safety of their guests when they re-opened in July.
I went back to the Balmer Lawn in Brockenhurst in the delightful New Forest where I met Michael Clitheroe, their General Manager. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Hospitality and a member of several important organisations relating to the hospitality industry. Michael was able to give me a clear insight into the changes being made to all holiday accommodation. Industry protocols have been adopted to deal with the current crisis. Enabling guests to practice social distancing is a priority.
Maintaining Social Distance in Holiday Accommodation
All forms of holiday accommodation have had time to modify their facilities and work practices to ensure guests can relax in their own bubbles. This will be easier for some depending on the layout of the building. Self-catering accommodation is proving very popular as occupants do not have to relate to hotel staff or other guests. The Balmer Lawn Hotel has taken advantage of a long closure to effect changes to ensure the safety of their guests. Three lounges, a bar, a restaurant and a conference room on the ground floor have been laid out so that guests are able to separate themselves and stay in their own groups. Outside terraces have been extended and new areas added so there is enough room for guests to find a space where they feel comfortable. They have also added an outside bar and pizza oven to cater guests and non-guests. The number of non-guests will be strictly limited and subject to pre-booking.
The Balmer Lawn Hotel has been certified as COVID Confident by the AA so potential guests know the hotel has satisfied stringent criteria and is considered safe. Visit Britain also operates a similar scheme.
Schemes to Rebuild Consumer Confidence in the Hospitality Industry
The AA COVID Confident Assessment Scheme supports the hospitality industry as it will help rebuild consumer confidence. Once the holiday accommodation has satisfied stringent criteria it will be given a certificate. This informs customers that all the necessary risk assessment, safety measures and staff training in line with government guidelines have been undertaken. Holders of this certificate will have a logo on their websites and the certificate will be displayed at the property.
A similar scheme operated by Visit Britain is called “We’re Good to Go”. This scheme has been established in partnership with the national tourism organisations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Holiday accommodation that has carried out a risk assessment and has all the required safety procedures in place will have their consumer mark on display.
Summer holidays are no longer off the agenda and for those who do not want to risk the uncertainty of international travel a staycation is ideal – and where better than the fascinating New Forest