Harrogate businesses eye a festive feast following successful summer
Harrogate has enjoyed a booming summer as our tourism and hospitality businesses looked to bounce back from the Covid pandemic.
The economic recovery of the Harrogate district is progressing well, thanks to the number of tourists who have visited the area and residents who have supported local businesses across the district.
Hotels and B&B’s have been fully booked throughout the summer as people opting for a ‘staycation’ have significantly increased, while restaurants are back to full capacity and have also seen their bookings dramatically increase as people get back to dining out with their friends and families.
Business leaders across the district firmly believe that the hospitality industry is on its way to recovery after a tough 18 months and many are looking forward to what now lies ahead.
Harrogate BID Manager, Matthew Chapman, said: “Since the full easing of restrictions back in July, it’s fair to say that Harrogate has been incredibly busy and after 18 months of continual disruption brought about by Covid, this is what businesses were praying for.
“We have heard of hotels being at full capacity, not just at weekends, but throughout the week too, and restaurants being fully booked weeks in advance.
“Shops have also been reporting more sales than pre-covid, and the footfall being far higher in than 2019.
“For our part, we have supported the town centre with additional floral displays, the Lego Trail, clean streets and a host of deals on the Harrogate LoyalFree app.
“However, we recognise there are challenges ahead.
“One is maintaining this ‘appeal’ on the lead up to Christmas, to ensure there are plenty of reasons to make residents and visitors return to the town centre time and time again.”
Acorn Lodge, located on Studley Road in Harrogate is a family-owned guest house that has enjoyed a successful summer after being forced to change its business model during the pandemic.
Owners Phil and Ali Standen - who switched from a bed and breakfast to offering ‘whole house’ holiday lettings - have enjoyed hosting guests from around the country.
Ali said: “Acorn Lodge has had a brilliant summer. We rebranded as a large seven bed holiday let and we have enjoyed hosting families and groups of friends for long awaited reunions.
“Guests have enjoyed long weekends, midweek breaks and week-long holidays, taking in all that Harrogate has to offer. We have had a number of very happy guests who have been raving about the area, food, attractions and open spaces.”
HRH Hotel Group own a number of establishments across Harrogate including the White Hart Hotel and Fat Badger and The Yorkshire Hotel and Pickled Sprout.
Simon Cotton, HRH Group Managing Director, remains optimistic about what lies ahead for the hospitality sector.
He said: “Summer trading in the majority of hospitality businesses in Harrogate has been extremely strong and the hotels in particular have run at very high occupancies. At HRH Group, that equates to an average occupancy of over 95% from June to September.
“Talking to other industries that benefit from this, such as the retail sector, this certainly appears to have had a positive impact here too.
“The initial five weeks of outdoor hospitality in April and May showed, that whatever the weather, the demand for hospitality is at an all-time high and this continued throughout the summer too.
“We have to be mindful however that the hospitality industry is very varied in its offering and those hotels and venues that are more event-led businesses, have been slower to recover with large scale events still not back to anywhere near the levels of pre-pandemic.
“That said, it still remains a positive outlook going forward and the footfall in our pubs, bars, restaurants and hotels remains very strong and we remain confident for a reasonably busy winter period and a strong start to 2022.”
Harrogate Stays own a number of properties around the district, including the Fountains Guest House and the Belmont Apart Hotel.
Co-founder, Mark Hodgkiss, said: “We have loved having guests stay with us at Fountains Guest House and the newly refurbished Belmont Apart Hotel.
“Guests are enjoying the lifting of restrictions and it’s just what the hospitality community needed.
“We’re working with local independent businesses to ensure that the local economy benefits from the influx of out of town tourists.”
The hospitality industry across the district will be hoping to continue the success of the summer season as we head into the winter.
With the various Christmas markets and events planned for the festive season, it is hoped that visitors and tourists will once again be attracted back to our streets.