Category Archives: News

Things-to-do-in-Wales

Top 10 things to do in Wales in 2019

For a small country, Wales has a lot to offer.

In fact, there’s so much on offer in Wales that it’s easy to see why it’s the subject of so many songs, or the set of so many movies. The Welsh have even got their own word to describe the feeling of longing and nostalgia for their homeland – Hiraeth.

Here are our top 10 recommendations if you want to experience for yourself what makes Wales unforgettable.

  1. Discover the magic of Conwy Castle

An imposing C13th castle on the North Coast of Wales, Conwy Castle is said to be the most magnificent of Edward I’s Welsh fortresses and it’s easy to see why. With its fairytale turrets, imposing battlements and views across the sea, a visit to Conway Castle makes any stay in Wales unforgettable.

  1. Soak up spectacular scenery on Wales’ coastal path.

In 2012 the Welsh coastal path was connected, making it possible to walk all the way around Wales along the coastline, taking in the scenery of Welsh coastal landmarks such as Postmeridian, Cardigan Bay and the rural Gower Peninsula.

  1. Experience the feeling of flight with Europe’s longest zip line

If you feel the need for an adrenalin kick, Europe’s longest zip line ensures there’s more to Wales than picturesque villages and fishing harbours. A trip on Velocity 2 will take you over Penrhyn Quarry at speeds of up to 100mph. If that’s a bit too wild and crazy, you’ll find other, more sedate experiences such as a Quarry Tour or an underground trampoline park.

  1. Conquer a Mountain

Fancy a quieter challenge? A walk up Snowdon may be just the thing. There are six main routes up Snowdon so you can choose the one that best fits your ability. if you get to the top and don’t fancy the walk back down, you can hop on a train. Of the three highest peaks in the UK, Snowdon is said to be the most accessible.

  1. Visit the spectacular setting of Portmeirion

In 1925 welsh architect Clough Williams-Ellis set out to create a development that, instead of being a blot on the landscape, enhanced it. He created Portmeirion which, renowned for its Italianate beauty, has served as the backdrop for many different TV dramas and even movies.

  1. Explore the oceans with wreck diving

You don’t often think of wreck diving when you think about Wales but, with some of the best wreck diving sites in the UK, maybe it’s time you did. With seals and Sea Fans at Skomer Marine Reserve, impressive trigger fish at the more sheltered Hens and Chicks, or a four-masted steam ship to explore at Anglesey, there’s plenty to see, whatever your experience level.

  1. Step back in time with Ffestiniog Railway

If you prefer to discover wales from a slightly drier vantage point, the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways stretch for 40 miles through the glorious Snowdonia National Park. With children free and dogs welcome, or the opportunity to treat yourself to a first class experience, you can choose how you enjoy the magnificent scenery of Wales.

  1. Go underground at Dan-Yr-Ogof caves

Nestled in the heart of the Brecon Beacons are the Dan-Yr-Ogof caves. Actually, there are 3 caves; Dan-Yr-Ogof, Cathedral Cave and Bone Cave. Each of these offers a unique underground experience that include enormous passageways and 40 feet high waterfalls that cascade around you in the ‘Dome of St Paul’s’, an atmospheric end to a truly wonderful cave.

  1. Paddle along the English and Welsh border in a canoe on the River Wye

Canoe down the fifth-longest river in the UK, through spectacular countryside. The river stretches 215 kilometres from its source on Plynlimon, mid Wales to the Severn estuary, largely along the Welsh English boarder. The Wye Valley is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Wye is important for nature conservation and recreation.

  1. Expand your horizons at the UK’s largest literary festival

If you’re into reading, the UK’s biggest literary festival that takes place in May each year in Hay on Wye on a country farm that welcomes 250, 000 avid readers and writers every year.

If you’ve read this and started to think about all of the exciting business opportunities for B&B businesses and hotel businesses in an area with so much to offer, give us a call on 01488 684834 and speak to one of our B&B finance advisors. They’ll be able to find the right hospitality loan for you and advise you on the best way to secure your B&B loan and get the business of your dreams off the ground.

 

 

 

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How will Brexit affect B&B businesses?

We may be tossing and turning at night, trying to recall what last-minute Christmas gifts we need to purchase, but one person is definitely getting less sleep than us. As Teresa May continues to burn the candle at both ends with ongoing Brexit negotiations, we are left wondering how our extraction from the EU is likely to impact our business.

In recent years we’ve seen a steady growth of tourists to the UK, and Visit Britain expect us to have welcomed 41.7 million visitors to our shores by the end of this year – 19.6million of whom were from the EU.

It isn’t just the number of visitors to the UK that have increased either. The amount they are spending has surged too, with an anticipated jump of £1.8bn in total spend between 2017 to 2018.

This week it has been announced that, following Brexit, there will be a charge for UK citizens to get into EU countries from 2020, but will there be a reciprocal fee for those entering the UK?

And is it possible that this additional cost will be enough of a deterrent that Brits will be increasingly inclined towards booking themselves a staycation?

The uncertainty that we face around Brexit at present isn’t all bad. The low value of the pound means that now is a great time for tourists wanting to visit the UK.

In 2014, Brits spent around £19.76 billion travelling in the EU. As holidaying abroad becomes more uncertain with the potential for travel chaos as borders transition, and the poor value of the pound increases the likelihood of Brits opting to stay in the UK, it’s forgivable to feel a pang of excitement at even a portion of this being spent here in the UK.

It isn’t all about tourism though. There are considerations that stretch this. For example, many B&B businesses and hotels rely on European staff for essential day-to-day operations. With the potential for restrictions being placed on the free movement of people, the industry could be impacted by a shallower recruitment pool or a lack of applicants with the right skill sets.

However, over the coming months, we will gain a clearer view on how the post-Brexit world is likely to look. Until then, we should make the most of the opportunities that present themselves right now.

If making the most of these opportunities means freeing up capital to invest in your business, speak to one of our team about how hospitality finance could help. From ensuring you have the right documents in place to give yourself the best chance of remortgaging or refinancing to secure funding, to finding the right finance solution for you, our specialists are here to help so call us today on 01488 684834.

Sterling House

What is financial restructuring and why it applies to you

Financial restructuring in hospitality businesses sounds like the sort of thing that the Hiltons, Raddissons and Travelodges of this world concern themselves with. However, financial restructuring is something that anyone and everyone who owns a public house, hotel or B&B should know is an option that they could benefit from.

What is financial restructuring?

Financial restructuring within the hospitality industry can refer to any action taken to change the way a business is owned, structured or run, to eliminate financial risk or improve a financial situation.

There are no minimal financial limits to qualify activity as financial restructuring, nor any requisite business size. So, if you are a B&B, a boutique hotel, a public house or even a global chain of hotels, you could be involved in a financial restructure.

So how can financial restructuring help my hospitality business?

Financial restructuring can help to provide cash flow  to cover VAT arrears, a liquidity shortfall or a credit rating downgrade.

Whilst financial restructuring is often used, when under duress, to escape a sticky situation, not all financial restructuring is compulsory. It can also be used to reinvest in a business.

A financial restructure doesn’t have to be limited to providing funds for your existing business: it could be a good way to expand your business empire by buying a new business or new premises.

What sort of activities constitute a financial restructure?

Financial restructuring of your hospitality business could include re-mortgaging to consolidate debt, downsizing your workforce, or even restructuring the ownership or management of a business.

Stewart Hindley & Partners is an independent, whole-of-market finance broker which means we can find the most cost-effective way to re-finance or release capital for your business. Our specialists in business funding and business recovery can help you find the right products and ensure your application for finance is successful.

As many loan providers require business plans, marketing plans, and cash-flow projections, we can work alongside the accountancy arm of our business to help guide you through compiling the information you have, or the materials you need to present, to give you the very best chance of success at securing your hospitality finance.

For advice on financial restructuring for your hospitality business, speak to one of knowledgeable advisors today on 01488 393049.

HowToImproveYourHotel-Image

How to Improve Your Hotel

Hotels are at the forefront of the hospitality trade, so you’ll need to maintain a dynamic approach to improve, or even just retain, your market position.

And while that’s rarely an easy ask in a sector where running a hotel means long hours are so often the norm, there are still a number of things you can do to make your hotel more effective and efficient.

For your guests, that means increased amenities and enhancing their overall experience, and for you, that means increased profitability.

So, what might be done to introduce a welcome breath of fresh air to raise the profile of your business?

Consider expansion

You can approach this in a variety of ways. If you know there is a new market you could accommodate, then adding to your facilities will increase your bookings and revenues.

While there will be some additional costs, these are always less for an established business, and some elements (e.g. marketing) can remain more or less the same by changing rather than increasing your strategy.

If that kind of expansion won’t work for you, consider enhancing your current provision. This might mean refreshing and expanding your menus for example, or even ringing the changes by inviting in a pop-up restaurant.

Whatever you do, make sure your dining facilities go well beyond the practical and functional. Modern expectations now dictate that your visitors will usually be looking for a memorable experience to enrich their stay, not just a basic provision that you could simply have at home.

Whatever you plan to try, remember this is also your opportunity to move with the times and reflect the latest trends. That in turn will also impress your guests, which should always be your main focus.

Renovate your facilities 

If you do nothing more, then giving everything a fresh coat of paint will send a message to your guests that you want nothing but the best for them.

Your refurbishments could also stretch to include new mattresses or upgrading your bathrooms. There’s nothing better to improve your visitor’s experience than offering some extra comfort and luxury.

A modern and stylish bathroom with a sumptuous, spa-like feel could be just the thing to get your guests talking, recommending and then re-booking.

Listen to your customers 

You won’t need reminding how important cleanliness is, but it’s your guests who make the judgements.

So take note of all feedback – positive or negative – to gauge how well your facilities are working, and to address any shortcomings before they become a recurring issue affecting your bookings.

Social media is a well-established marketing tool in the hospitality sector, so make sure you are the first to know what your guests have to say about their stay at your hotel.

And likewise, if you can do anything to make your guests feel that your hotel gives them special attention and added value, that will also reflect in social media recommendations and increased business.

Social media also offers the chance to keep an eye on what your local rivals are doing to attract business. So, if you keep tabs on them, you’ll get to hear about new initiatives early, which will then give you time to respond as necessary!

Campaigns and events 

Your hotel is a great space for events, so use this to your full advantage.

In particular, it can be used to strengthen your links with the local community – an important consideration for most hoteliers dealing with a seasonal trade.

Advertise the fact that you are happy to host birthdays, weddings, christenings and everything in between. Consider customer-friendly discounted rates for large group bookings, and even develop your own entertainment and themed nights to help market your facilities to your local clientele, thus sending out the message that you are not there for the tourists alone.

Whatever your budget, there are always ways to develop and improve your hotel.

And the best way is usually to create an improvement plan. This will ensure that you are always looking forward, keeping your focus firmly on enhancing your visitors’ experience, and getting the best possible return on your investment.

 

By Jo Thornley, Head of Brand and Partnerships at Dynamis.

Joining in 2005 to co-ordinate PR and communications and produce editorial across all business brands. She earned her spurs managing the communications strategy and now creates and develops partnerships between BusinessesForSale.com, FranchiseSales.com and PropertySales.com and likeminded companies.

 

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How a B&B Commercial Mortgage makes good financial sense for your B&B business

With New Year around the corner, many of us start to think about what we want out of the year ahead.

The prospect of being your own boss and running a lifestyle business from home definitely has its appeal and a B&B Commercial Mortgage can help you to make that dream a reality.

New Year offers a new start, a chance to take the first step towards achieving those dreams and creating the life that you want. Whether you’re looking for freedom from office politics, or whether you’ve always dreamed about being the hostess with the mostess and creating a welcoming environment in your home for tourists and holiday makers, or whether you just want another income stream, a B&B could be exactly what you are looking for to take control of your own lifestyle and work from home.

One of the first things you’ll need to consider is B&B Commercial Mortgage finance. You’ll need capital to invest, but it’s likely that beyond a deposit, you’ll need B&B finance to bridge the gap.

Why B&B Finance?

If you’ve already got a mortgage on your existing home and you’re planning to borrow against it, you may want to reconsider. Using a standard residential home mortgage can lead to your mortgage debt being called in early if you are making an income from letting rooms in your property.

If your mortgage debt is called in early, you’re then faced with a challenge – either find alternative B&B Finance at VERY short notice or lose your home and your livelihood.

Other reasons you might need B&B Finance

Perhaps you already have a B&B that you don’t feel fulfills its potential. Sometimes a small cash injection is just what you need to be able to create the business you want, or to open up new opportunities with what you have.

Often a B&B Commercial Mortgage provider will take into consideration your plans for the business, delivering greater potential benefits at a lower rate than a standard credit card or bank loan might do.

Stewart Hindley & Partners are hospitality finance specialists that can help you find the hospitality finance you need to build the business you’ve always wanted. For more information on how you could benefit from hospitality finance, or to find out how you could raise finance for your hospitality business, contact Stewart Hindley & Partners on 01488 393049.

Christmas-can-help-boost-your-occupancy

How Christmas can help you achieve year ‘round occupancy

Most B&B owners are dependent on hospitality finance or B&B finance to set up, grow or improve their business. The trouble is, hospitality finance needs to be repaid and to do that, B&B owners need to focus on ways to bring in new business all year around.

However, once the nights draw in and the temperatures drop, Brits tend to be much less interested in booking holidays or staycations, instead focused on hunkering down until Spring. However, there is one thing that can be used to draw Brits out of hiding and into your B&B or boutique hotel – Christmas.

Here are three Christmas activities that could help pull in bookings for your rooms.

Christmas Markets

People travel all around the UK to get a hit of that festive feeling, so, with a bit of planning B&B and boutique hotels in Bath, Birmingham, Belfast, Manchester, Glasgow, Exeter, Cirencester and Winchester can tap into a whole new potential market for those colder months.

Christmas Shopping

If your B&B or hotel is based around cities and larger towns, Christmas shopping can be a great appeal for tourists. And not having to drive home at the end of a long day shopping can enable guests to get the most of their day out and allow them to enjoy a glass of wine over lunch or dinner. For extra helpings of festive fun, you could even team up with a local florist or craftsman and offer wreath or gift making workshops.

Christmas lights

If your B&B isn’t in London, Birmingham or another city renowned for its festive lights you could still capitalize on the Christmas months. Castles and stately homes often have Christmas lights, trails or tours, or maybe even a Christmas market evening where they make the most of their homes and gardens. By finding out when these are, you’ll be able to make the most of yours too!

Stewart Hindley & Partners are hospitality finance specialists that can help you find the hospitality finance you need to build the business you’ve always wanted. For more information on how you could benefit from hospitality finance, or to find out how you could raise B&B finance for your business, contact Stewart Hindley & Partners on 01488 393049.

Local-Produce

Why being passionate about local produce could boost your business

If you run an independent boutique hotel or a B&B, you want to stand out from the crowd.

You may not have the advertising budget of a large hotel chain but there are ways you can make sure your guests recommend you and return themselves. It’s not just about greeting them with a welcoming smile, and making sure their rooms are spotlessly clean or serving up delicious meals, there are some things closer to home you can do to boost your business and give your guests an experience they won’t forget.

Here are our top tips:

  • Give your guests a sense of place: Whether your business is based in the countryside, town or city, give your guests a sense of place by using products made locally. It won’t cost you much more than buying big brands, but it shows you care about the area you live in.
  • Buy local fresh seasonal produce: Offer your guests local ingredients in their meals and tell them where it’s all from on the menu. You can offer local eggs, meat, vegetables, cheese, bread, jams, cakes, honey…the list is endless.
  • Buy handmade products: Just like food, you can source locally made products for your guests, such as soap, bubble bath, chocolate, beer, wine and soft drinks.

How to source your new ingredients:

  • First of all, check the internet for local outlets like farm shops. Farmers markets are all about locally grown products and are held regularly in most areas. You also usually meet the person who reared the cow, or made the cake, or produced the cheese. It gives you a great opportunity to talk to them about using their product and starting a business relationship.
  • Go micro: There are lots of smaller companies brewing beer and producing wine. Go along and visit them and see for yourself what they offer.
  • Partnerships: If you decide to serve beer from a micro-brewery or cheese from a local dairy, you could consider teaming up with them to offer your guests free tours.

Finally, make sure you shout about what you do. Tell your guests on your website, in the welcome pack, on the menus, and on your brochures, about your links with local producers. It will make you stand out from the crowd!

The Stewart Hindley Partnership are specialists in securing hospitality finance to enable you to set up your own B&B or boutique hotel. So, if you’re ready to invest in your B &B or if you’ve decided it’s time to pursue that dream, give us a call on 01488 393040 and speak to one of our advisors about your hospitality finance or B&B finance requirements.

recharge-your-business

6 Ways to recharge your business in the low season

As winter approaches you may find that your B&B or hotel bookings dip slightly, but don’t waste this precious down time, use it to your advantage by getting ready for next year.

Here’s six ways you can make the most of the low season:

  1. Menus: It’s a great opportunity to revisit your menus. Why not cook up some new dishes, discover some local food producers or give the complete menu an overhaul? Your guests will remember what they eat, so give them something amazing that they’ll tell their friends about, and want to come back for.
  2. Redecorate: Are the rooms and bathrooms looking a bit tired? Now is the time to redecorate. You could always ask a local interior designer to give you some tips, or if you prefer to do it yourself, take inspiration from websites and magazines. Look at what colours and textures are current and what suits the style of your property and existing furniture, and your budget of course.
  3. Publicity: Now is the time to link into social media, update your website and contact local businesses who could promote you to their staff and visitors, or use your property as a retreat. You could also join some networking groups where you’ll meet other business owners. You could make some useful contacts for future bookings.
  4. Deep cleaning: Your rooms and bathrooms get cleaned after every guest but how often do they and the communal areas get a deep clean? Low season is a great time to call in the cleaning experts and make sure your whole property is spick and span for next year.
  5. Paperwork: When you’re busy running your own business sometimes the paperwork can get put to one side for other unplanned emergencies. Use your downtime to get on top of everything. Check any outstanding loans, licensing or insurance renewals.
  6. Holiday: Finally, you could enjoy your downtime and take a well-deserved holiday. Fly off somewhere exotic or take a city break.

Whatever you decide to do in the low season, go on holiday, or stay at home and re-group, your business will benefit from a newly charged you.

The Stewart Hindley Partnership are specialists in securing hospitality finance to enable you to set up your own B&B or boutique hotel. So, if you are starting a B&B or want to invest to grow your business, then give us a call on 01488 393040 and speak to one of our advisors about your hospitality finance requirements or your B&B finance requirements.

breakfast

Breakfast top tips your B&B or hotel guests will love

If you’re the owner of a B&B or hotel then you’ll know that breakfast is one of the most important meals you can offer your guests.

Get it right and you can boost your ratings. Get it wrong and you may not get a second chance.

Here’s our top tips on catering for all your guests’ breakfast diets, from vegetarians through to gluten free, and what it means.

1) Low calorie: Not everyone wants a full English first thing in the morning. They may be watching their weight, or just not a big breakfast eater, so offer B&B or hotel guests a high-quality selection of low calorie dishes.

Why not serve up a delicious cardamom and peach quinoa porridge, or hearty and healthy kale, tomato and poached eggs on toast? You’ll find plenty of inspiration online and you can tweak recipes depending on the time of year.

2) Vegetarian/vegan: A vegetarian eats grains, pulses, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits, and some eat eggs and diary produce. A vegan doesn’t eat dairy products, eggs or anything derived from animals.

Why not offer your guests dairy free vegan pancakes, using almond milk, or perhaps a smoothie? Being veggie or vegan doesn’t mean breakfasts can’t be brilliant! Get inspired with vegan recipes for your guests online or check out recipes in magazines.

3) Gluten free: If your guest is gluten free then it’s possible they may have coeliac disease and their immune system will react if they eat gluten. Gluten is found in a lot of typical breakfast foods, including bread, pastries, baked goods, cereal and granola. However, there are plenty of alternatives to tempt your guests: gluten free bread, gluten free cereal, delicious smoothies, eggs and meat. Explore recipes online and ask your gluten free guests what they prefer for breakfast.

4) Dairy and lactose free: Lactose intolerance is a common digestive problem where the body is unable to digest lactose, a type of sugar mainly found in milk and dairy products, and some people have an allergy to cows’ milk protein. Fortunately, there are plenty of alternative food and drinks you can offer your B&B and hotel guests instead: soya, rice, oat, almond, quinoa and potato milks, yoghurts and some cheeses. Use these to whisk up some delicious pancakes or smoothies to tempt their taste buds.

Catering for different diets may seem daunting but with careful planning, inspirational recipes and fantastic ingredients, your B&B and hotel guests will be set up for the day, whatever they are doing, and you can be guaranteed of a great review.

Stewart Hindley has been helping B&Bs and boutique hotels to find and secure the right hospitality finance package for their business for more than 13 years. If you’d like to discuss your hospitality finance requirements, give us a call today on 01488 393046.

Young couple standing at hotel corridor upon arrival, looking for room, holding suitcases

Historic houses and cultural cities: why tourists love the UK

Inbound and domestic tourism is on the up in the UK. More people are visiting from overseas and more residents are choosing a staycation over a trip abroad.

According to VisitBritain, 2017 set a record for inbound tourism with 39.2 million visits, and British residents took 47.2 million holiday trips in the UK last year.

So what’s attracting overseas visitors and what’s keeping us Brits here? Is it the beautiful landscapes, the quintessential British pub or our cultural cities?

Here’s some interesting facts which may or may not surprise you from VisitBritain:

1) Visitors love our historic properties, such as houses, palaces, mills, monuments and boats. Visits to these attractions were up by 8%.

2) The British Museum was the most visited ‘free’ attraction for the 10th consecutive year with nearly six million visitors.

3) The Tower of London topped the list as the most visited ‘paid for’ attraction for the ninth year running with 2.8 million visitors. Chester Zoo came second with 1.9 million visitors and 1.58 million people walked around the famous prehistoric monument and cultural heritage attraction, Stonehenge, last year.

4) More people are getting closer to nature visiting farm attractions. Visitor numbers to these family friendly locations are up by 5%.

5) More Brits are taking short breaks of 1-3 nights which accounts for two-thirds of English holidays and is worth £19 billion to the economy. But, according to the stats, we’re visiting our friends and relatives less.

6) 14.2 million overnight business trips were taken last year in England. That’s the same as the year before.

7) Overseas tourists are spending on average £625 per visit. That’s up from £599 from the previous year.

8) Last year nearly two-in-five inbound visits to the UK were for a holiday (39%), whilst a quarter (22%) were for business.

9) The top three countries visiting the UK are France, the USA and Germany.

10) Last year 76% of visitors reached the UK by air. The rest travelled by ferry or the Channel Tunnel.

11)  Interestingly, visitors who fly tend to spend more when they get here.

12) Tourism is worth £106 billion annually to England.

With beautiful beaches, cultural cities and historic houses, the UK has so much to offer both overseas and resident holiday makers. What’s on your doorstep that could be enticing more visitors to stay with you?

Stewart Hindley has been helping B&Bs and boutique hotels to secure the right hospitality finance package for their business for more than 13 years. If you’d like to discuss your hospitality finance requirements, give us a call today on 01488 393046.