Published on 8 October 2020
The owner of a luxury B&B in south Warwickshire is hopeful that guests will continue to book despite new measures announced by the Government.
Poppy Cooksey, who runs the five-star Uplands House near Upton on the border with Oxfordshire, was given a Discretionary Business Rate Grant by Stratford District Council to keep the B&B going during lockdown.
The grant enabled her to keep her staff on during the lockdown instead of having to furlough them.
And after the picturesque B&B reopened its doors, Poppy was able to recoup the business's losses during the initial months of the pandemic thanks to high demand for bookings.
She said: "It's definitely been a challenging time for us - there was a lot of uncertainty when the lockdown was announced in March.
"The last thing we wanted to do was to put our staff on furlough. Our housekeeper and two part-time gardeners needed to keep working to maintain the property. The business simply cannot function without them.
"Luckily, the grant from Stratford District Council was approved very quickly, and the money went into our bank account shortly after.
"It meant we could keep our staff on, and therefore keep Uplands House in good order ready for when we could reopen. To be honest, I'm not sure what we'd have done without it."
Poppy opened Uplands House with her partner Graham in 2004. They were encouraged to do so by a fellow couple they met on holiday who had opened their own B&B when their children had left their home.
Since then, Uplands House built a strong reputation, regularly housing guests for events such as the British Grand Prix at Silverstone and the Cropredy Festival, as well as visitors who happened to be passing through the area.
The three-room B&B ended up winning a prestigious ROSE Award from Visit England in 2019 - which recognises outstanding customer service from accommodation providers.
Poppy is now hoping that new measures announced by the Government in September does not put future guests off booking a stay at Uplands House.
"We had been doing rather well right up until we had to close our doors because of the pandemic," Poppy added.
"In March, we had around £16,000 of forward bookings that we had to either postpone or cancel.
"When we reopened, we were able to take quite a lot of bookings for July, August and September which meant we were able to recoup our losses.
"I just hope our guests are not put off by the new measures introduced by the Government and still choose to book with us.
"We have hand sanitiser everywhere, and our rooms and communal areas are well spaced out, meaning we can comply with social distancing measures far more easily than perhaps other places might be able to.
"We've worked so hard to make sure we have everything in place to make it as safe as possible for guests to stay here, and we're hopeful visitors will acknowledge this and continue to book with us."
Businesses in the district are also being supported by Stratford District Council to promote the safe reopening of the High Streets in response to Covid-19 through the Government's Reopening High Streets Safely Fund which is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
The project has received £116,036 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.
The Department for Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for ERDF. Established by the European Union ERDF funds help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding
Stratford-on-Avon District Council
Elizabeth House, Church Street,
Tel: 01789 267575