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Updating The Clifton - The Owners Blog!

Saturday 24th March 2018

Updating The Clifton

David | March 2018

We started changing The Clifton from old style hotel to easy going Guest Accommodation when we acquired The Clifton Hotel in 2011. We made this decision after running a Best Western Hotel for a few years and watching the change in guest's requirements, yet unable to get away from the Corporate Ideology.

In 2011 when we took over, The Clifton was tired, having had a lack of TLC and investment for many years. The hotel had 18 bedrooms, all decorated in florals and lace with 4 '6 " beds, the old small, deep televisions taking up space on a chest of drawers — with a hot water system that always failed to supply the top floor if we were busy!!

Some guests were happy with this style of establishment but we quickly got the sense that things were changing. We started to get comments on particular items or areas, so we changed the cuboid televisions for the fabulously advanced 23 " flat screen. Which have since been changed for 32 ". 4 '6 beds became 5 ' and now they are becoming 6 '. Small shower rooms were alright, and cosy bedrooms were acceptable. We thought we 'd be ahead of the game and enlarge some rooms and bathrooms. We went from 18 rooms to 16, then 15. Eventually we'll have 13. We'll have to be happy then as we will run out of refit options! We ripped out the oil boiler and fitted twin boilers with pressure vessels — we now have hot water on mains pressure in all the rooms. MFI furniture became solid wood and LED lighting is being introduced throughout the building (and outside! ). We've changed bedding, linen, towels, toiletries, hairdryers, tea and coffee facilities and I don't see it ending anytime soon. This is the world we now live in — everything is disposable and people are quick to comment. Trip Advisor has a lot to answer for — but that's going to be a whole other blog!

We think we've managed to just stay ahead of changing expectations and demands. We pride ourselves on listening to every guest and acting upon every suggestion ? big or small. Sometimes the bigger ones take time because of financial constraints. But it's all driven us to where we are today. The last seven years have brought so much change and at an accelerated rate — compared to our previous businesses.

The Clifton used to run a fully functioning restaurant for both residents of the hotel and non-residents. We did evening meals, and small functions. But from 2016 we started to watch a decline in the number of people dining with us. Reviews were getting better but the numbers were dwindling. We had to look at why. We decided that the quaint, personally run, small hotel style of establishment was not where people of today wanted to go for dinner. They want to be able to go somewhere different each night, let's see how we feel kind of thing, don?t want to be tied down to one venue. Grazing is the new dining.

Therefore, in 2018 we decided to become purely guest accommodation ? but with a bar and daytime cafe menu for both guests and the public walking by on Keats Green and the coastal path, as we still have our beautiful garden overlooking the sea.

Suddenly we feel liberated! We didn't need to offer dinner 7 nights a week, we removed all the formality of 'hotel' — no more allocated tables, no more stuffy starched table linen! —- Although we still believe in providing a fabulous full breakfast for our guests to start the day properly fuelled. We have a TV in the bar, board games and books out and generally embraced the whole B &B thing. We make the jam, marmalade, cakes and scones — and we're loving it. Even though we don't have to provide dinner, we do still offer a barbecue some evenings during the summer as a facility to anyone who wants to take advantage. Our licensed bar offers local beers, adult soft drinks, a super wine list, and a fabulous new Gin & Tonic Menu.

We credit the hotel to bed and breakfast transition with saving our sanity and allowing us to reinvent our product to appeal to the modern, discerning guest, who is far well−travelled than ever before. We continue to listen to feedback and to act on it. We pride ourselves on being more than a B &B. We?re large enough to offer a bit more comfort and freedom than the smaller establishments, but we?re still small enough to care about each individual guest.
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