Kames Castle Cottages – Confidence and positivity key to recovery
Mike and Nicole Nicholson have owned, invested in and operated Kames Castle Cottages on the Isle of Bute as a successful holiday-let business since 2015. As with all hospitality providers, the couple has faced uncertainty and a period of introspection during the Covid-19 crisis. So how does a thriving business accept and adapt to a new way of working?
From the start, it seemed that the pandemic would have a drastic impact on business. Following the introduction of Covid-related restrictions, new bookings stopped overnight and existing bookings were rescheduled or refunded. Self catering was initially excluded from government aid but, to our relief, this decision was revised. Various organisations, including the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers and Bute BID, did a fantastic job of not only keeping businesses informed of available support, but also providing guidance on re-opening.
With the cottages closed, we began preparing for the ‘new normal’. We worked our way through all industry and government guidance, conducting risk assessments and developing new protocols. We are fortunate that the cottages are self-contained and set within spacious private gardens – this meant it was relatively straightforward to introduce these protocols and any social distancing requirements.
Despite the challenges, we decided not to furlough our groundsman. The grounds and walled garden are what makes Kames special and it was essential to maintain these throughout. The grounds were particularly beautiful this year and we were happy to share lots of photographs on social media when guests were unable to visit.
With the grounds in good shape, and the cottages ‘Good to Go!’ accredited, when lockdown ended the booking sheet filled up quickly. Since then, restrictions continue to come and go, however, we have remained optimistic. The first time around was certainly challenging as we were facing so many unknowns. But the groundwork has now been done and we will continue to adapt our protocols as new requirements are presented. Fundamentally Kames remains a beautiful and peaceful place to escape to and we will do all that we can to ensure guests can continue to enjoy it – safely.
Tel: 01700 504 886