Barrow’s newest hotel – the Holiday Inn Express – is at the forefront of a new campaign to attract holidaymakers to Cumbria after it emerges from more than 100 days of lockdown.
The hotel has launched the Great British Vacation to provide guests with a special package of offers and it has teamed up with Cumbria Tourism in declaring the county very much open for business.
The Holiday Inn Express management has also welcomed the government’s 15% cut in VAT which will reduce the expense of staying in hotels, the price of meals and the cost of tickets for tourist attractions.
Occupancy at the hotel was picking up even before the introduction of the VAT changes, and it hopes a combination of its Great British Vacation campaign and the government’s incentives will ensure its rooms remain occupied throughout the rest of the summer.
“This is our first tourist season since we started and it’s obviously not how we thought it was going to go,” said general manager Mark Winter.
“But life is getting back to normal and what could be more normal than coming for a visit to Cumbria – one of the world’s most beautiful places. We welcomed more than 200 guests over the weekend which showed how ready people were to get out. I think there’s also a sense that COVID-19 has ruled our lives over the last few months and – as long as we’re sensible and safe – that can’t go on.”
Special offers for guests staying at the hotel include free parking, free breakfast, free Wi-Fi and free access to a full range of digital TV channels. They will also receive discounts at South Lakes Safari Zoo, Furness Abbey and Piel Castle. The hotel is working with Cumbria Tourism to provide further deals.
Barrow MP Simon Fell choose to stop at the hotel as part of his visits to “five of our best examples of Furness’ tourism sector” and praised the management team for “promoting the Great British Staycation and actively selling Barrow to the world as a place to visit.”
“We are blessed to live in this fantastic place and we all have a responsibility to support the people and places that make it so special,” he said.
The Holiday Inn Express successfully re-opened for key workers in June after introducing a range of COVID-secure measures.
It produced a video to provide guests with a reassuring insight of what to expect even before they checked in. The video – https://vimeo.com/427869775 – shows in detail the comprehensive range of COVID-secure measures it had taken to keep its customers and staff safe.
The Holiday Inn Express in Barrow is part of IHG, one of the world’s leading hotel companies. IHG has introduced a Clean Promise guarantee across all of its properties after developing an enhanced cleaning regime in response to the pandemic.
There are protective screens at reception and all members of staff wear personal protective equipment. Key cards are ready in envelopes for guests to pick up when they arrive.
There are prominent signs throughout the hotel helping customers keep to a social distance and a number of sanitiser stations have been installed.
Mark Ashall, of Ashall Projects, is the developer and a shareholder of the Holiday Inn Express in Barrow as well as the Holiday Inn Express in Middlesbrough, which re-opened for key workers in April.
“Both towns are bases for large number of key workers – both NHS staff and contractors who, for example, keep power stations running – so we were determined to do all we could to help them by opening safely as soon as possible,” he said. “It’s really great to be able to now welcome all visitors.”
He added: “In both cases we were the first sizeable hotel in the area to re-open and the support and expertise of IHG has been invaluable in helping us achieve that. This has been particularly beneficial in Cumbria where, apart from our Holiday Inn Express in Barrow, there are relatively few chain hotels who can call upon such help.”
The Holiday Inn Express was built on the site of a former police station in Barrow’s Market Street. It opened on 2 December 2019 and employs 25 people, all recruited from the local area.
Fewer members of staff are needed at the moment but more will be brought back from furlough as demand grows for accommodation.
For more information about the hotel and its range of special offers go to www.ihg.com/holidayinnexpress/hotels/gb/en/barrow-in-furness