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Knights Hill and Old Hunstanton hotel boss says business a 'long way' from normality

A boss who oversees the running of two West Norfolk hotels has said they are taking it "very slowly" following the coronavirus lockdown period in what is a challenging time for the hospitality sector.

Abacus Hotels managing director Howard Darking, who runs the Knights Hill Hotel and Le Strange Arms Hotel in Old Hunstanton, said they are "a long way off" from returning to normality.

Many functions including weddings have had to be postponed or cancelled at the Knights Hill Barn, while a number of safety measures are in place for hotel guests including staggered arrivals and plenty of room service. The timings for the restaurant have to be closely monitored if people choose not to eat in their rooms.

The restaurant at Le Strange Arms Hotel, Old Hunstanton
The restaurant at Le Strange Arms Hotel, Old Hunstanton

Mr Darking said: "Our absolute priority is keeping staff and clients safe so we are taking it very, very slowly. Generally, the demand is good and people understand the new normal so it's encouraging given where we came from."

The Knights Hill Hotel has been used to accommodate NHS workers from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital during the pandemic period, but hotels have started to welcome back customers since July 4 after the government gave them the green light.

Abacus Hotel guests are asked to keep left in corridors and various signs have been put up regarding social distancing at the sites.

Knights Hill Hotel and Spa
Knights Hill Hotel and Spa

Mr Darking does not believe there have been any problems with these procedures since the hotels reopened.

Perspex screens have also been installed in the reception areas for additional safety purposes.

The majority of staff were placed on the furlough scheme and Mr Darking said they will be brought back as demand picks up.

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