Tradition of ‘home from home’ guest house still as popular as ever
Look in your grandparent’s photo albums and the evidence will be there.
Generations of families have enjoyed traditional B&B holidays in Skegness, offering affordable annual holidays and a home from home welcome.
In the early years of Skegness becoming a holiday resort, it wasn’t unusual for several rooms to share a bathroom - and getting ready in the morning became a race to see who could get there first before heading to the dining room to enjoy a full English breakfast that would keep you going for the rest of the day.
But now, cheap and cheerful is no longer acceptable, and the pressure to upgrade is at its greatest since just after the war, when Lincolnshire became the most popular caravan coast in the country.
The new Premier Inn which is now open to the public is a dominant feature along Grand Parade, overshadowing the hotels and guest houses opposite that have ruled supreme in the prime spot until now.
‘Keep up, or get out’ was the message of one Lincolnshire County Councillor promoting new attractions along the coast promising to fill guest houses with a new class of visitor.
The arrival of the 80-bed Premier Inn underlines this new era in expectations, but look around and you may just be surprised at what is on offer.
June Howard, of the Skegness East Coast and Wolds Hospitality Association (SECWHA), believes there is room for everyone.
SECWHA runs a local Rest Assured scheme, so visitors can see when a B&B or hotel has the high standards they now expect. “Our members are not worried about the Premier Inn,” she said. “We have some excellent B&Bs and hotels in Skegness and they still represent excellent value for families.”
George and Christine Facey have run the three star Rest Assured Beachlands guest hours in Scarborough Avenue for 23 years.
Their business cards hold the slogan ‘Arrive as a guest and leave as a friend’ and they firmly believe no national chain hotels can offer what a homely B&B does.
When the couple arrived in the resort from Nottingham to run the guest house they quickly reduced their 12 lettings rooms into nine so everyone had an en suite bathroom.
“There are still a few in Skegness where people have to share a bathroom, but people expect en suite these days,” said George as we sat in the visitor’s lounge with its small bar in the corner.
“Our success has been down to offering clean and homely accommodation - and good hospitality.”
Christine added: “I love chatting to guests, and they usually get a hug when they leave.
“As they get older they bring their grandchildren and now we even get great-grandchildren here. They become like family because we see them year after year.”
Gareth and Sarah Pickersgill were finalists in the Skegness Business Awards for the high standard of their accommodation and hospitality.
They moved into the four star Rest Assured Ivernia in Saxby Avenue just 17 months ago, and immediately embarked on a full refurb.
“We had an empty book when we moved in,” said former landscaper Gareth, who ripped out the old fences to improve the look of the building from the outside.
“ I think our kerb appeal helped us at the beginning.
“It was a blank canvas when we moved in and we have brought it up to date.
The couple balance running 12 en suite rooms with bringing up a family.
“Being close to town is obviously a bonus for us,” said George.
“But we’ve tried to update the rooms with USB plugs and sockets because that’s what people want these days.”
Sarah added: “We are very young in this industry but I’ve been in hospitality all my life, having worked at a hotel reception and run a pub.
“People still love the family touch of a B&B.”
“And the banter over breakfast,” said Gareth.
“There really is a lot happening in Skegness this year and it looks like being a good summer.”