Tourism and hospitality businesses turn adversity into opportunity

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Whilst it hasn’t been an easy ride, with the constant changes in government guidelines and the implementation of safety measures and local lockdowns, many businesses in Caerphilly County Borough have been continuously adapting their focus; carrying out renovation and development work to ensure the difficulties of 2020 do not inhibit their future.

The Meadows Farm Village Retreat, an interactive animal experience, is one of Caerphilly’s newest and finest attractions. Bringing a wealth of fun and excitement for so many families and adults alike over the last few months, the attraction which is continually expanding is now host to reindeer, wallabies and meerkats! They are going form strength to strength and have recently introduced a coffee shop, onsite bar and have an inhouse chef cooking freshly prepared meals including Sunday roasts in their new marquee seating area. There is an array of exciting plans for the coming months too, so watch this space!

Katherine Watkins owner and manager said: “The past 6 months have certainly been a challenge, but we have managed to keep evolving the business and it’s becoming bigger and better. We’ve recently employed extra staff and are proud to be creating employment and adding to the visitor economy in the region.”

The Meadows is one of many businesses that are maintaining high standards for local residents and visitors during Covid-19. Gelllihaf House, a family-owned and run boutique bed and breakfast on the outskirts of Blackwood, have been busy renovating the House having been closed for the duration of the lockdown. They are now open and welcomed their first guests from Caerphilly Borough over the weekend. The Fork & Tune in Cwmcarn have undergone copious amounts of renovation work over recent months and recently opened a coffee shop, yet another side-line to the business developments taking place at the former ‘Cwmcarn Hotel’.

Owner Vinny said: “Restoration of the face of the historic Cwmcarn Hotel was pinnacle to boosting moral throughout lockdown, giving the community hope for the future.” He added that “the coffee shop is bringing a much-needed relief to those working from home.”

‘Lock down’ turned to ‘Lock in’ for Robin, Owner and Manager of the award-winning Castle Gate Indian Restaurant in Caerphilly. With the business closing temporarily in March due to Covid-19 they made a gradual return to their takeaway service, briefly opening the restaurant for dining in. It was at this point that owner and manager Robin decided to use this time to his benefit. Whilst carrying on with a takeaway service, the restaurant has undergone a total refurbishment, re-launching as ‘Castle Gate Indian Kitchen & Cocktail Bar’.

Robin said “Following the initial closure we decided to use the uncertainty to our advantage. With reduced seating capacity for dine in we decided to focus on takeaway only and use the time to give our restaurant a total revamp. The opening was a huge success and we cannot wait until we are able to dine at full capacity again. For now, we will enjoy and welcome all the local trade we are receiving and continue to give good quality food to our customers.”

Other venues, all members of Caerphilly Tourism Association, who have been busy carrying out general improvement works during Covid-19 include: Bedwas Workmen’s Hall, Bistro 8, COFFI VISTA and Cwmcarn Forest. Escape Blackwood introduced the side-line ‘Padlock Pizza’ to their business and Castell Cottages are nearing completion of 5 new holiday apartments and a common room at the rear of their self-catering visitor accommodation in Caerphilly.

Whilst it is great to see so many businesses creating opportunities and striving to deliver new projects, it cannot be overlooked that this isn’t the case for all businesses with many still remaining closed having not opened their doors since March. The tourism and hospitality industry have been one of the hardest hit industries during the pandemic, especially with the recent local lockdowns.

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