We are delighted to announce that we are Finalists in the 2023 VisitEngland Awards! Along with Langley Castle Hotel in Northumberland and St Luke’s Bombed Out Church C.I.C in Liverpool, we are up for the Resilience & Innovation Award.
It’s an incredible honour to be shortlisted nationally as a part of such a prestigious Award. To be representing our county of Lincolnshire nationally at the Visit England Awards 2023 is phenomenal and a testament to the dedication our team members champion on a daily basis.
Our place on the national VisitEngland shortlist was due to Healing Manor Hotel being nominated for and winning three categories at the local Tourism Excellence Awards run by Destination Lincolnshire: Pub of the Year; Taste of England – Taste Lincolnshire; and Resilience and Innovation Award. We were then put through to the national Awards and are delighted to be in the running for the overall VisitEngland Resilience and Innovation Award.
Many visitors may see Healing Manor Hotel as a place to dine in our Restaurant and Bar, or as a country house wedding venue, so we’d like to take this opportunity to highlight the back story behind us being put forward for this Award. As ever, our ethos of championing the best local and seasonal Lincolnshire produce was at the heart of our work.
Healing Manor Hotel’s story of resilience story started when directors Charlotte and Steven Bennett first took on the business, but the global Covid-19 pandemic really triggered most of the chapters which have led to this point and being listed as a finalist among some incredible businesses. The period from 2020 right through until last year has reshaped society, our industry and how we in hospitality work every day, in so many ways.
When the country went into lockdown, our business, like so many others, had to adapt and innovate. An immediate reaction was to launch a Take Away option in order to utilise the stock already prepped for over 250 Mother’s Day lunches. We quickly saw the opportunity that takeaways could offer, and launched a regular Take Away service of some of our most popular dishes; burgers, fish and chips and Sunday lunches. In doing so, we were not only able to provide employment, but we also saw a new community grow.
Throughout the pandemic, donations from local businesses meant that we could engineer and co-ordinate our ongoing project to support the homeless community, as well as providing daily free bread and milk for our local village. Our established connections with suppliers and producers helped us to connect those in need with those who had excess stock.
As the nation turned online for a feeling of community, connection and support, we launched our #NominateYourNeighbour campaign; a weekly window of giving and story telling, with nominations being sent in the hundreds.
Like so many others, Steven Bennett (The Lincolnshire Chef) headed online to host regular cook-a-longs, bringing restaurant style food to homes around the county and further afield. This expanded into the launch of Cook-At-Home boxes and Lincolnshire Hampers, a great way to champion local Lincolnshire produce.
As well as offering innovating our food offering, we also changed the way the hotel itself worked. The unique lay-out of Healing Manor and our rooms enabled us to offer safe accommodation for key workers, including NHS workers, supply chain and offshore workers.
Since the height of the Covid pandemic passed, the team at Healing Manor Hotel have had to face and overcome more unexpected challenges. A wave of illness-related absence from work, dubbed ‘The Great British Sickness Crisis’ had a major impact on the team at Healing Manor, leaving the team short-staffed with members of staff having to cover last-minute absences at very short notice. Management had to quickly review sickness policies and implement a strategy to promote health and wellbeing within the team, including providing daily welfare checks during sickness and creating a positive and supportive work environment to promote a happy and healthy workforce.
Like many other hospitality businesses in the UK, Healing Manor experienced the effects of the recruitment crisis of 2022. After a short term contingency plan of using agency staff so that we could continue to offer the great standards of service and food, we appointed a director of sales, impact and communication to grow our team of fantastic people, focussing on recruiting staff with an attitude and ethos to match our own, rather than focussing on qualifications.
At Healing Manor Hotel, our ethos is to nurture home-grown talent, and we recognise the amazing staff that we have, who have worked so hard over the last few years. We aim to create a great working environment and want to keep the great staff we have, so a four-day working week has been gradually implemented throughout the business. The benefits? To promote a sustainable and healthy work-life balance, to reward the fantastic staff we have, and to create a flexible working environment to allow our team to make their work fit in with their home lives.
As if challenges due to Covid, sickness and recruitment weren’t enough, January 2022 saw the completion of Brexit whilst just two months later, in March 2022, the war in Ukraine began. These two major shifts had an immediate and significant impact on the food supply chain, with daily price changes to raw and manufactured ingredients. Since then, the team have had to think creatively and laterally to ensure that our menu is sustainable, cost-effective and in keeping with our local and seasonal approach, whilst delivering the quality that our customers expect, at a price they can afford.
The final factor leading us to be finalists in the VisitEngland Award for Resilience and Innovation is the shift in consumer behaviour and expectations post-COVID. With a cost of living crisis affecting customer behaviour and spend, our team have had to work hard to create attractive offers and deliver outstanding service to entice in clientele, both from our local towns and villages and from further afield, and to bring them back, time and again.
The need to innovate, think and work creatively and trust our teams has led us to being named as a finalist in the VisitEngland Resilience & Innovation Award 2023. We cannot wait to celebrate with so many incredible finalists at the Awards night on 7 June; keep an eye on our social media to see how the night unfolds.
For more about the VisitEngland Awards 2023 and all of the finalists, please click here.