Series 8 - The Crown Inn, Derbyshire

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Alex travels to the Derbyshire Peak District, home of rolling hills, stunning views and her latest challenge. A 15th-century inn is a true labour of love for its owner, Rita.

The two-star hotel has 10en suite bedrooms, a snug bar and a 50-seat restaurant. There are 15 members of staff,made up of assorted friends and family. In addition, Rita employs her ex-husband Dave and his newwife Jane as the front-of-house managers,while she stays in the background.

During theweek, the rooms are occupied mainly by builders and contractors, but during the weekends the hotel struggles to get any customers. With a wage bill of more than £10,000 per month, Rita is finding it hard to make ends meet and will probably be forced to sell unless there is an improvement.

To find out where Rita is going wrong, first Alex spends a night. She is not impressed with her room. “There is not one attractive element to it,” she says as she surveys the dated decor. She points in amazement at the television. “I haven’t seen a TV like that for 30 years. I didn’t know they still existed,” she exclaims. As for the bathroom, she cannot believe her eyes as she takes in the full glory of “the wedding dress shower curtain”. The other rooms similar stories.

Next Alex talks to the managers, Dave and Jane, and then tries out the restaurant (“delicious, but
it’s a huge portion”). At £6.50 per meal, she thinks the place should be heaving. Looking at the hotel
and the figures, Alex concludes that the bar and restaurant are holding their own, but the bedrooms
are making a loss. Will her suggested changes meet with any opposition, and will she find educating Rita rewarding?

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