Series 6 - The Rutland Arms Hotel, Bakewell

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Alex turns her attention to the Rutland Arms Hotel in Bakewell, Derbyshire. Set on the edge of the Peak District, the hotel enjoys high occupancy rates during the summer months, but poor organisation, bad reviews and an absence of visitors in the winter have pushed 68-year-old owner David to the brink of financial ruin.

David, a former solicitor, bought the 17th-century Rutland Arms Hotel in Bakewell 12 years ago, hoping to retire on the profits. However, the reality of the situation has proved very different to David’s dream. Despite good occupancy rates during the summer, the establishment is losing some £50,000 a year thanks to an absence of visitors during winter. A lack of organisation and structure means that David spends his days cleaning, running the bar and tending to his precious collection of antique clocks. “I’m a first-class bog cleaner,” says David. Having lost nearly £750,000 in his time in charge of the place, David is fast running out of money – and patience – with the Rutland.

As the Hotel Inspector visits the place for the first time, she is pleased with the frontage. “It looks wonderful from the outside,” she says. “You can’t see any of the problems that may lurk within.” Alex’s large, clean room is equally impressive. However, as she tours the hotel, Alex discovers that the level of housekeeping is inconsistent. Other rooms have not been cleaned, the reception area is messy and full of disparate objects and the signage is shoddy and confusing. On the plus side, the breakfast is good, though the service is somewhat lacklustre.

After a day spent in the hotel, Alex is ready to deliver her verdict to David. The main areas she wants to address are the shoddy housekeeping, the dismal off-season occupancy rates and the messy reception. Most importantly, however, is the absence of any real leadership, which has led to bad training and a low morale amongst the staff. “As charming as you are, you’re not very competent,” says Alex. For his part, David seems to agree with everything the Hotel Inspector says. “Hopefully, with Alex putting her foot up my bottom, we’ll be able to achieve good standards,” he says. “She really is a formidable person – I’m looking forward to working with her.”

It takes some weeks and an extra visit from the hotel inspector for the message to reach its mark, but David finally manages to appreciate the need for change. When Alex returns a month after her first visit, the standard of housekeeping has risen across the board, the reception area has been cleared of junk and – most importantly – David has employed an experienced hotel manager to take over the day-to-day running of the Rutland. However, David’s attitude towards his establishment is still very negative. “I think I need to find a way to lift his spirits,” says Alex. “I do not want to walk away from here thinking I’ve made his life worse.”

In an effort to engender some positivity in David and bring in some much-needed revenue, Alex comes up with a plan to renovate the Rutland’s tired old ballroom. By transforming the room into an attractive multi-function space, Alex hopes that the hotel will become a year-long destination for weddings, parties and conferences. To that end, she sets the Rutland’s owner a challenge. In a few weeks’ time, David will host a special dance function to showcase the new ballroom, with a number of journalists and events organisers set to attend. With one last chance to change his fortunes, will David rise to the challenge, or will he once again allow negativity to creep in and ruin the event?

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