Series 6 - The Sandygate Hotel, South Yorkshire

Alex Polizzi visits the Sandygate Hotel near Rotherham

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This week’s show sees Alex visit the Sandygate Hotel in South Yorkshire. Despite showing promise, a lack of marketing savvy and sloppy pricing have left the hotel in peril.

The 11-room Sandygate Hotel in Wath-upon-Dearne on the outskirts of Rotherham is owned by Elvis fanatic Dave Elliott and his wife Dyan. While Dyan tends bar and deals with the front of house, Dave is the hotel’s chef and controls the restaurant side of the business. Although the eatery turns a small profit, the overall costs of the establishment mean that the venture is losing money. With occupancy rates as low as two per cent, the Elliotts estimate that they have six months to turn the business around before going bankrupt. Dave is adamant that the restaurant he runs needs little improvement. “My food is the best you’ll find in the north of England,” he announces.

As Alex arrives at the hotel, her first impression is not encouraging. She is met by an empty noticeboard, poor signage, shabby hanging baskets, and a reception confusingly located behind the bar. However, the rooms Alex inspects turn out to be of a fairly high quality. “I have to say, the rooms are pretty nice here,” she admits. She soon realises why nobody is using the hotel – she can find no website information, reviews or pictures of it. In fact, it seems to have no online presence whatsoever.

Alex then investigates the restaurant, and is bewildered by the huge choice of dishes available. The size of the menu is echoed by the big portions. “I can feel my arteries clogging as I eat,” Alex says. Dave maintains that the quality of the food is good, and that many people like large portions. “Alex is a bit of a skinny bird. I like something I can get hold of, myself,” Dave responds. Despite agreeing that the food is delicious, Alex believes that the low prices and large portions are dramatically reducing the hotel’s profits.

The next day, Dave is still feeling sensitive about Alex’s comments on the state of the hotel. “It’s like someone looking through your knicker drawer,” he says. However, over the next few weeks, Dave and Dyan start to heed Alex’s advice. They increase their online marketing presence, court businesses for extra clients, and re-evaluate their restaurant’s profit margins. Alex also gets the go-ahead to turn the couple’s disused function room into a lunchtime eatery. Before long, the couple have an established website, a new reception and a more realistic menu.

Although Alex and the Elliotts are pleased with their progress, the couple want to apply for a three-star hotel rating, to further boost business and prove that their hostelry is of a high quality. However, as the Sandygate has never been rated before, Alex is apprehensive about whether so much can be achieved in such a short time. With an anonymous hotel inspector due to make an assessment imminently, will the stress prove too much for Dave and Dyan? And will they be awarded the star rating they so desperately desire?



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