Hospitality veterans Simon Rhatigan and Simon Kershaw are betting that cyclists will spend big money on their new exclusive hotel in the North Yorkshire seaside resort of Scarborough. That Bike & Boot overlooking the sandy beach of South Bay is the first in a—ahem-link. The next to open is a new building in the Peak District in March 2022 with a new opening in Sherwood Forest the following year.
So far this summer, the 65-room boutique hotel has had 95% occupancy, Kershaw said.
In 2019, Rhatigan and Kershaw took out one £ 2.8 million loan from OakNorth– “Entrepreneurs’ Bank, of Entrepreneurs” – to buy and furnish the run-down Mount Hotel on Cliff Bridge Terrace overlooking Scarborough’s iconic Spa Bridge. Over the next 18 months, they turned it into the hip and stylish Bike & Boot.
The listed building was originally a Georgian terrace with servants’ quarters in the basement. Now the basement – the brand “Wadobi” (an abbreviation of “walk-dog-bike”) has rooms dedicated to bicycle storage next to a bicycle cleaning zone with a hose pipe, bicycle cleaners, chain lubricants and for tinkerers a tool station and bicycle pump.
(Wadobi also has a dog care station and a 16-seater movie theater with three daily movie screenings, free for guests.)
Upstairs there is Bareca (“bar / restaurant / cafe”), a bar-and-grill restaurant with high ceilings, where at. 15 every day the sales cakes move to the sumptuous lounge where guests can eat for free. Cyclists love cake.
Decoration on the walls of the hotel are taxidermy heads, not made of extinct animals, but bicycle helmets. There are also cantilevered full bikes and sculptures made from disused bike parts and large wall maps of local bike destinations like Dalby Forest, a mountain biker delight. Bathroom doors in the sumptuous bedrooms and suites have close-up of full-length bicycle equipment.
Why market an exclusive hotel for cyclists?
“You only have to look around to see what’s going on,” Kershaw said, pointing out that the increase in the number of cyclists started long before the bicycle boom of the pandemic.
“In the Yorkshire Dales, you can forget about driving because you can’t wade through the large number of cyclists,” he added.
And many cyclists are well loaded.
“It’s not uncommon to spend £ 10,000 on a bicycle,” said Kershaw.
“And if you have invested so much in one of your cycles, do not leave it in the trunk of your car; you do not leave it strapped to the car; you will bring it into any hotel you stay at. ”
Some hotels allow guests to ride bikes to the rooms, but there is no need for it on Bike & Boot because the Wadobi basement is secure with full CCTV coverage.
Until 2016, when he entered into a partnership with Kershaw, Rhatigan was CEO of Devonshire Hotels and Restaurants and before that he owned the award-winning Feversham Arms Hotel and Verbena Spa in Helmsley, North Yorkshire. Kershaw is a former senior Whitbread director. Nor are they cyclists.
“My son introduced me to the cycling potential,” Kershaw said.
“He started cycling when he was at school and got really mad about it. I accompanied him to a bike shop in Harrogate to buy a bike for his 18th birthday, and there was a large crowd of people outside, with the shop name on their jerseys. My eyes were then opened to see the huge number of other bicycle groups. ”
Gears began to click in Kershaw’s business brain, helped together by another trusted source: “Martin Wood, our architect, is a fanatical cyclist. He goes everywhere on bike rides. ”
Bike & Boot may have a bike (and hiking) aesthetic, but it is far from exclusive to cyclists and hikers. The hotel is targeted at dog-friendly, and catering to a dog customer is another growing niche in the hospitality market.
Nevertheless, the hotel uses the street cred of cycling as a distinctive marketing tool. It has named professional cycling test rider Jack Carthy a brand ambassador – he is seen in a promotional video pulling stunts at the hotel and Scarborough, and in May the hotel sponsored its first “sporting” cycling event.
Velo2Velo Scarborough Bike & Boot Sportive of 55 kilometers started outside the hotel and followed part of the route in the Tour de Yorkshire professional cycling race in 2019. The event was open to everyone but increased the business of the hotel as well. The basement stored 128 bikes the night before the sporting.
Four other events are planned, Kershaw said, including a mountain bike sport, a family sport and a mountaineering event.
A guest may not arrive at the hotel as a cyclist, but may end up being one, Kershaw believes. If it is, they rent one of the hotel’s electric mountain bikes for £ 60 per person. Pop.
“Have you been to one? They are amazing. ”
The hotel has a fleet of four with a further four on the way.
“People go out on them, and when they come back, they all smile and say ‘we just have to get one, we just have to get one,'” Kershaw said.
“They are truly revolutionary.”
In addition to touring Scarborough on these electric mountain bikes, guests also zip 25 miles to Whitby along the Cinder Track.
This is a bike-and-hiking trail on the disused railroad track that once ran between the two towns.
Lockdown hit Scarborough hard: nearly 20,000 jobs in the local economy depend on tourism, but in the current sunshine, the future looks bright for Scarborough. Scarborough is currently being highlighted by the City Council in an initiative called Project Sunshine, which is one of England’s first seaside resorts – popular since the 1700s as a spa town.
Thanks to £ 20.2 million from the National Government’s Urban Fund, announced on 3 March, more cycle facilities – such as safe cycle paths – will also be added soon. Bike & Boot is therefore well placed for cycling in popularity.
“Can you see the difference between these pictures of Scarborough and Marbella?” asked the hotel naughty Twitter account recently.
“Ditch Marbs and visit sunny Scarbs instead,” the poster claimed on social media, adding that “Scarbados” was now in the place to be. Arrived in town with a bike to be even more trendy.